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Home » blog » The New Lost City Ramblers: “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Ragtime Annie”
Folk

The New Lost City Ramblers: “Man of Constant Sorrow” and “Ragtime Annie”

The two best YouTube clips of the influential folk revival group The New Lost City Ramblers are from Pete Seeger’s program Rainbow Quest. It’s no coincidence: The autoharp player, Mike Seeger, is Pete’s half-brother. It’s interesting that Pete just introduces him as his brother on the clip above. Another member of the band, John Cohen, is Pete and Mike’s brother-in-law or, perhaps, half-brother-in-law. Or brother-in-law-and-a-half. It’s a bit confusing, but suffice it to say that the Seeger family was intensely musical.

Here is the most important paragraph of Wikipedia’s entry on The New Lost City Ramblers:

The Ramblers distinguished themselves by focusing on the traditional playing styles they heard on old 78rpm records of musicians recorded during the 1920s and 1930s, many of whom had earlier appeared on the Anthology of American Folk Music. The New Lost City Ramblers refused to “sanitize” these southern sounds as did other folk groups of the time, such as the Weavers or Kingston Trio. Instead, the Ramblers have always strived for an authentic sound.[citation needed] However, the Ramblers did not merely copy the old recordings that inspired them. Rather, they would use the various old-time styles they encountered while at the same time not becoming slaves to imitation.

Man of Constant Sorrow is above and Ragtime Annie is below.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.