To me, so much of the irritation here sounds like the famed anger over Dylan's electric guitar and "folk-rock" in general. "Oh," they moaned, "they're mangling the very 'idea' of the folk. It's all about commerce now, and this new 'music' --oh, the 'music'--is just such crap."
It didn't happen. What I will respectfully (and for convenience) call "the old stuff" has survived just fine. Dylan has returned to that well time and time again. Much more importantly, the old time sounds--and the general idea of unencumbered, community music making--remain a huge part of our culture.
I appreciate those who say we should wait to see if the Rounder project is any good, but that's not the main issue. Rounder, Moby or somebody else may do this well or badly. We can, individually, like or not like the result. What matters is the existence of the project. Some will say, "Rounder's project is great--go hear the originals." Some will then do just that. Others will say, "Rounder's project sucks, go hear the originals." A few will do just that. What is important is that people are--still-- paying attention to these field recordings.
The voices on the originals are now a recognized part of the repertoire of the world's art. Be thankful for that. Those voices--as recorded originally--will never go away. The "price" for that achievement is that other artists will do what artists have always done. Sixty years after these field artists recorded, other artists want to work with their accomplishments--want to exalt them, mangle them, exploit them, spotlight them. I should be so lucky. It means the original art is living. It's too simplistic to say, "Make your own damn art. " Artists have always used the entire repertoire (broadly understood) provided by the world--all in an effort to make their own statement.
I support this project more now than when this thread started. I may not subjectively like the result, but I don't believe that that is what matters. Artists will play with that which exists. They always have. I don't know anything about sampling or turn-tables as instruments. I'm happy to hear songs just sung, thank you. But I don't want to be that guy complaining about the new thing that's wrecking my old thing. That's not where I want to stand. My old thing can take care of itself, I think.
If you love the music on the Lomax recordings, you should fear the day when no one considers it worth their quirky, outrageous, wrong-headed, beautiful artistic attention--fear the day when no one gives a damn.