Lomax on Lomax
(John Lomax III)
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
John Lomax passed away in 1948, but his sons picked up where their father left off. John Lomax Jr. was also a folklorist and a folk performer, and a booster for the music in other capacities in a long career helping to preserve and promote American folk, especially in his native state of Texas. And of course John Lomax III’s uncle is the great Alan Lomax, who might be the best known from the Lomax clan from his field recordings and work with the Smithsonian Institution, as well as his efforts as a performer and preservationist. The entire family has forged their legacy behind seeking out, archiving, and paying forward important songs. After all, what good is music if nobody hears it?
And so John Lomax III continued in the family business, but in a way that ultimately had major impacts in country music through the many Texas-born songwriters that would shake country music up as part of the 70’s Outlaw movement, and later in the emergence of alt-country. Raised in Houston, TX and attending college in Austin, John Lomax III came of age right when songwriters such as Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt were making their mark. He moved to Nashville in 1973, just like a lot of these Texas songwriters did looking for greener pastures and promising song placements with big country stars. Along with Guy and Townes, you had songwriters like Rodney Crowell, Steve Young, and Richard Dobson helping to move Nashville in a more open and poetic direction, and John Lomax III was embedded right there with them.
The accomplishments and accolades for John Lomax III in a multitude of capacities are almost too long to list. He’s the author of numerous books, including Nashville: Music City USA and The Country Music Book. He started multiple publications meant to put more attention behind important artists, including the Nashville-based magazine Hank and later the Nashville Gazette. He’s known internationally, and has written for periodicals in Australia and England. John Lomax III is also a photographer, and many of his shots ended up in the recent Ken Burns documentary on country music.
And at 76-years-old, John Lomax III is not finished yet. “I will continue selling hard copy music on Amazon’s Marketplace via Lomax Global Music (est. 2011),” he says. “I’ll be completing a feel good book about American ingenuity and other writing projects … Finding, preserving, presenting and promoting unique American music and musicians is what Lomax’s have done for 111 years across four generations.”
“My uncle’s motto was ‘giving a voice to the voiceless,’ and now it’s even worse because giant corporations are squeezing everything but their music out of the picture,” says Lomax. “Some of these songs are just great, they’re a part of our heritage, and they need to have all the help they can get to last to another generation.”
For as long as he’s able, Lomax intends to do his part.