A new season breaks through and we are filled with the promise it brings. Exciting new music and screenings and big, big news are all ahead. The 78 Project this Spring is green with new growth. And we wanted to start by sharing with you a performance from our California trip, the sweet and wistful flipside to the beautiful acetate we cut with John Reilly and Tom Brosseau for The 78 Project Movie.
John Reilly & Tom Brosseau – “Single Girl, Married Girl”
Shot in Pasadena, CA, January, 2013
Recorded in Pasadena, CA, January, 2013
Just on the other side of the steepest mountain in Echo Park, and many miles west of the desert cafe where we first met her, Victoria Williams invited us over for an evening of songs and record-making. The L.A. night was cold, but the house was warm and alive with some friends – including her dog Beau – and home-cooked food.
Victoria wanted what would be to be; she had happily followed Beau’s lead to the restaurant in Joshua Tree where we had also stopped on a whim, and as we set up that night, she was excited to find out what surprises “Bath Song” would bring at 78rpm. It seemed like a moment that had become inevitable since we left New York, wondering who we would meet, somehow thinking it might be her. The Presto clicked off, closing the circle, and our California road trip felt complete.
Our thanks to Gabe Noel for his beautiful musical contributions to this recording and to Robert for his kind and generous hospitality.
We’ve been hard at work in the editing room since returning home in January from our California road trip. And though we sit in the same room every day as we sort the hours of footage we’ve shot so far for The 78 Project movie, there’s no possibility of sameness or fatigue. Each day we are transported to another room, any of the many different and beautiful rooms all around the country we’ve been invited into to film and make 78s.
This week as scenes from our Southern journey emerged on our editing monitors, the drudgery of winter had disappeared and suddenly summer was bearing down with the last of its might. We were transported to a sunny high-ceilinged room in Nashville mesmerized by a sultry and spectacular sound: the voice of Dylan LeBlanc.
We wanted to show it to you the moment we saw it. Haunting and reverent and filled with purity and magic, it called to us like the endless roads of our journey, reminded us of the warmth of your support, made us want to say thank you right now and always.
Sid Selvidge is a performer and folk music scholar of the highest order. It’s a well-deserved rap he caught from devoting himself congenially and tirelessly to knowing the people and learning the songs of the South. And of course, to contributing his own songs to the story. Sid is a walking record of Delta music and the American folk scene as it has been and as it is, with stories for days and an ear ready for any new ones you might want to share with him.
Sid had a memory of the Frank Stokes song “I Got Mine” from hearing it on a sampler, he recalled it being catchy and sly. A song that puts its singer in the shoes of a rascally gambler out for a good time. But as he discovered, listening to it again, the exact lyrics are hard to make out. He looked them up, and found enough different versions to keep you confused for a week. So, acting in the truest folk music spirit, Sid just picked the words he liked and rolled with it, the version that now goes on record as his.
Things do change and stay the same in equal parts. For Sid, his son Steve, and for us the day we recorded them together in Memphis, that meant hearing Sid singing a song he’d sung so many times before, but in a changed voice and on a very old format. It was Sid’s idea, to hear the old and the new together this way, the perfect test of time, and the perfect record of place.
How did we imagine things when we were children picturing our adult lives? Exciting and strange, moving more quickly than the quiet creep of childhood, and painted in much broader strokes inside much more confident outlines. We would fill our houses with grass instead of furniture. And when we fell in love, we would be held fast in strong arms or gentle, delicate hands, and kissed as the sparkling night kept us safe.
We met Leah Siegel in that fantastic possibility, in a mischievous loft with grass instead of carpet, the magical surroundings completed by ladders leading to hideaways and a forest wall scattered with glittering stars. And when the Presto was nestled snugly in the soft ground, she sang of a whimsical and lovely romance contained in the smallest most innocent of gestures.
Our beautiful early hopes and feelings are not lost to us. In fact, more often than we even know, we look for and find them again in songs.
Buy it on iTunes.
The rest of the story is a memory. A view of a dreamy past carried along through life, strange and unforgettable and intoxicating.
Tomorrow is a family day. Not that every day isn’t, it’s just that this week in particular we make such an effort to gather together our loved ones. Putting aside the stress and distance, it’s a wonderful thing to find that we are all joined in such a profound bond; that we are not the first, nor will we be the last to experience the world. It’s not our sole responsibility to navigate it.
Holly Williams’ family has a vibrant musical story. As Hank Williams’ granddaughter, she has a birthright of song. And because her husband, Chris Coleman, is a musician, singing and playing guitar is something they can share as a family. When we visited them in Nashville, they sang “Amazing Grace,” together in their home with their dogs at their feet. It was the picture and sound of togetherness and warmth.
Why give thanks for just one day? We feel like we’re going to need the whole week to express our gratitude for everything that’s happened with The 78 Project so far, and everything that is to come. So for the next six days we’ll be posting a 78 from our Southern Road Trip (you might even remember them from our Kickstarter campaign updates) every day and adding them to our online archive!
Star & Micey stirred up the morning air in St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Memphis with their Flipside, a brand new, never-before-recorded “Rocky Song,” during a harmony-filled morning session that left us all speechless.
“Red River Valley” is one of those songs for which everyone has their own story. It has at least a dozen claimed origins – as many as the regions the Valley touches and then some – and everyone who knows the song, knows it from a different source. An emotional scene in a movie, a family who sang it together, a battered LP bought at a yard sale, a childhood school music class. The common thread being that wherever the song is heard first, it strikes a chord and takes on a personal meaning. Because like so many songs about a place, it is actually about the people in it. It can be sung by a lone cowboy in a secluded mountain valley, or as a duet in a New York apartment. Love and loss are the same everywhere.
Buy it on iTunes.
After listening to it together with them in the room, and again at home as we prepared to post it, Lisa and Joe’s Flipside song continues to amaze. “Little Bird” – which Lisa wrote and Joe produced the album version of – is a song of metaphors and images, complex in its design, but simple and perfect in its emotion. And their performance of it is simple and perfect in its emotion to match.