Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Help With History?

We're really inspired by the rare audio that we're so privileged to listen to. We've started adding the tracks from the reel-to-reel recordings that John has already recorded into the master discography we're working on. We also brought our desktop computer and scanner so that we can begin digitizing photos and images of the 45 labels that we have. 

For example, below is an old family photo from the 1940's or 1950's. We know that the first two people are Frances and John, but we're not sure who the second woman is. Timi thinks it might John's sister Marie, but she hopes that family members can maybe help confirm her identity.

Also, we scanned our first 45 record label and plan to scan the rest to help supplement the documentation available on the online "45 RPM Records of The Ohio River Valley" database. I picked this one because I thought their recording name "Frankie and Johnnie Reedy" was cute and clever!

I'm also intrigued by the fact that Frances wrote "Tiny Bitty Pieces" when she and John were temporarily separated, and yet they harmonize so beautifully on this catchy country tune. It sort of reminds of me of Fleetwood Mac and the way in which they were able to harness some pretty raw and dissonant emotions as a group in such a melodic accessible way.

We also scanned this image of the single 8-track recording in the collection.

There is no information about the recording label or when it was produced, and Timi does not remember who in the world "the Brush Creek Grass" might be! There is absolutely no online information that we could find, so any leads toward solving this mystery would be appreciated.

We've also been working on a preliminary timeline of events throughout Frankie and Johnny lives as well as beyond their own lifetimes. We will continue filling in gaps and updating this timeline as we go along, but we obviously have a lot of information already and some opportunities to get feedback from others for clarification and correction. Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer information!

Date/Year Activity Location
12/09/18 John William Reedy born Tennessee
12/31/22 Frances Williebob Ridner born Bell County, Kentucky
11/22/36 John and Frances married Harlan, Kentucky
1939 John wrote “Somebody Touched Me”
1930’s-40’s John and Frances have radio program on WHLN for 17½ years sponsored by Fuller Furniture Harlan, Kentucky
1949 John and Frances’ first recording of “Somebody Touched Me” on a 78 Bristol, Tennessee
Early 1950’s John and Frances moved to Dayton to work at GM Dayton Ohio
12/25/61 Reel-to-reel recording of family Christmas Dayton, Ohio
Early 1960’s John and Frances recorded three 45’s on the Jalyn label Dayton, Ohio
Early 1960’s John and Frances recorded six multiple-track 45’s on the Starday label Nashville, Tennessee
Early 1960’s John and Frances independently recorded four 45’s Dayton, Ohio
Early 1960’s John and Frances recorded one 45 on Ark label Cincinnati, Ohio
1962 Starday released a compilation titled Tragic Songs of Death and Sorrow featuring Oh Death Nashville, Tennessee
Early 1960’s Reedy family returned to Kentucky Corbin, Kentucky
1972 “Somebody Touched Me” included in Library of Congress
1973 Frances and John record 45 on Jewel label Cincinnati, Ohio
1974 Rounder records released Early Days of Bluegrass, Vol.1, which includes “Somebody Touched Me”
1974-1976 Frances and John recorded three 45’s on the Viola label (Lundy Records) Barbourville, Kentucky
1977 Frances and John released LP Hymns from the hills of Harlan County Kentucky on the Lundy label Barbourville, Kentucky
Late 1970's / early 80's? On My Way to Heaven 8-track released by John Reedy and the Brush Creek Grass
12/25/80 Family Christmas VHS video Corbin, Kentucky
01/30/83 John Reedy passed away Corbin, Kentucky
1996 Frances Reedy oral histories (one on forest and one on music) collected and preserved by Appalachia—Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) in collaboration with Kentucky Historical Society and UK Archives Corbin, Kentucky
March 2001 Japanese CD Bob Dylan Live 1961-2000: Thirty Nine Years of Great Performances includes “Somebody Touched Me,” recorded live at Portsmouth, England in 2000, as the first track
2004 “Somebody Touched Me” released on a compilation CD, Bluegrass Early Cuts 1931-1953
04/06/06 Frances Reedy passed away Corbin, Kentucky
07/22/08 “Somebody Touched Me” released on a compilation CD, Authentic Rare Bluegrass: Independent Label Sides 1951-1954
2009 “Somebody Touched Me” released on a compilation CD, The Appalachian Tradition: Original Bluegrass Classics

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reel-to-reels on CD!

