I was driving home from church when for some inexplicable reason the music of Tim Hardin entered my head. I began to hear the strains of “If I Were A Carpenter” and I drifted back to seeing Tim Hardin perform live at Staples High School in 1971. I could picture him at the piano in the darkened auditorium singing through his tortured soul to us.
This prompted me when I got home to play some Tim Hardin via Tidal over the home entertainment network. It gave the perfect chance to try out the Google Chromecast 2 device wirelessly via the Sony Blu-Ray Home Theater system.
I played Tim Hardin, Live In Concert, which made Sunday afternoon lesson planning less arduous 🙂
I have focused more of late on folk music and New York City. I met with a lack of well researched Web information, which served as a frustration. As it turns out my resource needs were recently answered. The Museum of the City of New York has curated an exceptional show, Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival.
In the 1950s and 1960s, folk music blossomed in New York City, especially in Greenwich Village, where clubs and coffee houses showcased singers like Pete Seeger and Odetta and nurtured a generation of newcomers, including Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Peter, Paul and Mary. The multi-media exhibition Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, features original instruments, handwritten lyrics, and video film footage. The event traces the roots of the revival, its growth in New York City, the major players, and folk’s impact on American political and social culture during the tumultuous 1960s.
There is also a companion book, Folk Citywritten by authors Stephen Petrus (curator of the Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival exhibit) and Ron Cohen. Their collaboration captures the exuberance of the times by introducing readers to a bevy of characters who brought a new style to one of the biggest audiences in the history of popular music. Among the savvy New York entrepreneurs committed to promoting folk music were Izzy Young of the Folklore Center, Mike Porco of Gerde’s Folk City, and John Hammond of Columbia Records. The authors portray Greenwich Village coffee houses not simply as lively venues but as incubators of a burgeoning counterculture, where artists from diverse backgrounds honed their performance techniques and challenged social conventions. Accessible and engaging, fresh and provocative, rich in anecdotes and primary sources, Folk City is lavishly illustrated with images collected for the accompanying major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in 2015.
It’s been decades since I have heard the invigorating songs and voice of Buffy Sainte Marie on the radio. I reflect upon the folk music era when she was a quintessential performer (early 1960s Greenwich Village). A halcyon period in the annals of music.
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s bold new album, Power in the Blood, begins where it all started more than 50 years ago, with a contemporary version of “It’s My Way,” the title track of her 1964 debut. Its message, about the road to self-identity and the conviction to be oneself, still resonates with the Cree singer-songwriter, activist, educator, visual artist, and winner of countless awards (Oscar, Juno, and Golden Globe, among them).
Perhaps you know Sainte-Marie from her 1960s protest anthems (“Universal Soldier”), open-hearted love songs (“Until It’s Time for You to Go”), incendiary powwow rock (“Starwalker”), or the juggernaut pop hit “Up Where We Belong,” which Sainte-Marie co-wrote and Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes sang for the soundtrack to An Officer and a Gentleman.
We benefit from musicologists who have an adept skill of collecting, recording and documenting American musical heritage. Three of the musicologists I respect in this vein are Alan Lomax, Samuel Charters and Harry Smith.
Harry Everett Smith is primarily known as the anthologist of the multi-volume Anthology of American Folk Music for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. The Anthology was comprised entirely of recordings issued between 1927 (the year electronic recording made accurate reproduction possible) and 1932, the period between the realization by the major record companies of distinct regional markets and the Depression’s stifling of folk music sales. Released in three volumes of two discs each, the 84 tracks of the anthology are recognized as having been a seminal inspiration for the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960 (the 1997 reissue by the Smithsonian was embraced with critical acclaim and produced two Grammy awards).
Harry Smith’s Archives reside at The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California. There are three major content resources available to help further your understanding of Harry Everett Smith’s prolific art collections.
Constituting a first attempt to locate Smith and his diverse endeavors within the history of avant-garde art production in twentieth-century America, the essays in this volume reach across Smith’s artistic oeuvre.
Paul Winter dropped a reminisce about Pete Seeger in my e-mail Inbox the other day. I’d like to share it with you.
Our long-time friend and mentor, Pete Seeger, passed away on Monday. I was privileged to meet Pete at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966, and he then gave me encouragement as I was creating a new ensemble that became the Paul Winter Consort.
