O my gosh!! Even though I'd grown up on traditional folk tunes, my acute awareness of music didn't come of age until 1962. I was eleven years old by then, but could absolutely NOT get enough of P,P&M, Kingston Trio, Weavers, Highwaymen, Terry G & the Easy Riders, Joe and Eddie, Brothers Four, Smothers Brothers, Limelighters, and the jangly, happy sound of the New Christy Minstrels.
In more recent years, I've collected some Woody Guthrie, several Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Leadbelly, even a Glenn Yarburough and Buffy St. Marie album. It's funny, I practically ignored Dylan during those years because his style was so darn rough and I was drawn more toward that delicious acoustic, group harmony. What I didn't realize was that authentic folk music was being dressed up by the likes of Milt Okum and other slick producers, to make it palatable for a larger audience. I guess nothing stays pure very long if there's money to be made (sigh).
But my love affair with this genre turned out to be eternal. I've read the Incomplete Folksinger twice, When We Were Good and some other stuff from that era. As far as I'm concerned, it was a magic time for music. I'm starting to collect old LP's of all the old groups and individual artists and burn them to CD's on my computer. About a year ago I recorded a folk special of John Sebastian off of PBS. I just can't get enough of that sound! There's something so dang special about simple, acoustic instrumentation combined with really tight harmonies.
Well, sooner or later I had to try performing it, so I did... for over 40 years. Almost every gig I do has a folk song or two or more from the sixties! It took me almost 30 years but I finally figured out that the best guitar (for my ear anyway) for this kind of music was a Martin 000. It produces that wonderful, dry, tight sound that I've heard in my head since I started doing folk music. I also love the old Black spirituals too. Poor Wayfaring Stranger is perhaps my favorite. Also do Amazing Grace to House of the Rising Sun - which is soooooo sixties!
All that to say, thank you, thank you, for starting this group. Look forward to reading more on my most very favorite genre from all you guys my age that can still remember...
Boy does your note ring true. Now I'm writing my own 'folk' songs
I totally understand your passion for this music. I always thought that if I could go back in time, and not affect any outcome, I would have loved to hang with these folks. What a magical time that must have been, do you think they knew this?
Welcome JD!!! Sounds great...please post some more info and pics of your 000, we'd love to see it! I was born in 1955 but always had a love for the music you listed. When in high school while everyone was into hard rock, I was listening to the people you listed, plus Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, etc.! Looking forward to "talking" to you more here! Edward
Thanks for all your responses! Will take everybody in turn...
Lon, I dialed up your youtube. Fantastic! Writing was one thing I was never good at. I'm really more of an arranger/entertainer/collector. I've probably collected over 1,000 folk, country, spiritual, gospel, old tyme songs in the past 40 years. There are some I remember performing in the 70's that I haven't put in my collection yet. But I'm always in awe of you guys/gals that can spin an incredible song outta nothing! Yes, I've tried my hand at it time to time. I mean, what folkie hasn't?! But for the exception of one, possibly two times, it was less than mediocre. Keep up your good work!
Marty, you know, I think they wrote and sang better than they knew. It's kinda like authors of classic literature. Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle know his Sherlock Holmes shorts were gonna go global? I'm sure there were degrees of involvement, but there seemed to be this sweet strain of world peace that pervaded most of this writing and these performances. I've often fantasized what it would be like to sit under a shade tree at the Newport Folk Festival and have a conversation with Pete Seeger about his passion for equality and peace and music.
Ed, in response to your request, I play the most inexpensive Martin made ($450 in 2006 from Elderly's). It's a 000X1. I have another Martin, it's an MJ Road Series, but both have solid spruce tops. Then I also play a 2001 Goldtone 6-string banjo. It was made in Titusville, FL. I alternate between these two in a typical folk gig situation, throwing in a harmonica tune somewhere along the way. It's interesting, but Harry Chapin's song, Cats In the Cradle literally changed my life.
We had just had our first child and I was too busy working folk gigs back in the late 70's to stay at home and get acquainted with my newborn son. I heard this song and started working it up. After performing it a few times, It occurred to me that I was being the dad in the song! Wow, it really kicked my butt, so to speak.
So I sort of trimmed way back and started staying at home more, learning about my son and how to pour my love of this kind of music into him. Something must have clicked because now, these many years later, he loves and performs a spinoff of the old folk stuff. He does what's called instrumental acoustic fingerstyle after the manner of Michael Hedges, Preston Reed, Don Ross, etc.
