Boat tours in Wakulla Springs date back to the late 1800s. Their chants, jokes and stories have been passed down through the generations.
(39:29, 36.1MB; S1576 T81-12, T81-37, T83-142)
Alligators, snakes, rare birds and Native exoticism are all pinnacles of Florida’s tourism industry. Wakulla Springs State Park offers visitors the chance to experience all of these things and more under the guidance of clever and knowledgeable guides. Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection Podcast Series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. In this month’s podcast we’ll examine the oral traditions of the Wakulla Springs boat drivers.
Glass-bottom boat tours are certainly not exclusive to Wakulla Springs. They have been a long-standing attraction in Silver Springs, Homosassa Springs and Rainbow Springs, among others. Boat tours in Wakulla Springs date back to the late 1800s. Right up through recent history, descendants of the first boatmen of the Springs have followed in the footsteps of their forefathers, and their chants, jokes and stories have been passed down through the generations.
The first portion of this podcast features a jungle boat tour by Wilbert Gavin. Gavin masterfully calls out the surrounding plants and wildlife he sees during the three-mile loop down the river, pointing out the rare limpkin and finding some snakes for the ladies.
Next, we hear a retired Luke Smith recite his glass-bottom boat chant at the Florida Folk Festival. The way he sings about the underwater fauna and summons the fish to the boat is reminiscent of African-American spirituals and field hollers. Following his boat tour demonstration, Smith discusses his history at the Springs in an interview, recalling the days of giving tours in row boats.
Now keep your hands and arms inside the boat, and enjoy the mysterious waters of Wakulla Springs!
Many of the recordings found in the collection are the result of fieldwork conducted by folklorists.
(49:23, 45.2MB; S1576 T86-56, T86-66, T86-67, T86-76, T86-78, T86-72, T86-77, T86-101, C86-5, T86-83, T86-11)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection Podcast series from the Florida Department of State’ s State Library and Archives of Florida. Many of the recordings found in the collection are the result of fieldwork conducted by folklorists. As part of their research, the Florida Folklife Program selects and surveys a particular region or tradition. Their findings are extensively documented through field notes, sound recordings, photographs and video. This podcast contains a sampling of recordings from the Miami-Dade region as found in the Dade Folk Arts Survey.
The Dade Folk Arts Survey was conducted from 1985-1986 by folklorists Tina Bucuvalas, Nancy Nusz and Laurie Sommers with the goal of finding folk artists to bring to the 34th annual Florida Folk Festival. While Latin American, Haitian and Jewish cultures were most prominently represented, the survey also covered a wide range of traditions, including shoe rag popping, Middle Eastern music, Jamaican stories and dance, and Irish fiddling.
Let’s start with some of the Haitian artists recorded during the survey. We’ll hear from a Nyabinghi drumming group, Rasta Samba Gynin, and songwriter Kiki Wainwright.
[T86-56, T86-57, T86-66, T86-67]
Next, we’ll examine just a few of the diverse Latin American music traditions found in Miami. Manolo Franco, Hilda Gonzalez and Nelson Zuleto demonstrate how Salsa music can be performed on the harp with their original composition, “El Harpa in Juanchito.” Mariachi Jalisco, representing the Mexican Mariachi tradition, offers a version of “Caminos de Michoacan.” Cuban charanga group Illusion 60 livens things up with a merengue, and we round things out with another excellent harp player, Jesus Rodriguez, performing “El Carnaval.”
[T86-76, T86-78, T86-72, T86-77]
Many traditions from Jewish culture, including music, foodways, needlework and storytelling were documented during the survey. For this podcast we selected an excerpt from a performance by Jewish vaudevillians Harry and Lil Kalikow, as well as Klezmer music by clarinetist Jaime Bronsztein, accompanied by pianist Bracha Schlein.
To further showcase Miami’s international diversity, we’ll hear some Saudi Arabian music from the Middle Eastern Ensemble, as heard at the Our Lady of Lebanon Church.
