That’s a familiar face . . .

Guest blog from folklorist Millie Rahn:

Old friends Betsy Siggins, Bob Dylan, and Maria Muldaur backstage at the Wang Theatre, Boston, Nov. 15, 2009. Betsy is the founder of the New England Folk Music Archives and was a mainstay of the Club 47 in the '60s. Photo courtesy of Siggins Collection, New England Folk Music Archives.

The New England Folk Music Archives, based in Cambridge, was launched earlier this year with collections that reach well back into the last century.  Some of the Archives’ strongest collections have to do with the folk revival of the late 1950s and 1960s in and around Cambridge and Boston.  But the roots of the music  scene, then and now, reach well back into the 19th century and came out of a long, local tradition of interest

in folk music, folksong collecting, and cultural revivals.


Club 47, considered the epicenter of the revival, started as a jazz venue and coffeehouse in 1958, but soon joined the folk music boom. Club 47 launched regional performers such as Joan Baez, the Charles River Valley Boys, Eric von Schmidt, Tom Rush, and the Kweskin Jug Band, who mined many early recordings and song collections. Others like Jackie Washington and Taj Mahal drew on their families’ Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and African-American traditions.  Club 47 also introduced audiences to earlier generations of southern roots artists from the 1920s and 1930s such as Maybelle Carter, Mississippi John Hurt, Bill Monroe, and Muddy Waters.

During the month of November, the New England Folk Music Archives has partnered with the Harvard Square Business Association and its members to exhibit photographs and memorabilia from the collections in store windows and restaurants around the Square.

This Sunday, November 22 at 7 p.m. the Brattle Theatre will have a rare screening of Festival!, one of the essential documentaries of the early Newport folk festivals, with a reception with filmmaker Murray Lerner afterwards.