Folk Music News & Blog Posts

The Box & The Heel

You can almost smell the coffee. It’s morning, you've just pulled up a gravel road to sit at a kitchen table and listen to your friend June Carter Cash, or to your friend Wanda Jackson. You’re here to listen to ...

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Sam Charters, shown in 1963, was a jug player at the Vanguard. Credit Ann Charters

Sam Charters Passes

American music historian, author and musician Samuel Charters passed away on March 18th. Known for his field recordings of influential blues musicians, many of the works Charters uncovered went on to inspire and shape much of today's musical landscape. Born in ...

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In the Pines: A Guide

On this blog, we often play detective. In fact, that’s pretty much all we do, and this post is no different, but I’m going to start by turning the tables. What, if anything, do you make of these fragments?: A woman ...

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Tom Chapin and Ron Olesko


WFDU-FM's TRADITIONS Playlist for March 8, 2015 I have presented many guests on the show over the years, and with live radio (or even pre-recorded radio), you never know how the conversation and performance will go. However, whenever Tom Chapin comes ...

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Digging for Clues in the Fatal Flower Garden

“Fatal Flower Garden,” recorded in 1929 by Nelstone’s Hawaiians, is only the second of eighty-four songs on Harry Smith’s epochal Anthology of American Folk Music - a collection justly celebrated in some macabre corners (mine, for instance) for its songs ...

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Gene Shay, the cake!

The Gene Shay Celebration Recap

On March 1st, 2015, we packed the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia to the gills in celebration of "the dean of folk radio" Gene Shay’s 80th birthday (and his recent retirement from radio). Thanks to the amazing line-up of performers: ...

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Video of the Week

The wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks of a few weeks ago, followed closely by the Boko Haram slaughters in Nigeria, set our minds to thinking about the right musical response to the seemingly endless violence perpetrated in the name of religion. It strikes us that this is not solely the domain of Islamists who shame their own scripture by their violent misinterpretations of it's meaning ... but the result of ignorance meshed with the absolutism of fundamentalist thinking propelled by the corrupt power-driven politics of all such twisting of dogma. Holly Near hit the nail perfectly on its head in her song "I Ain't Afraid" (published in Sing Out! v.47#3), so we share this live performance of the anthem, with Holly joined by the terrific duo Emma's Revolution" and an inspired audience from Marblehead, Mass. If you really want to stop terrorism, start by not being afraid!