Minnesota Folk Arts Program (Philip Nusbaum) collection

Biographical / Historical

The Minnesota State Arts Board obtained National Endowment for the Arts funding for a Folk Arts Program Associate position beginning in 1983. John Berquist first served in the position (1984-1985); Philip Nusbaum followed in March 1986, and held it until July 2003. Their enduring expertise and interests in traditional music shaped many of MSAB's documentary folk arts projects.

During his tenure, Nusbaum spearheaded the state's traditional artist apprenticeship program and, also with National Endowment for the Arts support, produced Minnesota Folk Arts radio programs, teacher institutes, festivals, a folk artists directory, and commercial recording projects that highlighted Minnesota folk culture. Through five major documentary projects and collaborations with "radio guy" Gordon Abel, Wayne Gannaway, gospel musician and teacher Judy Henderson, folklorist James P. Leary, anthropologist Maya López-Santamaría, ethnomusicologist Tom Vennum, and others, Nusbaum produced a five-LP Minnesota Traditional Music Series. Jointly sponsored by the Arts Board and the Minnesota Historical Society, the series featured Norwegian-American, Ojibwa, Latino, African-American and polka musical traditions in the state. The project documentation also enriched Nusbaum's other MSAB folk arts programming.

Nusbaum also published scholarly and popular articles that drew from the MSAB folk arts documentation he coordinated, on topics ranging from Minnesota bluegrass and Norwegian-American musical traditions to spear-fishing decoys and the contemporary culture of Vietnam veterans. Involved in radio show programming--since he was a student, at CCNY in New York City, at WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana, and then from 1977-1986 at KUNI-FM, an Iowa Public Radio affiliate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa--Nusbaum continued to feature the region's bluegrass musicians as host of Bluegrass Saturday Morning on KBEM-FM in Minneapolis (1993- ) and his syndicated weekly one-hour bluegrass radio show called the Bluegrass Review (2003- ).