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American Epic - BBC4 & PBS

Rain Dog 18 May 17 - 07:25 AM
Leadfingers 18 May 17 - 08:09 AM
Will Fly 21 May 17 - 01:14 PM
Senoufou 21 May 17 - 05:36 PM
Will Fly 21 May 17 - 05:52 PM
Senoufou 21 May 17 - 06:05 PM
Steve Gardham 21 May 17 - 06:08 PM
Stanron 21 May 17 - 06:25 PM
fat B****rd 22 May 17 - 02:48 AM
Will Fly 22 May 17 - 03:12 AM
Rain Dog 22 May 17 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,SB 22 May 17 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,CJB 22 May 17 - 06:05 AM
akenaton 22 May 17 - 08:01 AM
Jim Carroll 22 May 17 - 08:12 AM
Senoufou 22 May 17 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Senoufou 22 May 17 - 12:51 PM
Jim Carroll 22 May 17 - 02:59 PM
Will Fly 22 May 17 - 05:19 PM
Tattie Bogle 22 May 17 - 06:49 PM
Will Fly 23 May 17 - 03:59 AM
Senoufou 23 May 17 - 04:18 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 17 - 06:30 AM
Brian Peters 23 May 17 - 08:18 AM
Brian Peters 23 May 17 - 09:34 AM
Will Fly 23 May 17 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,eric armstrong 23 May 17 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,BanjoRay 23 May 17 - 01:38 PM
Will Fly 28 May 17 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Ed 28 May 17 - 06:04 PM
Stanron 28 May 17 - 06:24 PM
Brian Peters 02 Jun 17 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 02 Jun 17 - 03:44 PM
Will Fly 02 Jun 17 - 03:51 PM
Stilly River Sage 02 Jun 17 - 11:31 PM
Tattie Bogle 03 Jun 17 - 04:55 AM
Stilly River Sage 03 Jun 17 - 11:37 AM
Tattie Bogle 03 Jun 17 - 01:04 PM
gillymor 03 Jun 17 - 01:22 PM
gillymor 03 Jun 17 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 03 Jun 17 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 03 Jun 17 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,Senoufou 04 Jun 17 - 05:20 PM
Rain Dog 05 Jun 17 - 06:51 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jun 17 - 07:40 AM
Will Fly 05 Jun 17 - 11:30 AM
cetmst 05 Feb 18 - 10:46 AM
GUEST 05 Feb 18 - 11:22 AM
GUEST,CJB 06 Feb 18 - 05:44 AM
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Subject: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Rain Dog
Date: 18 May 17 - 07:25 AM

I don't recall seeing a thread about.

Arena: American Epic is a film series exploring the pivotal recording journeys at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when music scouts, armed with cutting-edge recording technology, captured the breadth of American music and discovered the artists that would shape our world.
American Epic premieres on Arena, BBC Four and on PBS in the USA in May 2017. 

Broadcast includes a three-part historical documentary and The American Epic Sessions feature-length film starring Jack White, Taj Mahal, Elton John, Nas, Beck, Rhiannon Giddens, Ana Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Steve Martin, Alabama Shakes and more.

The films are the result of a ten-year odyssey undertaken by director Bernard MacMahon and producers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson, and audio engineer Nicholas Bergh that involved tracking down countless long forgotten musicians, restoring the music that they recorded and reassembling the technology that created it. Along the way they brought some of the most important figures in contemporary culture to help them on their quest. Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford have lent their support to what Redford calls "America's greatest untold story".

Produced by Allison McGourty, Duke Erikson and Director Bernard MacMahon and Executive Produced by Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett, Jack White, with Anthony Wall for BBC Arena, Lo-Max Films Ltd., Wildwood Enterprises, and THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, the American Epic historical documentaries take viewers on a journey back in time to the Big Bang of modern popular music.

In the 1920s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratised the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, Blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coalminer in Virginia or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. It was the first time America heard itself.

