I'd been listening to 'old-timey' music for about seven years when I came across a song called "Run Old Jeremiah", credited to 'Austin Coleman with Joe Washington Brown and Group'. My first exposure to this 'Ring Shout' recorded by John and Alan Lomax was on the 'American Primitive Vol. 1 Raw Pre-War Gospel (1926-36) 'compilation, one of the first releases on John Fahey's Revenant label back in 1997. And yeah, most of the selections on that compilation are, as advertised, 'Raw'. But 'Raw' doesn't begin to describe this Austin Coleman track of frenzied shouting and propulsive drumming that sounds like a guy clacking a pair of wooden branches on the portable recording equipment and the Lomax brothers' heads while a congregation of like-minded screamers howl in the background. While I'm not one for hyperbole (immediately preceding sentence aside), this song is fucking amazing: makes you wish--among other things--the Lomaxes had lugged around film equipment, too.
'Ring shouts' were religious songs based on West-African drumming patterns; while sung, performers would shuffle around in single-file clapping out complex counter rhythms. It was common during slavery, and the Lomax Brother's 1934 recording of Coleman and Brown's "Run, Old Jeremiah" during a stop in Jennings, Louisiana is possibly the oldest and most authentic recorded example.
Washington Brown & Group. Their entire output is included on Document Records' excellent
"Negro Religious Field Recordings 1934-1942")