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Folk Alliance honors Tommy Jarrell, Rounder Records, Mavis Staples

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 – The North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance (Folk Alliance) will honor late old-time fiddler/banjo player Tommy Jarrell, gospel/soul vocalist Mavis Staples and Rounder Records as recipients of the 2008 Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards (LAAwards).

Awards will be handed out at the Folk Awards Show Feb. 20, 2008. The awards are given to those who have inspired others, achieved definitive leadership in their field and contributed to the advancement of folk music and/or dance. Each year the LAAwards honor two performers, one living and one legacy, and a person or institution involved in the business or academic side of the folk world, who have devoted their life's work and talent to the advancement of the performing folk arts.

The old time sounds of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina were preserved through the recordings of fiddler, banjo player and vocalist Tommy Jarrell, who died in 1985. His nine albums of traditional banjo and fiddle tunes serve as a reminder of an influential old timey sound. One of 10children, Jarrell inherited his love of music from his father, Ben Jarrell. Jarrell bought his first fiddle, at the age of eight, with money he made gambling. Learning most of his repertoire by 1925, Jarrell performed at unpaid, informal, house parties and contests. Jarrell was little known outside the local area, however, until the mid-1960s when his son, B.F., a disc jockey in North Carolina encouraged Alan Jabbour, then a member of the Hollow String String Band and later the director of the Library of Congress' American Folklife Division, to visit the Jarrell home and record his father. Word of Jarrell's authentic playing soon spread as he was visited by numerous urban traditional music enthusiasts.

By the late-1960s, Jarrell was performing at folk festivals and concerts in the west and midwest. In 1982, Jarrell was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for The Arts. In addition to his albums, Jarrell was featured in several documentaries including, "Sprout Wings & Fly," "My Old Fiddle," and "Legends Of Old Timey Music." In 1970, with their passionate enthusiasm for American roots music lighting the way, three Cambridge, Mass. college students started Rounder. Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin, Marian Leighton-Levy began a label that now has more than 3,000 titles running the gamut from folk to world, soul to socas, jazz to juju, Cajun to Celtic.

The awards are a highlight of the Folk Alliance's annual conference. "We are delighted to announce this year's stellar recipients," says Folk Alliance Executive Director Louis Jay Meyers. "On behalf of the board and the membership, it will be a great pleasure to make these presentations at our Memphis conference in February."

Founded in 1989 the Folk Alliance seeks to create new and better opportunities for all those involved in the performance folk arts. With thousands of attendees annually, their conference offers a complete view of the business world of traditional and contemporary folk music and dance through showcases, educational seminars, films, and a networking-rich trade show.

Born in 1940 in Chicago, Mavis Staples has been lead singer for the Staple Singers. From the first two albums, "Soul Folk in Action" and "We'll Get Over" The Staples were singing entirely contemporary message songs such as "Long Walk to D.C." and "When Will We Be Paid." Starting with "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)" and "I'll Take You There," The Staples counted 12 chart hits at Stax.

CD reviews for Tommy Jarrell

The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell Volume 1: Sail Away Ladies
The haggard wheeze of vintage mountain fiddling isn't always an easy listen. But often the payoff comes only after one applies almost archaeological attention to detail. It can be exhausting. This volume of solo fiddle (with occasional vocals) is the first such record genuinely captivating on all levels. Jarrell's technical prowess, natural showmanship, and gracious demeanor come through clearly - obliterating instantly academic concerns over metric variations, tunings, regional musical dialects. »»»
The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell, Volumes 2-4
This review covers: The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell Volume 2: Rainbow Sign The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell Volume 3: Come and Go With Me The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell Volume 4: Pickin' on Tommy's Porch One of the joys of old-time music lies in its shared repertoire. Out of a relatively small body of material comes a wealth of interpretations. Each performer illuminates a slightly different sector of an old chestnut like "Sugar Babe" or "John Hardy." That same joy is present »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
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