Last but not least, Dade County is also rich in down-home American roots music, and we conclude the podcast with blues harmonica player Samuel “Birdnest” Young performing the tune that earned him his nickname. We hope you’ ve enjoyed the variety of traditions captured in the Dade Folk Arts Survey, and look forward to sharing more fieldwork from the Florida Folklife Collection in the future. Thanks for listening.
This month we will explore some of the music that grew out of the Bahamian Junkanoo parades as we listen to the Key West Junkanoos.
(25:17, 23.1MB; S1576 T83-178, T83-179)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. Florida’s close proximity to the Caribbean islands has introduced a variety of rich cultural celebrations to the state. This month we will explore some of the music that grew out of the Bahamian Junkanoo parades as we listen to the Key West Junkanoos.
Employed by the City of Key West, the Junkanoos were led by bassist Bill Butler, pianist Lofton “Coffee” Butler, and featured percussionists Charles Allen, Kenny Rahming, Joe Whyms and Alvin Scott. They appeared often at the Florida Folk Festival from 1977-1991.
The origin of the name Junkanoo is still a matter of debate. Some say it is derived from the name of 18th century African Gold Coast leader John Connu. Others have looked to similar sounding phrases such as the French for “masked people,” gens inconnu. Bahamian Junkanoo parades can be traced back to the 1800s when African slaves would gather, don masks, and celebrate with music and dance on Christmas Day. The parades have evolved to become huge tourist attractions and occur in two stages or rushes: the first on Boxing Day and the second on New Year’s Day. This tradition was carried over in Key West and Miami by Bahamian immigrants of African descent.
The Key West Junkanoos have distilled the sounds of the parade’s marching bands into their own repertoire of original material, as well as classic Calypso tunes such as “The John B. Sails,” “Island in the Sun” and “Yellow Bird.” So take the conch shell from your ear, and turn your attention to the island rhythms of the Junkanoos as heard at the 1983 Florida Folk Festival Main Stage.
DeCosmo, Janet L. “Junkanoo: The African Cultural Connection in Nassau, Bahamas.” Western Journal of Black Studies 27, no. 4 (Winter 2003): 246-257.
Stearns, Marshall W. Liner notes to Junkanoo Band — Key West. Key West Junkanoos. Folkways Records FL 4492. LP. 1964.
Part 1 / 2 Download: MP3
Part 2 / 2 Download: MP3
In 1977, the Florida Folklife Program sponsored a series of free concerts of nationally renowned folk musicians at the Stephen Foster Center in White Springs. Included in the lineup was Pete Seeger.
Part 1 (52:27, 48MB; S1576 T77-284, T77-285) Part 2 (1:11:21, 65.3MB; S1576 T77-285)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. Although Florida-grown artists and traditions have been the primary focus of this series, we would be remiss in overlooking the reach of Florida folklife outside of our state lines. In 1977, the Florida Folklife Program sponsored a series of free concerts of nationally renowned folk musicians at the Stephen Foster Center in White Springs. Included in the lineup were Jean Ritchie, the New Christy Minstrels, the Kingston Trio, Doc and Merle Watson, and Pete Seeger, who turns 93 this May. To celebrate Pete’s birthday, we’ll revisit his performance recorded 35 years ago.
Born in New York City, Pete Seeger learned the banjo in 1938, and worked with Alan Lomax at the Archive of American Folk Song in the Library of Congress. As a songwriter, his original repertoire included “Turn Turn Turn” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He also formed two influential groups, the Almanac Singers and the Weavers, who sang labor anthems like “Which Side are You On?” as well as traditional numbers such as “Goodnight, Irene.”
During his extensive career, Seeger inevitably crossed paths with Florida folk artists. In 1956 he recorded for Folkways Records with the Washboard Band, which featured Florida Folk Heritage Award Winner William “Washboard Bill” Cooke. Not surprisingly, he also struck up a friendship with the Father of Florida Folk himself, Will McLean. The two performed together in 1963 at Carnegie Hall, and Will McLean was notably present for Seeger’s 1977 White Springs appearance.
