This soulful blues tune is performed here with foreboding intensity by John Cephas and Phil Wiggins at the 1991 Florida Folk Festival in White Springs. “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” was originally penned and recorded in 1931 by delta blues legend Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James.
John Cephas and Phil Wiggins performing at the Florida Folk Festival, White Springs, 1991
Guitarist John Cephas (1930-2009) and harmonica player Phil Wiggins (1954- ), legends in their own right, were an acoustic blues duo hailing from Washington D.C. The pair were known for their Piedmont blues style, but as you can hear in the audio clip above, they perfectly capture the essence of “Skip” James’ delta blues. If this song sounds familiar to you, it was also performed in the Coen Brother’s film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” by musician and actor Chris Thomas King.
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 (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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Life as a soldier during the Civil War was rough business, and we’re not just talking about the fighting. Long marches, primitive camp facilities, disease, and unreliable supply chains were realities of life for the men serving on both sides of this conflict.
Music was one way of breaking up the monotony. Soldiers sang songs in camp to pass the time, and on marches to keep in step. Most of these songs were designed to commend either the Confederate or Union side, although in some cases the same tune was sung on both sides, just with different words. “The Battle Cry of Freedom” is one example; it has both a Union and Confederate version.
Young re-enactors serve as drummers at the Olustee Battlefield in Baker County (1994).
Here we present a small selection of recordings of famous Civil War songs sung over the years by the 97th Regimental String Band at the Florida Folk Festival, held annually at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center at White Springs. The 97th Regimental String Band uses authentic instruments and accurate lyrics to recreate as closely as possible the musical experiences of the soldiers who were singing these songs 150 years ago. This is only a selection; many more songs are available through our Audio page and on Florida Memory Radio.
NOTE: The lyrics in these songs sometimes vary depending on the performer and the context of the performance; we’ve selected lyrics for this post based on the ones used in the sound recordings.
We are a band of brothers And native to the soil, Fighting for our liberty With treasure, blood, and toil; And when our rights were threatened, The cry rose near and far– “Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star!”
CHORUS: Hurrah! Hurrah! For Southern rights, hurrah! Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star.
As long as the Union Was faithful to her trust, Like friends and like brethren Both kind were we and just; But now, when Northern treachery Attempts our rights to mar, We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
First gallant South Carolina Nobly made the stand, Then came Alabama, Who took her by the hand. Next quickly Mississippi, Georgia and Florida All raised on high the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
Ye men of valor, gather round The banner of the right; For Texas and fair Louisiana Join us in our fight. And Davis, our great president, And Stephens, statesmen rare; Now rally round the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
And here’s to brave Virginia– The Old Dominion State– Who with the young Confederacy At length has linked her fate; Impelled by her example, Now other states prepare To hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
Then cheer, boys, cheer; Raise the joyous shout, For Arkansas and North Carolina Now have both gone out; And let another rousing cheer For Tennessee be given, The single star of the Bonnie Blue Flag Has grown to be eleven! CHORUS
Then here’s to our Confederacy, Strong we are and brave; Like patriots of old we’ll fight Our heritage to save. And rather than submit to shame, To die we would prefer; So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag That bears a single star. CHORUS
Yes, we’ll rally round the flag, boys, We’ll rally once again, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom, We will rally from the hillside, We’ll gather from the plain, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.
CHORUS: The Union forever, Hurrah! boys, hurrah! Down with the traitor, And up with the star; While we rally round the flag, boys, Rally once again, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom.
We are springing to the call For 300,000 more, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom; And we’ll fill our vacant ranks Of our brothers gone before, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom. CHORUS
We will welcome to our number The loyal, true and brave, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom; And although he may be poor, He shall never be a slave, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom. CHORUS
So we’re springing to the call From the East and from the West, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom; And we’ll hurl the rebel crew From the land that we love the best, Shouting the battle cry of Freedom. CHORUS
Sitting by the Roadside on a summer’s day, chatting with my messmates passing time away, Lying in the shadow underneath the trees, Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
When a horseman passes, the soldiers have a rule, to cry out at their loudest “Mister here’s your mule.” But another pleasure enchantinger than these, is wearing out your grinders, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
Just before the battle the general hears a row, He says the Yanks are coming, I hear their rifles now, He turns around in wonder, and what do you think he sees, The Georgia Militia, eating goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
I think my song has lasted almost long enough. The subject’s interesting, but rhymes are mighty rough. I wish this war was over – when free from rags and fleas, We’d kiss our wives and sweethearts and gobble goober peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Peas! Eating goober peas! Goodness how delicious, eating goober peas!
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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)
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.
Florida Memory is funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services.