Art Thieme was a noted folk singer who recorded many traditional ballads and folk songs from midwestern states. This collection is a series of 459 color slides documenting folk musicians and folk music, in both concert settings and informal portraiture, all taken by the donor.
Scope and Contents:
459 35mm color slides documenting folk musicians and folk music, in both concert settings and informal portraiture, all taken by the donor, Art Thieme, a noted folksinger. Subjects include such well-known performers as Stephen Wade, the New Lost City Ramblers, Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger, Peggy Seeger, Jack Elliott, Ike Everly, B.B. King, Dave Edmonson, Ray Harris, Kenny Baker, Tom Paxton, John Hammond, Bill Monroe, Justin Bishop, Steve Goodman, Cathy Fink, Wes Asbury, Ron F. Kirkpatrick, Doc Watson, Jim Kweskin, and Lightnin' Hopkins, and other notables such as oral historian Studs Terkel. The collection also contains a CD with Thieme's recordings and a folder of newspaper clippings, a program, and a map of local folk singers across the country. The slides are unarranged, but most slides have names, places, and dates.
The collection is arranged into one series.
Biographical / Historical:
Art Thieme was born on July 9, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He becamea noted folk singer. He launched his career at a Hyde Park, Chicago club, the Limelight, in 1959 and went on to perform for many years at a coffeehouse called No Exit, also in Chicago. Touring all over the country, he photographed and recorded many folk singers and concerts, documented in this collection. At the end of his career, he performed on the steamboats Julia Belle Swain, Twilight on the Mississippi, and Illinois Rivers. He has recorded traditional folk songs rendered by himself for Folk Legacy Records. Thieme died on May 26, 2015.
The collection was donated by Art Thieme in 2012.
The collection is open for research. Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
This collection contains 73 open reel tapes, made by Eric H. Davidson between 1958-1984, featuring the traditional music of Southern Appalachia.
Scope and Contents:
The Eric H. Davidson audio recordings consists of 73 open reel tapes dating from 1958-1984, featuring field recordings made by Davidson and his colleagues (including Caleb Ellicott Finch, Paul Newman, Lyn Davidson, and Jane Rigg) featuring the traditional music of Southern Appalachia. The recordings were collected primarily in Grayson and Carroll counties in Southwestern Virginia, and adjacent counties in North Carolina.
The Eric H. Davidson audio recordings are arranged in chronological order. Each open reel tape was assigned a unique number by Eric Davidson.
Biographical / Historical:
Eric H. Davidson was born in 1937, in New York City. He was primarily known as a pioneering developmental biologist, who revolutionized the research of and theoretical framework behind "the gene regulatory networks that perform complex biological processes, such as the transformation of a single-celled egg into a complex organism. His work helped to reveal how the DNA sequences inherited in the genome are used to initiate and drive forward the sequence of steps that result in development." (1)
Davidson's work in biology began at the age of 16, when he began conducting research with cell physiologist L. V. Heilbrunn, a family friend, at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He began as a dish washer at the MBL, but was informed by Heilbrunn that he was also expected to have a research project. This project resulted in a published abstract in the Biological Bulletin on clotting in sand dollars.
Davidson earned his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and his doctorate from Rockefeller University in 1963. After working as a postdoctoral researcher and faculty member at Rockefeller, he moved to Caltech, where he would spend the rest of his career, beginning as a visiting assistant professor. He was named Norman Chandler Professor of Cell Biology in 1982 and remained there until his death.
His interest in old time music arose at nearly the same time as his interest in biology. His father, a well-known abstract painter, and mother were connected to several people who were hired to do research for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the late 1930's and 40's. At 14, he began to play the 5-string banjo after being introduced to the instrument through his exposure to recordings of Southern Appalachian music recorded as a part of the WPA, held at the Library of Congress.
In college, he played music in cafes. He also got a hold of the log of WPA recordings that were so influential to him. He began to stick pins in maps wherever the recordings were made, and began to notice that most of the pins were clustered in two counties in Southwestern Virginia--Grayson and Carroll counties--and adjacent counties in North Carolina.
In 1956, he began to take trips down to these areas during breaks from school to record musicians that had learned songs and skills through oral tradition, as opposed to the radio or records. He continued to go every year for many years, until the last person he knew had learned by oral tradition passed away. He formed close relationships with many notable musicians during these trips, including Wade Ward (from whom he learned the clawhammer banjo playing technique), Tommy Jarrell, Paul Joines, Glen Neaves, Vester Jones, Ed Spencer, Glen Smith, Cullen Galyean, and Bobby Harrison. He often recorded with his longtime collaborators Caleb Ellicott Finch, Paul Newman, Lyn Davidson, and Jane Rigg. Many of these recordings were released by Moses Asch as Folkways Records albums, produced by Davidson and his collaborators between 1962-1986.
Davidson was interested in the personal, musical, structural, traditional, and historical aspects of Southern Appalachian music. His fieldwork style was to continue to record a musician until they got tired or he'd run out of tape. Then he'd come back the next day, and the next year, and the year after that, until he had recorded everything that musician knew. This gave his work the characteristic of what he described as, borrowing from his scientific background, a longitudinal study. He was able to observe changes in the musical tradition of the region: the transition of traditional ballad singing from a cappella to string band accompaniment, the incorporation of the guitar into the string band ensemble, and the shift from clawhammer to three-finger banjo picking. In an oral history interview with Davidson conducted by the Ralph Rinzler Folklife and Collections in 2015, Davidson said that in his research, he could see how "ballads combine and recombine like genetic organisms in biology."
Davidson was also an accomplished banjo musician in his own right. He formed the Iron Mountain String Band together with Caleb Finch (fiddle), and Peggy Haine (guitar), releasing an album (FA 2473) on Folkways Records in 1973 consisting of songs and tunes learned from his many recording trips into Grayson and Carroll counties.
Eric Davidson died on September 1, 2015 at the age of 78.
1. "Developmental Biologist Eric H. Davidson Passes Away," Caltech News, September 4, 2015, accessed January 5, 2016, http://www.caltech.edu/news/developmental-biologist-eric-h-davidson-passes-away-47772.
Please note that some language in this collection is culturally insensitive or offensive to viewers. It is presented as it exists in the original material for the benefit of research and the historical record. The material reflects the culture and context in which it was created and not the views of the Smithsonian Institution.
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An oral history with Eric H. Davidson was conducted by the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections on April 26, 2015. Both the video and transcript is available for researchers. Contact archives staff for information.
Donated by Eric H. Davidson.
Access to the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections is by appointment only. Visit our website for more information on scheduling a visit or making a digitization request. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies.
Fiddle tunes -- Appalachian Region, Southern Search this
Snowbird in Ashbank Uncle John's waltz Flat footed Charlie Bob Murphy Milk cow blues Bucking mule Uncle John's rock Summerland First lady waltz Deep elm blues Draggin' the bow Hen cackle Plains, Georgia rock
Publication, Distribution, Etc. (Imprint):
El Cerrito, CA Arhoolie 1977
Participant or Performer Note:
Uncle John Patterson med James Patterson
Restrictions on access. No duplication allowed listening and viewing for research purposes only.