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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,raymond greenoaken Is traditional song finished? (621* d) RE: Is traditional song finished? 06 Mar 10

anybody still here? It feels like I'm loping onto the pitch just after everyone's gone home for tea. But...

This "when I go to a folk club I expect to hear folk" line stirs mixed feelings in me. I agree, I think, that what it says on the tin should be a trusty guide to what you'll find inside the tin. And given the choice between an "anything goes" evening and a session of hardcore trad I'd probably go for the latter nine times out of ten. That's me talking as a listener. As a performer – well, I've been singing Eng Trad in folk clubs for about 35 years because that's what I like singing more than anything else. And I'd need three lifetimes to sing all the songs I want to sing. But I seem to have reached a sort of climacteric in my life in which I feel a need to engage with a lot of other stuff that feels part of my DNA as a singer. Mostly it's stuff that I absorbed in that highly absorbent stage of life between about age 9 and 19. Stuff that I never consciously learned for performance but which nevertheless feels somehow part of what I am.

Trouble is, of course, most of it isn't trad, however elasticated your definition of the term. But if I can't sing it in folk clubs, where can I sing it? Because I play anglo concertina, everything I sing comes out in what some here have identified as a "folk style", whether it's Jamaica Farewell, Sun Arise, Times They Are A-Changing, Lilly The Pink or Jumping Jack Flash. Pop dross, some of you might say, but they have a high emotional voltage for me. But I get the impression that Jim C would flounce out of any club in which I presumed to stand up and sing anything of this sort, even if I had a finger in both ears and a t-shirt declaring McColl For Pope.

Now, just like Walter Pardon I can tell the difference between this kind of stuff and traditional song. (Not that I'd compare myself to him on any other level.) But Walter's ability to discriminate between genres didn't stop him from learning music hall ditties, union anthems and other bastard children of the common muse. And singing them too (otherwise we wouldn't know about it).

So would Walter have got a gig at Jim's folk club only if he'd signed a contract in triplicate that he'd stick faithfully to his trad repertoire? And if the answer is no, doesn't that mean that Jim's shibboleths are those of style rather than substance? And if the answer's yes, doesn't that mean that Jim's definition of "folk" is essentially "music of which I approve"? Just wondering...

Enjoying the debate! Don't stop.

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