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Tapestry of the Times
Join Aaron Henkin on an ear-opening voyage back in time and around the globe as he takes listeners on 36, hour-long tours through the wide-ranging sound archives of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Real music, real people, and the stories behind the sounds.
Tapestry of the Times is a collaboration between WYPR 88.1 FM in Baltimore, Md and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and is presented with support from the Maryland Humanities Council, the Maryland State Arts Council , The Rosenberg Foundation, and the Lois and Philip Macht Family Philanthropic Fund.
Please note that these programs are archived versions of radio broadcasts that originally aired in 2008 and 2009.
- Episode 36 — “So Long It's Been Good to Know You”
Songs of farewell this hour on Tapestry of the Times... goodbyes to sweethearts, families, childhood homes, and old jobs we’d maybe rather forget. Music from Chile, Kyrgyzstan, and American legends Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Doc Watson, and cowboy poet Buck Ramsey.
- Episode 35 — “Singing in the Rain”
Ballads about legendary hurricanes and storms at sea, blues tunes about rainy days, and songs of hope that sunny days are right around the corner. Music from the likes of Maybelle Carter, Lonnie Johnson, and green-earth poetry from Langston Hughes, Sarah Webster Fabio and Virginia Bennett.
- Episode 34 — “Let’s Eat”
From Kenyan harvests to Creole cuisine, and Crescent City waffles to cold pizza for breakfast... music in praise of food in all its wonderful varieties. We hear a Native American song for a buffalo feast and Josh White’s iconic down-at-the-heels anthem “One Meat Ball,” plus more.
- Episode 33 — “Ready, Aim, Fire”
For better or for worse, we live in a world stocked with guns, and whatever your opinion on the issue, there’s a song to match. Calypso master Mighty Sparrow sings of Trinidadian gun smugglers and Kentucky songster George Davis sings about staring down the barrel at a shotgun wedding plus more.
- Episode 32 — “Homeward Bound”
Where is ‘home’ for you? In this episode, we explore our yearnings for home, with songs of longing from Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Doc Watson, and far-flung wanderers in Chile, Canada, Kenya, and The Bahamas. Radio for the homesick listener on Tapestry of the Times.
- Episode 31 — “Pass The Bottle”
In this musical pub-crawl, we explore the joys and perils of the drinking life; songs about beer, wine, whiskey and moonshine; sad drunks, mad drunks, mean drunks, and just plain stupid drunks; booze-soaked classics from Memphis Slim, Roscoe Holcomb, Lead Belly, Dock Boggs and more.
- Episode 30 — “Sounds Like Heaven”
Bluesman Reverend Gary Davis sings of a golden city with pearly gates, Paul Robeson compares earthy freedom to divine deliverance, and Doc Watson asks the fundamentally profound question, ‘Was I born to die?’
- Episode 29 — “Ladies First: Folkways’ Female Artists”
North Carolina’s Elizabeth Cotton shows off how to play a guitar upside down and backwards, New Orleans chanteuse Lizzy Miles asks ‘Who’s sorry now?’ and Lucinda Williams mourns a one-night stand.
- Episode 28 — “Folk Heroes... Human and Otherwise”
Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, and Sonny Terry sing the praises of larger-than-life mythic characters like John Henry and Joe Turner. And we enjoy some distant sounds from Paraguay, Indonesia, and Gambia.
- Episode 27 — “Ola Belle Reed: An Enduring Legacy”
This episode presents a series of one-of-a-kind original recordings made recently on a chilly Saturday afternoon on-site in Elkton, Maryland with the family and friends of the late great American legend, Ola Belle Reed.RELATED VIDEO: Interview with family and friends of Ola Belle Reed
- Episode 26 — “A Salute to the Lone Star State”
Cowboy songs from the revivalist group The Tex-I-An Boys, the sounds of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, cowpuncher brag talk, work-songs from a Texas prison camp, and contemporary conjunto music from Los Texmaniacs.
- Episode 25
We hear the soul-soaked boogie woogie piano of Champion Jack Dupree, we check out some 80-year-old original recordings of Blind Willie Johnson, and we explore music forged deep in the coal mines of Appalachia.
- Episode 24
Sea-faring songs from North Carolina’s Outer Banks; an Irish pirate ballad; cowboy songs from Woody Guthrie, Harry Jackson, and Cisco Houston and a spiritual from Moving Star Hall on Johns Island, South Carolina.
- Episode 23
The late great Piedmont blues singer and guitar master John Cephas, New Orleans’ ebullient chanteuse Lizzie Miles, slave shouts from Georgia’s McIntosh County Shouters, rock music from Indonesia and Vodou music from Port au Prince.
- Episode 22
We celebrate the Big Easy with the late great New Orleans street singer Snooks Eaglin, we hear New Orleans jazz from The Crescent City Serenaders, and we listen back to some vintage Cajun social music.
- Episode 21
The mimetic sounds of mountain herders in the Siberian hinterland of Tuva, tropical music from Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad, and The Dominican Republic, and a slide guitar opus from the West Coast’s “Joe Louis Walker and The Boss Talkers.”
- Episode 20
In this episode of Tapestry of the Times, The sounds of banjo innovator and connoisseur Tony Trischka, blues from Mississippi’s Big Joe Williams, a horse ballad from the Arizona Sonora Borderlands, marimba music from Guatemala, and barrel-house piano blues from Speckled Red.
- Episode 19
Mandolin picking at its finest from “The Father of Bluegrass,” Bill Monroe; lyrical gymnastics from Bahamian traditional singer Stanley Thompson; children’s music from alt-folk performer Elizabeth Mitchell; left-handed guitar legend Elizabeth Cotten.
