News & Reviews


Washington Life Magazine: Joel Rafael - The Steady Stream

Joel Rafael - Baldista

A folk music mainstay, Joel Rafael, helps keep the genre alive.

Ever’body might be just one big soul,/Well it looks that a-way to me.

Those are Woody Guthrie’s words from “Tom Joad,” a ballad he wrote based on the main character in “The Grapes of Wrath.” And that one lyric might just perfectly encompass folk music in general. One big soul, everyone talking about things that shake their inner self, of things that either need to change or remain the same.

Joel Rafael has his own description for folk, one that you might have heard Guthrie use himself.

“(Folk music’s) kinda like a stream that runs along,” Rafael told me from his home in California. “It gets drier in some places along the way; you’ll see a creek bed, you don’t see any water, but the creek bed is there, and maybe the water is down under the water table somewhere under the ground. Further down the creek bed, all of a sudden it pops out of a little spring somewhere, and there’s a flow and it gets bigger, goes down the hill and picks up speed. That’s how I see folk music through time.”

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