Banjoist Jayme Stone Launches Alan Lomax Project

Email today from a banjo player (sorry, ‘banjoist’) named Jayme Stone:

Big Day, Cousin! I just launched my first-ever Kickstarter campaign to make an album with Grammy-winning singer Tim O’Brien, Bruce MolskyBrittany Haas, Moira SmileyMargaret Glaspy, Eli WestGreg GarrisonJulian Lage and more. We’d love for you to share the campaign on your blog, on Facebook and Twitter. Be among the first to feature our short documentary. Here are links for a high res photo and the campaign.

Well, we know some of those folks, so what’s this all about?  To find out, I click on a link and go here:


Focusing on songs collected by folklorist and field recording pioneer Alan Lomax, this “collaboratory” brings together some of North America’s most distinctive and creative roots musicians to revive, recycle and re-imagine traditional music. The repertoire includes African-American a cappella singing from the Georgia Sea Islands, Bahamian sea shanties, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: muleskinners, roustabouts, sawyers, prisoners, homemakers and schoolchildren. . .

The plan is to put together an album of these songs collected by Alan Lomax (how to choose amongst the hundreds, probably thousands, of songs—must be quite a challenge!).  Jayme plans to raise funds for this project using Kickstarter.  For those not familiar with Kickstarter, as I understand it you set an account goal and a deadline.  If you don’t raise the dollars you’ve set as a goal, the contributors don’t get charged, and you’re back to square one.  For a recording, it’s a form of ‘pre-selling’ the album in order to raise money for recording and producing.  In the Internet age, you can have the help of a Web agency like Kickstarter to keep it all up front.

Our Kickstarter goal of $25k will cover only the essentials: studio time, engineering, editing, mixing, mastering, modest musician fees and manufacturing. Because Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding, we felt it important to set a goal that will ensure the album gets made and that we hope is within reach. That said, we would love to surpass our ask and secure the funding needed for the full expression of the project. The actual budget is $50k, so all pledges beyond our goal will go towards other key elements: design, a national publicity campaign, scholarly liner notes, a double album, documentary film and an interactive website with exclusive interviews and links to listen to source field recordings. . .

Well, that’s a lot more than just a CD.  But now it’s up to you.  If you think this is a worthy project, and want to support it, go to the link above and read about the contribution levels and what you’ll get for them (beyond supporting the project), starting with a download of the recording and arriving at (for $5,000 backers) a concert in your home.

Jayme Stone describes himself as “Banjoist, Composer, Instigator.”  He’s not just a banjo picker, and maybe doesn’t know any tuning jokes.  He and other virtuoso artists have been making albums of world folk tunes and original compositions—to learn more, go to his website.

The Lomax Project seems to me a worthwhile endeavor; the work of Alan (and his father, John) was essential to bringing to light and preserving the vast amount of traditional music from which country and bluegrass stem.  If this will bring the Lomax legacy back into public consciousness, that’s all to the good.  My only worry is the tendancy of folkies to lose the rough-and-rowdy edge of our musical roots in favor of overly sophisticated—not to say ‘boring’—renditions.  Remember that the performers of dance tunes or a capella ballads of the past were not afraid to cut loose, nor to worry about wrong notes.   Let’s hope that in reinterpreting the originals, Jayme and his colleagues don’t stray too far from them. /CL

UPDATE: Jayme responds:

Thanks so much for your support, Lynn.  Really.

I appreciate your “warning” at the end.  I too like rough-hewn edges and some grit in this music and we’re definitely aiming to keep it real.  Lomax used to say he liked his bluegrass “with the bark still on.”  We recorded the first session all in one room, with no headphones and the vocals and harmonies sung live around a single mic.  Good times.

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1 Response to Banjoist Jayme Stone Launches Alan Lomax Project

  1. Pingback: Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project Coming to Massachusetts Nov 6-7-8 | Hillbilly at Harvard

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