Virtually no documentation of these extraordinary events survives and nearly ninety percent of the recording masters have been destroyed. A vital part of American cultural history has been lost.
Over three episodes, narrated by Robert Redford, American Epic rescues this history. The remarkable lives of these seminal musicians are revealed through previously unseen film footage and photographs, and exclusive interviews with music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era.

Starring: The Carter Family, Memphis Jug Band, Elder Burch, The Williamson Bros. & Curry, Dick Justice, Charley Patton, Joseph Kekuku, Lydia Mendoza, the Breaux Family, Mississippi John Hurt, and Blind Willie Johnson.


American Epic



First episode is on BBC4 22.00 hours Sunday 21.5.17


 


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 May 17 - 08:09 AM

This would be almost worth getting a television for !!


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Subject: Arena: American epic
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 May 17 - 01:14 PM

New 3-part series on BBC4 (UK TV) tonight in the Arena strand: Part 1 - The Big Bang

American Epic - "Exploring roots music in the US, beginning with the birth of country vlues in the 1920s. As record sales rose in the early days of radio, companies began to seek out rural artists. The programme features early recordings by Appalachian country music pioneers the Carter Family and Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, whose music prefigured modern rap and R&B. Narrated by Robert Redford.

Research by two British film-makers, Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty.


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Subject: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: Senoufou
Date: 21 May 17 - 05:36 PM

BBC4. Fabulous programme called 'American Epic' about music in USA, 1920's and 30's. Started with Appalachian music (Carter family) and is now dealing with Memphis jug bands.
Wonderful old film clips and recordings.
I'm really enjoying the jug bands!


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Subject: RE: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 May 17 - 05:52 PM

I posted a heads-up thread this afternoon about it - and I've just watched it now.

Wonderful stuff! Just what the BBC does best.


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Subject: RE: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: Senoufou
Date: 21 May 17 - 06:05 PM

Aaaagh! So sorry Will! I didn't see your thread before posting mine!
It's just finished. Terrific stuff.

I'd never heard that song 'Have A Whiff On Me' about a cocaine habit!
And those brave and tough Appalachian people who travelled miles to be recorded on the new-fangled recording machines (wax discs) Such poverty but such spirit.
It was interesting to hear the roots of modern music (rap for example)
and origins of blues from Gospel music.
I'm terribly ignorant about these genres, and wish the programme had been twice as long!


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Subject: RE: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 17 - 06:08 PM

2 more episodes yet. Great music!


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Subject: RE: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: Stanron
Date: 21 May 17 - 06:25 PM

Yes, a brilliant program. I'll certainly watch the next two episodes.


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Subject: RE: Arena: The American epic
From: fat B****rd
Date: 22 May 17 - 02:48 AM

Watched it. Excellent stuff!. Must be Lomax/Leadbelly next week. Hi Will.


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Subject: RE: Arena: The American epic
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 17 - 03:12 AM

Hi Charlie - always nice to see you here! Great programme, wasn't it? Loved the Will Shade stuff - I have all his recordings.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Rain Dog
Date: 22 May 17 - 04:22 AM

Really enjoyed the first episode. I think this aired on PBS last week. What did any USA mudcatters think of it?


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,SB
Date: 22 May 17 - 05:58 AM

Can be downloaded using get_iplayer v3.01


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Subject: RE: Arena: The American epic
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 22 May 17 - 06:05 AM

So the question must be asked did the songs, music and dancs (icl. step dance) as collected &/or noted by Sharp and Karpeles in the Appalachians originate from the English, Scots &/or Irish immigrant commnities?

When I was there, albeit s few years' ago, the locals were quite adamant that the Irish had nothing to do woth their folk traditions and that all of the songs and music originated from an imagined Elizabethan England, as did indeed their dialect. In fact I found their racisism against the Irish quite shockng.


