Smithsonian Institution Archives

Ralph Rinzler Oral History Interview, 1993

1 results in SIA.FARU9569 for "Watson, Doc"
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Covers his early life, education, life-long work in folklore, career at the Smithsonian, and the development of the Festival of American Folklife, c. 1934-1993, including: Early life and schooling at Swarthmore College; introduction to folk music, including contact with Charles Seeger, Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, and Peggy Seeger; graduate work at Middlebury College, including study in Paris and London and contact with Ewan MacColl, Joan Littlewood, and Margaret Barry; first experiences with international folk musicians; music experience with the Greenbriar Boys and touring with Joan Baez; introduction to American folk art/craft while touring with Baez; role as an impresario with Clarence Ashley, Doc Watson, and Bill Monroe; employment at the Newport Folk Festival, including work with Dewey Balfa, involvement in the development of Cajun folk music, and a new focus on crafts; creation of Country Roads in Harvard Square; first meeting with Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley and discussion and planning of the first Festival of American Folklife in 1967; reminiscences about working with a variety of Smithsonian Institution staff, including Frank A. Taylor, Charles Blitzer, and David Challinor; perceptions of how the Festival of American Folklife fit, museologically in the Smithsonian Institution; Congressional attempts to create a Folklife Institute; Bicentennial of the American Revolution celebration and the twelve week-long Folklife Festival; the creation of a separate Office of Folklife Programs and the permanent establishment of the Festival of American Folklife at the Smithsonian; discussion of Victor Turner and the exhibit Celebration: A World of Art and Ritual; the development of the Festival of American Folklife to include staff from diverse backgrounds and in the creation of the Festival with participants from diverse backgrounds; the acquisition of Folkways Records from Moses Asch; reminiscences on working with Secretary S. Dillon Ripley; employment as Assistant Secretary for Public Service; reminiscences on working with Secretary Robert McCormick Adams; discussion of the exhibit Aditi: A Celebration of Life; and the spirit of the Festival of American Folklife, including the Heritage Awards and the future of the Festival.
Interviews