Free Folk

A mountain fiddler circa 1920.A mountain fiddler circa 1920.
Courtesy New York Public Library via Flickr Commons.

I’ve been wanting to add a few links to my website in connection with my recent posts about protest and song.  Here’s a bit of what I’ve found.

  • The Smithsonian has long been a collector of American folk recordings.  In addition to making rare old recordings available through its Smithsonian Folkways label, it has made an extensive series of podcasts (24 hours’ worth) about its collections available for free download.  Permanent links to both are on my home page.
  • Turns out, last week was a big one for folk music, with the press reporting that an outfit called the Association for Cultural Equity was on the verge of releasing for free streaming some 17,000 recordings made by the late American folklorist Alan Lomax.  Lomax was a colorful figure who spent his life traveling around the US and the world with a tape-recorder and a camera, documenting the music of the ordinary from the 1930s through the 80s.  Some 170 of his videos are already available on the Alan Lomax channel on You Tube.  A tiny sampling of the sounds and performers can also be heard here and throughout the Cultural Equity website.
  • Finally, East Village Radio hosts a weekly radio program of American vernacular music called ‘Root Hog or Die,’ put together by Nathan Salsburg, one of the curators of the Lomax archives.  (An awful saying, but isn’t one of the things we like about folk music its frankness?)  A complete archive of the show is available for free.  Some of the show’s episodes are also available on SoundCloud, whose audio player you might find easier to work if you’re a Mac user like me.

2 responses

  1. Susan, Thank you for this really interesting post with the references to these great web sites.