Sunday, June 23, 2024

Singer-songwriter Shea Rose is Passim’s new curator of music and culture and a member of its Folk Collective. (Photo: Shea Rose)

An effort to diversify the music and culture of Club Passim was announced Monday by the nonprofit. The club, in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, has roots reaching back six decades to the era of a barefoot, 17-year-old Joan Baez.

The new Folk Collective and its inaugural cohort of a dozen artists are already holding and planning events to welcome more diverse audiences and artists to Club Passim, organizers said. Their press release hinted at the genre’s overall whiteness – and how that came about after a start that better reflected the makeup of the country.

“As with rock ’n’ roll in the ’50s, music with Black roots became a commercially more white genre,” said Matt Smith, managing director of Passim. “Through The Folk Collective, Passim is taking a deep look at the origins and history of folk music and working toward making it the inclusive genre of its origin.”

The hope is to “make an inclusive space for all, with folk music from around the world at the core of it,” Smith said.

The artists, musicians and thought leaders nominated and invited to serve for the first year of the collective include Alastair Moock, Almira Ara, Anju, Audrey Pearl, Cliff Notez, Gabriella Simpkins, Kim Moberg, Lydia Harrell, Maxfield Anderson, Naomi Westwater, Peter Mulvey and Stephanie Mckay.

Events so far have included an open mic hosted by Ara and a night at which Harris and Moock performed and discussed the local folk scene with the singer-songwriter Shea Rose, Passim’s new curator of music and culture. Harris and Moock have been conducting musical conversations in public spaces around issues of race, class, gender and history, organizers said.

Members of the cohort plan a series of shows at Club Passim that represents the topics being explored by The Folk Collective. “We will explore what folk music is and who plays on our stages,” Rose said.

“I believe what The Folk Collective is trying to address, at least in my particular case, is opening up its doors to artists blending genres and exploring new ones,” Notez said. “I come from a hip-hop background traditionally, but I have folk-rock roots in me which, because of my hip-hop background, have not felt as comfortable sharing, especially since there aren’t as many opportunities. The Folk Collective is offering that opportunity.”

Upcoming events include a May 4 discussion led by Notez with indie performer and songwriter Will Dailey on artistic process, genre-bending and collaboration. The club plans a musical event May 6 curated and produced by the entire collective, and members will perform as part of a Passim Summer Series at Danehy Park, including Ara on June 14; Simpkins and Moberg on July 18; and Harrell on Aug. 15. Simpkins and Anju will hold an album pre-release listening party on Aug. 22.

For information on The Folk Collective, see passim.org/mission/folkcollective/.


This post was written from a press release.