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Lea Coryell | Cornbread & Rum

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Folk: Traditional Folk World: World Traditions Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Cornbread & Rum

by Lea Coryell

acoustic folk music from the mountains and the sea; well known to Washington D.C. area audiences, this artist usually accompanies his singing with clawhammer banjo, and sometimes with guitar and harmonica.
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Lazy Farmer
2:16 album only
2. The Idiot
2:46 album only
3. Boatman
1:37 album only
4. Bold Riley
5:02 album only
5. The Diamond
3:07 album only
6. The Foggy Dew
3:49 album only
7. Damyankee Lad
3:22 album only
8. Betsy Lickens
2:22 album only
9. Baltimore Fire
2:31 album only
10. Chickens Are A-Crowin'
2:07 album only
11. Johnny Todd
1:46 album only
12. Mississippi Sawyer
1:38 album only
13. Green Light On The Southern
3:01 album only
14. Roll Alabama Roll
2:35 album only
15. Snowdrop
1:54 album only
16. Going Down The Valley
3:38 album only
17. John The Revelator
3:08 album only


Album Notes
Lea Coryell plays and sings acoustic folk music - chiefly traditional and public domain, but not exclusively. "A lot of the music," he says, "comes from people who work with their hands for a living - farmers and sailors. I identify with that." Lea spent many summers helping his father inscribe tombstones while growing up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Both his parents were raised on farms.

Coryell usually accompanies his singing with clawhammer banjo, and sometimes with guitar and harmonica. He also sings a cappella and performs instrumentals. Coryell appears on two earlier recordings: "Red Leaf" (cassette, released 1992) and "The Reston Folk Club Presents" (cassette, released 1988). "Cornbread & Rum" is his first solo release.

Coryell has performed music since 1985, mostly in Northern Virginia and around the greater Washington, D.C., area. He performs as a solo folk singer and in a duo with Arlington-based singer/songwriter Joan Kennedy. For ten years he was a member of the band Red Leaf (with Joan Kennedy, Dennis Doyle, and Martha Doyle). Sometimes he performs with The Wagon Road Singers (with Ralph Lee Smith, Koyuki Smith, and Shirley Leedy).

Coryell's musical influences are many and varied. "I would include anyone who inspired me to try," he says. His list (far from complete, and in no particular order) includes Ralph Lee Smith, Joe Hickerson, Norman Blake, Bob Carlin, Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed, Wade Ward, Bob Flesher, Cliff Haslam, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Cisco Houston, Sheila Kay Adams, Mike Seeger, Joe Ayres, Little Walter, Odetta, Miles Krassen, Ken Perlman, Tommy Thompson, Big Bill Broonzy, and Uncle Dave Macon. There are many others.

Lea started playing music during the early 1970s. "I listened to a lot of blues. I wanted to learn blues harmonica because I liked Sonny Terry, Little Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson. But I got sidetracked and started playing straight-harp fiddle tunes. I first took up guitar so I could accompany myself on the tunes."

Coryell bought his first banjo in 1976. David Brose, who was then an instructor with the Columbus (Ohio) Folk Music Center, first introduced Lea to the clawhammer style. "I've acquired a lot of banjo music and listen to many players," says Coryell. "It's surprising how much of what you hear comes out in your playing."

"Cornbread & Rum" was recorded, edited, mixed, and mastered by Bill McElroy At Bias Recording Co. (Springfield, Va.) and Slipped Disc (Richmond, Va.). Musicians include: Lea Coryell (lead vocal, banjo, guitar, harmonica), Joan Kennedy (vocal and guitar), Ralph Lee Smith (dulcimer and harmonica) Don Stallone (vocal, concertina, melodeon, bones, and forks), Dennis Doyle (vocal and guitar), Martha Doyle (vocal), and John Gorozdos (vocal and tin whistle).



to write a review

Andrew Stevenson

Cornbread & Rum
Lea and his companions have pulled together a tasteful, insightful, and tune-full collection of "old time" songs that I listen to time and again. In fact, Lea is one reason why I've taken up the banjo. History, human nature, love, deceit...these ballads and folk tunes have it all. Definitely a keeper!

Victory Review (oct. 2001)

"His is pure and authentic old time music played on clawhammer banjo, plunking along just enough to back his strong clear voice. He chooses tunes that tell stories from times long ago, or stories that could have happened in almost any time and place."

Dave Arthur (Rattle On the Stovepipe)

A delightful album and one that I will play for pleasure and not just academic i
Congratulations to Lea Coryell for the quality and variety of this self produced CD. I heard his 'Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn' a couple of years ago whilst dipping in and out of the CD Baby Old Time offerings, and thought it was a beautifully played and sung version of this classic mountain tune, and it's taken me two years to actually get off my arse and order a copy. It arrived a couple of days ago and more than lives up to my expectations with its tasteful clawhammer accompaniments, lovely tuneful vocals, and an interesting mix of material. Much as I love most traditional Anglo-American folk music, it has to be said that some of it, whilst socially, historically, and musicologically interesting, can be less than easy on the ears. Southern English traditional fiddling on record being a case in point. But Lea Cryell is up there, in my estimation, with the best of the current crop of talented revival performers of Old Time banjo, whose understanding and skill makes the music accessible without in any way degrading it.

Dirty Linen (dec. 01/jan. 02)

"Fans of traditional/old time music should surely seek out Lea Coryell's "Cornbread & Rum." Coryell is a subtle clawhammer banjo player blessed with a nice voice who has also produced this project himself. And using "subtle" and "banjo" in the same sentence was not a mistake. It's not an oxymoron. Listen and hear for yourself. The playing is tasteful and fluid; Coryell's tune selection covers a broad swath of traditional musics .... this is a fine CD musicians and fans alike will appreciate."

Banjo Newsletter (march 2002)

...a clawhammer player and folksinger with an expressive and rich voice (that is a bit reminiscent of Gordon Bok)....Especially recommended for Lea's tasteful drop-thumb accompaniment.

Sing-out! (spring 2002)

...easy for the novice to enjoy, but also presents new renditions of quality material that those already in the congregation can enjoy and find inspiring.

The Old-time Herald (spring 2002)

...a banjoist and singer of uncommon musicality and subtlety....harks back to the moving, emotionally committed interpretations of traditional material by Michael Cooney, Ed Trickett, Joe Hickerson, and Gordon Bok....expressive, supple voice and clean drop-thumb clawhammer banjo....I was transported back to campfires where I made lifelong friends and a lifelong commitment to traditional music....Recommended!