Remembering The High Lonesome Entire Folkstreams


John Cohen Biography

Biography of John Cohen filmmaker, artist, musician, and photographer living in Putnam Valley, New York

John Cohen is a filmmaker, artist, musician, and photographer who lives in Putnam Valley, New York. After receiving an M.F.A. from Yale University, Cohen became involved with the artistic, literary, and musical movements developing in New York City in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Cohen worked with the legendary photographer Robert Frank on the Beat Generation film Pull My Daisy, documented the work of the Abstract Expressionists and Pop Artists, and was an influential part of the Folk Music Revival as a musicologist and member of the New Lost City Ramblers with Mike Seeger and Tom Paley.

An interest in the world at large led Cohen to Peru where he documented the life and textile arts of the people there. Cohen then traveled to Appalachia first as a photographer and musicologist, then as a filmmaker. The High Lonesome Sound, a portrait of rural Kentucky and musician Roscoe Holcomb, was Cohen's first film. Cohen has since produced more than a dozen films about a wide variety of subjects.

Cohen's latest project is a book of photographs There is No Eye: John Cohen Photographs and a companion CD.

To learn more about John Cohen, visit

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Cohen by Ed Grazda
Portrait of John Cohen. Photograph by Ed Grazda. All rights reserved.

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