Snowden Family Band of Knox Co. OH

Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
840 posts
Thanks, Strumelia! Don't know why I didn't put it in this forum to begin with.


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
1,700 posts
Robin asked me to move this discussion to the history/traditions forum, so I did.


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Site Owner

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Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
840 posts

Yes, I was glad when I learned they had won!

Though no one from the group is from OH, Rhiannon went to college at Oberlin.




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
razyn
@razyn
6 years ago
113 posts

Happened to notice that the aforementioned CCDs won a Grammy (for best 2010 folk album) a couple of nights ago:

http://www.grammy.com/photos/carolina-chocolate-drops

Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
840 posts

Dick, I know of the Sackses and that they led the folk festival at Gambier. For his summer job in '09 & '10, my nephew worked on digitizing lots of recordings that were made during those festivals. (My nephew grew up in Mt Vernon and is now a student at Kenyon.)

Your "Give it hell, Monroe!" story's a good one!

Scott, I saw CCD in Nelsonville OH back in '05 (I think). I mean I'm sure I saw them, just not sure of when.Smile.gif Enjoy the show-- you're in for a treat!




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
razyn
@razyn
6 years ago
113 posts

I used to know Howard Sacks -- both of us worked for NCTA in various capacities, circa 1981-82. Haven't seen him lately, though. I'd agree with your surmise that what the Snowdens played was very likely a hammered dulcimer -- although both types were present in that area, at that time. The MD was uncommon, but deeply rooted, especially in the more "Pennsylvania" German communities (as distinguished from the recent immigrants directly from Germany); the HD was coming into vogue -- one might even say it was a fad -- throughout the Ohio Valley. I think the Snowdens would have leaned toward the novelty side.

Speaking of black HD players: when my great-uncle Sam Hulan made HDs commercially near Nashville (around 1880-90), he had a black assistant named Monroe (I never heard his last name), who went around with him. Uncle Sam would have one of his dulcimers attached to his back by shoulder straps -- sort of like a cigarette girl's tray, only behind him. When he had a potential customer engaged, he would bend over and say "Give it hell, Monroe!" Sam was the primary maker, but Monroe was the best player. I got this story from an elderly Mr. Buchanan, one of their neighbors in Bell's Bend (of the Cumberland River) NW of Nashville, about 45 years ago.


Robin Thompson said:

Dick, I ordered the Sackses' book and it came today.

Scott Allen
@scott-allen
6 years ago
27 posts

Razyn,

That's funny you mentioned the Carolina Chocolate Drops. My wife and I are going to see them on March 4th in Harrisburg, PA. I've really enjoyed their album "Genuine Negro Jig". It was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 and they are gaining a large following. They bill the song as both "Genuine Negro Jig" and "Snowden's Jig" on the album. I also really like the song "Peace Behind the Bridge" which was written by the latebanjo player, Etta Baker. I would love to find a dulcimer tab for that one!

Regards,

Scott

Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
840 posts

Dick, I ordered the Sackses' book and it came today.

Page 58 shows a handbill, ca. 1860s, that, among other proclamations, reads "PERFORMANCES ON THE VIOLIN, TRIANGULAR AND DULCIMER, WITH Castinet Accompaniments!" According to the handbill, the big draw (or so someone thought) was to be female violinists.

To quote, then, from p63: "The Snowdens' distinctively African American instrumentation paralleled that of antebellum Southern plantation bands." Curious. That wouldn't seem to point to the dulcimer being of the lap dulcimer variety, would it?

More from p63: "When E.D. Root of Pataskala, Ohio, wrote to his Snowden friends with an invitation to visit, he made a point of specifying the instruments he wanted to hear: 'please fetch your violins and dulsimer and tambereen tryang and ben fetch his bones.'"

I've not read the book yet; the index only listed page 63 as to where a dulcimer reference may be found. And I saw no elaboration on the type of dulcimer-- whether it was a hammered or lap instrument.

Unless I've missed it, the photographs in the book show no kind of dulcimer. There is a fascinating post-mortem photo of one of the Snowden women posed with a guitar, circa 1865. Guitars weren't that common an instrument then, were they?




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
840 posts

Yes, Dick, I remember watching Greg Adams's video. And am familiar with the CCD connection-- I can't recall where I saw photos or watched a video of if yet I feel as though I've seen the Carolina Chocolate Drops in some setting in Mt Vernon OH. (I know CCD played a concert at Kenyon College in '09.)

I'm particularly curious to know why the dulcimer is associated with the Snowdens-- what physical evidence exists? Sounds like a day trip is in order.




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
razyn
@razyn
6 years ago
113 posts

I know a little about them from the Black Banjo discussion forum, but not as dulcimer players. Also, there's a number called the "Genuine Negro Jig" (in some mid-19th century sources) that was learned from them and transcribed, and is now called "Snowden's Jig" by some performers (I think, the Carolina Chocolate Drops are among them). Greg Adams, who has posted here on FOTMD, plays it thisaway:

http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/video/genuine-negro-jig-or-snowdens-1

One day last August, a bunch of us sat around in a circle with Greg and learned to play that. But I'm out of practice now.

Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
840 posts

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowden_Family_Band

Anyone know about the Snowdens who lived near Mt Vernon OH? If you've read Howard & Judith Sacks's Way up North in Dixie: A Black Family's Claim to the Confederate Anthem you do. (I've not read it.) In any case, the Wikipedia piece includes dulcimer as an instrument sometimes used by the family and the hot link goes to a page titled "Appalachian Dulcimer".




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!

updated by @robin-thompson: 06/14/15 10:39:41PM