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Scott Alarik

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The First Revival/Scott Alarik Newsletter

Welcome to the first “Revival” newsletter. The release of my new folk music novel has been a wild ride. It began when the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival invited me to do some readings on the main stage, making it the “unofficial” Revival release. The first copy sold to a Falcon Ridge volunteer named Doc, which was the perfect baptism, since the book is dedicated to all the volunteers who keep folk music alive.

        September was the “official” release of Revival, and Harvard Square named September “Revival Month in Harvard Square.” That tied the book release party at Club Passim (with Ellis Paul, Meg Hutchinson, Alastair Moock, and Jake Armerding swapping songs), to other  events that fit a theme of revival or renewal. So Revival and I were welcomed to a Bread and Puppet Theater show on Cambridge Common, Revels RiverSing, and a couple of street fairs. It was a whirlwind, but I had a blast. And now they’ve decided to make Revival Month an annual Harvard Square tradition. Cool, huh? Making tradition part of our lives today is a big theme in Revival, so seeing the book create its own traditions means more than a bagful of book awards.

        Since then, I’ve been making the rounds of folk clubs and radio, doing readings and telling people about the book. Every time I’ve done that, it’s felt like a homecoming, after all those years burrowed into the story of Nathan, Kit, Ferguson, Jackie, Ramblin’ Randy, and all the other characters in Revival. The way you’ve all welcomed me back means more than perhaps you know. Thank you for that.

        And some of my favorite folk performers have been kind enough to give us quotes praising the novel, including Tom Paxton, Gordon Bok, Catie Curtis, Ellis Paul, Meg Hutchinson, Si Kahn, Mary Gauthier, and John Gorka. Our first published review came from the respected Booklist, which called Revival “A joyous celebration of folk musicians and their world.” Revival is an intimate and sometimes troubled love story, but I also wanted it to be a love story about the folk world itself. It’s great that Booklist saw that.

        You can check out all the performers’ thoughts on our newly designed website, ( The website also offers ways that folks can help us spread the word about Revival. Being a folk novel, we’re counting on the enthusiasm of Folk Nation. If you enjoyed Revival, please check it out. You can Like Revival on Facebook, share our updates with your friends by forwarding this e-mail, or sending them here to sign up for eNews. You can also write your own Revival review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble sites. To see all the ways you can help, just push the big button on top of the home page. And if you have any ideas of your own, we’d love to hear them.

        November is “Folk Music Month in Harvard Square.” I’ll be teaching some fun classes, and hosting a series of conversational salons at the Harvard Coop. They’re all listed below. I promise lots of music and yarns about folk’s past, present, and future - and no tests! I’ll also be doing some book events around New England, which I’ll let you know about in the next newsletter.

        Thanks for wanting to be part of this adventure, and for making it the most exciting ride of my life. I’m so lucky to be working in a world filled with folks like you. As Nathan Warren says in Revival, “It may be a big world, but folk music is a small town.” You’ve made me feel like a real neighbor. Keep the music in you - Scott

“Exploring Folk Music”
        Club Passim School of Music
        Tuesdays, 6:30 pm, Nov. 8 - Dec. 13

What does the term folk music mean in the 21st century? What connects the blues guitarist to the Irish fiddler, the urban songwriter to the Cajun band, the folk-rocker to the cowboy singer? What is the difference between a folk song and a pop song? How was folk music used by ordinary people, back when it was the self-made soundtrack of their daily lives? How did those ancient folk traditions become today's folk music? Using live, recorded, and archival music, sprinkled with a lifetime of colorful tales about folk music, Scott Alarik takes us on a vibrant journey down the ancient tributaries of tradition, to see how they shaped our modern musical landscape, and how folk music filled people’s lives, then and now. This is a new kind of class for the Passim School, meant for the entire folk community, fans and musicians, newcomers and aficionados. Nov. 8, 15, 22, 29, Dec. 6, 13. 617-492-5300

“Folk Music and Politics:
        Broadsides to Baez, Woody Guthrie to Ellis Paul”

        Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 42 Brattle Street
        Saturday, Nov. 19, 1 pm – 3:30 pm

Is folk music political? That's certainly the impression left by the ‘60s, when folk music and progressive politics seemed to be the twin engines of social change. But what do the old songs tell us, from the days when songs were passed from singer to singer, and generation to generation? Using live, archival, and recorded music, Scott Alarik takes a provocative look at the tumultuous marriage of folk music and politics -- from 16th-century ballads to the coded sedition of slave spirituals, from the "singing strikes" of the labor movement to the singer-songwriters of today. What is the thread that binds politics to folk music? Is it stitched within the most ancient fabric of folk tradition -- or is it a product of the modern imagination? Limited to 20. 617-547-6789

The Harvard Coop, Wednesdays in November, 7 p.m. Free
        Conversations hosted by Scott Alarik, folksinger, author

Nov, 2, Harvard Square in the ʻ60s: Tinderbox Of the Folk Revival

In the Sixties, it was said, “If you want to get famous, go to New York. If you want to play music, come to Cambridge.” What was Harvard Square like when a barefoot Joan Baez sang aching Scottish ballads for rapt audiences of Harvard students and beatniks? What else was going on? Why did the square become so important to that moment when folk music became part of the commercial music mainstream?

Ken Irwin, co-founder, Rounder Records
        Betsy Siggins, Club 47, New England Folk Music ArchivesJohn Cooke, Charles River Valley Boys 1961-67, Janis Joplin road manager, writer, photographer, actor, filmmaker
        Byron Linardos, manager, Club 47.

Nov. 9, Harvard University and Folk Music: An Unlikely Bond

Harvard has played a surprisingly prominent role in folk music history, since a 19th-century professor named Francis James Child ignited the modern folklore movement with his epic collection of traditional ballads. At the same time, he created Harvardʼs first modern English department, and guided the transformation into the nationʼs most storied liberal arts university. Pete Seeger studied there in the 1940s, and campus hootenannies in the 1950s helped ignite the great commercial folk revival. Find out why this great university has always had a soft spot for folk music.
        Joseph Harris, Harvard Professor of English Literature

        Forrest OʼConnor, folk musician, CEO of Concert Windows, founder of The Harvard College American Music Club
        Deborah Foster, Senior Lecturer, Head Tutor, Dept. of Folklore & Mythology

Nov. 16, Cambridge Today: Still Folky After All These Years

Itʼs not a coincidence that the first novel set entirely in the modern folk world is also set in Cambridge. What is it about this town that makes it such a haven for all things folk? How is the scene different today than in the glory days of the ʻ60s? Author Scott Alarik explores why he set his acclaimed new novel, Revival, in Cambridge, and hosts a lively conversation about why this area remains such a historic hotbed for folk music.

Matt Smith, Manager, Club Passim
        Sean Staples, musician, Session Americana, Resophonics
        Paul Rishell & Annie Raines, blues musiciansTom Bianchi, songwriter, host of Lizard Lounge Open Mic Challenge
        Produced by The New England Folk Music Archive
        for “Folk Music Month in Harvard Square”