December/January, 2017/2018 – Vol. 10, No. 2

Rick Fogel                                               Carolyn Cruso

The Past Concerts featured Rick Fogel on Oct. 13, and Carolyn Cruso on Nov. 10. This issue features two articles: “Beethoven and Banjos – Cross-Genre Musicians,” by Stewart Hendrickson; and “Andy Blyth ‘Banjo Andy’ (June 7, 1945 – July 27, 2017);” and two CD Reviews: “Hark the Dark – Claudia Schmidt,” and “Kate MacLeod – Deep in the Sound of Terra.Upcoming Concerts at the Couth Buzzard will feature Jaspar Lepak on Dec. 8 and  The Marvelous Minstrel Boys, on Jan. 12. Every 2nd Saturday at the Couth Buzzard from noon – 1:30 pm, Stew’s Folk Music Corner will feature tunes, songs, and community singing. The Events page lists some great concerts through the next few months. Keep tuned and revisit the NW HOOT as new articles may appear along with a new video of the week. We are still looking for more writers for the NW HOOT (send us your ideas and articles). Donations – Help support the Pacific NW Folklore Society. Donations of any amount are welcome – for $20 or more we will send you a free CD: “Songs of the Pacific Northwest“, or “Paddy Graber – The Craic Was Great“. Send a check to Pacific NW Folklore Society, 11720 1st Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98177. Thank you.

Beethoven and Banjos – Cross-Genre Musicians, by Stewart Hendrickson

Classical music and folk music may seem like two opposing ends of the musical spectrum, yet many folk musicians today have started out with classical training and many classical musicians have crossed over to the folk music genre. Beethoven and Banjos is a collaboration between members of Decoda (Carnegie Hall’s affiliate classical musical ensemble) and folk musicians, creating and performing music together. Evan Premo, a member of Decoda and a native of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is the artistic director and founder of this collaboration. Together with his sister Laurel Premo, a Michigan folk musician, fiddle and banjo player, and their parents, they produce an annual series of cross-genre concerts and workshops in the UP. Here we profile some of the artists and show how they span cultural and musical boundaries in their music. Continue reading “Beethoven and Banjos – Cross-Genre Musicians, by Stewart Hendrickson”

Andy Blyth “Banjo Andy” (June 7, 1945 – July 27, 2017)

It is with sadness that I share with you the passing of another member of our great musical family. I first met Andy Blyth at Rainy Camp (Seattle Song Circle) when I moved to Seattle about twenty years ago. I recorded two songs he sang for our CD, “Songs of the Pacific Northwest”- Frozen Logger, and Apple Pickers Reel.  He also participated in Victory Music open mics in the Seattle area, and with his wife, Sue Peterson Blyth, formed the Raging Zephyr band of musicians. And he was a founding member of Tickle Tune Typhoon, “a playful troupe of magical musicians, colorful dancers, and creative arts educators.” But Andy was much more than that – he was the most positive, upbeat, friendly person I’ve known, in spite of  health problems endured throughout his life. In 2008 Andy and his wife retired to Berea, KY, where he continued to play music and spread joy in his community. Andy Blyth’s Memorial video is here. And here is his obituary. – Stewart Hendrickson. Continue reading “Andy Blyth “Banjo Andy” (June 7, 1945 – July 27, 2017)”

CD Review: Hark the Dark – Claudia Schmidt


Claudia Schmidt – ©2017
“I have always loved winter, and the older I get, the more I love it. I joke about how the long nights and short days give us cosmic permission to underachieve. But when I look at the way our lives seem to fill up with busy work that eclipses contemplation and dream time, I realize the underlying seriousness of the situation! So here is my love note to the oft-maligned season of winter. Bring it on. Hark the Dark!” – Claudia Schmidt

