Scott Alarik was a folksinger, songwriter, author and journalist who was a fixture on the New England folk music scene from his arrival in Boston in the early 1980s until his untimely death in December 2021. A Minnesota native, he was born in 1951 and came of age in the tumult of the 1960s, refusing to register for the draft and ultimately serving 19 months in federal prison. Upon his release in 1972, he became a touring folksinger, performing often on A Prairie Home Companion and at iconic venues such as Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, Caffé Lena and the Speakeasy in New York, and Passim in Cambridge. He released his first album, Stories, in 1978, and his second, Scott Alarik with the New Prairie Ramblers (the Prairie Home Companion house band) in 1981. Attracted by New England’s vibrant folk scene, he relocated to Boston/Cambridge and soon began covering folk music for the Boston Globe. In this capacity he furthered the careers of countless local and national artists, reviewing concerts and albums and generously providing quotes, blurbs and album notes for everyone from Ellis Paul and Vance Gilbert to Alison Krauss and Ani DiFranco. In 1991 he founded the New England Folk Almanac, which gave in-depth coverage to happenings in contemporary, traditional and Celtic folk music. When that ceased publication in 1997 he collected many of his essays and articles into the book Deep Community: Adventures in the Modern Folk Underground, published in 2003. In 2011 he published a novel, Revival, also set in the folk music world, which won the IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Popular Fiction. Throughout the years he never stopped performing, releasing the album All That Is True in 2007. He also became an in-demand MC at folk festivals such as Falcon Ridge, and a radio personality in his own right on WUMB’s Folk Tales. In all his guises he was a walking encyclopedia of folk music, and a first-class storyteller and raconteur. The New England folk scene owes him a huge collective debt for keeping folk music visible (and audible) well into the new millennium.
(by Terry Kitchen – February 2022)
Published on February 8, 2022