Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters

Vixen 06 Jul 99 - 08:42 AM
Bert 06 Jul 99 - 09:15 AM
Art Thieme 06 Jul 99 - 09:24 AM
Vixen 06 Jul 99 - 09:52 AM
Night Owl 06 Jul 99 - 12:31 PM
Legal Eagle 06 Jul 99 - 12:43 PM
The Shambles 06 Jul 99 - 01:26 PM
Doctor John 06 Jul 99 - 01:42 PM
Vixen 06 Jul 99 - 02:57 PM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 99 - 03:38 PM
Night Owl 06 Jul 99 - 03:55 PM
Art Thieme 06 Jul 99 - 05:40 PM
Art Thieme 06 Jul 99 - 06:10 PM
Bill D 06 Jul 99 - 09:08 PM
Barry Finn 06 Jul 99 - 09:35 PM
Don Meixner 07 Jul 99 - 01:02 AM
Carlzen 07 Jul 99 - 02:46 AM
The Shambles 07 Jul 99 - 01:47 PM
Sandy Paton 07 Jul 99 - 03:58 PM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 08 Jul 99 - 05:29 PM
DonMeixner 08 Jul 99 - 05:50 PM
Bill D 08 Jul 99 - 07:46 PM
Art Thieme 08 Jul 99 - 08:26 PM
MAG (inactive) 08 Jul 99 - 09:29 PM
Vixen 09 Jul 99 - 10:11 AM
Art Thieme 09 Jul 99 - 11:02 AM
Vixen 09 Jul 99 - 12:05 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 09 Jul 99 - 12:06 PM
annamill 09 Jul 99 - 02:10 PM
Bill D 09 Jul 99 - 02:26 PM
MAG (inactive) 09 Jul 99 - 03:49 PM
The Shambles 09 Jul 99 - 04:35 PM
LEJ 09 Jul 99 - 05:12 PM
Liza Carthy 09 Jul 99 - 09:02 PM
Big Mick 09 Jul 99 - 11:00 PM
Art Thieme 10 Jul 99 - 01:31 AM
Danielspiritsong 10 Jul 99 - 01:53 AM
The Shambles 10 Jul 99 - 02:17 AM
danielspiritsong 10 Jul 99 - 02:32 AM
Bonedaddy 10 Jul 99 - 03:22 AM
CarlZen 10 Jul 99 - 03:42 AM
Jeri 10 Jul 99 - 08:18 AM
Art Thieme 10 Jul 99 - 10:21 AM
MAG (inactive) 10 Jul 99 - 12:45 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 99 - 06:39 PM
Paul G. 10 Jul 99 - 06:50 PM
John of the Hill 10 Jul 99 - 09:10 PM
Night Owl 10 Jul 99 - 09:35 PM
Obloquy67 11 Jul 99 - 07:47 PM
Obloquy67 11 Jul 99 - 07:47 PM
MAG (inactive) 12 Jul 99 - 12:26 AM
The Shambles 12 Jul 99 - 04:13 AM
Jack (who is called Jack) 12 Jul 99 - 01:04 PM
MAG (inactive) 12 Jul 99 - 01:33 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 12 Jul 99 - 03:44 PM
Bill D 12 Jul 99 - 09:14 PM
Bert 13 Jul 99 - 10:09 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Jul 99 - 02:16 PM
Bill D 13 Jul 99 - 05:53 PM
Jack (who is called Jack) 13 Jul 99 - 07:02 PM
Bryant 13 Jul 99 - 07:29 PM
Art Thieme 13 Jul 99 - 08:49 PM
MAG (inactive) 13 Jul 99 - 09:04 PM
Bryant 15 Jul 99 - 04:54 PM
Art Thieme 16 Jul 99 - 11:06 AM
Jack (who is called Jack) 16 Jul 99 - 11:22 AM
Bill D 16 Jul 99 - 01:36 PM
MAG (inactive) 16 Jul 99 - 03:30 PM
Bryant 16 Jul 99 - 04:33 PM
JR 16 Jul 99 - 04:43 PM
Legal Eagle 16 Jul 99 - 06:05 PM
GUEST 02 Jan 01 - 06:49 PM
RWilhelm 02 Jan 01 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,kendall 02 Jan 01 - 08:16 PM
Mark Clark 02 Jan 01 - 09:02 PM
blt 03 Jan 01 - 01:17 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 03 Jan 01 - 02:36 AM
Amergin 03 Jan 01 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,EricaSmith 03 Jan 01 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,EricaSmith 03 Jan 01 - 10:25 AM
Bert 03 Jan 01 - 11:29 AM
Bill D 03 Jan 01 - 12:30 PM
Bert 03 Jan 01 - 01:04 PM
blt 03 Jan 01 - 10:16 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Jan 01 - 02:23 AM
John P 04 Jan 01 - 07:57 AM
Luke 04 Jan 01 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Jan 01 - 08:19 PM
Bill D 04 Jan 01 - 10:44 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Vixen
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 08:42 AM

