Too much to do tonight for a lengthy blog post, but here's a couple of shots from today's visit, via LIRR, to the Big Apple and the New-York Historical Society. More or less at the "no stone left unturned" section of the archive research. I know what's there, and not there, and now I'm just making sure that I'm not wrong in some conclusions and theses.
Another image below the jump. But here's the money quote, the one that popped out and nailed what I'm doing and what it means:
Credo of this book:
"I want to recover the sound, the look, the improvisation, the participation, the humor, the rhythmic "cutting", the body, the defiance--in short, the funk--of the street musics, the music before blackface, that Rice and Dixon, Sweeney and Emmett saw, and by which they were entranced, and out of which entrancement--an old, old and yet still current story in American music (just ask Eminem)--they began to observe and imitate and emulate and evolve. Because I believe that it is there--on the salt-crusted, foul-smelling, Tower-of-Babel-multilingual, elbow-jostling, sideburns-wearing, crowded liminal urban wharves and street corners and back alleys and newsboys clubs and young men's coffeerooms and variety theatres--but also at the hay-baled rural harvest dances, and horse-smelling post-road taverns, and sweaty young-person's cotillions, and in the twisting and sashaying ears and hands and bodies of fiddlers and dancers and juba-patters and curious youngsters cutting the latest figures and first discovering the bodily pleasure that polyrhythm could provide and which came back from the City in the steps of the eel-spearers and clam-diggers and and wandering laborers and fiddle-playing coachmen and itinerant bones-players and hardshoe dancers--that the Anglos Sweeney and Emmett, Dixon and Rice, and before them the African-Americans Bobolink Bob and Old Corn Meal and William Henry Lane, and before them the un-named creole street-peddlers of "Dancing for Eels 1820 Catharine Market," and back before them the black drummers and fifers in the Continental and King's armies of the American Revolution, first glimpsed both the artistic possibilities and the raw social-economic opportunities, the "wheeling and turning", that the American popular music synthesis might somehow provide.
Most remarkable of all?
They were right."