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Podcast: Episode 17, on Transcribing Lomax with By the People, is Ready for Listening!

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Episode seventeen of the Folklife Today Podcast (or Season 2, Episode 5) is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher.

Get your podcast here!

Alan Lomax, in New York City with Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and others, ca. 1940. Bess Lomax Hawes Collection (AFC 2014/008)

In the episode, John Fenn and I talk about a campaign called “The Man Who Recorded the World: On The Road with Alan Lomax.” It’s an effort to crowdsource transcriptions Alan Lomax’s fascinating field notes. Through this campaign, you can help out the Library of Congress and music fans worldwide by increasing access to Lomax’s field notes through transcribing and reviewing pages. Anyone can get involved by visiting this link.

In the episode we interview Lauren Algee and Victoria Van Hyning of the Library of Congress’s By the People program, and Todd Harvey of AFC, our Lomax collections curator. Along the way, we play a lot of music recorded by Lomax in his long career.

As always, when we play audio excerpts in the podcast, we try to include the complete audio here on the blog. To avoid loading this post down with embedded players, I’ll link to a lot of these full audio items in their online homes, and embed players when necessary.  Here goes!

We first played a snippet of the 9 hour oral history with Jelly Roll Morton.  The rest of that cut is in the player below.

A woman sits in a chair singing.
Almeda Riddle at her home in Heber Springs, Arkansas, October 1959. Photo by Alan Lomax. Courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Find the archival scan here.

We played a verse of Almeda Riddle’s rendition of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” The full recording can be heard at this link. Riddle also spoke about the song, and you can find that interview at this link.

We played part of “Ju Noel / Juba-lo,” a “Big Drum dance” from Carriacou.  The full recording can be found at this link.

We played a few verses of Vera Hall’s “Stagolee.” There are two takes of this recording. One can be found at this link, and the other at this link. Vera Hall also talked about it in an interview which you can find at this link.

A woman's face, 3/4 view, looking right
Bessie Jones on the set of the “Music of Williamsburg” film, April 1960. Photo by Alan Lomax. Courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Find the archival scan here.

We played a bit of “Juba” by Bessie Jones, which you can find at this link.

We played part of Muddy Waters’s recording of “Ramblin’ Kid Blues” with the Son Sims Four. Hear the full cut in the player below.

Todd Harvey brought along a recording of Aapo Juhani, a Finnish American singer, accordion player, and ritual specialist. You can find all the recordings of this star informant at this link.

I talked about Honeyboy Edwards and played a clip of “Worried Life Blues.” Find the rest in the player below.

A man sits on a railing playing guitar. There is a harmonica on a rack around his neck. A large car is driving past behind him.
Honeyboy Edwards, Mississippi, 1942. Frame of silent film shot by Alan Lomax. Read more about the film here.

We also promised to include Honeyboy’s reunion with Lomax at a concert in 1978 and a song from that concert. You can find those tracks at this link.

We played Seamus Ennis’s version of “The Herring’s Head” in its entirety. You can hear it again at this link.

We played part of Bob and Jim Copper’s “Come Write Me Down.” You can hear that here at this link.

A woman, smiling, looking right.
Francilia, photographed by Alan Lomax in Haiti in 1937.

We played part of Lomax’s recording of Francilia singing “Nou Tout Se Moun.” You can find all of it in the player below.

We ended with Lakou Mizik’s version of Francilia’s song from this year’s Archive Challenge. That video is still being edited for inclusion on the Library of Congress website, so for now it will remain exclusive to the blog. But Lakou Mizik’s studio recording of that song, which they renamed “Pren Ka Mwen,” has an official video, which you can see at this link.

Once again, the main point of this podcast was to let you know about the On the Road with Alan Lomax campaign at By the People, which you can find at this link.

And, just for ease of reference, here’s the link to the podcast one more time.

Thanks for listening, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!

Comments (2)

  1. I really enjoyed listening to this podcast. The contributions by Lauren Algee and Victoria Van Hyning were informative and represented a great example of the concatenation of interests and talents we often see at the Library of Congress: first, insightful attention to collection content and its value to society; second, skill and insider know-how regarding digital tools (together with a committment to share those tools via resources like GitHub); and third, a genuine interest in using this intellectually fulfilling activity for public outreach of the best kind! In addition, the selected musical and textual examples were “folk classics” of a high order, well recorded and clearly presented. I also found that the exchanges between those who participated on the podcast had a natural and conversational tone: articulate speakers who sounded wonderfully unconstrained by the Procrustean bed of a script! Very nice!

    • Thanks Carl! We agree that Lauren, Victoria, and (of course) Todd are among the Library’s finest!

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