a podcast... and weblog section for folk music and online folklore (see the weblog front page for Bob's "Other Journalism")... and, no, this isn't about "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," unless as pod-folklore.
Sorry, but I've let this site become a Web "cobweb" over the years, instead of ever launching the folk music podcast I hoped to create here. I do have a few more black & white photos that I took at folk festivals and dance camps 25 or 30 years ago, and as I get them scanned, I may put them here.
By the way, that's Elizabeth Cotten playing the banjo upside-down and left handed... and Paul Brown (now of NPR news) playing right-side up. Unfortunately, it's sad news that had me thinking of those photos and this neglected Web page tonight... I just learned that guitarist, teacher and instrument builder John Pearse passed away a couple of months ago. (http://www.jpstrings.com)
I met him at Pinewoods camp -- and bought my first mandolin from him -- the same summer I took the picture of Paul. I looked through my old photo albums, but there are no shots of John. However, his guitar playing is well documented in books, his video taped lessons and records... and there's a drawing of him on every pack of John Pearse guitar strings.
"Music really does make the world a better place," as his Web site says, and he certainly did his part to make that true.
When I was in high school, Phil Ochs' album "All the News that's Fit to Sing" convinced me that I needed a better guitar case than my crushable cardboard one... and a subscription to The New York Times. It also had a song that began, "It's of a bold reporter whose story I will tell..."
Maybe that album helped plant the seeds for my eventual career, one that didn't require rhyming or hitting notes above B-flat.
Journalist turned private investigator Larry Lopez just reminded me of that album and song by sending along this Boston Globe clip about a neighbor, William Worthy, the "bold reporter" Ochs sang about...
William Worthy isn't worthy
to enter our door,
He went down to Cuba, he's
not American any more.
But somehow it is strange to
hear the State Department say,
'You are living in the free world,
in the free world you must stay.' --Phil Ochs
Unlike most folks immortalized in song, Mr. Worthy is still alive, but suffering from Alzheimer's disease. At least he's back on the radar of those who want to give him some overdue recognition, including Harvard's Nieman Foundation.
As the Nieman site notes, "Worthy traveled to both China (1956-57) and later to Cuba (1961) in
violation of U.S. travel restrictions. The United States subsequently
tried and sentenced him to jail. A federal appeals court overturned
that conviction in 1964, ruling that the travel bans were
unconstitutional. Worthy continued to report from overseas, visiting
North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia."
"A Combined Current/Retrospective Ranked List of
Those Folk Acts
from Here and Other Countries Who Have Most Contributed (and/or
Are Most Contributing) to This Folk Music Tradition in the
My phone doesn't have a business model. Neither does my porch. I still like having a phone and a porch because they help me meet new people and communicate with people I know. Same with my blog and podcast.
He reminds me of a speech I heard Lawrence Lessig give at AEJMC (very similar to this one)... Lessig was quoting none other than John Philip Sousa about hearing people sing songs on the porch in the evening. He expressed some apprehension that newfangled media technology, an "infernal machine" called the phonograph, would end that traditional melodic community conversation.
Podcasting, which literally started with Winer's Web wizardry, lets people sing to each other again... even when they can't afford a house with a porch in a musical neighborhood. (Podcasting also lets NPR and PRI radio fans do the time-shifting that video recorders have made possible for years... Old-time-radio fans have made that time-shifting a real time machine to the mid-20th-century days of professional radio entertainment.)
Even better, YouTube's shared videos are letting people show off some guitar licks, singand dancefor each other! It's all Web-as-a-porch!
Right now, I just wish the sun would come out so that I could sit on my porch and play with the sunshine-reflective screen of my little green laptop,
even though it's not set up for podcasts or YouTube. While the OLPC does play music, the
singing-to-each-other about it is going on in wikis and bulletin boards
and blogs. (Oh my.)
Back to Dave at Scripting News, here's another nice definition to discuss in my journalism classes, which resume Tuesday (so much for sitting in the sun):
"A blogger is person who has an idea, expertise or opinion who wants to convey that to other people. The unedited voice of a person. What makes a blogger interesting is that they do something other than writing a blog....
"Professional writers and broadcasters probably have a place... But let's be clear blogging and podcasting exist independent of a professional's ability to eek out a living using the tools of blogging and podcasting."
Oops. Bloggers also don't have the luxury of someone else copyediting their spelling. But I'd say eek myself at the thought of making a living with a blog or podcast. And I've often been a candidate for a pullet surprise, even with an editor or two trying to save me.
For Christmas and my birthday and the New Year, I've mostly given myself presents: A short trip north to see some friends and family, and a very long nostalgia trip... through concert videos that various nice folks have posted on YouTube. Amazing what you'll find there... like the Roches singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus at Improv 1982. As the person who posted it adds, "FYI they
have just released new CD 'Moonswept' and are currently touring.For
more info. go to their website http://www.roches.com"
I do hope having all those music clips on YouTube inspires folks to go to more live concerts or otherwise find ways of sending some money back to the performers.
Other than pondering questions of online profits, what's the "other journalism" connection for this blog item? Only that I did try to work the Roches into a story once... They were singing at the Newport Folk Festival with a great view of the boats in the harbor, and that was enough excuse for me to talk my way backstage with a camera to try to get a cover picture for a "boats and music" issue of Soundings magazine... good idea, and a better photographer might have made it work. But I did get a story written and I think I did quote Terre saying that she liked boats... probably not as much as I like the way she sings the high parts of those songs...I didn't tell her that. When I've interviewed musicians I like, I've been about as bright as Mr. Jones...
Nope, this still isn't a podcast. But I'm hanging onto the page in hopes that someday I'll get around to putting some audio here or scanning more of the musician photos I've taken over the years... maybe I'll even take some new ones to celebrate... if the surgery on my old guitar is successful. (Shaking the camera a little out of anxiety makes the wood grain look even prettier.)