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Rainbow (Program #22)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
What is a rainbow? Why are we so fascinated by them? Why do we associate things to them: hope, beginnings, security, riches, and so on? Rainbows have been a constant in western culture and song. This program asks “what means a rainbow”? Music comes from around the world in our search for an answer.

Children's Music (Program #21)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
In this program, we focus on children’s music. My father, Moe Asch, produced a huge collection of children’s recordings, but, as I hope you’ll hear, they were unique in many ways. We’ll play music from around the world, music for and from children at play, at school and even some in the workplace. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Pete Did That? Program #20)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
In this program we explore the various musical sides of Pete Seeger. We will begin with Pete at Carnegie Hall getting everyone to sing together. It reminds me of those Christmas concerts of my youth, singing at the top of my voice, trying to keep sweet and on pitch. That was Pete as he is best known, leading us, helping us to understand that when we stand together we can be a powerful and harmonious collectivity. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

It Came from Canada (Program #19)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
I am originally from New York City, though Canada has been my home since 1969. But that wasn’t my first time in Canada. In 1963, through a quirk, I got a ride to Toronto and attended the Mariposa folk festival. I fell in love with Canada on that trip. At that time I had no idea that Folkways had the largest collection of Canadian music available in the world. I don’t think it is still true, but there are well over a hundred Folkways records that feature Canada and Canadians. In this show we explore them. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Jazz (Program #18)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This time, I thought we’d wander about the collection listening to a teeny bit of the Jazz that my father recorded. Given everything he did, it is easy to forget his keen interest in jazz and of his important recordings, such as for Jazz at the Philharmonic series. But rather than get caught up in the history of Jazz or the role that my father played or make an attempt at being exhaustive with the jazz recordings, I thought we would make things simple and just goose around the collection a bit. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

The Letter J (Program #17)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Shortly before he died in 1986, my father was interviewed I think by the Today Show on NBC. At that time, he justified his policy of never withdrawing a record title from the complete two thousand plus collection by saying: “would you take the letter J out of the dictionary merely because it is used less frequently than the letter S?” Well, I thought I would base this show on that idea. Here we have a show in celebration of the letter J. We will cover songs, music from countries, artists, instruments and sounds which all begin with the letter J.

Work Songs (Program #16)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Harold Courlander is an important figure in the history of Folkways. Well known in some circles for winning the case against Alex Haley, whose novel Roots plagiarized from Courlander’s novel The African, I think of Courlander as the early guiding spirit for what he and my father called the Ethnic series, which is the vast catalogue of what we now call world music. This time, I thought we’d feature an album Courlander put together in 1956 that documents the sensibilities he brought to this work in the immediate post-War period. Called World of Man: Volume 1, His Work, a title that situates it in the non-inclusive language of that time, the album is nonetheless a wonderful worldwide journey through the world of human labour. We’ll add other work songs from around the world in the show.

Time (Program #15)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This show will mine the Folkways catalogue for songs about clocks and time, at least Western conceptions of time. We start with a little bluegrass reflection on clocks and then move onto all sorts of songs with references to time or time keeping. A timely program. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Talking About the Blues (Program #14)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This show is called “talking about and singing the blues.” The idea comes from the Folkways album “This is the Blues.” It features Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee. The album was built around a radio show produced by the great Studs Turkel of Chicago’s WFMT and was recorded on May 7th, 1957. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Sacco and Vanzetti(Program #13)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Nicola Sacco and Bartolmeo Vanzetti, Italian anarchists, were executed unjustly in 1927 for armed robbery and murder of two pay-clerks in Massachusetts. The case caused quite a stir at the time as for many the conviction was not for murder, but for being anarchists and immigrants. They were pardoned in 1977 by Governor Michael Dukakis. In 1947, twenty years after the execution, my father commissioned an album of original songs penned and sung by Woody Guthrie about the trial, an album Woody himself believed was his most important work. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Days of the Week (Program #12)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
It was kind of a gloomy day around Michael Asch’s home when his researcher Rob Wiznura sent him an idea for a show that presented the days of the week in song. It was a blue day, so he thought Blue Monday, because it goes through the days of the week and returns to Monday, as did his idea. But Folkways didn’t record Blue Monday. But then it came to me, even better than Blue Monday was Stormy Monday as it captured the weather and also went through the days of the week. And so it was that an idea for a Folkways radio show was born. Listen as Michael presents material from “the days of the Folkways week”. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Black and White (Program #11)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This show is built around the song “The Ink is Black” or “Black and White” by David Arkin, Alan Arkin’s father and Earl Robinson, who for a time was the music teacher at Michael’s school in New York City. Written on the occasion of the 1954 de-segregation decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, it epitomizes the sensibility that segregation is inherently evil. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Tony Schwartz (Program #10)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This show is about the world of sound captured by Tony Schwartz and produced on Folkways Records. While not a household name, Schwartz is a legendary figure in the advertising business. There is another side to Tony Schwartz. It is found in his passion for recording sounds, particularly human made sounds and for New York City. The marriage of these passions is found in sound documents that range from short sound poems to lengthier sound essays. Often produced for his radio show, sometimes these found their way to become tracks on albums he made for Folkways Records. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Going to the Dogs (Program #9)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
The theme of this show is about Smithsonian Folkways material inspired by dogs, so Michael Asch has called the show “Going to the Dogs.” The idea for the show came from Rob Wiznura, researcher on this radio series, and a guy who likes dogs, and puns about them. Michael is less committed, more of a cat man. Hear songs, sounds and documentary segments, all on the canine theme. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Broadsides (Program #8)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This episode of Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On focuses on topical songs, mostly from a small-distribution, widely influential magazine from the 1960s and 70s and 80s called Broadside Magazine. In 1962, the first issue cost 35 cents and consisted of a meager 300 copies. But it included songs from such masters as Malvina Reynolds, Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. Broadside brought many topical singer songwriters to the public’s attention, including, in addition to Reynolds, Ochs and Dylan; Tom Paxton, Richard Farina, Janis Ian and Buffy St. Marie, to name just a few. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

