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Jean Ritchie Discography

Field Trip by Jean Ritchie
Field Trip

Jean Ritchie

A re-issue of Jean’s 1954 field recordings from England, Ireland and Scotland, compared side by side with versions of Jean's Apalachian family songs.

Here’s Jean’s preface to the new edition:
“A note about this re-issue: And here we are – almost fifty years since putting out this first recording from our Fulbright year collection. What a short time ago it seems – and what a hard job it was to get a record out in the early ‘50’s, especially as we had no money and did all the considerable leg work ourselves! But what impresses most is how well these songs wear. Recorded just before the last ‘folk revival,’ they were sung in a very relaxed way – just as people sing around the house for their own enjoyment, and they’re as fresh and vibrant now, fifty years later, as they were when we first heard them. Something like this should not be put on a shelf and forgotten.”
Childhood Songs by Jean Ritchie
Childhood Songs
Jean Ritchie

Previously available on cassette only, this collection of songs from Jean’s childhood, and songs she sang to her children is now available on CD.  The booklet contains directions for the singing CD

Exultation of Dulcimers
Exultation of Dulcimers

Lorraine Lee Hammond and Roger Nicholson with Jean Ritchie
(Newly re-released on CD)

On both sides of the Atlantic the dulcimer revival has produced many fine players and makers, and the instrument has earned new status after years of neglect. This revival began in the 1950s and was mainly due to Jean Ritchie, who brought the dulcimer to new audiences and encouraged people to play it.

Of the “second generation,” Lorraine Lee Hammond and Roger Nicholson have also been widely influential. Lorraine, from Massachusetts, bases her style on traditional playing, but by adapting mandolin picking techniques, has created a fluid duclimer method of great versatility, particularly suited to accompanying other instruments, including the piano and banjo of Rick Lee. The dulcimer is not indigenous to England, or widely played there, which is reflected Roger’s personal fingerstyle approach with influences from other sources, such as the lute, harpsichord and pipes, resulting in a complex solo style.

Together, Lorraine and Roger’s playing blend to produce a new and exultant dulcimer sound over a wide range of music. It is also happily appropriate that they are joined here by Jean Ritchie.

PS If you enjoy this record half as much as they enjoyed making it, then they’ll have enjoyed it twice as much as you …

1. La Volta (2:55)  2. How Should I My True Love Know (2:08)  3. Blarney Pilgrim (1:40)  4. Limerick’s Lament/ Killiecranky (3:35)  5. Star of the County Down/ My Dearest Dear (3:36)  6. Bonaparte’s Retreat (2:14)7. Rondo from First Symphonic Suite (1:09)8. Carolan’s Concerto (3:02)  9. Black Sarah (3:49)  10. The Bellringing (2:30)  11. One, I Love (3:03)  12. Elizabethan Medley (2:10)  13. Monck’s March Medley (2:49)

Mountain Born by Jean Ritchie
Mountain Born

Jean Ritchie & Sons

Celebrating 50 Years of Music
1995 was Jean Ritchie’s fiftieth year as a performer of her family’s Appalachian traditional music. Jean is joined by her sons Jon and Peter on Mountain Born, to celebrate these fifty years. The title song is also the title of the recent PBS documentary of Jean's life. 

Jean says of this recording, “The title song, Mountain Born, just about sums up how I feel about my Kentucky hills, my kith and kin — my home. The song is my own, composed for the stage version of the book Hillbilly Women, which was performed at the Actor’s Studio in New York City, directed by Arthur Penn.  I began to sing it in my recitals, and for friends, and it has become a sort of underground favorite. So here it is, to let all those folks know that it has at last been recorded. Also included here is my song for my mother, Abigail, recorded for the first time. Others were chosen because their originally recorded versions are no longer available; for instance, May Day Day, and, My Dear Companion.

