Folkways Mini Mix

24 May

I took this photo when I was 19!
I’m spending this summer in Washington, D.C.!

For years as a college radio DJ, I said that my dream job would be to work at Smithsonian Folkways, the institution’s record label that specializes in regional folk music, field recordings and spoken word. The dream is coming true — temporarily and with no pay, but I’ll take it.

To get myself psyched up, I wanted to make a D.C.-themed mix, mostly so I could start it with that Magnetic Fields song. Instead I pulled out the few Folkways records I have in my collection and picked some favorites. If you’re unfamiliar with the label, here’s a tiny primer.

The greatest thing about Folkways is the detailed liner notes that come with each record: descriptions of musicians and instruments, translations of lyrics, and social contexts to what you’re hearing. (Sorry I can’t share those too.)

The other greatest thing is that every single record they’ve ever released is still, in a way, in print. You can order anything from their catalog digitally, on CD, or on tape. If the professionally manufactured copies are gone, they will burn you a CD-R or dub you a tape and Xerox all the liner notes. You can also listen to snippets of everything online (that’s where I got all the spoken word bits.)

This is a pretty measly sampling of all Smithsonian Folkways has to offer. Hopefully through the summer I’ll have much more to share!

Track list:

  1. (intro) Elie Siegmeister – “Rhythm: Beat” (Invitation to Music)
  2. Lord Melody – “Carnival Proclamation” (Calypso Awakening)
  3. Zion – “Chorus” (Folk Music of Jamaica)
  4. (interlude) Elie Siegmeister – “Tone Color: Timbre” (Invitation to Music)
  5. Paduan Suara P.W. G.K.I. Jemaat Mara – “Yendisare Aimando” (Discover Indonesia)
  6. Fo:fo: and Miseme – sing at their sago place (Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea)
  7. Uda A/P Tengah – “Penhe:y” (Dream Songs and Healing Sounds in the Rainforests of Malaysia)
  8. (interlude) “Short Wave Radio” (Sound Patterns)
  9. Ella Jenkins and the Lake Meadows Nursery School – “It’s the Milkman” (Rhythm and Game Songs for the Little Ones #2)
  10. (outro) Harry Fleetwood – “Correct Pronunciation of Frequently Mispronounced Words” (Mend Your Speech)

My copy of The Folk Music of Jamaica was salvaged when Shields Library at UC Davis purged their entire vinyl collection. It has check-out stamps going back decades and a sad “WITHDRAW/DISCARD” stamp across the title.


3 Responses to “Folkways Mini Mix”

  1. World Listener May 27, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    congratulations!! im sure you will have fun. gambatte, and thanks for sharing this lovely mix

    • Elisa Hough May 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Thank you! I’m looking forward to the work and exploring a new city / nervous about the killer humidity everyone keeps telling me about.

      • crystal wizard June 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

        wow, awesome situation for audio research, that would be a dream come true for me also~
        the humidity isn’t the only thing killer about DC, take care~

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