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Introduction to Folk Music

Here you can find primers and recommendations for some of Folk Music's most prominent genres: Americana, Contemporary Singer/Songwriters, Alt-Country and Bluegrass.
  1. Books (24)
  2. FAQ (4)
  3. Folk Labels (12)
  4. Folk Music Collections (0)
  5. Folk Rock (8)
  6. Folk Songs (42)
  7. Glossary (22)
  8. Holiday Folk (31)
  9. Learn more about the folk revival of the 1950s-1960s (1)
  10. Movies (23)
  11. Singer/Songwriters (26)

What's the difference between folk and acoustic pop music?
Folk music has been around so long, it's no wonder most people have completely different ideas about what constitutes folk music. There are a lot of misconceptions and assumptions - particularly perpetuated by the music business, which is quick to categorize without considering style standards. Learn more about why not all acoustic music is folk...

Before You Buy Folk Music CDs
If you're new to this whole folk music thing, check out my basic overall primer of some things to consider before you go out buying random folk CDs.

All About Americana Music
Americana artists pull from all areas of the music that has defined American culture, from R B to country, bluegrass to indie rock. Americana artists frequently pull from traditional and contemporary folk, bluegrass, country, alt-country, soul, gospel, and rock. While this may sound a bit vague or confluent, Americana artists and fans are...

Ramseur Records
Ramseur Records was founded in July 2000 by Dolph Ramseur and is based in Concord, N.C. Learn more about this young independent folk and roots music label, including recommended artists, CDs, and a brief history of Ramseur Records

All About Indie Folk
Indie folk (also occasionally called lo-fi indie) is characterized by a slew of up-and-coming bands who pull influence from traditional and contemporary folk music, classic country, and indie rock. Learn more about indie folk, including recommended artists and albums.

Common Misconceptions About Folk Music
Folk music is one of the most commonly appreciated, universal styles of music. But, at the same time, it's also hugely misunderstood. Learn more about some of the biggest misconceptions about American folk music.

All About Field Recordings
A field recording is technically any recording made "in the field" or away from a traditional recording studio. However, in the context of American folk music, this phrase refers to the recordings made by ethnomusicologists and folklorists.

All About Freak Folk
"Freak folk" is a media-created term given to a style of folk music that has evolved from traditional folk. Many of the artists frequently classified as freak folk don't identify with, or particularly like, the title. Others have suggested "naturalismo" as an alternative genre.

All About Anti-Folk
What is anti-folk? What started the anti-folk scene? Who are some notable anti-folk artists you absolutely have to hear?

All About the 1960s Folk Revival
For many fans of contemporary folk music, their knowledge of the genre began with a fascination for the style of folk music that was being made during the 1960s. Learn more about this pivotal era in the history of American folk music.

Anthology of American Folk Music
In 1952, filmmaker Harry Smith released a compilation of field recordings, country blues and folk songs from the 1920s and 30s that became an inspiration for budding folksingers and the movement that followed.

Jamgrass Music and Jam Bands
Blending rock, jazz, folk, blues and bluegrass styles, jamgrass elongates the instrumental solos typical of jazz and bluegrass. Notable artists include String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain Stringband and the Grateful Dead.

Folk on Folk
What is folk music? Why is it important? Does it still exist, or is it something that went away after Vietnam? What artists are inspired by folk music, and who feels compelled to carry on the folk traditions? Here's what some folk artists have told me in interviews as answers to all these questions.

What is Old Time Music?
Rising originally from the folk music of Appalaichia, old time preceded the popularization of bluegrass and country music. Now, this under-appreciated style of Americana is making a comeback as young urban bands revitalize their local folk communities with old time tunes.

Timeline of the Popularization of American Folk Music
When looking at the very big picture, the truth is that American folk music stretches way back to the very beginnings of the country, and recording the date the first official folk song was penned would be next to impossible. What is possible is to talk about how and when folk music started to be presented as a "product" to the American people.

All About Folk Music
If you're new to folk music as a genre, this'll be a great first stop index and answers to your questions. It can also point you to the basic information you may want to know before heading out to delve into the genre.

Oh Dylan, Where Art Thou?
Folk Music today may not look like it did a hundred years ago, or even just thirty years ago, but it’s not the only thing that has changed. Folk is nothing if not adequately commenting on the times in which it exists.

History of Folk
A brief history of one of America's richest traditions.

Celebrating African-Americans in Folk Music
A brief history of African-American folk music - from the blues to zydeco, jazz to hip-hop, and slave spirituals to contemporary singer/songwriters.

Folk Music Pod Casts
Whether you're already an avid ipodder looking to expand your interests into the realms of Folk, or an avid Folk fan looking to explore podculture, this list of Folk-related podcasts should get you started on your way.

Gerdes Folk City
A brief look at the legendary New York City, West Village folk club.

Before You Buy Folk Music
If you're new to this whole folk music thing, check out my basic overall primer of some things to consider before you go out buying random folk CDs.

Folk Ringtones
Tired of the same annoying options everytime your cell phone rings? Pop and hip hop fans don't have to put up with it, and niether do you. Check out these fun, fabulous folk songs that you can download to your phone.

Smithsonian Folkways
An excellent primer on Folk history for new fans.

If you're an avid i-podder, check out this fantastic podcast, which features fantastic folk music.

E-Folk Music
Comprehensive guide to all things folk.

Folk Web
Online record store featuring up-and-coming Folk artists.

Folk Music Web Ring
A ring of 294 active sites about Folk music.

Dirty Linen
Folk & Roots Music Magazine.

Folk Radio
A great resource for DJs and listeners interested in all Folk genres on the radio.

North American Folk Alliance
North America's biggest supporter of Folk music and dance.

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez: The King and Queen of Folk
However, by the time they finally met at Boston's Club 47 in April 1963, Dylan had evolved into the scene's most promising singer-songwriter, and Baez was blown away. Several weeks later at the Monterey Folk Festival, she would join Dylan onstage for a duet of “With God on Our Side." Read more about the history of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez here.

Who Were the Fast Folk Artists...and What's Fast Folk, Anyway?
Learn more about the community of singer-songwriters who helped define the 1980s New York City folksinger scene, with this basic profile of Fast Folk.

Child Ballads - Choice Recordings of Francis James Child
Learn more about Francis James Child's remarkable collection of English and Scottish ballads through these handful of recordings.

If You Like Mumford and Sons...
If you're a huge Mumford and Sons fan who's just coming to folk music through that band's incredible appeal, look no further. Here are some great artists to watch in the realm of folk-rock, who will introduce you to the wider world of indie folk and folk-rock.

Great Folk Music Duos
From Simon and Garfunkel to the Indigo Girls; Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to Shovels and Rope...folk music duos make some of the best music.

Folk Music and the Civil Rights Movement
All about the intersection of the folk revival and the civil rights movement.

The Seeger Family Tree
Learn more about one of American folk music's finest musical families. From Charles and Ruth Crawford Seeger's exploration of dissonance and folk music to the social justice work of Pete's songs, the preservation of old time music, and beyond. Here's a peek at the Seeger family tree.

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