Folk Music Houston

Folk Family Revival, a Houston band that’s been perfecting its act over several years, brings traditional tunes as well as original concepts to various venues around Houston.

Rice University’s Houston Folk Music Archive chronicles Houston’s legacy as an incubator of folk music, providing easy navigation through photo galleries, concert posters and contextual anecdotes. A newly installed interactive exhibit makes navigating this site simple with photo galleries, concert posters and contextual anecdotes.


As the 1960s folk revival gathered momentum, its sounds inspired many young people to pick up guitars and join together in harmony. Houston was amongst those where this movement first started when The Jester Lounge opened in 1962; many early performers performed there including K.T. Oslin who sang traditional folk songs long before she started recording Nashville country hits as well as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt among many others.

At its height in 1976-1977, Houston boasted 18 folk-leaning venues. Unfortunately, by the end of the decade the scene began a gradual decline due to a number of factors, most significantly oil prices falling and hippies moving on with other endeavors; venues began shutting down.

As the scene began to decline, a new generation of singer-songwriters emerged who combined folk and country styles into more contemporary sounds similar to when jazz and rock music first developed during the 1950’s.

Emergence of this genre was driven by social changes that propelled folk revival, with popular examples being “Sixteen Tons” and Merle Travis’ “Dark as a Dungeon,” the latter of which highlighted coal miners’ struggles and became an essential piece of folk movement literature.

Folk musicians today draw their inspiration from various sources, including classical European, American, Celtic and blues traditions as well as other genres like country and blues music. By blending these influences together into their music they produce a distinct sound which appeals to a range of listeners. You can easily locate Houston folk bands online; these professionals provide various packages that could perform at your next event. When hiring one for yourself consider factors like length of event as well as special requests that arise; typically bands playing songs from their existing repertoire tend to charge less than groups learning new tunes just for one event!


Folk music is not a mass-produced, multimillion-dollar commercial venture aimed at turning a profit. Instead, its focus lies on real human communication and cultural preservation – so its important that audiences support those performing folk music, to keep it alive and growing as it should.

As many ethnic groups began settling in Texas during the nineteenth century, they brought with them their traditional folk music and dance traditions for social gatherings and festivals. Germans and Czechs would bring traditional folk music from their home nations – often featuring an accordion – while Black Creoles from rural southwestern Louisiana also incorporated accordion-playing accordions as instruments in creating their folk music style that eventually came to be known as Zydeco in later years.

Historical folk music typically took the form of ballads. These songs typically focused on an individual or event that led to tragic consequences; and typically followed an ABAB rhyme scheme with an end verse refrain (repeated line at the end of each verse). Popular genres of folk music included protest songs and love songs.

Modern folk music has seen an explosion of new singer-songwriters who bring fresh interpretations of traditional songs to audiences at local venues and schools, often performing. Some even find commercial success through recordings.

Musicologists who study folk music are passionate about preserving traditional songs and traditions that predated mass media. That’s why you don’t see Alan Lomax or Carl Sandburg going into remote communities or work camps to record traditional music anymore; most of us are more likely to be influenced by popular tunes from radio or our parents’ record collections.

Houston’s acoustic scene boasts of venues that showcase folk and folk-influenced artists, from vineyards, cafes, and restaurants to nationally touring musicians.

Folklore & Music Society

The Folklore & Music Society of Houston is a non-profit organization committed to preserving Texas folk culture. Their publications cover tales, dances, music and customs from across Texas; some notable works include Anthology of Texas Folklore (1961), Legendary Ladies of Texas (1981) Hecho en Tejas: Texas-Mexican Folk Arts and Crafts with Robert Earl Kean and Corners of Texas with John Avery Lomax in 1972.

Since 1910, this organization has been publishing as one of the oldest folklore societies in America. Payne published its inaugural circular listing officers and outlining their purpose. Membership to the society was open to anyone interested in promoting or studying folklore; proceeds from dues and publications went toward supporting its office and publications programs.

Although its membership was relatively modest, Houston Folk Music Society played a vital role in developing Houston into a center for folk music and dancing. It organized and sponsored concerts at venues including the Jewish Community Center, Downtown YMCA and Hermann Park Pavilion as well as song swaps and folk dancing events; also, luminaries like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb and Townes Van Zandt have performed at its events.

By the early 1970s, local folk singers found more venue options available to them; clubs and bars now featured folk singing as opening acts at clubs or bars while restaurants offered food gigs that included meals as part of their performances – thus creating more stable performance opportunities and sustainable scenes than before.

But as the oil crisis of 1980-85 unfolded, the scene dwindled significantly; venues such as Anderson Fair began losing popularity and many folk musicians left for Nashville or Los Angeles in pursuit of stardom while others chose to continue their careers locally.

The archive has made strides to preserve the history of this once vibrant community through archival collections, oral histories and an ArcGIS StoryMap. They have also processed an extensive collection of recordings from that era; these can now be found on Songkick – an online resource which lets music fans track their favorite artists and receive notifications when they play near them.

Wylde Accord

Wylde Accord is an ensemble of friends that performs world-folk music with humor and harmony, creating their own original mash-ups of it all. Catch them performing at Dickens on the Strand, ArtCrawlHouston or one of many houses or coffee shops around Houston; they are also available for private events.

Folk refers to all sorts of traditional musical, dance and oral traditions which originate within a community or region. Folk songs are typically performed unaccompanied by accompaniment – although some bands use instruments such as pipe and tabor or signing choirs to add depth and dimension to their performance.

Folk music has historically been used as a vehicle of social and political change and protest. During the Civil Rights Movement, folk musicians like Peter Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan used their music to foster peace and equality. Additionally, folk musicians wrote and performed ballads about personal experiences from their lives that would later be passed from generation to generation orally before finally taking written form.

Folk music can be associated with specific regions, cultures or genres; however, its diversity makes it quite varied. Immigrants who settled in Texas brought with them their own folk music traditions from home. Germans and Czechs incorporated folk songs into social gatherings while Latinos created conjunto music. And Black Creoles in southwestern Louisiana began incorporating folk songs into zydeco tunes!

Today, the Houston Folk Music Archive is working hard to preserve Houston’s legacy of local folk music that flourished from the 1960s to 1980s. Housed within Fondren Library, this archive houses scrapbooks, flyers, posters, photos, films and recordings (many from gigs recorded by KTRU). Through various media such as an ArcGIS story map or community engagement initiatives, it will continue to preserve Houston’s folk history and commemorate all that made Houston such an irreplaceable hub of folk music!