Bob Nelson Collection of Folk Music

The Collection, which spans over 60 years of music making, includes hundreds of recordings made by dozens of  musicians in and around the Pacific Northwest. From “hoots” and living room jams, to radio broadcasts to festival concerts, these recordings reflect Nelson’s lifelong commitment to music making, listening, and collecting. As he notes, “What you will hear in this collection of music is an audio history of the folk music I have been around all my life. These recordings all came from the hoots, small gatherings, jam sessions, live concerts and practice sessions of many friends. These were not commercial quality recording made in studios by audio engineers. Instead they mostly come from cheap tape recorders sitting on coffee tables in various living rooms and kitchens. A few recordings were made in radio and TV broadcast studios, or on the occasional concert stages where the audio equipment was better. What you hear is what you get.”

Nelson recorded many of the artists featured here (himself included), but other recordists and collectors also contributed to the Collection’s contents. “This collection came from several sources. The largest number came from tapes that I personally made and saved over the years. My collection starts in 1954. In addition, I was given many reel to reel recording from Patti DiLudovico. She was discarding her tapes as I happened to drive in her driveway (I beat the garbage truck by two hours). I also received wonderful collections from John Ashford and Ed Bremer. All of these people gave me their recordings. Both of these people generously gave me their recordings in the hopes that they would be preserved for future generations.”

Nelson continues to digitize and donate recordings to the UW Libraries. All recordings will eventually be made available to researchers, for free, at the UW Libraries Media Center. This collection is a part of Puget Sounds, UW Libraries’ commitment to collect, preserve, and provide access to musics of the Puget Sound region. If you have any questions about his collection, please contact John Vallier.

To access more information on the collection, please see our guide.

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