Appointment: Alan Lomax Fellow, 2013-2014
Area of study: Folklore
Affiliation(s): Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology
Kluge Center project: Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana
Residency: August 2013 – May 2014
Joshua Caffery held the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies in 2013-2014. A folklorist and musician, Caffery completed his doctoral degree at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. His first book, “Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings,” was published by LSU Press in November 2013. Caffery received a Grammy nomination in 2011 for his work on the 2010 Feufollet album En Couleurs, nominated for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album.
Caffery’s research at the Kluge Center explored Louisiana song traditions documented for the Library of Congress by John and Alan Lomax in 1934. Caffery explored the largely unexcavated corpus of traditional songs recorded by the Lomaxes in this rich musical region. Examining field recordings and lyrical evidence in the American Folklife Center Lomax collection, Caffery unearthed linkages among the American South, the Caribbean, South America and Africa in Louisiana Cajun and Creole music, bringing to light the transnational, trans-Atlantic interconnectedness of the culture.
Caffery’s research resulted in the creation of a web portal that places online for the first time many of the recordings from the Lomaxes’ historic 1934 trip. In particular, the recordings from South-Central Louisiana, known sometimes as “French Louisiana,” “Cajun Louisiana,” or “Evangeline Country” are now easily available. The audio recordings on the website link to images and card catalogue information held by the Library of Congress, encouraging more scholarly access to detailed information about the collections. Caffery is working with Louisiana teachers to develop open-source lesson plans that employ the site’s resources.
- “John and Alan Lomax in Louisiana 1934” (web portal)
- “Traditional Music in Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings” (2013) (catalog record)
- “Joe Féraille: Louisiana’s Ogun and the Casey Jones of the North Caribbean” (Apr. 23, 2014) - webcast coming soon
- “Botkin Lecture: Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings” (Dec. 11, 2013)
- “The Lomaxes’ 1934 French Louisiana Recordings Go Online” (American Folklife Center blog)
- “Revivez le fabuleux voyage du musicologue Alan Lomax à la recherche des racines de la musique américaine, il y a 80 ans” (Slate.fr)
- “Lomax’s 1934 recordings remain thought provoking today” (The Town Talk)
- “Caffery's work eases access to a historic collection of photos” (Daily World)
- The Alan Lomax Collection at The Library of Congress