Folk New England

Folk New England FOLK New England’s mission is to create a dialogue between the history of folk music and the future of folk, through robust collections development, multi-disciplinary education, and engaging entertainment programs for the public.

FOLK New England is a 5-year old non-profit organization based in Massachusetts, not far from Harvard Square where the folk music revival of the 1960s kicked off a cultural revolution. FOLK New England is a living repository of folk music history materials, featuring 50 year-old audio recordings of rare performances and interviews; a photograph collection documenting the past and the active present of folk music; and a growing archive of personal papers, folk journals, and ephemera related to the folk music scene. FOLK New England is also an intimate performance venue for folk and roots musicians from the United States and abroad. FOLK New England prepares and travels curated exhibitions to cultural centers across America. FOLK New England provides area elementary schools with classroom materials and in-class musicians to teach the relationships between folk musicians, their songs, and social issues; the organization’s educational arm also presents salons, lectures, and films, treating audiences to both intelligent discourse and soulful entertainment. FOLK New England has worked in partnership with fellow cultural institutions such as the Cambridge Historical Society, Harvard’s Loeb Music Library, Rounder Records, the Putney School, the American Repertory Theatre, and the Cotuit Center for the Arts. All of FOLK New England’s work has been supported by grants from the Grammy Foundation, ASCAP, the Cambridge Arts Council, and by individual donors and volunteers.

Operating as usual

Arlo has gone fishing.

Arlo has gone fishing.

Gone Fishing

It’s been a great 50+ years of being a working entertainer, but I reached the difficult decision that touring and stage shows are no longer possible. I've cancelled the upcoming shows, and am not accepting offers for new ones. That’s the short version. For the longer version continue reading…

As a folksinger, I never really thought much about getting older. It seemed to me that I could just continue year after year, decade after decade, singing and playing as I had done for most of my life. As the years went by, it got more difficult to keep touring, but I did it, mostly because I’d been doing it my entire life. It was the life I knew and loved.

In 2016 on April 1st, April Fools Day, I got really dizzy in the parking lot of the hotel, and started seeing as though I were looking through a kaleidoscope. That evening the show went on as though nothing had happened. I had no idea I’d just encountered a mini stroke until weeks later, when I was told about it. It didn’t appear to affect my performance, or my state of being. I continued touring for the next 4 years.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day 2019 (of all freaking days) it happened again. This time I was on my way to The Church / The Guthrie Center to help out with our annual Thanksgiving Dinner that we hold every year. I had pulled over to fuel up and realized I couldn’t continue to drive safely, as everything was spinning around, sort of like the old days, but without the help of illegal substances. I was taken to the hospital, and was under evaluation, when I broke out. I had an important gig at Carnegie Hall in New York - The end of an annual series I’d been doing for decades and it was Sold Out. I had to be there. It was imperative.

The next morning I left the hospital, took the family and headed for New York. And what a show it was! We wrapped up 50 years with a terrific evening with the entire family on stage. I really enjoyed it.

The following day I flew to my home in Sebastian, FL just as I had done for years, this time with the history of Carnegie Hall behind me. My girlfriend, Marti picked me up at the airport, and we settled into the routine of being on the river I loved. Two nights after arriving home, I awoke in the morning and was lurching from sIde to side. I knew something was wrong, and went to keep a doctors appointment we’d previously set up. The doc said “You need to go to the hospital - Now.”

So, Marti took me to the hospital nearby in Vero Beach. They kept me there for 3 days, running tests of all kinds, and essentially informed me that I’d suffered a stroke. This time was more serious, as I’d lost some ability to walk, and I wondered if if would be able to play music. I spent about a week in a rehab center to re-learn the basics, like walking. I went home after that, and began a regimen of playing guitar, walking… All the things I would need to continue touring and performing. During the entire time, Marti kept the family and close friends advised as to my progress, and took really great care of me. I needed all the help I could get. And she was there to see it done right.

