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Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music
An ode to Harry Smith’s ‘Anthology of American Folk Music’
'The Anthology’ is perhaps the most important American mixtape ever made.’ (Pitchfork)
‘Make no mistake – there was no ‘folk’ canon before Smith’s work.’ (John Fahey)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of visual artist, experimental filmmaker, musicologist, graphic designer, bohemian, anthropologist and record collector Harry Smith (°1923). That’s why AB is hosting a celebration of his master collector piece ‘Anthology Of American Folk Music’ over the course of three days. This collection is widely acknowledged as the bible for American folk music and features 84 songs, all recorded between 1927 and 1932. In the late 90’s the compilation album even received a Grammy Award for ‘Best Historical Album’. Rolling Stone described ‘The Anthology’ as ‘One of the greatest releases of all time!’ His fanbase? Beck. Beth Orton. Bob Dylan. Elvis Costello. Jack White. Jeff Tweedy (Wilco). And: Nick Cave, who borrowed both ‘Stagger Lee’ and ‘Henry Lee’ from ‘The Anthology’.
That’s plenty of reason for an elaborate tribute on the day Harry Smith would have turned 100 years old. AB is inviting some exquisite musical guests such as Meskerem Mees, Mount Eerie, Sam Amidon (w/ special guest Beth Orton), The Golden Glows, Mike Gangloff, Shovel Dance Collective and Venediktos Tempelboom. They will collectively dive deep into ‘The Anthology’ and come back up with some personal covers or adaptations of their favourite songs. And some of them will simply tell their story in the spirit of Smith’s work.
Rani Singh (director of the Harry Smith Archives and Harry Smith’s former personal assistant) and Bret Lunsford (author of the recently published book ‘Sounding for Harry Smith’) will join us for a Q&A about the legacy he left behind. The documentary ‘The Old Weird America’ tells the story behind ‘The Anthology’ and pianist Giovanni Di Domenico will improvise muscially to Smith’s short animation films ‘Early Abstractions’.
This tribute has been approved and supported by the Harry Smith Archives.
MAY 27th PROGRAMME
VENEDIKTOS TEMPELBOOM (b) (20h)
Venediktos Tempelboom is the nom de plume of the 12-string guitarist Benoit Monsieurs. Musically he meanders on the path John Fahey laid for him with his exquisite American primitive guitar style. His album ‘Het Vuil Volkske’ was released via KRAAK.
MIKE GANGLOFF (PELT/BLACK TWIG PICKERS) (us) (21h)
Mike Gangloff has been a constant in the last few years in the American avant-folk scene. With Black Twig Pickers he recontextualised the traditional sounds from the Appalachians and with Pelt he - and the late Jack Rose - intertwined psychedelia and folk with drone music.
SHOVEL DANCE COLLECTIVE: FIRST EUROPEAN APPEARANCE EVER (!) (uk) (22h)
An outright impressive collective of nine musicians whose common ground is their shared passion for folk music. Gonzo Circus: ‘ In the past year Shovel … released one of the most peculiar and exciting folk records: think water sounds that blend seamlessly into folk traditionals and back. It’s a liberal view on the theme ‘water’ in British folk, from a feminist, queer and anti-colonial perspective. Those who listen to ‘The Water Is the Shovel of the Shore’ are instantly sold (and can even hear echoes of ANOHNI). So what’s the connection to Harry Smith? We’ll let Shovel member Jacken Elswyth explain herself: ‘I am a banjo player of ten years, originally falling in love with the instrument after many listens to the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music.’
SOUNDTRACK BY: GLEN STEENKISTE (DJ) (b)
Not only member of Sylvester Anfang and The Interurban Harmonium Association but also curator of this evening. For which kudos!