August 26, 2013

Blues and Rhythm Show 94 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 (1:00-2:30 pm)

We haven’t missed a program in the past year and this week’s program will be live but it will be a repeat of a special on Alan Lomax’ Southern Journey of 1959 and 1960.

As with the first time we presented this special, our focus is on the music more than it is upon Alan Lomax’ life and career. Lomax’ life could certainly be the basis of a radio documentary and we’re sure it has been.

One of the most memorable events in his life occurred at the Newport Folk Festival of 1965. That was the appearance of Bob Dylan with members of Paul Butterfield Blues Band playing electric for the first time at Newport. By some reports, Lomax had precipitated Dylan’s decision to play electric by slighting the Butterfield Band when he introduced them a day earlier. In conflicting accounts, Lomax either pulled the plug or tried to pull the plug on Dylan, precipitating a tussle with Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, who was punched by Lomax. To understand Lomax, it helps to know that, like his father, he was motivated by a kind of folk purism, similar to what instinct that caused Samuel Charters and Mack McCormack to insist that Lightnin’ Hopkins put aside his electric instrument and play an acoustic guitar. It’s hard to imagine that kind of dogmatic musical correctness today but it’s part of who Alan Lomax was and a source of the energy he put into preserving traditional music. 

It could be argued that the very results of the search for traditional music by Alan Lomax in 1959 and 1960 provided strong indications that game was up or soon would be. Many of the musicians he recorded were older performers he had recorded twenty years before. Others took their song material from commercial records. 

The Southern journey was a remarkable accomplishment but Lomax wanted to shape musical culture of the present and future by preserving musical tradition. Newport 1965 probably showed why Lomax’ vision was impossible. The folk revival of the late fifties and early sixties soon petered out. Lomax’ researches and recordings have surely influenced musical culture but not as much as he wanted them to. The legacy of the recordings will continue to influence and inspire musicians, although it remains to be seen whether the influence of the recordings will remain as powerful once they are only available as digital downloads.

(Our original notes to this program can be found in the blog entry for Blues and Rhythm Show No. 82.)

On the Show:

James Carter & prisoners  – Ora Dell Graham – Angelina Quartet –  Wade Ward – Lonnie Young – Henry Ratcliff – John Dudley – Bessie Jones & Georgia Sea Island Singers – Rev. R.C. Crenshaw – others

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.mcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until September 24th.

Contact Us

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (September 3rd)

Our annual Welcome Week program live from the lobby of the McMaster Student Union Centre. Listen on the air or via the web or hear us in person. The show will be a survey of everything we do on the program–blues, gospel, R&B, soul. Not to be missed.



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