In the Footsteps of John Lomax

Don Edwards tells Steve Zeitlin and Taki Telonidis about John Lomax recording some of his first cowboy songs at the White Elephant Saloon where Don played for many years.

The Western Folklife Center has been asked to produce a story for National Public Radio on the folk music collecting of John Lomax. This coincides with the 100th anniversary of the publishing of his first collection, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, in November of 1910. We are working with a New York folklife organization called City Lore and hope to produce other stories on the journeys of early folklorists to discover the soul of America through its folklore. On this week-long journey through Texas and Louisiana, we go to the place Lomax grew up and saw, first-hand, the cattle drives after the Civil War. We visit the Elephant Saloon at the Stockyards in Fort Worth where he collected cowboy songs and where Don Edwards sang those same old songs in the 1970s. As we journey along the same paths Lomax took we contrast the world he lived in with that of contemporary America.

 We hope to produce a second story on Lomax’s collecting of musical traditions of African Americans. Lomax looked for singers in isolated communities and visited prisons to collect blues, gospel and work songs. He felt that cowboy music and the music of black America were two of America’s great musical traditions. We will end our travels this week at Angola—the largest prison in America—where we will document the rodeo and talk to musicians and singers in that prison.

Don Edwards preparing to sing a song that Lomax says he heard as a child in the late 1800s on his farm near Meridian.

2 responses to “In the Footsteps of John Lomax

  1. Pingback: Angola Prison: From Leadbelly to Michael Palmer | Austin Art Blogs

  2. I’ve come across a book by John A Lomax in an older home.
    Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads.
    It is autographed by the author, John A. Lomax

    I’m not sure how to tell which edition this is nor when it was published.

    One page reads:
    Copyright 1910,1916 by Sturgis & Walton Company.
    Set up and electrotyped. Published November 1910. Reprinted April, 1911; January 1915.
    New Edition with additions, March 1916; April 1917; December 1918; July 1919.
    Reissued January 1927; Reprinted February 1929; May 1930. May 1931.

    One page reads at the bottom
    New York

    Where can I find out what this book may be worth, if anything?

    Look forward to your help!

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