During the folk revival of the early 1960s, folksong clubs at the University of Illinois and Indiana University were active groups numbering in the hundreds of students. These groups hosted concerts by nationally-recognized folk musicians on campus. As urbanites transplanted to the rural Midwest, however, they were deeply concerned about "authentic" portrayal of a native tradition. If "to wrench a ballad or blues out of its culture context for concert presentation is, by definition, an act of violence," as Archie Green, faculty sponsor for the University of Illinois Campus Folksong Club, wrote, how could concerts undo this violence?
This presentation by David Blake, musicology doctoral candidate from SUNY-Stony Brook, argues that participants massaged the violence of campus folk music presentation by stressing the educational value of folk music traditions in opposition to the inauthentic college campus, celebrating (and romancing) rural culture outside of the urban background of most club members. The politics of representation were also complicated by student group guidelines at both institutions that required all clubs to be profitable. This presentation uses concert footage from shows by the New Lost City Ramblers, Frank Proffitt, Joan Baez, and the Stoneman Family drawn from research conducted at the Archives of Traditional Music to demonstrate how the Indiana and Illinois campus folksong clubs negotiated the politics of curatorship.
The Hoagy Carmichael Room is located in Morrison Hall, Room 006 on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, IN.