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Homegrown at Home and Home Archive Challenge on the Folklife Today Podcast

Walter Parks standing with guitar

Walter Parks did a fantastic concert of Okefenokee swamp hollers, banjo tunes, and spirituals from American Folklife Center collections, as well as his own songs. Photo by Susanna Mars. Find Walter’s concert here.

Episode 19 of the Folklife Today Podcast (or Season 2, Episode 7) is ready for listening! Find it at this page on the Library’s website, or on Stitcher, iTunes, or your usual podcatcher.  As usual, I’ll use this blog post to direct you to fuller audio and video of the items we mentioned in the podcast, and to give you more background on the topic.

But first:

Get your podcast here!

In this episode, John Fenn and I invite our colleagues from the AFC Research & Programs team, Theadocia Austen and Jennifer Cutting, to discuss two current initiatives of the Center.  First we discuss the at-home version of the Archive Challenge, in which we ask everyone out there (even you) to get inspired by the archive, create some art, and share it on social media. This version of the challenge was first presented in the blog post at this link. The first round of results, which we also talk about in the podcast, was presented in the blog post at this link. From there you can follow the links to individual challenge items. Once again, we urge you to visit those links and have fun with the challenge yourself!

Dom Flemons seated with guitar

Dom Flemons was the first performer of the first Archive Challenge. He’s also performing in the Homegrown at Home series. After the concert premieres on September 16, 2020, it will be at this page on the Library’s website.

Jennifer filled us in on the history of the Archive Challenge, which began back in 2015 at the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City. We heard a bit of the very first Archive Challenge performance, which was Grammy-winner Dom Flemons singing a Big Bill Broonzy song; you can find that video at this link.  We discussed the several years of performances at Folk Alliance International, you can see all the videos from Folk Alliance challenges over the years at this link. We also mentioned the Archive Challenge Concerts we held here at the Library.  You can see the 2017 concert and related interviews here; the 2018 concert and related interviews here; and the 2019 concert here.

Jeneda and Clayson Benaly stand back to back. She holds an electric bass, he holds drumsticks and a rattle.

Sihasin is the duo of Jeneda and Clayson Benally. They recorded their concert outdoors in the Arizona desert near their homes in the Navajo nation. They were joined by family members including their father Jones Benally. Even their horse Moonwalker makes an appearance! Photo by Raechel Running. Find the concert video here.

After that, we turned our attention to this season’s Homegrown concerts, which we’re doing online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists are recording concert videos in their homes or studios and we’re premiering them on Facebook every Wednesday at noon.  You can “like” our Facebook page here to find out about the premieres.  After they premiere, the concert videos are immediately available on the Library of Congress YouTube channel, as well as on the Library website. Thea told us all about the process for booking and creating this year’s series, and we picked a representative sampling to tell the audience more about. (Hint: they’re the ones whose pictures are in this post!)

Sean Ardoin standing with accordion.

Sean Ardoin treated us to Creole music and zydeco from Louisiana. He played a couple of traditional accordion tunes from his family repertoire, but concentrated on his own zydeco and Creole rock-n-soul repertoire. Find his concert at this link.

But really, all of the concerts are our favorites!  You can find the full list of 2020 concerts, with links to videos of all the ones we’ve already premiered, on the Folklife Concerts page at this link.  Just follow the link from the 2020 list to the individual page for each concert, and you’ll find the video!

Headshot portraits: Emma Björling looks directly at the camera, Petrus Johansson looks left.

Singer Emma Björling and guitarist Petrus Johansson came to us from Sweden! They performed a set of Swedish traditional songs, with one Norwegian song for good measure! See their concert at this link.

We’re excited about both these programs, and we think the podcast gives a good overview of them with a great variety of musical sounds as well. We really hope you’ll give it a listen. So, just for ease of reference, here’s the link to the podcast one more time.

Burke Riley, 10 years old, holding a diatonic button accordion, Steve Riley, the boys' father, holding a fiddle. Dolsy Riley, 7 years old, holds a triangle.

Steve Riley (center) played with his sons Burke (left) and Dolsy (right). Theirs was the first concert in the series, and hit us so quickly I didn’t have time to make a branded image like the ones above. That just means you get to see these adorable kids in a slightly larger size! Find their concert at this link.

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

Homegrown Plus: The Murphy Beds

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) I’m very happy to continue the series with The Murphy Beds, which is the duo of Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer. The Murphy Beds present traditional and original folk songs with close […]

Homegrown Plus: Cora Harvey Armstrong

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with Cora Harvey Armstrong, a gospel singer, piano player, songwriter, choir director, and bandleader born and raised in King and Queen County, Virginia. The Richmond-born […]

Homegrown Plus: Nakotah LaRance, 1989-2020

Normally, the Homegrown Plus series is a way to bring together the videos of Homegrown concerts with other information about the artists, including oral history interviews.  This time, however, we have a more solemn duty: to celebrate the life and legacy of Nakotah LaRance, an outstanding Native American hoop dancer from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, New […]

Homegrown Plus: Lakota John Locklear and Kin

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with Lakota John Locklear and kin, a blues family band of Native American heritage. Lakota John, born in 1997, blends traditional styles of the […]

Enjoy the Homegrown 2020 Concert Series at Home!

The American Folklife Center is very pleased to announce our Homegrown Concert Series for 2020, which we’ve nicknamed “Homegrown at Home.” These concert videos, recorded at home by the artists, will be presented online each Wednesday at noon, initially on the AFC Facebook page and then permanently on the Library of Congress YouTube channel and website. The series kicks off on June 24 with a concert by the Riley Family Band, featuring GRAMMY-winning accordionist, fiddler, and singer Steve Riley of the leading Cajun band Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. For this special concert Steve is joined by his talented sons, Burke and Dolsy Riley. The series will then continue every Wednesday at noon through September, with concerts including music from far and wide: from the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, from the Catskills in upstate New York to the Louisiana bayous, and from Scotland to Sweden.

Live! In the Archive: an Interview with Lone Piñon

On January 29th, the AFC launched the Live! In the Archive concert series, where artists are invited to perform selections from the Center’s collections live in its reading room. The first artists featured in this new concert series were Lone Piñon. The video of their Live! In the Archive concert is embedded in this blog post, which also contains an interview with Jordan Wax and Tanya Nuñez of Lone Piñon.

Homegrown Plus: John McCutcheon Takes the Archive Challenge!

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with John McCutcheon, an American folksinger, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. McCutcheon is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and in the concert displayed jaw-dropping proficiency on guitar, banjo, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, jawharp, piano, body percussion, and other instruments. McCutcheon is a master performer whose 36 albums have earned 6 Grammy nominations. For this concert, McCutcheon did something else that was very special to us: he took the Archive Challenge, playing exclusively material from American Folklife Center collections. The oral history is filled with fascinating stories of his long career.

Homegrown Plus: Cedric Watson Trio

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with Cedric Watson, a four-time Grammy-nominated fiddler, singer, accordionist, and songwriter. Watson is one of the brightest contemporary talents to emerge in Cajun, Creole and […]

The American Folklife Center Is On the Job!

Out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, all Library of Congress buildings and facilities are closed to the public, and American Folklife Center staff are currently teleworking. In such uncertain times, we wanted to reassure our followers on social media, as well as those who use our collections and services in other ways, that we remain committed to serving the public as fully and as long as we can. Although most of us on the American Folklife Center staff have been staying away from our beloved Jefferson and Adams Buildings, we are on the job! In this blog, you’ll find all the ways you can connect with us and enjoy our collections while you’re staying safe at home.