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Novelist’s daughter grew up with folk music


This article was published January 31, 2013 at 2:20 a.m.

— Caroline Doctorow was around so much folk music as a child that she figures she never gave a thought to following in the proverbial footsteps of her famous literary father, E.L. Doctorow, author of books such as Ragtime, Welcome to Hard Times and Billy Bathgate.

“He remains very supportive of my career as a folk musician,” Caroline Doctorow says. “He loves the genre himself and my parents were in a little folk band like The Weavers. I grew up in a house that was full of folk music all the time. My dad edited Joan Baez’s first book, when she was in her 20s, and it was during her visits to our home that she took the time to teach me a few guitar chords.”

Growing up in New Rochelle on Long Island, N.Y., Doctorow and her family were not far from the club scene in New York and New England.

Her albums have featured such folk luminaries as JohnSebastian, Cindy Cashdollar, Eric Weissberg and Barbara Lamb. She performed a classic folk song, “This Little Light of Mine,” on the PBS series Freedom: A History of Us, which was narrated by Katie Couric.

Doctorow, whose music has earned her comparisonsto Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and Judy Collins, has released seven albums since launching her career in 1991: Hiding Out in Plain Sight in 1994; Passing Through Tulsa in 1996; That Changes Everything in 2001; Carmel Valley Ride in 2003; Follow You Down in 2006; Another Country in 2008; and I Carry All I Own in February.

She has opened shows for The Band, The Subdudes, Richie Havens, Alison Krauss, Tom Paxton and Tim O’Brien. Country singer Eddie Rabbitt was the first artist for whom she served as an opening act.

Her latest project was getting involved in Trouble in the Fields: A Tribute to Nanci Griffith, on which Doctorow recorded the titlesong, Griffith’s “Trouble in the Fields.” Some of the other artists taking part include Amy Rigby, Sara Hickman, Tom Russell, John Stewart, Jerry Jeff Walker and Carolyn Hester.

“I’ve done a couple of tribute albums before, so it was easy to be a part of this,” Doctorow says. “One album I did, Another Country, was the songs of Richard and Mimi Farina, who were friends of my parents, and Mimi was the younger sister of Joan Baez. They had a song, ‘Pack Up Your Sorrows,’ that was recorded by Johnny Cash and Judy Collins.

“My other tribute project, released almost a year ago, was I Carry All I Own, devoted to 10 songs of Mary McCaslin. One of my newer influences is Patty Griffin. Ithink her songwriting is fantastic.”

The members of Doctorow’s band, the Steamrollers, are Russ Seeger on fiddle, guitar and vocals and Michael Hennessy on percussion and guitar.

“Our repertoire includes the songs of the Farinas, Mary McCaslin and standards, including the song ‘Gentle on My Mind’ and the music of Mickey Newbury. I’m working on a new album of originals that will be out on my own label, Narrow Lane Records, in a few months.”

Doctorow is also the mother of two teenage girls who so far have not followed their mother’s career trajectory.

“The older one is big into photography, and the younger one is a big fan of cooking,” she says.

Caroline Doctorow

& the Steamrollers

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Thom

son Hall, Unitarian Univer

salist Church, 1818 Reser

voir Road, Little Rock

Admission: $15; $12 for

students with IDs; free for

accompanied children 12

and under

(501) 663-0634 or lrfolkclub.


Weekend, Pages 37 on 01/31/2013

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