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Subject: RE: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: akenaton
Date: 22 May 17 - 08:01 AM

Bit disappointed in the Carter family stuff....not enough detail,
The Memphis section was brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Anyone in UK watching Arena just now?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 17 - 08:12 AM

"I'd never heard that song 'Have A Whiff On Me' about a cocaine habit!"
Made somewhat anodyne by Lonnie Donegan who sand "Have a Drink on Me"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Senoufou
Date: 22 May 17 - 08:54 AM

I think the 'whiff' title should read 'Take A Whiff On Me' (my mistake)
I well remember Lonnie Donegan's song Jim (I used to really fancy him!), and after the programme ended I played it on Youtube. The tempo was a bit slower, but yes, you're right, it's basically the same song but sanitised!

Imagine warbling away these days about your cocaine dealer having a sign in his window saying 'Not Today' and offering a snort of cocaine to someone clucking for their fix! I was astonished and intrigued.

All totally fascinating. Can't wait for the second programme!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 22 May 17 - 12:51 PM

I've been listening to yet more songs by the Memphis Jug Band, on Youtube. And there's a really funny one called 'Sugar Pudding'. ("Take your fingers off it, don't you dare touch it, you know it don't belong to you!")
I can't stop singing this now, a real ear worm!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 17 - 02:59 PM

"(I used to really fancy him!)"
I sat in the front row at The Cavern (before the Beatles infestation) and watched him perform with The Chis Barber Jazz Band.
He used to to sing solo when the band wanted a break - it must have been the first blues I ever heard.
There's a wonderful comedy sketch on an old Peter Sellers record which features a skiffler named Lennie Dinnergong (a coincidence - surely!!)
Anybody who loves this period really should get their hands on the Harry Smith Collection - magic
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 17 - 05:19 PM

Ah, yes - the Harry Smith collection is magnificent. I paid for a copy of the whole lot from either the Library of Congress or the Smithsonian (can't remember which) some years ago - fantastic bargain, with some wonderful stuff on it.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 22 May 17 - 06:49 PM

With Senofou about teenage crushes on Lonnie! Loved Saturday Skiffle Club. Saw him as headliner act at Sidmouth Festival after he'd had his quadruple bypass - amazing night, what a performer! Last time I saw him alive! Must have been early 2000s as he died in 2002.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 May 17 - 03:59 AM

Donegan was a huge influence on a generation of guitar players. I can still recall the first time I heard the little guitar bass riff intro to "The Battle of New Orleans" - just had to get a guitar!

He performed with some great players, including Ken Colyer and Barber, Denny Wright, etc., and was - I believe - one of the first British players to get into the music of Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, in the 1950s. Quote from 2002:

"In Britain, we were separated from our folk music tradition centuries ago and were imbued with the idea that music was for the upper classes. You had to be very clever to play music. When I came along with the old three chords, people began to think that if I could do it, so could they. It was the reintroduction of the folk music bridge which did that."

Whether you liked him or not - and I still have all his early records - he never lost his singing and performing ability to the very end of life.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 May 17 - 04:18 AM

His father (a Scot) was a professional violinist who had played with the SNO. (and not a dustman!)


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 17 - 06:30 AM

"he never lost his singing and performing ability to the very end of life."
To a degree
I found much odf his 'crowd-pleaser' stuff a bit of a bore and sometimes downright embarrassing - 'Chewing Gum', 'Nobody Loves Like an Irishman' and 'Dustman' for instance.
I found some of his orchestrated stuff immediately forgettable.
He was, in my opinion, at his best when he was at his rawest - the thought of 'No Cane on the Brazos' still makes the neck-hairs tingle - and that rude - 'Diggin' my Potatoes' - brrrrr!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 May 17 - 08:18 AM

CJB asked:

"did the songs, music and dancs (icl. step dance) as collected &/or noted by Sharp and Karpeles in the Appalachians originate from the English, Scots &/or Irish immigrant commnities?"

