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Hi FESA Fans!

I’ve got a few good stories to tell, since spending the summer of 2009 in Washington, DC, working with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Folklife Festival at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (See future posts on all things Smithsonian!).

One of my favorite DC area adventures was visiting legendary record collector, Joe Bussard, at his home in Frederick, MD. Now, some of you might remember that we screened the Dust-to-Digital film about Joe and his incredible collection of 78 rpm records, “Desperate Man Blues” (2006), in the Spring of 2008 as part of the FESA Film Series. I bought this film before seeing it, because I was so captivated by this charismatic man, and his story. It turned out to be a fine purchase, indeed.

During the Folklife Festival, I got to speaking with Rinzler archivist Jeff Place about Joe and he said I should just call him up and see if he’d like to host a group of us for a little while. I thought the whole thing was too good to be true, but I called him up anyway and after sort of quizzing me on my familiarity with early American music, he said he’d be glad to host a small group of Folkways interns. (I probably just answered Jelly Roll Morton to everything).

Joe Bussard’s record collection holds original and rare copies of some of the most historically significant music in America  – music that is not in the Rinzler Archives at Folkways, or housed at the Library of Congress. Bussard dropped out of school as a teenager and simply started driving around, knocking on doors in the South, seeing what rare 78 rpm records he could find. Record collecting quickly became more than a hobby for him. Since Bussard first starting collecting, he’s shared his unbelievable findings (and impressive familiarity with the music and its time) with the record collecting community. One can hear some of these rarities by tuning in to his weekly radio show Country Classics on Atlanta’s WREK, and through his limited-release box sets on his own Fonotone Records. By collecting, preserving, and sharing these rarities he has done us (Americans, music fans, historians, musicians, folklorists, archivists, the list goes on) quite the service, and I am so thankful to him for that.

 Joe pulls a record from 30,000. He has no shelving labels - he knows the location of each of his records through memory.

Joe pulls a record from 30,000. He has no shelving labels - he knows the location of each of his records through memory.

Joe’s collection of about 30,000 78 rpm records consists primarily of American folk, gospel, blues, and jazz, from the 1920s to the 1930s.

The first spin

Joe displays his original Jimmie Rodgers picture disc

Joe displays his original Jimmie Rodgers picture disc

Joe’s most endearing quality was his sheer enthusiasm and rhapsody whilst listening and sharing his records. I think he probably played the mouth trumpet more than a few times. Whenever I tried to capture his music moves he’d take them down a notch (understandably). This video is the closest I got:

Ah! Nevermind - mouth trumpet documented!

Ah! Nevermind - mouth trumpet documented!

Part of Joes record station

Part of Joe's record station

A typical pre-listening narrative with a bit of a tour of his collection. Here he pulls a Roanoke Jug Band 78:

Joe in his element

Joe in his element.

Next, Joe had no qualms about spinning us the record that put him in the history books – the #8030 Black Patti, “Original Stack O’ Lee Blues” by the Down Home Boys. Worth about $50,000 if I remember correctly. It was found near Tazewell, Virginia, “under a bed in a box with three feet of dust, it was one of 15 Black Pattis in mint condition and it turns out to be the only known copy of the recording” (Fonotone).

Joe shows us portrait with his Black Patti in a record collector mag.

Joe shows us a portrait with his Black Patti in a record collector mag.

Here’s Joe spinning us the Black Patti. It’s probably one of the loveliest songs I’ve heard in a long while:

Joes rarest: The #8030 Black Patti

Joe's rarest: The #8030 Black Patti

Then, Joe told us some more stories and played us some records on his incredible Victrola.

Joe sets up his Victrola for demonstration

Joe sets up his Victrola for demonstration

Warming up the Victrola

Warming up the Victrola

Finally, I convinced him to play us some music. Do check out his one-time band, Two Black Jacks. Here he plays his guitar with a screwdriver:

Some of Joes methods of cataloging his music: self-made indexes

Some of Joe's methods of cataloging his music: self-made indexes

A jazz index

A jazz index

Joe would rather continue telling us stories than pose for a formal photograph!

Joe would rather continue telling us stories than pose for a formal photograph!

After 3.5 hours of stories and music: Smithsonian Folkways interns (L to R) Schuyler Marquez of MA, Eric Dresner of MI, Jenn Jameson of IN, Joe Bussard, and Caitlin Allen of MA. Photo by Laura Casserly of DC.

After 3.5 hours of stories and music: Smithsonian Folkways interns (L to R) Schuyler Marquez of MA, Eric Dresner of MI, Jenn Jameson of IN, Joe Bussard, and Caitlin Allen of MA. Photo by Laura Casserly of DC.

One final photo of Joe and his Victrola

One final photo of Joe and his Victrola - Letters from NASA in the background (!?)

Finally, we headed to Bussard’s favorite spot, Barbara Fritchie’s Candy Cane Diner. He says he likes it so much because they don’t play “terrible music on some jukebox” (in fact they don’t play any music at all).

Barbara Fritchies interior

Barbara Fritchie's interior

Me and Fritchie: Frederick, Maryland

Me and Fritchie: Frederick, Maryland

A week or so later, I received the custom tape I commissioned from Joe.

He asked me what I wanted on it, and I told him “Surprise me”.

The best kind of momento.

The best kind of momento.

Jenn Jameson

(jamesonj@umail.iu.edu)

FESA Secretary, Fall 2009

Ed. Note:

More pictures can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosehips/sets/72157622233080843/

A few more videos can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/album/126383

This past Friday the 10th at 7pm the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association (FESA) held their second annual storytelling jam in the “Folklore Church” on Indiana Ave.

The "Folk Church" and Storytelling Jam Audience

Our President, Kip Hutchins, treated this event as his special priority, and having not attended last year, I didn’t understand the draw. Having spent a night in the unique lull that good stories in good company can put over you, I now completely comprehend his excitement.

The evening opened with an introduction and welcome from Kip, followed with an opening story from his childhood tradition, an Appalachian tale called “Soap, Soap, Soap.”

Kip Opening the Storytelling Jam

Next, we were regaled with another traditional story by Dr. McDowell, the chair of the department, from his area of study; Colombia.

Dr. McDowell

The night continued with a few more scheduled personal narratives, traditional stories, folk legends, and some of the audience were even inspired to get up and tell a story on the spot.  Krystie Herndon, a familiar face to many of us, and a great supporter of FESA, even made a late appearance after attending her younger son’s awards banquet- favoring us with her retelling of “The Bill Joke.” Oh come on, you know this one…

As I mentioned before, I was a little apprehensive of this storytelling jam event, so when FESA was having a hard time finding enough storytelling volunteers to pull it off, the pressure was put on the officers to come up with something, even if it was just a joke or riddle. I thought, and I thought, I brainstormed, I even considered stealing a story I had recently read in my Irish Music and Culture class. Instead, I just pushed the pressure off onto my good friend Drew, who’s father was very fond of telling stories. Drew never complained or threatened to cancel on me, and I knew I could rely on him to come up with something spectacular!

So when the night was upon us, I was so blown away with his semi-biographical myth, and the welcoming atmosphere of the event, that I was suddenly reminded of a story that hadn’t even entered into my mind as a possibility to tell, it was like a revelation. I was so moved in the moment to share an old favorite of my own: my WORST DATE EVER story.

Sorry readers, you’ll have to meet me sometime to get the whole saga, let’s suffice to say, it was pretty awful. Here’s a little teaser: the last line my eighty year old grandma admits to spitting on my date in a McDonald’s once.

In any case, now that I know what the storytelling jam is like, I’m looking forward even more to planning a springtime music jam for the FESA. I’ll post details here, and I hope to see you all at our next movie showing: This Thursday the 3rd, Cannibal Tours, at 7:30 P.M. in Lindley Hall.

Synopsis: When tourists journey to the furthermost reaches of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, is it the indigenous tribespeople or the white visitors who are the cultural oddity? This film explores the difference (and the surprising similarities) that emerge when “civilized” and “primitive” people meet. With dry humor and acute observation CANNIBAL TOURS explodes cultural assumptions as it provides a pointed look at a fabulous phenomenon.

What is a “Storytelling Jam?” Well, I’m no expert, but from what I can tell, you can expect the following: we at FESA are expecting ten “storytellers” at least six of which will be students, and the rest faculty and staff. Storytelling is both a participatory as well as performative exercise. All kinds of oral performance will likely be found, including jokes, myths, urban legends, personal narratives, maybe even a song or limmerick. The audience will be present to participate by adding a story, or in the least, giving encouragement to the storytellers.

