The U of A’s Deep Roots in Folk Music Culture – curious arts

At the Edmonton Folk Music Festival last weekend, the U of A’s Sound Studies Initiative hosted a fantastic workshop titled “Tribute to Folkways Records.” However, you might have found yourself wondering, why celebrate Folkways Records at the Folk Fest?

Moses Asch Founded Folkways Records in the late 1940’s with a single intention: to record everything considered sound and give a voice to people, groups and genres not normally heard. Overtime Folkways Records accumulated a large collection of recordings formally known as The Moses and Frances Asch Collection. When the U of A received the Moses and Frances Asch Collection almost 40 years later, they also acquired the responsibility of sharing Moses’ philosophy.

Dana Wylie, who introduced the collection this weekend, explained it’s important to let people know such an important collection is currently located in Edmonton. Folk music continues to draw inspiration from the Moses and Frances Asch Collection – so promoting this resource at the Folk Fest seemed to make perfect sense. It was amazing when these records were gifted to the U of A in the late 1980’s because there was no internet: the contents could only be accessed by owning the collection. Today, even though, the information is more readily available through online databases this collection still connects the U of A and Sound Studies to folk music culture.

The four performances chosen for Saturday’s workshop were Anais Mitchell, Martyn Joseph, Mary Gauthier and the Unthanks; all extremely talented musicians and storytellers! These artists were chosen because of their ties to the Moses and Frances Asch Collection. However, Dana revealed any performer chosen from the Folk Fest roster would have had connections to these overtly influential records, whether they knew it or not!

By participating in the Folk Festival, Sound Studies aims to honour the philosophy of Moses Asch, while gaining recognition for Edmonton and the U of A’s amazing connection to the culture of folk music.

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