Roger McGuinn's folky Web site takes wing to keep music alive

December 14, 1996|By Gina Van der Vliet | Gina Van der Vliet,BILLBOARD

LOS ANGELES -- Roger McGuinn, former front man of '60s group the Byrds, is aiming to preserve and promote folk music through the World Wide Web.

The musician has gone to the unusual extreme of independently creating a Web site, the Folk Den, to ensure that a new generation of fans has access to the genre. The site offers a new folk song each month at http: //pw2.netcom.com/ mcguinn/mars.html.

So far, McGuinn has placed 14 songs on the Internet, including "John Riley," "Golden Vanity," "New York Girls" and "Old Paint," as well as McGuinn's version of "What Child Is This."

"I was listening to the radio and realized that folk music doesn't get played as much as it used to," says McGuinn. "And the new folk singers all play their own material because of the commercial pressure to do so. Nowadays, you're not a valid artist unless you write your own stuff.

"I was thinking that when the old guys are gone, no one will be playing those traditional songs anymore, so I thought I'd pitch in by preserving some of this material on the Internet."

While many artists have a presence on the Internet through their record labels, few take an active role in the ongoing development of their sites. McGuinn describes the Folk Den as an "outgrowth of my love for folk music."

"People do need a sound player in order to play back the files, and they should use Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 RTC for best results," he says. Each track takes 15-20 minutes to download with a 14.4-kbps modem. All songs are accompanied by an informational paragraph, as well as the song's lyrics, guitar chords and related artwork -- a package McGuinn describes as "something similar to a coffee-table book."

"When people play the guitar, they can get into it because the chords are there. They can listen to learn the melody and get the words from the Web site."

The Folk Den site, hosted by the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, has received favorable reviews from c'net, the Discovery Channel and the New York Times.

Byrds fans can also find pages dedicated to McGuinn himself and his former band.

Pub Date: 12/14/96

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