A short history of a music magazine



Fairport Fanatics #1, 1983

Fairport Fanatics #1, 1983

Fairport Fanatics, a newsletter for fans of British folk-rock band Fairport Convention, was started by TJ McGrath in 1983. Music lovers who bought Fairport albums noted an announcement on the back of album covers directing them to send a few dollars to McGrath’s Connecticut address, and a print community was born. Kindred spirits began to write to and for one another, directing each other to yet more bands in a similar vein, historical references behind the songs, new musical directions taken by former FC band members…. this is a dinosaur version of Internet newsgroups and web communities.

Paul Hartman of Baltimore, Maryland, a computer software developer by trade and music fan by avocation, was one of the first on his block to purchase a home computer in the early 1980s. He put it to immediate use as an assistant to McGrath, typing articles and assembling pages in a coherent way. (Heretofore the many submissions from various authors had been assembled piecemeal and pasted up for photocopying.) Around 1987, when McGrath returned to graduate school and found more demands on his time, Hartman took over the production of Fairport Fanatics.

Under Hartman’s tenure, the newsletter became a more polished print publication, and eventually a glossy magazine available in independent bookstores and chains such as Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Chapters (in Canada) as well as having subscribers all around the world. Many of the earliest writers from Fairport Fanatics days continued to write articles and reviews for the magazine, renamed Dirty Linen in homage to its Fairport Convention roots (“Dirty Linen” is a set of traditional Irish fiddle tunes that was updated into a folk-rock medley on Fairport’s Full House album in 1970), and other writers came onboard as the magazine grew in size, musical breadth, and commercial stature. Covering a broad spectrum of roots music traditions and innovations, Dirty Linen ran articles on everything from American singer/songwriters to Celtic rock bands to interpreters of traditional African, Mexican, or Celtic materials to string bands, jug bands, slack-key guitarists, and more.

And there were always the reviews. The central office of Dirty Linen often received more than 75 CDs a week, and the Hartmans (by the mid-90s, Dirty Linen had turned into a family business with Paul and his wife, Susan, at the helm) listened to every CD that came through to evaluate it for review. In a music-business version of equal opportunity, independent labels were well represented in DL’s review pages, which regularly featured in excess of 250 recording, video/DVD, concert, and book reviews… a treasure trove of information for the roots music aficionado. More

The Dirty Linen Store is open!

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Dirty Linen Store

The Dirty Linen Store is open 24/7 365! No huge crowds! No waiting in line! Pick up something weird for that special someone… yourself! Or someone you know! Or a complete stranger! Anyone, really… Created by Baltimore artist Megan Amoss (weird artwork) and Paul Hartman (weird ideas)… http://dirtylinen.us

Dirty Linen is back!!!


Well… sort of. Within a few months we’ll make an announcement about Dirty Linen magazine back issues being available online. But now…

If you liked (or hated) some of the silliness of Dirty Linen such as the spine ticklers, the April Fool’s features, or the nonsensical photo captions, you might enjoy the brand shiny new items in the Dirty Linen Store. T-shirts, mugs, posters, and reusable grocery bags with gorgeous artwork featuring plenty of lyres, nyckelharpas, and bagpipes for the whole family, plus huge manatees, atomic ducks, a radio, and the world-renowned pugmpkin.

Tell your family, friends, and especially your enemies. It’ll be easier to spot them in a crowd when they wear strange attire.

Citizen of the Year!


Baltimore County Councilman David Marks has recognized Paul as “Citizen of the Year” for 2013 for his work with the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations, an umbrella group representing 30 community associations in the Towson area of Baltimore County.


You can still buy Dirty Linen!


If you want a great retro gift idea for someone special (or just for yourself), the Dirty Linen linen store is still open. Customizable T-shirts, hats, and the ever-popular apron are available. Proceeds from sales go to Paul & Sue Hartman.

The Dirty Linen merch store is still open!

You can remember your favorite folk/roots/world music magazine with a logo T-shirt, or mug, or cap, or various other nick-nacks.

I love this one, but you can customize whatever color and shirt style you prefer:


End of an era

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The old Dirty Linen P.O. Box has been closed. Since 1988, thousands of recordings, books, and videos have passed through the box. Uncountable flyers and catalogs for festivals, tours, and events. And more pre-approved credit card offers than you can shake a plastic stick at. This year the mail has reduced to a trickle, so it’s time to stop spending $224/year for the P.O. Box.

Everyone should stop mailing to P.O. Box 66600, Baltimore, MD 21239-6600, USA.


The address for Paul’s weekly radio show, Detour on WTMD, is:

Paul Hartman/Detour
WTMD 89.7
1 Olympic Place, Suite 100
Towson, MD 21204

Recordings sent there will be considered for airplay.

The most wonderful time of the year: April Fool’s Day!

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One of the recurring features of Dirty Linen [RIP] was the almost nearly annual appearance of the April Fool’s Day article in the April/May issue. Sometimes there was also a fake review or fake ad or something, but the big April Fool’s articles proved to be very popular, except with those readers who hated them.


Filling in at WTMD again

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Radio for Music People

I’m filling in for Melissa Lauren on the WTMD Saturday Morning Show this Saturday (December 3rd) 8 am to noon. You can listen in the central Maryland area at 89.7 FM if you have one of those old-fangled radio devices, or via the Intarweb.

News & Views


I’m not big on blogging. I just don’t think people care about what I’m doing at any given moment… (Mon 8:02am Brushing teeth. 3rd upper left bicuspid anti-molar is looking a little yellow. I may have to buy some of that tooth whitening stuff.) To tell you the truth, even I don’t care. If someone Twittered about my every move, I think I’d shoot them. I don’t need a play-by-play.

But here are a few things that have gone on recently.

Some WTMD blogs

I was appointed to the Baltimore County telecommunications advisory panel. All that means is that if you have a problem with your Verizon or Comcast bill, I can tell you that I can’t do anything about it, although you don’t have to spend an hour on hold first. That’s an improvement.

I’ve been filling in at WTMD occasionally. I really like doing the noon-to-3 pm (Eastern Time) Mon-Fri shift where I get to pick 15-20 minutes of a “Live Lunch” feature artist. (The rest of the playlist is pre-chosen.) I’ve played live tracks by Sam Bush, Little Feat, Richard Thompson, and The Byrds recently. Coming up this week (Wed Nov 23 & Fri Nov 25) are Steeleye Span and Stan Rogers. On Veteran’s Day I did the mid-morning shift and snuck in songs by John Flynn (“Semper Fi”), Joel Mabus (“Touch a Name on the Wall”), and Bruuuuce Springsteen (“Chimes of Freedom”). You can listen in at wtmd.org. And hike on over to their Facebook page if you want to tell them how cool Live Lunch is (wait until after I play it, please!)

Of course, I’m still doing Detour, the folk, roots, and world music show on Sundays 5-7 pm. Again, you can listen at wtmd.org and if you want to comment on the facebook page I won’t stop you. Playlists and Baltimore-area concert calendar are available at www.detourradio.com.

Driftwood Magazine, the successor to Dirty Linen, got 5th place (out of 12) in the “Best Entertainment Blog” in the Baltimore Sun’s annual Mobbies voting for best Maryland blogs. Not bad for a blog covering music and not mentioning Lady Gaga or Michael Jackson even once.

And if anyone has a print media or software engineering (heavy duty C and/or assembly language) job in the Baltimore area, I’d be happy to talk to you.

— Paul

Paul’s “Detour” radio show article

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I have been hosting “Detour“, the folk, roots and world music show on WTMD since around 1995. Towson Patch did a story on the show today. You can listen online at www.wtmd.org on Sundays, 5-7 pm Eastern Time, and via free apps for iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones. Lots of music that would be of interest to former Dirty Linen readers.

Also, Baltimore Magazine’s 2011 Readers’ Poll voted WTMD the “Best Radio Station” this week.


WTMD’s auction features Dirty Linen


I still host Detour, a weekly folk, roots and world music radio show on WTMD. There is a fundraising auction underway through May 20th.

There is as near a complete set of Dirty Linen magazines available as is possible. Every issue that is not sold out is included in this auction item. There will be more than the 80 issues mentioned, as I recently found some single copies of sold-out issues that are very rare. This is a great way to catch up on several decades’ worth of roots music journalism. (Auction closes May 20, 2011 4:30 PM EDT)

The second item is being a guest DJ on Detour. Have you ever wanted to share some of your favorite music with Detour listeners? Now’s your chance to program one hour of music for Detour. You can also be guest host and comment on your selections on-air if you wish. I’ll contact the winning bidder to set a mutually-agreeable Sunday. (Auction item closes May 19, 2011 5:30 PM EDT)


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