Pete Seeger wrote about Florida in his music as well. “Delbert Tibbs” is an ode to the African-American poet who was wrongfully convicted of murder and rape in 1974 and sat on death row in Raiford State Penitentiary until January of 1977. The song helped procure justice for Tibbs, and in 1982, all charges against him were dismissed.
Today, at the age of 93, Pete Seeger is still performing, recording and promoting social justice. Let’s hand the mic over to our mistress of ceremonies, Thelma Boltin, and sing along as Pete picks the banjo and strums his 12-string guitar.
Looking all the way back to the 1930s, we begin with Eatonville native Zora Neale Hurston, who documented turpentine workers in Cross City, Florida.
(26:39, 24.4MB; S1576 T86-244, T86-245, T76-4, T76-9, C79-68, C83-58, C83-62)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. March is Women’s History Month, and in this podcast we will recognize and give voice to some of the women who have been vital in documenting, preserving and celebrating Florida’s diverse heritage.
Looking all the way back to the 1930s, we begin with Eatonville native Zora Neale Hurston, who documented turpentine workers in Cross City, Florida as part of the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Writers’ Project. Through her essay “Turpentine” and field recordings, Hurston captured unique, first-hand accounts of day-to-day life in the turpentine camps, and the traditions that were an integral part of the workers’ culture. “Halimuhfack” and “Tilly, Lend Me Your Pigeon” were two of the many songs Hurston learned in the course of her fieldwork for the WPA, which she demonstrates to her colleagues Herbert Halpert, Stetson Kennedy and Dr. Carita Doggett Corse on the following recordings from 1939.
[T-86-245 “Tilly, Lend Me Your Pigeon”]
As Zora Neale Hurston was conducting fieldwork in Florida, Sarah Gertrude Knott founded both the National Folk Festival and National Folk Festival Association in 1934; among the earliest advisors for these endeavors was Ms. Hurston. In 1952, under contract from the Stephen Foster Memorial Commission, Knott organized the first Florida Folk Festival and formed the Florida Folk Festival Association. She also served as director of the first two Florida Folk Festivals in 1953 and 1954. Here is an excerpt from a speech Knott gave during the 1954 Florida Folk Festival.
[T-76-4 Sarah Gertrude Knott Speech]
Succeeding Sarah Gertrude Knott as director of the Florida Folk Festival from 1954-1965 was “Cousin” Thelma Boltin from Gainesville. In addition to sharing her gifts as a storyteller, organizer and emcee, Cousin Thelma—a title earned from her familial rapport with festival participants—scouted the state for folk artists to recruit for the festival. With the help of Barbara Beauchamp, Boltin established the Florida Folk Festival as a valuable institution for sharing and celebrating the state’s varied traditions. Let’s enjoy one of Cousin Thelma’s famous stories, followed by an excerpt from a 1978 interview with state folklorist Peggy Bulger.
[T-76-9 Creation Story]
[C-79-68 Thelma Boltin Interview]
Dr. Peggy Bulger was Florida’s first State Folklorist, founding and administering the Florida Folklife Program from 1976-1989. She created a large body of fieldwork which laid the foundations for the Florida Folklife Collection, and instituted valuable outreach programs such as apprenticeships, educational videos and publications, workshops and exhibits. Dr. Bulger went on to serve as the Senior Program Officer for the Southern Arts Federation, and later as director of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. In this 1982 interview, she discusses the origins of the Florida Folklife Program and what folklore means to her.
[C-83-58 Peggy Bulger Interview]
With the establishment of the Florida Folklife Program came significant contributions from many other women. Working alongside Peggy Bulger was Brenda McCallum, who was instrumental in documenting and establishing contacts in Florida’s communities. She also played an important role in developing the Florida Folklife Program Archive, and today the American Folklore Society awards a prize in her honor to institutions and individuals working with folklife collections.
Tina Bucuvalas served as the State Folklorist from 1996-2009, though her work in the Florida Folklife Program dates back to 1986 with the Miami-Dade Folklife Survey. She currently serves as Curator of Arts and Historical Resources for the City of Tarpon Springs, and recently edited The Florida Folklife Reader.
