The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #141650   Message #3262954
Posted By: Don Firth
24-Nov-11 - 06:16 PM
Thread Name: Authenticity & Showmanship - Impossible?
Subject: RE: Authenticity & Showmanship - Impossible?
In the 1960s, I attended the yearly Berkeley Folk Festival and had the pleasure of hearing some of the best folk singers AND singers of folk songs around at the time. Among these were bluesmen Lightnin' Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt. At the 1964 Berkeley Festival, I saw and heard Almeda Riddle. In the late 1970s, at a Northwest Folklife Festival, I was on the same program with no less than a person than Elizabeth Cotton. (Talk about a tough act to follow!!).

You can't get more "authentic" than these folks. But believe me, they had plenty of "showmanship!" Lightnin' Hopkins had a number of pretty funny schticks for introducing songs as did Mississippi John Hurt. Almeda Riddle was used to amusing children, and she did the same with adults between songs and by way of introducing songs. Showmanship.

Also, at one of the Berkeley festivals, I heard the New Lost City Ramblers (John Cohen, Tom Paley, and Mike Seeger). Authentic southern string-band songs, but LOTS of very entertaining clowning around.

Even the grimmest of murder ballads is sung for the purpose of entertaining an audience, even if that audience is just yourself.

And no matter what kind of songs one sings, if you want to take up other peoples' time, and especially take up some of there money as well, you had bloody well better be entertaining! Otherwise, why would they listen to you?

Music and entertainment are inextricably linked. Even the most SERIOUS music.

There are those in this world who are so deadly serious that they think that SEX shouldn't be enjoyed. Its authentic use is for the purpose of propagating the species. Victorian young ladies who were about to be married were often told that when their husbands were doing their "husbandly DUTY," they should get a firm grip on the headboard, grit their teeth, and think of England! This is not to be enjoyed, it is to be endured!

What a grim life these people must lead!

One of the things I didn't like about the Kingston Trio was that they would often take a great song or ballad and screw around with it just to make some kind of stupid frat-boy joke! I don't like THAT kind of messing with the songs. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with singing songs and ballads in an entertaining and engaging manner, keeping in mind what the song is about.

Them's my sediments!

Don Firth