Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
Explorations of personal and community journalism...
Traditional, Alternative, Online...
2002-2009 blog page archive

Subscribe to "Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Monday, May 9, 2005

Almost 30 years ago in a New York saloon I saw a man with a wooden leg tell stories and play the harmonica in ways I'd never considered.

Along with the usual approach, going at a blues harp side to side like an ear of corn, he could pop it into his mouth like a musical cigar and still get out more notes than I can find the regular way. There was one tune I swear he played using his nose. (OK, I was drinking at the time.)

His name was Peg Leg Sam, and I've just found him again -- in a film streaming online at, a documentary made around the time of that trip to Manhattan. The music is even better than I remembered, and I don't recall his having room for buckdancing in that New York club.

He's also quite a story teller. Here are a few words from Sam, spoken in the film "Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson":

"I was born for hard luck... Such hard luck, if it was rainin' down soup... everybody standing there with a spoon... why, I'd have a fork..."

The film isn't quite a half-hour long, and it's worth a visit. There's even a transcript if you want to learn the words to the songs (or follow the details of some of the stories).

I know I'll be back for more films from Folkstreams. The catalog already ranges from cowboy poets and Appalachian string bands to Louisiana zydeco, New Hampshire Shakers and urban klezmer revivalists. (That's right, as I heard a klezmer practitioner say in another context, it runs from "old 'country music' to 'old-country' music.")

Folkstreams, which has a weblog along with its growing video archive, came to my attention while I was submerged in the spring semester and didn't have time to watch any films at the office. Here's part of its mission statement:

The mission of is to build a national preserve of documentary films about American folk or roots culture. Produced by independent filmmakers, these hard-to-find films give voice to the arts and experience of diverse American groups. They are streamed on the website together with background materials that highlight the history and aesthetic importance of the traditions and the films.

This project is brought to us in part by those kind and talented folks at, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

4:26:39 PM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2009 Bob Stepno.
Last update: 7/27/09; 3:24:25 AM.
May 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        
Apr   Jun