Our Episodes on the Big Screen!

There’s nothing more fun in the summer in New York than watching movies, indoors in the air conditioned dark. Which is why we’re happy to announce an opportunity to see episodes of The 78 Project on the big screen this month in New York City. We might even take a quick break from editing to go see some movies while we’re making one!

We’re honored to have been selected by IFC Center to have episodes of our New York web series screen before most feature films that play in the theater. There will be a different episode of The 78 Project playing each week until September. Why not go see them all? There’s enough great movies playing at IFC this month to go back every day! Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook page for more details. We’ll announce which episode is playing at the start of each week! And we’ll be there, if you want to sit with us.

Episode #18: There’s Water Now: Watch and hear Victoria Williams’ “Bath Song”

Just on the other side of the steepest mountain in Echo Park, and many miles west of the desert cafe where we first met her, Victoria Williams invited us over for an evening of songs and record-making. The L.A. night was cold, but the house was warm and alive with some friends – including her dog Beau – and home-cooked food.

Victoria wanted what would be to be; she had happily followed Beau’s lead to the restaurant in Joshua Tree where we had also stopped on a whim, and as we set up that night, she was excited to find out what surprises “Bath Song” would bring at 78rpm. It seemed like a moment that had become inevitable since we left New York, wondering who we would meet, somehow thinking it might be her. The Presto clicked off, closing the circle, and our California road trip felt complete.

Our thanks to Gabe Noel for his beautiful musical contributions to this recording and to Robert for his kind and generous hospitality.

Episode #17: Leave You Not Alone: Watch and hear Jackson Lynch’s “Roving Cowboy” recording from the Brooklyn Folk Festival

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.

May Adventures Past and Present: Cannes and daring recordings in an alley, on air, and onstage

May has turned out to be a momentous month for The 78 Project, each year it brings opportunities and joys we can hardly imagine.  This year May finds us in France!  Thanks to our fiscal sponsors and wonderful supporters at IFP we are participating in the first year of the Cannes Cross Media Corner, taking place during this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Thinking back to last May, we realized we were on a similarly adventurous bent, as in just one week we had the chance to record with The Wandering in a New York City alleyway at night, to appear live on WNYC Soundcheck recording with Justin Townes Earle, and to share an incredible evening of music at City Winery with our friends and supporters, culminating in a live onstage recording with Marshall Crenshaw.

In anticipation of the exciting week to come, a look back at this exciting week from one year ago:



Episode #16: Look Up, Look Down: Watch and hear John Cohen’s “Danville Girl” recording from the Brooklyn Folk Fest

Our afternoon workshop at the 5th annual Brooklyn Folk Fest felt momentous. It was finally Spring! It was Record Store Day! It was the midpoint in a weekend of exceptional folk music, a gathering of some of the finest musicians and most enthusiastic appreciators around. And we were honored to be scheduled just before Anna Lomax presented her father’s film “Ballads, Blues and Bluegrass.” We were among friends and fellows, with legendary banjo player and historian John Cohen in front of our mic.

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.


Family Story: Hear Christopher King tell the birth of Riley at 78rpm

So often they seem beyond belief, the yarns that are spun around town and around dinner tables, late in the night or in passing on the street.  They are mostly told secondhand. Or third.  Stories from the family lore too wild to think they could have actually happened, and so exciting and colorful we would hardly want to live in a world where they couldn’t.

Often a delightful dubiousness is added to these tales by the distance they traveled to reach our ears, the wine, and the festive manner of telling. This was not the case on the summery night when our friend, acclaimed 78 collector and producer Christopher King, shared with us his family fables. His were told firsthand, and with demonstrations to help us picture the action.

“Did we tell you how our daughter, Riley, was born?” He asked us later, nonchalant as he cleared our plates.  After the stories his family had already shared, of ceiling snakes and hatchets and the town where they live in Virginia, we knew this legend, saved for last, must be the best one.

Episode #15: The warmth of our spirits: Dylan LeBlanc “Innocent Sinner” video clip and acetate

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.

Getting to Know the PRESTO – #8 – On Needles (and Pins)

Things that have been used as needles for record players in a pinch: Cactus needles (like the ones to the right at the Smithsonian which belonged to Moses Asch,) shards of bone, ivory and glass, hatpins, nails, safety pins, sewing needles, paper clips, and even lasers.

If it’s pointy, you can believe someone’s tried to run it across a record to see if some sound will come out.  But most of these impromptu options will ruin your record!  And, of course, when it comes to cutting a record, you can’t use just anything. If you want that disc to last, and sound its best, you’re going to need a gemstone.

We discovered at the Library of Congress – during our (sanctioned!) exploration of Alan Lomax’s own PRESTO – that Lomax used sapphire cutting styli.  We saw them on his order reports…pricey for the 1930s! Diamonds make great cutters, too. But for us only Apollo-made Transco rubies will do!

During our California road trip, we were fortunate enough to tour the factory where our ruby-tipped cutting needles are made, and as we said at the time, we were in awe of the careful process by which each individual stylus is brought to life.  Hundreds of tiny ruby slivers are fit one at a time by hand into individual metal settings (you can see them in the pictures on the right and below) then aligned and sharpened in 8 stages by carefully calibrated lasers and grinding and polishing stones.

The result? A tool as much a unique work of art as the records it will cut.  Hatpins need not apply.


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