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Archive for the ‘Folk’ Category

RIP, Hazel Dickens (April 22, 2011) Bluegrass Icon

Posted by on April 22, 2011

Hazel Dickens
June 1, 1935 – April 22, 2011

Hazel Dickens was a popular Appalachian bluegrass and folk singer, songwriter and musician who was revered for her beautiful voice as well as for her socially driven lyrics that tended to touch on feminism and pro-union causes.   Born into a a poor mining family in West Virginia, Dickens became friends with Pete Seeger’s brother and fellow musician Mike Seeger, who prompted her desire to get involved with the highly active Baltimore-Washington folk music scene of the ’60s.  She and Seeger’s wife, Alice Gerard went on to perform and record as Hazel & Alice.  By the mid ’70s, Dickens was working as a solo artist.  Four of her early recordings can be heard in the award-winning mining documentary, Harlan County, USA.  She also appeared in the film as well as Matewan and Songcatcher.  Although she stopped putting out albums in the mid ’80s, Dickens could still be found performing live for many years to come, even as recently as at Austin’s SXSW music conference in March of 2011.  Hazel Dickens passed away on April 22, 2011.  She was 75.

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RIP, Gil Robbins (April 5, 2011) Member Of The Highwaymen; Father Of Actor, Tim Robbins

Posted by on April 5, 2011

Gil Robbins
April 3, 1931 – April 5, 2011

Gil Robbins was a folk singer-songwriter and bassist who is best remembered as part of the influential folk group, the Highwaymen.  Prior to Robbins joining the group, they had significant pop hits with “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” and “Cottonfields.”  Born in Washington state and raised in Southern California – where he was the drum major of the UCLA marching band, Robbins eventually found himself immersed in the thriving folk scene of Greenwich Village in New York City.  He was a member of the Belafonte Singers (Harry Belafonte’s touring group), and the Cumberland Three.  For a time, he and Tom Paxton were writing and performing partners.  Robbins joined the Highwaymen in 1962 and played on five albums until they split up in 1964.  He has been credited for taking the band in a more political direction.  His children include actor, Tim Robbins. Gil Robbins died of prostate cancer on April 5, 2011.  He was 80.

Thanks to Ed Hardy for the help

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RIP, Jack Hardy (March 11, 2011) Influential Folk Singer-Songwriter

Posted by on March 11, 2011

John “Jack” Hardy
November 23, 1947 – March 11, 2011

Jack Hardy was an respected and influential New York singer-songwriter who came to prominence in the early ’70s.  After building a following in Greenwich Village, Hardy began hosting a weekly gathering of local singer-songwriters in his apartment. It eventually became a must-visit for aspiring songwriters which included the likes of Suzanne Vega and John Gorka, to name a few.  By the ’80s, Hardy was becoming quite popular – mainly in Europe, and was touring with friend, David Massengill as the Folk Brothers.  He released several albums over the course of his career and has been cited as a direct influence on the likes of Vega, David Wilcox, and the Roches.  Jack Hardy was 63 when he passed away on March 11, 2011.  Cause of death was not immediately released, but he had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer just a few weeks prior.

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RIP, Diane Izzo (February 25, 2011) Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter

Posted by on February 25, 2011

Diane Izzo
1967 – February 25, 2011

Diane Izzo was a respected Chicago-raised singer-songwriter who, upon the release of  her 1999 debut, One, was called one of the best to come out of that city in recent years.  She never released another album, but left behind several worth in unreleased songs.  On February 25, 2011, Diane Izzo passed away after a brave battle with cancer.  She was 43.

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RIP, Terry Clements (February 20, 2011) Guitarist For Gordon Lightfoot

Posted by on February 20, 2011

Terry Clements
July 22, 1947 – February 20, 2011

Terry Clements is perhaps best remembered as the longtime guitarist for folk legend, Gordon Lightfoot.  He joined up with Lightfoot in 1970 and continued to play with him for some 40 years.   Clements was just five years old when he picked up the guitar, and over the years his playing would be influenced by the likes of Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, and Dick Dale.  After high school, he served in the US Navy for a couple of years and then returned to his music career, first playing with Golden Sunflower while working as a session player for Lou Adler, and later joining forces with Lightfoot with whom he stayed until the final years of his life.  Terry Clements was 63 when he died on February 20, 2011.  The cause was attributed to a stroke he had recently suffered.

Thanks to Su, Erica, and Lisa for the help

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RIP, Debbie Friedman (January 9, 2011) Popular Singer Of Jewish Folk Songs

Posted by on January 9, 2011

Debbie Friedman
DOB Unknown – January 9, 2011

Debbie Friedman was a popular folk singer-songwriter whose songs were mostly populated with Jewish faith themes.  She began writing when she was at camp during the ’70s and went on to release over 20 albums throughout her long career.  Her most famous songs are “Mi Sheberach,” “The Aleph Bet Song,” and “I Am A Latke.”  In 2007, she began teaching at The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.  Debbie Friedman died of pneumonia on January 9, 2011.  She was 59.

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RIP, Irwin Sibler (September 8, 2010) Editor Of Sing Out! Magazine

Posted by on September 8, 2010

Irwin Sibler
October 17, 1925 – September 8, 2010

Irwin Sibler was a music journalist and longtime editor of Sing Out! magazine.  Co-founded by Sibler in 1950, the quarterly publication is one of the most respected folk music magazines in the world.  Sibler acted as editor from its inception until 1967.  The magazine and Sibler’s pieces were largely responsible for the folk revival of the ’50s and ’60s.  After leaving the magazine, Sibler became more politically outspoken, becoming an editor and movie critic for the radical weekly, The Guardian.  He also launched Paredon Records where he released albums that spoke for the radical liberation movement of the ’70s.  Irwin Sibler was 85 when he passed away on September 8, 2010.

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Died On This Date (August 26, 1981) Lee Hays / The Weavers

Posted by on August 26, 2010

Lee Hays
March 14, 1914 – August 26, 1981

Photo by Robert C. Malone

Photo by Robert C. Malone

No doubt effected by the lynchings he witnessed as a child, Lee Hays grew up to become a voice of the people, first as a union activist and later as a folk singer who co-founded the Weavers in 1948.  With the Weavers, Hays co-wrote such classic folk songs as “If I Had A Hammer,” “Wimoweh” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”  Because of his connections with radical groups during his days as an activist, the group was targeted as “communist sympathizers” during the McCarthy era.  In 1950, they were blacklisted, and when brought before the House Committee Of Un-American Activities, Hays pleaded the 5th when questioned about his perceived connections with communism.  No longer able to perform publicly, the Weavers disbanded in 1952.  Hays performed and recorded periodically over the years, most notably on children’s albums as part of Alan Arkin’s the Baby Sitters.  The Weavers reunited in later years for special concert events.  Lee Hays died of heart disease attributed to diabetes on August 26, 1981.  He was 67.  Thankfully, Morgana Kennedy and her team at Vanguard keep finding new ways to celebrate the wonderful music of Lee Hays and the Weavers.

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RIP, Kenny Edwards (August 18, 2010) Guitarist In Linda Rondstadt’s Stone Poneys

Posted by on August 18, 2010

Kenny Edwards
February 10, 1946 – August 18, 2010

With Linda Ronstadt

Kenny Edwards was a folk-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist who is best remembered as a founding member of the Stone Poneys along with Linda Ronstadt and Bob Kimmel.  Formed in 1965, the group helped pave the way for the popular “Laurel Canyon” sound of ’70s country rock.  Their 1967 album Evergreen, Volume 2 included the hit single, “Different Drum,” which helped set up Ronstadt’s wildly successful solo career.  Even though the group’s recording career lasted just 15 months, they remarkably, released three full albums.  After the Stone Poneys parted ways, Edwards formed the moderately successful Bryndle, then went solo, and collaborated with the likes of Karla Bonoff, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, and Don Henley.  In 1974, Edwards and Ronstadt again joined forces to release one of her most popular albums, Heart Like A Wheel.  They continued to work together for many more years.  Kenny Edwards passed away on August 18, 2010.  He was 64 and had been battling prostate cancer.

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Died On This Date (August 16, 2008) Ronnie Drew / The Dubliners

Posted by on August 16, 2010

Ronnie Drew
September 16, 1934 – August 16, 2008


With DJ Jamie Coon. Photo by BP Fallon

Best remembered  as the front man of  the Dubliners, Ronnie Drew was a world renowned Irish folk musician and singer.  He formed the group in the early ’60s and soon they were one of Ireland’s most popular folk bands thanks to many shows throughout the pubs and hotels in Dublin and beyond.  Drew left the group in the mid ’90s and found a new audience thanks to collaborations with the likes of Dropkick MurphysU2’s The Edge, the Pogues and Christy Moore.  He died after a long struggle with cancer on August 16, 2008.  He was 73.

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