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Massachusetts For Folk
2000, WUMB

Folk music is an important part of the culture of Massachusetts. Scattered throughout the state are numerous small as well as better known venues, such as the Iron Horse in Northampton and Club Passim in Cambridge, where a wide variety of music can be heard including traditional folk, blues, bluegrass, Celtic, and world music.

Listener supported WUMB 91.9 FM, the nation’s only full-time folk radio station, has been active in promoting folk music with it’s annual Boston Folk Festival. Funded by a grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Economic Development/Office of Travel and Tourism, they have released a CD entitled Massachusetts for Folk. Pat Monteith, the general manager for WUMB, said, "It was an outgrowth of the Boston Folk Festival which has a main mission of keeping folk music alive into the twenty-first century."

Linda Wheeler, the coordinator for the folk festival said, "The CD was to provide a sampling of the best folk musicians presented in Massachusetts venues, concerts and festivals. We wanted the artists on the CD to represent the quality and variety of folk music one could hear in Massachusetts."

From the opening notes of Cheryl Wheeler’s rant, "Unworthy," to the fluid sound of Joe Cormier’s fiddle medley, "The Bungalow Reel/Coire au Lockan/Traditional Pipe Reel," this recording will grab your attention and hold it. It captures the vitality and life of the Massachusetts folk scene.

There are seventeen musicians represented. Wheeler says, "We put out a call for nominations to everyone involved in the Massachusetts Folk community. More than 100 people were nominated." Nominees must have performed in at least two different Massachusetts coffeehouses/folk music venues, concert halls or festivals in 1999 and the performers’ overall music had to be rooted in folk music or in the genres which are generally encompassed under the term Folk. A panel winnowed the list down and although, only half of them had to be Massachusetts residents, ALL of the finalists were Massachusetts residents."

The recording is a stunning collection of songs sung by some of the most talented Massachusetts musicians. You’ll hear folk-rock from the Swinging Steaks in "Heart Will Take You Home," bluegrass from the Tarbox Ramblers in "Jack of Diamonds" and from Northern Lights in "Rainmaker," and blues from Paul Rishell and Annie Raines in "Kansas City Blues" and from Geoff Bartley in "Natural Law."

The compilation includes such performers as Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert, and the Nields as well as Lori McKenna, Chris Smither and Jess Klein. Listen to this recording and you will be amazed at the wealth of talent.

The recording was given away to festival goers at Falcon Ridge, Winterhawk and Newport last summer and was inserted into the August/September edition of Dirty Linen and mailed to its 6,000 subscribers. If you missed getting a copy, you can send WUMB an email at or call 617-287-6900. If you are planning a visit to Massachusetts, check out for information about the Massachusetts folk community.—Sara Barss

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