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World Music Picture Archives

Easr and Eye

CD Immigrant Music CD
Stranded in the USA -
Early Songs of Emigration
Various Artists
Trikont US-0301
Mass migration is a fundamental experience of the modern age.  Approximately 60 million people left Europe between 1800 and 1914. Most of them went to the United States, a country with enormous magnetism. All those people took their music with them to America. Record companies rapidly discovered artistic talent in the immigrant groups and soon these performers were called to the studios to make recordings. From the 1920s all the major American record companies produced recordings for more than twenty immigrant groups.

In their songs ethnic performers tried to come to terms with the experience of emigration: new challenges and new opportunities, culture shock, homesickness, unemployment, hope and frustration.

The sounds of the diaspora became the source of the popular music which emerged from America in the 1950s.  All this came together to make the new all-American pop music, that stretched from rock 'n' roll, modern country and folk music to soul, funk and rock. 

Artists included:  Pat White (Irish),  Hiski Salomaa  (Finnish),  Braca Kapugji Tamburitza Orchestra (Serbo-Croatian), Rita Abatzi (Greek), The Bamboo Orchestra w. Wilmouth Houdini  (Trinidadian),  Antonio Menano (Portuguese), Gene Wisniewski  (Polish),  Larry Alpert and the Eriv Yentiff Players (Jewish),   Gaytan y Cantu (Mexican),  Howie Bowe & His Little German Band  (German),  Leonardo Dia (Italian) ,Little Oscar Gang  (Norwegian), Milan Verni‘s Tamburitza Orchestra ( (Serbo-Croatian), Dimitris Perdicopoulos  (Greek), Arthur Kylander  (Finnish) , Conjunto Tipico Ladi   (Puerto Rican), Wladyslaw Polak  (Polish) , Pawlo Humeniuk (Ukrainian) and many more.

“A fascinating collection of songs of emigration, ranging from ‘I‘m leaving Tipperary‘ by Irishman Pat White via records by Finns and Puerto Ricans to a Greek tune, ‘ America, you ruined me‘.” 

The Observer Music Monthly

"As ever, America‘s musical heritage is more lovingly cared for outside its own shores than within its brusquely defended, security-seeking "homeland". Following up its frequent forays into obscure gospel, country, jazz and blues, the German label Trikont here offers a similarly fascinating survey of early emigration songs from the wide spectrum of European, Caribbean and Central American cultures that flowed into the country throughout the last century, many culled from old 78s.The 26 tracks constitute a collage of overlapping diaspora, from cultures as musically disparate as Ireland (Pat White‘s "I‘m leaving Tipperary"), Trinidad (Wilmouth Houdini‘s "Poor But Ambitious"), Puerto Rico (Conjunto Tipico Ladi‘s "A Puerto Rican Peasant in New York"), Switzerland (Hanns in der Gand‘s "Song of Homesickness"), Ukraine (Pawlo Humeniuk‘s "Ukrainian Wedding in America") and Greece (Rita Abatzi‘s "America, You Ruined Me") - an extraordinary tapestry of hope, loss, anticipation, homesickness, pride and disillusion. It‘s a portrait of an era when America was regarded as a haven for the world‘s dispossessed and persecuted, rather than as a pre-eminent agent of dispossession and persecution, and deserves to be heard over there as a timely reminder of the original melting-pot principles underpinning its culture."


Easy to forget, in these days of asylum debates and draconian visa restrictions, but during the nineteenth century nigh on fifty million people emigrated from Europe to America. The result was a patchwork of ethnic communities, hungry for songs and stories of the old homeland – an appetite eagerly catered for by major American record companies between the World Wars. As with Annie Proulx’s novel Accordion Crimes, Trikont’s compilation Stranded In The USA taps an inexhaustible vein of stories from the immigrant experience. Dimitris Perdicopoulos sings of the grey-haired Greek returning home and snatching the prettiest girl in the village for his America-bound bride – from the viewpoint of the young Greek boyfriend left behind. Arthur Kylander, who farmed Christmas trees in California and was an active member of the International Workers Of The World, sings of the Finn hired to work on the railroad, whose sole words of English are, “No sir.” Over a score of other tracks tell of immigrant misery or japes: Irish, Trinidadian, Portuguese, Mexican, Serbo-Croatian, German and (the most humorous) Jewish. The whole package, bulging with track notes and several essays establishing historical context, is a remarkable and thorough enterprise from UK-based German music journalist Christoph Wagner, also responsible for last year’s book of early twentieth century music postcards, Ear & Eye.

Clive Bell

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For further information, ring 01422 842212 and ask for Christoph Wagner. 

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