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Baker's Dozen

There's Always A Story: Martin Carthy's Favourite Music
Patrick Clarke , November 8th, 2023 10:32

Martin Carthy speaks to Patrick Clarke about his 13 favourite records, his love for the new wave of traditional musicians, encounters with Bob Dylan and The Beatles and more


Arizona Drames – 1926-1928: Barrel House Piano With Sanctified Singing

This is a great album that was on a label called Herwin, somewhere out in the States. These are recordings that were made between 1926 and 1928. It’s wonderful if you can ever get your hands on it, she sings ‘In That Day’, ‘John Said He Saw A Number’, ‘Bye And Bye We’re Going To See The King’, ‘I Shall Wear A Crown’… She’s a sensational singer, and a very two-fisted player on the piano.

Is music from the 1920s of particular interest to you?

Well that’s when Mississippi John Hurt was making records, which would have been prized possessions for me if I’d ever got my hands on one of them. One of those American nerds, during the early 1960s, thought ‘Maybe I should go and try and find him’. I can’t remember the name of the township, but there was somewhere [Hurt] had talked about having lived, so the lad thought ‘I’ll just stop there and ask some questions’. He went up to a bloke and said, ‘Do you know a man called Mississipi John Hurt?’ ‘Oh sure, he lives down the road, three houses along.’ He’d not moved since 1931! When he got there, Mississippi John Hurt didn’t even have a guitar, but he said that even though he hadn’t played for years, he was still dazzlingly wonderful.