WUMB September Program Guide

Memory Lane

Whether you lived through it or not the folk revival of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s was an amazing time in musical history. In this area (read that Cambridge) we were lucky enough to have a wonderful document of the era in Baby Let Me Follow You Down. Originally published in 1979 it was assembled by Eric Von Schmidt and Jim Rooney, two of the key figures in the New England folk revival. I say assembled because it is constructed from interviews with nearly all of the folks behind the legendary Club 47, Newport Folk Festival and everything else that happened back then. There is a narrative from the authors, but the words of the folks who made it happen that drive the story. In addition the 300 plus pages were lavishly illustrated with thousands of photos, some familiar and iconic, others incredibly rare. Allowed to go out of print quickly by the publisher, Anchor Press, a second edition was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 1994, but even this edition is getting hard to find so I suggest that you go over to WUMB.ORG, click on the Amazon logo you’ll find there and buy one of the remaining copies. (If you do it that way, Amazon will donate a portion of the proceeds of you purchase to WUMB.)


Earlier this year there came a new book that does the same kind of thing for the folk revival in Great Britain. While not as lavishly illustrated, Singing from the Floor also tells the story of the revival there in the words of those who lived it. It features interviews with everyone from Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins, Ralph McTell, Steve Tilston and assorted present and former members of Fairport Convention to American ex-pats like Peggy Seeger, Tom Paley and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. It also includes insights from folks who got their start in the folk clubs but later went on to great fame in other areas, like comedian/actor Billy Connolly. It is interesting to compare the similarities and understand the difference between the revival here and there, especially considering the amazing influence that American folk music had on events there. Written, or should I again say assembled, by JP Bean, who previous works have included a book on the gang wars in Sheffield to a biography of Joe Cocker, it is an entertaining read even if you don’t know the music of the folks involved, and you should you know.


If you are a fan of Highway 61 Revisited, I’d recommend gander at Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music by noted music journalist Rob Young. It focuses more on the “hippy” cultural part of the revival in the late 60s. If Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, The Incredible String Band and Nick Drake are a regular part of your listening then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy, but do it carefully. The book is massive. Defiantly not good bed time reading as you might crush your chest if you drop it falling asleep. While I purchased the book when it was first published, I also bought an ebook version for my reading convenience. There is also a 2 CD companion to the book that I would also recommend, but it is only available as an import if it is available here at all. One can only hope for a similar audio companion for Singing from the Floor.


Once again, let me remind you, if you are buying books, CD, mp3S, or just about anything else for that matter, from Amazon, visit WUMB.ORG first and click on their logo on our front page. That way, Amazon will generously donate a portion of the proceeds of your purchase to WUMB. It only takes one extra click and you’ll be able to benefit your favorite radio station without it costing you anything.

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