{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/folklife.php' }

Omaha Hethu’shka Society Songs and Dances

Historically, the Omaha Indian Hethu’shka Society were a group of highly respected men, voted into the group by unanimous consent of the society, who aimed to set a strong example for their people of the best attributes of a warrior. Although traditionally deeds in combat were the central test for inclusion in the society, such […]

Dance Heritage Coalition Intern Helps Expand Access to Lomax Choreometrics Materials

This is a guest post from Lotus Norton-Wisla, an intern at the American Folklife Center working to improve access to materials in the Alan Lomax Collection related to choreometrics, which was Lomax’s methodology for studying dance performance style. These materials consist of more than 70 boxes of paper materials and more than 3,500 film elements. […]

Homegrown Plus: Iona Fyfe

Welcome to another post in our Homegrown Plus series, in which we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with  Iona Fyfe, who is a folksinger from Aberdeenshire in the North East of Scotland. Iona is recognized as one of Scotland’s finest young ballad singers, rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East. Winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2018, Iona has been described by Global Music Magazine as “one of the best Scotland has to offer.” In her Homegrown concert, Iona sang a variety of traditional ballads associated with her part of Scotland. She also honored the American Folklife Center by taking what we call the “Archive Challenge”: learning a song from one of our archival recordings. In Iona’s case, the song was “The White Fisher,” as sung by Bell Duncan in the James Madison Carpenter collection. In our conversation, Iona and I talked about a lot of topics, including the influence of great archival collections on Scottish folksinging; the importance of regional identity in Scottish music; the experience of getting a traditional music degree from a conservatory; the influence of teachers like Rod Paterson, Margaret Bennett, and Ian Russell; and Iona’s plans to draw further on AFC’s James Madison Carpenter collection. Watch both videos right here in this blog post!

Homegrown Plus: Changüí Majadero

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re happy to be continuing the series with the Cuban American band Changüí Majadero. Founded by tres guitarist and vocalist Gabriel García, Changüí Majadero was the result of García’s pivotal pilgrimage to the Guantanamo region of Cuba, where he learned the musical style called changüí from the living masters of the style. He says he was inspired to spread the spirit of Cuban folkloric music mixed with a dash of East Los Angeles grit. The band’s concert included songs they learned during research in the American Folklife Center archive, along with other songs from their repertoire. Our conversation with Gabriel provides an introduction to the band and to the unusual style known as changüí, including the instruments, rhythms, and history of this important musical tradition.

Homegrown Plus: Joe Jencks

In the “Homegrown Plus” series we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with our friend Joe Jencks, who is an accomplished singer-songwriter but also a lover of traditional songs, especially work and labor songs. For his Homegrown concert, he performed an entire set of songs from the AFC archive, making this concert also an example of an artist taking the Archive Challenge. We’re delighted that Joe took the challenge, and we think he did a fantastic job in his exemplary concert video. You can watch his concert, his interview video, and a bonus Archive Challenge song from Folk Alliance International, all in this blog post!

Saint George and the Hacker: A Zoom Meeting Mummers Play

The American Folklife Center’s 2021 Mummers play is about a zoom meeting that gets invaded by a hacker who won’t let the participants leave until he gets a bitcoin ransom. 2021 has felt like a zoom meeting that wouldn’t end, so we hope our audience can relate! Find a video of the play and the complete annotated script in this blog!

Scrooge’s Prize Turkey: Victorian Christmas Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

This post is part of an occasional series about ethnography and folklore in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.  Find the whole series here! In our last look at the foodways of Dickens’s classic story A Christmas Carol, we examined the joy the Cratchits take in their small but serviceable Christmas goose, as Scrooge and the Ghost […]

Cooking the Cratchits’ Goose: Urban Foodways in Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol reveals an interesting fact about Victorian London: many working class people lacked cooking facilities, with only a hearth fire in their homes. In this post, we’ll see some of their strategies for cooking a meal by looking at the Cratchits, the only working class family depicted in the book in a detailed way. We’ll also look beyond the Cratchits to other London families in the same boat, and show how Dickens expresses social and political ideas about foodways through Scrooge and his interactions.

Sharing Our Story: Carl Chamberlain’s VHP Collection

This is a guest blog post by Michael Chamberlain, whose family recently donated his father’s large WWII photograph collection to the Veterans History Project (VHP). As the executor for my father’s estate, I know how difficult it can be for families to consider handing over what is sometimes the only tangible legacy of a family […]

Homegrown Plus: PIQSIQ Inuit-Style Throat Singing

It’s been a while since we posted a Homegrown Plus post! In this ongoing series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with PIQSIQ, an Inuit style throat singing duo who characterize their style as being “galvanized by darkness and haunting northern beauty.”

PIQSIQ is composed of sisters Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik and Kayley Inuksuk Mackay. These talented performers come together to create a unique duo, performing ancient traditional songs along with new compositions. The two grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, with roots in Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory. After years of hard work on their music, they have developed their own form, blending haunting melodies and otherworldly sounds. As PIQSIQ, they perform their songs with live improvisational looping, creating a dynamic audience experience that changes with every show. In this blog, you’ll find their November 2020 concert and their February 2021 oral history interview.