Various Artists: On Top of Old Smoky – New Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music

Various_OnTopOfOldSmokyReviving the music of 1930s Appalachia

In the late 1930s, as those living on the land that became the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were leaving (some voluntarily, some forcibly) their homesteads, farms, mines and logging camps, folklorist Joseph Hall collected field recordings of their dialectical speech and music. Selections from those aluminum platters and acetate discs were first released by the Great Smoky Mountains Association on 2010’s Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music [1 2]. Six years later, the GSMA has commissioned contemporary performances of twenty-three traditional Appalachian songs and popular material that had made its way into the mountains via commercial recordings.

The new recordings use of fiddle, guitar and banjo lends the performances the sort of informal backporch feel that Hall captured with his original field work. Ted Olson’s liner notes provide a brief history of the national park’s foundation, detail on Hall’s research, brief song notes and lyric transcriptions. The material includes fiddle tunes, ballads, blues, children’s songs, rags, harmony duets, yodels, westerns and sacred songs. The range of music that was created in the isolated hollars of the Smokies is truly impressive, and these new performances add links to the folk music chain. Dolly Parton and Norman Blake are the name artists, but the entire cast does this music proud. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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