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American Songster Radio
9 minutes | Nov 9, 2018
Dom Flemons: He's A Lone Ranger - WUNC's Songs We Love Podcast
Songs We Love is a series and a podcast that looks at the stories behind some of the songs we're playing on our new music discovery station, WUNC Music . On this episode we're featuring 'He's A Lone Ranger' by Dom Flemons. It's a song off of his latest record Black Cowboys. The record redefines the image of the American Cowboy with songs like the one featured here. It's one Dom wrote after hearing the story of Bass Reeves, who was born into slavery in 1838. Listen to the episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch98cFkA7a4
13 minutes | Oct 26, 2018
Black Women in the West: American Songster Radio Season 2 Episode 1
The second season of Dom Flemon's American Songster Radio podcast is released today, Friday, October 26. In this episode of American Songster Radio , Dom discusses the song “Black Woman” and revisits the lives of figures like Bridget “Biddy” Mason and “Stagecoach” Mary Fields. He also shares his own version of “Black Woman,” performed live on stage.
15 minutes | Oct 26, 2018
Western Songsters and Cowboy Tradition: American Songster Radio Season 2 Episode 2
This is episode two from season two of American Songster Radio .
13 minutes | Oct 26, 2018
Lead Belly, "The Singing Cowboy": American Songster Radio Season 2 Episode 3
This is episode three from season two of American Songster Radio .
14 minutes | Oct 26, 2018
Pullman Porters and the Road to Civil Rights: American Songster Radio Season 2 Episode 4
This is epsidoe four from season two of American Songster Radio .
12 minutes | Oct 26, 2018
The Real Lone Ranger: American Songster Radio Season 2 Episode 5
This is episode five from season two of American Songster Radio .
13 minutes | Oct 26, 2018
Sources Of A Classic Cowboy Song: American Songster Radio Season 2 Episode 6
This is the sixth and final episode from season two of American Songster Radio .
3 minutes | Oct 22, 2018
Introducing Black Cowboys: American Songster Radio S02 Episode 0
The cowboy is an icon of American culture. But the popular image of the white cowboy skews our perception of what kind of Americans did—and do—cowboying work. The American West after the Civil War was a dynamic and ethnically diverse place. As many as a quarter of the cowboys during the frontier era were African Americans. Remembering these Americans is crucial to understanding the west as a region and the United States as a country. As author Mike Searles stated in a 2010 NPR interview , “Many people see the West as the birthplace of America. If they only see it as the birthplace of white America, it means basically that all other people are interlopers—they’re not part of what makes an American.” In this season of American Songster Radio , Dom looks back to the Old West to uncover the African American roots of the American cowboy. Through a mix of personal essays, live conversation, and music performance, he traces the black history of the west from the Civil War through the struggle
10 minutes | Dec 14, 2017
The Bands That Shaped "'Til The Seas Run Dry": American Songster Radio Episode 17
When Dom Flemons set out to make his 2014 release Prospect Hill , he knew he wanted it to be an eclectic record. For variety, he assembled two different bands, each one a fantasy line up of top players.
16 minutes | Nov 19, 2017
What Else Does the Banjo Sound Like? American Songster Radio Episode 16
Young banjo players Jerron Paxton and Kaia Kater hail from places that are pretty far removed from the American South. But as they learned their instruments and connected with banjo mentors, they found old-time music well beyond its reputed home region. Paxton and Kater both started out playing bluegrass music. “I was a little fat boy in Compton with a straw hat and overalls trying to be like Earl Scruggs,” Paxton recalls. The popularity of bluegrass made it easy to find, even in California. The same held true in Kater’s hometown, Toronto, Canada. But for each of them learning Scruggs-style picking was just a gateway drug. Soon, Paxton and Kater were asking themselves the same question that motivates many old-time music revivalists: what else does the banjo sound like? To take up this question, Kater traveled from her native Canada to the heart of the North Carolina mountains. “I went to the Swannanoa Gathering, which is a fantastic, fantastic camp. And I was really influenced by
11 minutes | Sep 18, 2017
"Making Hot Chicken": American Songster Radio Episode 15
When Dom Flemons visited a legendary fried chicken joint in Nashville, inspiration struck him like a wave of cayenne heat:
12 minutes | Aug 13, 2017
More Tunes And Tales From Vegas: American Songster Radio Episode 14
When Dom Flemons first came across the story of African American songster Gus Cannon, one fact took him by surprise. "[Gus Cannon] was a blackface performer, but he was a black man," Flemons says, recalling his initial reaction. "How can this be? That you can have an African American man be a part of a type of entertainment that, when I’d read about it in books, they would say that it was demeaning to black people?" Dom pursued this question in his own historical research and eventually published an article on Cannon for Oxford American magazine (" Can You Blame Gus Cannon? " published in the fall of 2013). His account of Cannon’s life reveals a performer who manages to subvert stereotypes, even while working within the limitations set by a dominant culture. When Flemons plays songs from Cannon’s repertoire in concert, he often begins with a version of Cannon’s life story. "[Blackface minstrelsy] was the very first international phenomenon for American popular entertainment," Flemons
10 minutes | Jul 6, 2017
Dom Combines Fife And Drum Music With Early Hip Hop - American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 13
When Dom Flemons was in the studio making his album Prospect Hill , the engineer made a casual comment that pushed the material in an unexpected direction. “Maybe you should sell some of those beats to a hip-hop artist!” the engineer quipped.
