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Folk Heritage; Lou Killen

Part of Folk Heritage with Dick Pleasants.


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Folk Heritage
Lou Killen
Series Description

Folk Heritage premiered Sunday, October 1, 1978 with Dick Pleasants and Marie Rhines as co-hosts. In September 1979 Rhines left and Pleasants became the solo host of the series, a position he would hold until his retirement in 2004.

Folk Heritage was a broadminded series that explored the traditional and the contemporary, bluegrass and American folk to ethnic instruments. Pleasants was involved in the local and regional folk music community. This personal commitment led to the program featuring live, in-studio performances by musicians from all around the New England area and beyond. By stressing quality and diversity in the music, Pleasants was broadening the audience: "..there is a whole new class of folk instruments popular today listeners who may only think of themselves as 'classical' lovers, for instance, are learning that folk music can really be very complex and intricate. And accessible," Pleasants noted.

Although the series switched from Sunday evenings to Saturday afternoons, it consistently featured a wide range of songwriters and musicians in live performances and interviews, including Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Odetta, Patty Larkin and BeauSoleil. For his farewell program on March 13, 2004, Pleasants welcomed Sparky and Rhonda Rucker into the studio for conversation and music.

Source: Prime Time WGBH Program Guide (October 1978); On Air WGBH Radio Program Guide (September 1979) GBH Members Guide (May 2004)

Program Description

Radio: British Tradition: vocals and vocal with guitar or concertina, Louis "Lou" Killen.

British traditional singer Lou Killen moved to the United States in 1966, and became a popular figure in the British folk music revival in the US, performing as a soloist, with Pete Seeger and with the Clancy Brothers. In this live interview/performance broadcast January 4, 1981, Killen tells how he discovered the old songs that he learned to make his own. Unlike other singers in the tradition, he did not begin singing folk ballads until he was in his twenties. His early repertoire included blues and prison songs, Leadbelly covers and Irish rebel songs.

“Being part of a revival,” Killen tells host Dick Pleasants, “I had to develop my own style but based on traditional singing. I picked up on ornaments through Irish instrumental music, plus Ewan MacColl.”

In this hour, Killen sings a cappella and to the accompaniment of his English concertina. The conversation is wide-ranging and fun. As Pleasants says near the end of the broadcast, “You could spend four hours talking to this gentleman.”

Song list:

’Twas on One April Morning / Young Men Are False The Recruited Collier The Jolly Grinder Charles Docherty The Poor Cotton Weaver Wassail Song Concertina instrumental (title indecipherable)

Duration: 57:35

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “Folk Heritage; Lou Killen,” 01/04/1981, GBH Archives, accessed April 17, 2024,
MLA: “Folk Heritage; Lou Killen.” 01/04/1981. GBH Archives. Web. April 17, 2024. <>.
APA: Folk Heritage; Lou Killen. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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