Down Home Ideology

Here’s what we think we’re trying to do. Henrietta and I both wrote these up without consulting each other, so now we have two. Hers is better, but I included mine anyway to have my 2 cents.

Henrietta says:

Through folk and popular music, Down Home Radio will bring to its listeners a true understanding of the peoples of the Americas (North and South America, and the Caribbean) in all their national, regional, and tribal diversity. We will feature the music of native Americans and the music that has evolved from the British Isles, Iberian and African sources as they have changed and interacted with each other through the centuries
to the present.

At Down Home, we believe that music is a mirror that reflects the fundamental principles of societies. Through melody, rhythm and words, songs reveal the ways ordinary people think and feel about the most intimate details of their own personal lives, their history, laws and customs which define their identity as well as their role in the world around them. Unfortunately both radio and television have paid scant attention to the importance of folk and popular music as a social and political document. Our airways are deluged in their coverage of pop standards, which in the last few decades has been sorely lacking in innovation, and out of touch with reality. Fortunately, Down Home Radio has at its disposal huge collections of recorded music available for broadcast, hidden musical treasures with provocative texts that will surely inspire and stimulate the listener.

From the United States we plan to explore in depth the many forms of music created on American soil from the early 19th century to the present. Principally of African and British origins they interacted with each other to produce a unique, varied and vigorous musical culture: examples: 19th century minstrel theater, spirituals, work songs, and blues in all their manifestations (vocal, instrumental, regional, individual) country music, political hip-hop, rock, children’s game songs, songs about women, and those dealing with American industrialization from the middle of the 19th century to the present enlivened with appropriate commentary on their political, social and historical meaning.

The programs on Latin America and the Caribbean will air music popular in their respective countries but almost unknown in the United States. Spanish radio and TV in the United States present almost exclusively pop standards, and a nod to the Tango from Argentina, Norteño and Mariachi from Mexico, and Salsa from Puerto Rico. Down Home Radio will present music in all its ethnic and historical variety: native American, music of Spanish-Portuguese-British-French origin, and resulting new musical forms created in profusion throughout the area. Examples: 1. Dance music: milonga, cumbia, habanera, samba, danzon, plena, etc. 2. Native American prehispanic colonial and contemporary music. 3. Instrumental styles: ensembles and solo guitar, fiddle and harp 4. Distinguished soloists: Soledad Bravo,Victor Jara, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes, Mercedes Sosa, The Parra Family of Chile, Judith Reyes, etc. 5. Historical ballads and songs of protest and social issues: La Nova Trova, the Zapatistas of Chiapas, Mexico, historical ballads . 6. La Trova: the romantic tradition, a Medieval Spanish heritage alive and well throughout the Iberian world.

Down Home Radio is conceived as a trail blazer: to present folk and popular music as a time honored cultural expression endowed with wisdom, wit, humor, and a vivid sense of humanity, its joys, trials and tribulations.

-Henrietta Yurchenco, NYC Fall 2006

Eli Says:

Folk music is America’s cultural public secret. Live performances and recordings of our traditionally, orally/aurally schooled musicians are available to those who know about them and know where to look, but for nearly all of us they are stored in a dark and unmarked warehouse, hard to find, impossible to navigate. These old types of blues, old-time country, gospel/spirituals, Mexican and Cajun/Zydeco music are a truth telling attack on our so called “pop” culture and a window into the interior of our culture, from which the public has been systematically excluded. This music gives reality to our history and to our present by expressing the deepest thoughts and feelings of regular people from different parts of the country, different backgrounds and different time periods.

Down Home Radio will give this music light and air thereby opening the warehouse and making accessible the information it stores. Listen at the roots, with a mind for detail. Given this information, you will no longer accept stereotypes of or fall for clichés about our cultural past. Let this program be your introduction and a continuing guide to this trove of material. For musicians and fans of music alike you will find a fresh and clear perspective in your evolving appreciation and critique of music.

In times of crisis such as the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the world revolutions of the 1960’s folk music, both as a mirror and a hammer, has come to the fore and played an important role in cultural movements and movements for social and political change. Today we are once again in the middle of an economic and political crisis. To address this, in addition to our emphasis on traditional music, Down Home Radio will educate our listeners as to the history of overtly political folk music and also give voice to contemporary political folk musicians.