19 minutes | May 15, 2017
Laurent Dubois: American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 12
In 2005, Laurent Dubois had an encounter that would spark his transformation from a historian with a banjo to a historian of the banjo. It was an unusual example of the instrument that began to deepen his curiosity—a Haitian artifact that had languished for most of its life in a museum collection.
29 minutes | Apr 20, 2017
Jerron Paxton In Conversation And In Concert: American Songster Radio Episode 11
The young folk musician Jerron Paxton defies easy categorization. He grew up in a west coast metropolis, but his family and community adhered to customs from the rural south. And, like a number of people in Los Angeles with Louisiana roots, he inherited a combination of African-American, American Indian, and Jewish heritage. Paxton plays acoustic music that reflects these origins, with a focus on solo fiddle, guitar, and banjo. He also has a passion for telling his family’s story: People don’t know who I am, so I usually tell the history of my people and where I come from. Specific history about my great-grandfather and great-grandmother on down to me. I almost feel like an ambassador of the culture. It gives me a tremendous amount of joy to know that the things and the people I grew up with -- I can pass on the lessons they taught me and the culture they’ve given me. On episode 11 of American Songster Radio , host Dom Flemons speaks with Paxton about the formative experience of
32 minutes | Mar 6, 2017
Kaia Kater In Conversation And In Concert: American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 10
The birth of the Carolina Chocolate Drops at the 2005 Black Banjo Gathering at Appalachian State University has become the stuff of folk music legend. “Of course it was an academic event,” Dom Flemons notes of the conference, “but it was also based on the idea of confirming that you weren’t the only one out there.” Once launched, the Drops’ music spread like wildfire. With it emerged a new public appreciation of the African American roots of old-time, bluegrass, and country music.
54 minutes | Feb 21, 2017
Cowboy Songs: American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 9
What makes a song a folk song, anyway? One familiar answer is that a folk song is a song without an author. Folk song scholars even have a name for the theory that some songs emerge without any one person composing them. They call it "communal creation."
24 minutes | Jan 9, 2017
Martin Simpson: American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 8
On Episode 8 of American Songster Radio, host Dom Flemons speaks with his recent musical collaborator, the legendary English guitarist Martin Simpson. Dom Flemons and Martin Simpson have worked together since 2014, when the pair received a joint commission from the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Since then, they’ve completed multiple duo tours and released Ever Popular Favourites , an album that celebrates the longstanding mutual influence of British and American music.
21 minutes | Dec 6, 2016
Jake Fussell: American Songster Podcast Radio Episode 7
Jake Fussell didn’t have to look far for musical inspiration in his home state of Georgia. Even before he picked up a guitar, he was surrounded by some of the region’s most storied performers and committed documentarians. Fussell grew up in the town of Columbus, GA, the son of parents whose passion was studying, teaching, and presenting regional culture. For Fussell, an American folk song like “Raggy Levy” isn’t just an archival find. It’s a part of his lived experience.
21 minutes | Nov 1, 2016
The Life And Adventures Of Folklorist Bill Ferris: American Songster Radio Podcast Episode 6
Meet Bill Ferris On the first Sunday of every month, Bill Ferris attended an African-American church on the farm where he grew up. Over time Ferris, a white child, became a routine presence at the church. He especially loved participating in the church’s communal singing. "I learned the hymns, and I just felt very emotionally close to that world," Ferris tells American Songster Radio host Dom Flemons.
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