Alan Lomax, along with his father John Lomax, is one of rock ‘n’ roll’s true unsung heroes. He wasn’t an ace guitar shredder or a multi-octave crooner; he didn’t really have much musical talent at all. Rather, Alan Lomax was a collector. Working for the Library of Congress in the late 1930’s and 1940’s, Lomax archived massive collections of folk music from around the world, most famously through his work recording early American folk and blues musicians like Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly.
Alan Lomax in Haiti is a 10-disc and two book boxed set of the recordings made and collected by Lomax during his 1936-37 trek through Haiti. The recordings were made for the Library of Congress, and the set’s text includes Lomax’s actual writing while in the field. Check out some of said writing here.
The box set, though certainly a hefty purchase at 10-discs, offers a rare glimpse into a musical world not simply forgotten, but never really explored by American ears. Seventy years later, it’s better late than never. Pick up the set here.
If you’re in the New York area on Sunday, Dec. 13 and the thought of exploring seven-decades-old Haitian music’s got you excited, the whole experience will come full circle at Manhattan’s The Living Room, which will host live music from Haitian bands DJARARA and La Troupe Makandal, followed by music and film from the set, all capped off with clips from The Other Side of the Water, a documentary about DJARARA.