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In 1932 Florence Reece, the wife of a Kentucky coal miner, wrote one of the classic topical songs preserved in the folk musical revival. The song, "Which Side Are You On?," contrasts the lot of the working class and the bosses, and asks the listener to choose. This politically charged song was performed again during the Civil Rights Movement, with its lyrics appropriate to the 1960s. It was recorded more recently by Billy Bragg. Indeed, the story of this song might serve as a microcosm of the entire history of the folk music revival. Dick Weissman, former member of the Journeymen and a musician still releasing CDs of his original compositions, brings his personal and professional involvement to this definitive history. Which Side Are You On? includes chapters and sections on the Lomaxes, Harry Smith, the little known Lawrence Gellert, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, groups such as the Weavers and the Kingston Trio, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Natalie Merchant, Ani Difranco, Bela Fleck, Nickel Creek, the Indigo Girls, and many others. Which Side Are You On? also explores the folk music business in depth: how it all works, where the power really lies, how the artists have been manipulated and often exploited, the dynamic between artist and audience. Though he writes as a historian, Weissman also has seen it all from the inside, and includes anecdotes that are both funny and poignant: My friend and guitarist-singer Artie Traum took care of one of two houses that Bob Dylan owned in Woodstock, some thirty five years ago. The house had thirty seven rooms! Artie was instructed not to give out Dylan's phone number to any caller. The first caller was Joan Baez, and Artie followed instructions, calling Dylan at the other house to relay the call. During Artie's house-sitting chores, I visited him. He took me on a brief tour of the house. In one room were sacks of mail. We randomly opened a half-dozen letters. The one that I remember was by a female fan in North Dakota. She had been to a Dylan concert and reminded him that they had met. There was something touching though pathetic about the letter.
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Dick Weissman is a musician and writer. His book The Music Business: Career Opportunities and Self-Defense, now in its fifth edition, has sold 100,000 copies. The Folk Music Sourcebook, which Weissman co-authored, won the Deems Taylor ASCAP Music Critics Award. His most recent book is Which Side Are You On? An Inside History of the Folk Music Revival in America. Dick Weissman lives in Portland, OR.Review:
“The inside scoop! Dick Weissman is a folk music insider with plenty to say about commercialization, self-serving scholars, and authentic musicians. His observations ring true and have the potential to shake things up. Weissman covers territory from Leadbelly to Dylan and beyond. This book is an eye-opener.” (Artie Traum)
"Folk enthusiasts will appreciate this nearly one-stop shop of American folk history" - Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
"Folk enthusiasts will appreciate this nearlyone-stop shop of American folk history." (Publishers Weekly)
"From pop artists tothe re-emergence of female blues singers, WhichSide Are You On? An Inside History Of The Folk Music Revival In America isnot to be missed by any serious about American popular music history." — The Bookwatch, December 2005 (Bookwatch)
"Which Side Are YouOn? spans America's interest in folk music, from the days of the early folksong collectors through Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, the KingstonTrio, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell to such contemporaryartists as Ani DiFranco, Nickel Creek, and Ry Cooder. Author Weissman knowswhereof he speaks on folk music, having lived the life." — MMR, February 2006 (MMR)
"Which Side Are YouOn?: An Inside History of the Folk Music Revival in America by PFS BoardMember, banjo master and long-time folkie Dick Weissman is a personal look atthe history of folk music in America with special emphasis on 'the Great FolkScare' of the 1960's. Dick doesn't start and end there, however; he providessome historical framework of early folklorists and song collectors and earlyfolk songs of protest and how they underlay and influenced the 60's folk musicrevival in the earliest chapters, and winds up with a brief look at folk musicand musicians from the post-'60s to the present day. On the way, however, heoffers a deep exploration of the New York folk scene and parallel scenes inPhiladelphia, the Boston/Cambridge area, Denver, Chicago (with a side trip intothe Chicago blues scene) and the larger Caliifornia folk scenes of the LosAngeles basin and the San Francisco Bay area. He also comments briefly on othercenters of folk music actively around the US. I found Which Side Are YouOn? Very interesting, and well worth the cover price." -Portland Folk Music Society Journal
"In Weissman's book arriving at the same time as the PBSshow on Bob Dylan combined with his unfaltering look at the state of music,makes this solid reading for those involved in the presentation of music in anyform. Weissman a player, composer, instructor, writer of books on the businessof music, and participator in folk organizations brings a unique perspective tothe lives, conflicts, barriers, community, and attitudes of musicians. This isfascinating reading and will give insight to the pitfalls of musicians fromnon-playing festivals to clubs musicians endure like a sleazy restaurant'smusician scam in Portland. He writes about the sell outs, the ambition, thebuilding and lack of community building, all the players from bookers, TV, radioand other parts of the industry. His work is controversial, as is every aspectof folk music. He is thorough and helps your mind wrap around the entire era ofthe revival and the lingering remnants today...You will come away with a betterunderstanding of the folk world and maybe listen to music from a more communitystandpoint, maybe paying more attention to the artist and content then fluffand hype."- Chris Lunn, FestivalsDirectory, Spring/ Summer 2006
"...Weissman here draws on his extensive background as amember of the Journeymen and as a record producer to offer a somewhatchronological history of folk music in the USin the 20th century... He concentrates on performers, discussing many,but also looks at the business side of folk music. Scattered throughout arestories drawn from Weissman's personal experiences. This is the most thoroughoverview of the topic yet published... Summing up: Highly recommended."- Choice, March 2006
"Dick uses an informal tone to trace the various threadsthat come together to what we know as 'American folk music', drawing on manypersonal anecdotes and funny stories. He examines the age oldauthenticity/purity versus commercial exploration issue from his uniqueperspective, having 'been there', and is not afraid to make valid criticisms ofsome revered icons. A thoughtful and entertaining look at the swirling currentsthat have swept folk music into the 21st Century- highlyrecommended."- PortlandFolk Music Society, Jan/Feb 2006, Vol. 30, No. 1
(Portland Folk Music Society)
"His book starts with those early recordings and leads the reader through the myriad songs and characters... It also includes characters such as the mostly forgotten early song collector Lawrence Gillert, who, although white, was married to a black woman, and was thus able to collect examples of black protest songs that were not sung for other white collectors. Sidelights such as these provide the best reading of the book, as do Weissman's personal stories..."- Dirty Linen(Dirty Linen)
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Book Description Continuum, 2006. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0826416985
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