D'Cats

At the risk of getting controversial, and into something that's been talked to death, what defines the distinction between a folkie and a singer/songwriter? The question is not wholly gratuitous--I'm honestly curious. Someone on the Coffehouse thread mentioned that Club Passim is now a singer/songwriter venue with only a few folk acts, and someone else said Falcon Ridge *folk* festival is oriented toward singer/songwriters.

It seems to me that the "folk songs" of tomorrow are the creations of today's "singer/songwriters." We just don't know which ones will survive, and, since the recording industry seems to determine the distribution and popularity of a given music genre, instead of the mouth to ear folk tradition, the quality of what will survive in the minds of the public may be not be the best of what today's crop of singer/songwriters has to offer.

Also, to refer to the copyright police thread, the mouth to ear tradition ensures that improvements and embellishments creep into the songs from the various musicians who perform them (a type of thread creep) so that ultimately, the most interesting/accessible versions are the ones that get perpetuated. I compare this idea with 1) the copyright notion that the *only* way something is perpetuated is *as it is written* with appropriate credit given AND 2) the insistence of the listening public, who seem to want to hear songs *just like on the radio, CD, whatever*)

Comments?

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bert
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:15 AM

Being both a folkie and a singer/songwriter I don't see that there is usually any need for a conflict. The only time that I get upset is when someone is billed as folk singer at a concert and turns out to be a poor singer/songwriter.

It depends on how you define 'folk' as to where you 'define the distinction' sometimes I think that the distinction is very fine. If someone writes a parody of a traditional song, is that folk? Maybe, sometimes, I'm not sure.

You could probably describe The Philadelphia Folk Song Society as 'now a singer/songwriter venue with only a few folk acts'. It used to bother me, but now I feel quite happy singing my own stuff at their 'sings'.

The sad thing I see is that there is a trend away from folk songs, so I usually perform one or two at a sing.

Bert.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:24 AM

As they say, "If you don't know, I ain't gonna tell ya!" I refuse to bite.

That said, here's my response: There IS a difference that is actual and not only generational. Some here seem to need to extend the limits of folk for professional reasons. I think George Jones---a singer/songwriter---would know the obvious difference now that he's been kept off the country radio stations 'cause now-a-days he's not considered to be country. The reasons are meonetary and career-based as well as being credibly academic. If you'd ever been refused gigs or a set on stage one because you "were not a singer/songwriter" (but were a "folksinger"---a "traddie"---a a "folk nazi", well, what can I say? I suggest that you just haven't lived in the 90s unless and until that happens to you.

My other views have been expounded in those other threads. I'm not feeling a need to rehash those polemics but I was glad to see those differences between folksingers and singer/songwriters delineated in the other thread so subtly yet so obviously. It was right on to do so.

Good people, I can say that now
1)because it's true from my/our viewpoint.
and 2) because now that I'm not on the circuit any more, I have no fear of actually losing gigs for speaking my mind in this brave new world where "newspeak" has it's own dictionary that's being bought up faster than bibles.

Affectionately (really, Vixen; controversy is what makes horse races),

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Vixen
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:52 AM

Art--

Wow--I didn't realize there were "folk-nazis" or their opponents! I didn't realize that performers were discriminated against (or for) based on others' definitions of what they perform. Now I see why this is such a "hot topic" here.

I'd also like to read the thread you mention...which one(s)? All I need is a keyword to subject search the forum.

Thanks for "biting" enough to enlighten me!!!

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 12:31 PM

I had the same question Vixen...thanks for this thread!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 12:43 PM

The other thread had a very similar name with the word "songwriter" in it.

