Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project is a crowd-funded project focusing on songs recorded by pioneering American folklorist Alan Lomax. Award winning Canadian banjoist Jayme Stone is the man who dreamed up the idea, but he emphasizes that this was a collaborative project which involved a group of talented musicians working together over many months. The group are now in the middle of a lengthy American tour and the album comes out on March 3rd. The CD comes with a 54 page booklet (currently available online) which reflects the amount of care and research that’s gone into choosing the songs.
This year is the centenary of Lomax’s birth : click here to read a tribute by his daughter Anna Lomax Wood. Thanks to his daughter there’s now a vast resource of Lomax material available online, including 15,000 audio recordings spanning half a century. Jayme tells us that ” I’ve also visited the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, where there’s another 15,000 songs that you can listen to on reel-to-reel, as well as original field notes, film footage, interviews and other archival material. It was a powerful feeling to leaf through Alan’s notebook from the day he met Muddy Waters, or to read the irreverent, heartfelt and often hilarious letters that Woody Guthrie wrote to Alan. ”
This isn’t an attempt to preserve the past. The original recordings served as an inspiration and a starting point from which the musicians explored the songs and developed new arrangements and creative ideas.
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Lazy John
One of the few songs written by Lomax himself. With Margaret Glaspy (vocals), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Julian Lage (guitar),
Joe Phillips (bass), Nick Fraser (drums), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Susan Anna Gal
Lomax’s recording was of Tommy Jarrell : “Tommy played fiddle and banjo in a style of old-time music now known as Round Peak, named after a mountaintop near his home in Toast, North Carolina. He grew up playing with neighbors at local work gatherings—wood choppings, barn raisings, bean stringings and corn shuckings — that would typically end with a dance.” Here we have Eli West (vocals, bouzouki), Margaret Glaspy (vocals), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Greg Garrison (bass), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Goodbye, Old Paint
“In 1885, at the age of seven, fiddler Jess Morris learned to sing and play Goodbye, Old Paint on the jew’s harp from Charley Willis, a black cowboy and former slave. Morris went on to recast the song on the fiddle, which he set in the unusual tuning of DADD. John Lomax was so taken with Jess’ inimitable arrangement that he recorded him for the Library of Congress in 1942. Fast-forward to New York, 1948, where Alan invited singer Vera Hall to perform at Columbia University … Alan tested her abilities by singing songs she’d never heard to see how well she could hum them back. Among these was Goodbye, Old Paint, which Vera reflected back in her singular and soulful way. It was this recording that inspired Margaret, some sixty-five years later, to reshape the harmony according to her sensibilities, highlighting the lyric’s underlying sadness. Tim’s signature singing and verse selection brought the song full circle. As Ol’ Jess himself said, ‘Most every cowpoke who sang it added something.'” With Tim O’Brien (vocals, mandolin), Margaret Glaspy (vocals, guitar), Moira Smiley (accordion), Greg Garrison (bass), Jayme Stone (banjo).
Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project – Shenandoah
“In May 1939, Alan recorded some thirty-seven deepwater shanties and fo’c’sle songs sung by Captain Richard Maitland who lived at Sailor’s Snug Harbor, a retirement home for sailors, on Staten Island.” Appearing on this Margaret Glaspy (vocals), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Julian Lage (guitar), Joe Phillips (bass), Nick Fraser (drums), Jayme Stone (banjo).