Alan Lomax Archives on Youtube
The recent web debut of the Alan Lomax Archives channel is a treasure trove for musicians and listeners of all types of American vernacular music. The clips all were filmed between 1978 and 1985, mostly in North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. The material reflects Mr. Lomax’s fervent desire to record local music varietals before the onslaught of mainstream media homogenization. Many of the clips were from a TV production “American Patchwork” that eventually aired on PBS in 1991.
The most well known musician in the series is R.L. Burnside. Here he’s playing a scorching electric tune solo in front of a barb wire fence. It just gets better after that. The material of course ranges far and wide with sacred harp, gut bucket blues, NOLA brass, folk ballads, all in abundance.
Most of the musicians likely never made a recording afterward, but due to Lomax’s calling, their songs have been preserved. This channel eventually leads to the even deeper collection at Cultural Equity. Clearly the material is staggeringly unique. Take some time this cold winter to bask in the warmth of some hot blues.