By the the time our first shows began in 2020, I was at about at 80% and felt like I was improving. Then the pandemic hit. All the shows we had planned for 2020 were at first, postponed, then rescheduled and finally cancelled. My hopes for a gradual recovery onstage came to an abrupt end.

Meanwhile, I’d decided back in 2018 to move from the home in Florida. And just as I’d returned from our last gig in Tennessee, a buyer appeared, and we had a deal on the table to sell The CrabHouse. I wasn’t in any shape to go through the intricacies of selling a guitar pick, let alone a home with 30 years of stuff we’d collected. Marti ended up doing it all. She finalized the deal, and dealt with the stuff that either had to be sold, moved or thrown out. It was quite a lot. But, through garage sales, online markets, movers and friends, she’d pretty much emptied the CrabHouse of everything, and we moved into her place about a mile away.

We were there for a few weeks, before it was safe enough to return to The Farm in Massachusetts. That was in June 2020. Since then we’ve been holed up at The Farm trying to keep out of harms way, and also trying to provide some online entertainment for our friends who were, and continue to be, holed up wherever they are. My band and crew arranged a few short gigs that were filmed at The Church, but when I saw the play-back in the editing room I realized that it was not up to the standards I expected of myself, let alone the expectations that our friends and fans had come to enjoy.

A folksinger’s shelf life may be a lot longer than a dancer or an athlete, but at some point, unless you’re incredibly fortunate or just plain whacko (either one or both) it’s time to hang up the “Gone Fishing” sign. Going from town to town and doing stage shows, remaining on the road is no longer an option.

I don’t remember answering the question on the other side of that piece of paper when I was asked “Kid! Have you rehabilitated yourself?” But, the short answer is now clearly, “No!” In fact, I hope to be a thorn in the side of a new administration pretty soon. Tom Paine once wrote “To argue with a man who has renounced the use … of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead….” In other words, you cannot and should not argue with people who don’t care, or hold the caring of others in contempt. A healthy suspicion of authority, left, right or center has been the hallmark of my career since the beginning, and I will continue to poke fun at cultural, political, or personal absurdities as I see it. I’m actually looking forward to it.

I’m happy, healthy and good to go, even if I’m not going anywhere. I’ve taken back 6-9 months that I used to spend on the road, and enjoying myself with Marti, my family and friends. In short - Gone Fishing.

Here’s Joni Mitchell her then new song “Coyote”. If that weren’t special enough, she’s accompanied by Bob Dylan and Roge...
Monday Morning Video - Joni, Bob, and Roger

Here’s Joni Mitchell her then new song “Coyote”. If that weren’t special enough, she’s accompanied by Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn while sitting in Gordon Lightfoot’s house.

It's amazing what you can find stumbling around online video archives. Here's Joni Mitchell her then new song "Coyote". If that weren't special enough, she's accompanied by Bob Dylan and Roger McGu

What's your favorite Bob Dylan cover?
THROUGH THE LENS: The 22 Best Bob Dylan Covers By Roots Artists

What's your favorite Bob Dylan cover?

There are, it seems, only two ages: Before Dylan and After Dylan. As we approach the 60th anniversary of the fateful 1961 winter day when Bob Dylan arrived in New York, it’s significant to note that no single songwriter has had their songs covered more than Bob Dylan. Covering his songs is a rite ...

Out today, support your local bookstore.

Out today, support your local bookstore.

Folk New England's cover photo

Folk New England's cover photo

Long Ago Way

A 2003 documentary about a leaf of Bob Dylan's unpublished writings. Directed by James O'Brien.
Read more about other writings by Dylan at

A documentary about a leaf of Bob Dylan's unpublished writings. Directed by James O'Brien. Read more about other writings by Dylan at

Jim Rooney

Jim Rooney

My friend the great photographer Jim McGuire unearthed this Polaroid he took of Jack "Cowboy" Clement and myself around the time I was recording "My Own Ignorant Way" with Rooney's Irregulars at the Cowboy Arms Hotel & Recording Spa where I spent a large chunk of my life recording and producing. A day does not go by without my being full of gratitude for Cowboy's friendship and all he taught me about playing rhythm guitar, listening, being on time, keeping time, having fun and working hard. We loved each other as we were. This photo captures that. Thanks, McGuire.

