…with the formation of Folkways Records I started the more intense catalog of protest songs, workers songs, protest poetry, documentation, etcetera.

Moses Asch

People and Places

Just as Folkways Records gave a voice to ordinary people, the covers functioned to make visible the invisible and to represent the underrepresented. Many of the covers may be seen as a photographic portrait gallery, visually commemorating, documenting, and indeed making visible the musicians, communities, and locales heard on the recordings.

 
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Dock Boggs

FW02351
1964
A. Doyle Moore
Unknown
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Pretty Polly — Dock Boggs

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The cover image is a formally arranged photograph of legendary old-time singer and banjo player, Dock Boggs. As a young man Boggs was able to earn enough as a musician to quit work in the coalmines but returned to the mines during the hard times of the Depression. In the 1960s, musician and traditional music scholar, Mike Seeger, sought out Boggs and introduced him to appreciative urban audiences, leading to this and other recordings.

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When Kentucky Had No Union Men image1When Kentucky Had No Union Men image2When Kentucky Had No Union Men image3
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When Kentucky Had No Union Men

FW02343
1967
John Cohen
John Cohen
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Sixteen Tons — George Davis

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George Davis, "the Singing Miner of Hazard, Kentucky," went to work for the Crawford Coal Company in 1920 at the age of fourteen. He took up the guitar in 1933, when the mines were first being organized by the United Mine Workers Union and wrote countless songs about mining life including "Sixteen Tons," popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

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Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties image1Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties image2Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties image3
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Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties

FW04052
1961
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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The Chapeau Boys — O. J. Abbott

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The lumbering songs on this album, collected in 1958 by renowned Canadian folklorist Edith Fowke, represent over a century of songs sung in lumber camps and shanties in Canada and the United States. The ballads recount tales of tragic accidents and sudden death. The photograph on the cover provides a glimpse into the all male society of the lumber camp.

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Selk'nam Chants of Tierra del Fuego

FW04176
1972
Ronald Clyne
Anne Chapman
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Shaman Chant No. 4 — Lola Kiepja

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The cover presents a memorable close-up photograph of Lola Kiepja taken by the album's producer, ethnologist Anne Chapman. According to Chapman, Lola Kiepja was the last person to speak the language of her people.

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The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro image1The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro image2The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro image3
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The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro

FW05527
1975
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Frederick Douglass' Oration Delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, July 5,1852 (Continued) - Ossie David — Ossie Davis

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The Doukhobors of British Columbia image1The Doukhobors of British Columbia image2The Doukhobors of British Columbia image3
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The Doukhobors of British Columbia

FW08972
1962
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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O Mountain of Holy Zion (Psalm) — n/a

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The Doukhobors or "Spirit Wrestlers," a religious community originally from Russia, established agricultural communities and small-scale industries in British Columbia in the 1920s. During the war years, they were persecuted and even jailed for their pacifist beliefs, and, in the 1950s, Doukhobor children were taken from their families and forced to attend schools run by the province. The cover photograph is of members of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors of Shoreacres, British Columbia.

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When I was a Boy in Brooklyn

FW03501
1961
Ronald Clyne
David Gahr
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Autograph Books — Israel Kaplan

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An unabashed reconstruction of a piece of American life that disappeared between the wars, this recording presents the boyhood experiences of Israel Caplan: "The asphalt and the cobblestone pavements of Brooklyn spawned a resilient and self-contained comitatus that was able to perform that strangest of all human duties--entertaining itself" (liner notes).

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Get on Board

FW32028
1952, 1980
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Raise a Ruckus Tonight — Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Coyal McMahan

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Bridge, Houses and Train. Philipsburg, New Jersey, 1935

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Traditional Folk Songs of Japan

FW04534
1966
Unknown
Unknown
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Soran Bushi — Group of Japanese men and women

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The Country Gentlemen on the Road

FW02411
1962
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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The Sunny Side of Life — Country Gentlemen

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Dixieland Jazz in the Forties

FW02853
1978
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Red Hot Mama — The Muggsy Spanier Group

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Main Street Architecture, Selma, Alabama, 1935. This photograph by Walker Evans is one among many by this important photographer to be featured on Folkways covers. Always concerned with people and their environments, Evans records with clarity and dignity, main street architecture from the southern town of Selma, Alabama.

