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Lomax the Songhunter

Lomax the Songhunter
Alan Lomax (1915-2002) devoted his life to recording the world's folk tunes before they would permanently disappear with the rise of the modern music industry. In LOMAX THE SONGHUNTER filmmaker Rogier Kappers follows the route that Lomax took across America and beyond its borders-traveling to remote villages in Spain and Italy, hearing memories and music from the farmers, shepherds and weavers whose songs Lomax recorded decades earlier.

The film also tells Lomax's story by interviewing friends such as Pete Seeger, using archival recordings of music greats Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, and gathering footage of the cotton fields, rock quarries and prisons where Alan Lomax captured America's quintessential music.

'Mr. Kappers, in an inspired stroke, travels to places Mr. Lomax visited during a long career of collecting the world's folk music on tape. He finds some of the people Mr. Lomax captured and plays the old recordings for them. Watching their faces light up is beautiful.' - Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

'Enriching... Dutch filmmaker Rogier Kappers juxtaposes comments from such notables as Pete Seeger with archival footage of Leadbelly ... to tell Lomax's remarkable story.' - TV Guide

'This program features priceless interviews and archival footage of folk luminaries like Pete Seeger. The documentary's Dutch filmmaker, Rogier Kappers, even sets out in a beat-up Volkswagen to go down the very rural roads Lomax traveled more than half a century earlier.' - Time Out New York

'For those familiar only with Lomax's work in the South, the documentary is an engaging introduction to the larger worldview the song collector envisioned... But it is Kappers' inspired trip in a beat-up Volkswagan bus over the same roads that Lomax traveled that unearths the true meaning behind his work.' - Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times

'Mr. Lomax ... says in archival footage that when he played back recordings of work songs by Texas prisoners breaking rock or Scottish women beating tartan, 'it changed everything for them.' Re-creating the power of those moments of recognition is the greatest strength of this moving ... work by Rogier Kappers.' - Anne Bothwell, Dallas Morning News

'A tribute to a man who set out to prove that the most obscure melody from the far side of the planet deserved to be heard more than the latest overhyped pop sensation.' - Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

'Poignant ... Kappers goes back to Lomax's old haunts-the Scottish Hebrides, the villages of Italy and Spain-and talks to the people whose heritage he lovingly preserved.' - Joanne Weintraub, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

'A fascinating film.' - Greg Haymes, Albany Times Union

'LOMAX THE SONGHUNTER profiles a larger-than-life figure who set out to do no less than 'capture the world' with his tape recorder. Dutch filmmaker Rogier Kappers . . . presents a wealth of footage he shot [following Lomax's] quest to capture the music and folkways of the world before they vanished.' - Chattanooga News Free Press

'Incredibly moving.' - Stan Rijven, Radio 1

'A beautiful portrait.' - Volkskrant

'An honest, warm and cheerful film.' - Metro

'I was impressed by the empathy shown for Lomax's work and the man-the filmmaker's art at its best. There were also several wonderful moments when people laughed, cheered, even guffawed, or where stunned to silence in wonderment. It was emotionally a very moving experience and one I shall never forget.' - Dr. Ian Russell, Director, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen


Main credits

Kappers, Rogier (film director)
Verhey, Joost (film producer)
Krass, Michael (narrator)

Other credits

Director of photography, Adri Schrover; sound, Harold Jalving; editor, Jos Driessen.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

American Studies
Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Studies
Western Europe


Alan Lomax; Lomax; musicologist; ethnography; audio recordings; folkways; Pete Seeger; US History; folk music; Blues; American folk music; songhunter; song hunter; Smithsonian; documentary; film; video; DVD; prison; work songs; Appalachian; culture; records; ; "Lomax the Songhunter"; Icarus Films