“Year Of Lomax” Launched

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• June 23, 2017

John Lomax III

Nashville journalist and entrepreneur John Lomax III has announced a year-long celebration of his family’s contributions to American music.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, John Avery Lomax (1867-1948). The “Year of Lomax” celebration will include the release of a series of recordings and the reissue of a seminal folklore book.

The contributions of the Lomax family have touched the lives of such diverse figures as Muddy Waters, Guy Clark, Beyonce, Leadbelly, K.T. Oslin, Steve Earle and Nicki Minaj.

John Avery Lomax began collecting folk songs in 1908. He and his son Alan Lomax (1915-2002) are particularly noted for a 16,000-mile collecting trip that began in 1932 and was sponsored by the Library of Congress. Their efforts resulted in saving and preserving such immortal songs as “Home on the Range,” “Irene Goodnight,” “Git Along Little Dogies,” “Cotton Fields” and “Midnight Special.”

On the trip, they discovered Leadbelly, Muddy Waters and many other folk, gospel and blues pioneers. John Avery Lomax’s 1947 book about their expeditions, Adventures of a Ballad Hunter, will be reissued by the University of Texas Press later this year.

Lomax III is collaborating on a new introduction for the book with his son John Nova Lomax, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, as well as with his cousin Dr. Anna Lomax Wood, the daughter of Alan.

The first “Year of Lomax” project, however, is an album titled Folk. This is a collection of home recordings made by John Lomax II (1907-1974) in 1969. With liner notes by his son, Lomax III, it is now available on Sounds From Lomax Discs.

“The songs my father sings on Folk are part of the soundtrack of my life,” says Lomax III. “Now you can enjoy these vivid slices of our shared American heritage.”

Lomax II helped to establish The Houston Folklore Society, whose “graduates” include Oslin, Clark and Lucinda Williams. He managed Lightning Hopkins and aided Mance Lipscomb in becoming a recording artist. He also recorded two solo albums for Folkways Records, which remain in print today.

During his varied Nashville career, Lomax III has managed David Schnauffer, The Cactus Brothers, Townes Van Zandt and Earle. He won the CMA’s Jo Walker-Meador International Award in 2010.

The Lomax celebration unofficially began last year when Beyonce included samples from Lomax field recordings on the “Freedom” track of her blockbuster album Lemonade. The David Guetta-Nicki Minaj hit “Hey Mama” began with another Lomax sample, a prison song called “Rosie.”

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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