Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sunday Night is Roscoe Holcomb

I didn't know anything about Roscoe Holcomb until an evening spent a few years ago at the Sainsbury Centre, UEA, at the opening of the photographer Justin Partyka's exhibition for which I wrote a short text, then engaged in a conversation along with Justin and the singer, filmmaker and folklorist, John Cohen. Justin's photos were of small Norfolk farmers at work in their fields and sheds and cattle, a vanishing group some of whom turned up on the night to see the photographs of themselves, Justin has a blog over at his place about the occasion here - the pic there is of me in front of a photo of Holcomb.
Holcomb's style is labelled the 'high lonesome sound'. Versions of this sound were heard in O Brother Where Art Thou and Holcomb does in fact sing, unaccompanied and most hauntingly, one of the songs featured in it:

It reminds me a little of the wonderful Skip James, whom I have fetured before. James is calmer and more falsetto, but he touches the heart much as Holcomb does. Worlds open up.

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