Smithsonian Folkways Presents JP Harris' Outside Folk at Newport Folk Festival
Smithsonian Folkways presents J.P. Harris' Outside Folk at the Newport Folk Festival on Saturday and Sunday July 27-28 on the museum stage – featuring Ramblin' Jack Elliott with Andy Hedges; John Cohen (New Lost City Ramblers) with The Downhill Strugglers; Judy Collins with Ari Hest; and Alice Gerrard with Tatiana Hargreaves & Allison DeGroot.
Outside Folk was born of the desire to honor an influential and sometimes-overlooked group of veteran musicians, many of whom have spent their careers or recent decades at the periphery of folk music and the spotlight. Pairing these torch-bearers with younger, traditionally influenced musicians at the forefront of the "new folk movement," these sets aim to show an artistic correlation across generations, create a unique musical moment in history, and honor those who have existed at the edges of tradition.
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
"One of the last true links to the great folk traditions of this country, with over 40 albums under his belt, Ramblin' Jack Elliott is considered one of the country's legendary foundations of folk music. Long before every kid in America wanted to play guitar — before Elvis, Dylan, the Beatles or Led Zeppelin — Ramblin' Jack had picked it up and was passing it along. From Johnny Cash to Tom Waits, Beck to Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder to Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead to The Rolling Stones, they all pay homage to Ramblin' Jack Elliott. In the tradition of roving troubadours Jack has carried the seeds and pollens of story and song for decades from one place to another, from one generation to the next. They are timeless songs that outlast whatever current musical fashion strikes today's fancy. His tone of voice is sharp, focused and piercing. All that and he plays the guitar effortlessly in a fluid flat-picking perfected style. He was a brilliant entertainer....Most folk musicians waited for you to come to them. Jack went out and grabbed you.....Jack was King of the Folksingers." – Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One
Andy Hedges is a songster, reciter, storyteller, guitarist, and collector of cowboy songs and poems. The son of an Italian schoolteacher and a rodeo cowboy turned preacher, Andy was born in Lubbock, Texas, in the spring of 1980. He grew up in the small community of Tokio, Texas, where his family paid rent on an old farmhouse by looking after a few head of cattle. It was there that Andy fell in love with traditional music by listening to his father’s cassettes of cowboy songs. Andy’s vast and varied repertoire includes classic cowboy poetry recitations, obscure cowboy songs, dust bowl ballads, and blues. He also hosts a podcast called Cowboy Crossroads which features in-depth interviews with fellow musicians and poets. Andy lives in Lubbock, Texas with his wife and three children. [www.andyhedges.com]
John Cohen's body of work has been recognized in a wide range of fields: his photographs are in major museum collections and publications, his award winning films have been shown on PBS and BBC and at festivals worldwide. The sound recordings of the New Lost City Ramblers have received several Grammy nominations, and, along with his field recordings, have influenced many musicians - including Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Ry Cooder - and shaped the old time fiddle music revival. John Cohen's work invites interpretation. Although it has the appearance of a "documentary style" it reflects his own viewpoint as a visual artist. That his body of work is called cross-disciplinary, and he has been labeled a "Renaissance man," doesn't detract from the perception of his art as something which emanates directly from his own personal vision.
The Down Hill Strugglers
The Down Hill Strugglers, previously known as the Dust Busters, is an old-time string band trio from Brooklyn, New York. Forming in 2008, they are influenced by the music that came out of rural America, including Appalachian traditions, music from the Deep South, and the Western States. They combine the feeling of the old music that can be heard on commercially recorded 78 RPM records (largely of the pre-WWII era) and field recordings made throughout the 20th century. The band was originally made up of Craig Judelman, Eli Smith, and Walker Shepard. In 2012 Craig Judelman left the Dust Busters and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist Jackson Lynch. At that time, the band changed its name to The Down Hill Strugglers. [downhillstrugglers.bandcamp.com/]
Judy Collins has inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 55+album body of work, and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century. [www.judycollins.com]
Ari is a New York based, grammy nominated singer/songwriter who built a loyal following through relentless international touring over the past two decades. In that time he has released nine folk/pop albums, four EPs and a song per week project throughout 2008. Ari has shared the stage with Martin Sexton, John Hiatt, Judy Collins and Suzanne Vega among others.
Simply put, Alice Gerrard is a talent of legendary status. In a career spanning some 50 years, she has known, learned from, and performed with many of the old-time and bluegrass greats and has in turn earned worldwide respect for her own important contributions to the music. Alice is particularly known for her groundbreaking collaboration with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s. The duo produced four classic LPs (recently reissued by Rounder on CD) and influenced scores of young women singers — even The Judds acknowledge Hazel and Alice as an important early inspiration. [www.alicegerrard.com]
Tatiana Hargreaves & Allison de Groot
Described as a “can’t-miss pair in 2019,” by Paste Magazine, Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves create a sound that is adventurous, masterful, and original, as they expand on the eccentricities of old songs, while never losing sight of what makes them endure. Already leaders in the young generation of roots musicians, de Groot has become known for her intricate clawhammer banjo work with Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, while Hargreaves has brought her powerhouse fiddling to the stage with Gillian Welch and Laurie Lewis. Their new album on Free Dirt Records is a powerful opening statement that has been called “a big step forward” (CBC Q) and “dives deep into the old-time style and comes up with something wonderfully fresh” (Vinyl District). Ranging from intricate banjo-fiddle instrumental performances inspired by early commercial and field recordings to more contemporary tunes and songs from the likes of Judy Hyman (the Horseflies) and Alice Gerrard, their repertoire reflects on which voices we seek to hear as we explore the expansive, diverse canon of American roots music. Their rendition of Alice Gerrard’s song “Beaufort County Jail” is included in Rolling Stone Country’s “10 Best Country and Americana Songs to Hear.”
Photo Credits: (1) Newport Folk Festival, (2) Outside Folk at Newport Folk Festival, (3) Ramblin Jack Elliott, (4) John Cohen, (5) Ari Hest, (6) Tatiana Hargreaves & Allison de Groot (unknown/website).