Sounds of the Ozark Folk

Volume II: Middle Americana


     This second collection of recordings from the John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection follows what we have termed a “Middle Americana” theme. Although the twenty-one songs on this compact disc represent a broad range of genres – from Tin Pan Alley concoctions and minstrel songs to original outlaw ballads – they are all considered American creations or variations, and many of them, such as “Lee Mills” and “Little Johnny Lee,” sprang from the very soil on which Dr. John Quincy Wolf Jr. recorded these ballads, broadsides, and dance tunes.
 
     Wolf, along with wife Bess, traveled the back roads of the hills and hollows of north central Arkansas for more than a decade beginning in the early 1950s in search of singers and musicians willing to sing and play their songs as Wolf saved them for posterity on his reel-to-reel tape recorder. When arthritis limited Quincy Wolf’s mobility in the 1960s, the couple increasingly turned their attention to musicians and genres found closer to their Memphis home, and one song in this collection reflects that change in geographical focus.
 
     Bess Wolf donated the collection to Arkansas (now Lyon) College in 1981. An English professor by trade and self-taught folklorist, Wolf, unlike many of his contemporaries and predecessors, did not limit his recordings to songs and tunes that fit the academic definition of “genuine” folk music. He recorded whatever his hosts felt like playing, including hymns, Jimmie Rodgers songs, and popular, traditional-sounding Tin Pan Alley numbers. Many of the songs in this collection would not have met the “authenticity” standards of the professional folklorists, but Wolf’s populist approach revealed the willingness of many in the hills of Arkansas and elsewhere to embrace the products of the American folk and popular traditions and the creations of local lore as willingly as they did the Child ballads and other British songs long sought and cherished by collectors. What follows is just a sampling of Wolf’s wonderful collection of American and regional songs and ballads, performed in parlors and on front porches across the Ozarks and the wider American countryside.
 
     This CD is the product of a class project of Brooks Blevins’s Ozark History and Culture course at Lyon College in the spring of 2007. Students in the class, whose names can be found in the “production assistance by” section of the credits, chose the theme of the collection, helped select songs for inclusion, and conducted research on singers, musicians, and songs. All proceeds from CD sales support the John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection and the Lyon College Regional Studies Center.
 


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Sounds of the Ozark Folk Volume II:
Middle Americana

1. The Cowboy (The Dallas County Jail) – R.B. Stark
2. The Horse at Freeman’s Door – Berry and Clementine Sutterfield
3. Jesse James – Almeda Riddle
4. Pretty Polly – Joe Craft
5. Joe Bowers – W.P. Detherow
6. Little Johnny Lee – Ray Johnson
7. Steamboat Bill – Mable Daugherty
8. Natchez Under the Hill – Mulkey Kent
9. Alice Mitchell and Freddy Ward – Grace Hastings
10. The Boy that Burned in the Berryville Jail – Fred High
11. The State of Arkansas – Gus Mahon
12. Booger Boo – Joe Craft
13. Dick and John – Seth Mize
14. The Battle of Prairie Grove – Sara Jo Fendley
15. Bad Companions (Taney County) – Owen Harvell
16. Going Down to ‘Leven Point to Get a Load of Corn – Mulkey Kent
17. Lee Mills – Berry and Clementine Sutterfield
18. Frankie and Johnny – B.F. Anderson
19. The Drowning of the Heber Springs Boy – Myrtle Verser and Alma Parrott
20. Piggy in the Pen – Joe Craft
21. Cole Younger – Oscar Gilbert

All Songs Recorded by John Quincy Wolf, Jr., unless otherwise noted


 
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Updated July 28, 2009