Smithsonian Folkways and Friends Remember John Cohen


On September 16, the world lost John Cohen, a founding member of New Lost City Ramblers, one of the most iconic groups in the history of Folkways Records, and a preeminent musicologist, photographer, and collector. Many of us here have had close personal relationships with John, and we’re all going to miss him. We have collected some thoughts on John and his influence from members of our staff, as well as friends of Folkways and friends of John.

Dom Flemons (The American Songster)

“Rest well John Cohen! John and I got to spend many moments together laughing and joking and talking music! He is one of the true pioneers of the Folk Music and Old-time Music Revivals!

I met John Cohen through Mike Seeger back around 2007 or 2008. I had read and seen so much of John’s work in all of the early stages of my musical development. He was so prolific as a photographer, writer, documentarian and a musician.

In all the years I knew him, he remained just as prolific, if not more so, because he was not only doing new projects, he was constantly repackaging all the other projects from his entire career.

I remember discussing his compilation “Back Roads to Cold Mountain” when it was released on Smithsonian Folkways. We discussed philosophies, past and present, and shared more than enough bad jokes and puns which were the staple of John’s extended repertoire.

Read more here.


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