Publisher description for Folksongs of another America : field recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937-1946 / James P. Leary.


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America's Upper Midwest is a distinctive region where many indigenous and immigrant peoples have maintained, merged, and modified their folk song traditions for more than two centuries. In the 1930s and 1940s, Sidney Robertson, Alan Lomax, and Helene Stratman-Thomas--with support from the Library of Congress and armed with bulky microphones, blank disks, spare needles, and cumbersome disk-cutting machines--recorded roughly 2,000 songs and tunes throughout Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Spanning dance tunes, ballads, lyric songs, hymns, laments, versified taunts, political anthems, street cries, and recitations, these field recordings--made by people born before or shortly after 1900--were captured at a transformative moment when America was in the throes of the Great Depression, World War II was erupting, and market-driven mass entertainment media were expanding rapidly. Yet, except for a handful of Anglo-American performances, these remarkable field recordings in more than twenty-five languages have remained largely unknown, along with the lives of their mostly immigrant, indigenous, rural, and working-class performers.
___________ Since the 1970s, folklorist James P. Leary has worked steadily to bring the folk music of the Upper Midwest to a larger public. Folksongs of Another America presents 187 representative performances by more than 200 singers and musicians, carefully restored in digital form from deteriorating original formats. The accompanying book provides an introduction, full texts of all lyrics in the original languages and in English translation, extensive notes about each song and tune, biographical sketches and photographs of many of the performers, and details about Robertson, Lomax, and Stratman-Thomas and their fieldwork efforts as song collectors. These restored performances reveal with clarity and power a nearly lost sonic portrait of another America.

"A treasure. . . . Leary's deep knowledge of the subject matter is demonstrated by thought-provoking facts placing the dance tunes, ballads, lyrics songs, hymns, political anthems, and more in historical context."--Book Verdict, Library Journal

"An amazing 'bible' . . . A magnificent boxed set of Midwestern music."--Surface Noise, WFMU Radio, New York, NY

"The best set of folklore documents that I have heard in a long time. It is a truly amazing production. If it does not win an award for the best reissue set of 2015, then I really will eat my hat!"--Musical Traditions, UK



Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Folk songs -- Middle West -- History and criticism.
Folk music -- Middle West -- History and criticism.
Cowell, Sidney Robertson, -- 1903-1995.
Lomax, Alan, -- 1915-2002.
Stratman-Thomas, Helene, -- 1896-1973.
Archive of American Folk Song.
Music -- Middle West.