In this country, the golden age of folk as a self-conscious revival began in the 1950s and peaked in the 1960s. It was then that artists like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Weavers, and the Carter Family broke folk music out of its narrow association with camp sing-alongs and Sunday-school retreats and brought it onto the world stage through the coffeehouses of New York’s Greenwich Village. Folk in the 1960s became the music of social protest and consciousness raising, and listening to it and playing it often implied a commitment to progressive politics and civil and worker’s rights.
It’s this legacy of folk as the soundtrack of social change and moral revolution that will be celebrated in a new show that opens this Saturday, April 23, and runs through May 15 at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. Lonesome Traveler is the creation of Rubicon Artistic Director James O’Neil, and it employs nine singer/musicians to dramatize some of the key moments in the history of the American folk revival. Using such classic songs as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and “Maggie’s Farm,” Lonesome Traveler weaves together a tapestry of the venues and historic circumstances that put folk at the core of the great changes that swept American society from 1958 through to the early 1970s. The following are three reasons why you should get to the Rubicon for the opportunity to experience this music in a whole new way. For tickets, showtimes, and info, call 667-2900 or visit rubicontheatre.org.
1. Great Performers: As usual, the Rubicon has attracted some of the best talent in the country. Tracy Nicole Chapman who was in Caroline, or Change and Into the Woods on Broadway will be there, along with Anthony Manough, whose Broadway credits include The Lion King and Jesus Christ Superstar.
2. Singers Who Play Instruments: Everyone in the cast will play their own instruments onstage as part of the performance, so the experience will resemble the original setup in the folk-fueled coffeehouses of New York.
3. Music That Made History: As director/creator Jim O’Neil puts it, “Lonesome Traveler is about the history that made the music, and the music that made history.”