A photo taken in the late 1950s at a living room gathering of The Tucson Folksingers

Folk singer Michael Cooney

On Sunday, at the 29th Annual Tucson Folk Festival, a group of current and former Tucson residents will assemble for the first time in more than fifty years.

The Tucson Folksingers were originally active from 1955-62. The group held weekly gatherings, where people from all walks of life shared music, friendship, and a growing awareness of the tumultuous politics of the era.

This year, as many as 10 members of the group will be reuniting to share memories and to give a public talk at the Festival. This reunion is being filmed to create a documentary, an effort funded in part by the Humanities Council and the Tucson-Pima Arts Council.

For this interview, Mark McLemore was joined by Clyde Appleton, a retired music teacher who is considered the Tucson Folksinger's founding member, Barbara Elfbrandt, a retired educator who also worked for the United Nations, and Michael Cooney, a "98 percent retired" musician and singer who now lives in the state of Maine.


Here is a complete version of Michael Cooney singing and playing banjo on "The Frozen Logger", an American folk song written in 1928 by James Stevens:

PHOTO: Robert Jaime

Watch their interview for AZ Illustrated Arts