American Epic

American Epic

DVD - 2017
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The big bang: At the height of the Roaring Twenties, music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology set out across America to capture the unsung voices of everyday folk. Blood and soil: America's poor--cotton field slaves, mine workers, sharecroppers--find freedom through music, creating gospel, protest songs, and Delta blues. Out of the many, the one: Exotic cultures spanning America are captured on record for the first time, inventing new instruments and new cultural identities. The American epic sessions: Jack White and T Bone Burnett produce an epic recording session using the only working 1920s recording device in existence in this tribute to the artists celebrated in the American epic documentaries.


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Feb 28, 2018

This is a superb documentary of the origins of American regional music, covering delta blues, bluegrass, Appalachian, Cajun, Native American and Hawaiian. Disc B includes live recording sessions by the descendants of the early pioneers of the 20's and features performances by Steve Martin (banjo), Elton John (piano) Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (guitars). The star of the show however is the lovingly restored disc-cutting lathe, the only one still in existence, with its weighted pulley, condenser microphone, tube amplifiers, platter and cutting stylus, and last but not least that cute bellows attachment for sucking away the debris as the cutting stylus cuts the grooves. The whole ensemble is driven by gravity, when that 105 lb lead weight reaches the floor the artist's three minutes of recording time is up, and each recording is synchronized by elaborate gears operating with the precision of a cuckoo clock! I wasn't aware that electric recording of sound hadn't happened until 1925; that's amazing when you consider that the first optically recorded movie soundtrack was only two years later.


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