The Creston Concert Society presents its first show of 2015, with Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project on Feb. 23 at the Prince Charles Theatre.
Two-time Juno Award-winning banjoist, composer and instigator Jayme Stone, the “Yo-Yo Ma of the banjo” (Globe and Mail), makes music inspired by sounds from around the world, bridging folk, jazz and chamber music. His award-winning albums both defy and honour the banjo’s long role in the world’s music, turning historical connections into compelling music.
His 2013 album, The Other Side of the Air, is a travelogue of imaginary landscapes and faraway lands, traversing the Cinnamon Route through Persia and India, where Stone revisited and reinvented melodies he collected in West Africa. Room of Wonders (2010) explores music from Norway, Sweden, Bulgaria, Brazil, Italy and North America, while Africa to Appalachia (2008) is a boundary-crossing musical collaboration with griot singer Mansa Sissoko that explores the banjo’s African roots and Stone’s adventures in Mali. For 2007’s The Utmost, Stone drew inspiration from Japanese poetry and Brazilian literature. His music has been hailed as being “as spirited as its creator” (Georgia Straight).
His latest endeavour focuses on songs collected by field recording pioneer Alan Lomax (1915-2002), a folklorist, ethnomusicologist, writer, scholar, political activist, oral historian and filmmaker. He is most famous for his work in the penitentiaries, plantations, and farms of the Mississippi Delta between 1933 and 1985, where he would listen, observe, fraternize, and record night after night, year after year. His recordings include some with the most legendary folk and jazz musicians, such as Jelly Roll Morton, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Muddy Waters and Reverend Gary Davis.
The Lomax Project brings together some of North America’s most distinctive and creative roots musicians, led by Stone and including Margaret Glaspy (voice), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Eli West (guitar, voice) and Joe Phillips (bass). Together, they seek understudied sounds, with the intention to recycle, reimagine and recast traditional music. Stone’s aim is to create a process that taps each of our musical trees, harnesses the unexpected chemistry of collaboration and makes music that’s informed by tradition but not bound by it, and thus “confirms [his] place as one of the most adventurous banjo players out there.” (Edmonton Journal)
Audiences will be inspired by the depth, diversity, humanity and history contained in these musical traditions and experience firsthand how music can build a bridge to other cultures and make inroads to their own. The repertoire includes Bahamian sea shanties, African-American a cappella singing from the Georgia Sea Islands, ancient Appalachian ballads, fiddle tunes and work songs collected from both well-known musicians and everyday folk: sea captains, cowhands, fishermen, homemakers, prisoners and farmers, to make music “that sounds like nothing else on earth” (Toronto Star) and will appeal to music lovers of all ages.
For more information and sound samples from Stone’s Lomax Project, visit www.jaymestone.com or the Creston Concert Society’s Facebook page. Tickets are $22 for adults and $10 for students ($25/$12 at the door), available at Black Bear Books, Creative Fix and Kingfisher Used Books. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
—CRESTON CONCERT SOCIETY