This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the inestimably important American folklorist/archivist/filmmaker/author/everything Alan Lomax. Unsurprisingly, there’s a plethora of commemorative events planned: a film marathon in Louisville, KY, a 13-hour radio marathon in Portland, a concert in London, England. And there will surely be some kind of boxed set of music. The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), an organization Lomax Founded at Hunter College in the 1980s, is the keeper of his legacy, and is the source to keep an eye on for announcements. It’s also a treasure trove of recorded media.
Lomax started out by accompanying his famous father, the musicologist and folklorist John Lomax, on field recording trips, documenting musicians in the American South, and went from there to an incredibly distinguished career in preserving and promoting small, obscure, important pockets of America’s cultural heritage. He helped build the Library of Congress’ song archive, and played a significant role in the promotion of American folk music, helping bring the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Muddy Waters, and Burl Ives to records, radio, and mass audiences. If you want the huge gaps in that bio filled in, there’s the ACE bio, and of course there are tons of books, written by Lomax, and written about him.
Since there’s just so much to his career that an omnibus post about Lomax would be an absurd undertaking, I thought it’d be a fun tribute to focus on a lesser known but still badass preservation project of his. In 1982, Lomax spent a lot of time in New Orleans with a video crew, recording that city’s famed jazz musicians, especially brass bands. There is some really hot stuff in here, including the world-famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and a lot these videos have criminally low view counts. Some of that footage was compiled for the DVD Jazz Parades: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, which is viewable at no cost online here. He taped parades, funerals, indoor concerts, everywhere. So enjoy these documents of a 100% uniquely American music, and see if the Ernie K-Doe video doesn’t totally SLAY you. Captions are culled from the ACE web site.
Whole lotta Lomax after the jump!