On Friday, Sept. 5th, I, along with my sister Sue, took the train from 30th Street Station in Phila., to Washington D.C. to see the screening of the documentary my daughter co-created with Alex Steyermark. Their presentation was the kick
-off to a series called the "Botkin Lectures" at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, the Folklife Center.
Lavinia and Alex, using 1930's and 1940's recorders called the Presto, record live on the spot 78 rpm records of contemporary musicians singing and playing traditional songs that have some meaning for them from their personal history. Sometimes it is a song taught by an ancestor, sometimes a song picked up while the musician was growing up or a traditional song learned from a work setting. I was reminded of the oral history project down at Bivalve where they recorded the work songs of the oyster shuckers as they worked and the memories of their descendants who once lived in the ghsottown Shellpile.
Anyhow, at this presentation, they were introduced by the FolkLife Center then they screened their documentary, then, they recorded a choral group singing a Ukrainian song from the Lost village of Chernobyl, and a song from the Republic of Georgia. We were all thrilled when they played back the 78 recording of the folk singers. The clarity and integrity of the recording were stunning.
The choral group spoke of the music they were singing, then Alex and Lavinia took many enthusiastic questions from the audience of about 50 people, many of whom were experts in folklore, music, recording technology, and 78 records. Some were musicians and others were field recordists in their own right. It was a varied and interesting audience.
It was fun to ride the train, as any of you who have followed this blog would know, I am a train enthusiast (not an expert, mind you, simpy a person who loves trains - among many other interests) but I hadn't been on a train in years and I took great interest in the stations as well: 30th Street Station to Union Station.
There are no words to describe my joy and pride in my daughter's accomplishment. It was a big risk for her to quit her job at ASCAP and take this big leap of faith into creating a work of art and raising the money on their own, but they did it and now they are starting off on another tour. They have already screened their film at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, a music and film festival in Nashville, and in Boston. For more, please visit their website. Next stop for them is LONDON!
If for some reason the link doesn't work, simply go to The 78 Project for recordings as well as the screening tour schedule.