With this blog, i want to use the Folkways Anthology as a roadmap to explore american folk music and maybe other countries traditions along the way. I’ ll use texts, images, music and videos gathered from my personal collection and from the net to make this work-in-progress enjoyable and educationnal the best i can. Any suggestions, additional informations, comments and critics are welcome…

I’ll use Harry Smith’s numerical order starting from the number one performance in the Anthology, “Henry Lee” by Dick Justice and end (someday…) with “Fishing Blues” by Henry Thomas. Each time, i’ll try to collect interesting links on the artist and on the song performed. There will be other performances by the artist and different versions of the selected song that i have access to. You’re invited to download and enjoy the selections but please, as much as you can, try to support the effort of the small records companies that make this old 78 rpm records available and in print.

48 thoughts on “About

  1. Jason Dubin says:

    I see that you embedded my cocaine cartoon,… I am always searching for interesting music from the public domain,… any mp3s you can send my way would be appreciated.

  2. Reggie says:

    I really appreciate what you are doing here. I’m a huge fan of Pre-Blues folk.

  3. David says:

    I have just discovered your blog today. What a wonderful idea & very well executed. I am absolutely thrilled by the prospect of this journey through Harry Smith’s Anthology.
    This really made my day.

  4. Curt Morgan says:

    Hello Harry!
    Well, no where on your site do I see your name…! So, it’s “Harry” until I hear otherwise! And, my guess is that’s you in the iconic photo on this site, with the butterfly looking over your shoulder…am I right?

    But, on to the business at hand. You say you discovered the Smith Anthology 10 years ago. I had a similar experience, only I found the collection in a Texas public library, thought it “looked interesting”, ripped it to my PC, then began reading the liner notes on the Smithsonian Folkways web site (since removed). The notes listed 1800 or so variants of Harry’s original songs. Hmmmm, thought I, it could be interesting to collect such (on Napster, the P2P of choice at that time). It had taken me a month to gather up the RnR Hall of Fame “Most Influential” 500 list, I guessed, three months should be about right for the variants of Harry’s. OK, six at the outside.

    Well, here it is, nine years later. How many of the original 1800 do I have left to locate? 435, is how many! And, just this week, a Dutch friend (a fan of the Child ballads), pointed out your site to me. We have, my friend, both been in pursuit of essentially the same goal, independently, for 9 or 10 years! I did download the songs you have so kindly made available here, I believe I picked up only 5 or so new songs on my original Folkways list from you. However can it be that, with the same essential goal, we have so few variants appear in both our collections? It’s one of the world’s unsolved mysteries, I suppose!

    Incidentally, I was in contact with the compiler of the original Folkways list of variants. He was a bit evasive, however, I gathered that he had compiled the list under pressure of time, from printed catalogues, in the mid 90’s, before the net put so much information so readily at our fingertips. Really, his list is very nearly, a meaningless one. Typos abound (Stoney instead of Stony, Jeannie vs. Jeanie, etc.) Many of Ed McCurdy’s variants made his list, but, other McCurdy variants (Stackalee, etc) did not. But, am I going to give up now, after coming so far? What do you think??

    Anyhow, I offer you my own collection of Smith variants, should you have an interest. And I look forward to futher DLs from your fantastic site, as they become available!

    All the best
    Curt in Australia

  5. Joe Offer says:

    I keep starting ambitious projects like this one, and only rarely get around to finishing them. I see you’re progressing very nicely, and doing a darn good job of it. Keep up the good work.
    I agree with the post above – you should tell us who you are, even though some of us already know.
    -Joe Offer, The Mudcat Cafe-

    • gadaya says:

      Hi, Joe, thanks for the kind words. I love the mudcat, it’s a great resource for someone like me who like to search for songs… As to tell who i am, there’s no secret, i already wrote somewhere that i’m a french guy, 34 years old, amateur musician (you can see me on the yoube channel under the name “Gadaya” which is the short way for my full name GAel DAvid hAYat…

  6. Nicolas L says:

    Great project !

