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most spectacular of the hot pianists. Musicians are the keenest people in the world at admiring new talent and just as Benny Goodman will sit goggle-eyed and listening to the "hotteties" of Count Basie, the colored demon of Kansas City, so did the orchestra leaders of ten years ago go insane over the berserk playing of Bessie Smith's boys. From the interest came the change in orchestra music that is now so pronounced in the work of Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glen Gray, Jimmy Dorsey and others.
The traditional folk songs of the Southern mountaineers and the spirituals have not been included in this discussion because they occupy a special position in the art of song. In the strictest sense the mountaineer ballads are old Eng­lish folk songs, some of them even traceable to old Gregorian chants; and as such they are not strictly American products. New York was recently visited by the Rev. John William Dawson, pastor of the Dry Fork Primitive Baptist Church of Morehead, Kentucky, who sang Lord, Spare Me for An­other Year and The Wayfaring Stranger. The words seemed to have grown out of local legends of the mountains but the tunes stemmed back to the earliest days of American his­tory when the first settlers crossed from the old country. Most strictly in the American tradition are the songs of Aunt Molly Jackson of Harlan County, Kentucky, who has told the story of the labor struggles of that section. Her songs are richly evocative and thrilling, carrying the trou­badour quality of old.
Fans Are Delighted
But it's when Sleepy John Estes on his guitar and Ham-mie Nix on his mouth organ get wound up that the new­found fans start yammering with delight. There are iso­lated groups in all sections of the world prepared to fight to the death to prove that Maxine Sullivan, from the Onyx, is a greater artist than Lily Pons. Miss Sullivan became the storm center of radio controversy as the first person to swing Loch Lomond and other ballads. There are strange individuals who wouldn't give a Georgia White and Rhu­barb Red (guitar) record for anything made by Caruso.
The cult of the hillbillies may be a passing fancy but it is significant that Ambrose, the swankiest orchestra con-
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III