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!
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.
Exciting news seems to come with each new day at The 78 Project this summer. We’re overflowing with updates and music to share with you.
This week we’re happy to announce that The 78 Project Movie will screen on August 18 at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY as part of their Sounds of Summer series. And we’ll be there to answer questions and swap stories! Tickets are available now through the Jacob Burns Film Center website:
Jacob Burns Film Center
Sounds of Summer
August 18, 2014 7:30 pm
Though her song explores a weighty subject, Sea of Bees
is a person of celebratory spirit. Which makes her 78, “In My Time of Dying” – recorded for The 78 Project Movie
at her home in Sacramento – feel like the perfect acetate to accompany this happy news.
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.
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.
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.
The Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ on a warm August day was ethereal, filled with morning light and the excitement of a new record about to be made. The Secret Sisters had a glowing loveliness brighter even than the stained glass as they warmed up to make their 78. While we set up, the girls took out the hymnal and sang their way through it. They knew every song, and their voices from so many years of praise and practice, were like perfectly tuned church bells ringing from their happiness.
Lydia and Laura were raised in the church at home in Alabama. So singing a hymn brought back memories of their childhood. But their flipside, “Little Again” is an even more personal tune, sung by the two little girls who grew up together, running in rivers, scraping their knees, and building a sweet sisterly closeness into a lifelong musical bond.
Thank you to the Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville for generously letting us in and lending us their beautiful space.
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.