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.
Thursday, January 1, 2009

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.  

2:18:21 AM    

Friday, February 22, 2008

A picture named allthenews.jpg 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."

Without any folksingers to consult for more details, I resorted to Google, which hooked me up with this profile in a Bates College alumni magazine, an additional account from Bates of Worthy's 1981 confrontation with the CIA, a testimonial at Cuba-watcher Walter Lippmann's site,  the full lyrics to Ochs's song, the recording itself at Rhapsody, and an ironies-of-media-history tidbit: One liberal daily Worthy wrote for in the 1950s was, according to the accounts above... the New York Post.

12:24:57 PM    

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sorry... still no time to podcast... But I just discovered this heavily linked essay on "The 100 Greatest Acts of the Anglo-American Folk Music Tradition."

"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 United States"

7:06:17 PM    

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dave Winer launches into The debate about the worth of podcasting with a wonderful observation:

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, sing and dance for 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.

5:48:54 PM    

Saturday, December 29, 2007

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...

(And, no, I never did interview that guy.)

1:13:13 PM    

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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.)
A picture named surgery.jpg
Meanwhile, I'm more than impressed with the local music scene as documented by http://blueridgemuse.com and http://www.twodogwaltz.com/ (also http://groups.google.com/group/TwoDogWaltz)... and I'm kicking myself for things I've missed, including the most recent Saturday brunch performance by http://www.myspace.com/thehillbillyhotclub at  http://coffeemillonline.com

I just have to get out more often...

8:51:33 PM    

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Music business, creativity and copyright

A conversation last night about media property rights and fair use sent me online looking for Negativland's writings on the subject... more than a dozen years old, but still thought proving...

Double warning about objectionable language:
  1. There are many four-letter words in the controversial 1991 recording that started it all.
  2. There are longer and expensive words in the legal briefs that followed... alluded to in this interview and transcribed in the book FAIR USE: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2. (Although not traditional journalism, the interview is also useful in class discussions of reporters' ethics.)
Serendipity department: Along with those classics, I found these recent and related articles, including an interview that brings Jon Stewart into the discussion...
  • RIAA Jury Finds Minnesota Woman Liable for Piracy, Awards $222,000
  • Negativland Kicks Out the Culture Jams With Favorite Things
  • Negativland Q&A: In the Future, Nothing Will Remain Intact

    Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk: And what do you think of blockbusters like The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, who mash C-SPAN footage and other snoozy political crap into hilarious new packages? Has hyper-reality come of age at last?

    Negativland's Mark Hosler: We kinda had this idea back in the early '90s that collage would become one of the next millennium's pre-eminent styles and art forms, and that the kind of work we were doing, which seemed so transgressive and edgy at the time, would one day become a very normal mainstream art practice. With the explosion of mashups and collage in the last five years or so, I think we are seeing this come true. It's pretty wild. And what's not to love about two TV shows that essentially teach media literacy? They're great.

Ironic juxtaposition department:

The original U2 song, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for," could be a theme for Google. So I did a quick search...

result of video searchResults included the music video and lyrics -- surrounded by ads for Jesus, Viagra and Zwinky. (Now there's a name for an intellectual property law partnership!)

result of lyric search
For more background, try this Wikipedia page. (Being an openly editable wiki, that essay could have changed substantially when you click the link. But maybe not.)

Note: This blog receives no compensation from and does not endorse any of the advertisers mentioned in the image clips shown.  Unsolicited free samples will be returned to the manufacturer.

1:55:37 PM    

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