Thursday, April 12, 2007

But if somehow you could pack up your sorrows

I came of age musically in the '60s, and watched the transition from label-controlled pop to artist-controlled music, as exemplified by the Beatles and others during that time.

I also was moved by the folk explosion of the time, as home-grown guitar players explored traditional music, and blended it with their own ideas and emotions.

One early folk pioneer is often overlooked, Richard Farina:
Back in New York City, Fariña wrote and mixed with the bohemians at the White Horse Tavern, the legendary Greenwich Village haunt frequented by poets, artists, folksingers, and wayfarers, where he befriended Tommy Makem. It was there that he met Carolyn Hester, a successful folksinger. They had a whirlwind courtship and married eighteen days later. Fariña appointed himself Hester's agent; they toured worldwide while Fariña worked on his novel and Carolyn performed gigs. Fariña was present when Hester recorded her third album at Columbia studios in September 1961, where a then-unknown Bob Dylan played harmonica on several tracks. Fariña became a close friend of Dylan's; their friendship is a central topic of David Hajdu's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Positively 4th Street.

In Europe in the spring of 1962, Fariña met Mimi Baez, the teenage sister of Joan Baez. Hester divorced Fariña shortly thereafter, and Fariña married 17-year-old Mimi in April 1963. They moved to a tiny cabin in Carmel, California, where they composed songs on a guitar and dulcimer. They debuted their act as "Richard & Mimi Fariña" at the Big Sur Folk Festival in 1964 and were signed to Vanguard Records. They recorded their first album, Celebrations For a Grey Day,[1] with the help of Bruce Langhorne, who had previously played for Dylan.

Read the whole Wikipedia piece, it solidly documents Richard's life and contributions to '60s music development.

His marriage to Mimi Baez was critical, not only socio-politically, but artistically, as he became connected to the '60s folk machine that Baez & Dylan became. I never saw Richard, but I saw Mimi & Joan at an all-day peace music festival at the Hollywood Bowl in '71, at this show:

71 May 1 MAYDAY: Benefit for So Cal Council of Free Clinics. With the Association, Joan Baez, Country Joe McDonald, Earth, Wind & Fire, Every Bros, Joy of Cooking, Joyous Noise, Charles John Quarto, Redeye, Rockin Foo, Stoneground, Jack Nicholson. Hollywood Bowl LA Free Press May 7 (review); LA Times Apr 25 (ad)

Here are Richard and Mimi doing "House Un-American Activity Blues Dream":

Here are Richard and Mimi doing his greatest hit. Embedding disabled, clicking on the picture will take you to YouTube: