Note: Notes from Rounder Records release "Calypso At Midnight" read: "This topical song from Barbados about a market killing dates from the first decade of the century. An early text was obtained from an old Barbados woman living in the Panama Canal Zone in 1943 (Louise Cramer, 'Songs of West Indian Negroes in the Canal Zone,' California Folklore Quarterly, 1946, pp. 264-265). It was first recorded by Louisa Neptune and three other women on July 15, 1939 ('Payne Dead, Payne Dead -- Quadrille'), in Toco village, Trinidad, collected by Melville and Frances Herkovits. On September 11 that same year, Wilmoth Houdini cut the first commercial recording and registered the copyright. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan had a smash hit with the song in May 1946. Interestingly, Macbeth the Great sings some of the traditional lyrics not found in the Houdini or Fitzgerald – Jordan recordings."
About the session: A live recording of "Calypso At Midnight," a concert held at Town Hall, New York City, on December 21, 1946. Learning that Town Hall could be rented cheaply after regular theater hours, Alan Lomax produced a late-night concert series called The Midnight Special, which was thematically organized as "Blues At Midnight," "Ballads At Midnight," etc., and sponsored by the People's Songs Collective. The calypso concert recordings, made at Lomax's request and later found by chance in a closet by Bess Lomax Hawes, may be the only extant documents of this series. "This concert is a fascinating document of an American presentation of Trinidadian calypso at a time when interest in the genre was spreading from New York City into the mainstream of popular music in the United States" (Donald R. Hill and John H. Cowley, Calypso At Midnight [Rounder CD 1860])
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