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Blues Music from the Florida Folklife Collection - Where The Palm Trees Shake At Night

Various Artists - 17 tracks

Florida Blues has been documented since the late 1920s. Of course, it existed before ethnomusicologists documented it. In 1978, the North Florida Folklife Project reexamined and documented performances throughout the state. The tracks on Where The Palm Trees Shake At Night were recorded from 1977 to 2002. The recordings were made in Florida but all of the musicians are not necessarily Floridians. But, all perform in the Piedmont tradition, like Cephas and Wiggins.

The CD has been produced and mastered however; all of the recordings have been preserved and are available to the public without enhancement at the State Archives of Florida. What does this mean? It means that it is free. One can access the recordings or obtain a complimentary copy by contacting the State Archives of Florida at for a free download.

Outside of Miami, Florida must be in a time warp. Although the tracks were recorded from 1977 to 2002, the CD sounds more like the earliest documented music. That is, it sounds more like the 1900 to 1920s. I was around and listening to music in the late 1970s. It is not like anything I heard in Northeast Ohio in that time period.

Much of it has to do with the majority of the musicians were elderly at the time of the performances and are playing in a style that predates the era. But then, whoa, in one of the oldest sounding tracks, “Apple Farm Blues,” Mose Williams mentions a snow mobile. Double whoa! A snow mobile in Florida at that! The one standard that I am familiar with is “Key To The Highway,” which withstands the test of time. My favorite tracks are “Step Up A Little Bit Bigger” by Sammy Lee Williams and “Have To Pay The Cost” by Johnny Shines.

So, if you enjoy Piedmont picking and barrelhouse piano or better yet, if you have deep roots in Florida, then obtain Where The Palm Trees Shake At Night.

Reviewer Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.

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