Exploring The Vastness Of Folk Music

"Folk is music you can play even when the lights go out."

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Kate Callahan.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Brian Dolzani.
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Susan Forbes Hansen.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Exploring The Vastness Of Folk Music
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Exploring The Vastness Of Folk Music


What is folk music? Phillip Phillips sounds like a folk singer, but he won American Idol. Does that disqualify him? Charles Bradley is the living embodiment of the sound of James Brown, but he played the main stage at the Newport Folk Festival last year. A few years ago, Richard Thompson started covering Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again," as a folk tune, even playing part of it "in the manner of the 16th century."
So what is folk music? I'm tempted to revert to the wisdom of the great umpire Bill Klem, who famously said, "It ain't nothing until I call it." 
Maybe something is folk music if somebody says it is. If Susan Forbes Hansen plays it on her radio show, if Kate Callahan features it at her brand new HartFolk Festival, maybe it's folk song. Today on our show, all the things that could conceivably count as folk music. 
Leave your comments below, email us colin@wnpr.org, or tweet us @wnprcolin.




Hi, Colin- Your show makes me laugh (in a good way!). My "Folkiness" goes back to the 60's - way before you were born, probably- when I got a Time-Life record of American Folk Music including Woody Guthrie and "Lead Belly" Leadbetter. Sadly, after several kids and a couple of moves, it's gone. Did anyone mention Old Songs? I know Susan has been there- I haven't in a while, but it's wonderful! French-Canadian, Zydeco, etc., etc.
I DARE you to check out the Bread Box Concerts on Valley St. in Willimantic- third Wednesdays, and Saturday nights as scheduled.Coming up- Aztec Two-Step, Pomfret Invasion (Howie Bursen, Sally Rogers, etc.) and many others. See you there! Check out the website- it's an amazing place- St. Paul's Episcopal Church, now owned by the Covenant Soup
Kitchen. All the profits go to the soup kitchen. See you there!


Hope somebody mentions New Bedford Folk Festival! It is our yearly destination!