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NEW American Roots Music (DVD)

DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 26.25
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Product Description

They have taken 200+ years of music in the USA and made a very interesting story that ties in the many peoples and sounds and styles which ends up with this continuous musical tapestry that has them all woven together.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good product as discribed Dec 22 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Good documentary on the history of roots music in the usa. Lots of good video of live performances and good history
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5.0 out of 5 stars American Roots Music VHS Jan. 10 2002
I loved this series. It is very well-done. They have taken 200 years of music in this country (some goes back farther than that) and made a very interesting story that ties in the many peoples and sounds and styles. You end up with this continuous musical tapestry that has them all woven in. Boy, a lot is packed into a little viewing time. You see nice long excerpts of live performances of all types. There are interesting interviews with performers. The narration is informative and stays on track with what you're watching. I really loved the music - all of it. And there was so much, no matter what your preference. Seeing how music evolved- and seeing where it's going and can go - that was fantastic. When it was over, I felt like I had been left with a timeless gift.
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3.0 out of 5 stars What Were They Thinking? Nov. 13 2001
Format:DVD
As an overview of roots music, it's hard to quibble with this fascinating package. But for real fans, there's one serious, serious problem:
There is some amazing footage that I have never seen, that they have unearthed. Live performances by Leadbelly, by Woody Guthrie, by Howlin' Wolf, by Hank Williams. And unlike Ken Burns' astonishing "Jazz," not only are these rare, rare performances cut horribly short...but the narrators talk over them, so you can't hear the artists' performances.
There are some full-length performances on the DVD that were not on the series when it played on TV..but they were of "lesser" artists, for the most part. Here were legends of the '40s actually captured live--including Leadbelly in prison garb--and they have mutilated the performances. Shame.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic Nov. 5 2001
Format:DVD
Im only too the middle of part two of this four part series? just fantastic, i thought i knew alot about music but this series put me in my place real damn fast.
I love music with my whole heart and if anybody out there just loves music, this DVD will put an ear to ear smile on your face watching this. God why cant this get an Oscar? This deserves every award ever made.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
117 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What Were They Thinking? Nov. 13 2001
By Lew Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
As an overview of roots music, it's hard to quibble with this fascinating package. But for real fans, there's one serious, serious problem:
There is some amazing footage that I have never seen, that they have unearthed. Live performances by Leadbelly, by Woody Guthrie, by Howlin' Wolf, by Hank Williams. And unlike Ken Burns' astonishing "Jazz," not only are these rare, rare performances cut horribly short...but the narrators talk over them, so you can't hear the artists' performances.
There are some full-length performances on the DVD that were not on the series when it played on TV..but they were of "lesser" artists, for the most part. Here were legends of the '40s actually captured live--including Leadbelly in prison garb--and they have mutilated the performances. Shame.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Perfect July 6 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The PBS American Roots Music series - both the 4 part documentary on DVD and 4 CD boxed set - is a commendable work. It is an incredible education in not only popular American music and culture, but history, and should be required viewing and listening in high schools.
Many of the problems in American Society and its youth today stem from a complete lack of pride and self-awareness. A quick survey of popular music and culture reveal a frightening level of ignorance of America's history, values, and ideals. In short, while the series focusses on America's musical traditions, it does a fantastic job of conveying a sense of America's "roots" in a positive, enriching manner.
The DVD documentary strikes a perfect balance between glossing over, and becoming bogged down in, the material. Unlike the Ken Burns' projects that exhaust the viewer's interest and collapse under their own weight, the series is informative and educational, yet entertaining. It is not MEANT to be an exhaustive treatise on the subject - and so some reviewers here are missing the point - that would take 40, not 4, episodes. Rather, it is an introduction and a sampler; peaking our curiosity and prompting us to investigate and research further the wonderful heritage of music out there. And in that, it succeeds marvelously.
What also impressed me was the documentary's remarkable objectivity. While it eschews political correctness, it doesn't necessarily candy coat anything either. What it does do is present the material in a respectful, thoughtful, intelligent, and unbiased manner - something so lacking in today's political and social discourse. So in this sense, folks looking for something with an "agenda" - conspiracies, skeletons in the closet, and historical revisionism - may be disappointed by the documentary.
The CD boxed set is equally well-done: a fantastic booklet, thorough liner notes, and collection of songs that is a music lover's dream. Again, it is intended to be a sampler - great songs by landmark artists - not an exhaustive account of American Roots music. And also like the documentary, its meant to be a enriching, uplifting - not deconstructing - experience.
If the series has a shortcoming, it is the absence of one of the major "roots" - Jazz - which was no doubt and most unfortunately excluded, because of the recent Ken Burns' PBS documentary. But to exclude Jazz from the discussion of American Roots music, means we do not have the entire picture. And so in that sense, the series is somewhat flawed.
Still, its hard to find any other fault with the series. This is a work that TRULY embraces and celebrates America's cultural diversity. Entertaining and enlightening, I would heartily recommend owning the box set and DVD for one's own edification as well as a way to help introduce friends and family to REAL American music - in all its forms.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC - DVD Jan. 14 2009
By Gary Covington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
NOTE: PLEASE EXCUSE MY USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS ON THIS REVIEW. I WROTE THIS REVIEW BEFORE I LEARNED THAT IT'S NOT PROPER COMPUTER ETIQUETTE.

