Here you go, folks. Two from the quintessential 2ftl picker, B.F. Shelton. Not much is known about the man other than that he was from Clay County, Kentucky (1902-1968) and that he was also a barber. He recorded 10 sides at the historic Bristol Sessions in July of 1927 – only four of which survive today. For many people, his version of Darlin’ Cora is the best one out there. Enjoy!
Links to these recordings can be found halfway down the “About the Style” page.
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Also known as Sweet Sunny South, this one was first collected from a “Mrs. Lucy Cannady at Endicott, VA. Aug 23 1918” by Cecil Sharp – although there have been accounts that this one goes back even before the Civil War (1850s). The first recordings of it were done in 1927 by Red Patterson’s Piedmont Log Rollers, DaCosta Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters, and a certain Jackson Young, which is apparently a pseudonym for fiddler Ben Jarrell. Since then, dozens of people have recorded it in various settings, with different regional/individual characteristics – some major sounding & some in a minor key. I personally enjoy the minor ones so the above tab is based on the lonesome sounds of Jake Owen (son of the late Blanton Owen) and his banjo. Also worth noting is the version done by Dock Boggs in the 1960s. Dang good. Do a quick Youtube search for more.
For a great discussion about lyrics and origins, check out the threads on Mudcat Cafe: I & II
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This is arranged from the outstanding fiddling/singing of Tim Eriksen. Like much of the music he plays, this piece is found in the Sacred Harp repertoire. The term “Sacred Harp” refers to the human voice, thus the music associated with the tradition is a capella and is called shape-note singing. The Sacred Harp collection was originally published way back in 1844 by a couple of guys from the state of Georgia – B.F. White & E.J. King. To this day many groups scattered throughout North America (and Europe) continue to gather for annual or local “singings” which might last anywhere from a couple hours to a few days. In my limited experience on this planet, there are few things which compare to the experience of standing in the middle of a bunch of harmonized shape-note singers. Highly recommended.
Anyway (!)…The Dying Californian is on the top of p.410 of the Sacred Harp book and features, according to the book, “words by Kate Harris of Pascoag, R.I. in the New England Diadem and Rhode Island Temperance Pledge, 9 Feb. 1850, ‘Suggested on hearing read an extract of a letter from Captain Chase, containing the dying words of Brown Owen, who recently died on his passage to California.”‘ Here it is done ‘by the book’ (full lyrics). And for good measure, here it is as performed way down in the Arkansas Ozarks.