We’re in the midst of the Alan Lomax Centennial and the achievement of the indefatigable folklorist radiates life-affirming goodness as strongly as it ever did. Global Jukebox is the digital-only imprint of the Alan Lomax Archive, and on July 7 their latest installment Music for Work and Play: Carriacou, Grenada, 1962 will be available for download. Focusing heavily on a cappella groups and string bands with the added enlightenment of interview segments, it adds impressively to the already vast wealth of Lomax’s research and documentation, the sheer value of which is essentially incalculable.
Alan Lomax was a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, writer, scholar, activist, and more, but less grandly he remains part of a family tradition spanning three centuries; he’s the son of distinguished folklorist John A. Lomax and father to Anna Lomax Wood, who currently runs the Lomax Archive in addition to heading the Association for Cultural Equity.
Founded by her father, the ACE is a charitable organization housed at New York City’s Hunter College. Its objective is to “explore and preserve the world’s expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement.” By extension the Global Jukebox, which Lomax and a team of developers began in 1989, attempts to “organize and synthesize the findings of anthropology and musicology that evoked relationships between expressive style, human geography, and long-standing patterns of subsistence and social life.”
One of the benefits of digital innovation is how it aids in the dissemination of large stores of historical material while simultaneously helping non-profits keep costs at a minimum. This shouldn’t bum-out fans of physical media (of which I am one) and lovers of vinyl (ditto) for it’s become pretty plain digital itself is not an enemy, though soulless streaming sites might be. And yet as a correspondent for this website I would be remiss in not mentioning Global Jukebox’s teaming with a handful of other organizations to utilize a wide array of formats.