Folk music has been in existence for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It’s a rare music genre that was originally developed by the common people and has rapidly evolved over the past decades.

If you are a true enthusiast, here is a brief history of folk music.


The term “Folk Music” originated in England in the 19th century where it derives from the German expression “Volk,” which means “the people as a whole.” The term is also an extension of the term folklore which was originally coined in 1846 by William Thoms, an English antiquarian, to describe “the customs, traditions, and the superstitions of the uncultured classes.”

Although the term originated in the 19th century, it’s often applied to music that is hundreds or thousands of years old.

Folk music is basically considered as an expression of life in the specific communities in which it was originally developed. The music was made by the common people during various activities such as work, leisure, and religious activities. Over the years, historians have been studying folk music in attempt to discover the way of life of people.


In the mid 20th century, folk music evolved from the traditional folk music to a new form of popular folk music. The period is popularly referred to as “the second folk revival” and is said to have come to a halt from the 1960s to mid-1970s. The music is commonly referred to as folk revival or contemporary folk music.

One of the main and most important contributors to the revival of folk music was Woodie Guthrie. Beethoven and Josef Haydn were also two incredible composers who made arrangements for folk music. The first folk music festival is said to have been held in Asheville, California in 1968.

Folk music continued to rise in popularity throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Popular stars like Burl Ives and Jimmy Rodgers greatly contributed to bringing the music to its peak in the 1950s. Some of the most popular singing groups and singer who as well made a significant contribution in making the genre more popular include the Kingston Trio, The Weavers, and Harry Belafonte. They focused on a style that attempted to honor, reproduce, and popularize the traditional folk music. This particular style was short-lived as “folk rock” became more popular.

Folk rock partly contributed to the fall of folk music revival as by 1975, its popularity had rapidly declined. It wasn’t until the late 1990s when it was again revived, although its revival was not as huge as the previous one. Nevertheless, popular music bands took some important elements from folk music throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Folk music may not have reached its peak during the second revival, but it’s still a popular music genre today. There are many folk music clubs and festivals all over the world, which explains why this music is not going away anytime soon. They include The Bitter End, Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar, Jalopy Theatre (all in New York), Port Fairy Folk Music Festival (Australia), England’s Cambridge Folk Music Festival, The National Folk Festival, The American Folk Festival, Lowell Folk Festival, and many others.


Today, many folk artists are dabbling in different genres and integrating a variety of musical influences into their narrative songs. This has a result helped in preserving the genre.

Folk music has rapidly evolved over the past decades and without a doubt, it’s one music genre that won’t be going away anytime soon. Furthermore, the fact that it has managed to progress for hundreds, if not thousands of years, it’s clear to see that it’s here to stay.



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Music with soul moves people and when people venture out to see live music, they want to be moved. Folk music comes from the soul, it is the music of poor working class people who sang to describe stories of their people and traditions and who entertained each other through a love of music and song. They sang from the heart and nothing is louder than the heart in music, no matter who sings it or who plays along.

This old fashioned sentiment is captured perfectly in live folk shows around the country. It is rare you will find a folk band young or old that isn’t captivating with their stage prowess. They move people with their voices, with their instruments, with their music and with their passion.

Folk music is also a great way to hear unusual instruments and melodies that are not often used in other contemporary music genres. These instruments vary but are usually ancient or traditional style wind and string instruments that give a distinct sound to the folk style being showcased. Instruments are often passed down through the generations and come to mean so much more to the musician. There are so many memories from learning to play, say a banjo, that belong to your father, at your father’s knee.

There are many specialty genres of the folk music such as:

– Radical folk

– Anti folk

– Folk punk or rogue folk

– Indie folk

– Techno-folk

– Freak folk

– Americana

Whereas the fusion genres are enumerated as:

– Folk metal

– Progressive folk


If you’re seeing folk music, likely you are at a traditional pub or festival or perhaps in someone’s home. The beauty of seeing folk music live is the warmth that is shared between audience and players. Often, at many a shindig, the players will play in an open circle and everyone can join in. Even if you don’t have an instrument in your hand, you will be clapping, singing and encouraged to get up and dance. Because the music comes from the hear, it doesn’t matter what your singing voice is like. It’s the fact that you are singing along at all is all that matters at the end of the day.

Many a folk band offers even more than song and instruments when they perform. It is not unusual for bands to tour and perform with a dance troupe, merging traditional folk steps with modern contemporary dance styles. They incorporate dance styles like clog dancing or Morris dancing. More and more people are being drawn to folk or acoustic music. Generally speaking, once someone becomes a fan of folk music or attending folk festivals they remain loyal fans for the rest of their lives. Because of this the level of people attending folk festivals is expected to continue to rise.

People feel that folk festivals are more relaxed, friendly and open than many other music festivals. There is always something different to listen to at a folk festival. They all invite new bands and folk music is a continually evolving genre, so there is always something new and interesting to listen to.

This is the beauty of folk, especially when it is live. It is appealing to so many different ages and backgrounds and brings people together to have a wonderful time.


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One of the first bands that really brought folk back into the mainstream was Mumford and Sons.  They were able to reach out to a whole new group of people who liked their music and were interested in exploring more.  This is the music video for one of my favorite songs from them!