This welcome new CD by Claudia Schmidt, her 22nd recording, takes a new turn – it is a thematic journey through dark winter in various genres, moods, and styles. Only about half the songs are her original pieces; she has also gathered some musings of fellow musicians and thrown in a couple standards. For those of us who are familiar with her earlier recordings, this is a change, with a new sound, but it is still the same Claudia with her heartfelt renditions, and a voice that is as strong and expressive as ever. Continue reading “CD Review: Hark the Dark – Claudia Schmidt”

CD Review: Kate MacLeod – Deep in the Sound of Terra

Kate MacLeod © 2017                Waterbug Records

This is the first full-length instrumental recording for Kate MacLeod, an award-winning singer-songwriter, and acclaimed violin player and composer. Her previous vocal recordings have always included a few instrumental tracks, but as much as I enjoy her singing, I always wanted to hear more of her violin playing. Now I have that opportunity in a single long-awaited recording. Continue reading “CD Review: Kate MacLeod – Deep in the Sound of Terra”

What Is A Folk Song? by Stewart Hendrickson

What is a “folk song”? This is a question that has been raised over many years with no agreed-upon answer. Here we explore the origins of this term, and the collection of these songs. Continue reading “What Is A Folk Song? by Stewart Hendrickson”

If You Know Who Wrote It, It’s Not A Folk Song, by Michael Cooney

The late Kenneth Goldstein of Philadelphia was one of the great American folklorists. (He was also a generous man who shared his knowledge and vast library of recordings, books, etc., and his home, with people like me. I will be ever grateful to him and his gracious wife Rochelle for their hospitality.) Every couple of years I’d ask Dr. Goldstein his current definition of “folk music”. It was ever-changing. The first time I asked him, he told me that folk music was “anything sung by a small group of people for the entertainment of those people at that time“. Continue reading “If You Know Who Wrote It, It’s Not A Folk Song, by Michael Cooney”

What’re You Rebelling Against, Malvina? by Ross Altman, Ph.D.

Reprinted with permission from FolkWorks March-April 2017

Mildred: What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?
Johnny: Whaddya got?
~ Marlon Brando in “The Wild One”, 1953

 Marlon Brando’s reply to Mildred’s question suits Malvina Reynolds to a T: but unlike Johnny in The Wild One, Singer-songwriter Malvina Reynolds (August 23, 1900—March 17, 1978) was a learned rebel. She got her Ph.D. the old-fashioned way—she earned it, in the UC Berkeley English Department in 1938. She never used it to teach, however, because her first act of rebellion was to refuse to sign the California loyalty oath when she was accepted for a teaching position at Berkeley. Faced with Robert Frost’s life-changing choice at the fork in the road she took the one less travelled by—“of whom it could be said: She was an artist, and a red.” (MR) Continue reading “What’re You Rebelling Against, Malvina? by Ross Altman, Ph.D.”

Peggy Seeger – A Life of Music, Love, and Politics, by Jean R. Freedman (2017)

Born into folk music’s first family, Peggy Seeger has blazed her own trail artistically and personally. Jean Freedman draws on a wealth of research and conversations with Seeger to tell the life story of one of music’s most charismatic performers and tireless advocates. Here is the story of Seeger’s multifaceted career, from her youth to her pivotal role in the American and British folk revivals, from her instrumental virtuosity to her tireless work on behalf of environmental and feminist causes, from wry reflections on the U.K. folk scene to decades as a songwriter. Freedman also delves into Seeger’s fruitful partnership with Ewan MacColl and a multitude of contributions which include creating the renowned Festivals of Fools, founding Blackthorne Records, masterminding the legendary Radio Ballads documentaries, and mentoring performers in the often-fraught atmosphere of The Critics Group. Bracingly candid and as passionate as its subject, Peggy Seeger, A Life of Music, Love and Politics is the one and only full-length biography of a life set to music. Peggy Seeger Biography
Read a review of this book by Ross Altman, PhD
Continue reading “Peggy Seeger – A Life of Music, Love, and Politics, by Jean R. Freedman (2017)”

Paul Clayton – Unsung Hero of the Early Folksong Revival, by Stewart Hendrickson

Paul Clayton, 1953, Paul Clayton Estate

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”