William Rossiter

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

The Great Depression of the “Dirty Thirties” left Americans with a wicked gallows humor, a sense that if they could keep laughing, they wouldn’t have to start crying. This program shows that spit-in-the-demon’s-eye spirit, not through history and literature, but through folklore and “illiterature.”

Popular radio music sturdily ignored the Depression, assuing us that “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” and “We’re in the Money.” But rural and small-town musicians saw the Depression for what it was, poked fun at political figures of the time:

Roosevelt’s in the Whitehouse, dion’ his best,

Hoover didn’t do nothing but around and rest

Audience members are encouraged to share their own or their family memories and stories about those hard times, and Mr. Rossiter shares stories he has collected during dozens of presentations.

Songs accompanied by banjo, guitar and autoharp.