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Homegrown Plus: Changüí Majadero

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re happy to be continuing the series with the Cuban American band Changüí Majadero. Founded by tres guitarist and vocalist Gabriel García, Changüí Majadero was the result of García’s pivotal pilgrimage to the Guantanamo region of Cuba, where he learned the musical style called changüí from the living masters of the style. He says he was inspired to spread the spirit of Cuban folkloric music mixed with a dash of East Los Angeles grit. The band’s concert included songs they learned during research in the American Folklife Center archive, along with other songs from their repertoire. Our conversation with Gabriel provides an introduction to the band and to the unusual style known as changüí, including the instruments, rhythms, and history of this important musical tradition.

Homegrown Plus: Joe Jencks

In the “Homegrown Plus” series we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with our friend Joe Jencks, who is an accomplished singer-songwriter but also a lover of traditional songs, especially work and labor songs. For his Homegrown concert, he performed an entire set of songs from the AFC archive, making this concert also an example of an artist taking the Archive Challenge. We’re delighted that Joe took the challenge, and we think he did a fantastic job in his exemplary concert video. You can watch his concert, his interview video, and a bonus Archive Challenge song from Folk Alliance International, all in this blog post!

Saint George and the Hacker: A Zoom Meeting Mummers Play

The American Folklife Center’s 2021 Mummers play is about a zoom meeting that gets invaded by a hacker who won’t let the participants leave until he gets a bitcoin ransom. 2021 has felt like a zoom meeting that wouldn’t end, so we hope our audience can relate! Find a video of the play and the complete annotated script in this blog!

Scrooge’s Prize Turkey: Victorian Christmas Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

This post is part of an occasional series about ethnography and folklore in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.  Find the whole series here! In our last look at the foodways of Dickens’s classic story A Christmas Carol, we examined the joy the Cratchits take in their small but serviceable Christmas goose, as Scrooge and the Ghost […]

Cooking the Cratchits’ Goose: Urban Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol reveals an interesting fact about Victorian London: many working class people lacked cooking facilities, with only a hearth fire in their homes. In this post, we’ll see some of their strategies for cooking a meal by looking at the Cratchits, the only working class family depicted in the book in a detailed way. We’ll also look beyond the Cratchits to other London families in the same boat, and show how Dickens expresses social and political ideas about foodways through Scrooge and his interactions.

Sharing Our Story: Carl Chamberlain’s VHP Collection

This is a guest blog post by Michael Chamberlain, whose family recently donated his father’s large WWII photograph collection to the Veterans History Project (VHP). As the executor for my father’s estate, I know how difficult it can be for families to consider handing over what is sometimes the only tangible legacy of a family […]

Homegrown Plus: PIQSIQ Inuit-Style Throat Singing

It’s been a while since we posted a Homegrown Plus post! In this ongoing series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with PIQSIQ, an Inuit style throat singing duo who characterize their style as being “galvanized by darkness and haunting northern beauty.”

PIQSIQ is composed of sisters Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik and Kayley Inuksuk Mackay. These talented performers come together to create a unique duo, performing ancient traditional songs along with new compositions. The two grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, with roots in Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory. After years of hard work on their music, they have developed their own form, blending haunting melodies and otherworldly sounds. As PIQSIQ, they perform their songs with live improvisational looping, creating a dynamic audience experience that changes with every show. In this blog, you’ll find their November 2020 concert and their February 2021 oral history interview.

Explore Native American Event Videos from the American Folklife Center

Native American events sponsored by the American Folklife Center have provided Indians and Native Alaskans opportunities to present performing arts and lectures at the Library of Congress to reach audiences with their cultural arts and inform people about their cultures, languages, and concerns such as preservation of their traditions. This blog will focus on the […]

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Southwest

The following is a guest post by American Folklife Center Reference Librarian Alda Allina Migoni. Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, […]

Picante Pero Sabroso: Songs of La Llorona

This is the third blog post in a series about La Llorona, the weeping woman who haunts Mexican and other Latinx cultures. The series will be published in time for Día de Muertos (aka Día de los Muertos) 2021. In this post we talk about songs associated with the La Llorona legend. I spend the most time with the traditional song from Oaxaca, which was featured recently at the GRAMMY Awards and in the movie Coco. I also discuss a widespread (and completely different) folksong called “La Llorona” in the son huasteco repertoire, and “La Llorona Loca,” a song composed in Colombia that has become a mainstay in Mexican music as well. What all La Llorona songs have in common are the themes of death, remembrance, and mourning, which makes them all appropriate for Día de Muertos or Halloween. We hope this post will be useful in building your own personal playlist for these upcoming holidays.