Over the past couple of weeks two significant women figures from the folk revival of the USA in the 1950s and beyond have died. One was Ronnie Gilbert, the female member of the Weavers quartet (“Goodnight Irene”, “On Top of Old Smokey” etc) leaving just one former member still alive – the most famous, Pete Seeger, died last year
On 1 June Jean Ritchie, known as the “Mother of Folk, died. She played mountain dulcimer and was still performing up to 2009 when she was 86. One of her songs was an arrangement of “Nottamun Town” which some of you may recall by Fairport Convention in the late 1960s. It led to some controversy when Bob Dylan pinched the tune and claimed songwriting credit for his song “Masters of War”. He settled out of court ($5,000) and removed his name – despite some fine lyrics.
Finally Sam Charters has died. He was a record producer who made a major contribution to the blues revival of the 1960s and 1970s and also wrote The Country Blues in 1959 which included over here, a fascinating chapter on the blues in Britain in the late 1950s. In addition he was the producer at Vanguard Records responsible for two of the greatest psychedelic albums – the first two by Country Joe & the Fish. Here’s a track to celebrate that, which opens with a perfectly reasonable request: