In 1933, with the support of Macmillan Publishers and the Music Division of the Library of Congress, John A. Lomax made the first of his field-recording trips through the American South. Joined by his seventeen-year-old son Alan, Lomax visited some of the most notorious Southern penitentiaries — among them Sugar Land in Texas; Angola in Louisiana; Parchman Farm in Mississippi — where he knew anachronistic strains of African American folk-song would be preserved away from the influence of the radio, the phonograph, and cross-pollination with whites. The Lomaxes recorded the songs of timber and ground-clearing gangs, chants of the road and railroad crews, solo field hollers with their roots running deep into the antebellum south; they also recorded comic songs, blues, and spirituals. By late 1934, they had recorded dozens of singers and hundreds of songs — "poetic expressions," as Lomax described them, "of pungent wit, simple beauty, startling imagery, extraordinary vividness and power."
"Jail House Bound," a production of West Virginia University Press, collects the earliest of the Lomaxes' prison recordings — made between July and December 1933 in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee — drawing on new remasters from the fragile original acetate discs. The album is introduced by noted American music scholar Mark Allen Jackson (author of "Prophet Singer: The Voice and Vision of Woody Guthrie"). Released digitally (May 15, 2012) by Global Jukebox in collaboration with the West Virginia University Press.