Kan-Dee Rappers Delight

Belle Glade based hip hop group Kan-Dee-Krew formed in the mid-1980s.

Hip hop culture has undeniably solidified itself as a worldwide phenomenon. The mouthpiece of the culture is its music, the aural representative so appealing to so many people. Hip hop originated in the Bronx, New York, in the early 1970s. Its rise is attributed to DJ Kool Herc, who looped break beats on his turntables to keep dancers out on the floor. As the MCs who rapped over the break beats achieved greater notoriety, the limelight shifted from the DJs to the MCs and evolved into what is commonly understood today as hip hop music. By the mid-1980s, hip hop was storming the airways nationwide and there was no stopping the momentum, despite dissenters who dismissed it as a fad.

Kan-Dee-Krew at a performance for a medical center, Wellington, 1987

Kan-Dee-Krew (left to right: Emanuel Harden, Charles Plummer, and Terrance Coffie) at a performance for a medical center, Wellington, 1987

Belle Glade based hip hop group Kan-Dee-Krew formed in the mid-1980s. The Krew consisted of Terrance Coffie, Emanuel Harden, Rodney Rumph, Duane Rumph, Charles Plummer, and Elijah Thomas. Heavily influenced by Run-DMC (one of the most popular hip hop groups at the time), the Kan-Dee-Krew delivered energetic lyrics with accompanying vocals that overlap. Unlike some of their counterparts, however, the group focused on the betterment of the community, using hip hop music as a way to connect with children and the underrepresented by advocating for education and warning against the dangers of drug abuse with songs like “Education” and “Crack is Whack.” This doesn’t mean that the group shied away from a little braggadocio and style, showing off with songs like “Fresh” and “Nikes and Reeboks.”

In February 1987, the Kan-Dee-Krew performed for a classroom of students at Pahokee Elementary School as part of the Palm Beach County Folk Arts in Education Project. The goal of this performance was multifaceted: the children learned how a vernacular art form is transferred to new practitioners, while at the same time received positive guidance through the music’s content that was delivered in the fresh form of hip hop, making them more receptive to the Krew’s message.

Kan-Dee-Krew’s “Education” speaks of the necessity of having a good education to pursue one’s goals in life. Those familiar with Run-DMC will certainly recognize the heavy influence. And, check out that accompanying beat box.

“Education,” by Kan-Dee-Krew
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/blog/KanDeeKrew_1.mp3|titles=Education, by Kan-Dee-Krew|artists=State Archives of Florida]
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This next excerpt is entitled “Fresh.” Also accompanied by a beat boxer and hand claps from the class, listen to Emanuel Harden, a.k.a. Kid Chilly, rip a bombastic verse.

“Fresh,” by Kan-Dee-Krew
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/blog/KanDeeKrew_2.mp3|titles=Fresh, by Kan-Dee-Krew|artists=State Archives of Florida]
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More Info: Catalog Record

Kona Vernacular

Skateboarding originated in California in the 1950s and swiftly moved east to Florida. Kona Skatepark, located on Kona Avenue in southeast Jacksonville, opened in 1977 and is the longest-running skatepark in the United States. In the world of skateboarding, Kona is legendary. The picture below features one of the park’s most popular features that still remains firmly upright and imposing today: “The Tombstone,” a vertical wall measuring 6 feet above the rim of the bowl.

Ben French riding on "The Tombstone," Jacksonville, 1988

Ben French riding on “The Tombstone,” Jacksonville, 1988

In 1988, Gregory Hansen interviewed skateboarders Ben French and Shawn Roden as part of the Folk Arts in Education Project in Duval County. At the time of the interview, both French and Roden were high school students who spent every spare moment on their skateboards. Of course, Kona Skate Park was their venue of choice.

Skateboarder Ben French at Kona Skate Park, Jacksonville, 1988

Skateboarder Ben French at Kona Skate Park, Jacksonville, 1988

While you’re looking at the photos, listen to an interview excerpt of Ben French and Shawn Roden explaining some of Kona’s features for a glimpse into the life of young skateboarders in Jacksonville in the 1980s.

Excerpt from an interview with Ben French and Shawn Roden
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/blog/skateboard_clip1.mp3|titles=Interview with Ben French and Shawn Roden|artists=State Archives of Florida]
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Take a listen to this interview excerpt to enhance your vocabulary of skateboarding tricks as French and Roden give in-depth descriptions of a wide range of tricks.

