On the cover


The new film series American Epic, airing at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through May 30 on AETN, explores pivotal recording journeys at the height of the Roaring Twenties. Robert Redford narrates.

In the 1920s, as radio took over the music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in search of new styles and markets. Recordings were made of unexpected talent like country singers in the Appalachians, blues guitarists of the Mississippi Delta, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, American Indian drummers in Arizona and musicians in Hawaii. This enabled America to hear itself.

Hardly any documentation of these musical events survives, but the lives of some of these musicians are revealed through the remaining film footage, photographs, and exclusive interviews with music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era.

Executive producers of the series are Redford, Jack White and T Bone Burnett. The Carter Family, the Memphis Jug Band, the Hopi Indian Chanters, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie Johnson, Charley Patton and the Breaux Family are among those featured.

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