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Legendary Folk Documentarian John Cohen at BCM

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John Cohen by Ed GrazdaBristol, VA/TN -- The Birthplace of Country Music (BCM) is honored to host legendary filmmaker, musicologist, and photographer John Cohen to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCMM) for a screening of his documentary The High Lonesome Sound, followed by a question and answer session with Cohen about his long and fascinating career. The event will take place Thursday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Performance Theater at the museum.

For more than fifty years Cohen has led an international crusade for the recognition of traditional folk and roots music; he has also produced fifteen films and hundreds of photographs and sound recordings. Some of his best known photographs center around the music scene in New York's Greenwich Village during the 1960s and the Abstract Expressionist scene of that era including subjects like Jackson Pollack. Well recognized Cohen images also include early photographs of Bob Dylan and Beat Generation writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac during the filming of Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie's Pull My Daisy.

Cohen's work has been recognized in a wide range of fields. His photographs are among major museum collections and publications and his award-winning films have been shown on PBS and BBC and at festivals worldwide. The Library of Congress has acquired Cohen's archive, which includes his films, photographs, music recordings and other historic ephemera. Cohen worked with T-Bone Burnett as a music consultant on the feature film Cold Mountain and appeared in Martin Scorcese's film about Bob Dylan entitled No Direction Home. It is rumored that the Grateful Dead Song "Uncle John's Band" was written about Cohen though he dismisses the claim.

As a founding member of the seminal New Lost City Ramblers, Cohen has received several Grammy nominations and helped shape the old time fiddle music revival. His work and field recordings have influenced a wide range of musicians including Bob Dylan, Jerry Carcia, and Ry Cooder. John Cohen's long involvement with traditional music, including vintage performances with The New Lost City Ramblers and live music performances with Pete Seeger, Rayna Gellert, and Bruce Molsky are documented in the Smithsonian Network's film Play On, John: A Life in Music.

Cohen's 1963 documentary The High Lonesome Sound is a classic film that evocatively illustrates how music and religion help Appalachians maintain their dignity and traditions in the face of change and hardship. Songs of church-goers, miners, and farmers of eastern Kentucky express the joys and sorrows of life among the rural poor. The film features noted Appalachian banjo picker Roscoe Holcomb and places him firmly in the context of the land and the people with whom he spent his life.

Tickets to the screening of The High Lonesome Sound and Q&A with John Cohen are $7 per person and sold online at and The Museum Store at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

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