The Association for Cultural Equity is pleased to announce the World Premiere of Ballads, Blues, and Bluegrass at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival on Tuesday, June 19, at the Grammy Museum. The film — directed by Alan Lomax, shot by George Pickow, with sound by Jean Ritchie, and edited by Anna Lomax Wood — is a remarkable portrait of a brief, fabled era that was widely documented in recordings but all too under-represented in moving image.
In the early 1960s, when Greenwich Village was bursting with a folk-music revival, an organization called the Friends of Old Time Music (founded by Ralph Rinzler, Izzy Young, and John Cohen) made it their mission to introduce New York City audiences to some of the era’s best folk, blues, and bluegrass performers. After the first two F.O.T.M. concerts in early 1961 (featuring Roscoe Holcomb, Clarence Ashley, and Doc Watson), Alan Lomax invited the artists and a who’s who of the folk revival back to his West Third Street apartment for an impromptu song-swap.
Filming was arranged on the fly, but a raw, many-layered evocation of the art and attitude of the period emerges from the footage, with some of the biggest names of the era, old-timers and revivalists alike: Holcomb, Ashley, Watson, Gaither Carlton, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Jean Ritchie, Ernie Marrs, Peter LaFarge, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the Greenbriar Boys, and the New Lost City Ramblers. The footage of Doc Watson is his first known film appearance. (See that performance here.)
Media-Generation is preparing the film for an upcoming DVD release. John Bishop restored the original film and filmed new interviews with cinematographer George Pickow and the New Lost City Ramblers’ John Cohen, reflecting on the film in 2010.
Read more about this event here.
Originally posted: June 18, 2012