“Like most of my forty or so albums, Mountain Born follows the ‘slice-of-life’ idea. Some love songs, a child’s song, a hymn, a play-party, honor songs for home, for family. A collection of songs to celebrate, again, a way of life, a loved place in the world, and pass on the memories gathered by all the people there.”
Tracks: Mountain Born / Loving Hannah / Love Somebody, Yes I Do! / The Cuckoo / You Are My Dearest Dear / Barley-Bright / Abigail / Deep Shady Grove / When Sorrows Encompass Me Round / Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies / May Day Day / My Dear Companion / Come Let Us Sing / One More Mile / Our Meeting Is Over

Kentucky Christmas by Jean Ritchie
Kentucky Christmas Old and New

Jean Ritchie, Family and Friends

This is Jean Ritchie’s classic Christmas album, now available in CD and cassette.

Here is an excerpt from the liner notes in which explains the roots of the work:
“Being the youngest, my Christmas memories are of our home in Viper, Perry County, Kentucky, but May, Ollie, Mallie, Una, Raymond, Kitty, Truman, Patty, and Edna remembered the earlier years in Knott County. May, our oldest sister, now gone on, recollected being five years old, setting out with mom into a big twilight snowstorm on Christmas Eve to hunt for something exciting and different — a Christmas tree. This was the year 1900, and this tree was the first anyone in those parts had ever seen. Granny Katty, dad’s mother, was still quietly observing ‘Old Christmas’ on the 6th of January, making light of our December 25th celebration as ‘new-fangled.’ Now the years have passed and our children are grown, and their children are growing, and changing, and Christmas celebrations are growing and changing along with them.

“On this album, you will hear some songs from the old times, and some from our recent times with our new friends. There are old songs, recorded without instrumental accompaniment or with their original flavor, there are other old songs modified to reflect the changing family and the passing seasons; there are newly composed carols — one written this very year.”

Tracks: Brightest and Best / The World is Old / Christ Was Born in Bethlehem / A King Was Born / The Holly Tree Carol / Wintergrace / I Saw Three Ships / The Moon Shines Bright / Little Bitty Baby / Carol ot the Cherry Tree / In the Valley / A Christmas Carol / Christ Church Bells

None but One + High Hills and Mountains by Jean Ritchie
None But One / High Hills and Mountains

Jean Ritchie with special guest artists Janis Ian, Mary Travers, Oscar Brand, Eric Weissberg and Kenny Kosek

Two complete albums on one CD

None But One
This recording caused quite a stir when it was originally released on a major label. Unanimously excellent reviews cropped up in national and international magazines as well as in the obscure folk journal and newsletters. It even prompted Rolling Sone to present Jean with its prestigious Critic’s Circle Award as Folk Artist of the Year.  The important reissue of this classic LP should be welcome to those who missed it the first time around and to those fans who report that hey have nearly worn out their orginal copies.

Tracks: Fair Nottamun Town / Too Many Shadows / Black Waters / None But One / The Orphan's Lament / Flowers of Joy / See That Rainbow Shine / The Riddle Song / Sweet Sorrow in the Wind / Wondrous Love / Now is the Cool of the Day
High Hills and Mountains
As artist in residence at California State University at Fresno, Jean became friends with Kenny Hall and the Bluestien Family, as well as other musicians in the area and they naturally began to make music  together.  Enhanced by the old timey stringband playing of the “Fresno Friends” the resulting recording provides an exuberant sampling of some of the best of Jean’s music.

Thousand Mile Blues / Sugar on the Floor / The Cuckoo / With Kitty I’ll Go / Little Pack O’ Tailors / The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore / High Hills and Mountains / The Royal Telephone / Old George’s Square / Old Daddy Grumble / Here Sits a Young Lady / Jemmy Taylor-O / Let the Sun Shine Down On Me

The Most Dulcimer by Jean Ritchie
The Most Dulcimer

Jean Ritchie with special guest artists John McCutcheon, Mike Seeger, Diane Hamilton, Jon and Peter Pickow

The songs on this recording are drawn from a variety of traditions — Irish, Scottish, and Appalachian, plus a few of Jean’s originals — and showcase solo and duo dulcimer in combination with guitar, banjo, mandolin, harpsichord, recorders, jaw harp, hammered dulcimer, synthesizer, and handbell choir.

