Saturday, April 26, 2008
The last of the great folk music archivists
There's not a link to it on the New Yorker site yet, but there is a wonderful article about folk music, field recording, folk music collecting, and folk music collections, by Burkhard Bilger, called The Last Verse. There is a great audio interview with Bilger under the title The New Yorker Out Loud at the New Yorker website. The audio interview is also available at iTunes.
The story profiles Dust-To-Digital collector and producer Lance Ledbetter and collector Art Rosenbaum, and their attempts to track down the last of the folk songs (many songs released recently on the album The Art of Field Recording. In between we meet John and Alan Lomax, blues singer Sweet Petunia Bryant and folk singers Bonnie Loggins and Mary Lomax.
I've been lucky enough to meet a few of these song and record collectors, and to hear the family music played firsthand. (Let me clarify, I've not met Ledbetter or Rosenbaum, but collectors, producers and archivists like them. And the musicians I've heard sing old songs in kitchens are primary Cajuns and Creoles in Louisiana.)
For any music fan, this is an article to seek out and read.