|Stylistic origins||Psychedelic rock
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s, early 1970s|
|Typical instruments||Acoustic guitar
New Weird America
|Indie folk - Freakbeat - Neo-psychedelia|
Psychedelic folk, psych folk or acid folk is a loosely defined form of psychedelic music that originated in the 1960s through the fusion of folk music and psychedelic rock. It retained the largely acoustic instrumentation of folk, but added musical influences common to psychedelic rock and the psychedelic experience.
Psych folk generally favors acoustic instrumentation although it often incorporates other instrumentation. Chanting, early music and various non-Western folk music influences are often found in psych folk. Much like its rock counterpart, psychedelic folk is often known for a peculiar, trance-like, and atmospheric sound, often drawing on musical improvisation and Asian influences. Its lyrics are often concerned with such subjects as the natural world, love and beauty and try to evoke a state of mind associated with the effects of psychedelic drugs.
The first musical use of the term psychedelic is thought to have been by the New York-based folk group The Holy Modal Rounders on their version of Lead Belly's 'Hesitation Blues' in 1964. Psychedelic music spread rapidly in the beat folk scenes of both the east and west coast United States in the mid-1960s. San Francisco produced bands such as Kaleidoscope, It's a Beautiful Day, Peanut Butter Conspiracy and H. P. Lovecraft. From New York city's Greenwich Village came groups such as Jake and the Family Jewels and Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys and from Florida Pearls Before Swine. Many of these psychedelic folk groups followed the Byrds into folk rock from 1965, and are, as a result, more widely remembered, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Captain Beefheart, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
From the mid-1960s, partly as a result of the British Invasion, this trend ran in parallel in both America and Britain and as part of the inter-related folk, folk rock and rock scenes. Folk artists who were particularly significant included the Scottish performers Donovan, who combined influences of American artists like Bob Dylan with references to flower power, and the Incredible String Band, who from 1967 incorporated a range of influences into their acoustic based music, including medieval and eastern instruments. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, solo acts such as Syd Barrett and Nick Drake began to incorporate psychedelic influences into folk music with albums such as Barrett's The Madcap Laughs and Drake's Five Leaves Left.
There was a brief flowering of British and Irish progressive folk in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with groups like the Third Ear Band and Quintessence following the eastern Indian musical and more abstract work by acts such as Forest, C.O.B. (Clive's Original Band), Dr Strangely Strange, Jan Dukes De Grey, Trader Horne, Trees, Spirogyra, Comus and Dando Shaft.
Decline in the 1970s 
In the early 1970s psychedelia began to fall out of fashion and those folk groups that had not already moved into different areas had largely disbanded. In Britain folk groups also tended to electrify as did acoustic duo Tyrannosaurus Rex which became the electric combo T. Rex. This was a continuation of a process by which progressive folk had considerable impact on mainstream rock. Others, probably influenced by the electric folk pioneered by Fairport Convention from 1969, moved towards more traditional material, a category including Dando Shaft, Amazing Blondel, and Jack the Lad, an offshoot of northern progressive folk group Lindisfarne. Examples of bands that remained firmly on the border between progressive folk and progressive rock were the short lived Comus and, more successfully, Renaissance, who combined folk and rock with classical elements.
Interest in folk music among the independent artists and crossover bands that dominated much of the underground music scene in the late 1990s led to a revival of psych folk during the following decade, with the New Weird America movement, which also saw the rise of the stylistically similar genre of Freak Folk. Also, Animal Collective's early albums identify closely with freak folk as does their collaboration with veteran British folk artist Vashti Bunyan, and The Microphones/Mount Eerie, who combine naturalistic elements with lo-fi and psychedelia. Both artists received significant exposure in the indie music scene following critical acclaim from review site Pitchfork Media and soon more artists began experimenting with the genre, including Grizzly Bear, Alt J and Grouper.
See also 
- Freak folk
- Jam bands
- List of psych folk artists
- Ptolemaic Terrascope - a psychedelic folk & rock magazine
- "acid folk" at allmusic.com
- Van Waes, Gerald. "A Brief Overview of Psych-Folk and Acid Folk, from 60s until now". Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- Hicks (2000), pp 59–60.
- Auslander (2006), pp. 76.
- Unterberger (2002), pp. 183–230.
- Scaruffi (2003), p. 54.
- DeRogatis (2003), p. 120.
- "Five Leaves Left review". Allmusicaccessdate=2011-06-07.
- Piero Scaruffi, A history of rock music 1951-2000,(iUniverse, 2003), ISBN 0-595-29565-7, p.112.
- Scaruffi (2003), pp. 81–82.
- Sweers (2005), pp. 40.
- Macan (1997), pp. 134–5.
- "Splendid Magazine reviews Animal Collective (featuring Vashti Bunyan): Prospect Hummer". Splended. September 13, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- "Splendid E-zine reviews: The Microphones". Splendid. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- "Animal Collective: Sung Tongs". Pitchfork Media. May 2, 2004. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- "Animal Collective / Vashti Bunyan: Prospect Hummer EP". Pitchfork Media. May 15, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- "The Microphones: The Glow, Pt. 2". Pitchfork Media. September 10, 2001. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- "Grizzly Bear Feeds on Psych-Folk". The Harvard Crimson. February 11, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- "Grouper - Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill review". Mojo. December 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- Auslander, Philip (2006). Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06868-5.
- DeRogatis, Jim (2003). Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-0-634-05548-5.
- Hicks, Michael (2000). Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06915-4.
- Leech, Jeanette (2010). Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk. London: Jawbone Press. ISBN 978-1-906002-32-9.
- Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509888-4.
- Scaruffi, Piero (2003). A History of Rock Music, 1951–2000. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-595-29565-4.
- Sweers, Britta (2005). Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-515878-6.
- Unterberger, Richie (2002). Turn! Turn! Turn!: The '60s Folk-rock Revolution. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0-87930-703-5.
- PsychedelicFolk.com, by Gerald Van Waes
- Dream Magazine: resource for psych folk and all other types of psychedelic music
- Contemporary Psychedelia: From Transcendence to Immanence -- An essay on psych folk and spirituality
- Dirty Linen Magazine feature article on New Psych Folk