Sid Kipper explains the evolution of folk music in outline, thus:

"My grandfather was a singer. So he taught my father to sing. But of course, human nature beign what it was, he wanted to keep a few of the best songs for himself. So he did, and he never taught them to my father. Then he died. My father he did the same. And that's how we got left with the rubbish we call traditional"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 01:26 PM

There are a lot of good comments on the subject here Singer-songwriters: a defence.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Doctor John
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 01:42 PM

Folk singers sing for the folk: singer-songwriters ,in the current sense, sing for themselves. Folksingers' material will be around in 50 years: singer-songwriters' long gone. Of course they overlap: Woody songwrote and sung but for the people: a lot of present ones just winge on about their life.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Vixen
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 02:57 PM

D'Cats--

This thread has been more enlightening to me on this topic than the previous ones...

Nevertheless--here's my dilemma. The tradition I write from is largely Child ballads, Playford tunes, and the Lomax collection. Tim's influence is primarily bluegrass and its antecedents. We perform songs from these genres (in varying porportions) when we play out. The songs we write have a lot to do with our experiences of the world, but in the sense that our experience is what we know--we try to keep the topics humanly timeless (as opposed to topical, though I think topical has a place in the folk tradition), the melodies singable, the chord progressions logically playable, and the lyrics memorable. Sometimes we write songs we like...mostly we write a lot of songs.

We'd both like to make a living writing and performing songs. However, our creative goal is to have people singing our songs around the equivalent of song circles in the year 2099. If we're really good, we'll write the equivalent of a Child ballad or a Playford tune, and people will be performing it in 2350. Does this make us folkies? or singers/songwriters? Does it matter???

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 03:38 PM

I think Doctor John said pretty-much what I think. I go to concerts mostly to hear songs that I may be able to sing myself. The singer-songwriters that I usually don't care for are those who write songs that only they can sing. Some songwriters, like Dick Gaughan and Archie Fisher and Gordon Bok and Bill Staines, always write songs that everyone can sing. Others, like Greg Brown and John Prine, write a mix - and in the case of Brown and Prine, it's a great mix. Others, like perhaps Lucy Kaplansky or Greg Morrissey and John Gorka, write almost completely for their own singing - lost of people like them, but I have a hard time with them.
-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Night Owl
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 03:55 PM

Joe....glad to see you include Bill Staines and Gordon Bok in your list..two I immediately think of when I hear Singer/Songwriter. The "singability" and content of their songs is what confuses me about the distinctions being made. Aren't they both "folk" musicians..or am I still not getting it??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 05:40 PM

Just follow your bliss, folks. Do what you love and don't give a darn. Listen to all the types of songs you enjoy. Life is too short to bother with the stuff that doesen't move you. Personally, I always did mostly trad songs--story songs from the depths of history. But I listened to jazz 50% of the time & songwriters work that, to me, might've sounded tradittional the other 50% of the time. (Also listened to classical and pop and John MacComack bluegrass & cajun (pronounced "ca-hoon" in Mexico ;-) old-timey and hardinger and bagpipes and jugbands the other 50% of the time. But where Craig Johnson and Woody were concerned, well, they never, ever hardly didn't write any bad songs I don't think---and they always sound at least 75 more % points like the trad songs.

We all know what we like! Heck, one or two even like "Waltzing With Bears" and Richard Simmons videos. If that's your bag, go for it.

Art (yet again)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 06:10 PM

What I tried to say was Woody & Craig didn't write bad songs at all. (just came out wrong---sort of like the breafast scene in the first "ALIEN" movie.)

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:08 PM

as the resident 'folk nazi'..(or one of them) I will make my point again..briefly...*grin*..I like a lot of the 'older' songs, or at least older sonding songs...but a guy the the aforementioned Craig Johnson write songs with the feel of older songs...even though there are references in them that tell you that it is NOT a real old one. So- I like a category called "in the tradition"...meaning that it sort of sounds and feels like trad.

Art is entirely correct...one should play, write, or listen to, the songs they like...but in my opinion, they should strive to KNOW what they are hearing or singing...especially in the case of those who want to do it onstage and/or for a living...so that they can be advertised and presented correctly to those that like to hear them..........I DO like a lot of recently written songs, but not a large % of them. The differences are not clear & distinct always, but there ARE differences. There are trends, and there are those who will write ANYTHING if they think they can sell it. This is understandable, legal, but not easy to sort out.

