78 Project


A journey across America to record today’s musicians with authentic 1930’s technology in a quest to connect with the haunting recordings of the past.

Inspired by the field recordings of Alan Lomax, The 78 Project is on a mission to record today’s musicians with yesterday’s technology. With just one microphone, an authentic 1930′s PRESTO direct-to-disc recorder, and a blank lacquer disc, musicians are given the opportunity to cut a record anywhere they choose, finding in that adventure a new connection to our cultural legacy.

The 78 Project records musicians as they perform early American songs – exactly as they were originally recorded, instantaneously onto 78rpm lacquer discs. With one microphone, one 1930’s Presto direct-to-acetate disk recorder, and one blank 78 record, artists have a chance to cut a record anywhere they choose. It’s a haunting, magical time travel experience when we play back our freshly cut acetate – we’re hearing a sound almost a century old, but recorded only moments earlier.

The 78 Project began as an acclaimed series of web episodes, which we have shot continuously for more than a year with generous and talented musicians in New York City.

The 78 Project: International Blues Express – “Hanna” from The 78 Project on Vimeo.

Since August of 2012, we have been traveling across the country on a series of recording road trips, stopping along the way to visit with modern musicians and local legends in their homes and hometown haunts, and to tour the collections that hold our national musical treasures like the Alan Lomax Archives, the Library of Congress, the Southern Folklife Center, and the Smithsonian.

The process of making a 78rpm field recording is raw and the challenge of immediacy for a performer is inspiring. Each acetate we cut tells its own unique history, its own tale of circumstance and the hopeful anticipation and potential for disastrous failure etched into its very grooves. In locations from the Mississippi Delta to the Gardens of Brooklyn, we have witnessed artists performing with incredible intensity of focus and singularity of purpose as we engage our Presto recorders. And when we nervously and anxiously play back our new record for the artist, the moment is an intense emotional experience.

The 78 Project: Volume 1 (Limited Edition Vinyl + Digital)

Format: LP (This album plays at 33.3rpm)
Release date: 28 January 2014

The 78 Project: Volume 1 contains 13 one-of-a-kind one-take recordings by extraordinary artists not available anywhere else. The tracks were recorded in locations all around New York City, including hotel rooms, private residences, public spaces and even one alleyway. Because each track was recorded in its own unique location in one take onto a 78rpm lacquer disc using a very vintage 1930s recorder, they often contain sonic treasures and a magical, antique quality. The album is as much of an adventure to listen to as it was to make.

Complete Track Listing:

Side A

1. The Coo Coo Bird – Richard Thompson
Recorded at the Roger Smith Hotel in NYC on February 15, 2012

2. Old Paint – Loudon Wainwright III
Recorded at Brooklyn Rod & Gun on April 2, 2012

3. Glory, Glory – The Wandering
Luther Dickinson, Shardé Thomas, Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June
Recorded behind Joe’s Pub in NYC on May 18, 2012

4. The Wayfaring Stranger – Rosanne Cash with John Leventhal
Recorded in Chelsea, NYC, on April 26, 2012

5. More Pretty Girls Than One – Marshall Crenshaw
Recorded onstage at City Winery in NYC on May 20, 2012

6. Wildwood Flower – Valerie June
Recorded at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn on February 13, 2012

7. A Little Love, A Little Kiss – Leah Siegel
Recorded at the Windmill Factory in Brooklyn on April 23, 2012

Side B

8. How Can I Keep From Singing – Adam Arcuragi
Recorded in Harlem on April 30, 2012

9. Omie Wise – Reverend John DeLore & Kara Suzanne
Recorded at the High Horse Saloon in Brooklyn on September 2, 2011

10. Railroad Boy (Died of Love) – Amy LaVere
Amy LaVere, David Cousar, Shawn Zorn, Krista Wroten
Recorded on 141st St. in Harlem on December 3, 2011

11. Red River Valley – Joe Henry & Lisa Hannigan
Recorded in SoHo, NYC on June 15, 2012

12. Banks of the Ohio – Vandaveer
Mark Charles Heidinger, Rose Guerin, J. Tom Hnatow
Recorded at Ye Olde Carlton Arms Hotel in NYC on December 16, 2011

13. The Brown Girl – Dawn Landes
Recorded at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on September 1, 2011

More info about The 78 Project: http://the78project.com/

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