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Shot in 1961
restored and released 2012


In the early 1960s, when Greenwich Village was bursting with a folk music revival, the Friends of Old Time Music made it their mission to introduce urban audience to some of the legends of pre-war American traditional music. After a 1961 series of concerts 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 3rd Avenue apartment for an impromptu song swap. Filming was arranged on the fly and 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: Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Jean Ritchie, Ernie Marrs, Peter LeFarge, Ramblin Jack Elliott, Guy Carawan,the Greenbriar Boys, and the New Lost City Ramblers.

Ballads, Blues, & Bluegrass is a remarkable portrait of a brief but fabled era that was widely documented in recordings but all too under-represented in moving image. This DVD is the film’s first release in any form.

It also includes interviews with the cinematographer, George Pickow, and John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers reflecting on the film in 2010.

Ballads Blues & Bluegrass (35 min)
directed by Alan Lomax
filmed by George Pickow
sound by Jean Ritchie
edited by Anna Lomax Wood
produced by Alan Lomax, George Pickow, Jean Ritchie
restoration and DVD by John Melville Bishop

Making Ballads Blues & Bluegrass (25 min)
video by John Melville Bishop

Festivals and Awards

  • 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival (Premiere)

Review by Richard Marcus on Blogcritics and here (better format)
Article in Billboard
review by Jennifer Joy Jameson
review from Mark S. Tucker
review in Rambles by Michael Scott Cain
Review in Oxford American by Amanda Petrusich
Review by Greg Barbrick

Note on packaging: This is a replicated DVD in an eco friendly cardboard sleeve that will replace plastic cases on new Media-Generation releases.

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