To Vixen...if you 'try' to write to be remembered, you probably wont...if you write from the heart, and are pretty good, and pretty lucky, and meet the right people, then you just might. Funny..I think Craig Johnson wrote much nicer songs than Bob Dylan, but I know who will be remembered longer by the 'general' public.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Barry Finn
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 09:35 PM

I'm probably the one who mentioned Passim & the thing about Falcon Ridge. I guess if I want to hear what I like (& I only get hear that once in a great while) I'm going for the trad that I really love rather than having to sit through a show that maybe included 1 or 2 songs that I may like, though I would gladly put myself out to sit though a show or 2 of some of the above mentioned. I don't really have alot of opportunity or time to plow though the hoards of s/s to get to get to hear or get a taste of the cream so I guess I'm stuck waiting for the cream to rise to the top in it's own sweet time. Now saying that with no intention of offending any of the other s/s besides myself. here's a true story.

William Main Doerflinger was sneaking around, a few years ago, at one of the Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festivals, he's such a cute little ol fella that nobody really noticed this guy with his tape recorder, recording not the traditional songs at your traditional type workshop but he was taping only the contempory stuff don't ask me why, ask him, I don't possess near the foresight, debt, taste & class of this giant but then again I'm sure he loves what he does & hears too.

Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Don Meixner
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 01:02 AM

Well I guess my feet are firmly planted on both sides of this issue. There are singers, song writers and singer/songwriters. We need all three. Who is the best somgwrter I've heard lately? Iris Dement without question. Her vocal style takes some effort but she is not the worst singer out there. Who is the best singer out there, Can't say, too many genres to cover.

I'm with Art here, I go to listen to someone perform. I am entertained or I am not. But I try to hear many kinds of music when I can. I play in an Irish band but if I could go to hear anyone I could pick right now I'd choose Grant Rogers. He was an underappreciated jewel in the Catskills bur he had what I would call the best parts of the Singer, songwriter, singer/songwriter mix.

Don


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Carlzen
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 02:46 AM

Without naming songwriters, the ones I really like are the ones whose songs show the traditional influences the most.

I can tell when people have sung a lot of traditional music because it shows up in the songs, not just musically, but also in the themes of the lyrics.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: The Shambles
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 01:47 PM

There are some good thoughts on the subject here. Original songs that sound traditional

Where there is also some talk about ducks.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 03:58 PM

Scott Alarik wrote quite a long piece about the "folk wars" (so-called in the headline) between the tradoisie and the singer/songwriters for the Boston Globe, Sunday, June 27. This was a timely item regarding the upcoming SummerFest at New Bedford which featured performers from both genres. One did note, of course, that the main stage was often the venue for the "stars" of the s/s world, while traddies held forth in primarily workshop areas, but frequently with a mix of both camps taking part. It was fun. Kate Campbell sang a couple of her own songs in a workshop of songs about/from old times. They fit in very nicely.

So let's don't call it a war, Scott. It ain't, really. I like songs by Utah Phillips, Craig Johnson, Bob Coltman, Jerry Rasmussen, and others who are, like these, deeply rooted in the style of traditional songs. When their stuff is included in "s/s" listings, I realize that Caroline and I are now doing about 50% new songs in our programs. I guess I'm a-straddle the fence, like Don, who appreciates Grant Rogers as much as I do. Of course, I recorded Grant for Folk-Legacy, so I'm unable to offer a disclaimer!

Sandy


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 05:29 PM

There is a real and valuable field of study called Musicology. For lack of a better word its kind of a mixture of anthropology & history with music as its subject. To the musicologist, folk or traditional music is a rather narrow and specific thing. Sea shanties, spirituals, work songs, delta and piedmont blues, mountain songs from the oral tradition, fiddle tunes, cajun dance music, Native American chants, etc, are folk and traditional music.

Back in the '50's and 60's there was wave of interest in rediscovering (mostly) american folk and traditional acoustic music that coincided with--and in some ways motivated--a wave of interest in becoming a creator of ones own songs in the acoustic tradition. These two waves were coincident not only in time, but often in geography and in the people who participated in them (For example there was a scene centered on Folk City in New York, a rather bland history of which can be found in a book called HOOT! whos particulars escape me for the moment).