A large proportion of the songs collected by Sharp and Karpeles originated in England or Scotland, although they also took down a lot of stuff that was obviously American in origin (including ballads, minstrel songs, hymns etc). They did take down a few fiddle tunes but that wasn't their focus - I haven't studied that side of it, but although there are certainly Scots, English and Irish influences in the fiddle music, there seem to have been European elements and a large input of American (including African-American) creativity as well. Sharp believed that a particular social dance that he called 'The Running Set' was a throwback to an ancient English form, but that idea has been strongly challenged recently in Jamisons 'Hoedowns, Reels and Frolics', which traces some elements of the dance back to Europe but also gives a lot of credit to black sources in its evolution.

"When I was there, albeit s few years' ago, the locals were quite adamant that the Irish had nothing to do with their folk traditions and that all of the songs and music originated from an imagined Elizabethan England, as did indeed their dialect. In fact I found their racisism against the Irish quite shockng."

Catholic migrants from the South of Ireland didn't make much headway into the mountain backcountry, which had already been settled from the 18th century onwards by people migrating from Ulster (themselves originating from Scotland and England), from Northern England and from the Scottish Lowlands. Hackett Fisher's 'Albion's Seed' traces the migration history in impressive detail. The Appalachian communities were labelled 'Scotch-Irish' or 'Scots-Irish' precisely to distinguish them from Irish Catholics - although the term is misleading since it ignores the large English component. At any rate, the Appalachian settlers were overwhelmingly Protestant dissenters (Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists) so, although anti-Irish racism is inexcusable anywhere (whereabouts were you, by the way?), there is some basis behind that denial of Irish cultural heritage.

The theories that Appalachia represented a living museum of Elizabethan England was put about by well-meaning educators and cultural meddlers in the mountains before Cecil Sharp ever got there. In one of the mountain schools they made the children perform Shakespeare plays on the grounds that they already spoke the Bard's English - much to the kids' bemusement! However, it does look as though a lot of the ballads, in particular, did originate in 17th / 18th century England so, while probably not Elizabethan, they are indeed old English.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 May 17 - 09:34 AM

... oh, and by the way, the first 'American Epic' programme was really good.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 May 17 - 10:26 AM

Oh, I'd agree with you Jim - the early stuff was his best and most genuine. I didn't much care for the later, novelty stuff either - well performed and professional though it was.

I have an EP of him singing "Rock My Soul In The Bosom Of Abraham" - just voices, guitar and double bass - which is also one of those hair-raising records. And "Seven Gold Daffodils" always gets to me - corny song though it is.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,eric armstrong
Date: 23 May 17 - 12:47 PM

When Lonnie Donegan's first recordings appeared (Rock island Line, Lost John etc.) They had in my opinion the same dynamic impact as Elvis Presley upon British teenagers brought up on Dickie Valentine et al. Check out on U tube Donegan's New Burying Ground with Chris Barber.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 23 May 17 - 01:38 PM

Great programme, very well researched and put together.

I met Lonnie Donegan at Sidmouth the day after seeing his great concert. I was in the Bedford playing my banjo in the Old Time jam in the right hand bar when Lonnie came in and asked me if I knew someone who did good banjo repairs. We got chatting. I asked him where he got his Old Time songs that he used in skiffle, like Cumberland Gap and Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O, did he travel to America? He said no, he got them off records in junk shops. Many old American records must have been left behind after the war by GIs who went home or were killed. He was a lovely man, NOT full of himself as you might expect. He died not many months later without contacting the banjo repairer I recommended.....
Ray


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 May 17 - 05:56 PM

Part 2 just finished - amazing stuff - Elder Burch, Charlie Patton and Howling Wolf.

Bliss!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 28 May 17 - 06:04 PM

Not watched it all yet, but agreed fantastic Will!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Stanron
Date: 28 May 17 - 06:24 PM

I'm not sure if the bit about Mississippi John Hurt was a trailer for next week or the end of this week, but I did like it. I was a bit surprised that there was nothing by Robert Johnson other than someone else playing one of his songs.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Jun 17 - 12:16 PM

Yes, the second show was excellent, and I'm looking forward to the next.

Also wondering whether 'Guest CJB' found my reply to his/her query useful.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 02 Jun 17 - 03:44 PM

Nothing about Robert Johnson? Was I dreaming? Plus his stepson Robert Lockwood Jr was there demonstrating a number that he learned direct from Robert Johnson.

