Arlo Leach: Music of my Ancestors

Grandma Thelma and Uncle Lester

The project

Last fall, I purchased an album that just about knocked me right over: the American Anthology of Folk Music, most recently released by Smithsonian Folkways. It's a six-CD set of music recorded between 1925 and 1932, and listening to it is like going right back in time.

I knew this would affect my music somehow, but it took me a while to figure out exactly what to do about it. Then, browsing some family photo albums from the same time period, I had an idea: why not try to find some old recordings and release my own compilation of long-lost music?

This task became easier than I imagined when old photo albums gave way to old records in my grandmother's attic. This was the music my family listened to 75 years ago! So, as a tribute to these long-neglected musical styles, and to my own family history, I began the work of selecting, digitally remastering, and researching the origins of fourteen old recordings.

The songs

You'll find a variety of styles on Music of my Ancestors, from bluegrass to dance music to Cajun to down-and-dirty blues. I placed a special emphasis on little-known songs by musicians you've probably never heard of, to make this record a true collector's item.

These RealAudio samples will give you a better idea of what this old music is all about.

The production team

Some of Chicago's finest musicians lent their good taste to the assembly of this record: Jonathan Rundman, Tommi Zender, Mark Dvorak and Laura Brodsky.

And I even had some help from musical ears among my own friends and family: Bob and Annie Stowell, and Dave and Dorothy Leach.

The compilation was completed in April 2000 and released with a special concert on June 2 at Uncommon Ground Coffeehouse in Chicago.

Order a copy online  <>  © 2000 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved