Irene, Goodnight: A Weaver has died

Farewell to Ronnie Gilbert, heart of the folk revival (alongside Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman).

weavers

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  • Is it still folk music if it’s in Carnegie Hall, and performed by a group that was always based in Greenwich Village? Is it still folk music if it has an orchestral background as some of their early albums had?

    To avoid problems during the McCarthy era the Weavers stopped performing their most political songs, and stopped performing at progressive venues and events. This approach increased their bookings. When beliefs are watered down and styles commercialized, is it still folk music?

    Later Pete Seeger was identified as a communist by an FBI informant. He was called to testify before HUAC, but refused to speak on First Amendment grounds. He was found in contempt and placed under restrictions. The Weavers, of which Seeger was a member, were then placed under FBI surveillance and barred from television and radio broadcasts. Rightwing groups protested and harassed them at their performances. Under these conditions, the Weavers disbanded in 1952. Decca terminated their contract and deleted their records from its catalog in 1953. It was not until the 60s that the group was able to begin working again, though they still suffered from the effects of blacklisting.

    In what kind of country is even a folk song so dangerous?

  • Then, is your point that they were sell-outs or that circumstances didn’t permit them to be the sell-outs that they basically were, or that they were only sell-outs up to a point and then decided to not be anymore, or what?

    • You decide. I don’t know. Seeger was in another group during WWII called the Almanacs that was shut down. The Weavers didn’t want that to happen again so that they could get at least some folk music to people.

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