Songster John Hurt is in Programme number 3 That is on this Sunday 3rd June.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Jun 17 - 03:51 PM

They may be saving Johnson for the last programme, though - to be honest - it was good to get a different perspective on the period.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 02 Jun 17 - 11:31 PM

Lydia Mendoza, the Breaux Family (Louisiana), and Mississippi John Hurt so far in this last episode.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 04:55 AM

I was also at that last concert that Lonnie D did at Sidmouth: fantastic performance! One of my heroes!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 11:37 AM

That program was on too late, I didn't make it past the first half-hour or so. It should be replaying in the US, something to look forward to.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 01:04 PM

Btw, thanks for the heads-up on this: downloading episodes 1 and 2 now!
And yes, Senofou, I fancied LD too back in my early teenage years!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: gillymor
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 01:22 PM

Wow, what a show. Thanks for the heads-up.

I just watched the first episode here.

Viewing the clip of Maybelle and Sara Carter playing "The Cannonball" (Solid Gone) it occurred to me that Maybelle's "scratch" on the guitar may have come from autoharp technique or perhaps vice versa. They seem to be doing something similar with the right hand.

It's a shame there was no video of MJB from their heyday but it was great to see Shade and Burse doing Kansas City Blues.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: gillymor
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 01:26 PM

...and big thumbs up to Charlie Musselwhite.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 02:34 PM

What an absolutely fabulous programme....that's what I like on TV!


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 03 Jun 17 - 08:45 PM

Somebody earlier in this thread said (or maybe just implied) that it was Lonnie Donegan who cleaned up a cocaine song and turned it into "Take a Drink on Me."

In fact, Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers cut "Take a Drink on Me" in New York City on July 25, 1927. Just about any Poole anthology features the selection, a variant of "Take a Whiff." I haven't heard Donegan's rendition, but I suspect he got it from Poole's.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,Senoufou
Date: 04 Jun 17 - 05:20 PM

Well the lyrics are entirely different, but the tune is vaguely the same. Donegan released his song in 1961.

I'm just watching the third BBC Arena programme. It's dealing with Hawaiian music and the invention by Kakuku of the sliding steel lap guitar. It looks as though Cajun music is next.
Brilliant programme series.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Rain Dog
Date: 05 Jun 17 - 06:51 AM

Thoroughly enjoyed this series. Like others have said, it could have done with being a bit longer. The piece on Mississippi John Hurt was very good.


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 17 - 07:40 AM

"Somebody earlier in this thread said (or maybe just implied) "
I confess, 'Twas me
I'd forgotten about the Poole version
I suppose it had the same forbidden resonance as "Whiff" when Poole made it in the middle of the Prohibition Era
Thaks fo the reminder.
Truly great programmes - wish somebody this side of the pond would have the nouse to put togeter the film footage of our "masters and mistresses of folk" that way
Haven't viewed last night's yet - wonder if they used Nelstone's somewhat non P.C. 'The fatal Flower Garden'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Jun 17 - 11:30 AM

The irony is, Jim, that much of the research for the programmes was carried out by two English enthusiasts and musicologists...


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Subject: American Epic Series, PBS
From: cetmst
Date: 05 Feb 18 - 10:46 AM

Spent Sunday afternoon watching this on PBS, early footage of Carter family, Mississippi John Hurt, Memphis Jug Band, Beale Street Music, Cajun Music, Hawaiian Steel Guitar Music, Native American Music and much more. More interesting than the Super Bowl - Charles


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Subject: RE: American Epic Series, PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 18 - 11:22 AM

Discussed previously


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Subject: RE: American Epic - BBC4 & PBS
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 06 Feb 18 - 05:44 AM

From: cetmst
Date: 05 Feb 18 - 04:36 PM

Missed it then.   Thanks for the update

Downloads might be available!!!

Search YouTube or Vimeo etc.


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