The list of women who have been integral to the research, documentation, and teaching of Florida’s folk traditions continues with Merri Belland, Nancy Nusz, Riki Saltzman, Jan Rosenberg, Debbie Fant, Andrea Graham, Laurie Sommers, Mary Anne McDonald, Teresa Hollingsworth, Betsy Peterson, and Doris Dyen, interviewed here.
[C-83-62 Doris Dyen Interview]
While it is impossible to comprehensively recognize the individual efforts of everyone mentioned in a single podcast, we hope to have invoked a greater appreciation for the significant contributions women have made in documenting and preserving a history of and for the people of Florida. Thanks for listening.
The practice of lining hymns can be traced back to the 17th century.
(48:40, 44.5MB; S1576 D00-20, D01-17, S1640 Box 25 Tape 8)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. In recognition of Black History Month, we will highlight the uniquely African-American tradition of hymn lining.
The practice of lining hymns can be traced back to the 17th century when printed hymnals were scarce and many churchgoers—both slaves and whites—could not read. A church elder or minister who could read would “line out,” or recite a hymn line by line, which in turn was repeated by the congregation. These hymns, such as “Amazing Grace” or “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” remained and evolved in African-American churches after the end of slavery. For Albert Troy Demps of Orlando, this tradition was passed on to him by his mother during the Great Depression, when musical instruments were scarce and times were hard.
As Deacon at the Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, Demps continues to practice hymn lining, and he believes there is a more focused connection with the Holy Spirit among the congregation when the hymnal is set aside. Through the Florida Department of State’s Folklife Apprenticeship Program he taught hymn lining in order to preserve the tradition, and was awarded the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 2003. This podcast features performances from Troy Demps and his apprentices at the Florida Folk Festival as well as a 1995 interview with folklorist Bob Stone.
More information on Troy Demps and African-American hymn lining can be found in a biography from the Folklife Apprenticeship Program. The Florida Folklife Collection compilation CD Shall We Gather at the River features Demps and his apprentices, in addition to other recordings of traditional African-American sacred music, from the State Archives of Florida.
The Black Hat Troubadour. The Father of Florida Folk. These were the calling cards of a man who had a profound impact on his home state’s folk music tradition.
(47:12, 43.2MB; S1576 T77-145, T77-160, T80-12, T81-43, T85-39)
The Black Hat Troubadour. The Father of Florida Folk. These were the calling cards of a man who had a profound impact on his home state’s folk music tradition. Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s Division of Library and Information Services. This month we will focus on one of our most prolific and influential songwriters, Will McLean.
Born just outside of Chipley, Will spent his life traveling and writing songs inspired by his experiences in and love for the Sunshine State. He wrote his first song, “Away O’ee,” at the age of six, and went on to compose over 3,000 more songs and stories before his death in 1990. His classic portrayals of Florida’s people and landscapes through songs such as “Hold Back the Waters,” “Osceola’s Last Words,” and “Florida Sand” are still sung today. Will McLean received the Florida Folk Heritage Award in 1989, and in 1996 he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. His legacy continues through the Will McLean Foundation as well as an annual folk festival bearing his name.
In 1963 Will made his Florida Folk Festival debut, and performed many times throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. Gamble Rogers, Paul Champion, Jim Ballew, Don Grooms and many others often accompanied McLean on stage. Let’s enjoy some highlights from Will’s appearances at the Florida Folk Festival starting with a 1963 recording of “Tate’s Hell.”
This podcast features Ukrainian bandurist Yarko Antonevych.
(42:30, 38.9MB; S1576 D95-37, D95-3, D95-26)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s Library and Archives of Florida. As we’ve discovered throughout this series, the Florida Folk Festival has provided an excellent venue for sharing unique traditions introduced to Florida from around the world. Ukrainian bandurist Yarko Antonevych is no exception.
The bandura is the national instrument of Ukraine and possesses many similarities to the lute or harp. Its history dates back to the sixth century with its predecessor, the kobza, and the musicians who played this instrument as well as the bandura who were known as kobzari – wandering folk troubadours and court musicians who wrote and performed epic songs called duma. Yarko will fill us in with more on the history of the instrument and its performers throughout the podcast.
