THE AMERICAN EPIC PROJECT
Created by Allison McGourty, Duke Erikson and director Bernard MacMahon, American Epic represents a ten-year odyssey that explores the pivotal recording journeys at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology captured the breadth of American music and discovered the artists that would shape our world. The creators, along with audio engineer Nicholas Bergh, painstakingly tracked down long-forgotten musicians and their music, as well as reconstructing the technology that created it. Along the way they brought some of the most important figures in contemporary culture to help them on their quest. Executive Producers Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford have lent their support to what Redford calls "America's greatest untold story”.
The American Epic Sessions is a feature-length film showcasing an all-star roster of contemporary artists, led by Jack White and T Bone Burnett, replicating this early recording process on an original 1920s electrical recording system and paying tribute to those great artists of the past.
The film series will be made available for purchase on June 13, 2017 from PBS Distribution. It will be released as a digital download, on Blu-ray, and on DVD. Visit www.shopPBS.org or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
The films will be airing on BBC, PBS, and other public television stations around the world. The premiere dates are as follows (check local listings for local times):
United States (PBS)
The Big Bang - May 16, 9:00 PM
Blood and Soil - May 23, 9:00 PM
Out of the Many, The One - May 30, 9:00 PM
The American Epic Sessions - June 6, 8:00 PM
UNITED KINGDOM (BBC)
American Epic Historical Documentaries -
Premiering in May
The American Epic Sessions -
Premiering in June
The American Epic project also has a companion soundtrack, including a 100-song box set, and other music products. For these releases, Nicholas Bergh refined a transfer process using a mix of both modern and vintage equipment in order to extract the remarkable resolution from the records that is often missed. This ‘reverse engineering’ approach to the transfer process enabled the restoration team of Grammy Award winning engineer Peter Henderson, Duke Erikson and Joel Tefteller to get the resulting audio closer to the original performance than ever before. This is not “remastering,” in the normal sense, but something closer to fine art restoration. The intent is not for people to marvel at the antiquity of these discs, but rather to experience them as vital, immediate performances that speak to us as directly as they did on the day they were recorded—not simply great art for their time, but great art for all times.
The soundtrack will be released by Legacy Recordings, Columbia Records, and Third Man Records on May 12, 2017.
The American Epic companion book, a fascinating account written by Bernard MacMahon and Allison McGourty with the assistance of prize-winning author Elijah Wald, continues the journey of the series with a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible travels across America, searching for these recordings and eyewitness accounts. It features additional stories, exclusive never-before-seen photographs, and unearthed artwork. It also contains contributions from many of the musicians who participated, including Taj Mahal, Nas, Willie Nelson, and Steve Martin all of which will reveal a new understanding of America to the world and future generations.
The book, available now for pre-order, will be released on May 2, 2017.
After the broadcast, there will be a nationwide school and college educational outreach program, in association with PBS, and musicians such as Taj Mahal who will share this story with people all around the country. The producer and director are in talks with several universities and public facilities in order to develop an upcoming educational program and exhibit.