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Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings

Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings

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Alan Lomax's prolific sixty-four-year career as a folklorist and musicologist began with a trip across the South and into the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country during the height of the Great Depression. In 1934, his father John, then curator of the Library of Congress's Archive of American Folk Song, took an eighteen-year-old Alan and a 300-pound aluminum disk recorder into the rice fields of Jennings, along the waterways of New Iberia, and behind the gates of Angola State Penitentiary to collect vestiges of African American and Acadian musical tradition. These recordings now serve as the foundational document of indigenous Louisiana music.
Although widely recognized by scholars as a key artifact in the understanding of American vernacular music, most of the recordings by John and Alan Lomax during their expedition across the central-southern fringe of Louisiana were never transcribed or translated, much less studied in depth. This volume presents, for the first time, a comprehensive examination of the 1934 corpus and unveils a multifaceted story of traditional song in one of the country's most culturally dynamic regions.
Through his textual and comparative study of the songs contained in the Lomax collection, Joshua Clegg Caffery provides a musical history of Louisiana that extends beyond Cajun music and zydeco to the rural blues, Irish and English folk songs, play-party songs, slave spirituals, and traditional French folk songs that thrived at the time of these recordings.
Intimate in its presentation of Louisiana folklife and broad in its historical scope, Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana honors the legacy of John and Alan Lomax by retrieving these musical relics from obscurity and ensuring their understanding and appreciation for generations to come.
- Complete transcriptions of the 1934 Lomax field recordings in southwestern Louisiana
- Side-by-side translations from French to English
- Photographs from the 1934 field trip and biographical details about the performers

Author: Joshua Clegg Caffery
Publisher: LSU Press
Published: 11/05/2013
Pages: 384
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.85lbs
Size: 10.00h x 6.80w x 1.50d
ISBN: 9780807152010

About the Author

Joshua Clegg Caffery, a native of Franklin, Louisiana, is a writer and musician. He is a founding member of The Red Stick Ramblers and a longtime member of the Louisiana French band Feufollet. Caffery was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for his work on the Feufollet album En Couleurs. He is currently the Alan Lomax Fellow in Folklife Studies at the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress.

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