Lead Belly Private Party Minneapolis Minnesota 1948
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An extraordinary evening in the company of the great Texas songster, Lead Belly. In the relaxed atmosphere of an informal party the listener is given an up-close, dynamically interactive display by a master songster and storyteller, once a music companion to the legendary Blind Lemon Jefferson.
“Play this for you and then I’m gonna let you people walk around. After that I got a couple of more I got to play you about Mississippi – I got to give you – I got two or three I want you to hear – see how you gonna like it, then – we can all get together, it won’t be no stormy weather ’cause I’m gonna drink with you, talk with you and we’ll just relax. Now this is gonna be the Gailis Pole and it’s ragtime. Tell you about your so-called friends.”
And with that off handed, understated introduction Leadbelly launches into his powerful version of Child ballad No. 95 (sometimes titled “The Maid Freed From The Gallows”) at breakneck tempo explaining the action of the ageless story over the relentless gallop of his 12-stringed Stella guitar. A superbly charismatic entertainer emerges from the man who radiates a sensual charm even while relating a harrowing knifing incident (self-defense) that earned him one of his prison terms. This is not the Leadbelly who performed for the Library of Congress microphone and posterity, nor is it the Leadbelly of the concert stage separated in performance from his audience but a composed and self assured entertainer who knows exactly how to amuse, excite and impress his audience. True to his songster ethos, he runs the gamut of song styles and topics: calypso Nobody In The World Is Better Than Us, topical blues Bourgeois Blues, archaic ballad The Gallis Pole, holler I Ain’t Goin’ Down To The Well No More, a Hawaiian Song, native American ballad John Henry, and borrows from the hillbilly song Down In The Valley for the melodies to Governor O.K. Allen, and Down In Louisiana. He diplomatically compliments the cooking skills of the ladies, patiently explains and introduces his songs, leads the company through several singalongs, coaxes a very young girl through Irene, gives a musical Lesson In History, and even composes a song about Lake Superior on the spot for the Minnesotans.