Bluegrass (Program #6)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This hour features bluegrass music on Folkways Records. Bluegrass is a style developed mostly in Appalachia that combines the music of Scots-Irish, African-American, jazz and blues. Michael presents a personal journey, choosing from those performances he considers 'classic.' Performers include Bill Monroe, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, Roger Sprung, The Country Gentlemen, The Lily Brothers, Eric Weisberg, Ralph Rinzler and Mike Seeger. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways Records.

The Unfortunate Rake (Program #5)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
In this hour Michael traces the history of a folksong, probably most familiar to you as "The Streets of Laredo" but also reflected in the song "St James Infirmary." In 1960, Folkways released an album put together by folklorist Kenneth Goldstein called The Unfortunate Rake: A Study in the Evolution of a Ballad. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways records.

The Harlem Renaissance (Program #4)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
A remarkable thing about Folkways is the number of significant movements in the 20th century with which it was in tune. One such movement is the African-American poetry scene, starting with the Harlem Renaissance that began in the 1920s. The Harlem Renaissance is a rather loose term that identifies a flourishing of poetry and prose to emerge from Harlem. The poetry ranges greatly stylistically. But what unites all these poets, including Langston Hughes and Claude McKay, is that they focus in some way on the experience of the African-American in the U.S. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways records.

Introduction (Program #1)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series featuring the original recordings of Folkways records. Host Michael Asch is the only child of Moses and Frances Asch. He was a professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton until his retirement. However, as he says in this first program: "The show is not about me. It is about my father, and more specifically about the record company my father founded and ran for 38 years. The company’s name is Folkways Records, and, due to the foresight and perseverance of many people at the Smithsonian Institution, the company still continues as Smithsonian Folkways Records. This program features an overview of great Folkways sounds."

My Favourite Things (Program #2)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
This episode is dedicated to music on Folkways that has a special place for Michael Asch. It includes some of his favourites and some of his father's favourites. Some of these songs are from Moe's childhood and some are from Michael's early adulthood when he worked for Folkways. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways records.

The Midnight Special (Program #3)

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
In program three the focus is on the blues, but from a particular personal angle. Listeners from Chicago may well recognize the title "The Midnight Special," as being used on a radio show that has been broadcast on WFMT since 1953 and is now broadcast as well over the net. Michael thought to honor that program by recreating what he heard when moved to Chicago to attend university in the fall of 1961. Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds to Grow On is a 26-part series hosted by Michael Asch that features the original recordings of Folkways records.

Episode 1

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
We kick things off this week with a sampling of some of the label's original legends: Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie. We'll also hear blues from Warner Williams and Robert Jr. Lockwood, gospel music old and new, and international folk songs from Colombia, Cuba, and Iran.

Episode 2

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
We'll get an introduction to the legendary blind bluesman Reverend Gary Davis, we'll hear the harmonies of lady bluegrass pioneers Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard, and we'll listen to the resonant, baritone voice of singer and activist Paul Robeson...... plus Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and world music from Mali to Cuba.

Episode 3

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Blues piano from Memphis Slim, marimba music from Guatemala, labor union songs, World War II anthems, Tuvan throat singing, and classic old-time tunes from Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb. Real music, real people, and the stories behind the sounds.
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