The folk music revival is sometimes said to have begun with Pete Seeger. The Weavers, formed in 1947 by Seeger, had a big hit in 1949 with Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene”. This hit was probably one of the first glimmerings of the folk music revival.
Although carried along by a handful of artists releasing records, the folk-music scene’s development was still only as a sort of cult phenomenon in bohemian circles in places like New York City (especially Greenwich Village), North Beach, and in the college and university districts of cities like Boston, Denver, Chicago and elsewhere. It was hip, but not terribly widespread.
In the 1950s and after, acoustic folk-song performance became associated with the coffee houses, private parties, open-air concerts and sing-alongs, and college-campus concerts. It blended, to some degree, with the so-called beatnik scene, and dedicated singers of folk songs (as well as folk-influenced original material) traveled through what was called “the coffee-house circuit” across the U.S. and Canada.