The History of American Folk

by | 5 Apr, 2010

Thanks to Paul Castle who has led us to this wonderful site on the history of American folk music.

This three-part documentary series looks at American folk music, tracing its history from the recording boom of the 1920s to the folk revival of the 1960s.

Part 1 opens in the 1920’s where record companies scoured the American south for talent to sell. This was a golden age of American music, with the likes of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Poole, Dock Boggs and Mississippi John Hurt all of whom burst onto records, eager to have a share in the new industry and the money it made, only to lapse into obscurity when the depression hit at the start of the 30s.

Part two traces the history from the recording boom of the 1920s through the depression of the 1930s and on to the folk revival of the 1960s. Contributors include Pete Seeger, Rambling Jack Elliot, Anna Lomax, Tom Paxton, Roger McGuinn, Woody Guthrie’s sister and daughter and Josh White’s son.

Part three brings the 1960s and a new generation of stars, spearheaded by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan who turned up at Newport FOlk Festival in 1965 with an electric guitar. Things would never be the same again. With Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Robbie Robertson, Stephen Stills, Country Joe McDonald, Roger McGuinn, Odetta and Tom Paxton.

You can see all three parts to this series at