We were featured on CartoDB’s blog this week as Map of the Week! Here’s how we made the folk-to-folk.com map (kind of). :)


Welcome Emma from Folk to Folk in this new installment of our Map of the Week. Folk to Folk is an independent documentary project exploring how the inclusive spirit of folk music helps build communities and creates accessible, participatory spaces across America today. We are happy to see how…

(Source: cartodb)

New site, new life

HEY - WE LAUNCHED OUR NEW SITE: folk-to-folk.com <—-click, click, click here!

It’s an interactive map that lets you follow our routes across the country over the past two years with videos and photos from our stops. Please click around, explore and share. And note that while the site works on most browsers and screen resolutions (it looks kinda weird on Firefox, and plz don’t look at it on your phone), we suggest full screen on Chrome - but you do you. 

Tell us what you think! And if something doesn’t work - tell us that too. We’ll be adding more features and continue updating the site as we finish editing the last of our interviews. 

Another long overdue cut from the backlog - the wonderful, lovely brown bird performing “Thunder & Lightning” on the grounds of Newport Folk Festival 2012. 

A few months ago Dave Lamb was diagnosed with leukemia. Here’s the band’s statement from their website. They’ve created a page accepting donations for help covering Dave’s medical bills here.

"Brown Bird is on a temporary hiatus while Dave undergoes treatment for leukemia. We don’t know how long we’ll be off the road, but we are looking forward to getting back out there as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’re in a difficult situation, not able to make any income and dealing with the cost of medical bills. If you can help in any way, we would greatly appreciate it. Hope to see you all soon."

"If you feel it, you gotta do it - that’s how I feel."

Way back on trip number one, we stopped in NOLA and met with Alynda Lee Segarra and Yosi Perlstein of Hurray for the Riff Raff by the banks of the Mississippi river. Alynda spoke with us about heritage, authenticity and covering songs in the folk music community.

You can re-visit the videos we filmed of "Lookout Mama," and "People Talkin’”, a Lucinda Williams cover. 

We cut together this short look into some of the spaces and places we’ve visited over the past two years* (!) while working on Folk to Folk. A compilation of thoughts on DIY, road footage across America and a few of the shows we’ve filmed.

Interviews with: 

Dax Tran-Caffee of Corpus Callosum
Steve D’Agostino of The Wild and ZEBU!
Kevin Cain of The Vault in Buffalo, NY
Witt Wisebram of The Wild
Thomas Sallings of Mee Yoo and The Hairhole
Taylor Ross of the Beauty Shop

*Note: It’s been two years (and 3 days) since our first blog post, the first video with Jamaica Plain’s Gracious Calamity went live on July 7, 2011. Happy birthday to us! I think we’ve come a long way… both literally and figuratively. Lolz.

All right buddies we’ve got another one for you outta Columbia, Missouri. While we were in town filming musics at True/False, we took a tour of The Hairhole, a DIY space in the downtown district that was forced to close its doors shortly after the festival due to - you guessed it - real estate boom! Thomas Sallings and Sam Pounders gave us and a group of about 20 others a walkthrough of the Hairhole, a center for music and art in Columbia for the past four years. And then we all danced to Lauryn Hill for a bit (not pictured above).

Another True/False music video! La Operación Jarocha came to Columbia, Missouri from Mexico to busk all over town during the film festival. They played “La Bomba,” - a.k.a. the American people’s cheese of Mexican folk music, the shredded taco-seasoned cheese, if you will - as well as a 10 minute long English and Spanish version of Leonard Cohen’s “La Frontera,” one of the many songs they contributed to the scoring of the documentary film “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” Here’s a fun video of their performance at Sparky’s Ice Cream, complete with badcreepyfunamazing art and the passing of a jawbone.

Sonic Rhetorics

A while back, internet friend-quaintance Jon Stone told me he’d be co-editing an edition of Harlot digital magazine focused on sonic rhetorics. The issue came out this week and I’m looking forward to reading/listening through all of this beautifully curated and collaborated content with titles like "The Sonic History of Eau Claire," and “A Sonic Memoir of the 1960s.” But here’s an excerpt from a piece by Dan W. Lawrence, a graduate teaching instructor and PhD candidate at Michigan Technological University, considering folk music in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the use of digital technologies to create communities even when sharing physical spaces is difficult.

Many musicians are turning to the web to escape the traditional and narrow forms of “making a living” in the music business. Downstate Michigander Sufjan Stevens has been an advocate of using BandCamp to sell his work. BandCamp takes an almost insignificant share of the profits for using their digital storefront, which is absolutely liberating when we understand how very little of the profits musicians are given in major record deals.

And for a community of musicians stuck up in a snowy peninsula who have few venues and no presence in physical storefronts, the Internet has promoted an intense resurgence in musical creativity and inspiration and a way to found an identity that isn’t determined by the giants of corporate music.

Perhaps that’s what real folk music does: it doesn’t have to be recorded on reel-to-reel or with your great-grandfather’s banjo to be authentic. These are illusions. It has to come from a people who are fighting to be themselves in opposition to a power that’s trying to take hold of their culture. To make folk, to be folk, is to build a backyard bonfire of cultural autonomy. 

That’s who we are as Yoopers: we’re the quiet, reflective winterfolk of the great wooded north. And that’s why we embrace these digital technologies to assist us in the production and sharing of our songs and timbres. But none of us, not a single one of us, must be zealous through overt, unquestioning techno-optimism.

Read the rest of "The Quiet, Wintry North": Digital Folk of the Upper Peninsula and explore Sonic Rhetorics. It’s not just words! There’s audio and video to sink in to.

Here’s another video from our journey to film buskers at True/False Film Festival 2013 in Columbia, Missouri last month! Scott and Zack of Mountain Animation play fast fiddle, banjo, suitcase music on the streets of NYC (catch them on Brooklyn subway platforms if you’re lucky). I’m pretty sure Scott (fiddle) was in a trance during this song - it was the last of their set and he didn’t look up once or even stop to pull up his pants.

"I had given up on playing music by the time I was fourteen or fifteen years old because I wasn’t a trained musician. I didn’t think I could do it because it seemed like everyone that did it were professionals. That’s why punk rock was so important to me. I realized that here was a space that I could operate in the way I wanted to which would never go over with mainstream people whatsoever. To find that space made so much sense to me."

— Ian MacKaye