AFTER two decades of hibernation, the New York, Boston and Chicago folk scenes have awakened to recall the glory days when Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Phil Ochs were first making their reputations. Today the names are Suzanne Vega (at Lisner Monday night), the Roches, George Gritzbach, David Massengill, Frank Christian, Elijah Wald, Anne Hills, Christine Lavin and Bill Morrissey. Lavin and Morrissey perform at the Wolf Trap Barns Friday night. Here's a look at some of the records:
CHRISTINE LAVIN -- "Future Fossils" (Philo, 1104). Lavin's debut LP is as fresh, tuneful and witty as the Roches' first. Some of Lavin's songs are outright comic turns; she preaches the advantages of "Cold Pizza for Breakfast" and advises women with too many lovers: "Don't Ever Call Your weetheart by His Name." These and her John Denver parody ("Nobody's Fat in Aspen") work because she keeps the vocals low-key and the melodies seductively perky.
She is also capable of more touching tunes. Her casual, conversational tone captures the sense of loss in an abandoned lover ("Damaged Goods"), the end of summer ("Rockaway") and a one-night-stand singer ("Ramblin' Waltz"). Her self-produced album is centered around her relaxed singing and guitar picking with only a tasteful minimum of support. (Philo Records c/o Rounder Records; 1 Camp St., Cambridge, Mass. 02140.)
BILL MORRISSEY -- "Bill Morrissey" (Philo, 1106). This is a re-release of this Boston singer/songwriter's debut album on the Reckless label. He sings in a raspy voice halfway between Tom Waite's and John Prine's over his self-assured, reassuring acoustic guitar progressions. He takes a wry, wary look at the changes in the people and neighborhoodaround him and takes a quiet delight in the resulting ironies. Perhaps his most poignant song is his most understated: "My Old Town" chronicles the dubious improvements since his last visit.
ELIJAH WALD -- "Songster, Fingerpicker, Shirtmaker" (Reckless RK 1915). Morrissey produced this debut album by Wald, a Boston blues guitarist who studied and recorded with Dave Van Ronk. Like his mentor, Wald has an easy, rolling fingerpicking style and an eccentric singing style befitting his affection for any American tune with a quirky individuality. He turns songs by everyone from Woody Guthrie and Mississippi John Hurt to Louis Jordan and the Coasters into effective coffeehouse blues numbers. (Reckless Records, 21 Lakeview Ave., Cambridge, Mass. 02138.)
ANNE HILLS -- "Don't Explain" (Hogeye, HOG006). Now that Judy Collins has abandoned her refined folk style for stilted pop, Ann Hills is a likely candidate to fill the vacancy. As Collins once did, Hills takes the best new folk nd cabaret songs and graces them with tasteful arrangements and a superb voice. She showcases two obscure writers, Michael Smith and Tim Henderson, whose songs boast the detail and feel of hand-me- down standards. Hill is such a good singer that she can lend a jazz stylishness to the restrained folk arrangements without ever calling attention to herself. (Hogeye Records, c/o Flying Fish Records; 1304 W. Schubert; Chicago, Ill. 60614.)