Millennium Folk

American Folk Music since the Sixties

Title Details

Pages: 224

Illustrations: 2 figures

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 08/25/2006

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2830-0

List Price: $24.95

Millennium Folk

American Folk Music since the Sixties

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  • Description
  • Reviews

This first ethnographic study of the American folk music revival that began in the late 1980s examines its people, economy, and politics. Covering the perspectives of fans, performers, marketers, and others, Thomas Gruning takes on some of the folk community's stickiest issues, many of which have roots extending to the previous folk heyday in the 1960s—and sometimes to even more distant eras. Today, such issues are most evident in the clash between the folk community's entrepreneurial, tech-savvy present and its idealized memory of origins in some rural, egalitarian, blue-collar past.

Whose voice gets heard in the folk community has always raised fundamental questions about race, gender, sexuality, authenticity, and power relations, says Gruning. To assess folk's current state and the direction it may be heading, Gruning discusses the microcosm of folk music festivals, the rise of the singer/songwriter, the heightened visibility of gay and lesbian performers, the blurring distinction between folk and world music, the explosion of affordable, high-quality recording and reproduction technology, and more. Millennium Folk is a challenging new look at an understudied community, valuable for what it tells us about folk music, and for what folk in turn suggests about the wider culture's hopes and apprehensions in a globalized, consumerist world.

The subject itself is quite fascinating, and this book, which should appeal to scholars in American studies, ethnomusicology, and American music, as well as a more general audience, will no doubt fuel further debate about the very nature of folk music in a postmodern world.

—Kip Lornell, coauthor of The Life and Legend of Leadbelly

Gruning is grounded in ethnography as well as important viewpoints drawn from critical theory. He is aware of authenticity as a powerful concept and is sensitive to the constant tensions between the mythic past and the present with constantly shifting constructions of meaning. Gruning’s realization that 'experience has taken on the patina of an old photograph, slightly browned around the edges and instilled with a sense of authenticity that can only be claimed through the gauze of the historical imagination' suggests insights well worth pursuing in Millennium Folk.

—James Akenson, Tennessee Tech, and founder of the International Country Music Conference

About the Author/Editor

THOMAS GRUNING is an independent ethnomusicologist living in Middleburgh, New York. He has been active in folk music for most of his adult life as a songwriter, composer, and musician.