After a 1961 series of concerts featuring Roscoe Holcomb, Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson, Alan Lomax invited the artists and a who’s who of the folk revival back to his West 3rd Avenue apartment for an impromptu song swap. Filming was arranged on the fly and a raw, many-layered evocation of the art and attitude of the period emerges from the footage, with some of the biggest names of the era, old timers and revivalists alike.
Archive for the ‘New Lost City Ramblers’ Category
“Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Folk Music Revival” by Ray Allen (University of Illinois Press, 2010)
[After the publication of The Anthology of American Folk Music, Harry Smith donated his collection of 78 rpm records to the New York City Public Library. Here is part of the story of how the New Lost City Ramblers heard all those records.]
“THE NEW LOST CITY RAMBLERS: Always Been A Rambler” (DVD: Arhoolie Foundation AFV-204)
Presented by the Arhoolie Foundation, this is a beautifully produced DVD that is successful both as a documentary of a very important and influential group and as a storehouse of good music (there are around 50 full or partial songs & tunes, some in black & white and others in full color). It is certainly a worthy tribute to a band that took rural American music (what Arhoolie’s Chris Strachwitz calls “the real stuff”) to a new generation –not for their own aggrandizement, but because of a wish to share some amazing music that otherwise might have been lost. In addition to playing numerous concerts all over the world in a career that spanned 50 years, the group discovered and introduced such old-time giants as Dock Boggs, Tom Ashley, Roscoe Holcombe and Elizabeth Cotton to an ever growing and appreciative young audience.
This well-edited film includes interviews with Ramblers Mike Seeger, John Cohen, Tom Paley and Tracy Schwarz, as well as other contemporary and later artists; it makes use of some rare film footage from the band’s earliest days and more recent shows, but it also provides musical performances by a lot of other folks from Doc Watson and Tom Ashley to Ricky Skaggs. Especially nice is a song by Sara & Maybelle Carter, and some precious color footage of Cajun artists Dewey & Rodney Balfa. Toward the end of the DVD (which runs over 80 minutes) there are snippets of performances by several of today’s young “old-time” groups including Rayna Gellert, The Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Stairwell Sisters (though it’s kind of amusing and incongruous to see a group of five young ladies singing about “climbing ole SugarHill”!). The quality of both video and sound is excellent on this fine film by Yasha Aginsky.