In 2014, writer John Jeremiah Sullivan penned an essay for the New York Times Magazine about blues musicians Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. Thomas and Wiley were unlikely candidates for such a profile. “The Ballad of Elvie and Geeshie” traced the strange legacy of the Black Mississippi women from little-known pre-World War II recording artists to subjects of present-day New York Times Magazine curiosity. Their recordings were scant: a sum total of three records released nearly a century prior by a small Wisconsin-based furniture-turned-record company known as Paramount. Copies are exceedingly rare; their format—the vaunted 78 rpm. shellac disc—has not been mass-produced since the 1950s, when it was eclipsed by the slower-spinning but better-sounding microgroove LP and seven-inch EP. This combination makes the simple audition of their music feel like a discovery. Sullivan’s profile...
Review: The Blues Comes to Texas: Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick’s Unfinished Book, by Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick
Mathew Swiatlowski is a visiting assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in American studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018. His latest project is a monograph on early recordings of immigrant musics in the United States titled The Sound of Ethnic America: Prewar “Foreign-Language”Recordings and the Sonics of U.S. Citizenship.
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Mathew R. Swiatlowski; Review: The Blues Comes to Texas: Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick’s Unfinished Book, by Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 June 2021; 33 (2): 164–166. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2021.33.2.164
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