    I have modestly been posting about folk songs this week, including “Fatal Flower Garden”



  7. LT says:

    I cannot thank you enough for doing this – I do an alt-country/Appalachian music/old-timey show at WSCA FM 106.1 in Portsmouth, NH and this blog is invaluable to me.

    Fantastic job!

  8. Noah Bergman says:

    I just have to say that this is the best thing I’ve found on the internet in YEARS…and that it’s kicked off a project for me to learn all of these songs by heart; first faithfully, and then come up with my own interpretations. I’ve been familiar with the Anthology for years in a passing sense, but now feel compelled to KNOW it. So far I’ve got Henry Lee down…83 more to go. It’ll be interesting, as a clawhammer banjoist, figuring out exactly what I’m gonna do with the Sacred Harp and zydeco songs, but thankfully that’s quite a ways off…

    Thanks so much for your efforts. I can’t wait to see more.

    • gadaya says:

      Thanks Noah. I’m also a clawhammer banjoist (among other things) and i’m sure we can do a lot of things with this style. If you want to see me play go to youtube and search for Gadaya and you should see me with my many instruments (i’m just an amateur musician and being french i don’t pretend to master all this songs but i sure love to sing and play).

      • Thom Moore says:

        I love this blog and site. Thank you. Gadaya, I just love your enthusiasm for this type of music and your playing. I write tunes in my own style which is melodic or thematic. I would love to share them with you. Let me know how to reach you and I’ll send you a disc of my original tunes.
        Take care,

  9. What a fantastic resource you have created. Beautifully put together and curated. Many thanks.

  10. robert says:


    what an amazing site you have created! i love it!

  11. Emanuele says:

    Slowly but steadily the small hard drive of my laptop is welcoming your compilations. What of joy to rediscover once again the powerful old weird America. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Probably who’s browsing around here alredy knows, but just in case i suggest to listen to Smithsonian Folkways podcasts. http://www.folkways.si.edu/explore_folkways/podcasts.aspx

  12. Steven W says:

    Fantastic work! Thank you so much. This is just a joy.

  13. Tim says:

    Hi, I really appreciate all the work you’ve put into this site. My humble offerings are my cassettes from Mali, at wassoulou.blogspot.com.

    On one of your other sites you posted one track from an album titled “Chinese Masters of the Guqin”. I really enjoy Chinese music, as it reminds me of Malian music in many ways, and was wondering if I could somehow obtain the full album?

    Take care,


  14. Matt Keefe says:

    Wow dude I just discovered this blog. I can’t even imagine how much work you’ve put into this. Thank you so much, man. Thank you.

  15. Matthew White says:

    Hi, this is a great site, I really appreciate all the work you’ve put into it, and particularly the ‘variations’ section on each track, with all the alternative versions.

    I’m a researcher, working for an art project, due to begin in a few weeks. I’m trying to put together an alternative anthology, picking out versions of a few of the tracks from the Harry Smith anthology which are out of copyright. I was hoping you might be able to assist me in this. I’d really appreciate it if you could provide me with high quality (uncompressed) versions of a few of the tracks you’ve already provided for download from your site. Also, if you have any out of copyright versions of tracks which you haven’t got around to writing about yet, that’d be great. Copyright law, is of course complicated, and varies from country to country, so, if you have the time, it’d be fantastic if you could send me a private email so we can discuss this.

    Keep up the good work!


  16. gust putra says:

    nice page….


  17. hi!
    I am looking for Capeverdean “black Portuguese” music from old days in the
    do you happen to have something?

    • gadaya says:

      Hi, sorry i don’t have informations about this but you may ask Johnatan Ward at “Excavated Shellac”, he’s collecting ethnic music recorded on 78rpm records, i’m sure he knows something about it.

  18. James says:

    Hi, I’m blown away by the breadth of knowledge and material presented on here and your other websites. Je viens du Canada, mais au moment, je vis a Paris et si vous vivez à proximité, on peut se retrouver parce que je suis prêt à tout apprendre sur the old, weird america.


  19. Bonjour, bonjour!

    What a treat to meet you, while I was in France, at the Old Time Gathering, about a month ago.

    Truly enjoying your site…

    Come visit Virginia sometime! I would be more than delighted to take you around to visit some dances, some concerts, visit some older musicians, archives, and fiddlers conventions, throughout Appalachia! You would be certain to love it, and I know a bunch of people over here who read your blog who would love to meet you and play some tunes!

    Just let me know when you want to come, and I can free my schedule!

    Oh, and if you want to look at some of my research, it’s on my website: http://www.annarobertsgevalt.com/in_her_first_heaven

    A bientot, j’espere!


  20. Daniel says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you can reup the 4th disc of the Stagger Lee Variations? I missed out and would greatly appreciate getting my hands on those tracks.


  21. Tom says:

    Thank you so much for putting all of this together, for all of your hard work. Thank you for not giving up on this extensive and wonderful group of resources. The music is truly amazing.

  22. Scott Gartner says:

    I simply wanted to thank you for the amazing research and informative website you have put together. What great work! I have purchased the original anthology and enjoy seeking out variants of the original songs as well as additional recordings by the artists. I’m originally from east Texas (where we hear some good Cajun) and now live in western Virginia (folk music paradise).

  23. aizik says:

    great blog!!!

  24. Peter Chrisp says:

    This is a magnificent site – thank you so much for sharing these treasures with us!

  25. Matt Filler says:

    I came across your marvelous site while updating the Wikipedia article for J. M. Gates, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._M._Gates. Is your image of Gates known to be public domain, or do you own it? If so, please let me know if I can put it and some of your information about him in the Wikipedia article, of course, with a reference to your blog (or you can do that yourself).

  26. Joseph Healy says:

    Wonderful site! Please keep it up & know you are appreciated. I could spend hours & hours just scratching the surface, not to mention investigating your recommendations for further reading/listening. It’s slightly curious that you are not American & yet so immersed in this. I suppose sometimes the best perspective on something comes from standing a little apart & looking at it.

  27. Karl Koenig says:

    I’m looking for transcritions of early blues. I’m writing a book on early blues up to 1930. Of course there are few notated music of these blues. If anyone has any I already have about 500 of them. Thanks, Karl

  28. craig says:


    Just want to say I love this blog…. 🙂

    I wanted to download the andrew and jim baxter songs, the link appears to be out of action. Have I missed a golden opportunity to get these awesome tracks?

    Take care. Craig

  29. Stan Brager says:

    Great site! Interesting sets of recordings. By the way, the Sidney Bechet version of “When You And I were Young, Maggie”, did feature Sidney Bechet on soprano sax. However, the leader was Tommy Ladnier and was recorded on November, 28, 1938.


  30. Hi! I wanted to let you know that a colleague and I are organising a one-day conference to mark the 60th anniversary of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in London on September 15th 2012. You can see more and read the Call for Papers here:
    We both love your blog, which is an amazing achievement, and if you’d like to be involved in some way we’d be delighted.

  31. Rolf Samuels says:

    I presume you know about this blog and conference: http://americachangedthroughmusic.blogspot.com/

  32. natepedersen says:

    What an awesome archive and resource!

  33. Karl Koenig says:

    Thomas, I’d love to take part but the air fare as it is is very expensive and I am now retired and not teaching or playing at gigs. I’ve been working on a book on early blues that would be very interesting I think to so many people. If you can pay for the air fare and put me up some where near the conference I’d be glad to participate. I now live in the mountains in southern California. Karl

  34. Patrick Blair says:

    I just found this site about a month ago. I came across it while doing a web search after finishing Greil Marcus’ book. I can’t thank you enough for what you are doing here. My interest in this world of folk music is just beginning and there is no way I would be able to learn as much as I have if this resource wasn’t on the web. (As far as I can tell the record stores here in Philly don’t have much music older than 1960). You have opened up the door to a world not easily accessible and I really appreciate it.

  35. Look for KUNM’s Home of Happy Feet on Tuesday Evenings (7-10pm Mountain Time in the US) and we have a 2 week archive available. Please email me – I’d love to visit since I travel to Europe a few times a year. Thanks for all your excellent work on this website.

  36. Joe says:

    Hello, your site rocks of course!

