Fans of early country and blues won't want to miss this compilation of newsreel footage from the '20s and '30s, capturing both the famous (Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills's Texas Playboys) and the anonymous. The 23 painstaking... more »ly compiled clips focus mostly on the musicians where they lived or played, at home, at barn dances, and on street corners. Some of the highlights include Georgia field hands, taking a break against a tree stump, harmonizing on "Mary Don't You Weep"; an anonymous spirited fiddler at a square dance playing "Waggoner"; and three newsreel clips of Jimmie Rodgers performing his songs, including "Waiting for a Train." The clips are presented, unfortunately, without any kind of introduction or context, but the individual snippets are still priceless slices of Americana. --Anne Hurley« less
Jack L. Brown | Corpus Christi, Texas United States | 09/01/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this disc primarily for the Jimmies Rodgers and Bob Wills footage; I figured the rest would be gravy. I wasn't too far off the mark, either - although I was disappointed with the Wills segment (it's just a basic fiddle tune... no steel guitar or other innovative musicianship found on Texas Playboys recordings), the Jimmie Rodgers footage is priceless. The Singing Brakeman performs the classic "Waiting For A Train", plus "Daddy and Home" and "T For Texas (Blue Yodel #1)". This is essentially "Jimmie Rodgers Unplugged", as Jimmie accompanies himself on guitar on a soundstage made to look like a train depot. Watching this footage, it's easy to see why audiences loved his music - Jimmie Rogers was an unassuming regular Joe who got your attention with lovely melodies sung in a unique style; no fancy lighting or pyrotechnics needed.As far as the other footage, it's hit-or-miss. Some of the jazz bands are great, some aren't. I was hoping the Lemire Twins would be a brother duet in the vein of the Delmore Brothers or The Blue Sky Boys, but they were some cheesy banjo duo. While I don't have a problem with one banjo, a banjo duo is sort of like a root canal duo. To make matters worse, there's also a banjo quartet.But it's not all that bad. There are some hillbilly vaudeville perfomances that are highly entertaining and definitely merit repeat viewings. There are several clips of black performers, too. Some anonymous farm hands performs a great version (in spite of not knowing all the words) of "Mary Don't You Weep", but Uncle John Scruggs' otherwise fine performance is marred by its exploitative quality.This disc would have gotten 4 stars for the Jimmie Rodgers footage alone (the absolute lack of any extras prevent it from getting 5 stars from me), but the dreadful sound quality of this anthology gets a star taken away. Sure, this is some ancient archival footage and some flaws are to be expected, but most of the noise is stuff that could have easily been fixed. The sound is acceptable when there's music, but in the gaps between songs or dialogue the noise is awful. A part of me wants to be extremely grateful that this footage is even available to the public, but another part of me realizes that other companies *cough*BEAR FAMILY*cough* would have taken the time to do a great job, not just a good job."
Jmark2001 | Florida | 10/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here's your chance to see three hot jazz bands recorded on film while the jazz age was still going on. I was stunned by the late twenties footage of Herb Westphal, Johnson's jazz band (super hot!), and Ted Weems. The film of the Georgia field hands singing was a step back into a time machine of American rural life. The gospel choir ended up swinging with an hypnotic spiritual that had me clapping along. Some of the other films had less interest for me but this is a must-see if you love early jazz, country, or folk music."
This IS in the Smithsonian
EarlyJazzLover | Seattle, WA USA | 11/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At least that's where I found a copy and purchased it. And promptly fell in love with it. The clip of Whistler's Jug Band really grew on me until I had to listen to it every day, even though the first time I heard it, it didn't sound melodic at all.
"Tomorrow" and "My Ohio Home" by Eddie Thomas and Carl Scott are excellent with sublimely lo-fi instruments: a washboard, a ukelele, and a kazoo. The other clips are also interesting just for the infectious happiness and enthusiasm that the musicians had for their craft."
Rare footage of Ted Weems and his Orchestra..
Homer M. Scarborough, Jr. | Macon, GA United States | 05/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The reason I bought this CD was because it was the only thing that I could find showing Ted Weems and his Orchestra on video. Weems, who was popular for a number of years, and whose band had a million copy seller with his hit, "Heartaches" in 1947, never really received the full recognition that he deserved as a band leader and discoverer of talent (Perry Como, Marilyn Maxwell, Red Ingle, etc.). In addition to this, he was also considered by all who knew him as a kind and warm individual. The rest of the video was also interesting, and contains a lot of rare footage of rural American music being performed by the people who originated it and in their natural surroundings. Fine job on the part of producers. It is fortunate that these rare, live musical performances have been preserved so that we can all enjoy them."
GREAT FOR MUSIC HISTORY LOVERS!!
Nancy Eldridge | Hancock, Michigan | 11/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you love listening to some of the very best in the early days of our country's popular music, this is the one for you. If you are familiar with Jimmie Rodgers (Waitin' For A Train), you'll love the music on this DVD. He appears singing another of his great tunes. The video in this is black and white, so don't look for special extras. This is just early 30's and 40's music at it's very best, and the people who performed it best. There is even a cameo of one of our nation's president's! For music lovers, this is a great buy to let your children (and/or grandchildren) to see what YOUR grandparent's listened to as children. A great example of the evolvement of our country's popular music."