Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Negro Fife & Drum Music

Time once again for our regular Wednesday midday feature, as our special emphasis in February on Black History Month takes yet another unexpected turn. Last week, we reported on the Grammy-nominated (and since then awarded) trio known as the Carolina Chocolate Drops. During our video research, we came upon concert footage showing Dom Flemons playing a snare drum. A related video on YouTube showed us another surprise.

What is shown here is archival footage, attributed to folklorist Alan Lomax from roughly 1960, or a fife and drum group led by Ed and Lonnie Young of Mississippi. This clip includes an earlier recording from around 1954. This tradition is said to have originated in Jamaica as a form of processional music, making fifes out of canes, and using old military drums.

This writer would surmise that such may have influenced the use of marching bands leading funeral processions in Louisiana. You know, for "when the saints go marching in ..."

Yeah, you right.

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