Alan Lomax (far left) recording with musicians for “American Patchwork”
Folklorist, songfinder, author, radio personality, ethnomusicologist, oral historian, activist, filmmaker, concert producer, recording artist, scholar, archivist, lecturer — Alan Lomax was all of these things… and more.
Lomax was born in Texas in 1915, and with his father, John, and on his own, recorded a vast treasure trove of American folk music for the Library of Congress as well as a wide variety of record labels. Again, with his father and individually, Lomax published a series of highly influential printed collections, including “American Ballads and Folk Songs,” “Folk Song U.S.A.” and the seminal 1960 volume, “The Folk Songs of North America in the English Language.”
This month around Greater Nippertown, there are two big concerts scheduled to celebrate the centennial of Alan Lomax’s birth and his great musical legacy:
While it is the case that a band that is playing bluegrass music will include a guitar, fiddle, banjo and bass, it is a logical fallacy to assume the converse, i.e. that a band with that instrumental line-up is limited to playing bluegrass. Thus it is with Jayme Stone and his all star band, who made their Nippertown debut at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy last Saturday night. They played a long, 14-song set that consisted mainly of Jayme’s original instrumentals or original derivations of folk songs and themes from around the world.
The opening song was a derivation of a Bulgarian folk dance in 7/8 time, followed by a derivation of a Moorish sword fighting song. These were not simple hummable melodies to be sure! The arrangements were complex but hit a groove and rode it with banjo, fiddle and guitar each having a chance to stepout before melding back into the swirling whole. Their highly interpretive take on the traditional song “Cumberland Gap” benefited from his introduction as it was Saturday-New York Times-crossword-puzzle hard to find the original melody, and hoedown foot-tapping was out of the question!
No, he’s not exactly a household name – even among fans of bluegrass and folk music.
But banjo master Jayme Stone has won two Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy), and he’s releasing his marvelous new album, “Room of Wonders,” today. Most importantly, he’s headed into the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy on Saturday night, and he’s bringing along his all-star band.
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