Digitizing Folk Music History 2012 Notes: Berkeley in the Sixties




How do we identify the broader political and social context in which the BFMF took place?

We’ve spent time discussing the historical stream of folk music history in which the festival arose. What about the context of Berkeley in the 60s?

Postwar public university: Berkeley is the crown jewel of one of the largest, most robust public university systems ever created — Free Speech Movement (1964) — civil rights — New Left — generational struggles — the question of public space, public institutions, public speech (music as a form of speech?) — People’s Park (1969) — Vietnam War, antiwar movement — emerging New Conservative movement with election of Ronald Reagan (he’s ongoing opposition to student movement helps him politically) — emergence of counterculture (overlapping but not the same as the folk revival, as Cantwell argued, or was it, what do you think?) — the issue

Rorabaugh’s framework: thinking about power in the 60s. Three “teams”:

Radicals (Mario Savio, FSM, Black Panthers, radical labor activists, counterculturalists perhaps?) — Liberals (Clark Kerr, mainstream labor activists, counterculturalists perhaps?) — Conservatives (Reagan, old power structure in Berkeley and the East Bay)

Where do folk revivalists fit in this framework? Do they? Do they complicate this framework?

Finally, notice how authenticity—our “beaten dead horse”—also surfaces in politics of the New Left. Not unconnected (but not one and the same) as authenticity in the folk revival.

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