The High Lonesome Sound (1963)

About the Film

The poignant songs of church-goers, miners, and farmers of eastern Kentucky express the joys and sorrows of life among the rural poor. This classic and universally praised documentary evocatively illustrates how music and religion help Appalachians maintain their dignity and traditions in the face of change and hardship.

The film features the noted Appalachian banjo picker Roscoe Holcomb and places him firmly in the context of the land and the people with whom he spent his life.

"The sense of reality the film generates, its comprehensiveness, and its powerful photography make it good and useful; what makes it a great film is its great theme, the awe-inspiring dignity, beauty, and art of the common man in the face of adversity and hardship." — Journal of American Folklore

"From the standpoint of pure film, John Cohen´s The High Lonesome Sound is the best folk music film I have yet seen. It is the only film that can stand on its own two feet, independent of the viewer´s interest in folk music. The filmmaker and editor are well aware of the possibilities of their medium and have structured each scene in a logical, common sense, yet highly artistic manner…. A genteel and a rollicking church service are balanced against each other with some incisive camera work on children and the American flag in the more emotional service. The film is a real achievement, both as a film and as a serious study of a folksinger and his region." — Paul Nelson, in Sing Out! Magazine


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact John Cohen, the distributor, or Folkstreams.