Born in Canada where his father fled after World War II, Yarko Antonevych grew up in a Ukrainian community in Toronto where he was introduced to his instrument at an early age. He studied music at Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach Community College in his 20s. More recently, Yarko has been sighted carrying on the kobzar tradition in the subways of Toronto.
During his time in Florida, Yarko brought the ethereal sounds of his instrument to White Springs, performing old Ukranian folk songs as well as modern compositions. Let’s enjoy some highlights from Yarko’s appearances at the 1995 Florida Folk Festival.
This month we will learn to appreciate Florida’s mosquitos, swamps and waterways through song with Gainesville’s environmental troubadour Dale Crider.
(40:55, 37.4MB, S1576 T83-98, T83-103)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection podcast series from the Florida Department of State’s State Library and Archives of Florida. This month we will learn to appreciate Florida’s mosquitos, swamps and waterways through song with Gainesville’s environmental troubadour Dale Crider.
Dale has been a presence at the Florida Folk Festival for over 40 years, beginning with his performances of traditional bluegrass numbers in the 1960s with the Florida Wildlife Boys. By the 1970s he was performing original songs both solo and accompanied by various musicians, including then-wife Linda Bittner. With 30 years of experience as a biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Crider has an in-depth understanding of Florida’ s ecosystems. This has enabled him to write songs with both a convincing message of environmental conservation and an equally strong audience appeal.
This podcast focuses on Crider’s performances at the 1979 Florida Folk Festival with Linda Bittner fulfilling bass and vocal duties and Sean Flynn on the violin and dobro. Bittner was executive director for the Governor’ s Council on Physical Fitness, and ties in this expertise on set opener “Fitness is the Balance.” Dale continues to decry wasteful energy use and excessive land development on “Black Gold” and “Stainless Steel Palm Trees.” Taking care of our forests takes on a mild patriotic undertone during “Under the Southern Bald Eagle,” and the “Mosquito’s Lullaby” makes you think twice about using pesticides.
Today Dale continues performing and educating audiences around the world on numerous topics relating to environmental appreciation and conservation. Let’s join Cousin Thelma, Dale and Linda in White Springs to celebrate all of the unique wilderness and wildlife Florida has to offer.
In 1992, while serving as State Folklorist, Bob Stone unearthed what became known as Sacred Steel music in South Florida.
(1:24:19, 77.2MB; S1576 C97-84, C97-85, D94-20)
Welcome back to the Florida Folklife Collection Podcast Series from the Department of State Archives of Florida.
Since the 1930s, the sounds of steel guitar have been heard in an unlikely place, far removed from Nashville or the Hawaiian islands. Musicians in the Pentecostal House of God church use the steel guitar instead of the often-heard organ or piano to lead their lively, music-driven worship services. The very human, voice-like qualities of lap and pedal steel guitars are perfectly suited to underscore a spirited sermon or lead an ecstatic choir in praise.
In 1992, while serving as State Folklorist, Bob Stone unearthed what became known as Sacred Steel music in South Florida. His extensive research led to the publication of multiple sound recordings from Willie Eason, Sonny Treadway, and Aubrey Ghent—featured here on this podcast—as well as a video documentary and a book titled Sacred Steel: Inside an African American Steel Guitar Tradition.
Stone’s research brought a heightened interest in Sacred Steel music. This newfound popularity became a source of conflict for House of God musicians: should the music be kept within the strict confines of the church, or shared with the general public as a form of ministry? Fortunately for the listening audience, some musicians chose to share this unique tradition in secular venues such as the Florida Folk Festival. Listen as Bob Stone interviews Willie Eason and Sonny Treadway between songs at the Folklife Narrative Stage during the 1997 Florida Folk Festival, followed by a rousing 1994 performance from Aubrey Ghent closing out the Festival’s Main Stage.
For more information on Sacred Steel music in Florida, visit the Voices of Florida page on the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources website.