A new history of American and Canadian folk music

Publication Type:



New York, NY : Bloomsbury Academic, United States, p.vi, 331 pages ; (2020)



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Canada, Folk music, History and criticism., United States


"Building on his 2006 book, Which Side Are You On?, Dick Weissman's A New History of American and Canadian Folk Music presents a provocative discussion of the history, evolution, and current status of folk music in the United States and Canada. North American folk music achieved a high level of popular acceptance in the late 1950s. When it was replaced by various forms of rock music, it became a more specialized musical niche, fragmenting into a proliferation of musical styles. In the pop-folk revival of the 1960s, artists were celebrated or rejected for popularizing the music to a mass audience. In particular the music seemed to embrace a quest for authenticity, which has led to endless explorations of what is or is not faithful to the original concept of traditional music. This book examines the history of folk music into the 21st century and how it evolved from an agrarian style as it became increasingly urbanized. Scholar-performer Dick Weissman, himself a veteran of the popularization wars, is uniquely qualified to examine the many controversies and musical evolutions of the music, including a detailed discussion of the quest for authenticity, and how various musicians, critics, and fans have defined that pursuit."--Includes bibliographical references and index.Introduction : a new look at American and Canadian folk music -- 1. From the beginning : folksong collectors and collections and regional music styles in the United States and Canada -- 2. Mass distribution : radio, records and pre-World War Two artists -- 3. Early protest music : The Industrial Workers of the World, the coal miners, the cotton mills and communist and socialist agitators -- 4. The Almanac Singers, people's songs, people's artists and the Blacklist -- 5. The Weavers and the beginning of the folk revival -- 6. Meanwhile, back in Canada -- 7. Selling the music : The New York scene -- 8. Beyond the Big Apple : coffeehouses, folk music organizations and folk music instrument shops in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco and Toronto -- 9. The riddle of authenticity -- 10. The civil rights movement and folk music -- 11. Folk-rock, the British Invasion, and the rise of the singer-songwriters -- 12. The increasing infuence of singer-songwriters and the women's music movement -- 13. North American folk festivals and summer teaching camps -- 14. Instrumental music : development and expansion of musical possibilities -- 15. The folk music business -- 16. What's going on : expansion, contraction and evolution -- 17. Looking back : an evaluation of four major figures in the folk revival -- 18. Today and tomorrow.