11 episodes

Tracing the roots of American music from its emigrated past to artists playing the songs forward. Join folk singer-songwriter Nicholas Edward Williams, where each episode uncovers unique stories and lesser-known facts behind five songs, spanning from centuries ago to those carrying tradition today. Then, as folk artists have always done, Williams re-creates them. From European immigrants, to songs of the South: Gospel, Ragtime, Blues, Country, and the Folk music derived from it all. Hear stories of legends and the under-represented. Here’s to the songs of old, may they live on forever. Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/americansongcatcher/support

American Songcatche‪r‬ Nicholas Edward Williams

    • Music History
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Tracing the roots of American music from its emigrated past to artists playing the songs forward. Join folk singer-songwriter Nicholas Edward Williams, where each episode uncovers unique stories and lesser-known facts behind five songs, spanning from centuries ago to those carrying tradition today. Then, as folk artists have always done, Williams re-creates them. From European immigrants, to songs of the South: Gospel, Ragtime, Blues, Country, and the Folk music derived from it all. Hear stories of legends and the under-represented. Here’s to the songs of old, may they live on forever. Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/americansongcatcher/support

    Talkin' Blues: Dom Flemons

    Talkin' Blues: Dom Flemons

    Today on the program, I’m delighted to share a conversation I had with the Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist and preservationist Dom Flemons. Branded The American Songster from his diverse catalogue of tunes, Dom’s not just a songwriter, he’s a multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, music scholar, historian, and record collector who is proficient on banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife and rhythm bones.⁠

    We talked about his early life, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, music preservation and the journey to becoming a historian and musicologist. He also played a few tunes and shared some stories about a few essential folk and blues artists, and the current folk and blues revival.⁠



    Dom's Links:

    Official Website

    Instagram

    Facebook



    Single w/ Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band -  "Shake Your Money Maker" (originally by Elmore James)

    Prospect Hill Album




    BONUS:

    Patreon subscribers can watch the entire unedited video. Join today for as little as $5 a month!


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    • 1 hr 7 min
    #8: Shine That Ever Loving Light On Me

    #8: Shine That Ever Loving Light On Me

    Featured in this Episode:

    Traditional - “Midnight Special” (:39)

    Memphis Jug Band - “Stealin’, Stealin’” (13:30)

    Etta Baker - “Railroad Bill” (26:13)

    Big Bill Broonzy - “Glory of Love” (40:55)

    Charley Pride - “Roll on Mississippi” (1:01:32)



    Teaser:

    When the light of the train hits the cell windows of inmates at Mississippi’s infamous Parchman Farm prison, they feel a release and comfort from their captors. Find out what made jug bands so popular in the 1930’s, and the Tennessee natives at the helm of that movement. Yet another fingerpicking legend, left in obscurity until later in life, though she still managed to inspire generations of guitar players. The Ambassador of the Blues left behind a life cloaked in mystery, but this Chicago legend by way of the South left a massive mark as he carried old styles of blues through the 1950’s. For far too long country music has cast aside its African American roots, but one musician blended the color lines and became one of the most decorated country musicians of the century.⁠



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    "Shine A Light":

    Dust to Digital



    Source Credits:

    #1: Vera | NAACP | WordsMusic&Stories  | Smithsonian Folkways | Songfacts

    #2: Jugstore | Memphis Music HOF | UCSB Library | American Blues Scene | NPS

    #3: Story by Glen C Herbert - The Bluegrass Situation | Music Maker | Blue Ridge Heritage Center | OurState.com

    #4: Cultural Equity |  Broonzy.com | NPR | People’s World | MS Writers & Music

    #5:  Story by Cody Uhls - Official Website |  NPR |  Rolling Stone |  Country Music Hall of Fame


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    • 1 hr 17 min
    #7: She's Gone With The Gypsy Davy

    #7: She's Gone With The Gypsy Davy

    Featured in this Episode:

    Traditional - “Gypsy Davy” (:20)

    Son House - “Grinnin’ in your Face” (9:02)

    Merle Travis - “Nine Pound Hammer” (24:07)

    Dolly Parton - “Jolene” (40:30)

    Sierra Ferrell - “Elk River Blues” (59:60)



    Teaser:

    Who were the original gypsies, and why are so many songs sung about them? Hear the man who inspired Robert Johnson and set the standard for the Delta blues slide guitar. A boy born out of the Kentucky coal mines and creating the epitome of guitar fingerpicking styles known today as “Travis Picking”. Perhaps the most decorated country singer, philanthropist and unifying voice, a woman who has led countless other country artists and musicians for 50 years, still going strong. A young troubadour who is changing the timbre of country music, mixing it with eclectic roots while transporting listeners to another time.



