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””
Recently some Irish musicians have been composing tunes in odd meters such as 7/8. One example of this is the “Road To Barga” (starts at about 1:47 on the video) by Cillian Vallely of the Irish band Lunasa.
After a bit of difficulty, I learned this tune, and like to play it on fiddle at jams (hear me play it)
The response I get is very interesting. Guitar players want to play along, but they get thoroughly confused with the rhythm, hopelessly out of beat, or just plain give up. Continue reading “Odd Meters, 7/8 Anyone? by Stewart Hendrickson”
Update, 9/22/16: Since running this article I haven’t seen a groundswell of volunteers. This time I’d like some advice and feedback: What are we doing well? What could we do better? What new directions could we pursue? How can we improve the way we promote concerts? Ideas for new exciting performers to book. New articles for the NW HOOT – any volunteers to write them? Please respond through comments or email, and meet me at the Couth to talk over a cup of coffee or tea (my treat). Thanks, Stewart
The Pacific Northwest Folklore Society was founded in 1953 by Walt Robertson and friends in the University District of Seattle to support the understanding and development of the folklore and folk music of this region. After a rough beginning during the turbulent years of the McCarthy “Red Scare,” the Society became inactive by the early ‘60s. Fast forward to 2007. Don Firth and Bob Nelson, two founding members of the Society in 1953, and I decided to revive it. Our first event was a house concert with Jeff Warner, a world-class folklorist and folk singer from New Hampshire. He had trouble finding a venue in Seattle, and we thought it was time to revive the Society in order to present and preserve the more traditional folk music and provide a venue for traditional folk musicians, particularly those from our region. Don Firth has now passed on, and Bob Nelson is no longer active in the Society. I will turn 80 next year and am not sure how much longer I wish to continue. We need new people to help carry it on. Continue reading “Future of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, by Stewart Hendrickson”
Silver Threads Among the Gold, copyrighted in 1873, was a popular song in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The lyrics are by Eben E. Rexford, and the music by Hart Pease Danks: “Darling I am growing old/ Silver threads among the gold/ Shine upon my brow today/ Life is fading fast away.” It was recorded by Richard Jose in 1903, and later by Bing Crosby in 1948. A beautiful but very sentimental song, it was destined to be the tune for many silly nonsensical parodies throughout the early to mid twentieth century. Continue reading “Midnight on the Ocean and Other Nonsensical Songs, by Stewart Hendrickson”
What’s your musical genre? Have you consciously chosen one? Do you really know all about it? How does it differ from others? Can you describe its nuances? Every genre and sub-genre or style of music is characterized by specific features, some obvious and some quite subtle, without which it just isn’t really authentic. Many nuances may be completely overlooked by players who don’t realize they are important, and maybe don’t hear them, because they aren’t familiar enough with the genre and don’t know what to listen for. Continue reading “Genre And Style – How Much Do You Know? by Laurie Riley”