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  • June 2018
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Black History Month Spotlights Return to CLP Carrick!

Every Tuesday in February last year, CLP Carrick’s weekly teen program, Teen Thing, focused on a different African American pioneer with a creative activity related to the accomplishments of said pioneer.  We made stop-motion zombie flicks in honor of Duane Jones, flipbook comics for Frank Braxton, 3D glasses for Valerie Thomas, and watched a documentary about the arts scene in Brooklyn in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It was all pretty awesome.

So… when the topic of continuing the weekly Black History Month events came up this January, Teen Think, Carrick’s Teen Advisory Group, voted unanimously to continue the spotlights with this year’s theme of music.  Throughout February, Teen Thing will be spotlighting innovative and influential African American musicians who have significantly contributed to the sounds of rock, jazz, punk, and hip hop – and it all starts this week!

Tuesday, February 4th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Blues and Early Rock and Roll

The mysterious Robert Johnson

Into artists like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Jack White, and The Black Keys??? Come find out about the African American blues and rock musicians that influenced them – artists like Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry.

Oh, and make your own harmonica while you’re at it!

Other events include:

Tuesday, February 11th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: All That Jazz

Pittsburgh’s Mary Lou Williams

Tuesday, February 18th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Punk 101 – Bad Brains

Washington D.C.’s legendary Bad Brains

Tuesday, February 25th
Teen Thing / Black History Month Spotlight: Hip Hop and Change

Saul Williams

Find out where the music you like comes from at our Black History Month Spotlights!  Teen Thing happens every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM and is open to anyone in grades 6-12 or age 12-18.

Jon : Carrick

A Global Jukebox Goes Digital

If you’re a music lover like me, you probably spend a lot of time building playlists in your iTunes library, browsing random music videos on YouTube, checking out new artists with Pandora or Spotify, and scrolling through thousands of songs on your iPod. From Drake to dubstep, from Lady Gaga to some random guy playing a cover of “Bad Romance” on a banjo in his kitchen—all you need to do is start searching, and in seconds you can uncover an endless array of musical experiences.  

It’s hard to imagine the world before these awesome digital technologies expanded our access to all kinds of culture & media, allowing us to become master collectors of music both popular and underground. Way back in the day, amazing music was happening everywhere, of course, but without any hyper-connected media-sharing platforms, tons of that stuff stayed hidden away in small towns, tiny villages, and obscure little blues bars.

Enter Alan Lomax (1915-2002), the fearless American folklorist who spent much of his life traveling the world, meeting people across the continents, and making recordings of them talking & playing traditional folk music. Alan was the son of John Lomax, another intrepid music-hunter, and in their lifetimes they collected the sounds that defined the places they visited, from blues and bluegrass to country and gospel. They even met some legends along the way, like folk hero Woody Guthrie, and blues masters Muddy Waters and Lead Belly, who inspired later artists like Nirvana and the Rolling Stones.

Sonny Terry (obscured), Woody Guthrie, Lilly Mae Ledford, Alan Lomax, New York, 1944.

Sonny Terry (obscured), Woody Guthrie, Lilly Mae Ledford, Alan Lomax, New York, 1944.

If you’re thinking it would be awesome to dig into the Alan Lomax archives and school yourself on the stuff that paved the way for so much modern musical goodness, you are in luck. The Association for Cultural Equity has just announced their Global Jukebox project, wherein this vast wonderland of material will be digitized and made available to the public online.  More than 17,000 tracks will be ready to stream by the end of the month, but in the meantime you can check out audio and video clips over at the project’s website or browse the Alan Lomax Collection online at the Library of Congress’ Center for American Folklife.

You can also read about the epic adventures of Alan Lomax in Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World or check out the documentary Lomax, The Songhunter, which chronicles his journeys through Europe. Or you can start listening to some of the music Lomax recorded on his journeys.  

By introducing diverse people and their music to the public, Alan Lomax helped to break racial and ethnic boundaries and usher in a new era of cultural connection as he immortalized musical treasures from around the world.  As Bob Dylan put it “Alan was one of those who unlocked the secrets of this kind of music. So if we’ve got anybody to thank, it’s Alan. Thanks, Alan.”

Lomax in the Caribbean in 1962

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