#11 - How I Almost Became a Folksinger

My Guitars

It all started with a trip to the Library. Looking for new reading material, I found a tiny section devoted to folk music. I borrowed a book of American folk songs and started picking through the tunes.

Now my mother was a trained musician and church organist. I had taken a bit of piano so I could play single notes.

That Christmas (1955) I had been given a ukulele, an instrument made popular at that time by the popular TV host, Arthur Godfrey. I discovered that folk music consisted primarily of three chords and, guess what? I knew three chords on the ukulele!

The tunes numbered below are sung in the Podcast mp3 of this Transcript located at http://www.soniabrock.ca/mp3s/11-sonia-folkmusic.mp3

I learned a few simple tunes like:
1. Down in the Valley

Finding that too easy I branched out and learned:
2. Go Tell Aunt Rhody

I found a Canadian radio program run by Rawhide and got to hear other people singing folk music too. They sang:
3. Dark as A Dungeon

Gradually, I learned about Canada's east coast with that wonderful Irish/Canadian music. I also learned that folk music is dependent on regional accents and I started trying to learn the basics of these speech patterns.
4. I's the Boy That Builds the Boat
5. Squid Jiggin' Ground

I started to read about the history of the music and about Appalachian folk music, while struggling with the regional accent that was part of it.
6. Wildwood Flower (talk it first)
7. Bury Me Beneath the Willow (talk it first)

Nobody would mistake me for a native but I was getting there.

I began to turn to gospel music, not because I was particularly religious but because of the grand energy of it.
8. Poor Little Jesus

I found there was something called a back beat that swung the music and turned it on its head.

You can almost hear the wheezing of the harmonium in the straight version of
9. What a Friend (straight)

Put in a backbeat and it's a whole new song.
9a. What a Friend (swung)

Then I got married and moved to New York.

One Easter Sunday I went to 5th Avenue to catch the Easter Parade. Now, right at the beginning of 5th Avenue is a little park with a round cement fountain, which then was always dry, called Washington Square Park. As I walked up 5th Avenue admiring the Easter bonnets I came to this park and heard music, familiar music. Guitars and tub basses and voices rose in song
10. This Land is Your Land

I had discovered the roots of the new folk music boom and, guess what I was part of it!

Now I never became a professional folk musician. It's not in my nature to be so public, but I know and remember its songs and I always will.

Wavy Line

© Sonia Brock 2005

. Feed: https://www.soniabrock.com/Podcasts/chatham1.xml