Fast Folk Musical Magazine

Fast Folk

Fast Folk Musical Magazine (originally known as The Co-op), was a combination magazine and record album published from February 1982 to 1997. The magazine acted as a songwriter/performer cooperative, and was an outlet for singer-songwriters to release their first recordings.


In December of 1977, singer/songwriter Carolyne Mas started a songwriter's night at The Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village, New York, after a less formal group started by singer/songwriter/Greenwich Village legend Jack Hardy lost it's spot at a local tavern called The English Pub. The group, which included artists like Jack Hardy, Carolyne Mas, David Massengill, Tom Intondi, Cliff Eberhardt, Michael Fracasso, Jeff Gold, and Rod MacDonald, gave writers a chance to perform for their peers, work on songs in front of an audience, and receive feedback from fellow songwriters. This group, sans some members, and with some new members added, eventually became known as the Songwriter's Exchange, recording an album on Stash Records which was released in 1980. The album was made possible due to the efforts of Robin Hirsch, one of the owners of The Cornelia Street Cafe, who single-handedly had turned the increasingly popular cafe into a hotbed of artists, musicians, poets, and writers. The Greenwich Village music scene was also booming at the time, receiving lots of media attention from major newspapers like The New York Times, which also helped fuel the popularity of the New York singer/songwriter scene in general. The Songwriter's Exchange eventually evolved, and under the guidance of Jack Hardy, the group formed a cooperative and took over the booking of Greenwich Village's SpeakEasy in 1981. The Co-oP, which was launched in February of 1982 , was later renamed Fast Folk, and gained status as a non-profit organization.

The organization formed at a time when the cost of recording equipment and packaging of vinyl LPs were prohibitively expensive for the independent artist. The organization managed to document serious, non-commercial songwriting first in the form of vinyl LPs and later as CDs. Although many of the writers were active in the Greenwich Village scene, the magazine included artists from across the United States and some international artists. Some of the included writers went on to commercial success, and some became influences in newly formed musical genres such as alternative country and anti-folk.

Alumni who recorded first for Fast Folk include Grammy Award-winners Lyle Lovett, Suzanne Vega, Julie Gold, Tracy Chapman and Shawn Colvin, as well as John Gorka, Michelle Shocked, Suzy Bogguss, Christine Lavin, Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky of Cry Cry Cry. Over 600 writers and 2000 songs were documented. (See also Fast Folk artists)


Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, now maintains an archive of Fast Folk which includes the master recording tapes, magazines and paper records of the organization.

2002 album

In February 2002, twenty years after the original publication of the magazine, Smithsonian Folkways released a two-CD compilation album of 36 tracks selected from the magazine's fifteen year history titled Fast Folk: A Community of Singers & Songwriters.

Track listing

Disc 1:

  1. "American Jerusalem" (Rod MacDonald) – 5:58
  2. "What's Wrong With the Man Upstairs" (David Massengill) – 4:38
  3. "Old Factory Town" (Gerry Devine) – 5:12
  4. "Just Need a Home (Spotlight)" (Lucy Kaplansky) – 3:38
  5. "Another Time and Place" (Dave Van Ronk) – 4:31
  6. "I Don't Know Why" (Shawn Colvin) – 3:45
  7. "Geza's Wailing Ways" (John Gorka) – 3:53
  8. "Ragman!" (David Indian) – 4:03
  9. "High Times" (Tom Intondi) – 4:36
  10. "Don't Ever Call Your Sweetheart by His Name" (Christine Lavin) – 2:21
  11. "Where Were You Last Night?" (Frank Christian) – 4:19
  12. "Introduction to Corpo Gracile" (Germana Pucci) – :28
  13. "Corpo Gracile" (Germana Pucci) – 5:13
  14. "Kilkelly, Ireland" (Laura Burns, Roger Rosen) – 5:58
  15. "Introduction to the Viking Rag" (Erik Frandsen) – 1:32
  16. "The Viking Rag" (Erik Frandsen) – 2:37
  17. "Forget-Me-Not" (Jack Hardy) – 4:20
  18. "Vacation" (Bill Bachmann) – 2:41

Disc 2:

  1. "Gypsy" (Suzanne Vega) – 4:16
  2. "Thirty Thousand Men" (Steve Forbert) – 4:31
  3. "Margaret" (Frank Tedesso) – 4:04
  4. "Share the Failure" (Elaine Silver) – 2:55
  5. "Bourbon as a Second Language" (Patrick John Brayer) – 3:47
  6. "King of Hearts" (Paul Kaplan) – 4:10
  7. "Heart on Ice" (Judith Zweiman) – 5:04
  8. "The Courier" (Richard Shindell) – 5:00
  9. "By Your Eyes" (Wendy Beckerman) – 3:22
  10. "Danton" (Lillie Palmer) – 4:27
  11. "Long Black Wall" (Michael Jerling) – 4:27
  12. "Railroad Bill" (Andy Breckman) – 3:32
  13. "Gravedigger" (Richard Julian) – 3:18
  14. "January Cold" (Richard Meyer) – 5:11
  15. "Disenchanted" (Eric Wood) – 4:37
  16. "Raphael" (Hugh Blumenfeld) – 3:35
  17. "Your Face" (Louise Taylor) – 3:18
  18. "Crazy Horse" (Josh Joffen & Late for Dinner) – 3:18


External links

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