I bumped into Rick Massimo of I Got a Song in a nearby Thai restaurant at the 2017 Brooklyn Folk Festival. We chatted about our folk passion, and I attended his workshop in which he presented a lively discussion about the changes in the folk landscape extending back to the 1960s and as any good folkie knows the Newport Folk Festival has some serious historical value when it comes to how the public perceive folk music.
As the major folk event of the 1960s the Newport Folk Festival is usually remembered as the moment when the darling of the folk world Bob Dylan went electric. Of course there are many myths to the event, but the politics are still raw today, and any book about the folk revival cannot ignore this moment as the commercial world taking a bit out of the folk apple. Questions still abound about the why and how the result of this moment and few books penetrate the surface of the debate, but many must at least attempt it.
I Got A Song is a fascinating read as it both educational and entertaining. Two terms that seem inseparable to what a folk event should never forget, but in some part seem to missing from how it's being managed today. Some parts of the book I skipped over, such as those that went into the minutiae of the relationships of the various memory agents and bookers who control this platform. Other parts are very revealing in unexpected ways as Jim James, a regular performer now, waxes lyrical about what the festival symbolizes, and I couldn't help but notice that he is also on the board for selecting artists. I'm sure this is problematic in more ways than one.
Tickets sell out fast these days, and it has become fashionable and successful, and as the book explains there is a new audience now as some of the old folks seem to dislike successful things. Really? Maybe that'd like to go to something that is less commercial? Maybe more educational? Maybe you should have a read yourself and let me know you thoughts. Thanks Rick Massimo for taking on this difficult topic and providing us with grist for the mill.