Playing For The Man At The Door – Field Recordings From The Collection of Mack McCormick 1958​-​1971


Playing for the Man at the Door Field Recordings from the Collection of Mack McCormick 1958​-​1971

Playing For The Man At The Door – Field Recordings From The Collection of Mack McCormick 1958​-​1971
Format: 3 CD – 6 Vinyl LP – Digital
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
Release: 2023

Release date: August 4, 2023

In the 1950s and 60s, the blues was the dominant form of Black vernacular music throughout Texas and the surrounding areas.

In segregated neighborhoods, community members gathered in saloons, dancehalls, and each others homes to hear their neighbors sing their stories of sorrow, heartbreak, jubilation, and triumph.

Robert Mack McCormick, an academically untrained but fanatical devotee of the blues, stepped into this world and became one of its most devout advocates and documentarians.

By photographing Black and Latino Texans and their neighborhoods, as well as recording and interviewing musicians many of whom never stepped foot into a proper recording studio. McCormick endeared and eventually embedded himself into these communities.

By the time he died in 2015, McCormick had amassed a collection of 590 reels of sound recordings and 165 boxes of manuscripts, original interviews and research notes, thousands of photographs and negatives, playbills, and posters.

Because McCormick never published or released most of these materials, his collection became a thing of legend and intense speculation among scholars, blues aficionados, and musicians alike.

Playing for the Man at the Door: ‘Field Recordings from the Collection of Mack McCormick, 1958-1971’ is the first compilation of music drawn from this fabled collection, which indelibly documents a pivotal moment in African American history.

It features never-before-heard performances not only from musicians who became icons in their own rights including Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb but also, crucially, performers whose names may be unfamiliar to even the most devoted blues fans and scholars.

Newly mastered recordings and accompanying photographs bring to life many of these forgotten figures: offering insight into their lives and illuminating in new, enlightening ways their joys and anguish, deep social connections, distinctive voices, and cultural networks.

The collection spans gospels, ragtime, country blues dirges, the unclassifiable music of George Bongo Joe Coleman, and more, showing that no community, no matter how tight knit, is monolithic.

Accompanying the music is a 128-page book, which contains breathtaking photographs by McCormick and his associates, as well as contextual essays by producers Jeff Place and John Troutman on McCormick’s life, and by musicians Mark Puryear and Dom Flemons on some of the marginalized communities throughout. Greater Texas, to which McCormick devoted his life’s work.

This release is a partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.


CD 1
01. Mojo Hand- Lightin’ Hopkins
02. God Moves On The Water- Mance Lipscomb
03. The – Robert Shaw
04. Sugar Blues- Kid Wiggins
05. St. James Infirmary-Dudley Alexander and Washboard Band
06. Darlin’ (You Know I Love You)- CeDell Davis
07. You Gonna Look Like A Monkey- Dennis Gainus
08. One Room Country Shack- Grey Ghost
09. Groceries On My Shelf (Piggly Wiggly)-Edwin “Buster” Pickens
10. 3 O’clock Blues- Hop Wilson
11. Anything From A Foot Race To A Resting Place- Jealous Jame Stanchell
12. Salty Dog Rag- James Tisdom
13. Goin’ To The River-Gozy Kilpatrick
14. Quills- Joe Patterson
15. Ma Pa Cut The Cake- Lightnin’ Hopkins
16. Crazy About Oklahoma-Otis Cook
17. Little Red Rooster-Grey Ghost
18. My Work Will Be Done-The Spiritual Light Gospel Group
19. Steel Guitar Rag- James Tisdom
20. Tall Angel At The Bar-Mance Lipscomb
21. This Whole World’s In A Sad Condition-George “Bongo Joe” Coleman

CD 2
2.1. World’s In A Tangle-Lightnin’ Hopkins
2.2. Someday Baby-Robert Shaw
2.3. It’s Alright-CeDell Davis
2.4. Cryin’ Won’t Make Me Stay-R.C. Forest/Gozy Kilpatrick
2.5. China Tea-Allen Van
2.6. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth-George “Bongo Joe”Coleman
2.7. Tom Moore’s Farm-Lightnin’ Hopkins
2.8. Tom Moore’s Farm-Mance Lipscomb
2.9. Don’t Do Me No Small Favors (Help The Bear)- Jealous James Stanchell
2.10. Fox Chase- Billy Bizor
2.11. Black Widow Spider Blues-R.C. Forest
2.12. Come And Go With Me To That Land-Hardy Gray
2.13. Rollin’ And Tumblin’-CeDell Davis
2.14. Train Roll Up-Leroy “Country” Johnson/Edwin “Buster” Pickens
2.15. Shorty George-Edwin “Buster” Pickens
2.16. Matchbox Blues-Joel Hopkins
2.17. It’s My Life Baby-Blues Wallace
2.18. Hello Central, Gimme 209-Andrew Everett
2.19. Bad Lee Brown-Jim Wilkie
2.20. Tin Pan Alley Blues-R.C. Forest/Gozy Kilpatrick
2.21. Medicine Show Pitch-Murl “Doc” Webster

CD 3
3.1. So Different Blues-Mance Lipscomb
3.2. I Feel So Good-James Tisdom
3.3. Mr. Charlie-Lightnin’ Hopkins
3.4. The Ma Grinder-Edwin “Buster” Pickens
3.5. Deep Ellum Blues-Paul Elliott
3.6. K.C. Ain’t Nothing But A Rag-Andrew Everett
3.7. Lonesome Road- Kid Wiggins
3.8. Old Judge Blues-Dennis Gainus
3.9. The Slop-Melvin “Jack” Jackson/Lightnin’ Hopkins
3.10. Corrine, Corrina-Lightnin’ Hoipkins
3.11. Talking Blues-Jimmy Womack
3.12. Good Times Here, Better Times Down The Road-Joel Hopkins
3.13. Put Me In The Alley-Robert Shaw
3.14. Auctioneer-Walter Britten
3.15. Runaway-Hardy Gray
3.16. Broke And Hungry-Hop Wilson
3.17. Big Road Blues- Mager Johnson
3.18. Casey Jones-Mance Lipscomb
3.19. Atomic Energy-Jimmy Womack
3.20. Natural Born Lover-Long Gone Miles/Lightnin’ Hopkins/Love Crazy
3.21. Swanee River Boogie-E.B. Busby
3.22. Rock Me Baby-Long Gone Miles
3.23. Blues Jumped A Rabbit-Lightnin’ Hopkins