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The Frank and Anne Warner Collection:
Volume 1: Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still
Volume 2: Nothing Seems Better to Me
Appleseed Recordings

cd cover Frank and Anne Warner were not ethnomusicologists or folklorists, but a series of circumstances (described in the album notes) led them to make a series of field recordings spanning 1940-1966. The contents in these two CD's are weighted towards unaccompanied ballads, with a smattering of play party tunes, gospel, commercially written pieces, blues, a couple from the West Indies and one Mohawk chant. Recordings were made in North Carolina, New Hampshire, and New York. Several short conversations with the singers are also included. This is the first time that a large portion of this important collection is commercially available.

cd cover Unfortunately, many cuts are but fragments of lengthy narratives, due to lack of funding and primitive recording devices. This shortcoming is partially corrected by the availability of a companion book, "Traditional American Folk Songs" containing the music and complete lyrics of many of the cuts on these albums.

Volume One features Lee Monroe Presnell's high, hard vocals (my favorite), Frank Proffitt, several members of their fellow North Carolinian of the Hicks Family, John Galusha of New York (great) and others.

Volume Two concentrates on the music of Frank Proffitt, with some contributions from singers on Volume One. Proffitt flitted across the national radar screen as the result of the Kingston Trio's recording of his version of Tom Dooley. (His version is on Volume One.)

Traditional ballad singing has not received the same leve of attention that instrumentals have in recent years, and these CD's should help correct this imbalance. There are many great tunes presented with unaffected but effective and evocative singing. Copious and knowledgeable notes are a plus as are the great photos. Some of the Warners' original notes are inaccurate, and additonal ones, written by their son Jeff Warner and also by ethnomusicologist Tim Erikson (also a member of Cordelia's Dad), add some clarity. Anyone who is a fan of traditional singing should own this glimpse of the beauty of the rough hewn. - Stacy Phillips

Volume 1 at Amazon
Volume 2:

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