Joan Baez

Joan Baez

8/17/20 - SOLD OUT! Thank you!

After country folk icon John Prine died of complications from the coronavirus, which has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, Joan decided to honor his memory with a portrait of him she titled, appropriately enough, “Hello In There.” Inspired by a 1970s photograph by Tom Hill, she painted a young John Prine – all walrus mustache and long, dark, tousled hair -- as he looked at the beginning of his multiple-Grammy-winning career.

With the blessing of Prine’s widow, Fiona Whelan Prine, sales of one hundred 20” x 16” archival pigment prints of the portrait – priced at $500 and personally signed and numbered by Joan -- will benefit the Pandemic Resource & Response Initiative at Columbia University, a nonprofit directed by Joan’s longtime friend Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and public health activist specializing in health care for underserved children.

“While we are understandably consumed with the daily, seemingly unstoppable firehouse of news about the most dangerous pandemic in a century, little attention has been paid to the long-term impact of this crisis on the world’s most vulnerable children,” Redlener wrote in a Washington Post editorial. After her husband’s death and her own recovery from a bout with Covid-19, Fiona Prine urged Tennessee lawmakers to expand absentee voting so people wouldn’t have to put their health at risk to exercise their right to vote. “I do not wish this pain and trauma on any other American family,” she said.

While Joan was painting the portrait, she listened to Prine’s original recording of that song along with “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone” and many other classic tunes that made him one of the most influential songwriters of his generation.

“I know Fiona (Prine) is happy with the portrait,” Joan says, “and I think John would be happy with it, too.”

Kari Estrin of Black Sheep gives Free Webinar on Surviving Self Employment Thursday at 3 pm EDTWe thought our Folk New E...

Kari Estrin of Black Sheep gives Free Webinar on Surviving Self Employment Thursday at 3 pm EDT

We thought our Folk New England audience would be interested in Kari’s webinar. Kari published the Black Sheep Review and was the first person to produce a folk series at Sanders Theatre with Black Sheep Concerts in the 1980s. We are working with Kari on her 40th Anniversary of Black Sheep and will have more details soon to connect us all. Meanwhile, catch up with what Kari is doing now with this FREE seminar. Registration link in announcement below…

FREE Webinar: Surviving Self-Employment: Fitting the Pieces Together w/ Kari Estrin Thursday June 25th at 3pm EST
Hosted by the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance

As artists it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the business and become overwhelmed. Now with touring suspended and gig uncertainty, how can one use this unique situation partly to your advantage? In addition, explore what artists can do in this time to get your musical “house in order” while still staying ahead. In this both motivational and practical workshop learn ways to tame those deadly to do lists, deal with lack of focus and work on what matters, how your home office set-up affects productivity, and how to become more efficient without burn out. We’ll look at some ways artists are using this time to grow their fan base, make some money and more. Let’s make your business journey easier, so that you are playing/creating more music and using your time doing business more strategically!

Please register for Surviving Self-Employment: Fitting the pieces together

Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind
Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind

Bob Dylan Has a Lot on His Mind

In a rare interview, the Nobel Prize winner discusses mortality, drawing inspiration from the past, and his new album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways.”

Happy Birthday Bob DylanPhoto: Rowland Scherman

Happy Birthday Bob Dylan
Photo: Rowland Scherman

A note from Folk New England's Chair, Tom Curren"I'm writing with sad news of the passing of another good and true frien...

