60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
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60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released

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katlaughing 24 Apr 02 - 06:14 PM
bflat 24 Apr 02 - 11:22 PM
katlaughing 25 Apr 02 - 09:28 AM
catspaw49 25 Apr 02 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Mike Strobel 25 Apr 02 - 12:59 PM
katlaughing 25 Apr 02 - 02:59 PM
Hrothgar 25 Apr 02 - 08:14 PM
Stephen L. Rich 26 Apr 02 - 01:32 AM
GUEST,Stephen L. Rich 26 Apr 02 - 08:58 AM
Ron Olesko 26 Apr 02 - 09:34 AM
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Subject: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 06:14 PM

In looking for a news item to corraborate a rumour in another thread about Dylan being arrested for smoking...a ciggy, I came across this recent article. The title is a little misleading....I've come to think of "early folk" as LOTS earlier, but what the hey?! Thought it might interest a few of us. How many of you can say "we were there?":

Early Folk Music Tapes to Be Preserved

By William L. Holmes
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 16, 2002; 1:49 PM

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– For 25 years, a cramped apartment in New York City served as one of the first recording studios for dozens of struggling artists, some of whom would go on to be the biggest names in folk music.

Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Janis Ian were among those who made the trip from the Greenwich Village coffeehouses to an Upper West Side housing project for jam sessions worthy of a country front porch.

Agnes "Sis" Cunningham and her husband, Gordon Friesen, a pair of former Communists who became a sort of counterculture mom and pop, recorded reel after reel of guitar-rich ballads and protest songs about nuclear war, racism and Vietnam.

Cunningham – an accordion and guitar player who performed in the 1940s with Woody Guthrie – would then transcribe the lyrics and melodies for "Broadside," a mimeographed magazine the couple began printing in their apartment in 1962. They sold them for 35 cents.

The recordings and magazine chronicled a moment and a movement.

In 1997, nine years after the couple stopped their informal recording sessions and a year after Friesen's death, Cunningham gave up their collection of 236 3-inch reels to the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina in hopes they would be preserved and also made available to the public.

Now, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the same group that sponsors the Grammys, has stepped in to help with a $22,649 grant, or about $96 a reel.

Dylan's folk anthem "Blowin' in the Wind" was published for the first time in "Broadside." Seeger recorded his nuclear war parody "Mack the Bomb" in that New York living room. Ian, then known as Janis Fink, sang an early, stripped-down version of her popular "Society's Child."

"These were some of the best topical songs of the day," Seeger, now 82, said from his home in Beacon, N.Y. "The big companies at that time were not interested."

The collection includes 1,000 to 1,500 songs, as well as interviews with several artists, including Phil Ochs, an influential singer who committed suicide in 1976.

"It's a tremendous collection. It's a snapshot of an era," said Jeff Place, archivist for the Smithsonian Institute Folkways archive, one of the nation's largest collections of folk music.

The Broadside recordings are just a small part of the university's archive of nearly 90,000 sound recordings, more than 3,000 video recordings and 18 million feet of film.

But the small acquisition has gotten attention. The Smithsonian borrowed about a dozen of the tapes for its album "The Best of Broadside 1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground from the Pages of Broadside Magazine." The album was nominated for two Grammys in 2001 – for liner notes and historical album.

It's the historical aspect that makes the recordings attractive to Steve Weiss, head of the UNC folklife collection. He says folk music's Southern roots stretch back at least 150 years.

Like their Southern forerunners, many of the 1960s songs weren't written down, one reason that Cunningham – now 93 – and Friesen felt they should document the life of the folk movement.

The grant from the recording academy will pay for conversion of the tapes to more durable compact discs and preservation-quality master tapes.

Michael Greene, head of the academy, said his group didn't want to risk losing the 40-year-old acetate tapes that he called "living history."

"Let's face it, many times, the most candid comments, the most revealing situations that people put themselves in are in those demos," Greene said from his office in Santa Monica, Calif.

Jeff Carroll, a sound engineer, handles much of the hands-on work from a sound studio in Wilson Library on the UNC campus. He plays each tape front to back, listening for glitches and splices. His equipment allows him to remove the pops and crackles and adjust the changing speeds that mar the tapes. Then he burns the songs onto CDs.

He also tries to match up the songs on each tape to lists on the boxes, which are often incomplete, inaccurate or confusing.

"It's really a treasure hunt," Carroll said. "We have discovered quite a few gems doing that."

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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: bflat
Date: 24 Apr 02 - 11:22 PM

This is fascinating. I hope there are follow-up articles as to the progress. This would make for a great series in some folk magazine. Thanks, Kat.


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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 09:28 AM

You're welcome, Ellen. Thanks for noticing!

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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 10:40 AM

Far out......Thanks kat.


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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: GUEST,Mike Strobel
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 12:59 PM

Kat, If you come across more info, please let us know. What a splice of history ! Thank you bringing it to our attention.


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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 02:59 PM

Thanks, Pat and Mike.

Mike, thanks to you I went looking for more and oh *goody*! Found an inventory list with some explanation, too...this is going to be incredible when it gets released! Just Click Here to take a peek!

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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: Hrothgar
Date: 25 Apr 02 - 08:14 PM

Keep us posted, Please!!!

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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 01:32 AM

That's GREAT news!! Let us know if you find out anything else about it.!!!!

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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: GUEST,Stephen L. Rich
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 08:58 AM

Sorry about the guest thing, My puter sneezed. But, I HAD to post this as it is tangenital to this. Capitol Records Is (repeat) is re-issueing Will the Circle Be Unbroken on CD. I'm listening to an NPR interview with two members of the "...Dirt Band" as I type!!!!!


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Subject: RE: 60's NYC Broadside tapes to be released
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Apr 02 - 09:34 AM

I re-read the press release and I don't think there are immediate plans to re-release any of this material. The story focused on the efforts of UNC to PRESERVE the material. They are transferring it to a digital format to insure the material will be around for future generations to access. Reading the UNC website shows that the material will be available at the campus for study, much like other great collections.

I am sure that some record company will explore the possiblities of issuing some of the material like Smithsonian Folkways did with their box set. As mentioned previously some of this material was issued by Moses Asch at Folkways - notably the Broadside collections and Phil Ochs Sings for Broadside & Interviews.

Probably there would be some copyright issues for anyone who would try to issue material. I seem to remember that someone had Folkways recall either the Phil Ochs Interviews or one of the Dylan issues back when Asch was still running the company. I am sure there would still be some artists that would claim ownership and perhaps prevent these tapes from being distributed.

This is still a major story. Having this material preserved and available for study is an important step. Let's hope that other similiar recordings are also preserved. What is Vanguard doing with the hours and hours of Newport Folk Festival tapes that were never released?


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