Discovering Folk Music in Philadelphia

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discovering Folk Music in Philadelphia – A guide to the best folk music venues, events, and festivals in the Philadelphia area.

Introducing Folk Music

Folk music often tells the stories of the people and cultures from which it comes. It can be lively and upbeat, or slow and reflective. Folk music is a great way to learn about other cultures, and it can be a lot of fun to listen to. Philadelphia has a rich folk music scene, and there are many opportunities to see live music and dance.

What is Folk Music?

Folk music is a genre of music that typically uses acoustic instruments and focuses on the Traditional music of a specific culture or region. Folk music is often passed down orally from generation to generation, and it usually exists outside of the commercial music industry. In Philly, there’s a thriving folk music scene with many talented artists making great music.

If you’re interested in discovering folk music in Philadelphia, there are a few great ways to do it. One way is to attend a concert or event at one of the city’s many live music venues. Another option is to check out some of the city’s Folk Festivals, which showcase traditional and contemporary folk musicians from all over the world. Finally, you can also listen to folk radio programs or streaming online stations to get a feel for the genre.

Whether you’re a long-time fan of folk music or just getting started, discovering Philly’s vibrant scene is sure to be a rewarding experience.

The Origins of Folk Music in Philadelphia

Folk music has been a part of Philadelphia since the city’s founding in 1682. The earliest folk music in Philadelphia was brought over by German immigrants who settled in the city’s Germantown neighborhood. This type of music was called “volksmusik” and was very popular in Germany at the time. German immigrants also brought over a type of music called “Schweizerlieder” which was popular in Switzerland.

Irish and Scottish Folk Music in Philadelphia

Folk music has been present in Philadelphia since the city’s founding. In the 1600s, English, Irish, and Scottish immigrants brought their musical traditions with them when they settled in the area. These traditions were continued by their descendants and passed down through the generations.

One of the most important influences on early American folk music was the Pennsylvania German community. This community was made up of German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. They brought with them a rich tradition of folk music, which they passed down to their children and grandchildren.

The Irish and Scottish immigrants who came to Philadelphia in the 1600s also left their mark on the city’s folk music scene. Their traditional songs and dances were passed down through the generations and are still performed today. One of the most popular folk songs in Philadelphia is “Danny Boy,” which was written by an Irishman living in America.

Folk music in Philadelphia has also been influenced by African American culture. In the 1800s, many African Americans moved to Philadelphia from rural areas of the South. They brought with them a rich tradition of music and dance, which helped to shape the city’s folk music scene.

Today, there are many different types of folk music being performed in Philadelphia. Folk musicians often play traditional songs from their own cultural backgrounds, as well as original compositions. You can find folk musicians performing in parks, at farmers markets, and in other public places around the city.

African American Folk Music in Philadelphia

African American folk music in Philadelphia is a tradition that dates back to the city’s earliest days. At the time of the founding of the United States, Philadelphia was already a center of African American culture and music. This culture was brought to the city by enslaved Africans who were brought to the city by their owners. These Africansrooted African musical traditions in the city that would eventually become known as “black music.”

The earliest form of black music in Philadelphia was, not surprisingly, work songs. These songs were sung by slaves while they worked on plantations and in other labor-intensive jobs. Work songs were a way for slaves to communicate with each other, and they often contained hidden messages or coded language that would help slaves escape from captivity.

As slavery began to be abolished in the United States, black musicians in Philadelphia began to develop new genres of music that were influenced by both African and European traditions. The earliest form of this new genre was called “spirituals.” Spirituals were religious songs that were sung by black Christians in churches and at revival meetings. They were often very emotional and haunting songs that expressed the longing for freedom and salvation.

The development of spirituals paved the way for other genres of black music, including gospel, blues, and jazz. All of these genres have roots in African American folk music, and they have all played an important role in the development of American popular music.

The Revival of Folk Music in Philadelphia

Folk music has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, and Philadelphia is no exception. This type of music has deep roots in the city, and there are plenty of places to enjoy it. From intimate coffeehouses to lively concert halls, there’s something for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at the revival of folk music in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Folk Festival

In the fall of 1962, a group of friends got together to put on a music festival in rural Pennsylvania. It was a time when the traditional music of America was being rediscovered and celebrated by a new generation. The Philadelphia Folk Festival was born, and over the years it has become one of the most important events in the folk music calendar.

The Philadelphia Folk Festival is now in its 56th year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. This year’s lineup includes some of the biggest names in folk music, along with up-and-coming artists who are keeping the tradition alive. If you love folk music, this is one event you won’t want to miss.

The Philadelphia Folk Song Society

In 1911, a group of amateur musician friends formed the Philadelphia Folk Song Society (PFSS), dedicated to collecting and performing folksongs. Many of their songs were learned from books, but an important part of the Society’s mission was to locate and record “living” folk performers, and to encourage the creation of new folk music. The PFSS sponsored public concerts, salvaged instruments and printed music, and organized annual “Folk Festivals” that became immensely popular. The Society’s success spurred similar groups to form across the country, and helped fuel the American folk music revival of the 1940s and 50s.

The PFSS lapsed inactivity during World War II, but was revived in 1951 by a new generation of folk enthusiasts. Since then, the Society has continued to promote traditional music through concerts, festivals, workshops, instrument loans, educational programs, and its award-winning radio show, Folkadelphia.

The Future of Folk Music in Philadelphia

Folk music has been around for centuries, and it’s no surprise that it’s still popular today. In Philadelphia, there are many places where you can discover folk music. From coffee shops to concert halls, there are a variety of venues that host folk music. This article will explore the future of folk music in Philadelphia.

The Young Folk Musicians of Philadelphia

The young folk musicians of Philadelphia are keeping the tradition alive with a passion for the music and a desire to share it with others. These musicians are carrying on the legacy of their predecessors while adding their own unique perspectives to the music.

The future of folk music in Philadelphia looks bright, as these young musicians continue to develop their skills and share their love of the music with new audiences.

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