February 16th - Street and Gangland Rhythms, Beats and Improvisations by Six Boys in Trouble

This is an interesting one - basically turning the the sociological and ethnographic lens that Folkways usually turns on residents of the global South onto marginalized people in the United States. The titular "six boys in trouble" were between eleven and twelve years old, and residents at a "training school" after various interactions with school and police authorities. E. Richard Sorenson recorded their rhythmic and lyrical compositions and analyzed them as actual musical responses to their environment and privations.

There are drum solos, lyric odes to gang fights past, popular song covers, even folk songs - there is a really surprising version of "The Fox," previously heard in this project in Ellen Stekert's Songs of a New York Lumberjack . A lot of the latter songs are actually improv dialogues between two or more boys, accompanied by drums, singing about bad institutional food or work problems or robbing banks. Everything here is incredible - the sort of un-embarrassed inventiveness that kids have and adults envy is evident in every piece.

Click here to read liner notes and purchase this album from Smithsonian Folkways

Mark PophamComment