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Friends of Old Time Music: The Folk Arrival 1961 - 1965 Box set

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, September 26, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From 1961 to 1965, New York city's trailblazing Friends of Old Time Music presented 14 concerts that brought dozens of legendary traditional musicians before city audiences for the first time, and helped spark the folk revival. Now, famed folk producer Peter K. Siegel, who personally recorded most of the concerts, has handpicked 55 tracks (53 unreleased!) from the original master tapes for this amazing 3-CD set. It's hard to appreciate just how monumental these shows were; here are the first concert appearances by Doc Watson, Roscoe Holcomb and Joseph Spence, as well as the triumphant returns of Dock Boggs and Mississippi John Hurt, both of whom had made influential recordings in the city 40 years earlier. A 60-page booklet puts it all in context. Other artists include Fred McDowell, the Stanley Brothers, Hobart Smith, the Greenbriar Boys, Bill Monroe and Maybelle Carter...what a treasure for folk and country fans!

Amazon.com

In the early '60s, during the great Folk Scare, an organization called the Friends of Old Time Music (Ralph Rinzler, Izzy Young, Mike Seeger, Jean Ritchie, and John Cohen) brought some of the era's best folk, blues, and bluegrass performers to New York City. A number of them made their debut concerts there between 1961 and 1965, the period covered by this 3-CD set. Some of them are legends (Fred McDowell, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, Doc Watson) while others are lesser lights (Annie Bird, Joseph Spence, Fiddlin' Arthur Smith). Throughout this compilation, the sound quality varies, and not all is optimum. But even then, there's no denying such thrills as hearing Maybelle Carter announce she's about to perform the first song the original Carter Family recorded in 1927 ("Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow"). Often it's the little-known material or artists who deliver the biggest punch: Ed Young and Emma Ramsay running a shiver up your spine on the mostly a cappella blues dialogue "Chevrolet" or Jesse Fuller, the one-man band, proving a big, commanding presence on "Stranger Blues." Of the 55 tracks, only two have been previously released. All of them carry an air of excitement, as if everybody involved knew the winds of change were about to blow. Indeed, these concerts and others in the series made an enormous impression on rising stars of the genre, including a young transplanted Minnesotan born Robert Zimmerman. "You heard records where you could," Bob Dylan said in 2001, "but mostly you heard other performers... Clarence Ashley... Dock Boggs... You could see those people live and in person." Now you can hear what he heard, too. --Alanna Nash
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 26, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Smithsonian Folkways
  • ASIN: B000H4W90S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,160 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eli B. Smith on October 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is a must have for musicians and fans of music alike. It is a collection of first rate, awesome music, with great audio fidelity, pictures and liner notes. It is also a document of a little known organization, the Friends of Old Time Music, which has had a huge positive effect on American culture. The series of concerts, presented by the FOTM, cronicled and sampled from in this box were an early and major step in introducing not just the songs themselves but the true musical styles of Southern traditional music to an urban audience in the North and to the population as a whole.

The music displays an artistry, debth of vision and advanced vocal and instrumental technique that is extraordinary. Up until these concerts the broadly influential "folk revival" in the North had been characterized by sanitized and simplified (and some would say bastardized) versions of these Southern traditional and vernacular songs. The concerts presented by the Friends of Old Time Music gave reality to this old-time, blues, pre-blues, carribean and bluegrass music, as played live and in person by some of its foremost artists. This inspired a broader section of the population to develope a sensitivity to the style and really learn to play and appreciate the music.

For me, the debate that this collection of music wades into, and which the Friends of Old Time Music was wading into in the early 60's, was whether and to what extent a song can be separated from its style. If you love this kind of music already, or are just getting into it listen for the style of the music, how it is ornamented and executed. A song cannot really be separated from its style. For musicians: learn the style and innovate within the tradition. You can't really get out of it anyway, might as well check it out as much as you can.

- Eli Smith
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Format: Audio CD
This is a beautiful piece of art. The voices are raw and real and the rhythm and tone of the instrumentals are terrific. Sorry am I gushing? The box set itself is gorgeous and the liner notes really tell a great tale. There are some CD's that you just want to download a couple of songs and forget the rest, this set isn't one of those. I love the whole thing. I can remember my father playing some of these songs with his friends, howling some of the harmonies. I remember the words of some of the songs I haven't heard anywhere else and probably would have lost forever if I hadn't bought this. I got one for my brother too, so he could remember.
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Format: Audio CD
Okay, maybe the now somewhat eclipsed mountain music and country blues revival of the early 2000s driven by George Clooney's "Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Songcatcher" revived some names from those traditions like The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys and Maybelle Carter (although her connection with the Carter Family and Johnny Cash probably would have made her well-known in any case). But how about Kentucky banjo/fiddler (and much else) Roscoe Holcomb? Or Hobart Smith? Or Dock Boggs? Or.... I could go on but, hopefully, you get my drift.

What I am talking about is the lesser lights of these genres and the acknowledgement of their proper place in the American Songbook. That, my friends, comes from the "rediscovery" of these last mentioned performers as part of the general trend back to roots music that drove the overall folk revival of the early 1960's. The producers of this outstanding three-disc compilation are at pains to separate these genres out from the other doings of that time such as the search for the roots of the blues and the creation of a new up-to-date folk idiom by a wave of singer/songwriters who were thick as fleas in those days crowding New York City for recognition. One name, Bob Dylan, can arbitrarily serve as the symbol for that trend.

For lack of a better term, Friend of Old Time Music (FOTM), served as a transmission belt to bring this particular form of music to the roots hungry urban young longing for a different musical sound. From personal knowledge this reviewer, and many from his generation, were desperately seeking music not provided in the precincts of Tin Pan Alley and other safe havens that had emasculated the rockabilly and rock and roll that drove our teen years.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you like the "Anthology" that Harry Smith put together from 78's issued in the late 1920's and early 1930's then here is a chance to hear what was happening to that music thirty years later in live concerts. First, this album includes some of the same artists, like John Hurt, Sam McGee, Dock Boggs and Maybelle Carter, sounding as good as ever. It also includes wonderful performers of the period following the "Anthology" performers, like Fred McDowell and Jesse Fuller. You can hear pre-revival performers from the sixties, like Roscoe Holcomb, Gaither Carlton and Doc Watson. Finally, there are some top-rate performers performing some of the music that grew out of the "Anthology" type of music; while I'm not a blue-grass fan I enjoyed the cuts by Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers.

The audio is excellent, considering that these are live performances.

I was overjoyed when I attended these concerts and I am ecstatic at being given the chance to hear these performances again.
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