Waking up to this chilly December morning, we thought some warm memories might be in order. Enjoy these two clips from The 78 Project Movie, of Joe Bussard at home in Maryland, and the Reverend John Wilkins in Mississippi. They’re both featured tracks on the Original Soundtrack to The 78 Project Movie on vinyl + digital, now available in The 78 Project Shop!
Joe Bussard – “Guitar Rag”
Shot in Frederick, MD, December 2012
Reverend John Wilkins “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me”
Shot at Hunters Chapel in Como, MS, August 2012
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.
It was the true spirit of mobility, a genuine adventure. Rooting around a dark alley for a power source, decent light, bright sound and a clean-ish, flat surface for the Presto and for the ladies’ fancy shoes.
It was late at night, and there was an energy, a happiness, a spark still glowing from the show The Wandering had just played at Joe’s Pub. They slipped out the back after their encore was through to make a record with us in the alley. Five voices with the fife as their sixth, bouncing joyfully off the concrete and mixing together in the warm spring air.
Did we feel it? We hadn’t noticed. A train went by, fast, beneath our feet. The Wandering, more accustomed to standing on solid ground than we New Yorkers, felt it rumble. The Presto felt it, too. Leaving a pretty-looking zig and a zag on the groove to mark it’s passing, a note stuck forever to the surface of the record telling exactly what their tapping feet had sensed.
We might have never gotten to sleep that night, it’s true. The excitement of the glorious recording lit us all up so, band, crew and friends alike. Had The Wandering’s flipside not been just the right reverie, the perfect song for the night’s end, we might have vibrated right through till morning. It was so beautiful in its calm, so right in its gentle longing, “Rock My Soul” brought us fluttering right back down to earth.
Buy it on iTunes.
Tomorrow is a family day. Not that every day isn’t, it’s just that this week in particular we make such an effort to gather together our loved ones. Putting aside the stress and distance, it’s a wonderful thing to find that we are all joined in such a profound bond; that we are not the first, nor will we be the last to experience the world. It’s not our sole responsibility to navigate it.
Holly Williams’ family has a vibrant musical story. As Hank Williams’ granddaughter, she has a birthright of song. And because her husband, Chris Coleman, is a musician, singing and playing guitar is something they can share as a family. When we visited them in Nashville, they sang “Amazing Grace,” together in their home with their dogs at their feet. It was the picture and sound of togetherness and warmth.
Our second day in our week of giving thanks recalls another week not too long ago when we felt very fortunate. Just after returning from our first recording trip to the South, The 78 Project was invited to participate in IFP’s Independent Film Week in New York as part of the Spotlight on Documentaries. We were so honored, and we wanted to do something special as a way of showing our appreciation. So we invited our dear friend Timmy Mislock (The Antlers, Abandoned Lighthouse) to record a 78 with us during our screening time at the conference. Timmy sang “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down” for a rapt audience of filmmakers and industry and a few invited friends. And we played it back for everyone right there in the room!
There are things that the Presto seems to know inherently, surprising and wonderful things that pop out of our recordings when we play them back. The tapping of a foot on a floorboard, the chirping of a bird filtered through glass, the high praise-pitch of a fife brightly bouncing down a dark alley.
The Wandering assembled late one May night on the concrete behind Joe’s Pub in New York to play the classic gospel “Glory, Glory,” the five members of the Memphis group carefully shuffling themselves around to mix the sounds. Luther Dickinson, Valerie June, Shannon McNally and Amy LaVere each found their place, and the voices and instruments mixed beautifully as it all came together. Everywhere Shardé Thomas stood, however, the Presto seemed to hear her fife particularly. It’s the fife that her grandfather, the great Othar Turner, made with his own hands. And it was almost as if the Presto knew that sound, like the voice of an old friend carrying across a room.
It reminded us that the fife and the Presto both had lives before we were born, have a history we can only imagine, might have known each other in another life as contemporaries.
Buy the music on iTunes.