Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Selling Folk Music: An Illustrated History

Academic journal article Folk Music Journal

Selling Folk Music: An Illustrated History

Article excerpt

Selling Folk Music: An Illustrated History Ronald D. Cohen and David Bonner. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2018. 169 pp. Illustrations. Index. ISBN 978-1-62846-215-9. US$75.00.

Using cartoons, record sleeves, concert posters and flyers, magazine and book covers, and adverts, Cohen and Bonner present an entirely visual representation of how the American folk music revival was sold to the American public. Starting with pre-1914 book covers, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) song book, the illustrations continue through the 1920s (Carl Sandburg's American Songbag), and 1930s (cowboy songbooks from Gene Autry and Tom Mix, 'negro' songs from Lead Belly and Paul Robeson, John and Alan Lomax songbooks), before the explosion of enthusiasm after 1945--the Almanac Singers, Burl Ives, the Seegers, the Weavers, and more Lomaxes.

By the 1950s record sleeves, concert posters, and Sing Out! magazine front covers join the book and sheet music covers. Real popularity of the music is illustrated by Harry Belafonte and the calypso craze on the front cover of Time magazine and the Kingston Trio in Life magazine, both in 1959, and Hootenanny singers in a Batman comic cartoon in 1964. …

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