Florida Folklife Program

Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977–1980

Drop on Down in Florida
With the release of Drop on Down in Florida, Dust-to-Digital has elevated American music to new heights. The vivid, sonic intimacy of each track is astonishing … We are being allowed into a private, profound musical place. Every performance sounds like it was performed at home for friends as a gift. What amazing discoveries lay ahead for new listeners to Drop on Down in Florida … you can listen to any of the other performances and hear American music in a fresh and inspiring way. I cannot recall another recording in my collection that has given me more hope for the future of music, the future of recording and the future of sharing musical experiences." —David Harrington, Kronos Quartet

Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977–1980 is the result of an exciting partnership between the Florida Folklife Program, the State Archives of Florida, and Dust-to-Digital. Released in late 2012, the book/CD set is an expanded reissue of a double-LP produced by the Florida Folklife Program in 1981 titled Drop on Down in Florida: Recent Field Recordings of Afro-American Traditional Music. It is distributed by the Grammy® award-winning record label Dust-to-Digital, which is known for their specially packaged releases of folk and traditional music. Dust-to-Digital was founded in 1999 by Lance Ledbetter and is currently operated by Ledbetter and his wife, April.

The original Drop on Down in Florida was a two-record LP set based on four years of fieldwork conducted by the Florida Folklife Program on African American traditional music throughout the state. It was intended to highlight different forms of African American musical expression, especially the blues and sacred music traditions, for a statewide public audience. Seeking to expand the reach of these rare recordings, the Florida Folklife Program and Dust-to-Digital drew upon extensive fieldwork materials now housed in the State Archives of Florida. Together, these organizations have provided the public with a reissue of the 1981 album that includes approximately 80 previously unreleased minutes of music.

The 2012 edition of Drop on Down in Florida consists of 2 CDs featuring all 27 tracks from the original 1981 album, plus additional audio recordings available for the first time. All tracks were digitally remastered for the 2012 reissue. Notable among these new tracks are additional selections and personal narratives from one-string musician Moses Williams, four-shape-note Sacred Harp singing from African American communities in the Florida Panhandle, and recordings from multiple artists in the blues and gospel-blues traditions. The set also includes a 224-page hardbound book that consists of expanded and revised essays and liner notes from the 1981 double-LP; new track notes from respected music scholars David Evans and Doris J. Dyen; reflective essays from past and present folklorists with the Florida Folklife Program, including Peggy A. Bulger, Dwight DeVane, and current State Folklorist Blaine Waide; and an extensive essay on African American one-string instrument traditions by David Evans. In addition, the book features 60 black-and-white photographs from the State Archives of Florida, most of which are being published for the first time. The images present the folk artists and communities that perpetuated the musical traditions documented through Florida Folklife Program fieldwork. This expanded reissue highlights the significance of the previously unreleased material, calls attention to the importance of Florida’s African American traditional music, and once again makes the recordings from the original LP available to the public.

To learn more about Drop on Down in Florida, listen to this Florida Memory podcast, featuring Sound Archivist Will Chase and State Folklorist Amanda Hardeman. The podcast features tracks from the original double-LP and the expanded reissue, as well as field recordings not included on either the LP or book/CD set.

Visit www.dust-digital.com/florida to purchase a copy of Drop on Down in Florida: Field Recordings of African American Traditional Music, 1977–1980. Copies may also be purchased at the Florida History Shop located in the R. A. Gray Building in Tallahassee, Florida. You can contact the Shop and place an order by phone at 850-245-6396. For more information, contact Blaine Waide at Amanda.Hardeman@dos.myflorida.com or 800.847.PAST.