This is Alan Lomax, the greatest known Musicological Folklorist in American history, as he lays down some field tracks.
Lomax, who went in search of the greatest American musicians in the early part of the 20th Century in order to lay out recordings for documentation in the Library of Congress, also, in fact, spent a lot of time in Haiti during the 1930s, discovering folk music on the island and tracing its roots.
Armed with a 55-pound piece of recording equipment, Lomax spent four months traversing the island for its best music and drum rhythms. Although Lomax was unhappy with the quality of the finished field recordings when he finally revisted the work in the 1970s and declared he wouldn’t release them, efforts by his daughter decades later helped to refurbish the sound quality and bring the boxsets to the masses.
The box set, a whopping 10 discs, is filled with rich music; you can also see video shot by Lomax and his fiancee (who he later married in Haiti), as well as a copy of Lomax’s field journal.
And now, in an effort to raise awareness–and money–for relief efforts after the devestating earthquake in Haiti last month, The Green Family Foundation and Fisher Stevens have created a series of PSAs; PSA #3 happens to feature the folk music Lomax recorded while visiting Haiti.
His work in Haiti, along with all of his other brilliant field recordings, are a part of the Library of Congress American Folk Music collection.
You can listen to those PSAs here. And you can gobble up a brilliant preview of Lomax’s work in Haiti here.