The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65238   Message #1075547
Posted By: PoppaGator
18-Dec-03 - 01:42 PM
Thread Name: are folk clubs shite?
Subject: RE: are folk clubs shite?
Thanks to Janice, first for the "real folksinger" quote, and then for the link to the earlier thread.

As someone who loves to sing but has never had the *slightest* urge to write a song, I aspire to the venerable role of "songster," and I am glad to have a tradition -- or, actually, a multiplicity of different traditions -- from which to draw material.

What is a songster? My understanding comes from two of greatest practitioners ever, Mance Lipscomb (who told me in person) and John Hurt (who I know only from his recordings) -- an artist who can perform songs that people love, using only his own resources, i.e. his voice and whatever instrument(s) he can play with his own two hands.

(Make that "his or hers," "he or she," etc., if you need to.)

If Mance, in his day, could play and sing Gershwin or Cole Porter tunes in his two-finger blues-picking style and still be a "folk" (or "folk-blues") artist, you or I can play Beatles tunes or whatever without having to apologize. But, of course, those who stay true to one or another tradition are also finding their artistry and self-expression in the interpretation of pre-existing material. There are so many great songs out there already, and "folksingers" (or, at least certain types of folksingers) exist to keep the best ones alive by continually re-performing and reinterpreting them.

Now, as far as my *not* aspiring to the role of "singer-songwriter," that may be a whole new and separate discussion. I'd just like to pass along my observation that far too many performers who can provide me with great enjoyment with their renditions of material they have learned from others (whether familiar or obscure) take a sudden turn for the worse when they announce, "..and now for one of my/our originals..."