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dreamwolf's avatar

Best old school folk musicians I should know about?

Asked by dreamwolf (3163points) September 22nd, 2011
35 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

Looking for some oldies, hippie era, depression era, whatever era, just not now era.

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Brian1946's avatar

Some of my favorites are Joan Baez and Bob Dylan (before 1965, when he went electric).

Here’s Joan’s tribute to Bob.

lillycoyote's avatar

Phil Ochs

More Phil Ochs

Even more Phil Ochs

Arlo Guthrie

More Arlo, still going strong

Too many great Arlo Guthrie songs to choose. I just like this one. He’s funny as hell too. If you get a chance to see him in concert do it. You won’t regret it.

The Motorcycle Song

Coming Into Los Angeles at Woodstock

There are so many more but I kind of got stuck on Arlo. So much Arlo, so little time.

I may post some others later. I love posting music here.

Edit: Meant to say of course there’s Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary among the so many more.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Brian1946 I was thinking about posting that one too. Like I said, so much Arlo, so little time. And I’m just so glad to know that someone else, you, knows and understands how really great he is. He maybe has never been able to get out from the shadow of his father, except to his fans.:-)

chyna's avatar

Peter, Paul and Mary.

Cruiser's avatar

Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Cash, Jelly Roll Morton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, Pete Seeger, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs,

janbb's avatar

Woody Guthrie
The Weavers
Theo Bikel
Burl Ives
Tom Paxton
Judy Collins
Tom Rush
Priscilla Herdman
Phil Ochs
Pete Seeger
Joan Baez
Eric Andersen
Fairport Convention
Steeleye Span

Aww – Just come on over and listen to my CDs.

zensky's avatar

It’s difficult to add to the lists above, but I didn’t see The Limelighters

And perhaps the Kingston Trio

marinelife's avatar

Joan Baez Joe Hill

Country Joe and the Fish The Vietnam Song

Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A’ Changing

Richie Havens Freedom

Dave Van Ronk and the Hudson Dusters Both Sides Now

Pete Seeger “If I Had a Hammer”;

Long before Arlo Guthrie was Woody Guthrie This Land Is Your Land

smilingheart1's avatar

Ian and Sylvia (Great Speckled Bird)
Gordon Lightfoot

smilingheart1's avatar

and…. Bobby Darin….in later life

YoBob's avatar

Great suggestions from all above.

I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned Janis Joplin

Here she is at Woodstock

As for me, I’m into old school blues. One of my favorites is Lightning Hopkins

john65pennington's avatar

Peter, Paul and Mary…..........PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON AND WALK RIGHT IN…......

My children grew up on that song. They played it over and over and over and over and over, again!

Kardamom's avatar

In addition to the great choices that everyone else has pointed out here’s a few more:

The Mama’s and Papa’s Creeque Alley

The Four Freshman It’s a Blue World

Poco Keep on Tryin’

America You Can Do Magic

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Teach Your Children

Seals and Croft Summer Breeze

Simon and Garfunkel I Am a Rock

The Monkees (Michael Nesmith, specifically) Some of Shelly’s Blues

Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys Different Drum (which was written by Michael Nesmith ^^)

Donovan Catch the Wind

The Association Never My Love

The Smothers Brothers The Saga of John Henry

Firefall Cinderella

Firefall You Are the Woman

Loggins and Messina House at Pooh Corner

Spanky and Our Gang Sunday Will Never be The Same

Iris Dement Our Town

Kossoy Sisters (from O Brother Where Art Thou? Soundtrack) I’ll Fly Away

Soggy Bottom Brothers (also from above ^^) Man of Constant Sorrow

Now if you really want to hear something fantastic check out the movie and soundtrack for A Mighty Wind. It was supposed to be a comedy/spoof about the folk music of the 50’s and 60’s, but who knew that all of these modern actors could actually sing and compose fantastic, poignant music? Below are a few samples

Mitch and Mickey The Ballad of Bobby and June

Mitch and Mickey Kiss at the End of the Rainbow

Entire Cast A Mighty Wind is Blowin’

The Folksmen Blood on the Coals

marinelife's avatar

@Kardamom I don’t think a lot of your choices qualify as folk music.

downtide's avatar

Most of the names I know are British or Irish. Here’s some more that haven’t been mentioned yet:

Richard Thompson
Ewan McColl
Christy Moore
Clive Gregson
Tom Lewis
Martin Simpson
June Tabor
The Watersons
John Tams
The Dubliners

janbb's avatar

@downtide Good list: I love British and Celtic folk as well as American.

@YoBob I would not consider Janis Joplin an “old school” folk singer although she was certainly great.

YoBob's avatar

@janbb – I rather disagree. In many ways Janis Joplin embodied the essence of the “hippie” era. Although I will agree that much of her body of work was more rock than folk.

In any case, regardless of how you want to classify her, IMHO she was one of the greats.

janbb's avatar

But old school folk music and hippies are not one and the same. However, we both agree that she was great.

