Monday, April 18, 2011

"Levee Camp Moan"

I just can’t be satisfied, to quote the great Muddy Waters.  Always tinkering a bit with things on Robert Frost’s Banjo!  I’d thought that the Any Woman’s Blues series was going to be a Monday staple, but I’ve since decided I needed a little more Monday elbow room than a single series offers.  & I’ve also had some other blues related ideas for the blog, so I’m going with the idea of a new version of the Monday Morning Blues, where Mondays will be the day for all blues-related posts, including Any Woman’s Blues, posts about various artists or songs, reviews of books about the blues, & my own recordings of various blues numbers.

Speaking of which, this week I’m posting an “out-take” from my RFD Blues cd.  I dropped this version of “Levee Camp Moan” at the very end of the process—the take is good, but I wanted to keep the cd close to 45 minutes in length & since “Levee Camp Moan” is a long song, it seemed the logical one to drop.  As such, it exists as a “starter song” for some future project.  Oh, & by the way: this is not the same recording as the one I posted last summer
—I believe it's significantly better!

“Levee Camp Moan” is a Son House song, tho he recorded a few different versions.  There’s also a well-known song by Mississippi Fred McDowell called “Levee Camp Blues,” & another old song called “Levee Camp Holler.”  A levee camp was temporary housing for levee workers.  A lot of the old blues performers would travel to various work camps—sawmills, turpentine mills & levee camps—where they could usually find money for their music-making.  Zora Neale Hurston writes about this in her seminal work Mules & Men.  

I recorded “Levee Camp Moan” in Eb—in open D with a capo on the first fret—slide style, naturally.  The guitar is my Gold Tone resonator.


The photo shows a Greenville, MS levee camp in 1927.  The image is from the jwinfred's photostream on Flickr & can be found on its original page here


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