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Music of Guatemala image1Music of Guatemala image2Music of Guatemala image3
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Music of Guatemala

FW04212
1969
Ronald Clyne
Jacques Jangoux
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Spanish Children's Song — Juan Ramirez

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The McIntosh County Shouters

FW04344
1984
Ronald Clyne
Margo Newmark Rosenbaum
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I Want to Die Weepin' Mary — The McIntosh County Shouters

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The shout, the oldest African American performance tradition still extant in North America, is an "impressive fusion of call and response singing, percussive rhythm, and expressive and formalized dance-like movement, affirming group cohesiveness and Christian belief, [which] has survived in continuous practice since slavery times" in McIntosh County, on the coast of Georgia (liner notes). The cover photograph of the group's lead singers, Lawrence McKiver and Doretha Skipper, was taken in 1983.

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Songs of the West image1Songs of the West image2Songs of the West image3
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Songs of the West

FW05259
1961
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Frenchman's Ranch — Dave Fredrickson

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The photograph of men in cowboy hats, sitting around a campfire playing musical instruments, captures both the spareness and the camaraderie of life on the range. This image stands in stark contrast to that of the slick "singing cowboy" of early television Westerns.

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Songs from Cape Breton Island image1Songs from Cape Breton Island image2Songs from Cape Breton Island image3
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Songs from Cape Breton Island

FW04450
1955
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Moladh Na Lanndaidh (In Praise of Islay) — Tom Angus MacDonald

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New York 19

FW05558
1955
Unknown
Unknown
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Street Musicians / Times Square Accordionist / Carnegie Hall Fiddler (medley) — Tony Schwartz

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The number "19" in the title refers to the postal district area where Tony Schwartz lived (New York 19, NY) and where all of the sounds and voices on the album were recorded. The cover image shows the neighbourhood framed by the rails of the balcony at the bottom and the microphone on the right, alluding implicitly to Schwartz himself as well as to the recording process.

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Music of the Ukraine image1Music of the Ukraine image2Music of the Ukraine image3
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Music of the Ukraine

FW04443
1959
Ronald Clyne
Sovfoto
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Hutsulka and Kozachok (Dances)

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Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon

FW02386
1962
Ronald Clyne
David Gahr
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Misery Falls Like Rain — Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon

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The photographers whose works are represented on the covers reflect the diversity of the Folkways collection as a whole. They range from the well-established early work of the professional New York photographer Walker Evans to David Gahr's groundbreaking photographs of the folk music scene of the 1960s; from the sensitive and wide-ranging works of ethnographer and musician John Cohen to those of preeminent Chicago blues and jazz photographer Raeburn Flerlage. Many other covers make use of photographs taken by non-professional, often unnamed, photographers – field ethnographers, family members, or others close to the musicians in the pictures.

 
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Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs image1Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs image2Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs image3
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Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs

FW02328
1962
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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This Train — Big Bill Broonzy

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Early blues giant Big Bill Broonzy was one of Moe Asch's favourite singers. The cover photograph strikes a contemplative mood with its cropped image of Broonzy's face filling the entire cover. The highlighted facial features gain a sculptural, immortal quality, which reinforces the musician's stature.

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Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 1: Ballads image1Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 1: Ballads image2Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 1: Ballads image3
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Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 1: Ballads

FW02951
1967
Ronald Clyne
Ben Shahn
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Down on Penny's Farm — The Bently Boys

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Old Love Songs & Ballads image1Old Love Songs & Ballads image2Old Love Songs & Ballads image3
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Old Love Songs & Ballads

FW02309
1964
John Cohen
John Cohen
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Mathie Groves — Dillard Chandler

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John Cohen's remarkable cover photograph of Berzilla Wallin and Dillard Chandler places the viewer right next to the couple without intruding on their privacy. Well known as a musician and member of the New Lost City Ramblers, Cohen is also a noted documentary filmmaker and photographer.

