‘American Epic’ and WPT’s Recorded Folk Music

May 23, 2017 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

The groundbreaking three-part documentary American Epic takes us around the country to explore how the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the first time in the 1920s.

In the second part, “Blood and Soil,” airing tonight on WPT at 8 p.m., viewers will explore musical stories from the rural South. Charley Patton, Elder Burch and others made audio recordings of people performing early Delta blues, work songs, gospel, and protest tunes. If you missed “The Big Bang,” last week’s series opener, no worries! Watch it online.

The new series inspired us at WPT to dig into the archives of our decade-long live music program, 30-Minute Music Hour, to find past performances by people inspired by the music you will hear tonight on American Epic.

Here are a few feature performances, captured right here in the WPT studio, that we thought you would enjoy after tuning in.

The Carolina Chocolate Drops
The Grammy-award winning The Carolina Chocolate Drops performs North Carolina folk music in the African-American tradition.

Count This Penny
Count This Penny performs self-styled “Appalachian Pop” – a blend of country and mountain soul.

The Pines
Based in Minneapolis, The Pines are an indie-roots quartet featuring David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey, son of alt-country music legend Bo Ramsey. The Pines’ distinctive, somber sound fuses today’s indie music with traditional roots/acoustic styles.

Sarah Lee Guthrie
The folk and country-rock singer Sarah Lee Guthrie stopped by WPT during a tour celebrating the 50th Anniversary of her father Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

Charlie Parr
Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, Charlie Parr is a self-taught guitarist performing Piedmont-style blues and American country music.

Tani Diakite
Madison’s Tani Diakite plays a Kamele n’goni – a stringed, long-neck gourd that is a West African ancestor to the banjo – outfitted with an electronic pick-up made from old radio parts. His music is a mesmerizing mix of traditional melodies from Mali, blended with traditional American delta blues.

Pieta Brown
The prolific daughter of folk music giant Greg Brown, Pieta Brown performed at WPT with guitarist Bo Ramsey. (2008 video)

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