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A self-described “song-hunter,” the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930’s and ‘40s, armed with primitive recording equipment and a keen love of the Delta’s music heritage. Crisscrossing the towns and hamlets where the blues began, Lomax gave voice to such greats as Leadbelly, Fred MacDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others, all of whom made their debut recordings with him.
The Land Where the Blues Began is Lomax’s “stingingly well-written cornbread-and-moonshine odyssey” (Kirkus Reviews) through America’s musical heartland. Through candid conversations with bluesmen and vivid, firsthand accounts of the landscape where their music was born, Lomax’s “discerning reconstructions . . . give life to a domain most of us can never know . . . one that summons us with an oddly familiar sensation of reverence and dread” (The New York Times Book Review). The Land Where the Blues Began captures the irrepressible energy of soul of people who changed American musical history.
Winner of the 1993 National Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, The Land Where the Blues Began is now available in a handsome new paperback edition.
Co-founder--with folklorist father John A. Lomax--of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, Alan Lomax traveled the South "from the Brazos bottoms of Texas to the tidewater country of Virginia" in search of the wellspring of American blues. Previously the author of Mister Jelly Roll, Lomax stalks the ghosts of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy and Charlie Patton, among many other blues pioneers. This winner of the 1993 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction is more than just another profile of a musical genre. It's an intimate diary of a purely American art form born of a powerful mix of despair and hope.