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The Women Blues of Champion Jack Dupree image1The Women Blues of Champion Jack Dupree image2The Women Blues of Champion Jack Dupree image3
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The Women Blues of Champion Jack Dupree

FW03825
1968
Ronald Clyne
David Gahr
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Jail House — Champion Jack Dupree

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The cover photograph by David Gahr is as intimate and sensual as a French Impressionist painting, capturing the mood of the New Orleans blues period of Champion Jack Dupree. The album is cast as "a song saga--in a setting of boogie woogie from slow blues to surging stomps" and unified thematically: "The theme is woman. Or women. Bad women and good women. Hard times, hooch, hot hands and hot music. Slow songs and sad lines" (liner notes).

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Poor Boy image1Poor Boy image2Poor Boy image3
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Poor Boy

FW31010
1968
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Poor Boy — Woody Guthrie

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Railroad Station, Edwards, Mississippi, 1936

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Folk Songs and Instrumentals with Guitar image1Folk Songs and Instrumentals with Guitar image2Folk Songs and Instrumentals with Guitar image3
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Folk Songs and Instrumentals with Guitar

FW03526
1958
Ronald Clyne
John Cohen
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Freight Train — Elizabeth Cotten

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Elizabeth Cotten wrote the classic song "Freight Train" when she was a child. As the photograph shows and Mike Seeger's liner notes explain, "Elizabeth Cotten picks the regular guitar and banjo upside down, or left-handed, using country ragtime style...and a banjo strum" on both instruments and "the first string as thumb string."

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The Village Fugs

FW05304
1965
Ronald Clyne
David Gahr
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Slum Goddess — The Fugs

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The Fugs represent a bridge between the Beats of Ginsberg and Kerouac and the Yippies of the late-1960s anti-war movement. They were musicians, poets, actors, activists, and avant-garde fixtures of the 60s urban scene, especially in New York. This album includes songs with lyrics from poems by Blake and Swinburne and the famous "Nothing."

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Folk Music of Hungary

FW04000
1950, 1961
Ronald Clyne
Bela Bartok
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Where Have You Been Siskin, This Night — Female Hungarian Singer

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Mississippi's Big Joe Williams

FW03820
1962
Ronald Clyne
Raeburn Flerlage
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She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain — Big Joe Williams

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Eminent Chicago photographer Raeburn Flerlage took this intimate portrait of Big Joe Williams. Flerlage began his career documenting the greats of jazz and blues when Moe Asch asked him to take photographs of Memphis Slim for a Folkways cover. His ability to hone in on the musician in this personal and evocative way is emblematic of his work and reflects his deep connection to the music and the musicians. His portraits and performance photographs create an invaluable document of the Chicago music scene of the 1960s and early 1970s.

 
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Cisco Houston: Songs of the Open Road image1Cisco Houston: Songs of the Open Road image2Cisco Houston: Songs of the Open Road image3
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Cisco Houston: Songs of the Open Road

FW02480
1964
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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I Ain't Got No Home in This World Anymore — Cisco Houston

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Duke Ellington and His Orchestra image1Duke Ellington and His Orchestra image2Duke Ellington and His Orchestra image3
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Duke Ellington and His Orchestra

FW02968
1983
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Take the 'A' Train — Duke Ellington

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Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 3 image1Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 3 image2Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 3 image3
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Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 3

FW02953
1966
Ronald Clyne
Ben Shahn
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The Coo Coo Bird — Clarence Ashley

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Adventures in Rhythm image1Adventures in Rhythm image2Adventures in Rhythm image3
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Adventures in Rhythm

FW07682
1982
Irwin Rosenhouse
Jo Banks
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Hambone — Ella Jenkins

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Chicago Blues

FW03536
1961
Interdesign
Raeburn Flerlage
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46th Street Boogie (Fast Boogie) — Memphis Slim

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The Making of Americans image1The Making of Americans image2The Making of Americans image3
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The Making of Americans

FW09742
1963
Ronald Clyne
Richard Banks
Carl Van Vechten
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The Making of Americans — Marian Seldes

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David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman image1David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman image2David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman image3
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David "Honeyboy" Edwards: Mississippi Delta Bluesman

FW03539
1979
Ronald Clyne
Anton J. Mikofsky
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Catfish Blues — David "Honeyboy" Edwards

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Been in the Storm so Long image1Been in the Storm so Long image2Been in the Storm so Long image3
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Been in the Storm so Long

FW03842
1967
Ronald Clyne
Robert Yellin
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Been In the Storm So Long — The Moving Star Hall Singers

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Folk Music USA, Vol. 1 image1Folk Music USA, Vol. 1 image2Folk Music USA, Vol. 1 image3
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Folk Music USA, Vol. 1

FW04530
1958
Ronald Clyne
Collection of the Library of Congress
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Allons Danser Colinda: Cajun Da — Roy Brule

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Millions of Musicians image1Millions of Musicians image2Millions of Musicians image3
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Millions of Musicians

FW05560
1954
Unknown
Joseph Carpini
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Country Auctioneers — Tony Schwartz

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Carpini's print is a close-up rendering of the face and hand of a man in a cap that evokes the notion of "everyman," underlining the intent of producer Tony Schwarz to document everyday people's everyday sonic expressions.

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Woody Guthrie image1Woody Guthrie image2Woody Guthrie image3
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Woody Guthrie

FW02483
1962
Ronald Clyne
Sid Grossman
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Hard Traveling — Woody Guthrie

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Sing Out! Hootenanny

FW02513
1963
Unknown
Unknown
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All I Want is Union — Pete Seeger

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The cover presents two of the most familiar scenes of the folk music revival of the 1960s. The top photograph shows an evening crowd gathering outside of Carnegie Hall, where Pete Seeger performed annually for years. The bottom photograph shows a crowd, likely attending an outdoor folk festival, intent on the performance despite the rain.

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Jazz Violins of the Forties image1Jazz Violins of the Forties image2Jazz Violins of the Forties image3
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Jazz Violins of the Forties

FW02854
1981
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Desert Sands — The Stuff Smith Trio

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New York City, 1934

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Charles Ives, Vol. 2 image1Charles Ives, Vol. 2 image2Charles Ives, Vol. 2 image3
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Charles Ives, Vol. 2

FW03347
1965
Ronald Clyne
Ann Charters
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Sonata No. 4: "Children's Day at the Camp Meeting": Allegro — Paul Zukofsky and Gilbert Kalish

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Folksongs and Dances of the Netherlands image1Folksongs and Dances of the Netherlands image2Folksongs and Dances of the Netherlands image3
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Folksongs and Dances of the Netherlands

FW04036
1963
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Riepe Garste — A group of peasants from Gorssel (Gelderland)

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Folk Music of France image1Folk Music of France image2Folk Music of France image3
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Folk Music of France

FW04414
1951
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Mon Père M'a Douné un Mari — Mixed singers from Vendée

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Songs and Pipes of the Hebrides image1Songs and Pipes of the Hebrides image2Songs and Pipes of the Hebrides image3
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Songs and Pipes of the Hebrides

FW04430
1952, 1961
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Hebrides Bagpipes

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Songs and Ballads of Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Manitoba image1Songs and Ballads of Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Manitoba image2Songs and Ballads of Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Manitoba image3
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Songs and Ballads of Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Manitoba

FW08764
1960
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Red Deere River Waltz — Marvin Loewen

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They All Played the Tiger Rag image1They All Played the Tiger Rag image2
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They All Played the Tiger Rag

FWRBF48
1983
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Tiger Rag — Jelly Roll Morton

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42nd Street, New York City, 1929

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Swingin Piano 1920-1946 image1Swingin Piano 1920-1946 image2
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Swingin' Piano 1920-1946

FW0RF46
1983
Ronald Clyne
Walker Evans
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Ma — Eubie Blake

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New Orleans, 1935

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Songs of French-Canada

FW06918
1960
Ronald Clyne
Unknown
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Au Près de Ma Blonde — Hélène Baillargeon and Alan Mills

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Well-known folk singers Alan Mills and Helene Baillargeon did much to disseminate Canadian folk songs in both French and English. The bilingual cover presents a traditional Quebec village of wooden houses lit up by the horizontal light of the northern sun. The musical piece de resistance on the album is a rare bilingual folk song, entitled "I Went to the Market," which gives equal time to both official languages.