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Alan Lomax, Song Hunter

Folk art is, indeed, the oldest of the aristocracies of thought, and because it refuses what is passing and trivial, the merely clever and pretty, as certainly as the vulgar and insincere, and because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgetable thoughts of the generations, it is the soil where all great art is rooted. Wherever it is spoken by the fireside, or sung by the roadside, or carved upon the lintel, appreciation of the arts that a single mind gives unity and design to, spreads quickly when its hour is come.

W.B. Yeats, 1856-1939
The Celtic Twilight from The Gutenberg Project.

The Land Where the Blues Began

The Land Where the Blues Began

A self-described "song-hunter," the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930s and 40s, sometimes in the company of black folklorists like John W. Work III, armed with primitive recording equipment and a keen love of the Delta's music heritage. Crisscrossing the towns and hamlets where the blues began, Lomax gave voice to such greats as Leadbelly, Fred MacDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others, all of whom made their debut recordings with him.

In the late 1970s Lomax returned with filmmaker John Bishop and black folklorist Worth Long and made the film The Land Where the Blues Began. Shot on video tape, the film is narrated by Lomax and includes remarkable performances and stories by J.T. Tucker, William S. Hart, Bill Gordon, Belton Sutherland, Reverend Caeser Smith, James Hall, Johnny Brooks, Clyde Maxwell, Bud Spires, Jack Owens, Beatrice Maxwell, Walter Brown, Wilbert Puckett, and Othar Turner (see Gravel Springs Fife and Drum also on www.folkstreams.net).

Jazz Parades: Feet Don't Fail Me Now

Jazz Parades: Feet Don't Fail Me Now

"Jazz Parades: Feet Don't Fail Me Now" is an overview of the Jazz scene in New Orleans.

Alan Lomax's Jazz Parades explores the cathartic Sunday jazz parade of social clubs like King Zulu, the Young Olympians and the White Eagles in New Orleans. An overview of the jazz scene takes form in the convergence of "the Uptown Blacks with the Downtown Creoles" and in interviews with the participants, who open the door for understanding the ritual aspect of "turning loose" the dead, celebrating Mardi Gras and sublimating violence by dancing in the streets. Their heroes (Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Buddy Bolden, Johnny Dodds, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Kid Ory, Manuel Perez and John Robichaux) started out in the red light district, where the madames became the first patrons of jazz. Crosscutting between African and jazz parades cement their common links.

Cajun Country

Cajun Country

"Cajun Country" explores the roots and culture of the Cajuns in the bayous of Louisiana.

Alan Lomax's Cajun Country investigates Cajun's roots in Western France, visits their cattle drives, horse races, and barroom dances in rural Louisiana, and listens to the salty tales and raunchy songs of its black, white, and Indian music-makers.

Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old

Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old

"Dreams and Songs of the Noble Old" features elderly musicians, singers, and story-tellers from the South-east.

Alan Lomax's examination of the talents and wisdom of elderly musicians, singers, and story-tellers, who perform not for fame or fortune but to preserve and share their culture.

Appalachian Journey

Appalachian Journey

"Appalachian Journey" investigates the songs, dances, and religious rituals of the Southern Appalachians.

Alan Lomax travels through the Southern Appalachians investigating the songs, dances, and religious rituals of the descendents of the Scotch-Irish frontiers people who have made the mountains their home for centuries.

Folk Streams

Folk Streams

Find more information on Alan Lomax at Folkstreams.net

Lomax on Folk Music Index

Folk Music Index

Check out the Folk Music Index for more information on Alan Lomax

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