High and Lonesome Sound The Legacy of Roscoe Holcomb
Includes CD and DVD
Author/Photographer: John Cohen (born August 2, 1932, in Queens, New York) is a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers as well as a musicologist, photographer and filmmaker. Some of his best known images document the Abstract Expressionist scene centered on New York's Cedar Bar; gallery happenings by early performance artists; young Bob Dylan's arrival in New York; Beat Generation writers during the filming of Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie's film Pull My Daisy; and the "old time" musicians of Appalachia. (The title of Cohen's 1962 film, High Lonesome Sound, has become synonymous with that music.) He has been one of the most important "discoverers" of traditional musicians and singers, finding and recording Dillard Chandler, Roscoe Holcomb, and many banjo players, most notably on the album High Atmosphere.
Publisher/Date: Steidl (c. 2012) First Edition; CD/DVD edition
Format/Condition: New hardcover book with CD and DVD in Fine condition. 262 pages. Dimensions: 8 x 10.5 x 1.2 inches. Profusely illustrated in black-and-white.
Description: In 1959 John Cohen traveled to East Kentucky looking for what he calls old music. Cohen asked for names at local gas stations but soon ran out of leads, and drove off the highway onto the next dirt road. Here he stumbled across Roscoe Holcomb playing the banjo and singing on his front porch in a way says Cohen, "that made the hairs on my neck stand up on end." And so by pure chance began the lifelong friendship that is the background for "The High and Lonesome Sound."
Cohen visited Holcomb frequently over the next three decades, and made many photographs, films and records of his music. In time Holcomb, a poor coal miner by trade, became a regular feature on the American concert and festival circuits. The strange beauty and discomfort of his music--a mixture of blues, ballads and Baptist hymns, and unique through his high strained voice--was exposed to a larger audience. Nevertheless, Holcomb died alone in a nursing home in 1981. "The High and Lonesome Sound" combines Cohen's vintage photos, film and musical recordings as well as an anecdotal text into a multimedia tribute to this underappreciated legend of American music whose every performance was, in Cohen's words, "not just a rendition of music, but a test of something to be overcome."