When Epiphone relaunched in the late 50's from Kalamazoo, Michigan, the company entered into not only a whole new phase in its history but a whole new era of music, too.
Around the time Epiphone launched some of its trademark acoustic guitars like the Bard 12-string (employed by Roy Orbison) and the Texan
(Sir Paul McCartney), a folk revival was breaking out around the country. The Weavers hit big with "Goodnight Irene" in 1950 and it made a big impression, eventually leading kids into getting curious about Woody Guthrie and alternatives to rock and roll and pop.
The success of the Kingston Trio, Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger in the late 50's further led many to discover the amazing world of pre World War II country, blues, and folk music. Around the same time, a music scene in Greenwich Village--the home of cheap rent, cheap coffee and perhaps a few other cheap things--broke out with artists like Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan (who arrived in '61), Peter, Paul, and Mary and John Herald while in Boston, Joan Baez, Jim Rooney, Mimi and Richard Farina, John Sebastian, and later Taj Mahal, Peter Rowan, and Bonnie Raitt filled the Club 47 in Cambridge.
And now folk is back. Or it's trying, at least.
On Sunday, September 29, Epiphone will be present again when producer T Bone Burnett hosts a concert at The Town Hall in New York City celebrating the Coen Brothers new film, Inside Llewyn Davis,
which is partially based on the posthumously released memoir by folk blues great Dave Van Ronk, one of Dylan's main inspirations in his early days.
Several longtime Epiphone friends including Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Conor Oberst, and T-Bone himself will be present along with Jack White, the Avett Brothers, and Marcus Mumford. The last time T-Bone and the Coen Brothers worked together for O Brother, Where Art Thou?
, the soundtrack became a sleeper hit and helped ignite the slow flame of Americana into a full blown fire.
Whether that can happen again it's hard to say but the times seem ripe for a return to great song craft and a deeper look at the roots of country and blues. There are a lot of great acts on the bill and Joan Baez, Patti Smith, and Gillian Welch are sure to be highlights along with Jack White, who is superb solo and is rarely heard on his own. Bob Dylan is off that night and if anyone could blow the joint down, it would Bob, who would have no trouble turning back time.