“Music With the Bark On”: The Southern Journeys of John and Alan Lomax

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“Music With the Bark On”: The Southern Journeys of John and Alan Lomax

by Gavin James Campbell
Southern Cultures, Vol. 4, No. 3: Fall 1998

"The microphone never gets the same recognition as the breakdowns, ballads, and blues that it records."

The microphone never gets the same recognition as the breakdowns, ballads, and blues that it records. Yet with it, John and Alan Lomax preserved much of the South’s musical diversity and created a national audience for traditional southern music. Between them the father-son team spent over fifty years recording southerners and their music n homes, churches, and fields. They carried their microphones over back roads, down rivers, and up hills, determined to collect the music in the places where it thrived, seeking what Alan Lomax called “music with the bark on.” Their single-minded determination resulted in perhaps the most complete sonic maps of the South ever compiled, and made the microphone one of the region’s most important instruments.

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