If you're curious about how this story happily ended, get on youtube and dial up "Patrick Woods". Storm Watch would actually be his best piece in my opinion. He's played occasional gigs with Andy McKee (before Andy got world famous) and is currently working on his 4th CD. The reason I'm relating all this is to show how our passion for this folk music has morphed into something good for this newer generation and what they've done with it.
I teach half-time at a small liberal arts college in northern Indiana and you'd be shocked to find out how much the guitar-playin' kids of this generation love those old folk songs. In my Humanities class, I take my Martin and play a tune almost every day. About a week ago, we were in a unit that covered political protest music. I played and sang, Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Blowin' In the Wind, and part of If I Had A Hammer. Then we talked about the origins of these pieces in relation to the Viet Nam war. We talked about Bob, Peter, Paul, Mary, Pete, Joni, Joan, etc. Gosh, it was incredible!!
Well, I've gone on long enough, better quit... for now,
Just for the record: I guess my interest/love for "old folkies" may have a lot in common, and also must be very different from yours...
By '62 I was learning my first English words (in Portuguese high schools, we first learned French, English came two years later); at the same time, I was learning my first guitar notes. And, by that time, I lived in Luanda, Angola (Tropical Atlantic Africa). Until then, "American music" meant Pat Boone, Paul Anka and the like, but also Elvis, Glenn Miller and others. I remember my first listening to a Brothers Four record, I wouldn't sleep before I could play "Greenfields". Then I saw the film "Alamo", and there was that song, "The green leaves of Summer" - and I was told those songs were the so-called "Folk music" kind. Later on The Seekers (though Australian) echoed a similar sound. By '65 my English had improved a lot, and I merged in PP&M, Dylan, Baez, and Donovan.
I still was interested in Pop music, but Folk was very interesting, I did like the direct style, the straightforward lyrics, etc. But, from '69 on, I got in love with Blues, particularly Delta blues and... Big Bill Broonzy. At the same time, I was mesmerized by the Simon & Garfunkel songs, particularly the first two albums (the music in those albums had a lot to do with Folk, although the lyrics, reached a high poetic level - which pleased me a lot) I still can play those songs by heart.
It is true that my in interest in music has evolved (if you take a look in my page, that will be notorious), but, I still keep an FG 335 Yamaha, and, from time to time, it's a great pleasure to play those "Old Folkies" - funny how the music of a foreign country, sung in a foreign language ( very harsh when compared to Portuguese, by the way), telling stories about people that live lives so different from mine, in places where I will never go, can be so comforting and so inseparable of my musical references...
I can't sing "the rising sun" in A minor anymore (too much tobaco), but I have a nice E minor arrangement; I use to do "Poor Wayfaring ic C minor (capo at 3rd), and Amazing Grace in A. But my favorites are some Baez songs, and I sing "Puff the Magic Dragon" to my granddaughter, along with the Beatles' songs she prefers. It is true that I like some latin American folk songs, especially tangos, and Spanish songs, but American Folk Music will always have a place in my heart - and, sometimes, when I have a gig in a quiet pub with my trio, after the show, and encouraged by the alcohol vapors, maybe I play one or two "Old Folkies" - after all that kind of music was somehow like a school where I forged many of my guitar skills...
Long live the Sixties!
I remember the late fifties, early sixties “folk revival” as a humongous piece of the musical pie. That, along with the “Hootenanny” craze, took scores of artists out of the coffee house and into the larger venues. Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, and many others of the genre were so “pop”, I have problems recalling who was filling in the rock/soul slots on the charts.
My first two collaborations were folk groups. I had a long neck banjo, like the patriarch, Pete Seeger. Having wailed “Kumbaya” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” at so so so many campfires, I doubt I will ever cover the two again. “House Of the Rising Sun” was the quintessential display of minor chord prowess as I had to travel on, with my nine pound hammer, across your land and mine, chasing Puff for 500 miles in the early morning rain... and whatever dementia awaits me, I will not forget where the flowers have gone.
The Brothers Four were my fave. I just could not figure out how to play guitar like Josh White or sing like Glen Yarbrough. Odetta blew me away. I wanted to be as handsome as Ian Tyson (Ian and Sylvia).
That was the era of the “Harmony” guitar (if you couldn't afford... you know the two!)
It was, indeed, a magical time... but... so was being young. Especially, having zero problems retaining all the words to a zillion songs. Mr. Tambourine Man?... a walk in the park!.. come on, Bob, throw in a few more verses; I'll sing 'em all with no cheat sheet.