Field Recordings Vol 15 1941-1942 Mississippi – Full Album
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Out in the hill country of North Mississippi, in Tate and Panola counties, east of the Delta, a family of musicians were active for over a century. Fiddler Doc Hemphill had a string band back in the 1880s and 90s and his son Sid Hemphill picked up where his father left off. Sid was a multi-instrumentalist with a repertoire of around a hundred tunes and songs. His various bands performed in the hill country, in the Delta (where Turner Junior Johnson recommended Alan Lomax to seek out the “boar-hog musician”, Sid Hemphill), up in Memphis, out in Alabama. Sid Hemphill’s string bands were augmented with drums, and his own quills and fife. A long-time associate was banjo player Lucius Smith (b. 1892) who played with Hemphill for 54 years.
In his first interview Hemphill tells Alan Lomax about “The Carrier Railroad”, the performance of this ballad can be heard on DOCD-5577 and bad man Jack, the subject of another ballad, “The Roguish Man”. Hemphill’s The Strayhorn Mob is that rarity, a song about a lynching, describing how a mob from that Tate county town took a prisoner from the Senatobia jailhouse and hanged him. Dating back to perhaps 1910 Sid’s version of The Boll Weevil closely compares to “an early Texas version” published by Alan Lomax. Most of the third interview is actually a performance of Come On Boys, Let’s Go To The Ball, played on the quills. So Soon, I’ll Be Back Home is a spiritual, which fits well with the sanctified material sung by various ladies on the Moorhead plantation at Lula, Mississippi. Manuel Casey’s gospel number contrasts sharply with the bawdy, boastful toast that precedes it. Even the popular topic of settling Hitler’s hash did not allow the singer to be identified. Charley Berry, an associate of the Stovall resident McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters) contributes two valuable levee camp hollers. Asa Ware’s monologue about the Boll Weevil may prompt listeners to investigate the companion volume (Document DOCD-5669) in order to hear and read more about the fascinating ballad of the Boll Weevil.