Long-time fans of and first-time listeners alike often ask Jean Ritchie, “Which of your albums has the most dulcimer?” After years of having no ready answer to this question, Jean decided to put together this collection of songs and tunes featuring the Appalachian dulcimer.

Tracks: Over the River to Feed My Sheep / Pretty Saro / Edward / Killiekrankie / The Haven of Rest / Wintergrace / Locks and Bolts / Mourning Tears / Movin’ on Down the River / Dabbling in the Dew / Jubilee / Four Marys / Aunt Rhodie R.I.P. / The Parson's Farewell / Come You Home Again* / The Soldier*
*New on the CD version

Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City

This historic Smithsonian/Folkways CD re-release documents a live 1963 performance by Jean and Doc at the legendary Folk City in Greenwich Village. The CD features four tracks that were not released on the original Folkways edition, presumably because of the space limitations of the LP format.

Here is an excerpt from the article Jean and Doc at Folk City: A Backwards Glance 27 Years Later by Joe Wilson, which accompanies the original liner notes. “It could only have happened in real life, this mixing of two Appalachian family musical traditions on the stage of a hip Greenwich Village nightclub before an audience of fad-following New Yorkers. Nothing that improbable is allowed in fiction.”
Tracks: Storms are on the Ocean, Go Dig My Grave, Spikedriver Blues, Over the River Charlie *, Soldier’s Joy, Swing and Turn Jubilee, East Virginia *, Hiram Hubbard, Where Are You Going, Blue Ridge Mountain Blues*, Pretty Polly, Willie Moore, What’ll I Do With the Baby-o?, Pretty Saro *, Wabash Cannonball, the House Carpenter, Amazing Grace
*Previously unreleased

Child Ballads in America by Jean Ritchie
Child Ballads in America

Sung by Jean Ritchie

These collections were originally released in 1961 by Folkways Records, and have now been re-issued by Smithsonian/Folkways. They contain American versions of ballads contained in a collection compiled between 1882 and 1898, titled The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child. Each volume contains extensive notes on the song origins, and introductory notes by Jean Ritchie and Kenneth S. Goldstein.
Tracks: Volume One: Gypsy Laddie, False Sir John, Hangman, Lord Bateman, The House Carpenter, Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender, The Merry Golden Tree, Lord Lovel, Old Bangum, Barbry Ellen, Fair Annie of Lochroyan Volume Two: The Unquiet Grave, Little Devils, Sweet William and Lady Margaret, There Lived an Old Lord, The Wife of the Usher’s Well, Cherry tree Carol, Edward, Gentle Fair Jenny, Lord Randall, Little Musgrave

Carols for All Seasons by Jean Ritchie
Carols for All Season

Jean Ritchie, LaNoue Davenport, Robert Abramson

This digitally re-mastered CD re-issue of Jean’s early Tradition Records LP is a beautiful collection of carols from the singing tradition of the Ritchie family, and other sources. In addition to Jean’s dulcimer, LaNoue Davenport and Robert Abramson provide tasteful recorder and harpsichord accompaniments. The collection features carols appropriate to the different seasons of the year.

Tracks: The Carnal and the Crane, I Saw Three Ships, Dame Get Up and Bake Your Pies, Children Go Where I Send Thee, Down in Yon Forest, Brightest and Best, Cherry Tree of the Cumberlands, The Pig Went Out to Dig, Christ Church Bells, The Flower Carol, The May Day Carol, The Cambridgeshire May Song, The Holy Well, The Little Family, Christ Was Born in Bethlehem, The Holly Bears the Berry, Wassail Song