Web Page No 2280
15th July 2016
Top Picture: Woodie Gutherie
Second Picture: Pete Seeger
Third Picture: Joan Baez and Bob Dylan
Forth Picture: Judy Collins
The Folk Revolution
After the USA had sent us Rock and Roll and Crooners, we here in England responded with the American invasion of the Liverpool and Manchester pop groups, but behind all this, in the background were two other music genres, folk music and traditional Jazz.
This week I look at American Folk, I will deal with Traditional Jazz later.
Now who were the eleven leading exponents of American Folk who became popular her in the UK. I would suggest the following:-
Woody Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs and ballads. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is "This Land Is Your Land". Many of his recorded songs are now archived in the Library of Congress. In the 1930s he travelled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California while learning, rewriting, and performing traditional folk and blues songs along the way. Many the songs he composed were about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression, earning him the nickname the "Dust Bowl Balladeer". Throughout his life he was associated with US communist groups, though he never formally joined the Party. During his later years he served as a figurehead in the folk movement, providing inspiration to a generation of new folk musicians, including Bob Dylan. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton have acknowledged their debt to him as their influence.
The Almanac Singers included Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie and began playing together informally in 1940. They invented a driving, energetic style, based on what they felt was the best of American country string band music, black and white. Later on Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, became founding members of The Weavers. (I still have one of their 78s, nothing to play it on though)
Burl Ives – as a youth, hedropped out of college to travel as an itinerant singer during the early 1930s, earning his way by doing odd jobs and playing his banjo. In 1930 he had a brief, local radio career in Indiana and in the 1940s he had his own radio show, titled The Wayfaring Stranger, titled after one of his ballads. The show was very popular, and in 1946 he was cast as a singing cowboy in the film Smoky. He went on to play in other popular films and first book, The Wayfaring Stranger, was published in 1948.
Pete Seeger had met, and been influenced, by many important folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly. Pete Seeger had labour movement involvements, and he met Woody Gutherie at a "Grapes of Wrath" migrant workers’ concert in March 1940 and the two began a musical collaboration. In 1948 he wrote the first version of his now-classic How to Play the Five-String Banjo, an instructional book that many banjo players credit with starting them off.
The Weavers were formed in 1947 by Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman. After they debuted at the Village Vanguard in New York in 1948, they were then discovered by arranger Gordon Jenkins and signed with Decca Records, releasing a series of successful but heavily orchestrated single songs. The group's political associations in the era of the Red Scare forced them to break up in 1952; they re-formed in 1955 with a series of successful concerts and album recordings on Vanguard Records. A fifth member, Erik Darling, sometimes sat in with the group when Seeger was unavailable and ultimately replaced Seeger in The Weavers when the latter resigned from the quartet in a dispute about its commercialism in general and its specific agreement to record a cigarette commercial.
Josh White was an authentic singer of rural blues and folk music, a man who had been born into abject conditions in South Carolina during the Jim Crow years. As a young black singer, he was initially dubbed “the Singing Christian” and was the son of a preacher, but also recorded blues songs under the name Pinewood Tom. Later discovered his repertoire expanded to include urban blues, jazz, and the folk repertoire, in addition to rural blues and gospel. Josh White gained a very wide following in the 1940s and had a huge influence on later blues artists and groups, as well as the general folk-music scene. His pro-justice and civil-rights stance provoked harsh treatment seriously harming his performing career in the ‘50s, and keeping him off TV until 1963. In folk-music circles, however, he retained respect and was admired both as a musical hero and a link with the Southern rural-blues and gospel traditions.
The Kingston Trio was formed in 1957 in California by Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds, and Dave Guard, who were just out of college. They were influenced by the Weavers, the calypso sounds of Harry Belafonte, and other semi-pop folk artists. The unexpected and surprising influence of their hit record "Tom Dooley" (which sold almost four million and is often credited with initiating the pop music aspect of the folk revival) and the unprecedented popularity and album sales of this group from 1957 to 1963 (including fourteen top ten and five number one LPs) were significant factors in creating a commercial and mainstream audience for folk-styled music where little had existed prior to their emergence. The Kingston Trio's success was followed by other highly successful 60s pop-folk acts, such as The Limeliters and The Highwaymen.
Joan Baez’s career got started in 1958 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where at 17 she gave her first concert. She was invited to perform at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival after which she was sometimes called “the barefoot Madonna", gaining renown for her clear voice and three-octave range. She recorded her first album for an established label the following year – a collection of laments and traditional folk ballads from the British Isles, accompanying the songs with guitar. Her second LP release went gold, as did her next (live) albums. One record featured her rendition of a song by the then-unknown Bob Dylan. In the early 1960s, she moved into the forefront of the American folk-music revival. Increasingly, her personal convictions – peace, social justice, anti-poverty – were reflected in the topical songs that made up a growing portion of her repertoire, to the point that she became a symbol for these particular concerns.
Bob Dylan often performed, and sometimes toured, with Joan Baez,. As she adopted some of Dylan's songs into her repertoire and even introduced Dylan to her audiences, a large following on the folk circuit, it helped the him to gain initial recognition. By the time Dylan recorded his first LP (1962) he had developed a style reminiscent of Woody Guthrie. He began to write songs that captured the "progressive" mood, though by 1964 there were many new guitar-playing singer/songwriters, it is arguable that Dylan eventually became the most popular of these younger folk-music-revival performers.
Peter, Paul and Mary debuted in the early 1960s and were an American trio who ultimately became one of the biggest musical acts of the 1960s. The trio was composed of Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers. They were one of the main folk music torchbearers of social commentary music in the 1960s. As the decade passed, their music incorporated more elements of pop and rock.
Judy Collins, affectionately known as ""Judy Blue Eyes"" debuted in the early 1960s. At first she sang traditional folk songs or songs written by others — in particular Tom Paxton and Bob Dylan. She also recorded her own versions of important songs from the period, such as Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Pete Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn" before composing her own hit song "Someday Soon".
Keep in touch
Re the swimming pool at Southsea my brother tells me that it was situated to the west of Southsea Castle. It was built in 1928 but was demolished in 1980 when the Sea Life Centre complex was built. This new Centre contained a large indoor pool. I was involved in designing and supervising the building of the ticket office / railway station at the western end of the pool.
News and Views:
On this day 15th July 1960-1965
On 15/07/1960 the number one single was Good Timin' - Jimmy Jones and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/07/1961 the number one single was Runaway - Del Shannon and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Harpers West One (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/07/1962 the number one single was I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia.
On 15/07/1963 the number one single was I Like It - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was UK Ministry of Defence proposed.
On 15/07/1964 the number one single was It's All Over Now - Rolling Stones and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 15/07/1965 the number one single was Crying in the Chapel - Elvis Presley and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Mont Blanc Tunnel officially opened.