First Time Folk Experience

Do you remember the first folk performance you ever attended? I have been in the process of reorganizing everything on the home front and I came across a picture someone took of me organizing my first folk festival in high school. I think the year was around 1970, but looking at the picture reminded me of that first Folk Night I attended at Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio in 1968. I was just struck by a performance of Joe LaRose, who was a few years older than me and who did a great job with acoustic blues. At age 16, Joe clearly had a gift and I was mesmerized by his ability.

Well, that did it for me, at that point I went to every folk performance that I could get to, which was difficult without a car, but I always managed rides with older friends. By the time I was a junior in high school, I jumped at the chance to take over the Folk Night. My friends and I auditioned students from around the area and sought out some of the kids who were already performing around town. By my senior year, I booked a local performer by the name of David Allan Coe, who had released a few prison albums (having done a little time himself). We paid David $100 for the night as he told our gathering of about four hundred kids that he wrote most of James Taylor’s material. Hey, the guy could tell a story – nobody believed him but he was a hell of a performer nevertheless. Who would have known the direction that his career would take following that night at Hoban High.

It was in many ways my experience with Hoban High School’s Folk Night and Joe LaRose that paved the way for my continuing passion for the music. Do you remember your first live performance that hooked you for life? Let us know at Folk Alley.

Al Bartholet

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