Author: Mary Armstrong

After The Alt-Weekly, Where Will You Find Your Roots?

Wednesday morning! Better get up and see what you can pitch to Pat. Then you remember. After 34 years, there is no more tempting your editor with tidbits of roots music. Philadelphia City Paper has been purchased by the competition and put down. But why, why would I put in 34 years in the first place? It wasn’t the next-to-no money nor the non-existent recognition. (“Hey, are you still writing for City Paper?” asks an old friend who should know.) No, it was purely to share the joy of music that is made by the people and for the people. What is Roots music? Think the old story songs and ballads of an Appalachian town. The community of union organizers like Joe Hill, who would write barbed anti-boss lyrics to familiar tunes. Hill’s memory is being recalled this year on the 100th anniversary of death. The Freedom Singers who were invaluable aid to civil rights marches of the 60s. They, too, would take a familiar melody, gospel especially and lead the crowd in unison, adding …