The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101506   Message #2048162
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
10-May-07 - 12:15 PM
Thread Name: What got you hooked on folk music?
Subject: RE: What got you hooked on folk music?
And, of course, Harry Smith's phenomenal and, in its time c. 1951, utterly unlikely AAFS -- the famous Folkways Anthology. It's a often-told tale, I know, but thousands could tell it, and I'm one.

Nobody can quite appreciate nowadays, in this world of abundant folk source recordings, just how all that down-home music by half a hundred rural artists changed our lives. It was a revelation of style and approach to just-starting neophytes who suddenly found that Burl Ives and Dyer-Bennett and JJ Niles styles weren't all there was to folksong.

Among other things (like oldtime music by the likes of the Carter Family, Kelly Harrell, the Carolina Tar Heels, Uncle Dave Macon -- you know the list), this was where a lot of us first heard ...

Authentic blues! -- more authentic, that is, than the cafe-style Josh White who was all we'd heard till then, and utterly different from the Stinson and Folkways Leadbelly records. The AAFS broke open white kids' ears to a torrent of 30-year-old African American blues music as the 50s began. Blind Lemon Jefferson and a cohort of others turned me and a lot more people into bicultural, biracial singers, or at least imitators -- breaking forever the folk-musical color bar that had already been smashed by jazzmen and -women for their kind of music.

That was, in its own way, a complete remaking of me as a still green musician of a year or two's standing -- comparable to getting acquainted with folk music in the first place. This plus Library of Congress records put me forever nose-to-nose with folk music where it lives, not as it's interpreted by city singers. From then on I was learning the real stuff, along with a whole bunch of other people scattered everywhere within reach of Folkways Records. Dynamite! Thanks, Moe Asch and Harry Smith, for making it happen.