Mudcat Café message #1935555 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #97963   Message #1935555
Posted By: GUEST,Art Thieme
13-Jan-07 - 04:54 PM
Thread Name: University of Chicago Folk Festival
Subject: RE: University of Chicago Folk Festival

A sad tale, but I have no particulars in my memory. But Mike did pass away some few years ago. He was the head man at the first of their festivals in 1961.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing that year. I was 20 years old. There on stage at Mandel Hall and doing workshops at Ida Noyes Hall on the Midway were Frank Warner & Frank Proffitt, Horton Barker, a young guy freshly back from England named Sandy Paton, Bob Atcher the cowboy singer from the old WLS BARN DANCE singing "Tying Knots In The Devil's Tail." --- Years later, I knocked on his door one time I was doing a high-school show in his town---Schaumburg, Illinois where he was mayor for 20 years. I told him I loved his songs and wanted to give him one of my old LPs. He excused himself a minute, went somewhere in the house, and came back to me with the same record!! He already had it!! Just blew me away. Maggie and Bob Atcher asked me in for coffee, and we had a fine talk.

Rev. Gary Davis was there, so was storyteller Richard Chase. A young Jean Redpath was added to the show because she'd been so great at an open stage. The Stanley Brothers were there and we could see what the music the Ramblers were depicting had rurned into. And Allan Mills from Canada along with the superb fiddle, Jean Carignan. He blew everyone away with "Le Reel Du Pindu!"

I've always felt positive that the best thing the early University Of Chicago Folklore Society did was to hire the New Lost
City Ramblers, who knew all the good questions
to ask the folks from the mountains and other participants, about their music and their lives and how those fit together. Mike Seeger and John Cohen and Tom Paley and Tracy Schwarz ran most of the workshops------and that is where the genius of it was!

Maybe it was an accident their doing that---hiring those 3 at the first fest, and then every year after that for maybe 15 years -- but it sure was a fortunate happenstance. The Ramblers were the ONLY ONES that could do that then--connect the young revival with other times, and they did it in the language us 1960s kids could take to heart. Archie Greene was there too--and Professor Robt. Cosby----and D.K. Wilgus lecturing to present the academic side of the coin. What a way to get a revival energised. Right in the middle of Chicago winters, we could recharge our batteries with this music we came to love----the music we built our lives around championing! And we keep right on doing that here at Mudcat in this strange new time we're in.

Is there any wonder at all why we resist / reject the new nomenclature and definitions??!!

All the best to you all! And here's hoping the 2007 festival is a grand one too.


Art Thieme