Folk ‘n’ Blues Records
This collection contains materials gathered in the event planning process for the annual Folk ‘n' Blues (also called Folk and Blues) festivals held at Beloit College. Chiefly represented are contracts between the College and the performers, correspondence, news articles, Committee notes, t-shirt designs, and other logistical documents.
There is also a very small number of articles about Leroy Jodie Pierson'70, the organizer of the first Wisconsin Delta Blues Festival, and a St. Louis-based blues guitarist and scholar.
This finding aid does not list oversizel materials, but the Beloit College Archives does hold a number of posters advertising Folk 'n' Blues events. Please contact the Archives for more details.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research; however, certain materials are very fragile and require Archives staff for handling, or use may be restricted altogether.
3 Linear Feet (2 boxes, audiovisual materials, ephemera; further additions are expected)
Biographical / Historical
The Folk 'n' Blues Festival is an annual music event held at Beloit College featuring folk and blues artists as well as other musicians of genres of music like rock, country, funk, and zydeco.
The origins of the festival developed out of earlier blues music events in 1968 and 1970, organized by Leroy Jodie Pierson'70. In January 1970, the Social Board voted to spend $6,000 to bring a popular rock band to Beloit for a two-hour concert, but Pierson convinced the faculty supervisor that "with that money they could put on a major blues festival that could provide invaluable national promotion for Beloit College." The board then decided to host the Wisconsin Delta Blues Festival that March.
Two years later, as part of the Beloit Plan's summer program, the Social Board and the Events Committee decided to put on an annual music festival that they would call the Folk and Blues Festival. Since then, origination dates have been fuzzy; the 1972 event was considered the "first annual" by the Round Table, and 1995 the 25th anniversary by Beloit Magazine.
Planning for the festival has been under the purview of a number of different offices and committees, including the Student Activities Office, Programming Board, and the Folk and Blues Committee.
Student involvement has not been limited to attendance at the festival. Former Dean of Students Bill Flanagan felt that what makes the festival special is that it was originally thought of and developed by the students themselves, instead of being an activity run by the institution. Glenn Lapoint'88, a key planner for the '87 and '88 festivals, said that the students were involved in every aspect of the program from choosing and signing bands to cleaning up after it was over.
The strength of the festival has always been its Chicago-based blues. The list of performers reads like a Hall of Fame: Hound Dog Taylor, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Willie Dixon, to name only a few. Wade said that from the start the festival tapped the enormous resources of Chicago. The reputation of the festival was so great, said Lapoint,,that the Indigo Girls didn't even ask to be paid for their performance in 1988, wanting only exposure at the festival.
Most of the changes over the years have been with the format and location. It was once held outside of Middle College, with Eaton Chapel ticketed in case of rain, and is now located in front of the Campus Center under a large tent. And what was once an event that lasted all weekend now runs only from 6 to midnight on Friday and Saturday night in consideration of neighborhood sensibilities. Perhaps the change that students took the hardest was the raising of the legal drinking age from 18 to 19 in 1985 and from 19 to 21 in 1986, and beer was no longer served.
[Includes excerpts from "The Beat Goes On," Craig Robertson'96, Beloit College Magazine, September 1996; and "Wisconsin Delta Blues Festival: Birth of the Blues," by Leroy Jodie Pierson'70, Beloit College Magazine, January 1997.]
- Folk ‘n’ Blues Records
- Michelle Tom
- June, 2012
- Language of description