The ‘New Weird America’ scene, regardless of their exact label, is without a doubt rooted in the deep history of psychedelic folk. The heyday of the genre during the 60s folk, both in America and in Britain, when weird and eccentric artists flourished, experimenting with various traditional influences as well as incorporating Middle-Eastern, Indian and East-European sounds. These artists approached their folk heritage with a new attitude, largely emanating from the hippie counterculture. The ‘New Weird America’ similarly takes its sources from traditional folk.
Typical acts from that era include Donovan, Tim Buckley, Red Krayola, Comus, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Comus, Shirley Collins, Vashti Bunyan and particularly the british band The Incredible String Band. Arguably every artist associated with the ‘New Weird America’ has been, in some way, influenced by The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (1968).
In America, psychedelic folk was exemplified by the Holy Modal Rounders, whose The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders (1968) is also often cited as a major influence on ‘New Weird America’.
The 80s marked a decline in interest for folk music, and most of the bands who once achieved success either disappeared or turned away from the earthly folk sound, favouring a more rock-oriented approach.
The early 90s saw a resurgence in folk music, this time in the form of ‘anti-folk’. A wave of new artists, whose spokEsperson and, began playing acoustic songs infused with the energy and reckless attitude of punk rock.
Furthermore, in the late 90s, bands like The Iditarod, Stone Breath and In Gowan Ring were already discovering the folk records of the sixties and incorporating them into their sound. These bands are considered to be direct predecessors to the ‘New Weird America’, and have been involved with the movement.