|Alan Lomax in 1948|
Once again, it's the birthday of Alan Lomax, the great ethnomusicologist whose field recordings, especially those he did in the American South, helped change our understanding of American music. He was born on this day in Austin, Texas in 1915.
A couple of years ago, I wrote this:
Lomax, following in the footsteps of his father, John Lomax, was a musicologist who, beginning in the 1930s, traveled through the South -- to plantations, prisons, backwood churches, Louisana fai do-dos -- recording thousands of wild, raw songs and stories of the people that you didn't hear on the radio. John and Alan Lomax helped establish the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folk Song.
Through the years Alan Lomax would cross paths with some of the most revered names in folk, blues, jazz and hillbilly music. He recorded McKinley Morganfield -- later to become known as Muddy Waters -- recording him playing acoustic blues while he was still living on Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was the first to record Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. He also did sessions with Jelly Roll Morton, Reverend Gary Davis, Big Bill Broonzy and Missisippi Fred McDowell.
So here's another smattering of Lomax recordings that help remind us of the richness of American folk music -- as performed by the folks.
Here's some Dock Boggs, recorded in 1966
Here's Jelly Roll Morton discussing and demonstrating the music of Mardi Gras Indians in 1938.
A gospel tune from Mississippi Fred McDowell
A man called Muddy ...
And here's some Cajun fiddling from the great Dennis McGee with Sady Courville