When Mike Agranoff asked me to write album notes, I was honored. I labored to produce a paragraph that focused on the music you will find here, thinking it would help someone browsing through a record store to decide whether to buy this. But Mike didn't like my paragraph. He said it read like a record review (which it was). "But," said he, "it will be on the inside of the box, so it will only be read by people who have already bought it. They'll know about the recording soon enough; tell 'em about me." The fact that my "record review" was an ecstatic one never entered the picture with him, which is typical, and may tell you something about him right away. He is a person who knows what he wants.
Mike is someone who, if you've seen, you've probably noticed. He's very bearded and very tall and very thin; he regularly wears a hat with a tiny jewel-light in it; and he is very serious about having fun with his chosen field of folk music. If you and he are in the audience at a concert, you will find him in the front row listening for every word and note, often anticipating them before they arrive, and often encouraging or (depending on your perspective) heckling the performers. Under his stewardship, the best and best-run coffeehouse in New Jersey, the Minstrel in Morristown, has flourished for over fifteen years. (He will credit its success to its sponsoring organization, the Folk Project.) He and I have known each other and been friends for ten years, and yet we know virtually nothing about each others' lives outside the realm of folk music. He likes my radio show, so I think he has good taste. I like his music and monologues, so he thinks the same of me. And when we listen to new music together, we often have the same reactions to it, so we must both be right.
"Serious About Having Fun" might make a good title for his second album, but "The Modern Folk Musician" is perfect for his first. The music here is more diverse than it would have been on an album made twenty-five or even ten years ago, but it is not diversity just for the sake of novelty. If I can slip in a little record review past his eagle eye, I'd like to tell you that he plays each selection with skill and taste, and with affection for its roots and for our present, and I'd like to tell you that I think he's real good and that it is amazing that, until now, he has been just another New Jersey secret. But he probably won't let me.
—John Weingart, October 17, 1992