Because of the temporal, geographical, and in some individuals, personal coincidence of these waves of interest, they kind of got mixed up in a lot of peoples minds. Adding to the confusion the fact that in course of trying to sell the recorded work that resulted from these revivls, record companies and distributors, always anxious to target the right demographic, started using the term folk to mean everything from Sonny Terry, to Jean Ritchie, to The Weavers, to Harry Belafonte, to Peter Paul and Mary, to Bob Dylan, to Paul Simon, to Joni Mitchell etc, in the belief, (probably somewhat warranted), that a lot of the same people who bought one would be likely to buy the others. Then to seal the deal, some of the performers thus subsumed in the public mind under the 'folk' umbrella became huge popular icons, and folk became associated more with these big names than with a particular genre or set of genres. After that, when people thought of folk most didn't think of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, or Woody Guthrie, or Gary Davis, they thought of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Ritchie Havens, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, or Judy Collins etc.

Some of these performers do proper service to "real" folk and traditional music, while others have abandoned it in favor of their own creations, and still others have been exclusively committed to their own work. No matter. In the minds of the public the wedding has taken place and singer-songwriters have taken the folksinger family name.

Some have no problem with this, and use the word Folk to mean what we are refering to hear as Singer-Songwriter. As an example I refer you to Alan Rowoth's quasi-daily electronic newsletter, FOLK DIGEST, which deals almost exclusively with information about singer-songwriters.

Still, others, of whom I will single out, begging thier permission, Art Thieme and Barry Finn, have never acknowledged the validity of the union. And to their credit they have certain arguements in their favor. There is a formal academic field concerned with folk music, and it is important to maintain the integrity of that body of work. That integrity rests in part on preserving the true identity of the terms and elements of that work in peoples minds.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: DonMeixner
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 05:50 PM

How does one find Folk Digest?

Don


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 07:46 PM

thank you, Jack!! that is a VERY elegant summary of what happened..and the problems that resulted...(I made the point in some long-lost thread that, if Joni Mitchell can co-opt 'folk' for what SHE does, what AM I gonna call what I do and like? )


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 08:26 PM

Jack,

Very nice. I thought that's what I was saying, but I think I was just trying to say it & didn't manage to do it. You just said it! Thanks!! And you can say THAT again.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 08 Jul 99 - 09:29 PM

Joni Mitcell doesn't call herself "folk" anymore; she has been jazz for qite some time.

Judy Collins officially divorced herself from folk, in my eyes, when she publicly described herself as more of a chanteuse. Lots of singers did that as soon as "folk" was out of fashion, and, no matter how good they sing, I think they sold out, or were just along for the ride in the first place.

Those of us gathering in the Y basement or our friends' rec rooms to put holes in our fingers on cheap instruments as teens were truly bit by the bug, even if we were listening to s/s like Ian Tyson. IMHO. We were listening to a lot of great stuff, even if some of it was processed, and soaking up some essential critical thinking skills through the likes of Chad Mitchell Trio at the same time.

The ethnomusicologists, I might add, hate all of this. Just to stir and muddy the pot a little more.

-- Mary Ann


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Vixen
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 10:11 AM

Jack--

THANK YOU!!! Your clarity and concision have bestowed understanding!

