Folk Music in the Southern Regions
Southern Folk Music . . . .
What'n Thunderation Is It?
MYSTERIES & MUSIC: Daniel Elton Harmon is back "on tour"—this time adding historical mystery story readings to his traditional folk ballad bag. . . .
NOW AVAILABLE: The Illustrated Harper & MacTavish Reader! A quarterly e-magazette featuring the adventures of two 19th-Century South Carolina crime reporter-sleuths. Plus classic mystery stories, historical crime facts, interesting South Caroliniana—and brand-new Harper and MacTavish adventures distributed as weekly "cliffhanger" serials. Subscription-based, e-book format (.PDF).
|The fella's good—good enough that the Irish
pub crowd, without admonishment, is keeping the noise to a low roar so
his songs can be heard by those who are interested. While the wait staff
parcel out shepherd's pie and black-and-tans, the soloist on the tiny
back-corner stage renders "Fiddler's Green," "Whiskey in
the Jar" and "The Unicorn"—standard pub fare. Someone
demands "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and he condescends to
do the dirty deed with a polite smile. But occasionally he sneaks in
some unorthodox stuff—the real stuff: "Dirty Old Town," Stan
Rogers' "Northwest Passage" and "Mary Ellen Carter."
Hmmm. This is no mindless request robot. He's been around.
Seattle? Philly? Boston?
Uh-uh. This is going on in Spartanburg, South Carolina, at a place called Delaney's. And yes—some of the listeners know all the words!
If you try to contain the southern folk music scene in a nice, square, definable box, you'd better start with a pretty big box. It comes from a lot of disconnected roots, and now it's all over the place, in disconnected (yet somehow strangely connected) forms. It's a trio at a Norfolk pub bellowing an 18th-Century pirate ditty (a la Blackbeard—slain on the North Carolina coast, November 1718). It's Auburn University suitemates harmonizing to a Mary Chapin Carpenter ballad. It's a Gullah story-teller who isn't singing at all, but whose narrative is nonetheless lyrical. It's a lonesome fiddler in the Ozarks; an African-American choir in a small, remote church in Mississippi; a mariachi restaurant ensemble performing table-to-table in San Antone; a blues man in Memphis, eyes closed and soul far, far away; a kilted piper on Black Mountain; a bluegrass band in Oklahoma (or Maryland, or Florida, or Arizona, or Tennessee) with no paying gig at the moment but a darned fine fish fry cracklin' at pondside on a Saturday night.
Most of America's authentic musical genres arguably originated in the South. You want the real thing? Check this out. . . .
Tune in to the editor's Web log ("blog")—regular postings on topics ranging from folk music to history to humor.
Meet the Editor
Elton Harmon is the author of The
Chalk Town Train & Other Tales,
Volume One in a Sherlock Holmes-style historical mystery/adventure short story
series, and "The Casebook of MacTavish," a companion series. Both are set in late-19th-Century
South Carolina—his home state. He has written more than 70 educational books
for juveniles and other volumes, and feature articles for The New York Times,
Music Journal and scores of other periodicals. Contributing editor of
Sandlapper: The Magazine of South Carolina and editor of The Lawyer's PC, a national
technology newsletter, he lives in Spartanburg, SC, with his wife, two fun dogs and an obnoxious
Eclectus parrot. He occasionally plays Celtic and traditional American hymns
at his church, Spartanburg Associate Reformed Presbyterian.
© 2003-2010 Hornpipe Vintage Publications