Buttonstc's avatar

Judy Collins—such a unique timbre to her voice. Clear as a bell.

Sweet Baby James—aka James Taylor

Carly Simon—his ex-wife. They made wonderful music together.

Jim Croce—died way to young. Fantastic songwriter. My favorite song of his “If I Could Save Time in a Bottle”

The McGarrigles (Canadian) great old timey folk folks. Terrific harmonies. (interesting side note: Kate’s son is Rufus Wainwright. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree)

The Weavers. Really old-timey group which were the inspiration for many who followed after (Seeger, Guthrie, Dylan, etc.) They were unfortunately sidelined by the McCarthy inspired Blacklistings for way too many years or they would doubtless have ended up as well known as Kingston Trio, etc.

I can’t post links from iphone or else I would. But you can find mostly all I’ve listed on YouTube Search.

Buttonstc's avatar


Props for Ian and Sylvia. I was unfamiliar with them so I headed over to YT to check them out. So I put their names in along with Great Speckled Bird fully expecting them to sing EXACTLY THAT song (GSB).

Imagine my surprise when Johnny Cash introduced them on his show and said “with Great Speckled Bird) so I figured that’s what they would sing. But what came out of their mouth (in French, no less) was definitely NOT that song.

It took me a while to figure out it’s probably the name of their band/group. (Facepalm)

Would have been nice if they could have picked a more original name rather than just grabbing the title from a very well-known 30s era folk/country standard made popular by Roy Acuff :D

And here I was going to tell you how delighted I was that you were familiar with such a foundational song like that from way back when, but that got scuttled when I realized it was merely the name of their band/group.

Anyhow, you might enjoy the original Roy Acuff version of that song. His version really made it widely known and remembered from that era.

(The exact same tune with different words was later popularized by Kitty Wells in the form of “It Wasnt God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels)

Just a little tidbit of oldtime country/ folk roots music for anyone interested :)

Kardamom's avatar

@marinelife Some of the bands that I chose are specifically called Folk Rock, like America, Loggins and Messina and Firefall (which also includes The Eagles) so I think they qualify. Which ones were you concerned about?

Earthgirl's avatar

Of course, Bob Dylan
YoBob Ditto on the Lightnin’ Hopkins MarineLife I also love Joni Mitchell

I would add:
Doc Watson
Bella Fleck
Jackson Browne
Leonard Cohen
Jerry Garcia and David Grisman

for Folk-Rock:
The Byrds

lillycoyote's avatar

@marinelife I didn’t mean post Arlo at the expense of Woody, to leave out Woody Guthrie! I guess I missed the part of the details that said “depression era” and kind of went for the 60s and hippie folkies.

janbb's avatar

So many good names!

marinelife's avatar

@Kardamom The OP asked for “old school folk musicians”, which does not include folk rock.

Specifically, I was speaking of Spanky and Our Gang, The Mamas and Papas, America, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Seals and Croft, The Monkees and The Association, none of whom I would classify as folk musicians.

YoBob's avatar

@marinelife – Like @Kardamom I kind of got the impression that although the OP mentioned “folk” in the topic, (s)he was looking for suggestions for any “not now” era recommendations.

marinelife's avatar

@YoBob Folk was in the question and in the topics.

Buttonstc's avatar

Personally, I would draw the line for “old school Folk” at those who use acoustic instruments rather than a Stratocaster or similar.

(Now I wish I could convince Pandora about that critical distinction :) Their algorithm keeps insisting on inserting folk rock groups into my “Classic Folk” station.)

Obviously, one can’t draw a hard line in the sand since various categories have some bleed-over. And they’re are enough genre-blending musicians to confuse the issue even further.

But I definitely agree that Folk and Folk Rock are NOT synonymous.

That’s why so many of Dylan’s fans were having hysterical fits over his first use of electric instruments at Monterey (at least I’m pretty sure it was the Monterey Festival)

But with his songwriting skills, he could use any old damn thing he pleases, as far as I’m concerned :)

He can even get away with a crappy singing voice that few others would dare. Exceptional genius talent can overcome a multitude of “sins”. Same for Leonard Cohen :)

zensky's avatar

@Earthgirl Jackson Browne – Old school folk music?

Link please.

Earthgirl's avatar

zensky How’s this? Old school with reggae backbeat, lol

Earthgirl's avatar

dreamwolf Could you clarify what you mean by “old school” ? Folk music is a pretty broad category. People tend to define it differently from each other. Would you consider Blues folk music? Would you consider Bluegrass folk music? Or are you thinking more in the vein of 60’s style protest songs and the like?

Brian1946's avatar


According to your link:

“American traditional music is also called roots music. Roots music is a broad category of music including bluegrass, country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands, Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American music.”

Earthgirl's avatar

Brian1946 I would agree with what it says in my link, but that is how I would define it more or less. I want to know what “dreamwolf” had in mind or the type of music he would call “old school”

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