The Folk Next Door

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Track Listing

Artist / Song
1) Lui Collins / Friendship Waltz
2) The Patons / Come Love Come
3) Dewey Burns / Just How Long
4) Please and Thank You Band / Pittsburgh Medley
5) McDonnell/Tane / Ordinary Man
6) Heartwood / I Give You Light
7) Donna Martin / The Shirt Off My Back
8) Last Fair Deal / Out of My Mind
9) Amy Davis & Dan Gardella / Take Me to the Zydeco Dance
10) Hugh Blumerfeld /Waiting for the Good Humor Man
11) Steve Nystrup / Canary Island
12) Dave Drouillard Oh, / Sweet Mary
13) Richard Shindell / Home Team
14) John Whelan / Gan Aimn
15) Bruce Pratt / Drivin' Through the Delta
16) Don Sineti / The Dreadnought
17) Stan Sullivan / The Passing Lane
18) Delta Boogie May / We All Shout Together
19) Zydeco Zombies / Ossan Two-Step
20) The Nields / Anchorman

Bruce Pratt, a station supporter and co-founder of the Folk Next Door with Ed McKeon, provided the following recollection at the time of WWUH's 30th anniversary in 1998.
           If a Golden moment has existed in this Golden Age it was when Ed McKeon and I first figured out how to make The Folk Next Door work.  As boastful as that may sound, I believe it to be true. The idea was simple. We'd invite as many of the best acoustic performers as we could to a concert, charge the public a reasonable amount, and record the show for a compilation CD. The artists would donate their time, but would receive the very tangible benefit of being on a CD that would be played on stations across the country. The concert appearance itself was an added benefit-often the first big stage performance for some of the artists.

 

FOLD NEXT DOOR SELECTION COMMITTEE
Nick Vukasunovic, Ed McKeon, Susan, Bill Domler,
Steve Dieterich, Amy Gallatin
and Kevin Lynch (John Ramsey not shown)



The first artist selection process was arduous and fraught with discord. Besides the ancient arguments about what constituted folk music, and the internecine quarrels between the folk, singer/songwriter, bluegrass, blues, and traditional camps, there were arguments over the quality of certain artists suggested by members of the staff. Though Ed had done all the work, everyone at the station and in the folk community felt they had a stake in deciding who should appear. Ed made a sincere attempt to be democratic: we had meetings, voted on suggestions, argued for favorites, and some nearly came to blows. When the project seemed to be sinking in its own turmoil, with a patience unmatched by Job, Ed pushed on. Tempers rose, noses were put out of joint, but in the end as fine an evening of music and spirit as I have ever known ensued. I cherish the CDs and the memories of this venture. If I am ever in a really tight spot and need help I can absolutely stake my life on, one of the first people I'll call is Ed McKeon.

           The Folk Next Door's run astonishes me. There is a saying among musicians that goes, "Everyone remembers a funeral, but not always the wedding." Translated, this means if the first attempt fails, you don't get a second shot. There are many more, "First Annual" events, than there are "Tenth Annual" ones. Like most great ventures, The Folk Next Door, came to an end as an annual event, but its legacy is remembered in every one of the projects that have imitated its success over these past many years.

From Ed McKeon, WWUH, Folk director and FM on Toast host
The Folk Next Door was an idea that emerged in a phone conversation between Bruce Pratt and myself.  We wanted to do something that would bring money into WWUH, expose our listening audience to new artists, and create a permanent record of the event.  CDs were pretty new, especially in the folk world, at that point, and we wanted to make one.  So we came up with the scheme to charge a good ticket price, give each audience member a copy of the CD, ask the artists to perform for free and use the funds from the concert to press the CD (and cassettes, of course).  The rest is history, and I think, documented in the Folk Next Door history I wrote at one point.

