We’re thrilled to announce that The 78 Project Movie will have its New York Premiere on August 5 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center Sound + Vision series. It’s an honor to be showing The 78 Project Movie at the beautiful Walter Reade Theater, and it will be a joy to share this film with our first hometown audience.
To celebrate this momentous hometown screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, we will be on hand at the theater with our Presto and cameras and a special guest musician to demonstrate the exciting process of cutting a 78rpm record live. We’ll also share a few stories from our travels across America to shoot The 78 Project Movie.
This will be the second edition of The Film Society of Lincoln Center Sound + Vision series, the annual documentary series that explores a diverse range of music, artists, genres and styles from all over the world, and we’re honored to be among such a fantastic lineup of music docs.
In the coming months we’ll have more exciting news about the movie. It will be showing in theaters around the country, and you’ll even have the chance to request a screening in your own town. In the meantime, make sure you’re signed up for our email list so that we can keep in touch and keep you informed with new screening dates, new episodes and new songs!
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.
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 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:
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.
Sid Selvidge is a performer and folk music scholar of the highest order. It’s a well-deserved rap he caught from devoting himself congenially and tirelessly to knowing the people and learning the songs of the South. And of course, to contributing his own songs to the story. Sid is a walking record of Delta music and the American folk scene as it has been and as it is, with stories for days and an ear ready for any new ones you might want to share with him.
Sid had a memory of the Frank Stokes song “I Got Mine” from hearing it on a sampler, he recalled it being catchy and sly. A song that puts its singer in the shoes of a rascally gambler out for a good time. But as he discovered, listening to it again, the exact lyrics are hard to make out. He looked them up, and found enough different versions to keep you confused for a week. So, acting in the truest folk music spirit, Sid just picked the words he liked and rolled with it, the version that now goes on record as his.
Things do change and stay the same in equal parts. For Sid, his son Steve, and for us the day we recorded them together in Memphis, that meant hearing Sid singing a song he’d sung so many times before, but in a changed voice and on a very old format. It was Sid’s idea, to hear the old and the new together this way, the perfect test of time, and the perfect record of place.
A beautiful afternoon filled with end-of-summer sunlight hid the rainstorm that was on the horizon. Our week in Memphis had been full of surprises, and our last day there was no different.
Sid walked in first, and his son Steve followed with their guitars. While we set up, father and son filled the room with stories of Memphis past and present. Sid can tell tales of Tennessee music for days, and you’d never want to miss one minute. He’s been there for it, and not only can he tell it, he can play it for you, too.
They settled in to pick and slide through a mischievous version of “I Got Mine,” two styles of playing that spin on the same axis. And when the story was told and the song finished, we heard two generations echo “It’s a record.”
Our deepest thanks to Ward Archer. For so many things!
This weekend marked The 78 Project’s one year anniversary. Labor Day weekend of 2011 we had a marathon first three shoots, Dawn Landes in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Reverend John DeLore and Kara Suzanne at the High Horse Saloon, and The Mynabirds in our backyard in Williamsburg (the episodes from those shoots are reposted below!) We knew then that something special was happening.
We talked many times this year about a time when we’d be on the road, traveling to record. Now that we are, it’s every bit as challenging and spectacular as we dreamed it could be. We’re so thankful for the wonderful generosity of the musicians, friends and enthusiasts who have helped us to take The 78 Project this far. This first year’s work is dedicated to you all.
The first three Full-length Episodes of The 78 Project, shot August 31 – September 1, 2011 in New York: