The last two years have been full of change. So many things to adapt to and decisions to make about how to proceed, how The 78 Project can contribute something new. Since the excitement of our movie tour, we have taken time to be quiet and patient. But while we’ve been regrouping, our travels have continued. We’ve had fascinating opportunities to cut records and connect with performers, generations of students and faculty and new audiences at fun and inspiring events.
One such trip was to The University of Pennsylvania to record with the Penn Arab Music Ensemble Trio: Hanna Khoury, Hafez Kotain, and Kinan Abou-afach. We were all there to speak to and record for the wonderfully engaged students of the Recording Music: Theory & Methods course.
The trio chose “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”, an ancient muwashshah, for their first side. The haunting melody rendered on Hanna’s violin felt like an invitation to follow the song through it’s long history. And as the Presto’s needle neared the center of the acetate, an urgency overtook the performance as well. After, Hanna said that when they perform “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”, they usually up the tempo near the end. But the fact that 3 minutes were fast approaching might also have had something to do with it.
“El Helwa Di” is a song by the renowned Egyptian composer Sayed Darwish. His music embodies both the traditional and the groundbreaking of his time, which makes this the perfect choice for The Penn Arab Music Ensemble Trio’s flipside, a recording that fuses past and present together in a moment.
Recorded November 16, 2016 at The University of Pennsylvania Department of Music.
Special thanks to Eugene Lew for inviting us. It’s been our honor to meet so many current and future documentarians, musicologists and recording engineers.
On a warm morning in Memphis, during our Southern Road Trip, we met Star & Micey in St. Mary’s Cathedral. They started the day with this sweet and haunting version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, and as the days warm up and we start this summer, we’re excited to share it with you.
We think about this performance often, the beauty of the sound and the setting, the way loneliness can be soothed by singing. So it was a joy to include it in the bonus materials included with The 78 Project Movie. And to share even more of this immense journey with you.
Star & Micey – “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
Shot on the road in Memphis, TN September 4, 2012
Thank you again to the city of Memphis and all of our dear friends there.
A confession may come with remorse, but not always. And a murder ballad, though its murderer is long since buried, can still feel full of menace.
Honus Honus was not one to let a listener off the hook when he performed “Down in the Willow Garden”, smuggling the song’s jagged edge in behind a playful keyboard riff.
Our first road trip was just beginning when Honus Honus invited us over to a friend’s home in Philadelphia. The setting was perfectly evocative and we were all eager to cut a record. But this time the tale of woe wasn’t just in the song. The dead of summer proved to be the death of Presto #1.
A tense few moments passed as we worked away. Off came the platter, the belt, the tubes.
Honus Honus waited patiently by with his accomplice Kara Nelson. When at last the disc was spinning, their gruesome tale began in terrible perfection.
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
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.
The afternoon sun streaming in through the windows took on a longing feel as our Presto clicked on and John Reilly & Tom Brosseau started their haunting harmonies. Though moments before the bright L.A. light seemed gentle and sweet, their performance of the lost love lament “Careless Love” was so perfectly harmonized and utterly heartbreaking, by the time the record was full, it had made even the sunshine understand the song’s timeless yearning.
Our Official Nationwide Release Tour for The 78 Project Movie continues as we cruise up the West Coast to show the film in Seattle and Portland at two amazing independent theaters. We can’t wait to see you there!
Northwest Film Forum
Sunday, September 14, 7:00 pm
1515 12th Avenue
Monday, September 15, 7:30 pm
4122 NE Sandy Boulevard
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!