The Library of Congress to screen The 78 Project Movie, and a new acetate from Louis Michot, Corey Ledet & Ashlee Michot

The Library of Congress will host a screening of The 78 Project Movie and live recording event as part of its Botkin Lecture Series.

On September 5th a great dream of ours will come true as we screen The 78 Project Movie and cut a record live at the Library of Congress. Over the two years since we began working on the film, we’ve had the privilege to visit the Library’s American Folklife Center in Washington, DC and its Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpeper, VA, where we were shown Alan Lomax’s Presto, his correspondence and actual acetate recordings, and given a glimpse into the work the truly amazing folks at the Library do to preserve America’s musical treasures. We’re honored to be able to return to the Library’s historic halls to present our film and to use our Presto to record a 78.

The 78 Project: Documenting Historic Sound in the Contemporary World Botkin Lecture & Screening of The 78 Project Movie
The Library of Congress
Friday, September 5th 2:00 – 4:30pm
Mumford Room, 6th Floor, James Madison Building
Independence Avenue, between 1st and 2nd Streets Washington, DC

 

Louis Michot told us that what he loved about French music was that everyone playing was driving the same rhythm and the same melody together at the same time. A community of song.  We had driven to the Michot family home in Arnaudville, LA last August, and in the course of a hot and happy afternoon, recorded Louis with his wife Ashlee and their friend and musical collaborator Corey Ledet for The 78 Project Movie. The trio cut a 78 of the traditional Cajun dance-ending song “’Trape mon chapeau,” fiddle, accordion and guitar working together the whole way through to forge a powerful, cohesive feeling into the song.  Compelling imaginary dancers to crowd together on the floor and enjoy the last joyful moments of the party.

Episode #15: International Blues Express – “Pa’ Janvier” (Part 2)

In the comforts of early Fall, with the windows thrown open and nothing coming through but the sun, winter seems not to exist. It is just a story you’ve told and been told but never really believed; the cold a memory you can’t quite access from a distance.

On this particular warm fall day, months before the polar vortex and the snowiest winter in years, Cedric Watson, Sidi Toure, Abdoulaye Kone dit Kandjafa and Desiree Champagne – collectively known as International Blues Express – perform the story of “Pa’ Janvier.” At the end of a day spent drifting out to the porch and back into the kitchen, once the sun and the garden has charmed us all into a pleasant stillness, the song sends a chill into the room. The violin, ngoni and guitar harmonize in a mournful breath, like a high-pitched moan of cold wind through a crack in the door. And Cedric recounts an old Cajun tale of the icy hand of old man winter come to steal his love. Donne moi Pauline.

Now as we haunt our own houses through a forbidding winter, listening to the performance it could seem a prediction of what was to come. A fable that foretold our chilly fate.


See International Blues Express – “Hanna” (Part 1), a traditional Malian song sung by Sidi Toure.

Episode #14: International Blues Express “Hanna” (Part 1)

The Creole musicians speak to their Malian bandmates in French. Most everyone in the room, Americans and Africans both, speaks French to one another, explaining what is being explained as the house is set up for the recording.  The four members of International Blues Express – Sidi Toure and Abdoulaye Kone dit Kandjafa from Mali, Cedric Watson and Desiree Champagne from Louisiana – are bonded by the common language, bonded to us by it, too. Heritage, experience and instinct all combine so that musicians, filmmakers, recordists, from different continents and different corners of them, are all communicating.

The Creole and Malian musical styles and songs melt together perfectly. The bright plucking sounds of the ngoni and guitar dance lightly on the steady rhythm of the washboard and the fiddle’s dulcet drone.  Celebration is something that we all experience, and we instinctively know the sound of a joyous occasion when we hear it. “Hanna” means a joyous all-night gathering, and is a song for celebrating the first child born into a family. It can take on a form that is endless, so that the dancing can continue until dawn.  It is a song of thanks-giving. We are thankful for this day, thankful for the chance to see the world light up with this connection, the makings of a new musical genre emerge, the possibilities that collaboration and exploration can offer.

At the end of the day, the house is filled with the smells of the meal that everyone shares.  The fundamental pieces of life are the same everywhere.

The 78 we made with International Blues Express has two Side As. In the next installment, our Creole friends take the lead, and lead us from birth to the unknown beyond it.

Louisiana Bound: Our last road trip to make The 78 Project movie

A Sunday in the Bayou is as perfect as it sounds. Bright sun, fresh eggs from the chickens outside, and music all through the house. We made it to Louisiana!

It’s been an eventful first couple of days on the road, and this trip feels filled with excitement and promise.  We started out with a visit to the Library of Congress Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, VA.  Built into the side of a mountain, the building is a beautiful sight coming up the road.  And inside, it’s filled with treasures. Matt Barton, Brad McCoy, and Bryan Hoffa were kind enough to show us around and demonstrate some of their process. They played us a 7″ shellac disc from 1905 to show us how they capture the sound, and taught us their tried and true trick for centering a disc punched with an off-center hole. It involves a pencil.

Rare recordings and recording gear, and expert archivists working hard to make the material available to the public.  The history of our nation’s recordings are being preserved in Culpeper, and it was inspiring to see the wonderful work that they’re doing. And in fact, about 10,000 of the historical recordings they’ve transferred are available to stream on their National Jukebox.

A quick stop in Lynchburg, VA and the lovely hospitality of some new friends Joan and George recharged our batteries for the long drive to Nashville.  We crossed state lines at the Birthplace of Country Music: Bristol, TN/VA and we took in the sites for a few.  It’s not every town that can lay claim to the first recordings of Jimmie Rogers and The Carter Family as well as count Clarence Ashley, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Uncle Charlie Osborne as one-time residents.  If you find yourself there, might we suggest you eat at Eatz?

 

Nashville was as warm and welcoming as always, and it was wonderful to be there exactly one year to the week since we last came this way. But we couldn’t stay long, we were Louisiana bound!

Since this is our last movie trip, it’s a great opportunity to support The 78 Project. We have vintage Louisiana postcards in hand, ready to mail out to thank you for your generosity. And it won’t be a long journey now from road to screen for the film.  We’d love to see your name in the credits, and to see you in person at a screening. And if you donate to The 78 Project through our fiscal sponsorship with IFP your donation is tax-deductible. Donations we receive now will go to our post-production fund and will be essential in giving the film a beautiful finish!

Donate to The 78 Project