Folk New England, Winter 2021
In the winter, warmth stands for all virtue. Henry Thoreau
We hope that your holidays were enjoyable, that you are warm, well-supplied, and safe, and that we can join in with the old blues singer who sang “I seen better days, but I’m puttin’ up with these!” Just about ten months ago, the appearance of the coronavirus outbreak necessitated the postponement of our Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur concert at the Old Chapel at UMass. A good time would have been had by all and will be, we’re sure, when the coast clears, and we can reschedule the concert in Amherst and possibly one in the Boston area as well. We’ll keep you posted.
We’re all hunkered down by our Victrolas, and the UMass Special Collections Department is on a significantly reduced schedule. Still, nonetheless, we’ve been able to make progress in our efforts to keep the region’s folk traditions and the Revival alive and thriving. We are proud to have been the recipients of a trove of archive material from Mitch Greenhill. He generously donated the tapes of his interviews for his excellent book “Raised by Musical Mavericks,” which we highly recommend. You can obtain copies at your local bookstore or online via a large South American river. Included in the gift were copies of correspondence that his dad Manny engaged in while setting up his first folk music concerts back in the 1960s.
We are using this time to complete the annotation of the FNE tape collections and begin planning for access to this wonderful music, possibly online (which involves obtaining release rights) and certainly in a listening room at Amherst. In the meantime, we’ve been happy to receive word of additional items being donated by Chris Smither and Tom Rush. Also, near-mint collection of dozens of New England folk lp’s (including, for example, copies of the Charles River Valley Boys second album that appeared on three different labels (Mt. Auburn Records, Prestige International, and then good old Prestige Folklore). All of this continues to strengthen our position as the Largest Collection of Fritz Richmond Recordings in the western hemisphere. Someday, out west of Belchertown, you may come across that sign on a billboard on an exit off the Mass Pike.
Of course, our goal here is to remember the Folk Revival and pass it on to new generations, and this is where our partnership with Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts is so important. We are in hopes that the Club 47 tapes and calendars, the old issues of Broadside, the transcriptions of interviews, and all the other wonderful components of the collection will be used by faculty and students as they seek to explore our regional musical heritage and to learn what it both feels and it sounds like to set out to change the world.
In that regard, we make note that a documentary film on the life and work of Jack Landron (Jackie Washington) is now underway, as is a new history of the Boston-Cambridge Folk Revival, both of which have been enriched by the study of the material preserved in the FNE archive. We have much to remember, much to be grateful for and to rejoice in, and much to look forward to as the days grow longer and move now in the direction of a joyful and safe reunion.
Warm best regards, and thanks from all of us at Folk New England.