Philadelphia Folksong Society
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|Purpose||preserving the past, promoting the present and securing the future of folk music|
6139 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia Folksong Society is a not for profit educational organization dedicated to preserving the past, promoting the present and securing the future of folk music and related forms of expression through education, presentation and participation.
The Philadelphia Folksong Society, founded in 1957. has sponsored programs of entertainment and education throughout the local area and North America. These programs present a lyrical history of society and provide enjoyment to thousands of people of all ages. From the traditional ballads of the 15th century to the contemporary sounds of today's singer/songwriters, the Philadelphia Folksong Society has promoted and greatly contributed to the preservation of a vast variety of musical styles and historical perspective.
Established by a small group of folk fans and musicians, including singer and guitarist George Britton, the Society has grown into one of the largest, most successful organizations of its kind, developing and marketing quality programs. Revenues from the annual Philadelphia Folk Festival have enabled the Society to give away more than a million dollars to present, sponsor and promote a wide variety of activities, educational programs and entertainment in the community. The Philadelphia Folksong Society also lends its expertise, and gives support, to other non-profit organizations. As a team of volunteers, we have built one of the premiere events and organizations for all types of folk music and culture.
While the Society is best known for its largest event, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, some of the lesser known programs are the most significant to the people served, bringing music to schools, senior centers, hospitals, concert halls, libraries and other locations. Servicing thousands each year, these programs introduce children and adults to a variety of instruments and styles, and encourage exploration of ethnic diversity and historical trends in musical expression.
Unique among cultural organizations, The Philadelphia Folksong Society supports its efforts with the devotion, ingenuity and sweat of its volunteers. The volunteers are the backbone of the organization.
Philadelphia Folk Festival
The Philadelphia Folk Festival- The largest and oldest continuously running festival of its kind in the country. For more than four decades, some 8,000 to 15,000 people gather annually at the Old Pool Farm for three days and four nights of music, children's programs, crafts, workshops, and campground jams. Many Festival ticket-holders and volunteers have been attending the event since its inception; others for 10, 20 or 30 years.
More than 2,000 volunteers set up and produce the festival. This dedicated group works throughout the year to provide attendees with a great show, numerous activities, and a safe and comfortable environment.
Dozens of nationally renowned traditional and contemporary have played the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and archival recordings exist, documenting every year of the festival as well as other important Folksong Society events.
Other programs of the Philadelphia Folksong Society include a series of retreats that take place in the seasons surrounding the summer festival. Respectively, these are Spring Thing, Fall Fling, and Cabin Fever. And while each is different in scope and context, the programs are generally geared toward arts engagement, sings, workshops, and community.
The Odyssey of American Music program sends dozens of musicians into Philadelphia schools where arts programs have been limited or cut. The program has been in operation for decades and serves over 6,000 students per school year.
Benefit Fundraisers are held intermittently to benefit the non-profit and to honor important figures in the advancement of folk music and arts. Most notably, the Society honored the work and life of Nora Guthrie, daughter of the late Woody Guthrie, in a concert held at World Cafe Live. In addition, recent fundraisers include the last Philadelphia performance by Doc Watson in 2011  as well as an event with Trombone Shorty in 2012, both at Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA.
Over the years, the Society has had as its foundation or under its wing, many notable figures or celebrities. Gene Shay, co-founder and master of ceremonies for the event, is also a popular radio DJ on WXPN and forerunner of Philadelphia folk, even bringing Bob Dylan to the city in 1963.
Many celebrities have graced Society-hosted stages over the 51-year span of the organization. Among them are Pete Seeger, Jim Croce, Jackson Browne, Judy Collins, Doc Watson, Steve Goodman, Janis Ian, and Mike Seeger. Other more recent acts include Ani DiFranco, Alison Krauss, Kimya Dawson, Steve Earle, Jonathan Edwards. This is by no means a comprehensive list of artists or notable figures.