All the music I heard up until I left Minnesota was... I didn't hear any folk music... I just heard Country and Western, rock and roll and polka music.
New York, 1965
Country music was roundly ignored by the record business until the mid-1920's, and even then it was considered outside the commercial mainstream, as was "race" or black music. Recording executives figured... that neither blacks nor hillbillies were likely to buy large quantities of records, and few urban whites were interested in anything so alien.
But radio almost killed off the record business in the mid-1920's.... Suddenly, the record companies had to become creative to survive, and they stumbled onto the idea of producing records in small quantities for limited audiences -- like blacks and hillbillies -- who weren't able to hear much of their favorite music on the radio. One of the earliest to realize this was Ralph Peer, of Okeh and then Victor Records, who at first didn't care for the music as much as for the market potential.... On one of his periodic talent hunts, he held auditions in the sleepy town of Bristol on the Virginia-Tennessee border and discovered both the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, who, between them, would transform country music from something Grandpa did on the back porch into a huge business....
Joe Klein, Woody Guthrie -- A Life, London, 1981, p. 57.
Anyway, from Odetta, I went to Harry Belafonte, The Kingston Trio, little by little uncovering more as I went along. Finally, I was doing nothing but Carter Family and Jesse Fuller songs.
Are you one of the great white blues singers?
Probably not... if that's a category. Who wants to be called that? Jimmie Rodgers was that, if anything. People call him a white blues singer.
New York, 1989
"LONE PILGRIM" is from an old Doc Watson record. what attracts me to the song is how the lunacy of trying to fool the self is set aside at some given point. salvation & the needs of mankind are prominent & hegemony takes a breathing spell.
WORLD GONE WRONG liner notes, 1993
I started singing... when I was about ten -- ten or eleven -- and started out just country and western -- Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell kind of things.
Bronstein Interview, Montreal, Feb 20, 1966.