The companion to the TV series: how America first heard itself on record.
This handsome package – a 100-page book with 5-CDs – giftwraps 100 superb and exceptionally well remastered examples of American vernacular music, ranging from blues, gospel and old-time to Cajun, Hawaiian, Hispanic and Native American. The theme is America’s discovery of its own musical culture through “race” and “old time” records made in the 1920s and ’30s, often on location in cities like Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas and New Orleans. Here are Charley Patton and Charlie Poole, Lydia Mendoza and Cleoma Breaux, Gus Cannon and Dock Boggs. Here are the stories of John Henry and Stackalee, the Panama Limited and Death’s black train, crossroads and dirt roads and railroads, The Carter Family’s weeping willow and Skip James’s cypress grove. Sixtyfive years after Harry Smith’s epochal Anthology Of American Folk Music, this is a collection that can stand side by side with it. Tony Russell