The Backbone of America is a Mule and Cotton
Abner Jay The Backbone of America is a Mule and Cotton LP (Brandie, 1976)
On the 230th birthday of the United States of America, I figured I could present you with Toby Keith, Jessica Simpson, an essay on the glories of football (American of course), or a speech by President George W. Bush. Instead, I will celebrate the America that I hold dear, one that is worth fawning over, and that is the America that births people like Abner Jay.
Of Abner Jay, I can tell you the same thing you read all over the internet: Abner Jay joined Silas Green's Minstrels in the 1930s and then Macon, Georgia's WMAZ's Minstrels in the 1940s. In the 1960s, he went out on his own and played the South as a one-man band act. During that time he released his own records, some of which were comped on a CD collection a few years back called One Man Band.
While Jay never hit the mainstream, he did not toil in total obscurity. He was known by people who took a serious interest in what is now called "root music," by collectors of outsider art, by serious fringe record fiends, Black cultural historians, and avant guarde musicians such as Anthony Braxton.
This LP, one of his last, I found in a record store that is like too many stores. It prices Beatles' records high and ignores the odd, private press disk that might come through. For me this is good: I find great records for next to nothing. However, it is a pet peeve of mine. You'd think that people in the business of music would know something about music. You would think that dealing records every day for 20+ years would mean an accumulation of record knowledge. You would think that someone who has chosen to make vinyl records his profession would take some interest in a record with a crudely assembled sleeve of a man drinking from the Suwannee River - maybe put the damn thing on just to see how it sounds. Nope. Pisses me off but, again, these people's comfort in their ignorance leads to my pleasure.
Here are two songs from a fantastic album. Each side of the record names about 8 songs; however the songs are all strung together. At times it is very difficult to tell where one song ends and another begins as all are anchored with one or two beats. I've faded the ends of the songs.
I have scanned the cover which is black and white photo of Abner playing the banjo. On the play list, the text looks like it could be Abner's writing, he misspells Steven Foster as Stevin Foster. On the fourth song he has corrected it. Really neat. I can send you a .jpg of the cover if you wish.