Stories, and the ability to share them, create a bond between people that spans generations and borders. For thousands of years, word of mouth was the only way to pass down knowledge and traditions, and folk songs were the currency of the day.
Adam Miller has spent more than 20 years studying, interpreting and performing traditional American folk songs. He estimates he’s traveled 70,000 miles per year to perform at 200 concerts annually in 48 states.
He has demonstrated that at a fundamental level, traditional folk songs serve as entertainment and carry a mass appeal.
“These folk songs are kind of like movies and TV shows from days before movies and TV,” Miller said. “Love affairs, murders, betrayals, heroes and villains. That’s what these old ballads are full of.”
Miller, a former Skyline Boulevard resident, will perform his own holiday-themed concert in partnership with the San Mateo County Libraries. The Half Moon Bay Public Library is the first stop on Miller’s series. With his autoharp in tow, he’ll begin his free sing-along show “Traditional Folksongs of the Winter Holidays” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Miller is also scheduled to perform at the public libraries in San Carlos, Belmont, Foster City and Portola Valley throughout weekends in December.
Miller explained he selects old, traditional holiday songs from multiple cultures, and steers clear of the many cliché Christmas songs he hears at the mall. In prior concerts, with great-grandparents in
attendance, he’s seen four generations of family members enjoy the same song. It’s a break from the noise of the modern world, a chance to hear history.
“There’s just something about these old traditional songs and stories, and everyone in the audience gets some experience … There’s a whole body of entertainment from our collective folk experience that exists outside the commercial world.”