Sunday, 22 February 2015

Going South

I thoroughly enjoyed 'Reginald D Hunter's Songs Of The South' on BBC2 last night.  For a start, I really like our host


so I was happy to accompany him through the scenically stunning if slightly unnerving landscapes of Tennessee and Kentucky in his open-top car. We learned about moonshine in Gatlinburg, square dancing in Paducah and murder ballads in Knoxville...


The Wilburn Brothers perform 'Knoxville Girl'

...as well as bluegrass, banjos, mountain dwellers, minstrels, and... oh, loads of stuff.  There's still time to catch up on iPlayer if you missed it.

It suddenly struck me too that I have an unerring soft spot for Glen Miller & His Orchestra's 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' from the 1941 film 'Sun Valley Serenade'.  Seems to me it's one of those songs we all just know from an early age but don't know quite why/how.   I'm now also a little bit hooked on the lovely Dorothy Dandridge's performance in the film alongside the Nicholas Brothers.



Next week Reginald takes us through Alabama and Georgia, and I'm looking forward to the final episode in Mississippi and Louisiana. (I thought of you, Erik.)

27 comments:

  1. Never knew Reginald had this show on the go. Will try to catch it - it sounds great.

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    1. Hope you do, SB. Well worth it so far.

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  2. I fear Reginald D is a poor substitute for Erik!

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    1. I think Erik would be the perfect host for Low Cotton On The Road. Somebody commission it!

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  3. I only saw the bit where the Handsome Family were doing Knoxsville Girl when I turned over from the news to avoid the footie scores before Match of the Day. Then as is the norm I fell asleep halfway through MOTD and missed most of the games!

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    1. Ah, now, you see if you'd stayed with Reginald you might have stayed awake!

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  4. I love the video, C. The Nicholas Brothers are amazing dancers! I've forgotten the details, but I seem to recall that Dorothy Dandridge had a rather tragic life, despite her talent and beauty.

    What is iPlayer? ;-) This program sounds so interesting - I'd like to tune in.

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    1. Oh yes I looked up Dorothy Dandridge and as you say, it seems she had a rather troubled life, dying quite young. I just love her here.
      (iPlayer is the internet streaming catch-up service for the BBC but unfortunately it's only available in the UK as far as I'm aware. It's a shame when programmes like this can't be seen internationally.)

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    2. Thanks for the explanation, C. I'm so annoyed that I can't access the programme. @ BBC: Boo! Hiss!

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    3. Shame, isn't it, when so much stuff out there CAN be shared, but yes the BBC are a bit precious :-(

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  5. Love Reg so will have to catch up on i-Player, thanks for pointing this out :)

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    1. Yes, hope you catch it, Yve. He's a pleasure to 'travel' with!

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  6. Get these hillbillies out of the way...there's rednecks with electric guitars closer to sea-level.

    I have been going to and through Gatlinburg all my life. My Daddy loves the Smokey Mountains and still goes every chance he gets. I love Gatlinburg because it's a gaudy mess of neon and tatty gift shops.

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    1. rednecks and negroes that is.

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    2. I can just see you downing the White Lightning in Gatlinburg too.... The 'Smokey Mountains' sounds so evocative, and I thought the scenery was breathtaking. Shame you can't see the programme, I'd be interested to know what you thought. As he drove into Nashville, he described it as being like a "combination of crime and Christmas"... whadd'ya reckon?

      I've amended my spelling of Gatlinburg now too, btw...!

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    3. The last time I had moon shine...it was from behind the counter of little Aberdeen, Mississippi's version of a swanky coffee shop.

      Nashville was meant to be like the Athens of The South...a cultural center. There's a full scale replica of the Parthanon in the park at West End....(West End's pretty cool)...but, country music took the place over.

      The funniest thing about Nashville in my experience is how serious some of the locals take the karaoke. We we're up there for work in a crap hotel...it had a bar at least and it was karaoke. This fella gets on the stage and apologizes in advance, for not being up to his usual stand..."I did a really long set" at the dew drop inn, or whatever, "last night and my voice hasn't recovered."

      Nashville's great but it is no Memphis.

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    4. Haha - I can just imagine that karaoke scenario... like it's someone's 15 minutes of fame... And I thought it was something one only does when so drunk that you've no idea what you're supposed to be singing but you're assuming it's 'I Will Survive' because the odds are pretty high that it will be anyway.

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  7. Thanks for this version of Knoxville Girl. I only knew it by Brett Sparks and it's one of my favorite murder songs of all time. But the hillbilly version by the Wilburn Brothers is fantastic.
    Go on posting the way you did.

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    1. Thanks Walter, v glad you enjoyed.

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    2. Walter - you need to listen to the Louvin Brothers - I posted versions by t hem and Nick Cave recently

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  8. C,
    That's a great clip of the Wilburn Brothers. I'd never heard them before. I'd like to hunt down some more of their songs. Here's another brother act, The Louvins, doing the song. (Please delete it, if you'd rather not have the link here.)

    https://app.box.com/s/2slv37v7tcf4rerwi3mbgjhz99l128j3

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    1. I think I saw the Wilburn Brothers clip on another blog a few years ago and it stuck in my mind. The Louvins are interesting too, many thanks. The whole idea of these murder ballads is quite disturbing, isn't it, but part of our heritage!

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    2. I've got the Louvin Brother's version on a compilation called Rebels and Outlaws. Wanda Jackson's Riot in Cell Block 9 is my favorite on that one but, the darkest one is Dick Curless Evil Hearted Me.

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  9. Watched Reg's show last night. Really good fun and interesting getting the 'hillbilly' stuff from a black man's perspective - not to mention the minstrel shows. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

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  10. Soundsjust up my street, I will try a watch this

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    1. It's well worthwhile if you can.

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