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Treasures from the Folk Den

Roger McGuinn

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Album Review

In late 1995, as part of his official website, Roger McGuinn launched a feature called The Folk Den, in which each month he recorded a traditional folk song in his home studio and posted the results on his web page along with brief essays on the histories of the songs and how he came to learn them. McGuinn used this ongoing experiment as the inspiration for his album, Treasures from the Folk Den, which was recorded in a series of informal sessions (mostly in people's homes, none in a traditional recording studio) using McGuinn's Apple G4 computer as a mobile recording setup. Unlike the online "Folk Den" recordings, which feature McGuinn solo (occasionally overdubbing himself for accompaniment), for these performances he enlisted a number of friends as accompanists and duet partners, including Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Odetta, Eliza Carthy, and Tommy Makem. The results are a shade more polished than McGuinn's Folk Den sessions (several of which have been released on disc by mp3.com) and McGuinn is in fine voice, as are his guests (though neither McGuinn nor Odetta and Jean Ritchie have quite enough grit to do justice to "John the Revelator"). Treasures from the Folk Den, however, is flawed somewhat by the material; while nearly all of these songs are foundation blocks of the folk repertoire, as a consequence they've been recorded dozens of times by a number of major artists (including several who appear on this disc), and while these recordings are strong, they aren't that much different than the others that are already available. Treasures from the Folk Den would make a good introduction for someone just dipping their toes into the basic folk repertoire, and it's always a pleasure to hear these artists in strong and committed form, but there isn't much here that longtime folk enthusiasts haven't heard before; it's enjoyable, but hardly essential.

Biography

Born: 13 July 1942 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As the frontman of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn and his trademark 12-string Rickenbacker guitar pioneered folk-rock and, by extension, country-rock, influencing everyone from contemporaries like the Beatles to acolytes like Tom Petty and R.E.M. in the process. James Joseph McGuinn was born on July 13, 1942, in Chicago, where by his teenage years he was already something of a folk music prodigy. After touring with the Limelighters, in 1960 he signed on as an accompanist with the Chad Mitchell Trio, appearing...
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Treasures from the Folk Den, Roger McGuinn
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