Palm Pictures announced that on October 30th, a 4-CD box set, single disc “Best Of” and DVD/VHS box sets entitled “AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC” will be released as the companion pieces to a television documentary of the same name. The series will be broadcast in primetime on PBS on four consecutive Mondays beginning October 29th at 10 p.m.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the concept of “American Music” did not exist. By the end of the century, American music is the most recognized and influential in the world. “AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC” explores the development of American music genres during this exciting period in history. Each one-hour episode features rarely seen historic footage and musical performances by the pioneers of American-roots music. It also traces the cultural evolution that shaped and influenced this country’s rich tapestry of music. Each audio CD matches an episode. Masters in the fields of Folk, Country, Blues, Gospel, Western Swing, Bluegrass, Cajun, Zydeco, Tejano and Native American music are celebrated. The astonishing performance footage is placed in context by colorful interviews with some of the artists themselves, their peers, family and friends.
The box set contains over 75 classic recordings, a wealth of photographs, and liner notes written by Bob Santelli, Holly George-Warren and Charles Wolfe, all of who contributed to the companion coffee table book that will be released in November on Abrams Books/Rolling Stone Press.
The “AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC” team includes: producer/director Jim Brown and producer/editor Sam Pollard (with six Emmy Awards, a Cable Ace Award, a Peabody Award and an Oscar nomination between them), as well as music-industry veteran and Bob Dylan manager Jeff Rosen, Palm Entertainment Chairman and music industry legend Chris Blackwell and Richard Bauer, who co-founded the Sony Legacy reissue program.
Discussing the origins of this project in the liner notes, Jim Brown notes: “Having produced and directed a number of American music documentaries and television concerts during the last 25 years, I was aware that many of the great pioneers and innovators of American roots music had been documented on film. Much of their recorded work has been catalogued and reissued by record companies. Unfortunately, the film footage of these musicians lay scattered in various private and public archives around the world. Probably only a handful of filmmakers, collectors, and record producers were aware of the extent of this dispersed body of work, and I feared that future generations might not ever get to see it. Several years ago, I began to talk to friends about ways that this material could be consolidated in a documentary series that would chronicle one of the most exciting developments in American music.”
Adds Brown: “Nearly every artist we focus on first learned music via the folk tradition within their communities yet eventually went on to have their music commercialized through radio, records and concerts. Collectively, we decided to adapt a relatively new term, American Roots Music, to describe the artists and music featured in the series. American Roots Music seemed less confusing than the sometimes contradictory definitions that surround American folk music.”
Collaborating to create this series are the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, Experience Music Project, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and AT&T.
“The DVD and CD release of ‘AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC’ is an important historical resource and an exciting initiative for Palm Pictures,” says Chris Blackwell. “We are proud to join America’s most prestigious cultural institutions in supporting this landmark project.”