FolkWorld #76 11/2021
© Smithsonian Folkways

Across the Western Ocean

Larry Hanks and Roger Perkins- "Oh Had I a Golden Thread" [Official Audio]

The Village Out West

The Village Out West
Hank Bradley | Rick Shubb | Larry Hanks | Roger Perkins | Ron Hughey | Frank Hicks | Pete Everwine | LaWanda Ultan | The Sweet’s Mill Mountain Boys | Kenny Hall | Merritt Herring | Doc Watson | Mississippi Fred McDowell | Dr. Humbead’s New Tranquility String Band | Kathy & Carol | Jerry Houck | Tom Ninkovich | Jim Ringer | Ron Tinkler | The Sweets Mill Mountain Boys | Rev. Gary Davis | Gene Bluestein | Kilby Snow | Don Rollins (aka Abel Fortune) | Mark Spoelstra | Sandy and Caroline Paton | Dad Crockett | Ed Trickett | Sandy and Jeanie Darlington | Allan MacLeod | The New Lost City Ramblers | Roger Renwick | Kathy Larisch | Carol McComb | Will Spires

Artist Audio Various Artists "The Village Out West - The Lost Tapes of Alan Oakes: Field Recordings of the 1960s California Folk Music Scene", Smithsonian Folkways, 2021

Smithsonian Folkways is proud to announce the release of The Village Out West: The Lost Tapes of Alan Oakes. This expansive new collection of music challenges the historical preconception that New York’s Greenwich Village was the sole epicenter of folk music in the 1960s, and brings to life the nearly forgotten but equally vibrant contemporaneous scene emerging in Northern and Central California.

In this compilation are never-before-heard live performances by Doc Watson, Fred McDowell, Rev. Gary Davis, the New Lost City Ramblers, and Kilby Snow, alongside then-local and up-and-coming musicians Mark Spoelstra, Larry Hanks, Kenny Hall, Jim Ringer, and Hank Bradley, among many others. All the recordings—from fabled festivals like the Berkeley Folk Music Festival and the Jabberwock, clubs like The Cabale and the Blind Lemon, and innumerable house concerts, workshops, and impromptu interviews—were lovingly and expertly recorded on over 60 open reel tapes by forgotten autodidact documentarian Alan Oakes between 1960 and 1975.

Oakes, the self-appointed sonic Boswell of the California folk music world of the 1960s, was born in Fresno, California, in 1940. His tapes offer listeners a ringside seat at the early and enthusiastic days of musical rediscovery in California. These tapes reveal not only a destination for some of the greatest traditional musicians in America, but also the fecund breeding ground for many of their successors, themselves critical carriers of American vernacular music.

That this remarkable and unique collection survived at all is due to a chance reuniting of Alan and Marnie Oakes with project co-producer Deborah Robins and Larry Hanks several years ago. A subsequent phone call to Robins from Mrs. Oakes telling her about her husband’s death in 2019—and her plans to throw out his heretofore unknown audio archives—jolted Robins into both guaranteeing the collection’s proper preservation and long-term suitable housing and the creation of this new collection. Smithsonian Folkways, which promises that titles will be kept in print in perpetuity and houses other legendary recordings by many of the artists featured on the collection, was the natural fit to release the material.

Co-produced by Deborah Robins, Henry H. Sapoznik, and Jeff Place, the 80-page accompanying booklet contains essays by Robins, Sapoznik, and Hank Bradley plus extensive notes on the biographies of the performers, song histories, and numerous historic period photos and graphics.

Jerry Houck by Barry Olivier
Rev. Gary Davis January 18, 1964 by Robert R. Krones
Mark Spoelstra by Steven Marcus
Sandy (guitar) and Caroline Paton

Fred McDowell at Berkeley Folk Music Festival Jubilee Concert, Greek Theatre
Carol McComb (guitar) and Kathy Larisch
New Lost City Ramblers (Tracy Scwarz, Mike Seeger, John Cohen)
Doc Watson at UCLA Folk Music Festival, March 25-29, 1964 by Kelly Hart

Photo Credits: (1) The Village Out West - The Lost Tapes of Alan Oakes: Field Recordings of the 1960s California Folk Music Scene, (2) Jerry Houck, (3) Rev. Gary Davis, (4) Mark Spoelstra, (5) Sandy & Caroline Paton, (6) Fred McDowell, (7) Kathy & Carol, (8) New Lost City Ramblers, (9) Doc Watson (unknown/Smithsonian Folkways).

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