In the early 90s, sensing that Pete’s recordings were not being heard by younger generations, I suggested to him that he record an album of his Earth songs. He said, “My voice is shot, but if we can have a chorus to carry the melodies, I could sing along.” My Living Music colleagues and I produced the album Pete in 1996. It won a Grammy, Pete’s first. The final song, “To My Old Brown Earth” (lyrics below), is one Pete had written for a friend’s funeral. It’s the most moving “goodbye song” I’ve ever heard.
We’d like to offer it as a free download for anyone who would like to hear it. And please feel free to pass it along to your friends.
For living music, Paul
TO MY OLD BROWN EARTH
To my old brown earth
And to my old blue sky
I’ll now give these last few molecules
And you who sing
And you who stand nearby
I do charge you not to cry
Guard well our human chain
Watch well you keep it strong
As long as sun will shine
And this our home
Keep pure and sweet and green
For now I’m yours
And you are also
— Words and music by Pete Seeger, 1958
About the song, Pete wrote: “In 1958 I sang at the funeral of John McManus, co-editor of the radical newsweekly, The Guardian, and regretted that I had no song worthy of the occasion. So this got written.”
We love Donovan. We have waited patiently to see him live in concert near us. Donovan will be one of the special artists appearing at The Fest for Beatles Fans , an event I have blogged about recently. We are ticketed to attend this event. 🙂
The last time we saw Donovan live was November 12, 1971 at Madison Square Garden. It was our first big concert arena experience. There in the middle of the Garden floor sat Donovan. The stage he was perched cross-legged on slowly turned in a 360 degree fashion like a lazy susan.
Donovan’s Fest for Beatles Fans concert performances will occur in the ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt which will allow us a closer sound and visual experience.
I have listened to Donovan’s canon anticipating next month’s event. My favorite Donovan recording isBarabajagal.What’s yours?
In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey is a biographical documentary that visually evokes the vision of a great artist. It employs beautifully textured, non-linear, cinematic and thoroughly entertaining means that launch a wide audience into the universe constructed and inhabited by John Fahey. The film relies first and foremost on the music of John Fahey. With the active support and coöperation of both The John Fahey Trust and Dean Blackwood of Revenant Records, the second of Fahey’s own recording companies, the film presents a rich and otherwise inaccessible Fahey archive of musical recordings, moving images, photographs, prose and paintings. The visual archive of Fahey performing is very rich. The collection of photographs is equally extensive. This live action archive is further augmented by short animated sequences that evoke Fahey’s artistic, imagined universe. – Tamarack Productions (c) 2010
It’s wonderful to see the revival of interest in the music and art of Dave Van Ronk. This is a direct result of the Coen Brothers Film, Inside Llewyn Davisthat started its limited engagement in New York and Los Angeles today.
Tompkins Square Records released Live At Caffe Lena: Music From America’s Legendary Coffeehouse 1967-2013 this past summer. It’s a chock full 3 CD Box Set that is complemented by a coffee table book, Caffè Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse (powerHouse Books) which brings more than 200 never seen, evocative images and stories to the public.
“The story of Caffè Lena is the secret history of the folk-music scene. Lena was a pioneering woman in a man’s world and her story needs to be told.” —Holly George-Warren
Here is a Sound Cloud of 40 minutes of Dave Van Ronk’s set from 1974 at Caffe Lena
New York City’s 4th Street is at the heart of the Manhattan residential district Greenwich Village, where Dylan once lived. Dylan lived from early-1962 until late-1964 in a small $60-per-month studio apartment at 161 West Fourth StreetThis area was central to the burgeoning folk music scene of the early 1960s, which centered around Dylan and many other influential singer-songwriters. For example, Gerde’s Folk City was originally located at 11 West 4th Street.
Bringing It All Back Home (Pantheon/Random House, 1986) by Robbie Woliver documents Folk City’s history and went into a second printing as Hoot (St. Martins Press, 1994).
I increase my knowledge of American folk music as time leads up to the release date of the Coen Brother’s film, Inside Llewyn Davis on December 6, 2013.
I noticed that WPKN is hosting a two-day American & Folk Music Special fundraiser. (Tue. 11/12 & Wed. 11/13) WPKN is a 100% non-commercial, listener supported radio station broadcasting at 89.5 FM in Bridgeport, Connecticut and formerly 88.7 FM (WPKM) in Montauk, New York. You can also hear WPKN via the Internet at WPKN.ORGor through their WPKN LiveiPhone & iPad App available for free from the iTunes App Store.