From John Ramsey's collection of anecdotes
1991

       Folk Director Ed McKeon approached the WWUH Executive Committee (ECOM) in the fall of 1991 with the idea of holding a folk concert to promote local artists.  In addition to producing the concert he suggested that that the event be recorded and a compilation CD be released as a fundraiser for the station.  He felt sure that he could convince enough musicians to donate their time and was confident that WWUH would fill the Wilde Auditorium on campus.        While the ECOM was enthusiastic, they were hesitant about laying out the $4000 plus for the CD without knowing if they would ever be able to get a return on the investment.  To a non-commercial station, $4000 is a lot of money!  Ed's answer was to charge $20 each for tickets to the event, with the ticket holder not only getting in to see the show but also receiving a CD or cassette when it came out later that year.  The ECOM thought this was a great idea, and gave the go ahead for the concert, to be held in May of the following year.  Hence the Folk Next Door was born.

 


Chuck Dube doing sound

      Ed and I had both done concert promotion previously so we had an idea of what were were in for, but if the station's staff had known in advance the amount of work that would have to go into producing the first Folk Next Door concert, they might never have taken on the project!  The administrative details alone took dozens of hours.  And then there was the listening to demo tapes, contacting the bands (both the ones accepted and the ones who weren't), getting releases signed, doing publicity, etc. It was avery time consuming process, and all of that had to be done properly well before the day of the show.

 


Stan Sullivan

      The show got off to a great start at 7 pm twith a full house, but by 9 pm we had gotten behind in the schedule.  The show, which was supposed to end at  10:30 pm, lasted until after midnight.  Ed and I were both very concerned that the show was running so late but when Bruce Pratt pointed out at around 11:30 that the room was still fill, that no one had left early, we know we had a good thing going.       Once the show was over, I had to prepare the master tapes so that we could pick the twelve songs that would be used on the compilation CD.  This was a very difficult process.  Back then you could only get about 70 minutes on a CD and we found that often the best song by a given artist was too long to fit so compromises had to be made although I don't think anyone would know from the final project.

 

      The 1000 CDs and 500 cassettes were released in September.  We sent copies of the CD to the 200 people who has purchased tickets, to the artists themselves and sent out about another 250 copies to various folk radio stations throughout the country.  Several weeks later I answered the office phone line and spoke to a gentleman who I could tell was obviously at a pay phone (cell phones weren't popular yet).  Through the traffic noise in the background, I heard the guy say "Is this the Folk Next Door station".  Needless to say, I was a bit surprised but I answered "yes".  To make a long story short, the guy had heard McDonnell Tane's "Orginary Man" from the Folk Next Door CD on WUMB in Cambridge while driving on Rt 128 outside Boston, and he "just had to have it". He had heard WUMB announce that the CD was produced by a station in Hartford, CT and he had pulled over to a pay phone and had called a dozen stations in an effort to find "the folk next door station"!  Once I acknowledgied that we had the CD available he started reading off his credit card number!  I knew we had a winner if one song could make that kind of impression.

 


Delta Boogie

       Later that same year, we received a money order in the mail with a request from a folk fan in Japan for a copy!  They had heard about the CD through a review in one of the folk music magazines!        Ed did a wonderful job handling the administrative aspects of the First Folk Next Door project, but as Chief Engineer my job was to handle the technical aspects of the event, including the recording. For those readers who are technically inclined or who are interested in how we did the recording, read on.

 


The Big Finale

    In order to make a CD of the first Folk Next Door concert, we realized that we needed to start with a digital recording.  Up until that point in 1991, all of the recorders at WWUH were analog reel to reel machines so we borrowed two DAT recorders.  Since we would be recording "live to tape" with no chance for retakes, we set up the two recorders with one running about ten minutes ahead of the other. That would allow us to continue to record while we were changing tapes on the first recorder.  As the ultimate backup, we also ran reel to reel tape at 15 IPS!      The actual recording was done through a 24 x 8 x 2 Audioarts 3000 console in our recording studio at the station, right down the hall from the Wilde Auditorium.  Microphones included Electro Voice RE-20s and RE-27s, Shure SM-57s, an RCA 77DX and a Beyer M-280.       The edit mastering was done with the help of Dave Budries, the director of the Hartt Recording Studio.  The CDs and cassettes were produced at Record Technology Incorporated in California.        Assisting me with the recording were WWUH volunteers Chuck Dube, Chris Marti and Dave Viveiros.