Archive for July 2010

Interview with Oscar Brand

Friday, July 30th, 2010

On today’s show I speak with folk musician and pioneering radio host Oscar Brand, who celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this year.  Happy birthday Oscar!

Oscar Brand is the host of Folksong Festival on WNYC, a radio show which he has hosted since he got out of the army in 1945.  I believe Folksong Festival to be the longest running radio program with a single host in the world!  Oscar has had many many incredible guests on the show over these many years, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, Jean Ritchie, Bob Dylan, everyone you can think of and more…an amazing program.  It was great to hear his reminiscences of these people and the history of his program as we recorded this interview at his home in 2008.

Brand is a man of many talents, he is a very well known folk singer and a great wealth of songs on every topic imaginable, including bawdy songs and campaign songs! He was a founder back in 1959 and then the MC of the Newport Folk Festival.  As an MC he was lucky enough to introduce both Jean Ritchie at her debut performance at the first ever Hootenany at Irving Plaza back in the 40’s, and then in 1959 introduced Joan Baez to a mass audience in her first appearance at Newport.  Oscar is an old old friend of Down Home Radio founder Henrietta Yurchenco.  They had the first folk music radio programs in New York back in the 1940’s.

A big thanks to Steve French for editing the audio of this interview.

You can hear Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival program by clicking HERE.

George Pickow, Jean Ritchie and Oscar Brand, WNYC, 1947
[George Pickow, Jean Ritchie and Oscar Brand at WNYC in New York City, 1947]

A Special Treat:
On Thanksgivings over the years Oscar Brand would always have whatever traveling folk singers that happened to be in town over to his house for Thanksgiving dinner.  In 1966 he had Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie, Ralph Rinzler, Mike Seeger and Almeda Riddle and others at his house.  Oscar broke out his tape recorder and they made some really great recordings, posted here as an extra special treat! – He airs these recordings on his show every year at Thanksgiving, but here they are now, recorded from one of his broadcasts.

[Me and Oscar at the Alan Lomax memorial conference at Cooper Union in 2003.]

Paxton and Fairfield in the NY Times

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

[Paxton and Fairfield perform “Poor Little Bennie.”]

Down Home Radio favorites and past guests on the program Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and Frank Fairfield have recently been featured in the New York Times, following their appearance last Tuesday at the Jalopy Theater.  CLICK HERE to read the NY Times piece by Ben Ratliff.

CLICK HERE for the Down Home Radio interview with Frank Fairfield, and HERE for the interview with Blind Boy Paxton.

Here’s some more footage I shot at the Jalopy show:

The Cards Visit Shanghai

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The Cangelosi Cards, one of Down Home Radio’s favorite bands, have just completed a three month stint playing nightly at a club over in Shanghai, China.  The Cards are a brilliant old-time jazz, blues, country band local to Brooklyn who have been touring the U.S. for several years and are now starting in on the rest of the world!  Filmmaker and “Down Home TV” producer Chris Low happened to be over in Shanghai on another project and was able to catch up with The Cards to film this segment:

An extended interview with The Cangelosi Cards

And don’t forget to check out the Down Home Radio advert in the Old Time Herald – lots of great articles, reviews and more!