We came in this afternoon very excited to tell Harry about the DVD and let him watch it. Then shortly afterward when we got to our work area, we noticed three CD's of converted reel-to-reel recordings were waiting on us!

We just finished listening to and ripping the first one, and we completed a partial track list for it. Some of the tracks are a little hard to hear, and some are only 30-second snippets, so a couple of them remain nameless for now. But we have a mostly complete list to share with Harry and John. I wish there were a way to export a Media Player track list into a table or some portable format so we could transfer it more easily than typing it again. These tracks are turning up additional songs in their repertoire that were not commercially recorded.

John has a couple more tapes to convert, but they had to be "baked" first. Vaguely, the process temporarily repairs old tapes that have transferred the oxides from the back of the tape to the recording side while wound together. I know I'm not doing the science of it justice, but the main thing is that there will be more CD's to listen too soon! Meanwhile, let's get back to the ones we have...
(18 Sept. 8:34 pm)

We listened to all three CD's that John converted from reel-to-reel so far. One was a church service with mostly performances, some personal testimonies, and a couple of songs by another artist. Several songs included some children singing, and we're not sure if it's Timi or an earlier recording that would've been her cousins. Another CD was a 1961 Christmas recording with a Dayton radio sermon by John's brother Roger followed by home recordings by John interviewing his relatives coming in to visit. 

Harry was really intrigued by the DVD Christmas footage as well. He made a comment to Timi about how rare and important this material is, and he's already had a copy of the DVD made. Today he mentioned that it would be useful to have even a rough timeline of Frances and John's lives, where they were and when as well as some general context about the time and region(s) in which they lived. So we plan to get started on that next week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reedy Christmas 1980

Today I hung out at Jeneene and Travis' house (kitty-sitting whilst they're at the beach wedding) and worked on and off on some consulting research I'm doing. (I'm also not feeling 100% today, and thus the on-and-off.) It's also an off-day from Fellowship research because Special Collections is closed, and today's Timi's day to hang out with her dad in Corbin.

When Timi came back this evening, she had a DVD from her step-mom with some video footage of her mamaw and papaw playing songs together for what she said had been the first time in a couple of years. She also said it was taken at their house on Ford Street and was Christmastime around 1980. I knew Frances but never knew John, and I knew her much later in her life. They were really cute to watch together! 

Harold's videography was a little swimmy at times, but the sound quality was much better than expected. Also, Timi noted several of the songs weren't commercial recordings that she could remember, and some were childhood favorites that her mamaw sang to her and that she was listening to for the first time again in years! There's definitely some good footage to use, and I think there's even more good audio to reproduce. Thanks to Pooger for capturing the original VHS and making us a DVD to use for the documentary.

Groundhog Day?

So yesterday was not as productive as we'd hoped. We finally got the cassette out of one player (which we discovered was not functioning properly in the first place), and then went to listen to another cassette on a different player. We got to listen to one that ended up having some live songs recorded on it (very cool), and we were laughing out loud at Timi's papaw literally whooping it up because he was having such a good time. 

And then...déjà vu all over again... we got another cassette stuck in the player in the research room. So twice John had to come to our aid, screwdriver in hand, and rescue the jammed tapes from the equipment. Had it been our own, we would've dug in with miscellaneous tools to dismantle said tape players, but we hesitated because they didn't belong to us. So alas, we ended up resigning ourselves to our fate and ending our day before we could wreck more havoc.

Tomorrow will be a better day?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reedy Discography (V.2)

[NOTE: This version of the discography in the post below has been replaced by a standalone page that we update regularly. Please see the "Reedy Commercial Discography" page for the most recent version (additional updates/corrections are welcome).]

The updated discography below includes some additions that will surely be of interest to other researchers, collectors, and enthusiasts. Items shaded in green are already in the collection we're working with. The listings are (mostly) in alphabetical order by record label, then (mostly) grouped by format.

John Reedy and The Stone Mountain Quartet Ark 200 My Imagination / O Sinner Man / Walk Around Me, Jesus / Be Good To Mommy / The Lord Is My Shepherd / Going Up EP Cincinnati, OH 1961
John & Francis Reedy Jalyn 210 Quit Kicking My Dog Around / Tiny Bitty Pieces 45 Dayton, OH 1964
John Reedy & Danny Roberts Jalyn 213 Knocking On Your Door / Lost John 45 Dayton, OH 1965 (or 1967?)
John Reedy And Danny Roberts Jalyn 324 Going To Tennessee / The Rolling Winds 45 Dayton, OH 1964 or 1968?
John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio Jewel 1017 Little Sparrow / Tiny Bitty Pieces 45 Cincinnati, OH 1973
John Reedy and His Stone Mountain Trio John Reedy 413-1 I Just Dropped By / I'm Walking The Road To Heaven 45 Dayton, OH 1960
John Reedy and His Stone Mountain Trio John Reedy 502 Oh, Death (John and Francis Reedy) / Driftwood (John Reedy) 45 Dayton, OH 1961
John Reedy and Stone Mountain Trio John Reedy CP-6151 Somebody's Been Praying for Me / We Can Please God 45

Frankie & Johnnie Reedy John Reedy 13053 Kicking My Dog Around / Tiny Bitty Pieces 45 Dayton, OH
John Reedy and His Stone Mountain Trio Starday SEP 166 Oh Death / A Prayer Is Worth More Than Silver and Gold / Driftwood / I Just Dropped By 45 Nashville, TN Early 60's
John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio Starday SEP 179 Somebody Touched Me / I Saw a Pale Moon / Walking the Same Road / Climbing the Stairway to Heaven 45 Nashville, TN Early 60's
John Reedy and The Stone Mt. Trio Starday SEP 209 Mighty Hand of God / Jonah / I Feel Jesus / That Big Hand of God 45 Nashville, TN Early 60's
John Reedy / John Reedy & Alvin Morgan Starday SEP 219 Banks of Jordan / Jesus / Charity / Looked Down the Road 45 Nashville, TN Early 60s
John Reedy & the Stone Mt. Trio Starday SEP 199 You Take One Step-He’ll Take Two / I’ll Fly High Up In the Kingdom / My Warfare Will Be Ended 45 Nashville, TN Early 60s
John Reedy Trio Starday SEP 222 St. John / Sunshine and Flowers / He’s Coming Back / Come and Go With Me 45 Nashville, TN Early 60's
John Reedy & His Stone Mountain Boys Twin City 1021 Somebody Touched Me / Driftwood 78 Bristol, TN/VA 1949
John & Francis Reedy Viola Records (Lundy Music) VR 225 Cherokee Lady / Tennessee Duals 45 Barbourville, KY
John Reedy & Stone Mtn. Trio Viola Records (Lundy Music) VR 188 Summer is Gone / That's the Man I'm Looking For 45 Barbourville, KY
John Reedy and the Stone Mountain Hillbillies Viola Records (Lundy Music) Moonlight and Music (Winford Storms & Francis Reedy) / Grandad's Fiddle (Francis Reedy) 45 Barbourville, KY
John Reedy and His Stone Mountain Hillbillies Lundy 206 Hymns From the Hills Of Harlan County LP Barbourville, KY 1977 or 1982
John Reedy and the Brush Creek Grass On My Way to Heaven (Track List) 1. Somebody Touched Me / On My Way to Heaven / Sin City 2. Who's Gonna Take My Girl Around / Something Else Breakdown / Tennessee Blues 3. I Saw the Light / You Can Have Her / Rawhide 4. I'll Just Think I'll Go Away / Knocking on Your Door / Children Go Where I Send Thee 8-Track

John Reedy How Happy Are They CT Defeated Creek ORBC, KY 08/20/92
John Reedy Prodigal Son CT Blair Branch ORBC 03/18/90
John Reedy Prodigal Son CT Little Dove ORBC 04/15/90
John & Frances Reedy Oh! Death CT
Francis Reedy Prayer Is Worth More Than Silver or Gold, A CT

Various Artists [John Reedy] Starday SEP 168 Hall of Fame Series Gospel Songs By All Star Artists [Compilation: Oh, Death] 45 Nashville, TN Early 60's
Reedy [Various Artists] Starday SLP-168 Tragic Songs of Death and Sorrow [Compilation: Oh, Death] LP Nashville, TN 1962
John Reedy & His Stone Mountain Hillbillys [Various Artists] Rounder Somebody Touched Me [Compilation: Early Days of Bluegrass, Vol. 1] LP 1974
John Reedy & His Stone Mountain Boys [Various Artists] Fuel 2000? Somebody Touched Me [Compilation: Appalachian Heart: The Original Bluegrass Classics] CD 2006
John Reedy [Various Artists] Somebody Touched Me [Compilation: Bluegrass Early Cuts 1931-1953: Classic Recordings Remastered] CD 2004
John Reedy & His Stone Mountain Boys [Various Artists] Somebody Touched Me [Compilation: Authentic Rare Bluegrass: Independent Label Sides 1951-54] CD
John Reedy & His Stone Mountain Boys [Various Artists] Somebody Touched Me [Compilation: The Appalachian Tradition: Original Bluegrass Classics] CD

Fellows' First Days

Timi and I began our library Fellowship this week amidst of flurry of related and otherly-related activities. On Monday, we basically hung out with Harry while he walked and talked us through where our work space would be, what materials and equipment we could access, as well as some potential research leads. Then yesterday we started sorting 45's and I updated the discography to include 45's that hadn't previously been cataloged and to annotate the ones that we already have in our collection. (I'll be posting the expanded discography soon!) Harry also told us that he'd already pulled some old Renfro Valley recordings for us to listen to sometime.

Today we were planning to listen to some of the cassette tapes that I found, but we're already having some technical difficulty's with the player. Thankfully, John just walked in, so we're hoping he can help. Also, he is currently reporting that he's listened to a couple of the reel-to-reel tapes already! So we're excited about getting to listen to the digital versions of those in the near future. He said Timi's papaw's harmonica was really good, and he also appreciated the unexpected appearance of the Klezmer clarinet component in a couple of the songs. (We're tickled and charmed by that as well.)

For the Community Scholar course, we're supposed to conduct an informal interview this week. For this one, I thought it would be cool if we took turns and interviewed each other about the project. Future homework assignments include additional interviews, so I'd also like to interview Harry about the Sound Archives, how long he's worked here, and his interest and expertise in Appalachian Music. I wish our camera were working better so that we could capture really high quality footage, but it will still be good to get some practice planning questions and setting up the interview shoot.

It's amazing that we have not only the opportunity and time to do this research, but it's also a blessing that we have knowlegable and enthusiastic scholars/archivists who are proactively contributing to our process and resources.

Timi and John are almost done taking the cassette player apart to retrieve the tape, and John found a headphone adapter for us so we can plug in two sets of headphones! More later... 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Community Scholars Program

Timi and I are looking forward to beginning the Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship next week, but we're a little tired because so much other stuff is going on. The Clear Creek Festival was the best ever, but there wasn't a lot of sleeping over the weekend. Plus I helped my mom out a couple of days afterward, I've taken on a temporary consulting job that started this week and will overlap with the beginning of the Fellowship. But overall, we're really looking forward to digging in at Special Collections, polishing off old treasures, and surfacing new ones.

On Monday evening, we also begin a Community Scholars Program that will be concurrent with our Fellowship this fall. This
certification program is sponsored by the Kentucky Folklife Program, which entails weekly evening courses from mid-September through late November (concurrent with the research fellowship). Participants are trained in “folklife documentation techniques, ethics of working with communities, research methods, presentation of cultural resources, grant writing, and project development,” so it will be such an informative and inspiring opportunity as we prepare for the interview phase of the documentary next spring.

We also recently submitted a grant proposal that we won't know about until late December. I'd love to say more about what that entails, but I'd rather wait until we know whether we actually have something to report! So stay tuned later this year for possible news... (and wish us luck!)