Lucky from Washington D.C. asks: How did you come to know about Lomax and who he was, when most Americas don’t even recognize his name?
Rogier Kappers: I studied Visual Anthropology in the Netherlands. Lomax was part of the studies. Also, friends of me who are musicians bought parts of the CD series: The Alan Lomax Collection. While we were listening to some of those beautiful recordings and talking about Lomax, I got the idea of making a film on him.
Will from Indiana asks: In your journey to “retrace” Alan’s steps, did you experience the kind of magical feelings that Alan spoke of? If so, in what way?
Kappers: Yes, I did very often. We (the crew and I) were often moved by the situations that emerged. One of the important aims in the filming and editing of the film was to show and recall this feeling.
Peter from New York asks: The scene in which the villagers hear recordings of themselves from years back, and begin to dance was beautiful (the whole film was beautifully shot). How did you approach lighting your verité scenes?
Kappers: We worked whenever possible with available light, the cameraman used a HMI with a soft light when necessary.
James from New York asks: I’d like to know whether there’s a recording available for retail purchase that includes the song sung towards the end of the film by the Italian miner (solo voice with thumb harp; his son is shown on camera listening to his father). Also, if you could please provide the name of the singer and the song, I would appreciate it. The film was great! Thanks very much.
Rogier Kappers: The song is available on the Alan Lomax Collection: Italian Treasury: Sicily: Track 5. The Lomax Collectioni is available from Rounder Records. You find all the information on the song here.
Dennis from Missouri asks: Has the Lomax archive suffered from any deterioration in regard to the age of original recording masters? If so, has much been permanently lost?
Rogier Kappers: Many of the recordings were in surprisingly good shape when they were re-mastered and digitized between 1997 and 2005 to DAT/CD/computer files, etc. for archival purposes and re-release by Rounder Records. Alan Lomax himself took good care of the tapes and circumstances in which they were stored. However, some of the early wax cylinder recording have been lost.
Bob from California asks: In the film, Alan Lomax says that there should be more transmitters than only the few owned by those who can afford stations costing millions of dollars. Did you hear him talk at all about the internet as a global transmitting tool for music?
Rogier Kappers: I’m sure he said something about the possibilities of new media technologies somewhere in the first half of the 1990s (before his stroke).
Lomax won a prize — an interactive tool award — in 1993 for developing a multimedia CD for his global jukebox project. He has always been one of the first to use new technologies, so I’m sure he would have embraced the internet as a tool for distribution.
You can read more background on Lomax and his ideas at the website for the Alan Lomax Collection.
Steve from Washington asks: What was the lullaby heard towards the very end of this great film? My wife’s grandfather used to sing it to her.
Rogier Kappers: The lullaby is called “Pretty Little Horses” and it’s sung by Lomax himself on the record Texas Songs as Sung by Alan Lomax, which was released in the 1960s. I think it should be re-released! I am also busy making a soundtrack CD for Lomax the Songhunter, and I hope to include some of the songs Lomax sang.