Join WPKN for a special fundraising event American v. British Folk from 7 am to 10 pm on Friday, March 26, 2021. It’s now half-a-century since British folk rock became A Thing, with the early practitioners breaking new ground and inspiring an entire scene that peaked in the late Sixties/early Seventies.
Earnest young post-Dylan singer/songwriters moved away from the intimacy of the folk clubs in favour of the nascent college/university circuit. Countercultural iconoclasts The Incredible String Band became a seismic influence on a whole raft of bands now categorised as acid-folk, Pentangle’s use of acoustic instrumentation within a nominally rock framework attracted many emulators (though arguably no real equals), while Fairport Convention graduated from their initial American West Coast- indebted sound to explore their own country’s musical heritage, thus establishing the concept of indigenous English folk rock (a baton that would be picked up by the likes of Ashley Hutchings’ post- Fairport venture Steeleye Span and many others).
By the early Seventies, British folk rock had become an extremely marketable commodity. In addition to the aforementioned brand leaders transcending the determinedly parochial folk pages of the UK music weeklies to score Top Ten albums, a second raft of acts – including Alan Hull’s Lindisfarne, The Strawbs, the post-Humblebums Gerry Rafferty, Ralph McTell and another Fairport refugee, Iain Matthews – registered huge hit singles.