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Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Grade Level: 6-8

Selection: Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
Recorded: Como, Mississippi
Performed by: Fred McDowell, Annie Mae McDowell

Suggested Activity #1

1. Listen to "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning"

Q: What do you hear?
A: Guitar, Male singing, Female singing response

2. Share biographical information about the first time Alan Lomax and Fred McDowell met.

"On the first day of fall, 1959, in Como, Mississippi, a farmer named Fred McDowell emerged from the woods and ambled over to his neighbor Lonnie Young's front porch with a guitar in hand. Alan Lomax was there recording the Young brothers' fife and drum ensemble, as well as the raggy old country dance music of their neighbors, the Pratcher brothers, and he had no idea what to expect from this slight man in overalls. He certainly didn't expect that Fred would soon become internationally known as one of the most original, talented, and affecting country bluesmen ever recorded."

3. Watch video/audio of Fred McDowell (and his wife, Annie, in some of the pictures)

4. Listen to recording of "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning" again.

Students walk, matching their feet to the half note, and tapping the quarter note in their palm during the guitar solos.
During the singing sections, step in place.
Resume travel when the guitar solos again.

5. Optional - Play recording of several artists who were influenced by Fred McDowell's style and particularly his song "You Gotta Move" including: Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Sam Cooke, Cassandra Wilson.

Designed by Karen Howard

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