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Monday, 22 May 2017

American Epic (BBC 4, Arena)


A friend recommended this four-part series, but I can't get it on BBCiPlayer where I am.

Some clips are available:

The Memphis Jug Band - American rapper Nas explains the significance of The Memphis Jug Band, whose music set the foundation of modern day rap and RnB. Release date:21 May 2017

Record sales were plummeting...

American Epic, Part 1:

"The first episode takes us back to 1920s America, where the growth of radio had shattered record sales. Record companies travelled rural America and recorded the music of ordinary people for the first time. The poor and oppressed were given a voice as their recordings spread from state to state.

The film introduces the early recordings of The Carter Family, the founders of modern country music, steeped in the traditions of their isolated Appalachian community. It also features Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, whose music told the story of street life in Memphis, and laid the foundations for modern day rap and R'n'B".

Robert Redford narrates this meticulously researched story of a cultural revolution that changed the world. "This isn't just another film, this is history" - Elton John.


Part 2 will be broadcast on 28 May, at 10pm UK time: 
Blood and Soil,  Episode 2 of 4

"This episode takes a look at the stories of those early music pioneers whose names have largely been forgotten.

In the small South Carolina town of Cheraw, Elder Burch held lively church gatherings which inspired young musicians - including jazz giant Dizzy Gillespie. Gillespie's autobiography cites Burch and his sons as direct inspirations; it is no exaggeration to say that modern music would not look the same without Burch's early influence.

The programme takes a look at the gritty songs and musicians that came from the coal mines of Logan County, West Virginia - The Williamson Brothers, Dick Justice and Frank Hutchinson. The hellish conditions of the coal mines inspired them to find a way out, through their music.

Finally we head to the home of the blues - the Mississippi Delta, where Charley Patton captured the sounds and struggles of life in the cotton fields. Patton's significance cannot be understated; he is widely considered the most influential musician in the birth of blues, teaching some of the best blues artists that followed including Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Honeyboy Edwards".

American Epic - Official Trailer

Another trailer

American Epic Sessions


CD




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