I'd very dearly like to know some details about Mr. Norris of the biographical and discographical variety: Where did he come from? What else did he record, and with whom? Where can I hear any other sides he cut? And other, similar questions.
He was from northern Georgia and recorded 25 sides for Okeh between 1924 and 1926 (5 unreleased, and there's an untraced master # which may have been another unreleased track by him). Most have never been reissued. He's also thought to have played banjo in some of Fiddlin' John's earlier combos (in 1924) but nobody knows for sure. About 40 years ago I knew a niece whom he had taught to play and who inherited his Gibson banjo. (He had children but none of them took up the banjo.) She had never heard of Fate Norris, from the Skillet Lickers, and didn't think there was any relationship between him and Land. I don't know what all styles Land played, but I never saw Rosie do anything except excellent two-finger index lead.
Land Norris is a pretty elusive character. I`ve done several internet searches and really learned nothing. There is a book about Fiddlin` John Carson called Fiddlin` Georgia Crazy by Gene Wiggins with just a tiny bit about Land in it. It`s a great book, get it if you like Fiddlin` John Carson. I believe it can be bought from County Sales or Amazon. I`m including a list with Land Norris`s issued songs here. #`s 1&2 were recorded in April 1924 #3 through #6 from August 26, 1924 #`s 7,8 & 16 from April 22, 1925 #`s 9 through 15 from July 2, 1925 #`s17 through 19 from April 27, 1926 with 1 un-issued title "The Old Jim Crow" (likely an old "coon"song of some kind) #20 from April 28, 1926 with 4 un-issued titles "A Pilgrim`s Song", "Some Sweet Day Bye And Bye", "I`ve Wandered To The Village Town" & "Goin` To Have A Big Time To-Night" I got this information from the Tony Russell book Country Music Records-A Discography, 1921-1942. You GOT to get this book if you`re interested in information on recordings from this era. The book is expensive at nearly 1200 pages long. Land Norris may very well have made the first country solo 5-string banjo records, beating Uncle Dave Macon to the studios by 3 months. I`d share my cd of the issued sides, but for some reason I can`t upload anything or attatch songs to an email right now for some reason.
Land Norris was a very unique performer. He picked what sounds like pretty straight ahead clawhammer to me. He didn`t make his singing fit the music, he sort of talked the words along and made the music fit his vocal phrasing. Almost all of the unusual titles are slightly re-worked common songs. Gambling Man is pretty much Roving Gambler. Dogwood Mountain is close to Sourwood Mountain. Red Creek is mostly Cripple Creek. Pat That Butter Down is Bile The Cabbage Down. Dinah is Get Along Home Cindy. I Love Somebody is Soldier`s Joy. Bum-Dalay is sort of a "nonsense" song, using a nonsense chorus, sort of like the "babble" starting the chorus to Devilish Mary. Getting Into Trouble Is Sugar Babe. He was without a doubt what I`d call an eclectic artist. Likely I`d say he was born in the 1880`s, close in age to Fiddlin` John Carson (born about 1870ish). I`m just judging that by the similarities in their phrasing and wierd versions of common songs.
Thank you Banjo Thumper. Norris' bizarre vocal phrasing is probably why I like him so much. For some reason I was hoping he recorded "Georgie Buck", oh well. I'd be eternally grateful to you for sharing those sides once you sort your computer woes.
He picked what sounds like pretty straight ahead clawhammer to me.
I don't think it's clawhammer. It's probably two-finger picking. "Charming Betsy" can be found on the CD "Old Time Mountain Banjo" (County). The notes say it's played in f#DF#AD. The notes say further:
"Land Norris is presumably from Georgia, having recorded several times in the mid to late 1902s. He is of no relation to Fate Norris of the Georgia band, the Skillet Lickers. Based on a listing of the material he recorded, he was as much a singer as he was a banjo player. His instrumental pieces date back to the minstrel period."
quote:Originally posted by witty banjo related username
I'd be eternally grateful to you for sharing those sides once you sort your computer woes.
Boy, those three sides on juneberry really got my attention. At first because they are maybe the first recorded examples of two finger up-picking, but pretty soon thereafter because of the vocals. Talk about a unique sense of timing. And that laugh at the end of "Ground Hog" really knocks me out.
All right neighbors----I can share now. If you`ll send me your email address I`ll send you a link to download a "zipped" file of all the sides. You`ll have to un-zip (or extract) the files from the zipped folder, all the tracks will be an mp3 file then. I use Media Fire for my file sharing stuff, so if you ask for the tracks, they will come as an email from Media Fire with a link to the download.