Johns Hopkins University
Fall/Winter 2007
Vol. 5, No. 1

ALUMNI

The Man Who Brings History to Life

Mourning Two Killed in Action

> Airing Their Dirty Linen


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Airing Their Dirty Linen

Dirty Linen magazine coverPaul Hartman '77 used to pick up his guitar a bit but hasn't seen it in years. Wife Susan '77 has never played an instrument and sings mostly at church. Yet the couple's passion for music infuses nearly everything they do. Together the two edit and publish Dirty Linen, a bimonthly magazine of folk and world music, based in Towson, Md.

"We're one of the largest publications in the country covering this range of music. We do the groups Rolling Stone ignores," says Paul, a one-time computer consultant who gave up his day job 10 years ago when the publication he took over in 1987 took on a life of its own. With a circulation of 12,000 (and an estimated readership of 30,000), the magazine offers extensive reviews of folk music recordings, videos, books, and concerts, as well as profiles of musical artists and venues.

Like the music they write about, the freelance writers the magazine taps are an eclectic lot, from all over the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. "One is a paleontologist, one's a head librarian at Buffalo State College. We've got a lawyer, an engineer for Lockheed Martin-they come from all walks of life," says Susan. What they share, like the Hartmans, is the desire to spread the word about little-known groups and music they've "discovered" with folk music aficionados around the world.

The Hartmans photo
Paul and Susan Hartman with their vast CD collection.

It was a Pete Seeger and the Clearwater Sloop concert at Shriver Hall in the late 1960s that first turned Paul Hartman on to the folk music genre. Susan's interest came a little later. After the two met and married as undergraduates (Paul's dad was longtime biology professor Philip E. Hartman), she stayed busy throughout the 1980s raising their three children, now 28, 24, and 19.

Today, she's the magazine's general manager, and her tastes run toward Nanci Griffith, Crooked Still ("a dynamite new band"), and The Carolina Chocolate Drops ("They're just brilliant," she says).

Her husband, editor and publisher, is also a big admirer of the Drops, who were featured on the cover of Dirty Linen's September issue. "They're keeping the black string band tradition alive," he says.

The mailman stays busy at the Hartman offices—they receive upward of 100 CDs each week to listen to and have reviewed. The constant infusion of new music helps inform Paul's weekly radio show, Detours, which airs on Sundays from 5 to 7 p.m. on WTMD-FM.

To help keep up with the back office demands of fulfillment and advertising and broaden their reach, the Hartmans will soon be merging with Blues Revue—a shift, Paul says, that will be virtually transparent for his magazine's loyal readers. Every two months, he says, "they'll still be able to unwrap the plastic covering and air their Dirty Linen."