Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival and Stephen Wade on music and community
This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Brenda Koenig, founder of the Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival. Then we’ll check back in with musician and author Stephen Wade and talk with him about going back to the communities where he researched his book “The Beautiful Music All Around Us.”
When Brenda Koenig founded the Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots festival, she wanted to inspire a place where people could dance, tell stories and enjoy the rich tradition sense of community that she says folk music creates. As a folk musician and fiddler herself, she says appreciating how the audience is enjoying the music, not being “the musician” in the spotlight is vital to performing folk music. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Koenig about why she and 80 volunteers put in the work to organize the festival. We’ll also hear from Matt Winters, a member of the C-U Folk and Roots Festival’s steering committee, about what’s new this year at the festival.
Then, during the second half of this hour on Focus, we’ll check in with author, banjo player and music researcher Stephen Wade. Wade is author of the book “The Beautiful Music All Around Us,” which documents the contributions to folk music made by everyday people – from prisoners to housewives to farm laborers. Meadows talks with Wade about going back to the communities where he did his research for the book. We’ll also hear a few banjo tunes and talk with Wade about why he’s dedicated his life to folk music.
Are you a folk music fan? What do you like about it? Maybe you’re a volunteer for the festival, why do you dedicate your time? Post a comment in the comments section below or find us on Facebook.
Before she started writing her new book “Pretty Good for Girl: Women in Bluegrass” Murphy Henry thought she was one of only a few women trying to make bluegrass music. But as she found out, there are lots of women who have had successful careers, they just hadn’t gotten any attention for it. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Murphy about the history of women in bluegrass, why these musicians have slipped under the radar and why, before now, there’s been so little conversation about their contributions to the genre. We’ll also talk with Murphy about her own musical career, her love for playing the banjo and the “Murphy Method,”a technique she pioneered to teach banjo.
We also talk with her about Champaign-Urbana native Alison Krauss and her career and contributions to bluegrass music.
Read more for a video of Murphy playing the banjo and explaning why she wrote the book.
According to Nielsen Soundscan, a company that tracks the sale of music in the US, vinyl sales are up by 35% over the same time last year; nearly two million vinyl albums have sold so far in 2013. Nielsen says their data shows that vinyl sales started climbing in 2007 and have kept on going ever since. Interesting considering music hasn’t been released solely on vinyl albums for decades... This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the resurgence of records and record stores and will talk about what makes old-fashioned records so appealing in an era largely defined by digital culture.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress commissioned audio recordings of amateur singers and songwriters throughout the United States. These have come to be called "field recordings," and the recordists travelled the country in search of them. Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade tells the story of thirteen of these recordings made across the United States between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Working 18 years on this project, Wade travelled the country, seeking out the original artists, their families or friends present at the recordings and interviewed more than 200 people for the book. Most of the original artists were amateur singers or musicians who were being recorded for the first and only time; many of their famililes were not even aware that the recordings were made. And yet many of the songs have enjoyed long afterlives, influencing musicians and featuring in films.
Stephen Wade is a musician and writer whose latest album is Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition, out on Smithsonian Folkways Records.