Leyla McCalla is a classically trained cellist who grew up in New York with her Haitian parents. She moved to New Orleans where she performed on Royal Street and learned about the Haitian history of the community. McCalla also joined the Carolina Chocolate Drops and diversified her style and sound. With the combined influence of place and company, she started performing Haitian folk music, which she paired that music with poetry of Langston Hughes for her first solo album, Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes (Soundcloud album stream). That was two years ago, and now she has her second album, A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey (YT, official video for the title track; YT playlist), where she sings in Haitian Creole, French, and English. [more inside]
Gaelynn Lea is the winner of NPR Music's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest for her haunting composition, "Someday We'll Linger in the Sun" [more inside]
Folk musician Pete Seeger was under investigation by the FBI for decades from his time as a soldier during World War II until the 1970s. David Corn of Mother Jones magazine got over 1700 pages of surveillance reports, which have been released online. Seeger first came to the attention of the FBI because he wrote a letter protesting calls to strip all Japanese-Americans of citizenship and deport them. [via RÚV]
Jean Ritchie, largely responsible for the revival/survival of traditional ballads and mountain dulcimer as living folk arts in the United States, tradition-bearer of Appalachian culture, national treasure, has passed away at the age of 92. [more inside]
For years, Esakhelvi reigned supreme and unchallenged, in an universe that existed parallel to the cultured music salons of the elite. This was the world of the working classes of Pakistan, especially it seems the truck and long distance bus drivers. His songs were not classically derived, and his ghazals and folk songs were rendered somehow differently. Before Esakhelvi's arrival on the scene there really was nothing like him.
Black Dog in the Sky; Final Moments of the Universe; The Vile Stuff; Wooden Bag; Poor Old Horse: some songs by the English (specifically Geordie) singer & guitarist Richard Dawson. ‘[A] distinctly English folk equivalent of Captain Beefheart’s deconstruction of the blues,’ opines The Guardian, of his recent album Nothing Important. ‘Syd Barrett’s freewheeling poetry teamed with the guitar strangle of Eugene Chadbourne or Derek Bailey’ hazards Rolling Stone. Of his own work, Dawson has said ‘I have come to think of it as ritual community music. Perhaps you could call that folk music, but it is certainly not in the folk tradition. I hope it belongs to part of a wider tradition of north east artists, people like Jospeh Crawhall, Jack Common, Basil Bunting, John Martin and Peter Beardsley.’
Ed Askew lost his martin tipple on a railroad platform 20 years ago. In 2009, someone returned it. Now he can play his classic freak-folk songs on it again. Though some of his best don't require any live accompaniment at all. [more inside]
Buranovskie Babushki is a charming group of grannies from the village of Buranovo in Udmurtia, Russia who came one place away from being the national entry to last year's Eurovision with their crowd-pleasing folk number. Since then, they've been covering a few western classics in their native language. Here's a few: Yesterday; Venus; and Let it Be.
Showing Off is a series of videos, audio clips and articles in which noted music journalist and Frankie Goes to Hollywood mastermind Paul Morley explores various facets of music. Each month has a theme, [warning: most links have autoplaying video] Michael Jackson, Kraftwerk, classical music, disco, The Beatles, folk music, The X Factor, the Noughties, the next big thing, UK hip hop, jazz, and dance. Here is some of what's on offer: MeFi faves Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip on hip hop, These New Puritans' Jack Barnett, Johnny Marr on folk (parts 1, 2), but isn't all just interviews, there are also a lot of performances, e.g. Michael Nyman and David McAlmont, Badly Drawn Boy, Susanna Wallumrød covers Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak, and Cornershop cover Norwegian Wood.
Richard and Mimi Fariña. I doubt I'll ever forget his song, Bold Marauder, or his cult novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. He and Mimi, Joan Baez's sister, made three fine albums before his tragic death. Youtube has a live version of "Bold Marauder." Also, a nice cover by Kendra Smith, and a fanvid for the pirate romance, "Frenchman's Creek," using a cover by John Kay of Steppenwolf.
Mary Travers died today, at 72, of leukemia. According to the NY Times, she provided the sex appeal to Peter, Paul and Mary, which in turn provided mainstream production values for a number of Dylan songs. However, many remember her contributions to (the creepily titled but awesome) kids' record Peter Paul and Mommy. Peter and Paul have written tributes to her.
Casual fans of Irish folk-punk bands like The Pogues, Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys rarely take the time to investigate the sources of their inspiration. Those who do, cannot avoid coming across the The Dubliners. [more inside]
Stan Kelly-Bootle began his career as a member of the earliest wave of computer programmers, who wrote prolifically about a wide range of computing issues. Back in his home town though, he's probably best known for his contributions to a lexicon of local slang, Lern Yerself Scouse, and for his canonical and not-so-canonical contributions to the British folk repertoire. [more inside]
Before you do anything else, just listen to this. That's eefing, a 100-plus-year-old vocal technique from rural Tennessee that's, well, the original hillbilly beatboxing. The undisputed master of the art was Jimmie Riddle. His unique skill landed him recording* and TV (youtube) work. Want more weird sounds from the deep south? Try Hollerin & Whoopin and Ringing the Pig. *[warning: on the "Little Eefin Annie" page, avoid the "click here to hear Rolf Harris Eeefin'!" link: it's a pesky popup.
Harry Everett Smith was a, "20th-century Renaissance man, working as an abstract film-maker, painter, musicologist, anthropologist, theoretician, self-mythologizer and connoisseur of arcana". His Anthology of American Folk Music was hugely influential on American music, while his alchemical, synæsthetic films were to have a similar impact on experimental film and animation. Enjoy his mesmerising and astonishing "Early Abstractions" on Youtube [part 1 or 4], hear Harry lecture, or listen to some tracks from The Anthology.
Victor Jara in English. Tribute page to the Chilean folk singer.