- Collection ID:
Fast Folk Musical Magazine
- Physical Description:
59.02 Cubic feet
compact discs, Audiotapes (AMPEX 467), digital audiotapes, phonograph records, Reel-to-reel audiotapes, VHS videotapes
163 reel to reel tapes,136 VHS tapes, 188 cassette tapes, 100 DAT tapes, 20 467 tapes, 6 compact discs, 16 miscellaneous audio materials, all are mostly recordings of Fast Folk events or Fast Folk recording artists; 604 folders containing information and materials relating to magazines, recordings, events and business; objects related to the Fast Folk Musical Magazine
The Fast Folk Musical Magazine records, which date from 1982-2002, document the activities of Fast Folk Musical Magazine. The collection is comprised chiefly of audio/video materials and the paper business records of the company. Audio and video materials include phonograph records, reel-to-reel tapes, VHS videotapes, audiocassettes, digital audiotapes, compact discs and miscellaneous audio material. The paper records include press materials related to Fast Folk and Fast Folk recording artists, magazine source materials, recording agreements, lyrics, artist biographies, photographs, financial documents, correspondence, planning for events and other miscellany. Additionally, there is a Fast Folk t-shirt and a bag of Fast Folk pencils, pens and erasers.
Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
There are two main components of the Fast Folk Musical Magazine Collection: the audio and video materials and the paper records of the company. This finding aid is a guide to the paper records and related materials.
Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, previously known as The CooP, was a non-profit organization that published recordings with an accompanying magazine from 1982-1996. Fast Folk began as an outlet through which singer-songwriters could perform, as there were few venues that booked folk singers in New York City during that time period. Jack Hardy (1948-2011) headed this endeavor in the Speakeasy club, sharing space with a belly dance club and a falafel restaurant. A musician's co-op was created at the Speakeasy, meaning that everything in the club was to be done by the musicians, from booking to cleaning. The first show by the musicians' co-op at the Speakeasy was in September of 1982. It was considered the best place for a musician to get a gig if he or she did not already have a record deal.
Richard Meyer (1952-2012), who eventually became editor of Fast Folk in 1985, joined the project a couple months after its inception as a performer, writer and graphic designer for the magazine. Jack Hardy introduced himself to Meyer at a concert and invited him to sign up for the Songwriter's Exchange; another project organized by Hardy in which musicians performed songs for each other that they had recently written. Slowly, the number of people working on Fast Folk grew and Meyer trained others to do what he did. An important part of the organization was its community-oriented system; it was almost entirely run by an ever-changing group of volunteers. As the staff at Fast Folk increased, it became continuously involved in shows such as the Greenwich Village Folk Festivals which were used as fundraisers.
Fast Folk provided a good way for musicians to be able to make their own record or to be part of a record, since making a record on one's own was more difficult in that era. Many commercial recording artists such as Lyle Lovett, Tracy Chapman, Michelle Shocked, Christine Lavin, Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin recorded some of their first songs with Fast Folk. While some musicians eventually became commercially successful, Fast Folk consistently stressed that this was not their organization's objective. By releasing many different artists' work on each recording, Fast Folk strove to expand the collective horizons of their audience and spread the power of individual songs as opposed to individual artists. Songwriters were incorporated into an issue of Fast Folk by sending in demo tapes or by being heard by Hardy and Meyer at a Songwriters' Exchange or other performance. The Fast Folk committee also had a significant input as to who was on each album. The magazine was used as an outlet for discussing current issues of songs and songwriting across the country, as well as reviewing albums and interviewing artists. Many issues were devoted to the music of different sections of the United States such as Boston, Los Angeles and the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts. The issues of Fast Folk were sold mostly through subscription, but also at the Speakeasy club. Around the time Richard Meyer contacted the Smithsonian, Fast Folk stopped producing records and magazines, mostly due to a lack of volunteers with enough time to devote to a business of Fast Folk's size.
Stephanie Smith and Abbey Harlow
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Smithsonian Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections acquired these materials in 1999, when Fast Folk Musical Magazine donated its records to the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In 1996, Richard Meyer, on behalf of Fast Folk Musical Magazine, contacted Anthony Seeger, then Director of Smithsonian Folkways Records, offering the Fast Folk materials to the Smithsonian. After several years of correspondence, the Smithsonian received the collection. The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage agreed to keep the recordings available commercially and to retain the records in the archive, as well as to leave Fast Folk with the option to restart publication of the magazine.
The Fast Folk collection was originally compiled and arranged for the Smithsonian by Richard Meyer. The majority of the boxes contents were randomly placed. The boxes that were well organized and labeled by Richard Meyer were left in original order. All other materials were grouped together by series and subject matter, and an effort was made to preserve the original order where one was discernible. The boxes in this collection are shelved in the Archives stacks. The items in the list have been assigned numbers and like materials have been grouped together. The accession numbers are in numerical order.
Prepared by Nichole Procopenko, 2010 and Abbey Harlow, 2007.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Access by appointment only. Contact the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at 202-633-7322 for additional information.
Restrictions may apply concerning the use, duplication, or publication of items in the Fast Folk Collection. Please consult the archivists if you have additional questions about the Fast Folk materials and their use.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright restrictions apply. Contact the archives staff for information.
Fast Folk Musical Magazine records, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.
Other Finding Aids
Other Finding Aids
A separate inventory is available for the audio and video materials in the Fast Folk Musical Magazine Collection.
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
600 Maryland Ave SW