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.
We love a gentle winter lullaby and a sweet, cheery carol, but sometimes your holidays just need a little holler. That’s why we wanted to share this recording from our nationwide theatrical release tour to screen The 78 Project Movie.
This September as we journeyed once again across the country, we made a stop in Little Rock, AR, where The Oxford American presented a screening of The 78 Project Movie in the beautiful CALS Ron Robinson Theater. Onstage after the screening, local musician Adam Faucett joined us to craft a very distinctive live 78. Adam wowed us all with his mighty voice, performing “Moonshiner” a capella. It’s a performance that remains as commanding on record as it was in the room.
Thank you again to Adam Faucett, our great friends at the Oxford American and everyone who came out to see the film screen in Little Rock.
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.
After the excitement of being discovered in his home of rural West Virginia in the 1920s by representatives from a recording company, Dock Boggs saw his music career dissolve quickly. Miraculously, the folk revival of the 1960s resurrected Boggs and his singular mountain-style banjo (thanks in no small part to Alan Lomax,) but in between his two big breaks, the musician spent thirty years at the bottom of a dark, dusty coal mine. It is understandable why a man who knew the struggles and triumphs of life so intimately, would want to celebrate the human spirit now rather than waiting for the afterlife. Leave it to a union man to make love into a call to action.
“Roses While I’m Living” puts a positive spin on the field recording tradition of expressing the hardships of life through song. And The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn is always one for a positive spin.
Vandaveer (Official Teaser)
If you listened only to his narrative of a scorned suitor’s terrible revenge in “Banks of the Ohio,” you might be reluctant to follow Vandaveer down a long dark corridor. But we took a chance in the name of an acetate, and let him lead.
We’ve lived in New York City for a collective eon. But we learned from Vandaveer that our own hometown still keeps secrets.
Amy LaVere (Official Teaser)
Amy LaVere is no stranger to chilling tales told through song. We have seen her sing both classic and original murder ballads with a masterfully woeful cadence. So, when she passed through Harlem on a bright and cold December weekend, it was a perfect opportunity to capture an acetate.
Amy granted our wish, laying down a chilling portrait of “The Railroad Boy” and the unlucky girl he scorned. The teaser tells a tiny piece of the tale of a life ruined by a callous lover, the consequences are to come…
The 78 Project: The Mynabirds “Roses While I’m Living”
It seems like we started another life when we started The 78 Project. One filled with humbling challenges we couldn’t have ever imagined we’d face (a few swipes of a paintbrush and a tiny needle are all that stand between failure and success?) but also overflowing with momentum and awe.
And so it is fitting that The Mynabirds‘ episode should come first in the new year, 2012. The shoot was a celebration of our first week of filming for The 78 Project, and the spirit of the night was one of joy and gratitude. We gathered friends together in Brooklyn for a backyard party, dragged the piano outside and, after dark, The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn sang for us. Her song, Dock Boggs’ “Roses While I’m Living,” is about appreciating life while we live it and appreciating those we love while they are around to receive it.
We wish you a Happy New Year with joy and gratitude! We hope 2012 brings you excitement and comfort in equal measure. And we hope to see you in person, perhaps record you, but definitely share with you the indescribable beauty of sound captured the old fashioned way.
With deepest appreciation,
The 78 Project
With every acetate we cut, we’re understanding more and more how miraculous it is to be able to capture and replay sound. Portable and accessible recording devices changed the lives of Americans in the 1920s and 30s. And one of the most important reasons they did, was that machines like our PRESTOs changed the way that radio broadcasts were made.
Before TV (but long after broadsheets) most Americans got their news and entertainment from their radios. 1920s radio shows were a far cry from the phone-prank-laden shock jock-hosted sound effect parades you hear during drive time today. Back then every round of applause or word of warning had to be made in the studio in real time.
But radio broadcasters realized the possibilities of field recorders right away, and dove right in, using them to create all kinds of messages for delayed broadcast. These “air checks” would include intros and outros for popular radio programs, news reports, recurring features that required content from outside the station, political messages, public service messages and more. It was the birth of syndication. Just imagine the faint crackle of record spinning every time you hear Ryan Seacrest start the Top 40 countdown…we have PRESTO to thank.
LISTEN: Kentucky Governor A.B. Chandler for the reelection of Franklin Roosevelt in 1936
LISTEN: January 27, 1937 aircheck of WSM/Nashville’s coverage of the great Ohio River Flood
These clips are from the archives of WHAS, LKY Radio in Kentucky. Radio geeks can hear dozens more vintage air checks on their website.