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    "Shine A Light":

    Folk Alley | Instagram



    Source Credits:

    #1 Contemplator | Mainly Norfolk | Lizlyle | History Today | Harvard magazine | Second hand Songs | Enacademic

    #2 Louder Sound | MS Blues Trail | New World Encyclopedia | MS Writers & Musicians | Black Past | Democrat and Chronicle | George Lamplugh | Digital NEPR

    #3 Story by Glen C Herbert + NY Times | Alan Cackett | Oldies

    #4 Official Site | The List | PBS | Britannica | Tennessee Encyclopedia | Library of Congress | The New Yorker | NY Times

    #5  Wide Open Country | WV Gazette | Saving Country Music | Official Site | Wautauga Democrat | HonkyTonkBadonkaDonk


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    • 1 hr 14 min
    #6: I'll Die With That Hammer In My Hand

    #6: I'll Die With That Hammer In My Hand

    Featured in this Episode:

    Traditional - “The Ballad of John Henry” (:25)

    The Mississippi Sheiks - “Sittin On Top of the World” (11:09)

    Pete Seeger - “If I Had a Hammer” (22:05)

    Hank Williams - “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (44:32)

    Tyler Childers - “Rocks, Salt and Nails” (1:05:35)



    Teaser:

    Was the greatest African American folklore hero based on a true story? The most popular old time and blues string band in the 30's that all started with one insanely talented family. One of the hardest working advocates and activists who spent many years carrying old songs forward and getting audiences to sing together, banned from performing by the US government. The King of Country music, who lived perhaps one of the most paradoxically tragic and successful lives ever documented in American music. A Kentucky native born in the home of bluegrass revives and redefines country music today and reclaims its soul.



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    Join the Patreon community, or send a one-time donation through Venmo or PayPal



    "Shine A Light":

    History of Country Music



    Source Credits:

    #1: ABAA | National Park Service | LOC | Ibiblio

    #2: Document Record Store | Old Time Party  | Delta Blues Gospel 

    #3: Michael Hayes | Histclo | Folkways | LOC | ThoughtCo

    #4: Hank Williams Story | Tennessean | Hankmuseum | Grunge

    #5: (Written by Glen C Herbert) + Rolling Stone | Chicago Tribune | Official Website


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    • 1 hr 21 min
    #5: I'm Just Going Over Home

    #5: I'm Just Going Over Home

    Featured in this Episode:


    Traditional - “Wayfaring Stranger” (:30)

    Burl Ives - “Streets of Laredo” (11:45)

    Sister Rosetta Tharpe - “Up Above My Head” (28:50)

    John Prine - “In Spite of Ourselves” (44:27)

    Charley Crockett- “That’s How I Got To Memphis” (1:06:40)


    Teaser:

    Did it come from a hymn? An old ballad? Was it born in Scotland, or America? Navigate these questions with me for one of the most enduring and well known traditional songs in Bluegrass, Folk, and Old Country music. Entrenched in the old ballads passed on to him before the age seven, a man becomes one of the most beloved preservationist folk singers. A queer evangelist and powerhouse vocalist and guitarist is named the “Godmother of Rock and Roll” influencing Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Eric Clapton. A Chicago mailman finds himself at the right place at the right time to share his timeless and instantly relatable songs, staying out of the mainstream, yet dubbed an American icon. From Texas, by way of New Orleans, a young man defines hard, transient living and grows into one of the finest true country musicians performing today.⁠



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    Join the Patreon community, or send a one-time donation through Venmo or PayPal



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    "Shine A Light":

    Western AF



    Source Credits:

    #1: Jopie Bopie Blog | Manhattan Beach Music | Library of Congress

    #2: Cultural Equity | Independent | Info Please | Cowboy’s Lament

    #3: NPR | Richmond Mag | Girlboss | Story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe

    #4: Billboard.com | Rolling Stone | JP Shrine.org | NY Times | Blue Railroad

    #5: Long Reads | Rolling Stone | The Guardian | Chron.com | The Boot


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    • 1 hr 23 min
    #4: Hang Your Head and Cry

    #4: Hang Your Head and Cry

    Featured in this Episode:

    Traditional - “Tom Dooley” (:27)

    Blind Blake - “Diddie Wa Diddie” (12:23)

    Woody Guthrie - “Ramblin Around” (23:46)

    Doc Watson - “Blue Railroad Train” (49:00)

    Justin Townes Earle - “Lone Pine Hill”(1:08:23)



    Teaser:

    A North Carolina murder ballad turned folk tale withstands the tests of time, the true story is still up for debate today. The most distinct blind guitar player to take sounds from ragtime piano and transfer it to guitar, though his life was a short mystery.   A folk singer from Oklahoma becomes the voice of social justice, poverty and failed politics for generations after him. A flat picking blind Appalachian turns the guitar from a background rhythm instrument into a lead in bluegrass, country and folk music during the 60’s, and becomes a pioneer of country blues. Born in the shadow of his father, a young man rises into Americana stardom on his own from a lyrical conviction that many songwriters never acquire, another gone too soon.



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    Support Independent Programming: Join the Patreon community, or Venmo or PayPal

    "Shine A Light": David Holt’s State of Music on PBS



    Source Credits:

    #1: True West Magazine | NPR | Kronsell.net - Legend and Facts

    #2: Oldies | All About Blues | Slim Pickens & Dr. Baz

    #3: WoodyGuthrie.org | The New Yorker | Texas Observer 

    #4: Docs Guitar | NC History | NY Times

    #5: Westword | First Avenue | Rolling Stone | GQ




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    Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/americansongcatcher/support

    • 1 hr 26 min

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