Folk Songs

Al Beck (1931-2018) collected and sang American folk songs for decades. A visual artist, teacher, poet, cook, and hearty raconteur, he recorded a self-released album From Risque to Ribald: Folk Songs and Stories in 1998, accompanying himself on the banjo.

Al Beck in France 1956

In the mid-1950s, Al toured France as an American folksinger on behalf of the U.S. Information Service while he also attended both the Sorbonne and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, earning a Certificate from the Sorbonne in 1957. Al spent his summers in the 1960s-70s as the Director of the Waterfront at Camp Taconic in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, but evenings there often found him singing many of these same folk songs heard on his recording.

Rocky Hollow, 1995

After his move to Quincy, Illinois and his home in rural Missouri he dubbed Rocky Hollow, audiences could catch his performances at local arts festivals, hootenannies, and at his home around the dinner table. His love of folk music led him to compose his own songs, some of which he included in his recording: “Life’s Lessons”, “Old Jim G.”, “Risin’ Fire”, “Mississippi River Flood”, and “Trouble-Free Traveler”. These newly-written folk songs provide testimony to his love for the genre and his creative energy. Influenced by the likes of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and the Limelighters, Al’s album of folk songs and stories is available for download from Amazon Music, Apple Music, and other online sources. Al sings these songs by turns with fervent joy, romantic longing, heartfelt sorrow, and a love of life – join him around the campfire and enjoy some wonderful American music.