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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Extreme Folk with Darrell Penta

Extreme Folk with Darrell Penta

WUMB Umass Boston’s radio station is presenting a new radio show called Extreme Folk with Darrell Penta. Penta, a Umass graduate, who is currently pursuing his Masters has been working behind the scenes and is now stepping up to give the microphone a shot. Penta found his job at WUMB through Umass and speaks highly of the experiences he’s had here. Penta started out at WUMB by producing “The Morning Express” music show from January of 2005 through the spring of 2006. Extreme Folk debuted on October 6th and is now running Friday nights at 7 p.m. Extreme Folk is designed for a younger audience and gives artists you usually do not hear on the radio their proper presence.

Penta’s program separates itself from the common understanding of folk music. On his show he blends music like Bob Marley and Radiohead that he feels contains elements of folk. Particular to his show, Penta presents music that he calls “unparalleled” meaning that he plays a great range of music. Penta aims at providing an entertaining and educating experience by varying his music. He rarely plays the same type of music in the same fifteen minute period to “broaden the listening palate of the stations listeners”. He maintains that this is important because it allows the listener to hear other’s perspectives and be more informed when it comes to interacting with the public. He wants the integrity of the show to be based on the music, and believes that the music should speak for itself.Penta has learned a great deal from working at WUMB. His experience has taught him to pay attention to the listener’s expectations, and if he drops an F-bomb he hears about it. His interest in radio spawned out of a strong belief that the media can play a role in informing society. Penta gladly accepts the responsibility that Extreme Folk has brought him because he wants to give artist “precedence and presence” so the listeners can be better informed. He believes in bridging the gap between folk music and other genres. While hearing him talk of the different genres of music that blend together in his show I wanted to get clear the distinction between traditional and contemporary folk.

Penta schooled me on the difference between contemporary folk and traditional, “It’s as if the bearers of the music are saying to the listeners, here are the rules, lessons and themes that you need to survive.” Traditional folk encompasses blues and soul and engages the listener as a part of the experience. Contemporary folk takes traditional and other influences from genres such as rap, rock n’ roll, punk, and reggae and turns it into a new sound. Penta expressed frustration in trying to define folk as a general category, but then gave a definition of folk that he had heard which satisfied him, “folk music is any kind of music that arises out of a community to serve the particular needs of that community”.

Penta’s own taste in folk is varied; He enjoys artists from Leadbelly and Phil Ochs to Tom Waits and Cat Power. He doesn’t hesitate to call KRS-ONE folk, and even thinks he could persuade people into thinking Curtis Blow and Kayne West are folk driven. While folk is mostly known for American ballads and songs of social protest Penta broadened my concepts of folk and allowed me to look at folk in a new light. It is very hard to pinpoint exactly where the folk is because all music is a compilation of the songs that came before it.

To help awaken your extreme side WUMB has developed events located in the Campus Center called “The X-treme folk eXperience”. On Wednesday November 22nd at noon, subway performer Lloyd Thayer will be in the Campus Center. Also on December 13th at noon there will be an end of the semester party with games and much anticipated fun. Another program adopted by WUMB is an internet side-stream called “X-Stream” which is available 24 hours a day can be heard on their website at www.wumb.org. Tune in for musicians like Beck and Ben Harper and a lot of indie artists.