On the Greenville Levee (1978)

In the summer of 1978, Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long spent two days on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, interviewing Walter Brown, Joe Savage, Bill Gordon, and William S. Hart -- former levee-camp laborers, river roustabouts, and Parchman Farm inmates. The result was a remarkable collection of reminiscences, tall tales, field hollers, and oral history preserved on two hours of video tape, presented in its original order here.

 

     
 
A levee-camp holler sung by William S. Hart. Shot by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, August 22, 1978.
 
Joe Savage recalls breaking out of the Rosedale jail, his time spent at Parchman Farm (the Mississippi State Penitentiary) at Lambert Camp and Camp 1, and his work with a contrary white mule. He sings several field holler verses. Shot by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, August 22, 1978.
     
 
Fragmentary verses of "John Henry," sung by Joe Savage and Walter Brown. Shot by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, August 22, 1978.
 
Walter Brown and Joe Savage discuss John Henry. Shot by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, August 22, 1978.
     
 
Levee camp conversation, pt. 3: discussion of bosses, equipment, living conditions, and corporal punishment. With Walter Brown and Bill Gordon. Shot by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, August 22, 1978.
 
Walter Brown and Joe Savage sing variants of a levee camp shack-rouster's song that woke the laborers in the morning. Shot by Alan Lomax, John Bishop, and Worth Long on the levee in Greenville, Mississippi, August 22, 1978.
     

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