Finding A Voice

& WFDU-FM’s TRADITIONS Playlist for June 26, 2016 Justin Timberlake, who earned dubious street cred in the folk community for his role as a folksinger in the Coen Brothers film Inside Llweyn Davis, found himself in deeper hot water last weekend at the BET Awards. It started with Timberlake tweeting … → read more

The Cruel Ship’s Captain / The Captain’s Apprentice

Introduction – “The Cruel Ship’s Captain” Today’s ballad is notable both for its brevity and for the depravity it depicts.  The brevity is mostly a product of the Anglophone seamen and laborers who worked the song over time to a fine edge like a blade on a whetstone.  The depravity derives from the combination of human … → read more

Faur distant: Burns, MacColl & the Spanish Civil War.

The power and influence of a poet A kind of madness breaks out in unexpected places across the world on the 25th of January. People gather in Edinburgh, London, Moscow, and Washington D.C., among other places, to eat, drink, and remember the words and works of a long dead poet … → read more

Ewan MacColl Centenary CD Tribute

Preview of a new 2-CD set honoring Ewan MacColl and WFDU-FM’s TRADITIONS Playlist for September 13, 2015   This week’s show featured a spotlight on a new CD collection that celebrates one of the folk revival’s most influential artists in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Born in … → read more

    British Folk Music in the 1950s

        Ronald D. Cohen and Rachel Clare Robinson Roots of the Revival: American and     British Folk Music in the 1950s University of Illinois Press 978-0-252-08012-8   From chain-gang work songs and the skiffle music of Lonnie Donegan to the folk-blues of Josh White, the calypso of … → read more

Two Sisters Redux – Part 1

detail from Twa Sisters – quilt by Dan Willig Six months ago, my first post for this blog dealt with the ancient murder ballad “Two Sisters“, also known as “Wind and Rain” as well as several other names.  I’m happy with the work I did then, but as with any first attempt … → read more

Who’s really guilty here? Or, if it’s not Scottish…

Here we have Ewan MacColl’s version of Child #73, from his Classic Scots Ballads.  Thanks, Pat, for mentioning it.  The song is sung in Scots, and there are a few passages which I have yet to understand clearly, but the gist of the narrative and its differences with “Fair Ellender” … → read more