About the music

Irish folk music grew strong roots in the New England area around the beginning of the 18th century and remained predominant for the following two and a half centuries, although the original texts were altered to fit the new realities: Woodsmen, fishermen, and common folks replaced the old Irish heroes. This remake can perhaps be seen as a sign of the new immigrants wanting to distinguish themselves from, also culturally, the heir of The Old World. The folk music of the northeast separates itself from other American folk music in that it has stayed the least influenced by African American music.

At the beginning of this millennium, a loosely organized group of musicians felt that the music industry objectified their music and restrained them from acting in accordance with their true beliefs. Although, their musical output does not formally bear much resemblance to the folk music of the past, they found an informality and a realness in this music, which became a point of origin for their continued musical journeys.

The connection to the folk music can thus be found in the values rather than in the form. The goal (if ever there was one) seems to have been to restore the connection between the musician and his audience, to bring the music past the Big Labels and play it live and locally in front of 'real' people. Add a pinch of punk, hardcore, kraut, psychedelica, free jazz, and avant-garde to the mix, stir intensely, and drink up...

It was the journalist David Keenan who, on the cover of the magazine Wire in August 2003, coined the scene's name: "New Weird America" (which is a play on Greil Marcus' phrase "Old Weird America", from his book Invisible Republic). Keenan participated in the Brattleboro Free & Folk Festival (Free can be seen as an imperative rather than an adjective) and here apparently had a revelation á la the time when John Landau first saw Bruce Springsteen play. The article would later prove to be both a blessing and a curse: The musicians suddenly experienced interest from record collectors all over the world, yet some felt that they had been misunderstood and portrayed to fit the angle the journalist had chosen for the feature. They were not hobos living in folk utopia; they were just people playing music.

Today, the scene is as alive and bustling as ever. Some people have moved on or away, but others (the '2nd generation' that seems to have cropped up around the record store/label Feeding Tube Records must be highlighted here) have taken their place and continued the proud tradition of keeping the backs of the hills of New England ringing with joyously weird, out-there music for no apparent reason...