Another way to appreciate this area of music is to remember how important it was to the development of other styles. To stretch a quote by the great blues composer Willie Dixon, folks like Dylan, Seeger, Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Skip James, Lightnin' Hopkins, Sonny Terry, Lonnie Donegan, New Lost City Ramblers, etc were the roots, and The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and Miles Davis were the fruits. Traditional folk and blues performers might not have made a big splash with rebellious fashion and attitude (though Muddy Waters and Lightnin' Hopkins were certainly sharp dressers), but they sure had something to say. Sometimes the deepest messages come in plain wrappings. One of the most memorable moments I've ever seen on TV was Pete Seeger on Hugh Hefner's Playboy's Penthouse (1959). Pete had a great talent for getting a crowd singing, and it was sweet to see a room of sophisticates huddled around him singing along. Hefner, a huge music fan himself, sat close to Pete and joined in. The guests were movers and shakers of the new cultural revolution, but unified in curiosity and humanity by that banjo.
Spy Vibers interested in seeing another side of the early-mid 1960s should check out the great documentary, The Power of Song (about Pete Seeger).
Although I played in a bluegrass band in high school, and have played mainly blues guitar all my life, my listening curiosity never really pulled in this direction until now. It's great to discover 'new" areas of culture when a fresh context or perspective open us up to the experience. Groovy organ soundtracks transcend time for me because they bring a sense of adventure and playfulness to the day. The spirit of Seeger and the poetry of Bob Dylan's songs transcend time because they embody universal, human emotion and experience. I'm playing banjo these days in the Spy Vibe lair! It's quite fun to pick out blues and folk tunes. I've also discovered that the instrument can double as a shamisen for traditional Japanese melodies. I encourage all Spy Vibers to spend some time with characters like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Alan Lomax. Dive into the Smithsonian Folkways site. Listen to traditional music from around the world and discover your inner folkie.