Archive Project

Announcing the FolkScene Archive Project!

Joan Baez
“Love Song to a Stranger Part 2”
Recorded at KPFK 5/12/74

R. Crowell, R. Cash, R. Skaggs
“Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”
Recorded at KPFK, 2/11/79

Eric Andersen
“Blue River”
Recorded at KPFK 12/22/74

Kate Wolf & Friends
“Rising of the Moon”
Recorded at KPFK, 2/10/85

John Sebastian
“What a Day For a Daydream”
Recorded at KPFK 2/15/76

Steeleye Span
“Gaudette”
Recorded at KPFK 11/12/72

Tom Waits
“San Diego Serenade”
Recorded at KPFK 7/28/74

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For more than 40 years, FolkScene programs have been produced featuring interviews with some of the luminaries of traditional and contemporary folk music. In looking back over the years and listening to some of these recordings, we have realized what a treasure trove we have, not only of music, but of history. The interviews provide a glimpse, not only into the lives of particular musicians, but into our times and culture over the past half century as well.

Over the years, the recordings have been collected and stored by Howard and Roz and are in various formats, including analog recording tape, DAT, CD and other digital formats. Some of the tapes are beginning to deteriorate. Some of the digital formats are obsolete and only playable on rare machines.

For the last few years, we have been pursuing a course of action to preserve these important recordings and make them available to future scholars and folk music lovers. We are thrilled to announce that we have recently made an agreement with The Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) in the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to archive the FolkScene collection. This outstanding non-profit institution is one of the nation’s foremost archival resources for the study of American folk music and popular culture. They are looking forward to creating a resource with the collection for educational use while also making it available to general public. Once they have completed their archival work, copies of the entire collection will be given both to FolkScene and to the Pacifica Archives, located at KPFK in Los Angeles.

Scope of the FolkScene Archive Project

Establishing the programs as part of a library collection is only one of the goals of the FolkScene Archive Project. This is anticipated to be a five-year project that will also include a book about the Larmans and the show, one or more volumes of interview transcripts, an audio book, CD ompilations, and perhaps even a video documentary down the road. In addition, Roz will be playing interviews from the archives once a month on FolkScene.

To do this important work will require considerable time and money. Roz Larman, Peter Cutler, Allen and Kat Griffin Larman and many others have devoted their own time to the program as a labor of love. Wendy Waldman has donated her Longhouse Studio for use in recording the interview portions of the program. This project, however, will go beyond what can be accomplished by volunteers.

Phase one involves much more than simply putting the recordings in boxes and shipping them off to North Carolina. There are roughly 2,000 interviews in the various formats. The SFC will not be ready to begin their work on the project for at least a year. In the meantime, much of the preparatory work needs to be done at this end. Our estimates are that it will take at least two years of full-time work by an experienced audio engineer, preferably our own Peter Cutler, as he is the person most familiar with the recordings.

Before shipping any of the recordings, we want to be sure we have a backup on a hard drive – just in case. Each tape needs to be inspected to determine its condition and properly labeled. They need to be played in real time to make the backups and to give them a tight wind, tails out, so that they will survive the cross-country journey intact. Some that are deteriorating will need to be “baked” in order to be played. DAT and Beta machines will have to be acquired in order to transfer those formats. CDs will need to be copied and/or transferred to hard discs.
In addition, we will need to pay to have the tapes professionally transcribed for use in the books.

Watch this space to learn what you can do to help with this important project.