Issue 20: On Target
We’ve been spending a lot of our ample free time between issues reading and thinking about folk music – its origins and its future.
Why? Well, for starters, we’ve been staying up late with our nose firmly planted in the book “Turn! Turn! Turn!: The ’60s Folk-Rock Revolution” by Richie Unterberger, which vividly captures the spirit and excitement of how folkies turned to rock because of the Beatles and Dylan. It’s a fun read filled with interviews that takes music through ’50s folk heyday, the Byrds, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
We’ve also been contemplating folk’s future. Last year, Boston college station WERS eliminated its traditional folk and jazz shows and combined them into a more contemporary and more varied sound. And this year, another local station, WUMB, announced that its all-folk programming is getting a sprucing up, adding more “electric” music to its mix. We are all for these changes, having thought in the past that sometimes those shows dragged a bit and could use some modernization.
Does it mean that traditional folk and jazz are dead? It’s hard to say. We think real music fans don’t mind a good mix of music and are willing to listen to anything of quality. Folk has, in fact, given way to a much broader range of music that still provides the personal experiences of the songwriter. It could be a single musician playing a guitar, or a singer-songwriter accompanied by a backing band, or a full-on band with a diverse set of instruments or voices.
In that vein, we talk to Kris Delmhorst, one of our favorites. Her new album, “Shotgun Singer,” encompasses all of the above. Her voice is amazing, she plays a multitude of instruments, and she’s got great musical friends, who are always there for each other.
The old adage is that all music – blues, rock, jazz, etc. – is folk music. Maybe the times aren’t changing that much.
ALBUMS THAT HELPED US SURVIVE THIS ISSUE
1. “Shotgun Singer,’’ Kris Delmhorst. We just love her voice. 2. “Mutations,” Beck. So slinky, so good. 3. “Letters From Sinners and Strangers,” Eilen Jewell. A great bar band with a classic old-time sound. 4. “Children Running Through,” Patty Griffin. We really liked the album when it came out, we really love it now. 5. “Sing You Sinners,” Erin McKeown. Every song is like a blast of spring.