THIS IS A VERY COMPREHENSIVE, VERY AUTHORITATIVE , AND VERY HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY OF AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC. THIS DOCUMENTARY CONTAINS A WEALTH OF AMERICAN MUSIC HISTORY AND THE PIONEERING ARTISTS WHO LAID THE FOUNDATION FOR AMERICAN MUSIC!!! THIS IS A 4 HOUR, 4 EPISODE 2 DISC DOCUMENTARY WITH HISTORICAL PARTIAL PERFORMANCES, AND/OR COMMENTARY ON SUCH ARTISTS AS: JIMMIE RODGERS (THE FATHER OF COUNTRY MUSIC), THE CARTER FAMILY (THE FIRST FAMILY OF COUNTRY MUSIC), MUDDY WATERS (A LEGENDARY BLUESMAN), B.B.KING (A LIVING LEGEND OF THE BLUES), BOB WILLS (KING OF WESTERN SWING), HANK WILLIAMS (KING OF COUNTRY MUSIC), BILL MONROE (A LEGENDARY BLUEGRASS MUSICAN), EARL SCRUGGS (A LEGENDARY BLUEGRASS MUSICIAN), MAHALIA JACKSON (A SOUL MUSIC QUEEN), CHIFTON CHENIER (THE KING OF ZYDECO), WOODY GUTHRIE (A FOLK MUSIC PIONEER), AND MANY, MANY MORE!!!!

YOU GET COMMENTARIES BY MARTY STUART, GILLIAN WELCH (OF OF THE O BROTHER ART THOU MOVIE), RICKY SCAGGS, RUFUS THOMAS, BONNIE RAITT, MAVIS STAPLES, DOYLE LAWSON, RAPLH STANLEY, ARLO GUTHRIE, KEITH RICHARDS, SAM PHILLIPS, MERLE HAGGARD, BENICE JOHNSON, ROBERT MIRABAL AND MANY OTHERS.

EPISODE 1:
1.THE FISK JUBILEE SINGERS (THESE WERE AFRICAN AMERICAN SINGERS, WHO WERE IN COLLEGE, AND THEY SUNG SPIRITAL MUSIC, TO SUPPORT THEIR COLLEGE, THEY EVEN TRAVELED ACROSS THE COUNTRY PUTTING ON SHOWS THAT WERE WELL RECEIVED BY BOTH BLACK AND WHITE AUDIENCES. THEY STARTED AROUND THE 1870' BEFORE THERE WAS RECORDED MUSIC).

1. RECORDED MUSIC: A DOUMENTARY OF THE BEGINNING OF RECORDED MUSIC.

2. THE BRISTOL SESSIONS: FEATURES JIMMIE RODGERS (YOU GET A GREAT ALMOST COMPLETE PERFORMANCE OF JIMMIE RODGERS SINGING "WAITING ON A TRAIN". AND YOU GET HISTORY ON THE CARTER FAMILY. THE BRISTOL SESSIONS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST SESSIONS TO RECORD MUSIC ON RECORD, AND JIMMY RODGERS AND THE CARTER FAMILY WERE RECORDED AT THESE BRISTOL SESSIONS.

3. DELTA BLUES: FEATURES A HISTORY AND PARTIAL PERFORMANCES BY LEGENDARY MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES MUSICIANS. YOU GET A GOOD PARTIAL PERFORMANCE OF SON HOUSE (A LENGENDAR DELTA BLUESMAN) AND OTHERS.

4. THE GRAND OLE OPRY

5. GOSPEL IS BORN( THE STORY OF THOMAS DORSEY - THE FATHER OF BLACK GOSPEL MUSIC).

EPISODE 2:
6. COWBOY MUSIC AND WESTERN SWING
7. LEAD BELLY AND LOMAX
8. WOODY GUTHRIE
9.BLUEGRASS
10. HONKY TONK MUSIC
11. THE BLUES AND RADIO

NOW, YOU GET BONUS FULL LENGTH PERFORMANCES BY BOB WILLS, EARL SCRUGGS, AND DOC WATSON.

EPISODE 3:
12. CHIGAGO BLUES
13. B.B KING
14. GOLDEN AGE OF GOSPEL
15. THE WEAVERS
16. THE FOLK REVIVAL
17. NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL

EPISODE 4:
18. CAJUN MUSIC
19. ZYDECO MUSIC
20. TEJANO MUSIC
21. NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC
22. NAKAI AND MIRABEL (NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC).
23. EVOLUTION OF ROOTS MUSIC.

