Folk Singer Oscar Brand has Died

Oscar BrandOSCAR BRAND, 96, of pneumonia on Sept. 30 in Great Neck, NY. A Canadian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen, folk singer, songwriter and author, his career spanned 70 years during which he composed more than 300 songs and released nearly 100 albums. His music ran the gamut from novelty tunes to serious social commentary and spanned a number of genres. During his long career, he played alongside such folk legends as Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Pete Seeger, and The Weavers.

He hosted a radio show, Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival every Saturday at 10pm on WNYC-AM 820 for 70 years, making it the longest-running radio show with the same host, according to the Guinness Book of World Records—for which he never asked for nor received pay. His program was described as “a quirky, informal combination of American music symposium, barn dance, cracker-barrel conversation, songwriting session and verbal horseplay.” One of the organizers of the Newport Folk Festival, Brand served as a Board member of the Children’s Television Workshop and participated in the development of Sesame Street.

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Lew Shaw started writing about music as the publicist for the famous Berkshire Music Barn in the 1960s. He joined the West Coast Rag almost thirty years ago and has been a guiding light to this paper through the two name changes since then as we became The Syncopated Times.  47 of his profiles are collected in Jazz Beat: Notes on Classic Jazz. Volume two, containing profiles from 2013-2016 will be available on Amazon soon. He taps his extensive network of connections and friends throughout the traditional jazz world to bring us his Jazz Jottings column every month.

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