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VARIOUS ARTISTS 'Friends Of Old Time Music-The Folk Arrival 1961-1965'

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One of my most vivid and pleasant musical memories is having a front row seat for a December 1963 concert that featured both Dock Boggs and Mississippi John Hurt. The idea that one could see & hear both these legendary giants of rural American music in New York City --just a 5-minute walk from my apartment --is still mind-boggling. And, like the other musicians that the Friends of Old Time Music presented in the early 1960s, these artists were not on their last legs, but were still in full command of their skills and a joy to hear. The "Friends" --a non-profit organization started by John Cohen, Israel Young (of the Folklore Center) and the late Ralph Rinzler --put on 14 shows between 1961-1965 at various locations in downtown New York. The list of artists is truly impressive: Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Elizabeth Cotton, Roscoe Holcomb, The Stanley Brothers, Maybelle Carter, Clarence Ashley, Hobart Smith, Gus Cannon, Fred McDowell, Sam & Kirk McGee and Fiddlin' Arthur Smith among others. As befits this 55-track collection, the presentation of this set is equally fine, mostly the work of Peter Siegel, who recorded most of the concerts and has now selected the tracks and written a fine set of notes for the 56-page booklet (with good side articles by John Cohen and Jody Stecher). Many excellent photos also grace the project, which comes in a nice 6" x 12" box. The short-lived organization introduced many young New Yorkers to authentic rural music --if you were there at that time, you will certainly want to have this set. Even if you were not there, there's plenty of wonderful music here by great artists, well recorded and beautifully presented.

-Dave Freeman