We’ve been quiet this winter, planning for the road ahead, and pausing momentarily to take in all the beauty of the last two years. They have been eventful and exciting, and full of singular moments like this one.
This video and acetate by Craig Finn were shot and recorded at our joyful homecoming screening at IFC Center in New York City last June. He closed out the night with his distinctive interpretation of “The Ballad of Jesse James.”
Craig told us all how he had been drawn to a particular phrase in the song – He’d a hand and a heart and a brain – and when he sang it that night, that phrase summed up the spirit of the song perfectly: the danger of the life of an outlaw and the love of a lost hero.
Craig Finn – “The Ballad of Jesse James”
Shot at IFC Center in New York City, June 4, 2015
Thank you again to IFC Center for being our generous hosts.
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
Touring to bring The 78 Project Movie to theaters and to watch the film together with audiences has been a gift to us. It’s given us a whole new set of memorable experiences. Making the movie brought us into new places and introduced us to new friends, and showing the movie has once again been a journey of connections and momentous events.
We traveled to Athens, GA in September on the invitation of the Athens Ciné, an independent movie theater run by truly the kindest, coolest folks, and Patterson Hood generously offered to join us there to cut a live 78 after the screening. Patterson sang a warm and visceral rendition of “Tramp in the Rain,” a family song from his childhood. As all of us in the room let out the breath we had been holding during his performance, Patterson explained that his grandmother sang the song to him when he was a child, as a lullaby at night. He had learned his words, and the subtle and sure style of singing them, from her.
Thank you again to Patterson, the fine folks at the Athens Ciné, and everyone who came out to see the film.
We hope you’ll be able to see The 78 Project Movie on the big screen. Take a look at our sidebar for a new batch of screenings coming up both in the U.S. and abroad.
John Doe, being the punk rocker that he is, mined “Skip to My Lou” for its fiendish fun in his masterful recording. On our New Year’s Day visit to his house in Northern California for The 78 Project Movie, he showed us a Folkways Collection LP of the song performed by Lead Belly that inspired him to dust off this sweet tune from childhood and sharpen the edges a bit.
Our Official Nationwide Release Tour for The 78 Project Movie is officially in full swing. This week we’re returning to the West Coast for the first time since our road trip to make The 78 Project Movie, excited to share the finished film with you. We have screenings scheduled in Los Angeles, Camarillo, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. And we’ll be there in each city to answer questions and spend time with you if you’ll be there!
As we’ve traveled and shot, edited, finished and started to screen, lived and breathed The 78 Project Movie, just about every day of the process has felt momentous.
The record we cut with Victoria Williams, on the last night of our West Coast road trip, gives a perfect glimpse of one such unforgettable day. Luck and symmetry had helped us find her, and her enthusiasm imbued the evening, and the record, with a magical energy.
Victoria’s 78 recording of “Take This Hammer” is one of the many one-of-a-kind performances that you’ll be able to see when The 78 Project Movie screens this Fall at a theater near you. More on that soon. Until then, listen to the brand new 78 below.
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.
Our second day in our week of giving thanks recalls another week not too long ago when we felt very fortunate. Just after returning from our first recording trip to the South, The 78 Project was invited to participate in IFP’s Independent Film Week in New York as part of the Spotlight on Documentaries. We were so honored, and we wanted to do something special as a way of showing our appreciation. So we invited our dear friend Timmy Mislock (The Antlers, Abandoned Lighthouse) to record a 78 with us during our screening time at the conference. Timmy sang “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” for a rapt audience of filmmakers and industry and a few invited friends. And we played it back for everyone right there in the room!
“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.