THEN YOU GET FULL LENGTH BONUS PERFORMANCES BY SISTER ROSETTA THARPE, STEVE RILEY AND THE MAMOU PLAYBOYS (CAJUN), AND VALERIO LONGORIA.

OVERALL, THIS IS A GREAT HISTORICAL DOCUMENARY OF AMERICAN ROOTS MUSIC. IT'S DIFFICULT TO DESCRIBE THE ENTIRE SERIES IN DETAIL, BECAUSE IT CONTAINS SUCH A WEALTH OF INFORMATION.

IT YOU ARE EXPECTING A LOT OF FULL LENGTH PERMANCES YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED, BUT IF YOU LIKE AMERICAN MUSIC HISTORY, THEN YOU'LL ENJOY THIS ONE, AND IN THAT CONTEXT, I DO RECOMMEND THIS ONE.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not essential. Oct. 27 2012
By Boris Alemand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The premise is good, the DVD cover looks promising--but ultimately I found it to be a disappointment. Nothing about it was particularly "bad"--but it didn't go deep enough. For example, Blues is supposedly covered here. OK, where did 12 bar blues come from? This DVD won't tell you. Bluegrass is similarly "covered" Where did bluegrass come from? Doesn't say--except that Bill Monroe suddenly started playing it in the 40's. That's a common theme. Nothing grew out of something else--people just suddenly started playing it! Out of nowhere! What's the role of British Isles folk tunes in the formation of American Folk Music? Lips sealed! They don't even mention it. They do slightly better with spirituals, tracing its genesis in slave songs, but they spend too much time on (and this is true of all musics they cover) whoever the current popularizers are of the genre. They hardly cover what the major themes are, or why they are still relevant today. They have a large roster of current musicians gushing about why their forerunners were so awesome and special, but nothing particularly interesting gets uncovered.

A main subject in the first installment was Jimmy Rodgers. Where did he learn how to play? This DVD won't tell you. What were his influences? No idea. They mention his yodeling. Who did he model that after? Not worth mentioning. Its like this for every musician they profile. Important parts are left blank. Even the most basic aspects of their lives frequently aren't worth discussing, let alone elaborating on. Instead, you get a glossy, greatest hits run-through. A previous reviewer compares this approach FAVORABLY to the much more comprehensive Ken Burns approach. I couldn't disagree more. I found myself wishing, constantly, for the "Ken Burns complete" approach. Considering how many prominent artists they interviewed as well as all the classic footage provided, I can't help but think that this was a wasted opportunity.
38 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Digitally Re-mastered Culture Wars Nov. 7 2002
By "marcel_diallo" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
When I saw this picture of BB King on the cover of the DVD , I thought I was in for a real historic musical treat. When I read the back of the box and saw that they had rare footage and that they actually had a chapter on Zydeco, I got even more excited. I immediately rushed to the sales counter at Tower Records and gave them my hard earned 40 dollars plus tax. When I got home, I put the DVD in the player and main menu appeared. I selected the chapter on Zydeco, because it is a music that my family in Southwest Louisiana was instrumental in creating. When the video began to play, my excitement turned to disgust, for they attempted to present this very Black Louisiana Creole music as a spin off of so-called "Cajun" music. Other than the brief footage on Clifton Chenier, the video didn't interview or expose the viewers to not one Black Creole creator of the music. Instead they interviewed various white folks, who even if they considered themselves experts, are at best outsiders of the Black Creole culture, and judging from what they shared on the video they didn't know that much about the music.
In the chapter covering Zydeco I would have loved to see some rare footage or mention of the "juré" music of the Black Southwest Louisiana Creoles that later became what is called Zydeco. I would have loved to hear stories from the common folk around Opelousas, Ville Platte, Mamou, Eunice and Plasiance telling about the racism of the Cajuns toward the Black Creoles of the area, and how this racism reinforced the seprate musical worlds of the Cajuns from that of the Black Creoles. Instead this video painted a very false picture of cultural homogeneity between two very distinct people who have been at odds for over two centuries. While it is true that the Black Creoles of Southwest Louisiana had French folk songs in their repetoire, Black Creole music ( including so-called "Zydeco") is no spin off of Cajun music. To the contrary, Cajun musicians are borrowing from Black Creole music at an alarming rate. In fact the only other musicians covered in the Zydeco segment is a band of white folks who according to the video are "blending elements of Cajun music, Zydeco and Swamp Pop". The makers of this video should have dug a little deeper into American soil and touched the deepest roots before projecting such an influential film into the market place of ideas. This DVD is sure to mislead at lease a million people. People should watch this video with caution.
(reprinted with permission from blackdotcafe magazine oct/nov 2002 issue)
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