Founded in 1957 by Manuel Greenhill, Folklore Productions has represented artists in the folk, traditional and roots music worlds for over fifty years.
In addition to arranging personal appearances and recordings, the company publishes songs through Folklore Music, Chandos Music and Hillgreen Music, and administers Tortoise Music and Terrapin Music.
Since Mitchell Greenhill joined his father in 1976, the company has expanded into the areas of record production and sound design/music composition for theater. Representing the third generation, Mitch’s son Matthew Greenhill joined in 1997, and has helped to broaden the company’s international horizons. In 2011, Folklore joined forces with Mel Puljic, a major force in North American artist representation with an unrivaled knowledge and expertise in world music.
Manuel Greenhill (1916-1996)
Longtime folk music manager Manuel A. “Manny” Greenhill died of heart failure on April 14, 1996 while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for leukemia at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 80 years old.
Born March 10, 1916, in New York, Manny spent several years as a union activist, and often heard folksingers Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and the other Almanac Singers perform. He met Leona Wechsler at a May Day event in 1940, and they married that December. They had two children, Mitchell, born in 1944 and Deborah, born in 1948. Shortly after his discharge from the Army in World War II, Manny moved to Boston, where he developed a business representing foreign language newspapers to potential advertisers, before establishing Folklore Productions in 1958.
Josh White, his guitar teacher from union days, was the first artist Manny presented in formal concert. Others featured in those days included Pete Seeger, Odetta and Theodore Bikel. Later he went on to work with Flatt & Scruggs, Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and perhaps most crucially, Joan Baez, who became his first managerial client. He found that he enjoyed guiding her career, and by the mid-Sixties his roster included Doc Watson, Reverend Gary Davis, and Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller, among many others.
Throughout his fourteen-year tenure with Joan Baez, Manny continued his interest in music as a political force. The Baez contracts he drew up were among the first to insist on racial integration in concert seating, despite resistance from a number of white southern communities. There were also memorable struggles with the Daughters of the American Revolution regarding the use of Constitution Hall, and with the Mormon authorities regarding an appearance in Salt Lake City. And when Joan later became involved in political action against the undeclared war in Viet Nam, Manny was a key participant in integrating her musical and political presentations to the national press and other forums.
During the sixties Manny was an integral part of the folk music community as well as the political community of the left. He was the first impresario to present bluegrass masters Flatt and Scruggs to a northern audience, and he had earlier presented both The Weavers and Pete Seeger as a solo artist during the years when the HUAC blacklist was in full force and doing so was not without risk. He marched at Selma the same year he was an unofficial advisor to the booking committee of the Newport Folk Festival (the festival’s director, George Wein, had been Manny’s partner in a nightspot called The Ballad Room). It was Manny who loaned Reverend Gary Davis $500.00 to buy his famous guitar, “Miss Gibson,” and who secured copyright protection and accurate accounting for not only Rev. Davis’ compositions but those of Jesse Fuller and others.
He loved telling stories about folk music and politics and how they were, in his view, inextricably entwined; in February of 1995, Jim Rooney finally got him to tell some of those stories into a tape recorder at the Folk Alliance Conference in Portland, where they were preserved as part of the Alliance’s Oral History program. On another Folk Alliance panel, Manny talked about how the folk music of the Sixties affected that of the Nineties.
As Folklore Productions grew, Manny established an office in Santa Monica, California. This enabled him to keep a closer eye on the recording industry (he produced Doc Watson’s Old Timey Concert, a well-received live album), as well as to indulge a long-suppressed hankering for beach life. For several years he maintained offices in both cities, but eventually the Boston office was discontinued. In 1976 he was joined in Santa Monica by his partner and son, producer/musician Mitchell Greenhill; shortly thereafter they began to represent Taj Mahal in a decade-long relationship that saw the blues artist’s career expand into the Broadway stage and recordings for children.
Mitch, recently joined by his own son Matt, continues to operate Folklore Productions, which today represents both artists (Doc Watson, the Battlefield Band and many others) and publishing catalogues, including material by Joan Baez, Reverend Gary Davis, Jesse Fuller and John Fahey.
