This study reconstructs the history of the folk-music revival in the States, tracing its origins to the early decades of the 20th century. Drawing on scores of interviews and numerous manuscript collections, as well as his own extensive files, Cohen shows how a broad range of traditions - from hillbilly, gospel, blues and sea shanties to cowboy, ethnic and political-protest music - all contributed to the genre known as folk. Cohen documents the crucial work of John Lomax and other collectors who, with the assistance of recording companies, preserved and distributed folk music in the 1920s. During the 1930s and 1940s, the emergence of left-wing politics and the rise of the commercial music marketplace helped to stimulate wider interest in folk music. As Cohen explains, stars emerged, such as Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives and Josh White. With the success of the Weavers and the Kingston Trio in the 1950s, the stage was set for the full-blown ""folk revival"" of the early 1960s. This book should be of interest to those teaching or taking courses in American music of the 20th century.
RONALD D. COHEN is professor of history at Indiana University Northwest, and editor of Agnes ""Sis"" Cunningham and Gordon Friesen's Red Dust and Broadsides: A Joint Autobiography (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999).