Many know about the revival of American folk music in the 60’s. A wave of artists including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, and Joni Mitchell exploded on a new scene in Greenwich Village and Cambridge, Massachusetts that reached its arms wide to embrace the US, helping to bring about a revival of interest in folk music and art. There were singer/songwriters that wrote new material of a “traditional” nature, or used their music to voice protest to the problems of the day. Others sought to revive old time folk music passed down through oral traditions. It was an exciting time for folk music in America.
This revival had been inspired by some core factors, one of which was folklorists, who in the early part of the 20th century went about documenting traditional music through field and prison recordings. Many of these recordings made material for the famous ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC. It was a compilation of songs collected by experimental filmmaker Harry Smith, and contained religious hymns, nonsense songs, murder ballads, social songs, labor songs, chants and the country blues by artists like the Carter Family, Chubby Parker, and the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers, to name just a few. Another big inspiration for the folk revival was the music of Woody Guthrie. Performing with the famous slogan “This machine kills facists” written on his guitar, he sang songs he had learned traveling with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California during the Depression years. He picked up their folk and blues songs and was nicknamed “the Dust Bowl Troubadour.” He also wrote original songs including “This Land is Your Land” and became a large voice for improving the lives of the working class man. He and others of his time influenced the folk revivalists of the 60’s who were fighting for causes such as civil rights and freedom of speech.
I believe we are in the midst of a new folk revival, hence my site FOLK RENAISSANCE. Music produced with acoustic instruments like banjo (frailing as well as bluegrass style), mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, and guitar has taken on a whole new folk sound with a shot of adrenalin from a generation that has an overwhelming appreciation for great music. Folk artists today are combining music of the past with new music to produce an exciting scene that has spread worldwide. Now is the time to celebrate folk music, art, and dance, and I hope to make a ripple with this site by reviewing new folk music CD’s, interviewing artists, and sharing my studies of past generations and their oral traditions. I also host The Folk Renaissance Radio Show, which airs Sunday nights 5-7pm cst, where music of this genre is celebrated. Check out my radio page for further details.