Millennium Folk: American Folk Music Since the Sixties

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University of Georgia Press, 2006 - Music - 197 pages

This first ethnographic study of the American folk music revival that began in the late 1980s examines its people, economy, and politics. Covering the perspectives of fans, performers, marketers, and others, Thomas Gruning takes on some of the folk community's stickiest issues, many of which have roots extending to the previous folk heyday in the 1960s--and sometimes to even more distant eras. Today, such issues are most evident in the clash between the folk community's entrepreneurial, tech-savvy present and its idealized memory of origins in some rural, egalitarian, blue-collar past.

Whose voice gets heard in the folk community has always raised fundamental questions about race, gender, sexuality, authenticity, and power relations, says Gruning. To assess folk's current state and the direction it may be heading, Gruning discusses the microcosm of folk music festivals, the rise of the singer/songwriter, the heightened visibility of gay and lesbian performers, the blurring distinction between folk and world music, the explosion of affordable, high-quality recording and reproduction technology, and more. Millennium Folk is a challenging new look at an understudied community, valuable for what it tells us about folk music, and for what folk in turn suggests about the wider culture's hopes and apprehensions in a globalized, consumerist world.

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About the author (2006)

Thomas Gruning is an independent ethnomusicologist living in Middleburgh, New York. He has been active in folk music for most of his adult life as a songwriter, composer, and musician.

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