Calendar of Events

Dec 13th

Jewish New Yorkers and the Origins of the Folk Music Revival, 1948 – 1958

Sunday, December 13, 2015 at 1:00pm

Speaker Stephen Petrus, Museum of the City of New York

Included with Museum Admission



Buy tickets now: tixato button

Business and consumer trends in New York reshaped the folk music industry from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, transforming the genre from an art form largely associated with leftist politics to a popular craze with mass appeal nationwide.  The era saw the wild success of the Weavers, a groundbreaking quartet that showed the lucrative potential of folk music.  The period also witnessed the establishment of numerous record companies and other commercial music institutions and the increasing embrace of the genre by an expanding middle class with greater disposable income.  Some of the record labels were Folkways, founded by Moses Asch in 1948; Vanguard, by Maynard and Seymour Solomon in 1950; Elektra, by Jac Holzman in 1950; and Riverside, by Orrin Keepnews in 1953.  Other developments included the birth of Sing Out! magazine, co-founded by Irwin Silber in 1950, and the opening of the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village by Izzy Young in 1957.  To be sure, these were all modest organizations at first, targeted at a niche audience.  But they nourished folk music in different ways and created a groundswell of interest, by recording a variety of artists, producing albums, sponsoring concerts, and stimulating provocative debates about the role of songs in politics and culture writ large.

Folk City

The expansion of the folk music industry also illuminated the increasing entrepreneurial presence of Jews in the city.  Asch, the Solomons, Holzman, Keepnews, Silber, Young, and other folk music businessmen and journalists, such as Harold Leventhal, Art D’Lugoff, and Robert Shelton, were all Jewish, though they were hardly a unified group and in fact often competed with each other and clashed about prevailing trends in the industry.  On this level, they demonstrated the values of dissent and argumentation that typified postwar Jewish culture in New York.  For the most part second-generation in background, they also reflected a creative and sometimes paradoxical blend of the capitalist economic spirit and progressive political commitment that characterized Jewish culture in the city.  Despite all their differences, folk music captivated them.  Their allegiance was profound and intense.  Their institutions made New York the epicenter of the nationwide revival by the late 1950s.

Dec 6th

A Family Chanukah Celebration with Joanie Leeds

 Downtown Dollar Day
Sunday, December 6th, 2:00pm
Admission $1
We are very excited to welcome back to the JMM Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights, help us to set the Chanukah mood with a rocking family concert!
A versatile artist, Joanie Leeds is a gifted musician with a soulful voice that ranges from low and bluesy to high, light, and breezy.  In addition to her secular popularity, Joanie tours the country playing synagogues, Jewish day schools and Jewish museums. Her Jewish music can be found on the PJ Library’s compilation.
Joanie Leeds Dollar Day 
For more information please contact Trillion Attwood 410.732.6400x215/ or visit

Dec 2nd

The Bagelman Sisters and Beyond: Moe Asch’s Sound Encyclopedia

Wednesday, December 2nd, 6:30 p.m.

Speaker: Jeff Place, senior archivist and curator for the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Included with admission

 Buy tickets now: tixato button


A young New York radio engineer Moses Asch (1905-1986) ran a small radio repair shop in New York in the 1930s. His family had fled Poland and settled there. He found that his customers were asking for Jewish recordings that none of the existing labels could provide. He soon found himself in the record business recording two sisters, the Bagelman (later Barry) Sisters singing in Yiddish. About the same time he went with his father, the novelist Sholem Asch, to see the elder Asch’s friend, Albert Einstein in Princeton. When Einstein asked Moe, what he wanted to do with his life, he replied he wanted to document all the world’s sounds in a sonic encyclopedia. Einstein told him “you’re just the guy to do it” That started his journey into Folkways Records and over 2000 titles in the next 40 years.


This very special lecture coincides with Moe Asch’s 110th birthday!


Jeff Place is the senior archivist and curator for the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He has been at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage since January 1988. He has been a collector of traditional music for over 45 years.