The latest offering to come from Dust to Digital is Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937–1946. As you’d expect from Dust to Digital, for those of you that have enjoyed previous releases, this is a bit special. Almost all of the recordings in this release which feature dance tunes, ballads, lyric songs, hymns, laments, versified taunts, political anthems, street cries, and recitations are being issued for the very first time.
It’s a goldmine in terms of diversity and history featuring African-American, Austrian, Belgian, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French Canadian, German, Ho-Chunk, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Irish, Italian, Luxemburger, Norwegian, Ojibwe, Oneida, Polish, Scots Gaelic, Serbian, Swedish, Swiss, and Welsh performers.
Armed with bulky microphones, blank disks, spare needles, and cumbersome disk-cutting machines, several folklorists had the foresight to document and preserve a significant but overlooked part of the nation’s musical heritage, made by immigrant, Native American, rural and working-class performers.
Bonus DVD includes the new documentary film The Most Fertile Source: Alan Lomax Goes North with never-before-seen footage shot in Michigan in 1938. The accompanying book includes extensive liner notes, lyric transcriptions and translations by James P. Leary, co-founder of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
The following clip is from the DVD and features Edward King (1908–1988):
Audio from the Set
Since the 1970s, folklorist James P. Leary has worked steadily to bring the folk music of the Upper Midwest to a larger public. Folksongs of Another America presents 187 representative performances by more than 200 singers and musicians, carefully restored in digital form from deteriorating original formats. The accompanying book provides an introduction, full texts of all lyrics in the original languages and in English translation, extensive notes about each song and tune, biographical sketches and photographs of many of the performers, and details about Robertson, Lomax, and Stratman-Thomas and their fieldwork efforts as song collectors. These restored performances reveal with clarity and power a nearly lost sonic portrait of another America.
Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937–1946 is a hardcover, 456-page book with 5 CDs and a bonus DVD, co-published in collaboration with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and the Association for Cultural Equity /Alan Lomax Archive.
Boxed Set Includes
Illustrated book Folksongs of Another America 300 pp. (est.), 94 black and white photographs and illustrations
CD 1 Pigtown Fling: The Sidney Robertson Recordings Recordings of lumberjack, Finnish, Scots Gaelic, and Serbian performers captured by fieldworker Sidney Robertson in Wisconsin and Minnesota in 1937.
CD 2 The River in the Pines: The Wisconsin Lumberjacks Recordings Performances of the acclaimed Wisconsin Lumberjacks band of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, recorded by both Sidney Robertson and Alan Lomax during National Folk Festivals in Chicago and Washington, D.C., in 1937 and 1938.
CD 3 Harps and Accordions: The Alan Lomax Recordings Alan Lomax’s 1938 Michigan field recordings of lumberjack, Finnish, French Canadian, German, Irish, Lithuanian, Ojibwe, Polish, and Swedish performers.
CD 4 When the Dance Is Over: Helene Stratman-Thomas Recordings, Part 1
CD 5 My Father Was a Dutchman: Helene Stratman-Thomas Recordings, Part 2 Recordings made throughout Wisconsin in 1940, 1941, and 1946, not only of Finns, French Canadians, Germans, Irish, Lithuanians, Ojibwe, Poles, Scots, Serbs, and Swedes, but also African American, Austrian, Belgian, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Ho-Chunk, Icelandic, Italian, Luxemburger, Norwegian, Oneida, Swiss, and Welsh performers.
DVD Alan Lomax Goes North This new documentary film combines digitally restored silent color film footage, related field recordings, voice-over readings from Lomax’s correspondence and field notes, and onscreen text to create an audiovisual narrative featuring the performers and scenes that captivated Alan Lomax during his 1938 Upper Midwestern foray.
Available via Dust to Digital