Lomax the Songhunter 2005
Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Joost Verhey
Directed by Rogier Kappers
DVD , color, 88 min.
Aging, Anthropology, Folk Music, History, Indigenous People, Multiculturalism, Music, Storytelling
Date Entered: 02/19/2015Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
More than 80 years ago, a young Texan named Alan Lomax began working alongside his ethnomusicologist father to discover, collect and record American folk songs for the Library of Congress. Using cumbersome equipment to capture the songs and music of indigenous people in North America and Europe on acetate and aluminum discs, Lomax eventually contributed more than ten thousand field recordings to the world music songbook. The recordings in addition to preserving and archiving a disappearing way of life also influenced generations of singers, songwriters and musicians. Lomax also authored and edited numerous volumes on folk music, including Folk Song Style and Culture (1968) and The Land Where the Blues Began (1993). Admirers of his work, Dutch documentarians Adri Schrover and Rogier Kappers meet up with Lomax in 2001. Already unable to communicate due to a stroke, Lomax would be dead within the year. With the clock ticking, the filmmakers follow the folklorist’s footsteps through Scotland, Britain, Spain and Italy, trying to locate the original singers and musicians that Lomax recorded during the 1950s. Kappers and Schrover’s journey, along with interviews with his daughter Anna and former collaborators and villagers Lomax met along the way, form the basis of this feature length film and document the incredible career of a true original.