    Dear all of you Anthology fans in the Northwest

    I have put together a huge tribute show here in Portland Oregon – come!
    If you would like a poster, just ask: joemcmurrian@yahoo.com

    SHOW details: https://www.albertarosetheatre.com/calendar.html

    ***** Old Weird Americana *********
    A Northwest Celebration of Portland native Harry Smith’s legend and legacy & the 60th Anniversary of the publication
    of his ‘Anthology of American Folk Music’

    Sunday May 20, 2012

    7:00 – 10PM
    Alberta Rose Theatre 3000 NE Alberta Street, PDX
    Minors OK when accompanied by a parent or guardian
    Doors open at 6:00
    $15 Advance | $18 at the Door
    VIP tickets available

    Phone: 503.764.4131

    A night of revelry to celebrate a Portland native’s massive contribution to American music.

    Performers include:

    Ural Thomas
    Lewi Longmire
    Baby Gramps
    Joe McMurrian

    James Low
    Mark Lemhouse
    Dick Weissman
    Lauren Sheehan
    Michael Dean Damron
    Bob Shoemaker
    Richard Cranium & the Phoreheads
    Mike Midlo
    PDX Country Underground
    Miz Kitty
    Kory Quinn
    Jane Keefer
    Tin Pan Alley Killers
    Joe Hickerson
    Whiskey Puppy
    Annie Weiss
    & more

    All songs and music played on this evening will be selected from the Anthology and rendered anew.

    Artistic Director: Joe McMurrian
    http://www.joemcmurrian.com Joemcmurrian@yahoo.com

  37. Peter Chrisp says:

    ‘Following the success of “America Changed Through Music” on September 15th, we’re now looking for contributors for what will be the first book-length study of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music in the six decades since its release. The official Call for Papers is below – please feel free to get in touch with any questions!’


  38. afterbach says:

    Permit me, please, express in my own, native language. It’s the only way I can express you my feeling. Of courseI can understand english a bit , but not speak it So, I want to say you

    Estoy realmente emocionado, admirado y complacido por este excelente trabajo que usted, querido amigo está desarrollando al enriquecer, la ya de por sí invaluable labor del Sr Smith. Se respira aqui el aprecio por lo más valioso del ser humano… sus valores, especialmente sus valores espirituales, como los que representa la Música.

    De todo corazón, quiero expresarle mi más sincero agradecimiento. Usted con su trabajo está haciendo, directa e indirectamente, un gran bien al género humano,


    Ante usted…. ¡me quito el sombrero!! (I take hat off!!)


  39. Vic Rezendes says:

    The Allegany Museum in conjunction with the Maryland Humanities Council is sponsoring an exhibit and conference entitled “Preserving Our Musical Heritage from Britain to the Blue Ridge.” The project consists of three separate activities. First, is a temporary exhibit at the Allegany Museum that features a diorama with antique musical instruments, timeline of immigration into the area, a storyboard of the evolution of Appalachian music, historical recording equipment, publications, and historical audio recording, among others.
    The second element is a symposium which will consist of a panel of three speakers that will discuss Appalachian music in general and in Maryland. They will also introduce a video clip of the movie “Song Bird” which will show on another date. The symposium is end with a folklore concert.
    The third element is the showing of the movie “Songcatcher.”
    We searching for photos of the period that we could use in our exhibit. We noticed some great photos on this site and our Cornbread site also. Is it possible to get high resolution photos for use in our exhibit which will run from March 9, 2013 through April 8, 2013?

  40. Hello, and thank you for this great site. I thought you might enjoy my take on “Kassie Jones”.

  41. Francesco says:

    Hi Gadaya!

    I’ve been watching a lot of your Youtube videos. I was wondering if you had the tabs for Black-Eyed Susie and Rambling Hobo?

    Keep up the great work. I think you’re doing really great stuff.

  42. kenneth cooke says:

    This is a wonderful site which you have painstakingly put together. The Harry Smith record set was my bible when I used to play old timey in the 60’s. Now at 66 I still am interested in this music although following 4 strokes I can not play as well as I used to. Keep up the good work Thank you

    kenneth UK

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