Concerts and Radio

Alongside his work recording folk music in the field, Alan Lomax was a prolific radio producer, writing and hosting programs for the BBC and CBS from the 1930s through the ‘50s. This series is devoted to these shows, as well as to live concerts organized, produced, or hosted by Lomax.

The Martins and the Coys

Concert produced by Alan Lomax and People’s Songs, Inc. Recorded by the British Broadcasting Corporation in June 1944

Notes by Dave Samuelson; Introduction by Robert Cantwell

The Martins and the Coys, a ballad opera/radio play written by Elizabeth Lyttleton, is a fascinating curio in the Alan Lomax canon. The story is of feuding mountain families, modeled after the famed Hatfields and McCoys, who set aside their differences to defeat Hitler during World War II. A once-in-a-lifetime cast features acting and singing by Will Geer, Woody Guthrie (in his only documented acting role), Burl Ives, Lily May Ledford, Pete Seeger, Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith, and Hally Wood.

“That rarest of period pieces, one with style and substance. Listening to the unabashed patriotism of these performers, it's incomprehensible that within a decade, many would be blacklisted as un-American.” —John Morthland, editorial review,

Calypso at Midnight!

Concert produced by Alan Lomax and People’s Songs, Inc. and recorded live on acetate discs by Alan Lomax on December 21, 1946

Notes by Steve Shapiro, Donald R. Hill, and John Cowley

People’s Songs’ “Midnight Special” concerts (Blues at Midnight, Ballads at Midnight, Strings at Midnight, etc.) were staged between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. at New York’s Town Hall, offering a lively and budget-priced after-theater destination. Hosted by Alan Lomax, the Calypso at Midnight show was held in December 1946 during the height of America’s love affair with calypso. Three of the greatest New York-based calypsonians, Lord Invader, the Duke of Iron, and Macbeth the Great accompanied by Gerald Clark and His Invaders, perform a mix of well-known and original material, suavely introduced by Lomax. These CDs are a sentimental journey back to the historic days of early calypso, and back to the era when progressive politics and folk music were united.

Calypso after Midnight!

“...the entire performance gives and overview of calypso music as it existed in the mid-40s.... a vital document that demonstrates both the vigor of postwar calypso and Lomax’s strengths as promoter and musicologist.” —Dirty Linen

Sing Christmas and the Turn of the Year The Live Christmas Day 1957 Broadcast on BBC Radio

Written by Alan Lomax, produced by Charles Parker, and recorded by the BBC Home Service. Notes by Ken Hunt

This dazzling radio Christmas pageant aired on Christmas Day, 1957, using live hookups and local MCs from studios in Belfast, Birmingham, London, Wales, Plymouth, Derbyshire, and Scotland to capture and broadcast traditional carols, hymns, mummers’ play excerpts, the brand new skiffle style, and calypso and  African highlife from Britain’s immigrant communities. With Shirley Collins, Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Seamus Ennis, A.L. Lloyd, Flora MacNeil, Cyril Tawney and many, many more.

“Fans of uber-folklorist Alan Lomax will be floored by this holiday-oriented tour de force… The tightly scripted program features narration by Lomax, who waxes eloquent about the social and mystical roots of Britain’s Christmas traditions. Lomax was ahead of the curve in so many ways on this project, it’s hard to know where to begin — stylistically, technically, cross culturally — this was an ambitious, professionally realized broadcast that gathered together the best of Britain’s folk talent, and yet retained the charm of a grade school talent show. … Fascinating as a work of art and an historical document, this album is one of the jewels of Rounder’s extensive program reissuing Lomax’s vast recorded legacy. … A dazzling show!” —Slipcue