Mudcat Café message #1280009 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73622   Message #1280009
Posted By: Jerry Rasmussen
24-Sep-04 - 11:10 AM
Thread Name: Why is a singer one of your favorites?
Subject: RE: Why is a singer one of your favorites?
If you notice the title of this thread, it does not have the word "folk" in it, so Billie Holliday and John Denver are as legitimate favorites as any "folk" singer.

I'll add another great, great singer who is not "folk" even though he had a major interest in whetting my curiosity for folk music: Clancy Hayes. Clancy played plectrum banjo and guitar (only rarely recorded) and was known mostly for doing vocals with Bob Scobey's Frisco Band. Many of the songs Scobey sang were what I'd call "folk." Among others, he did Silver Dollar, Ace In The Hole, Sailing Down to Chesapeake Bay, Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey, Blues My Naught Sweetie Gave To Me, Do You Know What I means To Miss New Orleans, and Long Gone. I loved Scobey's singing, and imitated him while singing along for several years before I had a chance to hear him "live." Like Mississippi John, Scobey brought a maravelous, warm, humorous personality to everything that he sang, and he was a delight to hear in person. His choice of material (when he recorded on his own) was as wonderful as the songs he did with Bob Scobey.

For me, one of the dimensions to a singer that attracts me most is enthusiasm for the songs. Even though Mississippi John was quiet and humble, there was no mistaking how enthusiastic he was about the songs he sang. He was a singer in love with the song, not the sound of his own voice. Bob Scobey was the same, and perhaps one of the greatest examples of almost uncontrollable enthusiasm was another of my great, great favorites... Lonnie Donegan.

Someone commented earlier in this thread about my asking why people weren't mentioning "older" singers. In here, most of us are "older," so my comment didn't say what I meant. What I meant to ask is, are there singers who are no longer alive, who you only know through their recordings and never heard in person who you love as singers?

I never heard Lonnie Donnegan live, or Leadbelly (another great favorite with high-powered enthusiasm) or Uncle Dave Macon (got enthusiasm?) Others I've had the honor to hear who deserve their own post are Reverend Gary Davis, and Almeda Riddle.

Like many of us, I came to love folk music through recordings. It was years before I had a chance to hear live folk music. Maybe that's why so many of the now-gone folk singers hold such a high position in my love of music.

In folk music, death is the best career move.