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Moses Asch and Folkways Records

Lawrence Bush
October 18, 2017

Moses (“Moe”) Asch, the founder of Folkways Records, died on this date in 1986. He was the son of the famed Yiddish writer Sholem Asch. Musicians recorded by Moe Asch included Woody Guthrie, Ella Jenkins, Pete Seeger, Josh White, and Leadbelly. Following Asch’s death, the Folkways recordings, numbering some 2,200, were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution.

“It’s my purpose to expose an artist, and if some big company wants him, fine. I can’t afford to have a best seller, because I have 1,600 items and if all my efforts go to one record, what will happen to the other 1,599?” —Moe Asch

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.