Cotuit Woman Serves as Historical Advisor in Folk Music Documentary
By: Laura Reckford, July 25, 2012
Betsy Siggins of Cotuit was a freshman at Boston University in 1958, when she and her roommate, Joan Baez, decided that there was life beyond college and they wanted to begin experiencing it right away.
Both dropped out of school and into the coffeehouse scene in Cambridge. Baez, of course, became one of the most famous folk singers of all time. Siggins would go on to have a wide-ranging career involving both music, education and social work, and
On Sunday, July 29, the Woods Hole Film Festival will screen a documentary about the Cambridge club where Siggins spent most of her early career: For the Love of Music-The Club 47 Folk Revival, produced by Rob Stegman and Todd Kwait.
Now known as Club Passim, Club 47 served as a Cambridge folk music mecca from 1958 to 1968. The film, narrated by Peter Coyote, incorporates old photos, rare footage of audio and video recordings, and personal accounts as it explores the influence the club had on folk musicians during the 1960s folk revival.
"Club 47 was really it," Siggins said in an interview this June. "My heart was really at the club. It is one of the reasons I am who I am."
Siggins, who served as historical advisor for the film, is the founder of the New England Folk Music Archives in Somerville. Her Club 47 tapes formed the start of the archives collection.
Among other innovations, Siggins said the club was one of the very first northern venues for original blues musicians from the Deep South.
Featuring interviews with Joan Baez, Taj Mahal, Judy Collins, Tom Rush, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Jim Kweskin, and many more, the film offers a rare glimpse of previously unreleased audio recordings and photographs of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and new performances from Club 47 stars.
Club 47 was started in 1958 at 47 Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square by two women from Brandeis University. Joyce Kalina and Paula Kelley had in mind a Paris-style coffee house with poetry readings and jazz.
Then one day 17 year-old Joan Baez walked in for an audition. Blown away by her pure, clear soprano and her traditional folk songs, Club 47 soon became a center for the blossoming folk scene.
"At the heart of it all was an amateur scene,” singer-songwriter Tom Rush says in the film: "People playing for the love of music."