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!
The massive white buildings of Capitol Hill in Washington DC house some of the most dreamt-of pieces of recorded music history in America. This week, we had the incredible opportunity to visit them. We have never experienced anything so breathtaking as being led through these collections of our nation’s greatest folk music treasures.
Todd Harvey, the curator of the Alan Lomax Collection at the Library of Congress, pulled some documents and artifacts for us to see including acetate sleeves containing handwritten tracklists from Lead Belly field recordings, expense reports from Alan’s expeditions, original Mississippi Fred McDowell tapes and – here’s where our hearts stopped – one of the Lomax’s PRESTO units. Alex was given permission to start putting their PRESTO back together with parts he found in a compartment underneath. Lavinia was allowed to dig her hand into the unit under the platter to pull out used needles that had been thrown down there during the Lomax’s trip.
Jeff Place at the Smithsonian’s Rinzler Archives gave us a tour of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Highlights included Moses Asch’s microphone, Woody Guthrie’s artwork, letters from Lead Belly, a staggering folk record collection, and decades worth of acetate and tape field recordings. Our last stop was to meet the fine folks at Smithsonian Folkways who are hard at work digitizing and releasing music from the collections. They laughed when they found out we were going the opposite way with our recording project.
A full set of photos from the trip is up on our Facebook. It was the most exciting two days of our lives. We’re still recovering.