Various Artists – The Real Bahamas
Recently, I have been listening to Tapestry of the Times, a podcast from the American public radio station WYPR 88.1 FM and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Each week, the presenter, Aaron Henkin, takes his listeners on a weekly tour, “back in time and around the globe”, through the sound archives of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States. It was developed from Folkways Records which was founded in 1948 by Moses Asch and Marian Distler. Following Asch’s death, in 1987 the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage acquired Folkways Records to ensure that the recordings would continue to be available to future generations.
As a condition of the acquisition, the Smithsonian agreed that virtually all of the firm’s 2,168 titles would remain “in print” forever. The collection includes traditional, ethnic, and contemporary music from around the world; poetry, spoken word, and instructional recordings in numerous languages; and documentary recordings of individuals, communities, current events, and natural sounds.
The Tapestry of the Times podcasts are as varied as the Smithsonian Folkways catalogue. The most recent programme included mandolin picking from “The Father of Bluegrass,” Bill Monroe; Javanese Gamelan crossed with New York avant-garde and, my favourites, Bahamian gospel music from Stanley Thompson, Joseph and Elizabeth Cotten with her daughter Brenda Evans singing “Shake Sugaree”.
Having given Smithsonian Folkways this promotion I have to confess that I do not have one of their records in my collection. However, I do have some Bahamian music and so am posting “We will Better Understand It By And By” by Edith Pinder, Raymond Pinder, Geneva Pinder and Joseph Spence. It is taken from the Nonesuch CD “The Real Bahamas in Music and Song”.
(On rummaging through the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings website today I have discovered another series of podcasts; “The Folkways Collection”, produced by CKUA Radio in Alberta, Canada and originally aired in 1999. That’s another 24 hours of my life gone!)
The Pinder Family with Joseph Spence – We Will Understand It Better By and By