I come from a land called Alberta. A land of big oil companies, a Premier who is an alcoholic, loads of country, and the great Wild West. However, tucked away amongst all our honky-tonk is a hidden sanctuary known as folkwaysAlive!.

folkwaysAlive! Came to be through a coincidence I’m forever be grateful for. The founder of Folkways, Moses Asch, had a son who became a professor in Anthropology at the University of Alberta. Through visiting his son, Moses became attached to the city of Edmonton; with its folk-festival and famous blues radio station CKUA. In 1985 Moses donated an entire Folkways catalogue to the University of Alberta (less than a handful of these entire collections exist). Through the department of Ethnomusicology, folkwaysAlive! was started to bring the legacy of Folkways to the broader Canadian audience.

A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of this place when Hcrink posted pictures of a bunch of his interesting Folkways records on the SoulStrut message boards. I decided to take a trip and to share my experience with the rest of you.

The journey started here

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On the way I caught an unsuspecting staff member posing in front of one of their display cases. That’s Lorna Ardt, she’s the Project Manager for folkwaysAlive! She has also been very kind in facilitating my presence there, taking pictures, pulling album art, and requesting loads of books to be shipped all over the world.


A very foreboding hallway. The album covers are remnants from an exhibit on the cover-art of Folkways.

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BEHOLD! The entrance.


The lobby + listening stations (where almost the entire collection is backed on hard disk).


This giant-sized version of the cover was one of the first things I noticed upon entering. One of the most important anthologies of North American folk music.


A display case featuring some of the unique instruments featured on some Folkways recordings.


And now, the moment you have all been waiting for. The entire collection.

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Some 10′ rare.


Some help for you completionists (*cough* good luck *cough*).


An ode to Asch on the wall.

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A bit about the cover-art exhibit.

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More unsuspecting staff and graudate students. They were working on archiving and cleaning the sound of some of the recordings.


And that’s all folks. If any of you are in the Alberta area, I recommend taking the time to visit this place. The staff is nice (chocolates always on the front desk), the music unparalleled, and the experience unforgettable. Yes, cornball ending, but can you blame me?


Physical Address:
University of Alberta
3-47 Arts Building
Edmonton AB Canada T6G 2E6

Also a big thanks to the folkwaysAlive! staff and to Hcrink for reminding me to go to this place!

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