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Spring Fed serves up rare ‘Home Made’ CD from Hartford, Forrester

“Home Made Sugar and a Puncheon Floor,” a set of home recordings made by music icon John Hartford and fiddling legend Howdy Forrester, is the newest release from Spring Fed Records, the Grammy-winning documentary label operated by MTSU’s Center for Popular Music.

Home Made Sugar cover web

Click on the album cover to purchase the album in digital or CD format.

This collection of 20 previously unreleased performances preserves a repertoire of many rare old tunes that Forrester learned as a boy from his great-uncle Bob Cates in Hickman County, Tennessee.

Hartford plays banjo, Forrester fiddles, and the two share informal discussion about the tunes and their sources on the record.

Hartford, who died in 2001, was a Grammy-winning songwriter and musician in multiple genres, still revered by many today for his unique combination of bold musical innovation and reverence for Southern traditional music.

Hartford made many visits to the homes of traditional musicians, always recording their conversations and jam sessions. Some of these musicians were little known, but others, like Forrester, were quite famous.

Forrester, best known as the longtime fiddler in Roy Acuff’s band, played weekly in that capacity on the Grand Ole Opry.

The original tape is part of the Charles K. Wolfe Collection in the archives of The Center for Popular Music, one of the nation’s largest and richest repositories of research materials related to American vernacular music. The CPM is part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

Spring Fed Records logo web“These home recordings offer a rare aural glimpse of two iconic musicians playing the music they loved in an informal setting,” said Dr. Greg Reish, CPM director.

“These are not the pieces that Howdy played every Saturday night on the Opry, but the tunes he learned from his family and his community. That’s what makes these recordings so special.”

Grammy-winning bluegrass musician Stuart Duncan, an Academy of Country Music fiddle player of the year winner, called the CD a “must-have for anyone wanting to connect musical dots.”

Reish co-produced the new CD with Spring Fed label manager John Fabke. CPM audio specialist Martin Fisher handled the digital transfers, and MTSU recording industry professor Michael Fleming did the final mastering.

new-CPM-logo-webThe booklet includes extensive liner notes and transcriptions of the tunes by noted Middle Tennessee contest fiddler and teacher Jim Wood, who grew up in Hickman County and knew both Hartford and Forrester.

Dr. Greg Reish

Dr. Greg Reish

The Center for Popular Music acquired Spring Fed Records in 2014 from the Arts Center of Cannon County.

Founded in 2002, Spring Fed Records preserves and documents the traditional music of Tennessee and the Midsouth by releasing recordings of historical and cultural importance. The label’s compilation of field recordings by pioneering African-American folklorist John Work III won a Grammy in 2008 for its liner notes by former CPM staffer Bruce Nemerov.

The Spring Fed catalog is distributed by City Hall Records of San Rafael, California. Selected titles are also available as digital downloads from Amazon.com, iTunes and CD Baby.

You can learn more about Spring Fed Records at www.springfedrecords.com and about MTSU’s Center for Popular Music at www.mtsu.edu/popmusic.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music acquires Spring Fed Records

The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University has acquired the renowned Spring Fed Records from the Arts Center of Cannon County.

The Arts Center has donated the Grammy-winning label’s name and rights and sold its existing inventory to MTSU, said Dr. Greg Reish, the Center for Popular Music’s new director.

  Founded in 2002, Spring Fed Records is devoted to issuing unique and historically significant recordings of traditional Southern music, including old-time country, blues and gospel. Among its featured titles are music by Uncle Dave Macon, Sam and Kirk McGee, The Fairfield Four, Frazier Moss and Mississippi John Hurt.

Spring Fed’s compilation of field recordings by pioneering African-American folklorist John Work III won a Grammy in 2008 for its liner notes by former CPM staffer Bruce Nemerov.

The label established a strong partnership with MTSU and the Center for Popular Music from its inception with contributions from Nemerov, former CPM director Paul Wells and the late Dr. Charles Wolfe, a venerated scholar of traditional music.

Dr. Greg Reish

“Spring Fed’s regional emphasis on traditional music fits well with the CPM’s mission and will allow us to explore even further the vast repository of historically and culturally significant recordings in the CPM archive,” Reish said.

The Center for Popular Music is affiliated with MTSU’s College of Mass Communication and is housed in the Bragg Mass Communication Building on campus.

Production and marketing of new Spring Fed releases will also work in cooperation with the College of Mass Communication’s highly regarded Department of Recording Industry program, giving students the opportunity to work in a specialized sector of the business.

Beverly Keel, recording industry department chair, said the acquisition is “a wonderful opportunity both for the music of Spring Fed Records and for MTSU, which has one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious music business programs and the highly esteemed Center for Popular Music.

“Our students will get a chance to gain real-world experience by promoting this music and scholars everywhere will have the opportunity to study the history of Spring Fed at MTSU.”

Mass Comm logo croppedKen Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, added that the addition of “Spring Fed Records gives MTSU an extraordinary opportunity to use the recordings of the past to enhance the college’s future. The label adds a new dimension to our educational opportunities and underscores the pivotal role the Center for Popular Music plays in the College of Mass Communication.”

Spring Fed will be housed in the Center for Popular Music, and CPM staffer John Fabke will manage its day-to-day operations. A new marketing and sales structure, including a new website, will roll out soon.

The Spring Fed catalog is distributed by City Hall Records of San Rafael, California. Selected titles are also available as digital downloads from Amazon.com, iTunes and CD Baby.

The Center for Popular Music at MTSU is a research center devoted to the study and scholarship of popular music in America. Established in 1985 by the Tennessee Board of Regents as one of 16 Centers of Excellence across the TBR system, MTSU’s CPM maintains an archive of research materials stretching from the early 18th century to the present and develops and sponsors programs in American vernacular music.

For more information on the Center for Popular Music and its projects and special events, visit http://popmusic.mtsu.edu.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

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