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Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Byrds' Roger McGuinn To Be Honored by UNC for Folk Music Preservation Work

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROGER MCGUINN
  • Photo Courtesy of Roger McGuinn
As a founding member of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn helped shape the sound of the sixties with lysergic guitar solos, bewitching harmonies, and the meshing of country and rock into a lasting hybrid. For that, he holds an esteemed place in the firmament of rock and membership in its Hall of Fame, too. 

And on March 1, the seventy-three-year-old rocker will be honored by UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Sciences with its first-ever Digital Preservation Under the Radar Award—for pioneering work that does not involve a compressed 12-string Rickenbacker but rather archivist and curatorial work in the area of folk music.

While he’s best known for his unmistakable electric jangle, McGuinn began as a folk player. His fascination with the music, learned at the Chicago Old Town School of Folk Music and played in coffeehouses, caught up with him later in life. In November 1995, he transposed the lyrics, chords, tablature, and history of the traditional cowboy song “Old Paint” and posted it online to share with others. He decided to keep doing this, once per month, andcalled his project The Folk Den. 

He has now amassed 250 songs, organized by categories like “Seafaring,” “Cowboy,” and “Love.” The most popular category is “Mountain/Southern U.S.” which includes seventy-four songs, spanning everything from “Nine Pound Hammer” to child ballads to “Cold Rain and Snow.” McGuinn is methodical; he hasn’t missed a post in twenty years.

Around the same time that McGuinn launched The Folk Den, UNC clinical professor Paul Jones, who directs SILS' digital archive, ibiblio.org, oversaw a significant upgrade that entailed a dedicated server and one of the earliest streaming audio players. He approached McGuinn about bringing The Folk Den under the aegis of ibiblio, saying that its use of public domain songs and intention to share knowledge made it just the kind of citizen archive the SILS repository was meant to serve. 

Read on...

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