Photograph by Ed Grazda
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 fiddle music revival.
The Smithsonian Network’s film, Play On, John: A Life In Music, explores John Cohen’s long involvement with traditional music, including vintage performances with the seminal old time string band The New Lost City Ramblers and live music performances with Pete Seeger, Rayna Gellert and Bruce Molsky. “Play On, John” includes Cohen’s documentary photographs as well as selections from his documentary films, with a panorama of clips from his music films of Appalachia, including ballad singing in North Carolina and a parallel version from Scotland. His films of music from the Peruvian Andes are included with selections from the isolated Q’eros, and popular Huayno music of the migrants.
John Cohen has continued to produce recordings of traditional American music, including “An Untamed Sense of Control” (Roscoe Holcomb), “Dark Holler” (Dillard Chandler), “The Lost Recordings of Banjo Bill Cornett”, “If I Had My Way” (Rev. Gary Davis), and “Back Roads to Cold Mountain.”
He worked with T-Bone Burnett as music consultant to the film Cold Mountain and appeared in Martin Scorcese’s film about Bob Dylan, No Direction Home.
In 2003, Powerhouse published Young Bob: John Cohen’s Early Photographs of Bob Dylan.