American Epic (DVD / Blu-Ray)
release: June 13, 2017
Go inside one of the greatest-ever untold stories: how the ordinary people of America were given the opportunity to make records for the first time.
THE BIG BANG: At the height of the Roaring Twenties, music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology set out across America to capture the unsung voices of everyday folk. This is the Big Bang of modern popular music-the first time America hears itself.
BLOOD & SOIL: America's poor-cotton field slaves, mine workers, sharecroppers-find freedom through music, creating gospel, protest songs, and Delta Blues.
OUT OF THE MANY, THE ONE: Exotic cultures spanning America are captured on record for the first time-inventing new instruments and new cultural identities as disparate voices harmonize in a musical melting pot.
THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS: Jack White and T Bone Burnett produce an epic recording session using the only working 1920s recording device in existence in this tribute to the artists celebrated in the documentary. Starring Alabama Shakes, The Americans, Ana Gabriel, Ashley Monroe, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Bettye Lavette, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Frank Fairfield, Jerron Paxton, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nas, Pokey LaFarge, Raphael Saadiq, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, Taj Mahal, Jack White, and Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard.
American Epic: The Collection (5 CD box set)
release: May 12, 2017
Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release AMERICAN EPIC: The Collection, a 5-CD/100 song deluxe box set, and AMERICAN EPIC: The Soundtrack, a single disc anthology of 15 songs featured in the AMERICAN EPIC three-part historical documentary (1LP or 1CD), on Friday, May 12.
AMERICAN EPIC: The Collection and AMERICAN EPIC: The Soundtrack–each available digitally or as physical product–lead the way for a series of releases of music associated with the film series AMERICAN EPIC, produced by Allison McGourty, Duke Erikson and Directed by Bernard MacMahon, premiering in the U.S. on PBS on Tuesdays May 16, 23 and 30 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) and in the U.K. on BBC in May.
The AMERICAN EPIC historical documentaries are a journey back in time to the “Big Bang” of modern popular music.
In the 1920s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, Blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coalminer in Virginia or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. It was the first time America heard itself.
AMERICAN EPIC: The Collection gathers 100 of these original recordings from the 1920s and 1930s in one five-disc set, restored to unprecedented levels of sonic fidelity. For these releases, compiled by Director Bernard MacMahon, engineer Nicholas Bergh refined a transfer process using a mix of both modern and vintage equipment in order to extract the remarkable resolution from the records that is often missed. This ‘reverse engineering’ approach to the transfer process enabled the restoration team of Grammy Award-winning engineer Peter Henderson, Duke Erikson and Joel Tefteller to get the resulting audio closer to the original performance than ever before.
This is not “remastering,” in the normal sense, but something closer to fine art restoration. The intent is not for people to marvel at the antiquity of these discs, but rather to experience them as vital, immediate performances that speak to us as directly as they did on the day they were recorded—not simply great art for their time, but great art for all times. It includes a 100-page book filled with stunning unpublished photographs, quotes from the artists, their friends and families, lyrics for every song, essays and recording notes. Among the artists included are Mississippi John Hurt, The Carter Family, Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers, Lydia Mendoza, Nelstone’s Hawaiians, Big Chief Henry’s String Band, Robert Johnson and many others.
AMERICAN EPIC: The Soundtrack, is a 15 song single disc anthology of songs featured in the AMERICAN EPIC film trilogy. Compiled by Lo-Max Records, it includes restored archival recordings from artists such as Memphis Jug Band, The Carter Family, Charley Patton, Joseph Falcon, Lydia Mendoza and others.
Legacy also will be making available, as digital releases, compilations of artists featured in the AMERICAN EPIC films including, AMERICAN EPIC: The Carter Family, AMERICAN EPIC: Memphis Jug Band, AMERICAN EPIC: Mississippi John Hurt, AMERICAN EPIC: Blind Willie Johnson and AMERICAN EPIC: Lead Belly as well as thematic collections including AMERICAN EPIC: Blues and AMERICAN EPIC: Country.
Columbia Records will release AMERICAN EPIC: The Sessions the soundtrack to “THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS” directed by Bernard MacMahon. In “THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS,” the team has reassembled the very first electrical sound recording system from the 1920s, and invited Jack White and T Bone Burnett to produce an album of recordings by twenty of today’s greatest artists. In this beautifully filmed musical feature, these artists are given the chance to pass through the portal that brought the world into the modern era.
Engineer Nicholas Bergh has reassembled this recording system from original parts and it is now the only one left in the world. The system consists of a single microphone, a towering six-foot amplifier rack, and a live record-cutting lathe, powered by a weight-driven pulley system of clockwork gears. The musicians have roughly three minutes to record their song direct to disc before the weight hits the floor. In the 1920s, they called this “catching lightning in a bottle.” All the musical performances in this film are live. The audio you hear on the soundtrack is taken directly from the discs they were recorded to, with no editing or enhancements.
AMERICAN EPIC: The Sessions, soundtrack features: Alabama Shakes, The Americans, Ana Gabriel, Ashley Monroe, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Bettye LaVette, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Frank Fairfield, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nas, Pokey LaFarge, Raphael Saadiq, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Taj Mahal, Jack White, and Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
There will also be a companion book - American Epic: The First Time America Heard Itself.
It's called show business for a reason. It’s 90% business and 10% show. If you don’t know your business, you’re in trouble! ~ Johnnie Taylor / We can't be Phil Collins & The Genesis! You don't even play drums! ~ Ricky Bell to Ralph Tresvant