A note from Folk New England's Chair, Tom Curren

"I'm writing with sad news of the passing of another good and true friend. Rob Cox, director of Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts, died last week after fighting cancer for nearly a year. Rob's crowning achievement last summer was the acquisition of the original Pentagon Papers, which he shepherded into an archive that was anchored by the personal papers of W.E.B. Dubois and the work of hundreds of other distinguished visionaries and artists. We met Rob only after a disheartening two-year search for a permanent professional archival home for the Broadside legacy and the collections of Folk New England. In contrast to previous responses, Rob's reaction to our proposal was neither haughty nor clueless...he heard me out, and just smiled and said "Let's do it!" What followed was about three years of writing up details, and then schlepping boxes, tapes, books, photographs (and even a book of matches from the Club 47) to the loading dock after we'd vetted each piece over the phone and catalogued them by e-mail before nominating them for addition to the permanent archives. Rob was the perfect combination of enthusiasm when learning of solid acquisitions ("fantastic!") and professionalism when it came to declining superfluous, duplicate, or off-target material ("uh....maybe not..."). He was, above all, a total team player; one of my favorite memories is of the night we honored Betsy Siggins, David Wilson, Eric von Schmidt, Bill Keith, Jim Rooney, and Byron Linardos at the Old Chapel at UMass, and one of my great regrets is that our scheduled March 13, 2020 concert honoring Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, and Dayle Stanley had to be cancelled due to the virus. We've all "seen better days, but were puttin' up with these;" and can console ourselves in the thought that the New England Folk Revival now has a permanent, professionall curated home of its own in its native territory, in the Broadside and Folk New England archives at UMass. We will convene again and lift a glass in Rob's honor as soon as we can."

John Prine dances off stage

RIP John Prine

John Prine says goodnight to Webster Hall as “Lake Marie” winds down. June 23rd, 2019


191 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA


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Sunday at 4pm! Join us for Squirrel Butter in Concert: A Revels Facebook Live Event. They brought down the house in the Christmas Revels. Enjoy them live in concert on Sunday! #StayHomeStaySafe #MusicConnects #RevelsConnects
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT AUDIO ‘(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle’ (Hank Williams/Jimmie Davis) ‘Fixin’ to Die’ (Bukka White) ‘Smokestack Lighning’ (Howlin’ Wolf) ‘Hard Travelin” (Woody Guthrie) ‘The Death of Emmett Till’ (Bob Dylan) ‘Standing on the Highway’ (Bob Dylan) ‘Roll on John’ (Rufus Crisp) ‘Stealin” (traditional) ‘It Makes a Long Time Man Feel Bad’ (traditional) ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ (Big Joe Williams) ‘Hard Times in New York Town’ (Bob Dylan) /
When and where is Betsy being honored??
Revels is pleased to partner with Cambridge Forum on this special program with Old-Time musicians Jake Blount and Libby Weitnauer of Tui, next Wednesday, Nov. 6. Learn about the history and roots of Appalachian music at this free event!
Cambridge scene is still breathing!
....Or is it because you remind me of something that used to be Something that's crossed over from another century?” .... - Bob Dylan (Something There Is About You) at Gerde's Folk City 1961
Thanking talented musician Kim Moberg for helping us celebrate our exhibit at the reception at the Freepoint Hotel in Cambridge last eve.
BRYAN SUTTON: “I wanted to make a career in music. There was never a ‘Plan B’.” Interesting in-depth and quite personal interview just published with this 10 time IBMA Guitar Player of The Year award winner. He talks about his 1st touring gig with Ricky Skaggs in front of 5,000 people & his second with Bela Fleck in front of 10,000 people - yikes! Critical family influences… dealing with undeserving feelings… getting out of his own way, and more. This is a rare, extremely candid, and very personal glimpse into the life of one of the greatest acoustic guitar players of modern times, at
anyway i could get a copy of the club 47 post! thanks!
John Prine, from Greg Kot's terrific profile in the April 20 Chicago Tribune, in advance of Prine's Chicago Theater concert on April 27: "I still miss smoking to this day. If someone fires up outside a restaurant, I step over to get that initial blast. I thought, if I put this in a song, where can I smoke? And the answer is heaven. No cancer there, no no-smoking signs.”