Take Me To The Water:
Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music
Dust To Digital
Dust To Digital Recordings
By James Calemine
Dust To Digital’s latest release, a handsome book called Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism In Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950, continues the prestigious legacy of this singular label. Lance Ledbetter’s Dust To Digital won a Grammy this year for Art of Field Recording Volume 1. Dust To Digital’s other indelible releases include Goodbye, Babylon, Fonotone Records, Anthology of the String Bass, Art of Field Recording Volume 2, Desperate Man Blues, Where Will You Be On Christmas Day? and I Belong To This Band.
These amazing photos document mass congregations being baptized. The sepia photographs preserve the ceremony and spirit of the outing. The photographs are from the Jim Linderman Collection. In the book’s introduction Linderman wrote: “I believe there is an undefined but present relationship between the visual and aural in many art forms. Artists often work harder when depicting spiritual themes and musicians in the service of the Lord often turn in the best performances. Were the photographers “on the clock” when they took these pictures, or did they too feel the beauty and passion being down before their eyes? Did the performers recorded here reach for a higher standard when they played their gospel songs? I would like to think so. It would help explain the spiritually charged, emotional and powerful results.”
A 25-song and sermon CD accompanies this book complete with dates of recordings as well as participating musicians in the baptism process. Images in these photographs reveal black and white country preachers baptizing entire congregations with scenes of people standing by the riverside waiting to be saved. Some of the photos illustrate people being submerged in water where the banks are frozen, quagmires by railroad tracks, dirty rivers, shallow swamps and serene estuaries.
The music that accompanies this book is unforgettable. Like all Dust To Digital releases, each song and sermon is documented, including stories and baptism circumstances that can be found in the back of the book. The message is clear…spirituality in its purest form. Each song weighs heavy on the soul, but this writer’s favorites include Washington Phillps’ “Denomination Blues”, The Carter Family’s “On My Way to Canaan’s Land”, Rev. Massey’s “Old Time Baptism”, Southern Wonders Quartet’s “Go Wash In the Beautiful Stream”, the sermon of Elder J. Burch, the Tennessee Mountaineers’ “At The River”, Empire Jubilee Quartet’s “Wade In the Water”, the Birmingham Jubilee Singers’ “Wade In the Water, Elder Burch’s “baptism By the Holy Ghost” and Ernest Stoneman’s “Down To Jordan and Be Saved”.
Dust to Digital never fails to amaze…
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