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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Opening Night of the Boston Folk Festival

The seventh annual Boston Folk Festival opened Friday September 17, on a hazy overcast night. The panoramic view from the Ryan lounge served as a backdrop for the music and settled the crowd into the mood. The audience was definitely not college aged, but that did not dispel the energy of the show.

I got to the room very early, and had a chance to see all the musicians come in with their guitar cases and give their CDs to the woman that was going to sell them. Jud Caswell came in with his toddler daughter, and she ran all around the room, chased after by her mother. It gave me a comforting feeling that a musician could bring his little daughter to a show, and not be afraid for her. I’m sure he wouldn’t take her some places, but there it was totally fine. The show on Friday night was a showcase for the five finalists in the songwriting contest. They were: Jud Caswell, for “Stocks”; Thea Hopkins, for “Jesus is on the Wire”; Kevin Keady, for “Road Rage”; Tracy O’Connell, for “Durango Red”; and Michael Troy, for “Romancing the Moon.” In order to be eligible for the contest, the songwriter must consider themselves an amateur, and have earned not more than $5,000 from music in the year 2003 and not more than $3000 in the year 2002. The judging was based on originality, lyrics, and melody. The show opened with established artist Rod MacDonald. He started his set with a new song about Arnold Schwartzeneger, called “The Governator.” He said he likes playing new songs because they’re more fun, even though people like the oldies. He sang another new song about Ronald Reagan and Ray Charles and how they died during the same week, and the irony that was all over the news at the same time. The lyrics went, “Ray got busted for drugs/ While Ron said just say no.” He told the crowd that he writes a song for every election year, and this year it was a song called “Tale of Two Americas.” Second on stage was Jack Hardy. He started The Fast Folk Musical Magazine in the eighties, which served as a catalyst for many aspiring folk musicians. Hardy said during his set that he wrote a song in case somebody asked him to sing at the Republican National Convention. It was about George Bush, and one of the lines in the song went “No wonder your daughters drink so much!” The crowd roared.

I sat in the back of the room and I got an unusual feeling when I saw that the man sitting next to me had taken his shoes off. Then, I saw the woman in front of me doing her crocheting. It made me wonder if I had been magically transported to somebody’s living room. It gave me a cozy, but otherworldly feeling. The night was topped off by the five finalists in the contest. Michael Troy was eventually crowned the winner for his song, “Romancing the Moon,” which is a melancholy number about death and life. He says, “I have no plan. I’m not trying to write in any style or sound like anyone else. I write from gut feeling. I let the emotion drive the music, not the music drive the emotion.”