A product of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, folk music scene, Mitch recorded two albums for the Prestige label in the 1960′s. He also accompanied Rosalie Sorrels on her seminal album If I Could Be The Rain. Towards the end of the decade, he drifted west and, with Mark Spoelstra and Mayne Smith, formed the country-rock band Frontier. After Frontier disbanded, Mitch worked as lead guitarist in a number of Northern California honky-tonks, and continued as a studio guitarist and producer with other artists, including Dave Van Ronk and Eric von Schmidt. In 1976 he joined his father at Folklore Productions, where he worked as agent and/or manager for Doc & Merle Watson, Taj Mahal and others. He produced albums for the Watsons (including one Grammy-winner), and also for John Renbourn, Rosalie Sorrels, Robin Flower and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Resuming their performing and songwriting partnership, Mitch Greenhill & Mayne Smith released two albums and toured Britain and Italy.
In the mid-1980’s, Mitchell began Folklore Productions’ involvement in theater. On Broadway, he composed original music for An Almost Holy Picture, a dramatic play starring Kevin Bacon. At the Mark Taper Forum, The Waiting Room (mainstage, 1994) and Getting Away With Murder (cabaret, 1992) were recognized by Drama-Logue Awards for sound design and original music, respectively. At South Coast Repertory his 1997 work on Sidney Bechet Killed A Man also received a Drama-Logue Award. He has also composed and/or designed for Pasadena Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, the Huntington in Boston, Arena Stage in Washington and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Film credits include Walter Hill’s The Long Riders and Todd Haynes’ Safe.
In recent months Mitch has joined forces with mandolinist Bob Applebaum and guitarist Peter Spelman to form String Madness, an ensemble whose repertoire is all-acoustic, all-instrumental, all the time.
Mitch’s early Prestige recordings have been reissued on Fantasy as Shepherd of the City Blues. Also available on CD are Storm Coming and Back Where We’ve Never Been, by Mitch Greenhill & Mayne Smith.
- String Madness performed at Westwood Music in Los Angeles on April 22, 2012.
- Mitch Greenhill performed at Merlefest in Wilkesboro NC on April 27-29, 2011
Born in Cambridge, MA, Matt moved to Northern California at an early age. He now presides over Folklore Productions’ East Cost office in the beautiful Hudson Valley, near New York City.
As a young musician Matt honed his skills in the streets and pubs of Paris. Between extended trips abroad he completed a degree in International Development Studies, which led to work and study abroad in France, Indonesia, Mexico and Haiti. In addition to his native English, Matt speaks Spanish and French.
While still in college Matt developed his skills as a music agent, working part time with his father and grandfather. After graduating, he lived in France before returned to California to work as a carpenter and artisan jeweler. During this time he co-founded the band Spiral Bound, an acoustic music project that explored (among other things) the common ground between Celtic and American song traditions.
Eventually, Matt’s interest in music as a social force led him back to Folklore where he has since helped to expand the agency’s roster to include a new generation of musicians and to increase Folklore’s international focus.
Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Matt worked closely with the Brooklyn Academy of Music to book a North American tour for “Songs of the Sufi Brotherhood” — a concert of 3 distinct Sufi music traditions — featuring Hamza El Din from Nubia, Rizwaun Muazzam Qawwali from Pakistan, and Hassan Hakmoun from Morocco. In spite of new US visa restrictions (2 members of the Pakistani group were denied entry), the tour went forward to critical acclaim.
In 2006 Matt moved his operations to Europe where he worked for two years from Helsinki, Finland. During this time Folklore expanded its network of international agent affiliates as well as concert and festival bookings worldwide.
Matt currently shares the agenting and management duties at Folklore with his father, Mitch Greenhill.
He served as Executive Producer on The Seal Maiden (an album of Irish music for children, featuring Karan Casey and Friends), and as a Board Member of the Western Arts Alliance.
In 2011, Folklore Productions International proudly joined forces with Mel Puljic. With 2 decades of executive experience in South Africa and the US, Mel is a major force in North American artist representation with an unrivaled knowledge and expertise in world music. With Mel, we will expand our international vision, uniting two superb rosters under Folklore’s banner.