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Frank Fairfield: A One-Man Folk Revival

Frank Fairfield may have an old folk sound, but he's just 24, and he hails from California's central valley -- not Appalachia.

He plays banjo and fiddle music, and has opened for acts such as Fleet Foxes. With his Brylcreem-parted hair and high-waisted pants, he brings an old-time aesthetic to his old-time music. On his self-titled first album, released last year, he plays the standards of the American folk repertoire -- songs that have been played by many artists over generations. He also writes his own songs, but stops short of calling himself a songwriter.

"I piece together a thing or two or mash up one thing with another or make something up," Fairfield says, "but I wouldn't call it songwriting. Ira Gershwin was a songwriter. I'm just a kid that writes songs."

Fairfield says he thinks the banjo's reputation has suffered as of late, but argues that it can be a sweet and warm instrument. He adds that playing American folk music was a natural place to start for him.

"I'm just picking up where [music] left off and just keep playing and see what happens from there," he says.

Fairfield's latest project is a compilation album, titled Unheard Ofs & Forgotten Abouts. It showcases the work of other artists he discovered in his personal collection of old 78s from around the globe.

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