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Ramblin' at Waterside


with Bob Zentz



Joe Hickerson

Hosted by Bob Zentz

September 23, 2009

The Listening Room at Dockmaster's inside Waterside

7:00 PM -- Admission free!


For 50+ years, Joe Hickerson has performed over a thousand times at concerts, festivals, coffeehouses, folk clubs and societies, colleges and universities, community groups, and radio programs (including "A Prairie Home Companion" in 1976) throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Finland and Ukraine. He has been referred to as the "folksinger's folksinger." Pete Seeger has called him "a great songleader." His wide-ranging repertoire of English-language songs and ballads includes occupational and labor songs, children's songs, humorous songs and parodies, Irish-American songs, sea songs, religious songs, and chorus songs, which he sings with guitar and unaccompanied. Although not known as a songwriter, Joe is the author of the 4th and 5th verses of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" (in 1960).

Joe has three solo recordings: Joe Hickerson with a Gathering of Friends and Drive Dull Care Away vols. I & II on the Folk-Legacy label (Sharon, CT 06069). He is also featured on We've Got Some Singing to Do: The Folksmiths Travelling Folk Workshop (Folkways); Five Days Singing (The New Golden Ring) vols. I & II (Folk-Legacy); The Continuing Tradition, Volume 1: Ballads (Folk-Legacy); Songs and Sounds of the Sea (National Geographic Society); several anthologies from the Fox Hollow Folk Festival; recordings by the Dildine Family (Front Hall), Jonathan Eberhart (Folk-Legacy), John McCutcheon (Greenhays and Rounder), and Helen Schneyer (Folk-Legacy); and recordings from Camp Woodland and the Old Songs Festival. He also co-edited the first LP reissue of Uncle Dave Macon 78s (Folkways/RBF).

Raised in New Haven, CT, in a family in which folksong books and recordings were a part of everyday enjoyment, Joe's active interest in folk music began in earnest at Oberlin College (1953-57) where he helped found and was first president of the Oberlin Folk Song Club. He then studied folklore and ethnomusicology at Indiana University (1957-63), where he served as folklore archivist and first president of the Indiana University Folk Song Club. He also hosted folk music radio and television shows at Oberlin and IU and was campus representative for several folk music record companies.

In 1963, Joe was appointed Librarian and, in 1974, Head of the Archive of Folk Song (later called the Archive of Folk Culture) at the Library of Congress. While there, he directed over 350 interns and compiled and edited numerous reference and finding aids. He retired from the Library in 1998 after 35 years of service. One of the founding members of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (1964), Hickerson has been its President, Program Chair, and Book Review Editor. He has also served as Bibliographer (for 22 years) and Secretary (8 years) of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Chair of the Committee on Archiving of the American Folklore Society, and on the advisory boards of Sing Out!, John Edwards Memorial Foundation, Old Town School of Folk Music Resource Center, and Foxfire. He is currently compiler of "The Songfinder" column for Sing Out!. Joe received the Southeastern Massachusetts University Eisteddfod Award in 1973; was a Special Honoree at the 1986 Summer Solstice Dulcimer and Traditional Music & Dance Festival; and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 New Jersey Folk Festival, the Excellence in the Traditional Arts Award at the 2005 Common Ground on the Hill American Music & Arts Festival, and an honorary membership in the Society for Ethnomusicology in 2005.

Besides presenting concerts, Joe frequently lectures on such topics as "My 50+ Years with Folk Music," "Treasures from the National Folk Archive," "The History of Folksong Collecting and Archiving in the U.S.," "The Folksong Revival," "Women Folksong Collectors," "Folksongs of Washington, D.C.," and "African American Folk Music." Joe is also available for research projects, including song and copyright searches (recent jobs have included song searches for "O Brother Where Art Thou," "Cold Mountain," and CDs by Ralph Stanley, Ollabelle, Peggy Seeger, and Tony Saletan). 

Joe Hickerson Official Website:  http://www.joehickerson.com/index.html


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