Folksongs of Illinois – Volume 1


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Illinois has a rich folk and ethnic music heritage that seldom receives the scholarly, journalistic, or public attention it deserves. Of course, many people know the story of Chicago blues and jazz, but that’s really only part of the story. In fact, anyone who begins to examine the folk music history of Illinois soon discovers that the Land of Lincoln may well have the most diverse and vibrant musical traditions of any state in the nation.

Bucky Halker made that discovery several years ago in his musical travels and he set out to document the state’s music traditions and to make people more aware of them as well. To do so, Bucky worked with the Illinois Humanities Council and the Illinois Arts Council to produce Folksongs of Illinois, a CD series that now includes five volumes.

Folksongs of Illinois offers a wonderful selection of music from around that state, including works from 78 rpm recordings, older LPs, home recordings, archival and private collections, radio programs, and new studio recordings done specifically for the series. Listeners can hear blues, gospel, country, polka, reels, spirituals, traditional ballads, tamburitza kolos, ethnic comedy skits, corridos, Mexican son, Indian drumming, and bluegrass, to name a handful of styles.

The tracks in the series span many decades, artists and genres – from “anonymous” to multi-Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, from the 1927 recording of legendary Irish fiddler Tommy Dandurand to the 2010 studios recording of T-Rroma tamburitza band, from Henry Spaulding’s 1929 country-blues classic “Cairo Blues” to alt-country star John Langford’s spirited rendition of “The Mississippi Flood,” from Junior Wells to Big Bill Broonzy, from Janet Bean to Cathy Richardson, from Paulinho Garcia to Nicalai Feraru, from Lil Wally to Eddie Blazonczyk, from Betti Xiang to Los Pichardos to Sones De Mexico to Nelson Sosa.