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Author Topic: American Epic PBS  (Read 5667 times)

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Offline Kokomo O

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #105 on: July 17, 2017, 08:34:12 AM »
Yeah, you never know how seeds will get planted. My 17-year-old's English teacher from last school year turned out to be a lover of old time country and rural blues music, as well as some more modern variants. I found this out because one day my son walked into my study/guitar room and said "Ever hear of a guy named Mississippi John Hurt?" Of course, I said nothing, picked up the guitar that was in standard and played Louis Collins. He then asked about Reverend Peyton and South Memphis String Band, and naturally I already had music by both in my library, plus more by members of the latter. Then it was "How about the Carter Family?" It's good to stay a few steps ahead of the young 'uns.

Offline StoogeKebab

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #106 on: July 18, 2017, 07:27:16 AM »
It's good to stay a few steps ahead of the young 'uns.

As a young 'un, there's a smug part of me that enjoys outdoing the older people knowledge wise (then again, my 27 year old Blues Fan music teacher is still older to me :P ) who condescend to me, expecting me to know little about what I'm talking about, but there's a bigger part of me that's supremely grateful for anyone who is a few (or in the case of many on this site, more than a few) 'steps ahead', who has new stuff, stories, insight etc. - seems to me to be the best way to learn about and explore the genre and the people involved in it. A passionately written email, letter or 70 cents per minute international phone call from the late Bob West, or an anecdote shared by someone here on this site was/is sure as hell more interesting than a purely academic or shallow editorial article (just thought I'd clarify that I'm not grouping all academic writing or editorial writing, or even the majority of it under this category) written by someone who's a few steps removed from everything, not trying to put forward any new ideas. I suppose in those cases it's just the nature of writing for a mass market.

Seeing the personal stories about significant figures or even people's own lives in American Epic (my imported Blu Ray having just arrived last week, thank you Australian TV networks for how up to date I am) and in particular the way Dick Spottswood spoke about Mississippi John Hurt was incredible.

Not appreciating Allons Lafayette being stuck in my head now though. I've always found the best way to get rid of an ear worm is to learn it, but the language has made it somewhat difficult with this one...

In reference to DerZauberer's point about NAS, I'm definitely bringing that up when I get back to school next week, I'm curious now to see the response.
Confident that I'm probably almost definitely the youngest record label owner in my street

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Offline Stuart

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #107 on: July 19, 2017, 10:01:55 AM »
Hi StoogeKebab:

In today's world there is so much more available and accessible than there was when I was coming up in the 1960s. My advice is to take full advantage of it. Try to absorb as much as possible while you have the time to do it.

As for older people appearing to be patronizing or condescending, it's probably due to erroneous assumptions on the part of certain individuals--they're older and therefore have been at it longer and have had more time to acquire the knowledge base and/or skill set. Just let it go, unless of course it's an attitude thing, in which case they deserve to be put in their place. Serves them right. They asked for it.

I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to outdo them "knowledge-wise." Gaining encyclopedic knowledge is the easy part. Getting the "understanding-wise" part down ain't so easy.

The Mississippi John Hurt part of the American Epic series was great, IMHO. I never met Mississippi John, but I bet I could live ten lifetimes and never approach what he had "understanding wise."


Offline Stuart

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #108 on: July 19, 2017, 12:16:39 PM »
Not appreciating Allons Lafayette being stuck in my head now though. I've always found the best way to get rid of an ear worm is to learn it, but the language has made it somewhat difficult with this one...

You could just imitate what you hear. So what? if you don't understand it. There will be time in the future to learn if you want. In the past, films were sometimes shot in languages foreign to the actors--they spoke the dialog in a foreign language they didn't know, with coaching of course. The films were then marketed to audiences in non-English speaking countries. It was done pre-dubbing and pre-subtitles. It's still done in films when a character is portrayed as knowing a foreign language.

There are resources for Cajun French on the web. Here are a few I ran across during some superficial browsing:

http://www.lsu.edu/hss/french/undergraduate_program/cajun_french/what_is_cajun.php

https://sites.google.com/site/louisianafrench/

http://www.cajunradio.org/language.html

LSU is a ways away, but who knows? Maybe you'll have the opportunity to visit Louisiana in the future.

And don't ignore the triangle:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103090094

I was blown away when I first heard Joseph Falcon's "Arcadian One-Step" on the AAFM back in the 1960s. It's still one of my all time favorites (and BTW, I still don't understand it):



http://theanthologyofamericanfolkmusic.blogspot.com/2010/03/arcadian-one-step-joseph-falcon.html


Offline Hwy80

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #109 on: August 27, 2017, 06:49:12 PM »
I've been listening to the 5CD box of these 100 tracks today.  The set is first rate and imo the main thing about this project.  The series episodes were hit or miss and not nearly as valuable as the excellently remastered original recordings.

I read through this entire thread - great discussion.

Regards,
~ David

Offline BlindSockeyeSalmon

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #110 on: August 27, 2017, 07:17:20 PM »
Agree 100%. The restorations are masterful. The rest of the project is far less significant to me. Would love to hear them to with Uncle Bunt Stephens's "Candy Girl" what they did with "Sail Away Ladies". The extant transfers are good but as perhaps the greatest fiddle recording ever it would be deserving of this extra treatment.
http://sugarinthegourd.com
Old-Time, All the Time

Offline Stuart

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #111 on: August 27, 2017, 08:51:16 PM »
I'm listening to Disc 4, track 14--Sleepy John's "Someday Baby" as I write this. Excellent remastering all around. I think the PBS series/video and the book help drive the CD/book set sales which in turn helps pay for the remastering. So if they continue along these lines, it will be (remastered) music to my ears. There's no such thing as bad publicity, IMHO--hit or miss as it may be.

Offline DerZauberer

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #112 on: August 30, 2017, 05:15:14 AM »
I absolutely LOVE those recordings. This is the quality level I'd really like to see for many of my favourite artists's complete discographies (all of Bukka White, Blind Willie Johnson, House/Patton/etc. to start with)!

However, a sweet little TV documentary is so much easier access for the casual viewer/listener, catchy sound samples of many songs plus images and real people versus still-scratchy old records. Plus, again, I think the number of "current" artists showing up for the session has an impact on "current" music lovers that we should not underestimate.

I had an e-Mail exchange with John Tefteller a while before, asking him to elaborate on what was done to the records for his then-latest calendar CD... all he would reveal was that it was very labour intensive and the results are great/phenomenal/etc. - now, quite a lot of time later, I have to say he's absolutely right. All-around great project I would still say.

I would even go as far as saying that the CD set could be the new "Anthology of Folk Music", but maybe that's taking it too far... but hey, only time will tell.
"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House

Offline Chezztone

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #113 on: September 22, 2017, 10:14:46 AM »
OK, I finally watched some more of the series (got the DVDs from the library). Certainly there is a lot to enjoy. I do recommend watching. I'll probably watch it all again sometime. But I have a couple big criticisms:
1. Still, as usual for these kinds of projects, way too much emphasis on the "forerunner" theory. I.e., these artists are great because they influenced later pop stars. "Gee, without Charley Patton there would have been no Howlin Wolf, no Rolling Stones, maybe even no White Stripes?!"
2. The filmmakers' effort to find and interview family members or others directly connected to the original artists, instead of just relying on pop stars' comments, was a great idea. Besides the excellent sound restoration, it's pretty much what sets this project apart from other similar documentaries. However, just because you're descended from someone doesn't mean you are an expert on the person's music or even the person's life! The filmmakers don't seem to get that. The descendants say she did this, she thought that, etc., but most of it is family folklore, not actual history or insight.

Offline DerZauberer

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Re: American Epic PBS
« Reply #114 on: September 25, 2017, 04:49:22 AM »
1) I see that as well, but would put it down to some degree of mass market appeal. I mean, the Stones are in their 70s, the White Stripes long defunct, so how do you relate any of this to a young(er) TV audience without these references? I think it's easier to take the road of marking the influence the music has until today than just pointing out the beauty of the music itself. One is an undeniable fact, the other is personal sentiment. So I don't mind this at all. And to be fair - without this music's influence on the Folk and Rock scene, how much would we know about it today?
2) 100% agree. Nice touch, some nice memories (where possible), but a couple of generations away there's not much "real" connection left (apart from the few that focus on their forebear's legacy or are engaged in some form of Blues history project).
"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House