I'm traveling with Nina and Alexei for the holidays. I'd like to wish you all the best and brightest of the season, for whichever tradition you may follow.
We've been quite busy preparing for the award's season, both book, and radio. On top of that, I've been assembling materials for the class I'll be teaching at San Francisco State this next Spring semester.There's a lot of material to gather, but I've been doing this long enough that I've got a system down.
I can't believe we forgot this one! December 2nd marked the 103rd birthday of Folkways Records founder, Moe Asch.
Moses "Moe" Asch and the label he founded, Folkways (now Smithsonian Folkways), was instrumental in bringing folk music to the American public. Asch worked with such famous folk and blues singers as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and Ella Jenkins.
He was the son of Yiddish language novelist and dramatist Sholem Asch and the younger brother of novelist Nathan Asch. After his death, the Folkways recordings were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution and are now part of the heritage of all Americans; many of the titles are reissued.
Winter seems to be here. It's been cold and, today, even a little wet. Down here in our little office, we are baking more old reel-to-reel tapes in the food dehydrator to prepare them for transfer to digital format. There is an added benefit in that the heat from the dehydrator is also warming the room. A nice thing on a cold day like this.
Last week I was at CalTech, presenting a lecture on McCarthy era suppression of the folksinging community. (I was amazed at how small the actual CalTech property was for such a prestigious school!)
Someone recently recommended the movie "Trumbo" to me. I haven't had a chance to see it, but I understand it is a documentary about blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. It comes highly recommended. If you are interested in the blacklisting era and its effect on people's lives, check it out.
For the last thirty years, I've documented the work of Pete Seeger, resulting in How Can I Keep From Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger, published by McGraw Hill in 1981 and revised, updated, and republished by Villard/Random House, 2008.
Having written half a dozen volumes of history and biography, my specialty is the presentation of folklore, literature, and history via broadcasting. I've been active in radio since 1972, but over the last dozen years I've been Executive Producer of award-winning national radio series for Public Radio International, including “Writing the Southwest” (1995); “Aldous Huxley's Brave New Worlds” (1998); “Across the Tracks: A Route 66 Story” (2001); and Pete Seeger: How Can I Keep From Singing? (2008). I'm currently a DJ for KUNM-FM and a professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.