MORE or less immediately after I have finished writing these words and waved off the Saturday section you hold in your hand (or peruse online), I shall be journeying to Perth to assist with the launch of the weekend's Southern Fried Festival of American Roots Music. Centred on the fair city's splendidly adaptable concert hall, the festival this year hosts a trio of fine female performers in Mary Chapin Carpenter, Imelda May and (at the North Church) Gretchen Peters, and then tomorrow winds up with a triplet of equally fine fellows in Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack and Andy Fairweather Low, whose combined musical history would fill a very substantial volume indeed. Much of this is, understandably, already sold out, but there is still plenty reason to wend your way to Southern Fried because the programme spills out into venerable Perth venues like the Salutation Hotel and The Twa Tams as well as other spaces and in and around the concert hall itself and across Perth. Much of that programme is free, but grabbing yourself a spot in a timely fashion is probably wise – director Andy Shearer's annual hoedown has a posse of dedicated followers who will be making the most of these few days.

My small role will be dust on the trail by the time you read this, and it followed a screening of an episode of an acclaimed new documentary series, American Epic, on Thursday evening. It will be shown by the BBC at some point, as the corporation jointly commissioned it with PBS in the US. The question and answer session with producer, co-writer and co-director of the four-parter, Allison McGourty, is the sort of thing that filmmakers often do, of course. The narrator of the series is Robert Redford (who is also one the executive producers, alongside musicians Jack White and T-Bone Burnett), so naturally it was screened at the Sundance Film Festival he co-founded, where, I have read, "what followed was a wonderful and intellectual discussion between filmmaker Bernard MacMahon, Jack White, T-Bone Burnett and Taj Mahal." No pressure then.

McGourty is co-creator of the series with director MacMahon, and Perth's hosting of the UK premiere is very much through her connection with Perth where her parents settled later in life and her father Tom ended a long career in newspapers as general manager of the Perthshire Advertiser. He had previously worked at The Herald's sister title the Evening Times and for a list of other Scottish papers, and not only did we probably work in the same building at some point, he was also (like me) a great jazz-lover who instilled a musical interest in each of his three children. Before moving into the screen-world, Allison was behind a record label whose roster included The Go-Betweens and Kevin Ayers, so the taste demonstrated on American Epic is a given. But the challenge it set itself was considerable, because, as a commentator wrote following a screening at South By South West in Austin, Texas, the series is "a love letter to recorded sound, without which we [the film industry] would never have left the silent era." McGourty and MacMahon set out to make a visual history of recording, and document how that technology preserved the indigenous musical heritage from Appalachia to Hawaii. It is a story that has never been told, certainly in quite the way that American Epic tells it, and footage and photography unearthed and created is well worth the seeing. And it ends with Blind Willie Johnson wordlessly singing an old Scots melody on the edge of our solar system. Be sure to tune in when you can.