The Madison Folk Music Society: Keeping Tradition Alive

The Madison Folk Music Society is a volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to keeping traditional folk music alive in the Madison, Wisconsin area.


The Madison Folk Music Society (MFMS) is a volunteer-run, 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting and celebrating folk music and dance in the Madison, Wisconsin area. We do this through sponsoring public events, providing educational opportunities, and supporting the work of local folk musicians and dancers.

Folk music is the music of the people. It is passed down from generation to generation, often within families or close communities. The term “folk music” can refer to both traditional music—that is, music that is older than the performer—and contemporary music that is written in the traditional style. Folk dance is usually performed to folk music, but not always.

The MFMS was founded in 1961 by a group of local folk musicians and enthusiasts. We are one of the oldest continuously operating folk music societies in the country. Over the past fifty years, we have sponsored thousands of events featuring folk musicians and dancers from around the world.

History of the Madison Folk Music Society

The Madison Folk Music Society (MFMS) was founded in 1963 by U.W. music professor Arne B. Larson and Blackhawk Technical College music instructor Al Simonar. The two had a shared love of traditional folk music, and they saw the need for an organization that would promote folk music in the Madison area.

The Society held its first concert in December 1963, featuring the International Quartet (later known as the New Christy Minstrels). From that humble beginning, the MFMS has grown to become one of the largest and most active organizations dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional folk music in the United States.

Over the years, the MFMS has presented concerts by some of the biggest names in folk music, including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Odetta, Judy Collins, Peter, Paul & Mary, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, John Denver, and many others. In addition to presenting concerts, the MFMS sponsors educational programs and workshops on various aspects of folk music. The Society also publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Folk Ekphrasis

The Importance of Folk Music

Folk music is the traditional music of a culture that is passed down from generation to generation. It is often compared to the music of other cultures, and is sometimes seen as being more “authentic”. Folk music often has a strong connection to the history and culture of a people, and can be an important part of their identity.

Folk music can be used to tell stories, express emotions, and communicate ideas. It can be about any topic, from love and loss, to politics and current events. Folk songs are usually passed down through oral tradition, and are often created by ordinary people, rather than professional musicians. This makes them accessible to everyone, and helps to keep folk traditions alive.

The Madison Folk Music Society is dedicated to preserving folk music traditions from all over the world. We host regular events where people can come and enjoy folk music from a variety of cultures. We also offer classes and workshops where people can learn how to play folk instruments, or how to sing traditional folk songs. If you’re interested in keeping folk music traditions alive, we hope you’ll join us!

The Madison Folk Music Society Today

The Madison Folk Music Society is a vibrant and active community of folk music lovers in Madison, Wisconsin. The Society hosts regular events and concerts, sponsors an annual festival, and maintains a lending library of folk music instruments and books.

The Society was founded in 1957 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to preserve and promote the traditional folk music of the region. Over the years, the Society has grown and changed, but its mission remains the same: to keep tradition alive by sharing the joy of folk music with as many people as possible.

Today, the Madison Folk Music Society is more active than ever. In addition to our regular events and concerts, we sponsor an annual festival, hold workshops and jam sessions, and maintain a lending library of folk music instruments and books. We also offer support to local musicians, educators, and students through our grant program.

If you love folk music, we invite you to join us!


The Madison Folk Music Society has been successful in keeping folk music alive in theMadison area for over forty years. They have done this by providing a venue for local and regional musicians to perform, by presenting concerts and dances featuring national and international touring artists, and by sponsoring educational programs in the community.

The Madison Folk Music Society is an organization that is truly worth supporting. If you are a fan of folk music, or if you are interested in preserving our musical heritage, I urge you to become a member. For more information about the Madison Folk Music Society, please visit their website at

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