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.
Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.