After an American Roots concert some years back an attendee asked for a program about folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax. Large (and controversial) a figure as he was, Lomax seemed to be part of a bigger story, a search for music “as it is,” unrelated to the commercial recording industry. It is a big story, that goes back to Englishman Cecil Sharp’s song collecting trips in 1916 and ’18, looking for English folksong that was becoming hard to find in Britain. And on through the work of John Lomax, his son Alan, The Library of Congress, the WPA and efforts that continue to this day to unearth our cultural history, to document it and share it. We started to look at this story in our 2018 American Roots concert titled Bonaparte’s Retreat, but I felt at the time that we had barely scratched the surface. Let’s dig deeper! We’ll pick up the trail of the ballad hunters and the tune collectors, the inspired experts and the public servants who never knew what they would find. Along the way we’ll meet Captain Francis O’Neill, Ruth Crawford Seeger and Old Joe Clark.