Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene
The Photographs of Raeburn Flerlage edited by Ronald D. Cohen and Bob Riesman
Author: Helen Gallagher
Dec 21, 2009
Many books documented the folk music scene of the 1960s, but none
with this unique focus on a growing city, growing music scene and
talent that would live on for decades.
Through photographs by Raeburn Flerlage, Chicago Folk: Images of the
Sixties Music Scene brings back memories of the many great performers
who came to town for the University of Chicago Folk Festivals.
Through the book's photos, we're brought back to a time when live
music and accessible performers were a common occurrence.
Chicago Folk: Images of the Sixties Music Scene puts Chicago in the
spotlight, including great photos of Bob Dylan playing at Orchestra
Hall in 1963. Pete Seeger, Win Stracke, playing along with Joan Baez
and Bob Dylan… all this really happened, and is brought back to life
in this photo history. With 150 images, including some at the Old
Town School of Folk Music, which lives on, we sense the vibrancy of
Chicago as an urban folk scene, attracting performers from around the nation.
Flerlage excels at candid photos of performers creating the music and
revealing the energy surging through audiences. Although much of this
music remains accessible to us today, online and through programs
like Chicago's Midnight Special on WFMT-FM, the photographs and
chronology of folk music through the decade brings the '60s back to
life in an extraordinary way. The culture, clothing styles, music
halls and small clubs.
The book's variety includes some anecdotal captions and many pages
with thoughtful compositions capturing loosely-structured
performances and jam sessions. Flerlage also had the ability to stun
us with photos where performers nearly leap off the page. Bob Gibson,
Josh White, and Odetta are vividly brought back to life.
Most of these unique photos, whether in performance, backstage, or in
social settings, have never been published before. Through the
efforts of editors Ron Cohen and Bob Riesman, folk music lives on in
a way it never could on an iPod.
In the book's brief bio of Flerlage, we learn he was driven not just
by a good eye for photography but by a desire for racial equality and
social justice. His book serves as a good reminder of Chicago in the
1960s, where efforts continue today to attain this equality, and live
music still captivates listeners.
Flerlage is also the author of Chicago Blues - As Seen From the Inside.