One of over 200 entries I wrote for Encyclopaedia Britannica's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995):
From Mother Jones:
From Biography of a Hunch: The History of the Old Town School of Folk Music (written, edited, and designed by Lisa Grayson, 1992):
To think it all started with a hunch 35 years ago. [Founders] Win Stracke, Dawn Greening, Frank Hamilton, and Gertrude Soltker put their hearts, and everything they had, into the Old Town School. Frank's group teaching style, the "second half" hootenannies, the nurturing of students to allow them to blossom as performers or teachers themselves, the comfortable style of the School that makes everyone welcome, the free performances for the community and scholarships for needy students, the desire to preserve and encourage the native music of all races and ethnic groups, the concerts, even the parties -- everything the founders brought to make this wonderful mix still informs the School today.
"Somehow, we have tapped the strength, the beauty, the longevity of the songs we sing and channeled these qualities into a gathering place we call the Old Town School of Folk Music," Win wrote years ago. After all that happened -- the move to Armitage,* the renovation, the changes in leadership, the shifts in musical taste -- did he feel the School stayed true to his dream and fulfilled the hunch?
His answer came after the 30th anniversary concert in 1987. "I'm overwhelmed," Win said, "that something I had a hand in starting should now come to this kind of fruition."
"During the dark days of 1982, I often found myself thinking about Win, Dawn, Frank, and Gertrude," [OTS executive director] Jim Hirsch now recalls. "I thought about the idea of the Old Town School of Folk Music. A place where people could come together to learn and play. A place where this music, which is the evolutionary source for all music, could be preserved and admired. A place where you can really be yourself with no pretensions. These thoughts drove me to the conclusion that we couldn't let the School fail, and I'm proud to say we haven't."
Today, the School embodies its founders' dream of a home where all can come to learn, share, and experience the power and joy of folk music. With 35 years of fine music and exemplary community service behind it, the Old Town School of Folk Music continues to honor its legacy.