“Sad That There’s So Little Folk Music Nowadays”

I recently had the unique opportunity to sing for a regional organization of camp directors, staff and administrators. They specifically requested the ‘old folkie’ music - Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly... What a JOY that gathering was. To play the sweetest songs of my youth to people who love them just as much as I do. To hand out lyric sheets and teach choruses and have everyone singing along. To talk with folks afterward - from the man who shared his experiences of going to the Gate of Horn in the 1960’s to hear Bob Gibson and Hamilton Camp, with Judy Collins as the opener, to the little girl who is being home-schooled and decided she wanted to learn about the life and music of Woody Guthrie. Audience members old and young - all singing along, sharing the experience, connecting in the moment through song.

Afterwards, as people came up to talk with me, again and again I heard them saying how sorry they were that folk music is no longer around, that it’s lost its place in the hearts of the concert-going public, that there just weren’t many folksingers performing any more. Taken aback, I barely stopped myself from saying “how can you believe that? Judy Collins is still singing, and so are Bob Dylan, Holly Near, Joan Baez, Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow. What about Brother Sun, Kim and Reggie Harris, Sons of the Never Wrong, Greg Brown, Claudia Schmidt, Peter Mulvey, Eliza Gilkyson, and so many other wonderful singers and songwriters who spend their lives traveling this country, sharing their music? What about the up and coming folk musicians who have so much to give the world?” I reassured them that folk music is alive and well, indeed flourishing, and their faces lit up with the knowledge that the music they cherish has not dimished.

So why don’t they know about the incredible folk musicians who are out performing? It might partly be that they have stopped looking for anyone but the names they recognize. And, to be honest, we all do that sometimes. But a large part is due to the fact that they’re not being introduced to the new generation of folk musicians who are ignored by the corporate radio and internet streaming stations who decide what is ‘relevant’ for their listening public.  Thank goodness there Folk Music DJs who have programs on the radio and streaming on-line.  They are our life-line to connecting with a wider audience as much as possible.

We folkies are all still out here. We’re still persevering in bringing our music to audiences, if the audiences will come. Sadly, the corporate music scene does not want to validate this music, these performers, these audiences. But keep looking – folk musicians are playing in venues large and small, church concert series, libraries, house concerts, farmer’s markets and coffee shops throughout the country. Take a chance on a name you’re not familiar with. If you come, we’ll have a song or two to share with you, we’ll experience the music together, and we’ll build this community larger and stronger.

Contact: info@amydixonkolar.com  © Amy Dixon-Kolar 2023