Treasures from the Folk Den
First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2003, Volume 10, #2
Written by John Metzger
Roger McGuinn first discovered the rich heritage of folk music as a young man growing up in Chicago. He took banjo lessons at the legendary Old Town School and absolutely idolized Pete Seeger. As the ’60s progressed, McGuinn ushered in a new era of jangly folk-pop as leader of The Byrds. His latest endeavor — a project on which he has been working for the better part of the last decade — brings him full circle as he turns to a cause that has long been a focus for Seeger: the preservation of folk music.
Since 1995, McGuinn has been using his web site The Folk Den to disburse his versions of traditional songs and sea chanteys, and he selected some of his favorites to feature on a new album titled Treasures from the Folk Den. To create the disc, he gathered a variety of legends from the genre — including Seeger, Odetta, Joan Baez, and Judy Collins — to perform long-forgotten songs from America’s past, recording each track in the intimate settings of his co-stars’ homes.
There are no real surprises contained on Treasures from the Folk Den. Instead, each song follows closely in the footsteps of its other recorded renditions, as McGuinn opts for deference over transcendence. Yet, there is a heartfelt beauty that pervades the album, one that stems from McGuinn’s genuine affinity for the material he has unearthed. Treasures from the Folk Den isn’t fancy or full of gimmicks; it’s stuffed with great songs that radiate from one man’s labor of love.
Treasures from the Folk Den is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box