V


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 11:02 AM

Every ingroup seems to exist for recognition from, and to lord it over, the outgroup. In folk circles this aspect of human nature shows up in a rather benign way---i.e. this thread. In places like Kosovo it's more extreme--more malignant. Our subculture contains such an amazing plethora of different and differing folks who say (if asked) that they fall under our umbrella. We now seem to include in our folkie nitch of sonorous sounds (admittedly, a small pond on the worldly scale of things) the primordial sounds of screaming dinosaurs with a backup of bubbling and gurgling sulpherous bubblings---'60s trios in striped shirts--calypso--the 3 tenors---Neanderthal rape sounds (all sexes & variations)---Modern Country---polkas---Tiny Tim--Neanderthal Lite---Chad Mitchell--Boy George(?)--belching and farting and jew's harp playing---Cajun and Cajun Lite (pronounced "Ca-hoon in Mexico)---Cantanflas--Industrial Rock-----Jerry Lewis---Rap---Rap Lite---H. Rap Brown--Blues---New Age Blues---Mantovani---Mantovani Lite (and all other pop music)-----3 rubberbands stretched across a sow's butt (carefully fingered)--The Vienna Boys Choir---The Mormon Luboff Choir--frogs ribbeting---ribbeting lite--Rosy the Ribbeter---livestock bellowing (all brands)---zebras mating (all races. What race are they--black or white? Who cares?)--- and right at the top (get ready): WHATEVER WE ARE, individually, at this very moment!!!! (Lately, that's only surpassed, on occasion, by random gunfire and terrorist bombs. ((But that only is important when it's had it's 15 minutes of fame and not on TV or in the _STAR_ and _PENTHOUSE_ or the _Chicago Sun Times_ any more.))) And it can always be drowned out by cars going by with their SUPER-WOOFER--EXTENDED-RANGE BASS "BOM-BOOM-BOOMING" all over the damn place! !

Me give up music??? What, and leave show business??!!??!!

Love to y'all,

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Vixen
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 12:05 PM

Art, you are something else!

In admiration,

Vixen (lite!!!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 12:06 PM

Art...you gotta stop rereading those old Hunter S. Thompson articles, really ;-).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: annamill
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:10 PM

I'm a bit confused (not at all unusual). I always thought folk was a style of music like "Rock", "Rap", "Classical", "Folk". What is Pete Seeger considered? Woody Guthrie? I mean, didn't they write their own songs? Were The Kingston Trio folk? I just don't understand. I don't mean to be mean, but it sound like a lot of elitist junk to me. Since I don't make a living out of this and have not really studied it very much, I could just have a mistaken notion, and if I do, please forgive me.

Love, Annap


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:26 PM

Woody wrote most of the songs he sang...Pete wrote only a few....but 'folk' is partly a style, partly an attitude, partly an age..(like antiques..they need SOME definition about heritage)..partly how they are used, (sung with, or 'at', or 'to' others)...partly musical 'style'...partly...well, you get the idea... it ain't easy...but it sure is easy to tell what it ISN'T in many cases


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 03:49 PM

Oete did interesting things with an African lullaby and turned it into a picture book about a giant. (and I don't mean win-o-weh.) I love it, but what have been referred to as the Folk Nazis wouldn't.

reminds me of that old monologue about folk music being "of the people" but "the people" don't go hear it because it's too arty. (Midnite Special listeners will know the one I mean. Can't remember the narrator.)

technically, if you are not from the tradition of the song, it isn't authentic, but that knocks most of us out.

What WOULD my roots be as a postwar baby boomer parents-moved-away-from-extended-families Scots-Welsh-French American??

-- MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 04:35 PM

The swamp goes silent, except for the distant quacking of a duck..........Or is it a duck?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: LEJ
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 05:12 PM

Recently I saw an ad in the entertainment section of the Denver paper listing an upcoming concert by "Folk Outlaw Steve Earl". Now I like Steve, but certainly never considered him a "Folk Outlaw", or even a folk musician. Some of his tunes,example The Devil's Right Hand are terrific, and have the story-telling specifics and feeling of a Parable of one of life's lessons, that are trademarks of many of the best of folk and traditional songs. But the ad bears witness to the application of a label of convenience by the newspaper- an attempt to pigeonhole an artist.Folk Music has in many cases become an umbrella term, much as Rock Music, Jazz, Country-Western and Classical Music. Those five Genres, with perhaps the addition of the new term "World Beat", are made to encompass all songs and artists. Folk is further sub-divided into traditional, acoustic, Singer/songwriter, etc as a means of making sure that people like Bill D and Art, when fishing for new tunes and musicians , are at least dropping their lines in the right pond.

It is certain that "Folk" no longer means what it did in the mid 60's when the trad music revival was in full bloom. But I contend that that may not be a bad thing. It may be the means for a 16 year old fan of Jewel to discover Ian and Sylvia, or the Childe Ballads. That kind of cross-pollinization is perhaps folk's best chance to gain converts among the young.

