–One of the exhibits created by students in the Creating Digital History course.–
by Hanan Ohayon
In the middle of the Great Depression, on the heels of the advent of commercial recording and radio, began a remarkable awakening of protest and traditional music in America. Predominantly rural in origin, the music and movement continues to defy categorization. It took up under its banner all that was deemed musically authentic and of, “the people,” including blues and jazz and “country” music, all new forms with ancient roots.
Many played a part in this revival—some scoured the crevices of city and country for songs and singers, others wrote and performed, and many others watched and listened, and sang along. For the participants, the music seemed to fill a void, linking each to the past and to one another.
This revival found a home and grew up in Greenwich Village, once a rural outpost of New York City, but by the turn of the century an epicenter of alternative lifestyles, progressive art and radical politics. Here is the story of that first revival, from the Great Depression to the onset of the Cold War, when the revival was deflected for a time, only to reawaken in the Village in the mid-1950s as a nationwide craze, and leave an indelible imprint on American music, culture and politics.
Looking closely, there is continuity, across time and across place. A history of the folk revival is in part a history of its evolution in Greenwich Village. It unearths basic questions: Why the Village, and why folk music? What is the Village, and what is folk music?
To see the exhibit, go to: http://aphdigital.org/GVH/exhibits/show/greenwich-village-and-the-folk