Morristown folk series changes name to avoid unwanted connotation

Minstrel Folk series


David Roth performs at the Troubadour Acoustic Music Series, June 21.

Starting this month, the Minstrel Acoustic Concert Series at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morristown will be known as the Troubadour Acoustic Concert Series.

The series is organized by The Folk Project. On its web site,, program chairman Mike Agranoff has written that “minstrel” was intended to evoke traveling entertainers of Medieval Europe, but that in the early 19th century, the word came to be associated with “troupes of musicians and entertainers whose ‘entertainment’ included white actors putting on blackface make-up and performing racist stereotypes of Black people. These troupes were known as ‘minstrel shows’ and continued purveying racist humor well into the middle of the 20th century. That is definitely not the image we wanted to present to the public.”

Especially recently, when some white politicians have been in the news because of old photos of them in blackface, “that unwanted interpretation has become more prominent,” wrote Agranoff. “And the unwanted interpretation is reinforced when Google searches for our concert series come back interspersed with those photographs. This showed us that despite our attachment to the name in its original meaning, it was clearly time for a change.”

Upcoming Troubadour shows will include:

June 21: David Roth with The Sandie Reilly Band
June 28: Summer Songs: A Folk Project Member Concert.
July 12: OpenStage with featured artist Randie O’Neil
July 19: David Massengill, Jean Scully & Friends
July 26: The Troubadour’s 44th Birthday Show.
Aug. 2: Happy Traum, Pete McDonough
Aug. 16: Richard Shindell, Andrew Dunn
Sept. 6: David Stoddard, Sharon Goldman
Sept. 20: Garnet Rogers, Scott Cook
Sept. 27: Patrick Ball, “Come Dance With Me in Ireland”
Oct. 4: Tom Paxton & the DonJuans
Oct. 18: Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas , The Free Reeds
Oct. 25: Folk Project Halloween Show
Nov. 1: Zoe Mulford
Nov. 15: J.P. Cormier
Nov. 22: Best of the Open Stage
Nov. 29: Livingston Taylor, Juliana Parker Edelston
Dec. 6: Chorus Song Night
Dec. 20: Folk Project Holiday Benefit Show
Dec. 27: Gathering Time, Terry Kitchen & Mara Levine
Feb. 7: Valentine’s Day Extravaganza
April 17: Trout Fishing In America


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