LEJ


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Liza Carthy
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 09:02 PM

I have to add to this a bit as it's something that concerns me at the moment.I think it a shame that anything female and self-written is considered 'folk' these days,because I play two very different shows:one consisting of traditional material and one a 'pop' show.Bill D put it right when he said 'What does that make me?' Where is my definition now?Does it matter?Or is someone who would be horrified by traddie stuff decieved when they show up expecting weedy guitar pop? I think that the loss of pidgeonholes is a good thing,because it undermines snotty preconceptions;not 'I only like jazz' or 'folkies suck',but only 'I like some music and not all':in other words,go for what you hear or not,it's your choice and no-one really needs to give a toss whether a song is five hundred years old or five,as long as you know where it comes from.Shee ya.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Big Mick
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 11:00 PM

Ya know, I have been purposefully avoiding this thread, because it is the same old hash. But my buddy, Mr. Arthur Thieme, R. Esq. (stands for Reads Esquire, said we ought to and so I did. Thanks, ole buddy. May I add a humble second?

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 01:31 AM

Liza,

Grand to see you here. Congratulations on your successes in recent times doing BOTH sides of your musical coin--trad as well as pop. You and Mary Black are great examples of folks who wear both hats so naturally and beautifully. Must be in your genes... ;-) **SMILE** Hope to hear you in person some day!

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Danielspiritsong
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 01:53 AM

I have never been a purist. What is Folk music? Songs about people. What is a Folksinger? A person who sings songs about people. To write songs whether it be in the 1890s or the 1990s, is to write about events, emotions, or people. Most songs can be converted to acoustic so that the folk musician can convey what the songwriter has to say. That is part of the art. The singer has a disadvantage if he is not a writer in that writers are generally good storytellers. However, many songwriters are good lyric poets, not musicians. This trend has taken music as a whole downhill. We have singers who can't write and writers who can't sing. That's what the purist musician would tell you. Did the performers you mentioned in one of the other posts sell out? No. They did what they had to to survive in a business that is very cutthroat. There is some very good "folkmusic" out there in the pop and C&W market right now, but You have to listen for it. I used to feel that I was selling out if I sang a song that did not fit into what I called the folk music category, but soon I realized that I was only limiting myself to the quality of songs in my own collection, and some of our rock musicians have a lot to say. Folk music is how you define it. My idea of a folksinger is a person who can sit and sing to me, and tell me a story with just with his/her voice' and an insrument, preferrably accoustic. Considering all the options out there today, I'd say even that definition is biased. If we start limiting ourselves to what we listen to, because a folk musician does not both write and sing, we'll deprive ourselves of quality music, as well as of quality lyrics. I know songwriters who will not sing, but fortunately there are people out there who will sing their songs for them. Yes, there is a very big distinction between singer/songwriters and folkies, but there is also a distinction between folksingers and songwriters, and just because a person can't do both doesn't mean he/she should be ignored. Being a folksinger is a time-honored tradition around the world. They entertained, brought news, and shared their songs whereever they went, and they were not all multitalented. When coffeehouses were big in the sixties, we listened to everybody, bad or good, because they all had something to say. That is true folkmusic.

Dan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 02:17 AM

Is this so called battle more of a problem in the USA?

Does the rest of the world worry quite so much, I wonder?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: danielspiritsong
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 02:32 AM

Shambles:

Probably not.

Dan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bonedaddy
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 03:22 AM

I should shut up now, but Dan my brother, you said a mouthful. In regards to this thread, I think we've finally reached the point where it's not the answere, but the question that has become unclear. Since we don't know what s/s songs will be around in 200 years, and which songs we presently call folk will be long gone, I really believe we're beating a dead horse. Now don't get me wrong, I understand the ire of paying 30 bucks to get into a boxing match and finding out it's Karate. It's clear that some sort of classification is needed to differentiate between traditional and contemporary folk, but maybe before you go you should call the box-office or check out the bio of the performers. I think maybe calling anyone an elitest or nazi precludes that we're all entitled to our opinions and preferences, but Im sure no offence is meant here. I learned many decades ago that my music is not going to thrill everyone who hears me, but my creator has been kind to me and a lot of people play my songs. This is allways going to be a tough subject since the answere is going to be SOMEONES opinion. I play a lot of FOLK festivals, but hear very little traditional folk. Maybe that's not too bad a way of looking at it....Traditonal and contemporary...or not. Personally, I know everything except what everything is....Peace, :-)> BD


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: CarlZen
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 03:42 AM

Art - Isn't "Mantovani Lite" a redundancy?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jeri
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 08:18 AM

We get so caught up in arguments about labels we forget the music. I believe in the end, all this labeling and judging can interfere with the tradition more than it can support it. The labels are useful for finding recordings and explaining to people what kind of music you like, but even those functions are becoming less dependable. Now the names become more important than what they name, and people try to make the music fit the category, not the other way around.

