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If the soundtrack to the 2001 indie film Songcatcher introduced audiences to old-time mountain music via stirring performances from Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and others, the vintage tracks on this companion volume take a step farther back in time. Songcatcher II dusts off 17 gems from the Vanguard vaults, centuries-old songs emanating from English, Scottish, and Irish folk sources, several from live recordings made at the Newport Folk Festival in the early 1960s. In a few cases, the album spotlights little-known talents, such as the captivating '60s ballad singer Almeda Riddle, whose four a cappella performances here are mesmerizing. Fiddlin' Arthur Smith isn't an oft-spoken name anymore, but his style and folksy manner -- vividly captured on the ancient English-Scottish folk song "Leather Britches" -- have made an incalculable impact on bluegrass fiddling. Hobart Smith, one of the bluesiest folk singers of his day, showcases both his engaging voice and fiery banjo stylings on an earthy live track, "The Coo Coo Bird." Turn-of-the-century protest singer Sarah Ogan Gunning will nail listeners to the wall with her reworking of "Man of Constant Sorrow" into "Girl of Constant Sorrow," a brutal account of the deprivations suffered by a miner's family. Doc Watson dominates the proceedings with four stellar performances (his "Winter's Night" will bring chills), but Dock Boggs, Clarence Ashley, and Roscoe Holcomb all make memorable appearances. Accompanying herself on autoharp, Maybelle Carter closes things out with "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies," her voice parched and yearning, her immersion complete in this cautionary tale of fleeting love. What a gift that these songs have been caught once again for a new generation.
Performance CreditsDoc Watson Track Performer
Dock Boggs Track Performer
Roscoe Holcomb Track Performer
Sarah Ogan Gunning Track Performer
Almeda Riddle Track Performer
Mother Maybelle Carter Track Performer
Cousin Emmy Track Performer
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith Track Performer
Hobart Smith Track Performer
Clarence Ashley Track Performer
Technical CreditsSheila Adams Liner Notes
John Currie Liner Notes
Georgette Cartwright Executive Producer
Fred Jasper Liner Notes
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This music is awesome for a fan of ''old timey'' songs. I grew up listening to my relatives singing these songs on the porch after supper or on long car trips. When we get together, my brother, sister and I talk about who sang which song(s) best. It is a precious trip ''home'' to childhood. The ''old folks'' are all gone now - these songs, in their primative format keep their favorite passtime (singing) alive!
The original Songcatcher is wonderful. It really caught my ear. Songcatcher II is a bait and switch rip-off sequel. Don't waste your money. It sounds like something recorded in a barn fifty years ago. I don't care if the artist and music are ''original'', they didn't have it then and they don't have it now. There is no harmony, the instrumentals are puny and most of all there is no Emmy Lou Harris, Dolly Parton, Emmy Rossum and Iris Dement. These artist are successful for a reason. The Bluegrass revival is strong, not because the original artist were great, but because the current artist are great. Dock who?
It's interesting from this to see that there are still variations of all of these songs out there. My mother used to sing "Babes in the Woods" to us as a lullaby (my older sister questioned the appropriateness when we were older), but the words she sang were more than a little different from the version here. I also sang it to my children, now entering their teens. I knew a lot of the other songs during my growing up. It was interesting hearing the old timey versions, but I knew people who sang them in more ballad style. It was still neat to hear.