Excerpt from an interview with Ben French and Shawn Roden
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/blog/skateboard_clip2.mp3|titles=Interview with Ben French and Shawn Roden|artists=State Archives of Florida]
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More Info: Catalog Record

Spirits of Turpentine

Once Florida’s largest industry, and one of the oldest industries in the United States, turpentine was a ubiquitous ingredient in American household products including paints, medicines, hair spray, and cosmetics, just to name a few. The industry was a driving force behind the development of port cities Jacksonville and Pensacola.

Chipping a tree to make turpentine, 1930s

Chipping a tree to make turpentine, 1930s

Oleoresin, better known to turpentiners as pine resin, is a natural byproduct of certain types of pine trees that at one time proliferated in North Florida. This pine resin was extracted from the trees by laborers (mostly African-American males) and then distilled to give us turpentine or “spirit of turpentine.”

Dip testing the gum, Lake City, 1948

Dip testing the gum, Lake City, 1948

Yet, before these modern uses of distilled pine resin, it was originally used for sealing wooden ships to protect against leaks, earning the name “naval stores.” The first known European use of naval stores in Florida was in the sixteenth century by Spanish explorers, but production of the resin did not become a fruitful trade in Florida until the early 1800s.

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Goose Culbreath and the Cortez Grand Old Opry

[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/podcasts/culbreath.mp3|titles=Goose Culbreath and the Cortez Grand Old Opry|artists=State Archives of Florida]
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Cortez is a small commercial fishing village in Manatee County, Florida. The village itself is no larger than 10 blocks, yet their annual commercial fishing festival draws crowds numbering in the thousands. Despite its size, Cortez boasts a wealth of culture, including some fine traditional music.

Fishermen hauling in the nets - Cortez, Florida

Fishermen hauling in the nets – Cortez, Florida

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Oystering in Apalachicola

Oyster tonging

Oyster tonging

Oystering communities around the world take pride in the quality and freshness of their succulent bivalves, and Apalachicola is no exception. With its brackish waters and calm winds, Apalachicola Bay is a prime setting for both oysters and the industry built around them to thrive.

Young boy enjoying oyster at the Florida Seafood Festival - Apalachicola, Florida

Young boy enjoying oyster at the Florida Seafood Festival – Apalachicola, Florida

The people of Apalachicola possess skills, beliefs, and a spirit of generosity and perseverance that make the community unique. Crafts such as boat building or oyster tong making are passed down through generations, as are techniques for harvesting and shucking the oysters. Successful seafood distributors make the product available to the many restaurants and retailers in the region, and the community celebrates its heritage during the annual Florida Seafood Festival.

Miss Florida Seafood 1974, Rosalie Nichols, at the Florida Seafood Festival

Miss Florida Seafood 1974, Rosalie Nichols, at the Florida Seafood Festival

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Jaya Radhakrishnan Podcast

[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/podcasts/radhakrishnan.mp3|titles=Jaya Radhakrishnan|artists=State Archives of Florida]
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Florida’s diverse communities support a wide number of traditions, both native to the state and brought from afar. One such example of the latter is the traditional Indian music and dance performed by Jaya Radhakrishnan of Dade City. Mrs. Radhakrishnan, frequently accompanied by her daughter Nila, made several appearances at the Florida Folk Festival, and both have participated in the Florida Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program teaching others East Indian dance and rangoli.

Jaya Radhakrishnan and unidentified man performing Indian music at the 1982 Florida Folk Festival - White Springs, Florida

Jaya Radhakrishnan and unidentified man performing Indian music at the 1982 Florida Folk Festival – White Springs, Florida

This podcast features performances by Jaya Radhakrishnan at the Florida Folk Festival from 1982-1985. She sings Indian folk songs from a repertoire spanning hundreds of years, accompanied only by the drone of her harmonium and occasional percussion from her son. Take a listen, and enjoy the sounds of India as they carry on through the Sunshine State.

Jaya Radhakrishnan teaching East Indian dance to children at the 1989 Florida Folk Festival - White Springs, Florida

Jaya Radhakrishnan teaching East Indian dance to children at the 1989 Florida Folk Festival – White Springs, Florida

Eartha M.M. White Tells a True Life Ghost Story

Eartha M.M. White tells this true life ghost story based on an incident from before the Civil War. The story was told to Eartha White by her mother, Clara White, who was raised in slavery on Amelia Island in Fernandina, Florida.

