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!
Some things never change, and we like them that way. It’s comforting to sit in the same taped up vinyl booth in our local rock club, and to know that a simple, well-crafted rock riff will always make us feel good.
With his timeless songwriting and style, John Paul Keith was right at home in front of our Presto surrounded by the decor of Memphis’ Hi-Tone Cafe. His flipside song sums it up perfectly, how someone can exist in many different moments all at once. The comfort of the old, the lure of the new, and the place in between where we find ourselves most times.
The beginning of a new week means just a few days are left in our 7 days of 78s…and that a holiday weekend is in sight! Just in case you were afraid your Monday might lack a little flavor, we have a dash of Memphis hot sauce to add to it. Trust us, it cooks.
We’ve heard that when you’re in Memphis, every night is like the end of the world. After our last full day there, which we packed with a marathon three recordings, we’re pretty sure we know what that means. The Bo-Keys and Percy Wiggins were our final shoot of the day, and we arrived bone-weary and excited beyond belief. A splendidly shabby room packed with incredible musicians, the dark Memphis night for a backdrop, and a bold, old-school, no-holds barred sound that challenged our mic and carved itself into a perfect record.
Our journey to make The 78 Project Feature-length documentary film starts today. This morning the Presto will be packed in snugly with a stash of blank discs and new needles, our Canons with a cache of memory cards and lenses. There will be no room left for anything else, so we might need to borrow your socks.
We are headed to Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, Nashville and Memphis, TN, and points in between. This leg of the journey goes until early September, but we’ll be traveling for the film shoots for the rest of 2012, so we’ll be visiting many, many more places.
There will be photos every day, we promise. They’ll go straight to our Facebook, so “like” us there to see ’em! Also follow us on Twitter for daily news. If you’re on our Email list, we’ll catch you up each week on events and stories, and send you sounds and clips that we’ve captured. If you’re not signed up for our list yet, enter your email in the field on our homepage sidebar.
We’ve never been so excited as we are at this moment, preparing to meet new people, hear new songs, visit hometowns and hometown haunts and seek out music where it lives. We’re grateful to have you along for this adventure!
Thank you to our amazing new friends at Stumptown Coffee Roasters for fueling our mornings on the road!