PBS and the BBC’s docu showcase series “Arena” are partnering on “American Epic,” a three-part series chronicling the first recordings of American roots music in the 1920s. Robert Redford, T Bone Burnett and the White Stripes’ Jack White are exec producing the series.
The docu-series will be followed by a feature-length film, “The American Epic Sessions,” which will include performances by contemporary musicians as they attempt to record music using techniques of the 1920s and ’30s, including recording directly to wax with a record lathe. Performers set for the sessions include White, Alabama Shakes, the Avett Brothers, Beck, Merle Haggard, Elton John, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, Nas, Willie Nelson and Raphael Saadiq.
“This is America’s greatest untold story,” Redford said in a statement. “It’s an account of the cultural revolution that ultimately united a nation.”
The series will be directed by Bernard MacMahon, with producers and writers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson.
“These musicians we profile are the real American heroes,” Burnett said in a statement. “They set out from the darkness with nothing but a guitar on their backs, put out their thumbs and conquered the world.”
“American Epic” will eventually be available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution. A companion album and box sets will also be released by Sony Music’s Legacy, Columbia Records and White’s Third Man Records.
Companion Soundtrack and Music Box Sets to be Released by Sony Music’s Legacy and Columbia Records and Third Man Records.
(Pictured: Blues legend Mississippi John Hurt)