On June 3, 1938, Anne and Frank Warner left New York City for the Appalachian Mountains. This was the first in a series of trips extending over nearly five decades during which the Warners would “collect” on primitive tape recordings some of America’s most beautiful and important traditional American music, as sung by mostly untrained and unprofessional “real people.” Their lifetime of collecting music has been called by Alan Lomax “a continuous act of unpaid, tender devotion and a lifelong love affair with the people who remembered the ballads.”
Over the course of forty years, through lectures and performances, in books, and on seven highly influential albums of his own, Frank Warner taught America the songs that he learned through these collecting trips. In 1984, Anne Warner documented the collection in the critically acclaimed book Traditional American Folksongs, a stunning work that belongs on every bookshelf.
Songs from the Warner Collection, including “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand,” “Days of Forty Nine,” “Gilgarrah Mountain” (“Whiskey in the Jar”) and “Tom Dooley,” are now widely known throughout the world. They have been performed and recorded by Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, Metallica (which won a Grammy award for a song from the collection), Lonnie Donegan, The Clancy Brothers, Mahalia Jackson, The Pogues, Judy Collins – and were championed in particular by the exceptional band called Cordelia's Dad.
In 1958, the Kingston Trio learned "Tom Dooley" from the Warners via the Alan Lomax book, Folk Song USA. Their recording of the song became a number one hit that sold over three million copies and ignited the spark of what would become known as the Folk Revival.
Amazingly, the Warners’ original recordings were never commercially issued and, with the exception of the Warner family and a small group of friends and music scholars, have never previously been heard – until now. Appleseed is honored to present one of the finest and most important collections of traditional music, a glimpse into an older America.
You will hear songs of the deep woods and life in the mountains, of shipwrecks on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, of outlaws, love lost and found, play-party songs, and instrumentals performed on homemade fiddles and dulcimers and banjos, sung by the people whose older relatives had lived through those early times. Even the performers’ names ring with an old-time resonance: Frank Proffitt, Buna Hicks, “Yankee” John Galusha, Lee Monroe Presnell, and many more.
Volume one of the Warner Collection, Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still, presents an overview of the gems captured on Frank and Anne’s field recordings. Volume two, Nothing Seems Better to Me, primarily focuses on singer Frank Proffitt and the music of his beloved Beech Mountain and North Carolina. Interspersed between the songs are snippets of conversation between the Warners and the singers, transporting the listener back to a far different time. The booklets that accompany both CDs are filled with historic and memorable photographs taken by Frank Warner and essays by Frank and Anne’s two sons, Jeff and Gerret.
These are essential collections for all lovers of traditional American music and culture.
To see what songs are available on these collection and to hear sound samples, please follow this link to CD Baby