“Ghost Story”
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/t-86-248_white_ghost.mp3|titles=Ghost Story Go|artists=Eartha M.M. White]
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More Info: Catalog Record

Eartha M. M. White was a humanitarian, businesswoman and philanthropist from Jacksonville. She created educational opportunities and provided relief to African-Americans in northeastern Florida. White helped found several organizations and institutions, including the Clara White Mission, Mercy Hospital and the Boy’s Improvement Club. She was designated as a Great Floridian by the Florida Department of State in the year 2000.

Eartha M.M. White and her mother Clara White: Jacksonville, Florida (ca. 1910)

Eartha M.M. White and her mother Clara White: Jacksonville, Florida (ca. 1910)

This recording was made in January 1940 as part of the Federal Writers Project. The voice introducing the story is that of Robert Cook. Cook also traveled with Zora Neale Hurston to gather folklife recordings and photographs across the state.

In Florida, the Federal Writers Project was based out of Jacksonville, and directed by historian Carita Doggett Corse. Seven recording expeditions were conducted in the 1930s and ’40s in Florida by Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, Stetson Kennedy, Robert Cook, and others.

The field recordings were made on acetate disks, usually recorded at 78 rpm. The originals are still housed with the Library of Congress.

Happy Birthday Moses Williams (February 15, 1919)

Moses Williams playing the diddley bow- Waverly, Florida

Moses Williams playing the diddley bow- Waverly, Florida

Moses Williams (1919-1988) was born February 15 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. He spent much of his life traveling, either in show business or working as an itinerant farm worker, which eventually brought him to Florida.

Moses Williams playing the diddley bow for a group of boys- Waverly, Florida

Moses Williams playing the diddley bow for a group of boys- Waverly, Florida

At the age of 11, he learned the harmonica, but it was his one-string zither, or “diddley bow,” that made him unique. The instrument was comprised of a broom wire tensioned upside a door with a tin can resonator, and played with glass bottle slide. It earned him nicknames like “Broom Wire Slim” and “Doorman.”

Moses Williams playing the diddley bow - White Springs, Florida

Moses Williams playing the diddley bow – White Springs, Florida

Moses was discovered by folklorist Dwight DeVane in the late 1970s, and appeared on the Florida Folklife Program’s 1981 double LP, Drop on Down in Florida, which was recently reissued by Dust-to-Digital. In addition to these recordings, Moses made several appearances at the Florida Folk Festival, schools, and other folk arts forums around the state.

His distinctive repertoire for the diddley bow consisted of both standards such as “Sitting on Top of the World” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and original tunes, most notably “Which Way Did My Baby Go” and “Apple Farm Blues.” Both of these songs have been included on the Florida Folklife Collection sampler CDs Music from the Florida Folklife Collection and Where the Palm Trees Shake at Night: Blues Music from the Florida Folklife Collection.  Enjoy.

“Which Way Did My Baby Go”
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/audio/dl.php?track=MosesWilliams.mp3|titles=Which Way Did My Baby Go|artists=Moses Williams]
Download: MP3

“Apple Farm Blues”
[audio:http://floridamemory.com/audio/dl.php?track=cd5/06mwilliams.mp3|titles=Apple Farm Blues|artists=Moses Williams]
Download: MP3

Happy Birthday Don Grooms (January 12, 1930)

Don Grooms at the 1988 Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, Florida

Don Grooms at the 1988 Florida Folk Festival: White Springs, Florida

Don Grooms was a favorite among fans of Florida Folk, and appeared regularly at the Florida Folk Festival. Although he was born in Cherokee, North Carolina, Grooms spent much of his life in Florida, and taught journalism at the University of Florida. He received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1996 for his songs filled with wit and dry humor inspired by Florida and Native American life. In addition to live performances, which often found him on stage with like-minded artists such as Chief Jim Billie, fiddler Wayne Martin, and Will McLean, he recorded some his best-known songs on the 1980 album Walk Proud My Son.

In honor of his birthday, here are some recordings of Don Grooms and friends from the Florida Folklife Collection.

“Walk Proud My Son”

[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/folk/grooms2.mp3|titles=Walk Proud My Son|artists=Don Grooms]

Download: MP3
More Info: Catalog Record

“I Believe”

[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/Grooms.mp3|titles=I Believe|artists=Don Grooms]

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More Info: Catalog Record

“Chicken Bone Special”

[audio:http://floridamemory.com/fpc/memory/collections/folklife/mp3/folk/grooms.mp3|titles=Chicken Bone Special|artists=State Archives of Florida]

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More Info: Catalog Record