Jack White's documentary on pioneering days of recorded sound gets May release

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American Epic, a three-part, star-studded documentary examining the birth of the recording industry and the music that went on to the shape the world and popular culture, will be premiere on the BBC in the United Kingdom and PBS in the USA in May as a joint venture by the two public broadcasters.

American Epic focuses on early pop, folk and blues music from America in the 1920s, along with the early establishment and evolution of the recording industry.

Jack White teamed up with T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford to produce an unbelievable new music documentary called The American Epic Sessions.

For the film, and a companion album produced by White and T Bone Burnett, engineer Nicholas Bergh, rebuilt a 1920s vintage recording system - a single microphone, a six-foot amplifier rack and a live record cutting lathe powered by a weight-driven pulley system, giving performers three minutes to capture live their versions of classic performances by the founding fathers of country and blues like The Carter Family, Blind Willie Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt. "That is an astounding thought". Artists featured include White, Elton John, Willie Nelson, Beck, Nas, Alabama Shakes, Merle Haggard, Taj Mahal, Raphael Saadiq, The Avett Brothers, Los Lobos, Bettye LaVette, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, and many, many more.

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One selection from the soundtracks is Nas' recording of the 1928 song "On the Road Again" by the Memphis Jug Band.

Columbia Records will release the American Epic Sessions studio performances. Meanwhile, White's label Third Man Records will release the vinyl.

The three-part documentary airs Tuesday, May 16. American Epic premiered at Sundance and will air on PBS May 16th, 23rd and 30th, while The American Epic Sessions will air June 6th on PBS. The three-part documentary is accompanied by The American Epic Sessions, a film that features new performances by contemporary musicians, made using century-old equipment. You'll be able to watch the documentary series on PBS.

If all of that weren't enough, Touchstone Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, will release an American Epic companion book on May 2nd.

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