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The arrival of the annual UK Cambridge Folk Festival (28-31 July) at Cherry Hinton Hall, and the Newport Folk Festival in the States (30-31 July) is a moment to pay tribute to a musical art form that underpins most of what we listen to today. July is folk month!
Folk is literally the root of most music. Nowadays, it’s a broad spectrum covering its oral tradition, but it also sits alongside country, soft rock, Celtic, rural, folk blues, gospel songs, zydeco, American, Appalachian ballads, mountain music, hillbilly wailers and agit-prop/protest.
Our A-Z confirms just how eclectic and open ended the folk cultural tradition has become…
Strings, soundboard and soundbox. That the acoustic guitar has been the kingpin instrument in the development of folk music, is to state the obvious.
The Almanac Singers were, in the early 1940s, the most important US folk group. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell caused controversy with left-wing songs but also kick-started a revival of trad-Am music. Songs like Hard, Ain’t It Hard; Round And Round Hitler’s Grave; The Strange Death Of John Doe; Talking Union and Which Side Are You On? inspired both Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen among others.