The Power of Music, by Bob Nelson

It was just about seven years ago that Judy and I started to participate in a musical event that has changed our lives forever. This was not just a performance, but was a series of events that lasted for over four years! The events started when our good friend, who also happened to our personal physician, was diagnosed with A.L.S., which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. At this time, there is no known cure. Continue reading “The Power of Music, by Bob Nelson”

The Power of Song – The Endless Mile, by Bruce Baker

sketch by Peter Wieben

The Endless Mile is a song written by Julie Snow – “Here came a wanderer, a woman with no name, she said ‘I only have one question, am I crazy or sane.’” I enjoy singing this song, but this morning it was different. Continue reading “The Power of Song – The Endless Mile, by Bruce Baker”

You’d Have To Be Crazy, by Peter Wieben

sketch by Peter Wieben

You’d Have TO Be Crazy
Homelessness in Seattle
by Peter Wieben
reprinted with permission, June 13, 2016, The Awl

Seattle has a strikingly visible population of homeless people. One out of three of them are mentally ill, which is strikingly visible too. Lately though, rents are skyrocketing, and people are being priced out of their neighborhoods.  Read the whole article


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)”

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.”

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”

The First NW Folklife Festival – 1972 – A Modest Beginning, by Stewart Hendrickson

Washington Old Time Fiddlers performing at the Plaza of the States, NW Folklife, 1972

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”