For those of you who celebrate Christmas, does folk music play a part in your Christmas celebration? What’s on your folk Christmas wish list? I’ve been looking around for Christmas music in various folk styles. If you’re doing the same, About.com has a Christmas folk music series that might give you some ideas. Richard Gillmann’s Seattle Folk Music Page lists Christmas music you may not have thought of as folk music — for instance, Ernest Tubb’s version of “Blue Christmas!” Even Amazon.com has a Christmas folk music list all put together. It’s fairly short, but convenient for a busy shopper. At the top of the list is the Seeger family’s collection, American Folk Songs for Christmas, a 2-disc set containing 53 songs in all.
My Christmas folk collection is tiny but growing. Light of the Stable, by Emmylou Harris, was the first folk Christmas album I acquired. I’ve had it for quite a few years now and enjoy listening to it every time. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas is a warm, beautiful, low-key mixture of original and traditional Christmas songs. Odetta’s Christmas Spirituals CD is a joy to listen to. And the child’s reading of the Christmas story in “Dickens’ Dublin” on Loreena McKennitt’s Parallel Dreams album was a pleasant surprise. This year I added the mostly instrumental Christmas Grass CD, by various artists including several name performers. It’s calming for my long work commute and it has a lively version of Joy to the World.
If you enjoy listener-supported folk music radio, Folk Alley is holding its holiday contribution drive. What better way to make folk music an important part of your Christmas?
If you’re looking for last-minute gift ideas for folk-related books rather than music, what about Ralph Stanley’s autobiography, now in paperback? Reviews can be found in the Bluegrass Journal and USA Today. Or Lawrence Epstein’s Political Folk Music in America from Its Origins to Bob Dylan, released earlier this year?
Folk music is alive and well in many forms. Enjoy your choice of folk music this Christmas.Read More Add a Comment
Thursday’s issue of The Chicago Tribune has a great column by Eric Zorn listing the BBC series American Folk History, with some of the videos and links to the rest, as shown on YouTube. From The Carter Family through Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, The Weavers, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan to The Byrds, in a dozen episodes. Watch one or two now, check out the others later.Read More Add a Comment
I’d like to mention just a few events in folk music over the past year. These items will be old news to many of you, but I thought it would be helpful to start off this way and then go on to recent and upcoming events.
On a local scale, some of us witnessed changes in music venues, such as the the closing of Middle Earth Music Hall in Bradford, Vermont last May:
Happily, you can find their live music videos on:
On the national front, we mourned the passing of folk music legend Odetta (December 2, 2008):
Last month we saw Grammy awards granted to Pete Seeger (best traditional folk album), The Blind Boys of Alabama (best traditional gospel album), Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (best bluegrass album), B. B. King (best traditional blues album), Ladysmith Black Mambazo (best traditional world music album) and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (best contemporary folk/Americana album, country and pop awards for individual songs, and album of the year). The Blind Boys of Alabama and Tom Paxton were given lifetime achievement awards.
Independent Music Awards winners, also in January, included Tony Trischka for best Americana album and The Paschall Brothers for best gospel album.
And Rolling Stone, the chronicle of rock, honored folk music artists Joan Baez and Pete Seeger in their February 19 issue:
Feel free to comment on the folk music events that were memorable for you.Read More Add a Comment
Format changes at two public radio stations mean the end for two long running east coast folk radio shows. Earlier this month WFCR-FM in Amherst Massachusetts ended ‘Valley Folk’ which has been part of the folk music community in Western Mass for more than 22 years. This week WETA FM in Washington D.C. canceled ‘Traditions’, the D.C. area’s longest running folk music program.
It’s sad and shocking to see two important shows gone in such a short time.
Sometimes audience response can turn these things around so if you live in the broadcast areas of either of these stations, please take a few minutes to let station management know what you think.
At WETA contact Sheryl Lahti Director of Audience Services (703) 998-2724. firstname.lastname@example.org
Update Ron Olesko has a very thoughtful post on the situation and the future of folk music radio. He also points us to articles in the Washington Post and the Washington City Paper.
Update January 29 WAMU has picked up Mary Cliff’s ‘Traditions’ program which will now air Saturday nights, 11 pm to 1 am.Read More Add a Comment
On Sunday November 26th at 3pm WFDU FM will air a recreation of the 1956 Woody Guthrie tribute review “Bound For Glory: A Musical Tribute to Woody Guthrie” The original 1956 tibute, which features Guthries words and music in a script by Millard Lampell was a historic moment early in the folk revival.Read More Add a Comment