‘Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project’ draws new inspiration from old music

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Photo: Lomax project Jayme Stone
Longmont banjo player Jayme Stone holds an old recording from the Alan Lomax collection.

"Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project" puts a new spin on old music. The new album from the Longmont banjo player and 14 other musicians, including Grammy Award winner Tim O’Brien, dug into the Alan Lomax Collection for inspiration.

Beginning in the 1930s, the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the world recording thousands of songs. For decades he collected music from people where they worked and lived from plantations to prisons.

Stone worked to recast well known ballads and more obscure songs plucked from Lomax’s archives.

He says working on the project made him want to the share stories of people behind the Lomax recordings. The singers, he notes, are often not as well known as the songs are.

Lomax recorded prisoners, coal miners, and other working-class or poor people. He has been criticized for perpetuating racial stereotypes because he didn't seek out people from middle-class and other parts of African-American society. Stone says he understands the criticism, but points out that regardless of whether Lomax's choices were unbiased, the people he worked with were extraordinary musicians, and the recordings are a valuable part of folk music history.

Jayme Stone and some of the other musicians from the collaboration are performing in Boulder, Telluride and Lyons this week.