FOLK AMERICA

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Three-part, three-hour documentary series on American folk music, tracing its history from the recording boom of the 1920s to the folk revival of the 1960s.

Episode I. Birth Of A Nation

The opening episode looks at how, in the 1920s, record companies scoured the American south for talent to sell. This was a golden age of American music, as the likes of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Poole, Dock Boggs and Mississippi John Hurt burst onto record, eager to have a share in the new industry and the money it made, only to lapse into obscurity when the depression hit at the start of the 30s. 

Contributors include Judy Collins, Steve Earle, Tom Paxton and Pete Seeger, surviving relations of 1920s greats such as Mississippi John Hurt, the Carter Family and Uncle Dave Macon, plus three actual survivors of the era - guitarist Slim Bryant, banjoist Wade Mainer and Delta bluesman 'Honeyboy' Edwards.

 

Episode II. This Land Is Your Land

In the depression of the 1930s, John Lomax found convicted murderer Leadbelly in a southern jail. Leadbelly's music was never quite as pure and untouched by pop as Lomax believed, but it set a new agenda for folk music, redefining it as the voice of protest, the voice of the outsider and the oppressed. 

Dustbowl drifter Woody Guthrie fitted the mould perfectly and the two of them teamed up with Lomax's son Alan, Pete Seeger and Josh White - a group of friends who believed 'they could make a better world if they all got together and just sang about it'. Their songs and their radical politics took them to high places of influence, but brought about their downfall in the blacklisting 1950s. 

Contributors include Pete Seeger, Rambling Jack Elliot, Anna Lomax, Tom Paxton, Roger McGuinn, Woody Guthrie's sister and daughter and Josh White's son. 

 

Episode III. Blowin' In The Wind

In the 1960s a new generation, spearheaded by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, took folk to the top of the charts and made it the voice of youthful protest. Whilst the northern folk revivalists helped bring civil rights to the south, the Newport Folk Festival brought the old music of the south to the college kids in the north. However, when Dylan turned up at Newport in 1965 with an electric guitar things would never be the same again. 

With Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Robbie Robertson, Stephen Stills, Country Joe McDonald, Roger McGuinn, Odetta and Tom Paxton. 


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