The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #158212   Message #3742802
Posted By: GUEST,Jon Dudley
10-Oct-15 - 07:22 AM
Thread Name: Need input on youth in folk music
Subject: RE: Need input on youth in folk music
Sorry about that…rather too rapid with the digit..

I first attended a Blues club in my home town of Bishop's Stortford which was absolutely packed with people of my age and a bit older. The point of course was not lost on these kids that the Blues was the root of the music they were into…Stones, Kinks, Manfred Mann et al. My parents moved us to East Sussex and I ended up at Lewes County Grammar School for Boys. My class consisted of lots of the children of Profs and lecturers from the relatively newly-founded Sussex University and I am absolutely certain that it was their liberal views and tastes which led their offspring to the folk clubs. As an example, I remember a group of us attending an adult party of Dr.Ryle where the musical 'entertainment' was a swathe of Weavers, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger albums being played on the Dansette…

Some of us were detailed into reading for the blind poet James Reeves who wrote two (at the time) influential books on folk music, 'The Everlasting Circle' and 'The Idiom of The People', which again must have had an effect. The fact that girls used to go to the Lewes Arms Folk Club was a prime driver also for us to attend, but it was the fact that the organisers and their friends were little older than ourselves - were you Vic and Tina! that seemed to make it all relevant; that and the sensible mixture of different types of music from Malcolm Austen's banjo accompanied American-based material to Vic's Scottish Ballads, to the Irish songs from Terry Masterson and then to a weekly rendering of 'Bushes and Briars' which always had us regrettably giggling. Occasionally we had the so-called 'Source Singers' - Scan Tester, Bob Blake Bob and Ron Copper and others. This had the magical effect of linking it all up and making sense of what everyone else was playing - where it came from if you like. Thanks to the foresighted nature of those in charge of bookings we were 'exposed' to the tradition in a most sensible and clever way.

Meanwhile, we were listening to The Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Hendrix and the rest, but it was also fashionable to be seen with a Dylan or an Incredible String Band album under your arm, or, and believe me he was incredibly popular, the latest Donovan LP.

To your question Vic, the age difference when applied to the old singers exactly WAS the point! They were the link with the past, to that very music - to a group brought up on Blake and Tolkien and Morte D'Arthur this was manna from heaven…the sound of the past brought to life…living history without the cobwebs - real people in the flesh singing songs in an uncomplicated way that pleased their ancestors! For a few moments we were transported back.

But they've all gone now and a new tradition has arisen where the young must grab what they can from wherever they can, and it makes for a fresh new amalgam of cultures and styles - and some of it is wonderful. It demands a different way of listening and of performance, be it in an art centre at a ceilidh or at a festival or occasionally in a folk club! Whilst I concur with your thinly veiled political point about us being the lucky generation (you can say that again!), I think it's a red herring. Bad times breed great music…I loved Punk (takes shelter) and the whole American folk music movement was born out of left wing politics centred on the way in which the country was heading in the 60s.

Whatever, I think Bob Dylan sums up the point of traditional music rather well if enigmatically -

Traditional music is based on hexagrams. It comes about from legends, Bibles, plagues, and it revolves around vegetables and death. There's nobody that's going to kill traditional music.

Oh and yes - Valmai - if she was male she'd be a diamond geezer!