Southern Journeys

Alan Lomax playing guitar on stage at the Mountain Music Festival, Asheville, N.C.

Alan Lomax playing guitar on stage at the Mountain Music Festival, Asheville, N.C.

Here’s an episode of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Archive Hour’ show from July 27, 2002 on Alan Lomax, titled ‘Southern Journeys’. It is presented by Shirley Collins, and still happens to be on the BBC website. This would have been a perfect subject for one of our Reverb books, but someone has beaten us to it. The blurb for the show says: “The story of American traditional music is dominated by the father and son team John and Alan Lomax who discovered, recorded, and popularised the music of the poor, the dispossessed and voiceless. During Alan Lomax ‘s 1959 tour of the southern states, he was accompanied by his then lover, English folk singer Shirley Collins , and here she tells the story of how he recorded the sounds of a world that was fast disappearing, but which still influences popular music today.”

For those who are unable to stream the audio from the BBC site, here a version taken from a minidisc of the broadcast recorded in 2002:

If you are reading on mobile / tablet, the embedded audio may not display – if so, try this:

MP3: Southern Journeys (57mins)

There’s review of John Szwed’s recent book on Lomax, The Man Who Recorded The World in the Guardian. You can read it here.

man-who-recorded

“Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World” (NY: Viking / UK: Heinemann), 2011

More on Lomax in the form of a fascinating discussion between Philip Dodd and John Szwed, broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves on 22 Dec 2010. Here’s a description of the show and the blurb from the show’s website:

“Philip Dodd discusses Alan Lomax, the pioneering oral historian. He created an irreplaceable archive of early American folk and Blues recordings. These included interviews with Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters and Jelly Roll Morton. Lomax’s biographer John Szwed talks to Philip and plays some of Lomax recordings.

From 1937 to 1942, Lomax was Assistant in Charge of the Archive of Folk Song of the Library of Congress. He took his microphone into the field and collected folk music from the United States, Haiti, the Caribbean, Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, and Italy, assembling a treasure trove of American and international culture. But his techniques applied to social history as well. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lomax took his recording machine into the streets to capture the reactions of everyday citizens.”

Here is an audio clip of the short interview chunk from the above broadcast:

If you are reading on mobile / tablet, the embedded audio may not display – if so, try this:

MP3: Philip Dodd discusses Alan Lomax with John Szwed (11mins)