The American Songster DVD

The Black Banjo Gathering in April 2005 turned out to be the motivator that shifted Dom Flemons' life from Arizona busker to Piedmont string-band musician. Compelled to move to the Piedmont, Flemons began to collaborate with Rhiannon Giddens, who formed the old time/African roots band Sankofa Strings with him and Gregory Wilson, and he followed her to Joe Thompson's house where Justin Robinson was playing. Without even planning, Dom's music revival dream became real: "It gave me a different perspective, going from being someone who was learning from recordings to sitting next to the artists and hearing them talk and seeing how mannerisms are translated into the music."

A multi-instrumentalist, Dom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum, and quills. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro.

On stage, Flemons rolls from one instrument to another with a fearless attitude toward tradition and repertoire. As he now reflects, "The unique experience I had getting into the old-time music really informed the way I have been able to process a lot of it. A lot of people ask me, how do you do this old-time music and have it stay contemporary to you as a person? What people forget is that on stage I might be playing music that's 100 years-old, but that doesn't mean my ears are only listening to music that's 100 years-old. I got into this via old rock and roll, sixties rock and folk and went back from there. A couple of things got me into thinking about how to smash all of it together, particularly Mike Seeger's way of taking different kinds of traditional music and putting them together to make new music. And being into the songsters like Lead Belly and Henry Thomas, I heard them and knew they weren't doing straight blues like Robert Johnson and Skip James. I always wondered how it all fit, so when I met Joe and found out about the black string-band stuff, that was where the connections started happening - these songsters fit into this broader string band and folk music tradition and then you have things like blues and jazz, and even gospel music, wrapped up in it."

Titles include: James Alley Blues, Charmin' Betsy, Fishin' Blues, Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine, My Little Lady, If I Lose, Let Me Lose (Mama Don't Mind), Keep On Truckin', Oh Babe, Ain't No Lie, Yonder Comes The Blues, Steel Pony Blues and I'm Not Jealous

Running time: 76 minutes

Availability: In stock