This is the second annual FESA Storytelling Jam and I heard it was amazing last year, please come out and enjoy an extermely unique and interesting experience!

When: Friday the 28th of January
Where: 800 N. Indiana- the Folklore Dept. “Church”

Interested in being a storyteller? Please email the FESA president, Kip Hutchins at kihutchi@indiana.edu

Where and When:

Movie Night: Keita!

This Thursday, November 4th, 7:30 p.m., Woodburn Hall 120, FESA will be showing the film Keïta! l’Héritage du griot. Part folk tale, part analysis of contemporary and traditional West African values, Keita! is the story of a young boy as he learns the Bambara epic of Sunjata Keita. Keita portrays the dichotomy between traditional values and ways of learning and modern, Western-style education all the while interspersing scenes of a classical West African tale of heroism and magic. In French and Bambara with English subtitles. Bring your friends to this FREE event!

More about Keita!

Keïta! received the Best First Film Prize from the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (Fespaco) and was awarded the Junior Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.[1] The New York Times praised the film, claiming it “succeeds admirably in keeping… history alive.”[3] In a 1995 interview, Kouyate reflected on the experience and commenting on traditional society, saying:

Sometimes when you don’t know where you’re heading, you have to return to where you came from in order to think things over before continuing your journey. Today, with all the things happening to her, Africa has trouble finding which direction to take—modernity, tradition, or some other road. We are not really capable of digesting all these things. We don’t know who we are, and we don’t know where we are going. We are between two things. Between our traditions and our modernity.[4]

The next FESA brown-bag-with-a-professor will be this Thursday, October 28, 11:45 a.m. in 510 N. Fess (little brick house just north of the main office at 504 N. Fess). This week we’ll get to meet the newest member of the FOLK/ETHNO faculty, Diane Goldstein, who will be teaching an exciting course next semester on the supernatural! Come find out how she entered the field and became interested in this fascinating subject.

Here’s some background on Dr. Goldstein: Dr. Diane Goldstein’s areas of specialty include belief studies, folk medicine, folk religion, supernatural traditions, applied folklore, the ethnography of speaking, and narrative. She is the author of a number of articles on religious events and speech, narratives of supernatural experience, and educational applications of folklore. She is co-author of Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore (with Sylvia Grider and Jeannie Banks Thomas, Utah State University Press, 2007) and author of Once Upon a Virus: AIDS Legends and Vernacular Risk Perception (Utah State University Press, 2004), co-editor (with Cindy Patton and Heather Worth) of a special issue of Sexuality Research and Social Policy, entitled “Reckless Vectors: The Infecting ‘Other’ in HIV/AIDS Law” (2005) and editor of one of the earliest interdisciplinary anthologies on AIDS, entitled Talking AIDS: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (ISER Books, 1991). Diane has been extensively invovled in health priority-setting and policy-making initiatives over the last twenty years, including a three-year appointment to the Canadian national Planning and Priorities Forum for HIV/AIDS. Diane is currently President of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, member of the Executive board of the American Folklore Society, and serves, or has served, on the editorial boards of the Journal of American Folklore, Folklore , Ethnologies, Contemporary Legend, Electronic Journal of Folklore and the Journal of Applied Folklore.

See you there!

Dr. Goldstein

Fall 2010 Storytelling Jam

On behalf of the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Students Association (FESA), I write to inform you that we would like to host the Second Annual Storytelling Jam next month, on Friday, November 12 from 7pm to 9pm at 800 N. Indiana.  In case you missed it last year or don’t remember how it went, the idea is that any folklorist or ethnomusicologist who wants to be involved simply has to prepare a legend, tall tale, myth, folktale, or any kind oral narrative to tell to an audience of story enthusiasts.  This event was a fun chance for people to tell their favorite tale and to hear others do the same, and I hope that it will be that way this year as well.  We would love for anyone who is interested to be involved.
Please let me know by email if you are interested in participating, and what kind of story you would like to tell. The story should be in the area of ten to fifteen minutes long. You can contact me at kihutchi@umail.iu.edu.
Sincerely,
Kip Hutchins

Hyderabad, India

Hello everyone.  I’m currently in Hyderabad, India, and will be here through December.

Here’s a link to my blog, for those interested in the area.

http://plmoknqaz.blogspot.com/

~Emily

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