Mighty Uke Day 5 is Friday through Sunday in Old Town Lansing. It’s promoted as a celebration of the “diminutive yet dynamic” instrument and its ties to Michigan culture. There will be performances by professionals, and opportunities for beginners to try their hand at playing the ukulele.
Cris Williamson has enjoyed a remarkable career in music. Back in 1975, she recorded an album called “The Changer and The Changed”, and released it on her own label, Olivia Records. Olivia was the first woman-owned, woman-focused record company. To this day, “The Changer and The Changed” remains one of the best-selling independent records of all time.
Folk singer Tom Chapin will be in East Lansing for a couple of performances this weekend. Chapin is the featured artist at this week’s Ten Pound Fiddle concert at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Grove Street in East Lansing. The concert is at 8 p.m. Friday. Chapin will also perform at the city of East Lansing’s Children’s Concert Series on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Hannah Community Center on Abbot Road.
Legendary African American folk-singer Josh White’s entrance into the world of music happened at age 7, when he took a job leading blind musicians across the states. Eventually Josh became an accomplished musician himself. He is credited with bringing gospel, blues and black folk music to the masses. In 1941, he was even the first African American musician to give a performance at the White House.
Friday is the first night of the The Ten Pound Fiddle’s Mid-Winter Singing Festival. Dr. Ysaye Barnwell will lead the first “group sing” at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. She is a founding member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, as well as a composer, educator, and public health expert. Current State’s Melissa Benmark speaks with Dr. Barnwell about her multi-faceted career and her song choices for the festival.
The loss of folk music in the face of popular music is happening worldwide, yet there are still young musicians who find their way into the genre. The East Lansing based band The Bard Owls is composed mostly of college students and recent graduates. They play old time folk music, as well as original songs. We sat down with the group to discuss their upcoming album “No Tracks.”
Folk singer Tom Paxton recently said that he enjoys songwriting more than ever. That’s especially noteworthy since he’s been doing that since the 60’s. Then, Paxton was at the center of America’s folk revival, performing in Greenwich Village with the likes of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and others.
Tom Paxton talks about singing, songwriting and his eventful musical career with Current State.
This Friday, musician Janis Ian will perform at the Ten Pound Fiddle in East Lansing. In 1967, Ian wrote her first hit song, "Society’s Child," which was about an interracial relationship. She was 13 years-old. The song was banned by some radio stations, and Ian received hate mail, but it became a national hit after conductor Leonard Bernstein featured it in a TV special.
Mid-Michigan has a strong folk music tradition. The annual Great Lakes Folk Festival held in East Lansing each August has attracted international attention, and you can hear folk music on 90.5 FM WKAR every Sunday night.
One of the genre's most famous performers will appear in Ann Arbor on Sunday. Peter Yarrow formed the folk super group Peter, Paul and Mary with fellow singers Paul Stookey and Mary Travers in 1961. Their music was part of the soundtrack of the civil rights era.
WKAR's Kevin Lavery asked Peter Yarrow about the current state of folk music.