I was reading a post today in the Facebook group Dedicated to Old Time Music about Peter Hoover (1939-2019), who made field recordings in 1959 of Old Time musicians down South. Since I am not that familiar with Peter, I started doing a bit of research and found a great website called The Field Recorders’ Collective that has links to an article written by John Hoffman (The Peter Hoover Collection) and to Peter’s obituary (The Ithaca Journal) from this past October.
But, what I also found here is a great site dedicated to the preservation and distribution of noncommercial recordings of traditional American music, material that is unavailable to the general public. Although some recordings in the collection have been shared privately and informally among collectors, they have never before been made readily available to the entire old time and traditional music community. Many of the source recordings used by The Field Recorders’ Collective come from private collections belonging to the individuals who made them.
Ray Alden (1942-2009), the founder of The Field Recorders’ Collective, was active in the Old Time Music community for nearly 40 years. He was best known for his pioneering work recording traditional and second generation Appalachian banjo and fiddle players and styles, for which he received many awards, including a Grammy nomination.
Musicians entering the scene today will never get to spend time with the older musicians; they are now almost all gone. If you ask musicians new to old time music, ”Where did you learn that tune?” many will say, “From so-and-so at such-and-such a festival.” If you are familiar with the source, often their version seems completely removed from the source, watered down and homogenized. John Cohen once told me that sometimes the most radical thing you can do to move ahead is to go backwards. I hope that the [Field Recorders’ Collective] can leave a legacy for future travelers, repaving the old time highway to reconstruct this music with the old timers as guides. In the end, I can only say it was a treasure for me to be shown this direction by them. —Ray Alden, 2003
In The Field Recorders’ Collective online store there are over 100 CDs available for purchase. From well-known to unknown musicians from all over the Appalachian region, these field recordings represent a wealth of old time sound from many of the sources who created old time.
Be sure to visit The Field Recorders’ Collective.