Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Odetta and Tennessee Ernie Ford - Live

It’s not too often that I write about the same artist, or any subject, two days in a row. But while looking at videos of Tennessee Ernie Ford for yesterday’s post reviewing “River of No Return” by Jeffrey Buckner Ford, I ran across this video of Odetta performing on the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show sometime in the 1950’s. It’s so good that I did not want it to get “lost” in the review. So, I decided to wait and post it separately, which also gives me a kind of day off.
Tennessee Ernie Ford was pigeon holed as a performer, and is remembered largely for his pea-picking songs, and of course “16 Tons.” But the man literally knew no bounds, and was equally comfortable in all genres, from jazz, blues and pop, to classical music. In 1960 he even did a half hour version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado” on TV, giving me my first taste of “musicals.”

In this film from his show, Mr. Ford sits down with the legendary Odetta, and together they perform Merle Travis’ “Nine Pound Hammer”, and Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty”. Early television was filled with moments of uncertainty, error, and sometimes pure brilliance. This performance was one of the latter.

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