There is one name that is not well known in the history of the folksong revival beginning in the late 1940s and 1950s. Paul Clayton was a folk music scholar, a collector and field recorder of traditional folksongs primarily from Appalachia and New England, and America’s most-recorded young folksinger – some 17 albums between 1954 and 1961, mostly traditional folk songs and later commercial recordings – bringing hundreds of obscure folk ballads and songs into the American folk music scene. He was a mentor to David Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, and other emerging folksingers of that era, but became eclipsed in the emerging commercial folk scene of the 1960s. He was a genius with many talents, but also many demons that led to his tragic death in 1967 at the age of 36. Continue reading “Paul Clayton – Unsung Hero of the Early Folksong Revival, by Stewart Hendrickson”
As the 46th Annual Northwest Folklife Festival gets ready for a new run this Memorial Day weekend it is interesting to look back to its beginning in 1972. Today with a budget of $1.3 million and over 5,000 artists performing on 25 stages it’s hard to realize that this festival had a very humble beginning. From some early Journals from the Seattle Folklore Society we can appreciate its roots and history. Continue reading “The First NW Folklife Festival – 1972 – A Modest Beginning, by Stewart Hendrickson”
Note: A continuing look at Seattle folksingers of the past. Reprinted with permission from the Victory Review, August, 2006, p. 18.
When we think about influences in the area of folk singing, we most often think of celebrities who’ve enjoyed a long-standing national audience. We hear our peers refer to the first time they heard a Pete Seeger recording, the first time they saw Utah Phillips on stage or some political documentary or news story w/Joan Baez singing and they were off and running: Soaking up songs, attending open mics and eventually bestowing upon us their literary/musical creation. This is all well and good, but it only takes one so far. To make genuine progress on this path, we need local and personal influences who demonstrate the viability of folk music and culture as a functional part of life on the physical/visible plane in our community. This is where someone like Stan James comes in. Continue reading “Stan James (1935-2008) Legendary Seattle Folksinger, by Percy Hilo”
Some years ago I was given an old fiddle by a friend. It was his mother’s violin, but it had a sad and traumatic history. His mother was not always sane and used the instrument to punish and put fear into her children. It was painful for my friend to even talk about this, and he wanted to be free of it, but also give it to someone who might love it and bring new life back into it. Continue reading “Soul of a Fiddle, by Stewart Hendrickson”
According to legend, coffee was discovered in Ethiopia in the ninth century, first roasted, ground, and brewed by the Turks, then brought to Europe by Venetian traders. Coffee quickly spread throughout Europe and the first coffeehouse in England opened around 1650. Coffeehouses became known as “penny universities” because one could get a fairly good education sitting with a cup of coffee (a penny a cup) and listening to learned men as they discussed matters of great import. Not many years later, coffeehouses opened in Boston and Philadelphia, and were frequented by artists, poets, philosophers, and revolutionaries—like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Continue reading “Seattle Coffeehouses during the “Folk Revival” of the 1960s, by Don Firth”
SEATTLE COFFEEHOUSE LIVE!
In March, 2008, the Pacific NW Folklore Society began a monthly series of Coffeehouse Concerts starting at the Kaffee Shachor in Green Lake, then the Library Cafe on Crown Hill, and then the Wayward Coffeehouse in Greenwood from October, 2008 through April, 2010. In May, 2010 we moved to Couth Buzzard Books/Espresso Buono, also in Greenwood, for our concerts every 2nd Friday of the month. All tracks on this CD were recorded live at the Wayward Coffeehouse (cover photo), except # 7 and 16 at Couth Buzzard Books. All the performers were local musicians: Ginny Reilly, Alice Stuart, Down The Road, JW McClure, Smalltime String Band, Squirrel Butter, Jerry Middaugh & Orville Murphy, Eliza Manoff & Kim Ruehl, Val & Mike James, Michael Guthrie, Sarah Comer, Canote Brothers, Dan Carolla, Carolyn Cruso, Jillian Graham, Hank Payne & Claire Favro. Pull up a comfortable chair, turn the lights down low, relax with a cup of coffee, glass of wine or a beer, close your eyes, imagine you’re in your favorite coffeehouse, and enjoy this 70-min. concert – play all tracks (streaming mp3 files). The following is a list of individual tracks with more information: Continue reading “Seattle Coffeehouse Live! Pacific NW Folklore Society “Virtual CD””
“A bunch of us, including Walt Robertson, got together in late 1952 or early 1953 and formed the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society. The fate of the organization is described below,”
Personal Reminiscences, Don Firth (1931-2015).1954 – Pete Seeger in Seattle and the Fate
of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society
In fall of 1954 a major folk music event took place in Seattle. For the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society it proved to be more than a major event. Pete Seeger came to Seattle to give a concert. Under the aegis of the Folklore Society, Walt Robertson made the necessary arrangements and obtained the use of the basement auditorium of Wesley House, where several earlier Folklore Society events had been held. Continue reading “Spirit of the Times, by Don Firth”
Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Pete Seeger
a video interview with Bob Nelson
While most of our activities are centered around Seattle and the Puget Sound area, we would like to have a more regional presence in promoting folk music and preserving its heritage and folklore in the Pacific Northwest. We recently sent an email to various folklore and folk music societies in the Pacific Northwest to solicit their help and involvement in creating a regional presence for our Society. It included several areas of interest in which we asked for input (see below). We welcome any ideas, help, and contributions that you can provide. Continue reading “A More Regional Folklore Society”