January-February 2012

Happy Coincidences

By Linda Dewar

Folk Fame: The Recording Academy has announced the newest additions to its Grammy Hall Of Fame collection. And while homage has been paid to recordings in a number of genres, it’s interesting to note how many of them are from the world of folk, roots and world music. Here are just a few examples:

Various Artists – Anthology of American Folk Music (Folkways, 1952)

Paul Simon – Graceland

Flatt & Scruggs – Foggy Mountain Jamboree

Los Panchos – Mexicantos

Mahalia Jackson – Precious Lord, Take My Hand

You can view the entire list online on the Recording Academy’s website.


And speaking of the Grammy Awards, I was really pleased to see that Los Angeles’s brilliant Mariachi Divas have again been nominated in the category “Best Regional Mexican or Tejano Album.” They won in 2008 – here’s hoping that history will repeat itself. The awards will be presented on February 12th at the Staples Center from 8-11pm and broadcast on TV on CBS.

FolkWorks has listed on our website, the Grammy Nominees of interest to FolkWorks readers.

What I find interesting is how the Recording Academy has “simplified” their categories and what they chosen to keep, eliminate or otherwise combine.

2010 Categories

Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album

Best Traditional Gospel Album

Best Tejano Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Norteño Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Banda Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Americana Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Bluegrass Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Traditional Blues Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Contemporary Blues Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Traditional Folk Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Contemporary Folk Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Hawaiian Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Native American Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Zydeco Or Cajun Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Reggae Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Traditional World Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Contemporary World Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental)

Best Musical Album For Children (For albums consisting of predominantly music or song vs. spoken word)

Best Spoken Word Album For Children (For albums consisting of predominantly spoken word vs. music or song)

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling)

2011 Categories

Best Regional Mexican Or Tejano Album

Best Banda Or Norteño Album

Best Tropical Latin Album

Best Americana Album

Best Bluegrass Album

Best Blues Album

Best Folk Album

Best Regional Roots Music Album

Best Reggae Album

Best World Music Album

Best Children's Album

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling)

I see some trends here… not all of them to my liking. But that could be just me… what does anyone else think? Email FolkWorks, or email me with your thoughts.


 “Flint must be an extremely wealthy town: I see that each of you bought two or three seats.” - Victor Borge, playing to a half-filled house in Flint, Mich.

“You can't possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven's Seventh and drive slowly.” - Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket

“There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major.” - Sergei Prokofiev

“Jack Benny played Mendelssohn last night. Mendelssohn lost.” - anonymous


A Happy Coincidence: A good friend of mine recently spent two years in Uganda, working with the UK equivalent of the Peace Corps. She came back filled with stories of the people and the land she’d come to love. Through her, I discovered Spirit of Uganda, a group of musicians and dancers age 8 to 18 who perform and record as part of the training program of the organization Empower Africa’s Children.

I was prepared to write a bit about them and to say that you really should go to see and hear them if they tour in California any time soon—and in fact, I’ve found that they are touring right now! They will be at Caltech in the Beckman Auditorium on Friday, January 27 at 8:00 pm. Here’s a link to Caltech’s folk music webpage. From there, you can follow another link to Spirit of Uganda’s site.


A story is told that Richard Wagner was walking on a street in Berlin one day and came across an organ-grinder who was grinding out the overture to Tannhäuser. Wagner stopped and said, "As a matter of fact, you are playing it too fast." The organ-grinder at once recognized Wagner, tipped his hat, and said, "Oh thank you, Herr Wagner! Thank you, Herr Wagner!" The next day Wagner returned to the same spot and found the organ-grinder grinding out the overture at the correct tempo. Behind him was a big sign: "PUPIL OF RICHARD WAGNER."

An American now living in Scotland, Linda Dewar is a singer-songwriter and a player of various stringed and wind instruments. Besides being a solo performer, she is half of a duo with Scottish singer Douglas Craik, plays in an occasional ceilidh band, and is a founding member of the revue Simply Burns. Visit her website.


All Columns by Linda Dewar