Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Amazing Grace

The history of music is the history of the essence of mankind. I have long been fascinated with roots music, and once worked on a project based on Native American melodies (click here to listen). Two new sets of recordings, one originating in Chicago, the other in Africa, document some of the best moments of our common heritage.
"The Old Town School of Folk Music has had a lot of legendary and influential artists pass through its doors during its 55 years, and many of them have been documented on recordings that up until now have been available only to the school’s music students and teachers.
Now Old Town is beginning to roll out some of that huge archive to the public, with an initial batch of 127 songs, “Live at the Old Town School” Vol. 1-4, available at several digital stores (iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby). These include performances from Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, Andrew Bird, Jeff Tweedy, Toumani Diabete, Pete Seeger, Steve Earle and Mahalia Jackson, among others. They make up a thrilling you-are-there hodge-podge of roots music, culled from street tapes made by fans to sound-board digital recordings by professional mixing engineers."

Read more:      Old Town School Song Archive      Chicago Tribune
Read more:      Old Town School of Folk Music Expands      Chicago Tribune

"Jonathan Ward's music room in his second-floor Angeleno Heights walk-up is a tight, comfortable space with three walls full of records and itsy speakers hung high on the walls in acoustically precise intervals. The 39-year-old writer, archivist, collector and perhaps most important, listener, has just received his copy of a project that has consumed him for the last 14 months. “Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM,” is a four-disc, 100-song collection and companion book of never before compiled regional African music from the early 1900s through the '60s. Much of it is culled from fragile original shellac recordings that have miraculously survived a journey across space and time to land on Ward's shelves."

Read more:       Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM       LA Times