Back Roads to Cold Mountain

Back Roads to Cold Mountain


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Back Roads to Cold Mountain

Charles Frazier's novel Cold Mountain is a powerful, widely celebrated novel that takes places during the Civil War. But Frazier's book is not about the war itself so much as the lives lived in the rural American South during its long dark night. Back Roads to Cold Mountain is a collection of music assembled by ethnomusicologist and roots musician John Cohen, featuring the songs, hollers, and hymns that served as inspiration for Frazier during the writing of his book. There are no modern, O Brother, Where Art Thou?-styled revisionings of the music from the Civil War era. Instead, Cohen went through the Smithsonian's and the Library of Congress's vast collections of field and commercial recordings of a cappella narratives, string band songs, fiddle tunes, and sacred harp singing and assembled this volume from sources that were close to the originals. In other words, many of the performers here had learned these songs as hand-me-downs from their ancestors. They were familiar not only with tune, but style, arrangement, and grain. The end result is a 27-track collection of stunning music that is haunted, ghostly, raw, sparse and ultimately dignified in its presentation. What is particularly stunning is the brilliant sound of these recordings. Recorded between 1944 and 2002, these selections, assembled from previously released compilations and all but unheard field recording volumes, have something strange and unwieldy at their core. There are well known personages here like Roscoe Holcomb, Dock Boggs or Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, whose tunes from here have been heard before in other settings. But there are many more obscure entries, as well, from the wild wooly balladry and spoken word narration of Oscar Parks, the shambolic banjo blues of Dink Roberts, and the hunted, forlorn soul-searing darkness of Dorothy Melton, and the roof-raising joy of the Sacred Harp Singers. In either case, the effect is the same: one of true Otherness, where dislocation, quark strangeness, and untamed spirits gather in order to whisper, cry, moan, shout and laugh in a language that has not so much died as disappeared. Cohen's notes and annotations are fantastic, as always; they are not merely informative and authoritative, but offer (because of his welcoming prose) a glimpse of the ciphers themselves; they speak from the hollowed out place in his own heart that has been touched by these songs and the people who sang them. This is essential listening for anyone interested in authentic American roots musics.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/19/2004
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074014929
catalogNumber: 40149
Rank: 291397

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bill Monroe   Mandolin,Vocals
Peter Rowan   Guitar,Vocals
Ralph Stanley   Vocals
Doc Watson   Vocals
Dock Boggs   Banjo,Vocals
Roscoe Holcomb   Vocals
Fiddlin' John Carson   Track Performer
Dillard Chandler   Vocals
Gaither Carlton   Fiddle,Vocals
Carter Stanley   Vocals
Odell Thompson   Banjo,Fiddle
Tommy Jarrell   Fiddle,Vocals
Fred Cockerham   Fretless Banjo
Joe Patterson   Quills
E.C. Ball   Track Performer
Orna Ball   Track Performer
Dink Roberts   Vocals,5-string Banjo
Ed Young   Fife
French Carpenter   Fiddle
Lonnie Young   Bass Drums
Joe & Odell Thompson   Banjo,Fiddle
Earl Johnson & His Dixie Entertainers   Track Performer
G.D. Young   Snare Drums
Texas Gladden   Vocals
Dellie Norton   Vocals
Richard Greene & Beryl Marriott   Fiddle
Benny Jarrell   Fiddle
Toby Breeding   Leader
T. J. Chesser   Vocals
"Banjo" Bill Cornett   Banjo,Vocals
James Crase   Fiddle,Vocals
Ora Dell Graham   Vocals
Dorothy Melton   Vocals
Oscar Parks   Vocals
Dacosta Woltz   Banjo

Technical Credits

Ralph Stanley   Instrumentation
Mike Seeger   Engineer
Roscoe Holcomb   Instrumentation
Alan Lomax   Engineer
Dillard Chandler   Composer
John Cohen   Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes,Concept,Annotation,Cover Photo
John Leland   Composer
John A. Lomax   Engineer
Wayne Martin   Engineer
Ralph Rinzler   Engineer
Carter Stanley   Instrumentation
Albert E. Brumley   Composer
Art Rosenbaum   Engineer
Ray Alden   Engineer
Ed Young   Composer
Leonard Stokes   Cover Collage
Lonnie Young   Composer
Cece Conway   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Texas Gladden   Arranger
Pat Dunford   Engineer
Dellie Norton   Composer
Jeff Todd Titon   Engineer
Ken Davidson   Engineer
"Banjo" Bill Cornett   Engineer
Roger Haile   Digital Photography
Francis Harper   Engineer
Amelia Ramsey   Engineer
Frederic Ramsey   Engineer
Charles Frazier   Liner Notes

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