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.
In the comforts of early Fall, with the windows thrown open and nothing coming through but the sun, winter seems not to exist. It is just a story you’ve told and been told but never really believed; the cold a memory you can’t quite access from a distance.
On this particular warm fall day, months before the polar vortex and the snowiest winter in years, Cedric Watson, Sidi Toure, Abdoulaye Kone dit Kandjafa and Desiree Champagne – collectively known as International Blues Express – perform the story of “Pa’ Janvier.” At the end of a day spent drifting out to the porch and back into the kitchen, once the sun and the garden has charmed us all into a pleasant stillness, the song sends a chill into the room. The violin, ngoni and guitar harmonize in a mournful breath, like a high-pitched moan of cold wind through a crack in the door. And Cedric recounts an old Cajun tale of the icy hand of old man winter come to steal his love. Donne moi Pauline.
Now as we haunt our own houses through a forbidding winter, listening to the performance it could seem a prediction of what was to come. A fable that foretold our chilly fate.
See International Blues Express – “Hanna” (Part 1), a traditional Malian song sung by Sidi Toure.
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.