- Episode 18
Bedouin singing from the deserts of Sinai; Bottle-neck slide-guitar from Memphis blues man Furry Lewis; 1940’s vintage jazz from Mary Lou Williams; vocal harmonies from The Democratic Republic of Congo; a devotional song from Indo-Caribbean immigrants in Queens, New York.
- Episode 17
We celebrate melodies from Barack Obama’s ancestral homeland of Kenya, we remember President Abraham Lincoln in words and song, we hear the voice that inspired a nation in 1963 when we listen back to excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
- Episode 16
The lightning-fast fingers of banjo picker Eddie Adcock and The Country Gentlemen, Saint Louis blues from the legendary JD Short, a work-song sung by the inmates of a Texas prison camp, a chant learned in a trance by an Eskimo medicine man, a melody from the mountains of North Sumatra, and much more.
- Episode 15
The barrelhouse blues of Little Brother Montgomery, Roscoe Holcomb unleashes his ‘untamed sense of control,’ Malian rappers launch a lyrical assault on music piracy, we remember Odetta, the “Voice of the Civil Rights Movement” and listen back to the radio documentary work of the late great Studs Terkel.
- Episode 14
Piedmont blues from John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, the poetry of Sterling A. Brown, and Civil Rights singers Bernice Johnson Reagon, Reverend Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, and Paul Robeson. Plus, a Baltimore sea chantey, a Canadian land prospector’s lonely ballad, and a song learned in a dream.
- Episode 13
Sweet love ballads and bitter blues from Lonnie Johnson, hard-scrabble songs for lean times from Pete Seeger and Joe Glazer, toe-tapping classics from Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, melancholy fado music from Portugal’s Maria Marques, and songs of strength and hope from the Abayudaya of Uganda.
- Episode 12
Hear banjo ballads from Virginia coal miner Dock Boggs, blues from the blind preacher Reverend Gary Davis, the tropical sounds of Hawaiian folk legend Ledward Kaapana, songs of love and loss from Chile to Canada and mind-bending sounds from the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
- Episode 11
Comanche flute music, a Native American cowboy ballad, Carolina medicine show hokum & blues, the voice of Langston Hughes, mountain music from Eastern Kentucky, slave shouts from the Georgia coast, protest music from Pete Seeger, a feminist anthem from Peggy Seeger and the sacred rhythms of Cuban Santeria.
- Episode 10
Aaron invites music historian Richard Carlin to drop in for the hour. Richard has written the book, “Worlds of Sound: The Story of Smithsonian Folkways,” and he shares some great recordings of legendary performers like folk hero Woody Guthrie, jazz trail-blazer Mary Lou Williams, and banjo balladeer Dock Boggs.
- Episode 9
We check out some historical duet performances from old-time music virtuosos Doc Watson & Bill Monroe, Piedmont Blues legends John Cephas & Phil Wiggins, and women bluegrass pioneers Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard and the hypnotizing sounds of Indian Tabla Tarang master Pandit Kamalesh Maitra.
- Episode 8
Gourd banjo music from Mike Seeger, a rare recording of a young Bob Dylan, vocal harmonies from the Bahamas, the gentle touch of Brazilian guitar master Luiz Bonfa, and the final performance of folk legend Dave Van Ronk. Plus: a cowboy ballad from Lead Belly, and “Mean Talking Blues” from Woody Guthrie.
- Episode 7
Outlaw country music from north of the border, family fiddle tunes from Cape Breton, classic piano blues from juke joints and barrelhouse bars, cowboy ballads and poems, and melodies in memory of labor songwriter Joe Hill.
- Episode 6
French Carpenter plays the fiddle tune that won his grandfather’s release from a Civil War prison camp, Texas Gladden sings of a mother’s spectral encounter with the ghosts of her children, Hatian Vodou practitioners sing a funerary song to release the spirits of the dead and Indonesian pop legend Rhoma Irama.
- Episode 5
Songs from New Orleans street singer Snooks Eaglin, Calypso from Trinidad’s Mighty Sparrow, the sounds of Brazilian capoeiristas, music from mountains of Puerto Rico, and lush layers of melody from Zimbabwe. Plus: a showcase of female vocal talents.
- Episode 4
Bluegrass from the Lilly Brothers & Don Stover, railroad tunes, sea chanteys, mountain music, and old-time songs of “Rags and Riches.” Plus, world music from Afghanistan and the Abayudaya of Uganda.
- Episode 3
Blues piano from Memphis Slim, marimba music from Guatemala, labor union songs, World War II anthems, Tuvan throat singing, and classic old-time tunes from Dock Boggs and Roscoe Holcomb. Real music, real people, and the stories behind the sounds...
- Episode 2
We'll get an introduction to the legendary blind bluesman Reverend Gary Davis, we'll hear the harmonies of lady bluegrass pioneers Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard, and we'll listen to the resonant, baritone voice of singer and activist Paul Robeson...... plus Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and world music from Mali to Cuba.
- Episode 1
We kick things off this week with a sampling of some of the label's original legends: Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie. We'll also hear blues from Warner Williams and Robert Jr. Lockwood, gospel music old and new, and international folk songs from Colombia, Cuba, and Iran.
Aaron Henkin is the creator and host of 'Tapestry of the Times.’ He's also a co-creator and producer of WYPR's weekly cultural program, The Signal and host of Stories from the Stoop. Aaron's reports and features have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Day to Day, and PRI's Studio 360 and The World. He's a regular guest-host on the American Public Media program The Story.