<p>By the time "It's A Mean Old World" was filmed, Reverend Pearly Brown had been struggling to survive singing gospel music for nearly 40 years. While the rough sound of his bottleneck playing has the feel of a life spent scuffling on the street, the poignancy of his voice is a better measure of the gentle spirit and inner strength of the man.</p>
This is a short film made by Peter Vogt in 1965 about axe making in Oakland, Maine. It documents the process of creating fine axes in the Emerson Stevens shop -- the last axe factory to operate in Oakland. Oakland was once a world-famous center of quality blade-making.
Sitting On Top of the World at the Fiddlers' Convention
<p>The fiddlers' convention at Union Grove is the oldest bluegrass music festival of the U.S., held on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This film documents the intense hippy-ness of this festival during the 1970s.</p>
<p>With verve and humor, this film shows the love/hate relationship that women have with the task of cleaning the family's clothes. As we see the clothes flapping in the wind and hear the voices - some proud, some angry, some wistful - we realize that doing laundry calls forth deep feelings about one's role in life.</p>
Philip Spalding's study of the history and men who played New Orleans Jazz through the eyes of one of its greatest trumpet players: Punch Miller (died 1971). Kid Punch was renowned in New Orleans and played with all the greats from that city --King Oliver, Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong. This film is about his life and the changes that New Orleans music went through during his lifetime.
<p>The disappearing traditions of the old cattle ranches of the Southwest are presented in director Philip Spalding's film BELLOTA. This 1969 film concentrates on five Mexican American vacquero-cowboys riding a month-long roundup on an 82,000 acre ranch in the rugged high country of Southern Arizona.</p>
<p>This 28 minute piece documents the construction of a communal bread-oven in Cambridge, NY. As part of the events celebrating the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec City by the French in 2008, traditional artists travelled between Quebec and New England/New York to share their skills; amongst the participating artists was Jean Laberge, traditional woodworker and bread-oven maker, who, with the assistance of Cambridge volunteers, built what has become a focus of the Hubbard Hall Projects, a Cambridge community arts center that fosters cultural and educational projects.</p>
<p>"Elaine and Susan Say Goodnight to Mishegas" is a short playful documentary that tells the story of a song, explores how a significant local klezmer tradition is extended (and remains relevant), and meditates on the craziness of the world.</p>