Wed 26th June 2013
Vivid Projects
Buy Tickets

Film, stories & images from the Mississippi Records and Alan Lomax archive

A film, music and aural presentation by Eric Isaacson of Mississippi Records, Portland, USA. Featuring archival film, images & stories spanning 1890 to the present day, illustrating Eric’s own special history of underground music movements and bonafide individuals. The live footage performances are culled from rarely seen film shot during Alan Lomax’s North American travels between 1978 to 1985 and Mississippi Record’s own enormous library of folk blues, gospel, esoteric, international & punk music.


The endless cycle of conflict and incident that exists between the subterranean and marginalised music scenes and the mainstream music industry will be explored by Eric without using language or images associated with simplified boring dogma, slogan chanting or political rhetoric. Mississippi Records, in a short time, has bypassed most antiquated record label conventions and has, through a few guiding principles and great taste, gained cult status, lots of sales and love and praise from all quarters.

The core footage from the moving image show will feature video footage from the 400 hours shot by Alan Lomax between 1978 & 1985 (an era that seems to have been overlooked by archivists). Highlights include the first R.L. Burnside moving image, Skip James’ buddy Jack Owens, Otha Turner leading the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band at one of his picnics, Boyd & Ruth May Rivers, the Hicks and Proffitt families of Beech Mountain, North Carolina (from whom the song “Tom Dooley” originally came), Quad-Split camera footage of the 1982 Holly Springs Sacred Harp Convention, a funeral parade with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Pretty White Eagle Mardi Gras Indians, Ernie K-Doe at Winnie’s in New Orleans, One String guitar playing, breakdancing & much more. This footage is remarkable because it shows folk cultures in full blossom during a time when pretty much no one gave a damn about them & barely anyone was bothering to record them. As is always the case with vibrant cultures, the blues, country, folk & jazz that Lomax was filming was rapidly mutating to fit the times, so the footage has a feel very contemporary to the late 1970s & early 1980s, yet it is very foreign to our popular mass culture image of what was happening during that period.


Beyond the Lomax footage there will be rare film of musicians associated with the Mississippi Records label such as one man band Abner Jay, angel channeling Bishop Perry Tillis, Rev. Louis Overstreet & his four sons, legendary folk singer Michael Hurley & many more. Each film segment will be introduced with brief stories about the musicians. There will also be a short slide show that tells the story of the underground music industry & Mississippi Records.


Mississippi Records has produced over 150 releases on LP & 100 releases on cassette tape that crisscross’s borders, digging up joyous albums, singles and unheard songs and sounds that where being left under the bed, out in the shed and unloved by most record companies. They have managed to do this on a shoestring budget, without ever advertising or engaging in promotion of any kind & distributing only through DIY avenues. Among it’s catalogue you can find Fred McDowell, Mahmoud Ahmed, Irma Thomas, Dog Faced Hermans, George “Bongo Joe” Coleman, Kleenex/Liliput, The Georgia Sea Island Singers, The Clean, Alamayahu Eshete, Dead Moon, Clara Rockmore, The Ex, Washington Phillips, Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble, G.I. Gurdjieff and boxes full killer comps as well as artists like Marisa Anderson, Peter Buck and Michael Hurley.

‘The Lomax footage is being provided by the Association for Cultural Equity as part of their continuing effort to make important cultural information available to all who seek it.’

This event is produced in partnership with Vivid Projects and will be presented at their new space:

16 Minerva Works
158 Fazeley Street
Digbeth, Birmingham
B5 5RS


Tour preview:

Mississippi Records Tour Preview Film from plastic shaman on Vimeo.