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Screening – February 10, 2011

Union Docs, Brooklyn, New York


Thursday and Friday, February 10 & 11 at 6 pm — Thursday’s Art Reception is free — $9-20 sliding scale donation for film and music events

THE CHILD BALLADS: Two Nights of Art, Music, and Film

The two-day event will feature painting interpretations, several documentary film screenings, and live musical performances of ballads by John Cohen and Art Rosenbaum with the Around the Globe Chantey Singers. Art Rosenbaum in attendance Thursday for presentation, performance and discussion. John Cohen and Art Rosenbaum in attendance Friday for presentation, performance and discussion.

American scholar Francis James Child collected The Child Ballads, a collection of 305 distinct ballads from England and Scotland and their American variants, in the late nineteenth century. Dealing with such ageless themes as morality, murder, romance, supernatural experiences, historical events, riddles, and folk heroes, Child’s compiled ballads continue to survive through oral traditions, are still sung today in both America and Europe, and have become part of the core of traditional Appalachian music. The Child Ballad Show is an exploration and continuation of these beautiful and strange old songs through the mediums of painting, music, and film.

This traveling exhibition, organized by The Rotating History Project (Baltimore based artists Teddy Johnson and Heather Rounds), makes its Brooklyn debut on February 10 and 11, 2011. The two-day event will feature painting interpretations of Francis J Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads, by 13 artists from around the country, screenings of several documentary films related to the ballads by director’s Neil Rosenbaum and John Cohen, and live musical performances of ballads by John Cohen and Art Rosenbaum with the Around the Globe Chantey Singers.

Featured Painters

Jovan Erfan, Annie Ewaskio, Eberhard Froehlich, Jeremy Hughes, Ryan Jedlicka, Teddy Johnson, Bart Lynch, Ty Lytton, Ben Mckee, Elias Necol Melad, Shaun Preston, Art Rosenbaum, and Rachel Wolfson.


Thursday, February 10

  • 6pm—7:30pm :: Art reception
  • 8pm—8:45pm :: Music performance by Art Rosenbaum
  • 9:00pm :: Screening followed by discussion with Art Rosenbaum

Sing My Troubles By by Neil Rosenbaum USA, 2010, 93 minutes

A portrait of living older Georgia women who treasure and continue to perform the gospel, blues, mountain music and ballad traditions they grew up with.


Friday, February 11

  • 6pm—7:30pm :: Art reception
  • 7:30pm—8:30pm :: Music Performance by Art Rosenbaum and John Cohen
  • 8:45pm :: Screenings of 3 films followed by discussion with John Cohen and Art Rosenbaum

The End of an Old Song by John Cohen USA, 1973, 26 minutes, B&W

Filmed in the mountains of North Carolina, this acclaimed documentary revisits the region where English folklorist Cecil Sharp collected British ballads in the early 1900s. The film contrasts the nature of the ballad singers with the presence of the jukebox.

Gypsies Sing Long Ballads by John Cohen USA/Scotland/UK, 1982, 30 minutes

Scotland’s Gypsies have lived outside mainstream society for more than 500 years. Although some still live by the sides of roads, most live today in houses and are under pressure to abandon their culture. This film celebrates their traditional music, especially the long unaccompanied British ballads.

The Ballad and the Source by John Cohen USA/England/UK, 1983, 16 minutes

The tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing is very old and still cherished in Great Britain, though only a few traditional singers are still alive. This sensitive musical portrait profiles the life and art of Walter Pardon, perhaps the finest living traditional English ballad singer of his time.


Neil Rosenbaum is a videographer-filmmaker based in the Missouri Ozarks, having studied at the American University in Washington, D.C., and having worked there in video editing and production for The Learning Channel.

Art Rosenbaum, Neil’s father, is co-producer, with Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital, Atlanta. Art is an artist and folklorist, Wheatley Professor in the Arts Emeritus at the University of Georgia. He has collected and performed traditional American folk music for over 50 years and among his credits are two hard-cover books on Georgia folk music, two instruction books on traditional banjo playing, and 20 LPs, CDs, and video documentaries of his field collections. “Art of Field Recording: 50 Years of Traditional American Music Documented by Art Rosenbaum Vol. I, on the Dust-to-Digital label, won a Grammy for Best Historical Album in 2007, as well as a nomination for Best Album Notes.

John Cohen is a Photographer, Film-maker, and noted collector and performer of old time American music; founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers. John Cohen’s body of work has been recognized in a wide range of fields: his photographs are in major museum collections and publications, his award winning films have been shown on PBS and BBC and at festivals worldwide. The sound recordings of the New Lost City Ramblers have received several Grammy nominations, and, along with his field recordings, have influenced many musicians – including Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Ry Cooder – and shaped the old time music revival.


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