Beck​, Alabama Shakes​, Willie Nelson​, Many More Record Sessions For New Jack White Miniseries “American Epic​”

Executive-produced by Jack White​, T Bone Burnett​ and Robert Redford​, the first of three parts of the years-in-the-making American Epic miniseries about 1920s American music and the beginnings of sound recording will air May 16th on PBS and BBC. Beck​, Alabama Shakes​, Willie Nelson​, Taj Mahal​, Rhiannon Giddens​, Stephen Stills​, Elton John​, NAS​, The Avett Brothers​, Los Lobos​ and (proving it’s been in production for years, the late) Merle Haggard are among the many artists featured. Narrated by Redford and featuring newly discovered film footage and photographs, American Epic was written by co-producers Bernard MacMahon, Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson and directed by MacMahon with Dan Gitlin as supervising editor.


“In American Epic we can examine how important the fact is that when phonograph records were invented, for the first time ever, women, minorities, poor rural men and even children were given the opportunity to say whatever they wanted in song, for the whole world to hear, shockingly without much censorship,” Jack White says in a press statement. “What they were allowed to say on phonograph recordings, they were not allowed to speak in public or in person. That is an astounding thought.”

The PBS special is but one component of what’s a much larger project. A companion book was released on May 2nd, and the soundtrack – featuring roots staples of the 1920s and 30s by the likes of Charlie Patton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mississippi John Hurt, Jimmie Rodgers, etc – is out May 12th both as a 5 CD box with 100 songs and a 15-track vinyl LP record (also available on a single CD, digitally and on streaming services). A separate release called “American Epic: The Sessions” will be available on 2 CDs, 3 vinyl LPs and digitally on June 9th and features contemporary artists covering the songs from the American Epic soundtrack (tracklist below). Audiophile vinyl options will follow June 16th from Jack’s Third Man Records. The first electrical recording system was reconstructed for use by the contemporary artists in the feature-length performance special The American Epic Sessions. Finally, a companion documentary will premiere in theaters on June 6th.

American Epic: The Soundtrack

1 Gonne Die with My Hammer in My Hand by Williamson Brothers & Curry
2 On the Road Again by Memphis Jug Band
3 Frankie by Mississippi John Hurt
4 Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow by The Carter Family
5 Mal Hombre by Lydia Mendoza
6 Peg and Awl by Carolina Tar Heels
7 Tomi Tomi by Sol K. Bright with The Aloha Serenaders
8 The Indian Tom Tom by Big Chief Henry’s Indian String Band
9 Cocaine Habit Blues by Hattie Hart & The Memphis Jugband
10 Up Above My Head by Sister Rosetta Tharpe
11 Down the Dirt Road Blues by Charley Patton
12 Allons A Lafayette by Joseph Falcon
13 Stackalee by Frank Hutchison
14 Waiting for a Train by Jimmie Rodgers
15 Jole Blon by The Breaux Brothers with Louis Michot


American Epic: The Sessions

1 Killer Diller Blues by Alabama Shakes
2 On the Road Again by Nas
3 Candy Man by Blind Boy Paxton
4 2 Fingers of Whiskey by Elton John and Jack White
5 The Coo Coo Bird by Steve Martin & Edie Brickell
6 Like a Rose by Ashley Monroe
7 The Only Man Wilder than Me by Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
8 Matrimonial Intentions by Jack White
9 One Hour Mama by Rhiannon Giddens
10 Mal Hombre by Ana Gabriel
11 El Cascabel by Los Lobos
12 Closer Walk with Thee by The Avett Brothers
13 Fourteen Rivers, Fourteen Floods by Beck
14 Nobody’s Dirty Business by Bettye LaVette
15 St. Louis Blues by Pokey Lafarge
16 High Water Everywhere, Part 2 by Taj Mahal
17 One Mic by Nas
18 Pretty Saro by Rhiannon Giddens
19 Jubilee by Ashley Monroe and The Americans
20 Tous les Matins by Lost Bayou Ramblers
21 When I Woke Up this Morning by Bettye LaVette
22 If the River was Whiskey by Frank Fairfield
23 Stealin’ Stealin’ by Raphael Saadiq
24 Jordan am a Hard Road to Travel by The Avett Brothers
25 Sail Away Ladies by The Americans
26 Tomi Tomi by The Hawaiians
27 Last Kind Words by Christine Pizzuti
28 Come On in My Kitchen by Stephen Stills
29 Mama’s Angel Child by Jack White
30 Josephine by Pokey Lafarge
31 Hilo Hanakahi by The Hawaiians
32 Old Fashioned Love by Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard

American Epic (5 CD Box)

Disc 1
1 The Coo Coo Bird (The Cuckoo) – Clarence Ashley
2 On the Road Again – Memphis Jug Band
3 The Panama Limited – Bukka White
4 Indian War Whoop – Hoyt Ming and His Pep Steppers
5 ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, Pt. 1 – Frank Stokes
6 K. C. Railroad Blues – Andrew & Jim Baxter
7 I Am Bound for the Promised Land – Alfred G. Karnes
8 Cottonfield Blues, Pt. 2 – Garfield Akers
9 I Wish I Was a Mole In the Ground – Bascom Lamar Lunsford
10 Down On Penny’s Farm – Bentley Boys
11 Foldin’ Bed – Whistler’s Jug Band
12 Greenback Dollar – Weems String Band
13 Tallahatchie River Blues – Mattie Delaney
14 Walk Right In – Cannon’s Jug Stompers
15 Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow – The Carter Family
16 Old Dog Blue – Jim Jackson
17 Bayou Teche – Columbus Fruge
18 Cool Drink of Water Blues – Tommy Johnson
19 Train On the Island – J. P. Nestor

Disc 2
1 My Heart Keeps Singing – Elder J.E. Burch
2 Ninety-Nine Year Blues – Julius Daniels
3 I Get My Whiskey From Rockingham – Earl Johnson and his Clodhoppers
4 Death’s Black Train Is Coming – Rev. J. M. Gates
5 Waiting for a Train – Jimmie Rodgers
6 Darling, Where Have You Been So Long? – Tenneva Ramblers
7 Rocky Road – Alabama Sacred Harp Singers
8 Ma Blond Est Partie – Amadie Breaux, Cleoma Breaux & Ophey Breaux
9 Peg and Awl – Carolina Tar Heels
10 Chocolate to the Bone – Barbecue Bob
11 Down On Me – Eddie Head and Family
12 Prenez Courage (with Joseph Falcon & Ophy Breaux) – Cleoma Breaux
13 Pickin’ Off Peanuts – Dilly and his Dill Pickles
14 Just Because – Nelstone’s Hawaiians
15 Dupree Blues – Willie Walker
16 Ladies On the Steamboat – Burnett & Rutherford
17 Mamma, ‘Tain’t Long Fo’ Day – Blind Willie McTell

Disc 3
1 Cecilia – Cuarteto Flores
2 La Coquetera – Los Borinquenos
3 Coconito – Guty Cárdenas Y Lencho
4 Lovesick Blues – Emmett Miller
5 Long Tall Mama – Big Bill Broonzy
6 John Henry Blues – Two Poor Boys
7 Mr. Tom Hughes’ Town – Lead Belly
8 Louis Collins – Mississippi John Hurt
9 I Am the Light of the World – Blind Gary Davis
10 Fifty Miles of Elbow Room – Rev. F.W. McGee
11 Chant of the Eagle Dance – Hopi Indian Chanters
12 Hilo Hula – Mike Hanapi & The Ilima Islanders
13 If the River Was Whiskey – Charlie Poole
14 Stackalee – Frank Hutchison
15 The Wreck of The ’97  – Ernest Stoneman
16 Faded Coat of Blue – Buell Kazee
17 Country Blues – Dock Boggs
18 Sail Away Ladies – Uncle Dave Macon and His Fruit-Jar Drinkers
19 Sail Away Lady – Uncle Bunt Stephens
20 Sally Gooden – Eck Robertson
21  Arkansas Traveller – Don Richardson

Disc 4
1 Hard Time Blues – Lane Hardin
2 Down the Dirt Road Blues – Charley Patton
3 Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home – Banjo Joe
4 Hastings Street – Blind Blake & Charlie Spand
5 See That My Grave’s Kept Clean – Blind Lemon Jefferson
6 Gonna Have ‘Lasses In the Morning – Golden Melody Boys
7 New Orleans Stop Time – Memphis Minnie & Bumblebee Slim
8 Prove It On Me Blues – Ma Rainey
9 Gonne Die with My Hammer in My Hand – Williamson Brothers & Curry
10 Last Kind Words Blues – Geeshie Wiley
11 Banjoreno  – Dixieland Jug Blowers
12 It’s a Good Thing – Beale Street Sheiks
13 Trust In God and Do the Right  – Blind Willie Davis
14 Someday Baby Blues – Sleepy John Estes
15 Lonesome Road Blues – Sam Collins
16 Future Blues – Willie Brown
17 Bull Doze Blues – Henry Thomas
18 Brown Skin Gal (Down the Lane)  – Massey Family
19 Henry Lee aka Young Hunting – Dick Justice
20 Old Country Rock – William Moore
21 La Danseuse – Delma Lachney & Blind Uncle Gaspard
22 My Black Mama, Pt. 1 & 2 – Son House
23 Cypress Grove Blues – Skip James

Disc 5
1 Cross Road Blues – Robert Johnson
2 Mal Hombre – Lydia Mendoza
3 Sunshine Special – Frenchy’s String Band
4 Old Jim Canan’s – Robert Wilkins
5 Les Blues De Voyage – Amédé Ardoin & Dennis McGee
6 The Lost Child – Stripling Brothers
7 I’m Gonna Cross the River Jordan Some of These Days – Jaybird Coleman
8 Tomi Tomi (with the Aloha Serenaders) – Sol K. Bright
9 Sittin’ On Top of the World – Mississippi Sheiks
10 James Alley Blues – Richard “Rabbit” Brown
11 The Indian Tom Tom – Big Chief Henry’s Indian String Band
12 Blues In a Bottle – Prince Albert Hunt’s Texas Ramblers
13 Je Me Suis En Alle – Bartmon Montet & Joswell Dupuis
14 Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground – Blind Willie Johnson
15 E Mama Ea – Sol Hoopii & His Novelty Quartette
16 Ghost Dance – Truett & George
17 Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind On Jesus) – Roosevelt Graves & Brother
18 Allons a Lafayette – Joseph Falcon
19 Corrido De Joaquin Murrieta, Pt. 1 & 2 – Los Madrugadores
20  Denomination Blues (Part 1 & 2) – Washington Phillips


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