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.
Our excitement is growing as August gets closer. Especially now that it will bring our Chicago premiere! The 78 Project Movie will screen on August 16th and 17th at Chicago’s Music Box Theater as part of its Summer Music Film Festival.
Tickets are available now. And we’ll be there for a Q&A at both screenings, if you’d like to say hello. Or sit next to us. We’d love that.
Music Box Theater
Summer Music Film Festival
August 16 & 17, 2014
On a day when the road was at its most challenging, when long drives, short batteries, fried tubes and a weary Presto threatened to dampen the spirit of our California adventure, Adam Levy
and Gaby Moreno
righted everything immediately with their unmitigated joy. Their happy collaboration on “After You’ve Gone” turned the trials of the day into the perfect evening to create a perfectly beautiful record.
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.
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.
There was a mood of fellowship in the Bell House the April morning we arrived with our Presto, a feeling in the air that anything could happen, and that anyone at any time might break out into beautiful song. So many people milling around at the Brooklyn Folk Fest that afternoon were great musicians, and every soul in the room an appreciator.
The spontaneity of the day led us to recording a side with Jackson Lynch, and as we always are when struck by good fortune, we were grateful to opportunity and appreciative of the musical talent that continues to grace us. Jackson performed the 19th Century Western Ballad “Roving Cowboy” with his fiddle bow gliding in a long journey across the strings. Like the cowboy of the song, never to settle, headed to who knows where.
Also, hear and see John Cohen’s recording “Danville Girl” from the other side of our Brooklyn Folk Festival acetate.
Thanks again to Eli Smith, the Bell House, John Cohen, Jackson Lynch and all the musicians, organizers and folks who came out to the Brooklyn Folk Festival.
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.
It was the true spirit of mobility, a genuine adventure. Rooting around a dark alley for a power source, decent light, bright sound and a clean-ish, flat surface for the Presto and for the ladies’ fancy shoes.
It was late at night, and there was an energy, a happiness, a spark still glowing from the show The Wandering had just played at Joe’s Pub. They slipped out the back after their encore was through to make a record with us in the alley. Five voices with the fife as their sixth, bouncing joyfully off the concrete and mixing together in the warm spring air.
Did we feel it? We hadn’t noticed. A train went by, fast, beneath our feet. The Wandering, more accustomed to standing on solid ground than we New Yorkers, felt it rumble. The Presto felt it, too. Leaving a pretty-looking zig and a zag on the groove to mark it’s passing, a note stuck forever to the surface of the record telling exactly what their tapping feet had sensed.
We might have never gotten to sleep that night, it’s true. The excitement of the glorious recording lit us all up so, band, crew and friends alike. Had The Wandering’s flipside not been just the right reverie, the perfect song for the night’s end, we might have vibrated right through till morning. It was so beautiful in its calm, so right in its gentle longing, “Rock My Soul” brought us fluttering right back down to earth.
Buy it on iTunes.
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.