Ozark Highlands Radio is a weekly radio program that features live music and interviews recorded at Ozark Folk Center State Park’s beautiful 1,000-seat auditorium in Mountain View, Arkansas. In addition to the music, our “Feature Host” segments take listeners through the Ozark hills with historians, authors, and personalities who explore the people, stories, and history of the Ozark region.
This week, Grammy award winning Oldtime singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons, accompanied by the versatile Brian Farrow, recorded live at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. Also, interviews with this Grammy award winning artist. Mark Jones offers an archival recording of country music royalty Jeanette Carter performing the classic song “Foggy Mountain Top.”
Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Dom Flemons’ involvement with music began by playing percussion in his high school band. After picking up the guitar and harmonica as a teenager, he began to play in local coffee houses and became a regular performer on the Arizona folk music scene. Dom wrote his own songs and produced 25 albums of singer-songwriters and slam poets in the Phoenix area, including six albums of his own during this time. He took a brief break from playing music in order to pursue slam poetry (he majored in English at Northern Arizona University) and performed in two national poetry slams in 2002 and 2003. Aside from exploring slam poetry, he spent his early adulthood listening to records and discovering a love of folk music, blues, jazz, jug band music, country music and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. Dom became interested in folk musicians such as Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, and Mike Seeger, as well as musicians such as Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. After stepping away from the slam poetry scene, he rekindled his interest in music, this time focusing on the old-time blues music of the pre-WWII era.
A multi-instrumentalist, Dom Flemons plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum, and quills, in addition to singing. He says that he incorporates his background in percussion to his banjo playing. Dom’s banjo repertoire includes not only clawhammer but also tenor and three-finger styles of playing. He first picked up the instrument when he borrowed a five-string banjo from a friend who had removed the instrument’s fifth string. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro Jig and was nominated for its most recent album, Leaving Eden, in 2012.
Dom says he would like to use the traditional forms of music he has heard and immersed himself in over the years to create new soundscapes that generate interest in old-time folk music. Focusing very much on creating music that is rooted in history but taking a contemporary approach, Dom hopes to reexamine what traditional music can become.
In this week’s “From the Vault” segment, musician, educator, and country music legacy Mark Jones offers an archival recording of country music royalty Jeanette Carter performing the classic song “Foggy Mountain Top,” from the Ozark Folk Center State Park archives.
- Folk & Singer-Songwriter