The American Epic Sessions
Airs Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. & 10:30 p.m. on KPBS TV
Friday, August 4, 2017
Credit: Courtesy of ©2017 Lo-‐Max Records Ltd.
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Witness Jack White and T Bone Burnett recording top artists as they recreate America’s musical past.
In "The American Epic Sessions," the AMERICAN EPIC team has reassembled the very first electrical sound recording system from the 1920s, and invited Jack White and T Bone Burnett to produce an album of recordings by twenty of today’s greatest artists.
Sessions: Elton John and Jack White
In this beautifully filmed musical feature, these artists are given the chance to pass through the portal that brought the world into the modern era.
Engineer Nicholas Bergh has reassembled this recording system from original parts and it is now the only one left in the world.
The system consists of a single microphone, a towering six-foot amplifier rack, and a live record-cutting lathe, powered by a weight-driven pulley system of clockwork gears.
The musicians have roughly three minutes to record their song direct to disc before the weight hits the floor. In the 1920s, they called this “catching lightning in a bottle.”
All the musical performances in this film are live. The audio you hear is taken directly from the discs they were recorded to, with no editing or enhancements.
Starring: Alabama Shakes, The Americans, Ana Gabriel, Ashley Monroe, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Bettye LaVette, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Frank Fairfield, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nas, Pokey LaFarge, Raphael Saadiq, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Taj Mahal, Jack White, and Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
Filmed and recorded at Vox Recording Studios in Los Angeles.
The series is written by Bernard MacMahon, Allison McGourty, Duke Erikson and William Morgan.
WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:
All three episodes from the series are available for viewing on demand for a limited time. Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members ($60 yearly) using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.
GET THE BOOK:
The companion book, AMERICAN EPIC, will be available May 2 from Touchstone. Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty’s fascinating account, written with the assistance of prize-winning author Elijah Wald, continues the journey of the series with a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible journey across America searching for these recordings and eyewitness accounts.
It features additional stories, exclusive never-before-seen photographs, and unearthed artwork. It also contains contributions from many of the musicians who participated, including Taj Mahal, Nas, Willie Nelson, and Steve Martin all of which will reveal a new understanding of America to the world and future generations.
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