Many students of the folk and old time music boom of the 1960s will note that the growth of interest in the music really exploded when it caught the attention of big city audiences, and the media writers and television/record company producers who lived there. Bluegrass fans consider the Flatt & Scruggs live recording of their 1962 performance at Carnegie Hall to be a fine example of the band in their hey day, but many newer fans may not recognize what a milestone it was for a rural, southern folk act to be invited to perform in this venue.
In that same period of time, a group of folk revivalists launched a concert series in New York City, designed to expose the urban audiences to the folk, bluegrass, old time string band, blues and traditional Appalachian music styles that helped shaped the modern folk sound that was currently so popular. This group, which called themselves Friends Of Old Times Music, included such folk scene luminaries as Ralph Rinzler, Mike Seeger, Jean Ritchie and John Cohen, with concerts co-produced at times with Alan Lomax. They put on a total of 14 concerts between 1961-65, many of them recorded and preserved.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is now set to release a 3 CD set on September 29, which will include 55 tracks from these landmark shows. Entitled Friends Of Old Time Music – the folk arrival, 1961-1965, this new box set features the music of 24 different performers. In addition to live cuts from Maybelle Carter, and Mississippi John Hurt, the CDs include offerings from Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, The Greenbriar Boys, Dock Boggs and the New York debut of Doc Watson.
There is no information about the NYC concerts CD on the Smithsonian Folkways web site as yet, but they are likely to have audio samples up for each track as the release date nears. Their many folk and traditional music recordings are widely available from retailers and online sources, and they have their own download site, Smithsonian Global Sound, where their many releases can be purchased as MP3 or FLAC files.