There is music we like, and music we don't like. Individuals keep the music they like alive, and societies/cultures do the same.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 10:21 AM

Much of what I say is tongue-in-cheek and intended to make a point of some kind or other. That "Mantovani lite" is a redundancy was my complete intention. It's the spelling of "light" as "lite" (as in beer on other commercials) and making a value judgment on the music created by Mantovani, the man himself, that was intended as a humorous way of poking fun at his Saccharine offerings even though some of them are rather pretty---(not to mention the dumbness/tongue-in-cheekness of that entire posting---that was my intention.

Yes, I feel some here are "wrong" and some are "RITE". ***SMILE*** But I'm enough of a Buddhist to see that "what is" is whatever the Supreme Court of public opinion says it "is" at any given moment. In the case of "our music", WE are the final word as to "what is the truth". In religions, they all think that they "KNOW" what the right way of seeing things is. In politics it's the same. Economics too. The truth is a variable thing determined by self-interest, money, dogmas, who wins the wars and who loses--all of it. Why should we, as humans, be any different. I, personally, tend to yell loudest when it's my ox that's getting gored. I do strive to be more fair and open minded. But then I'll ere on the side of being open-minded---start goose-stepping in the name of openmindedness. Might even form a huge organization to push openmindedness on everyone else---the OPENMINDEDNESS COALITION for want of a better word.

Might be best to ere on the side of inclusion---but that'd probably be WRONG! ;-) **MORE SMILES**

Art

I.E. this thread!

Thanks to you all for the great bidet (b-day)party in another thread.

Love,

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 12:45 PM

Hello Liza Carthy! I love your mother's CD, and your daughter's CD, and of course all of your CDs. harmony singing is my favorite thing in the entire world. I saw/heard you & Co. at Holstein's (Chicago) a very long time ago, and have been a fan ever since. What a joy that you are here.

-- Mary Ann


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 06:39 PM

I didn't invent the definition. I have lost the piece of paper which bore the definition. I know the definition may be difficult to apply. The definition does not make one sort of music superior to another. The definition may perhaps not be truly relevant to the topic of this thread. However, to the best of my recollection the definiton is this. Folk music is music handed down and modified by the oral tradition. Thus very elderly songs modified by the oral tradition but which were first published in writing are not folk. This means the Cuddy Wren and Greensleeves are neither folk. It also means any song published by a living writer whose identity is knwo is not folk. I still like some of them (and many assume they are folk - perhaps Fiddlers' Green, or the Mingulay boat song - but they aint.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Paul G.
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 06:50 PM

Okay -- can't resist any longer -----getting weaker---here's my 1/2 cent...I consider myself to be a folk-writer/song-singer. So there. That should settle it. ;-)

Paul


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: John of the Hill
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 09:10 PM

I've begun to call the music I most listen to and play Folkstream. It is distinct from mainstream media driven music, it draws on many tributaries from both the tradition and contemporary practitioners, and with good stewardship it will endure long after any of us now enjoying it. To paraphrase Justice Stewart on pornography:I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material...but I know it when I hear it. John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Night Owl
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 09:35 PM

PaulG....sure settles it for me!!!THANKS.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Obloquy67
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 07:47 PM

Just picked up this thread- Firstly I want to mention that in some music textbooks, the primary division (in biology terms if you will, the "Kingdoms") in the taxonomic tree of music is between "Classical" and "Folk". The orders and species branch from the tree from those two points. Clearly from this definition, folk is everything from rock and roll to country to R&B. But that's not really what we're talking about here-

Secondly, I think that definitions of style or format (as opposed to genre) are more determined by their audience than anything else. As much as we might dislike labelling music, the process serves a purpose to the listener (usually to a greater degree than the performer). Music as an industry has forced the point. What's the difference, really, between Lee Ann Rimes, Tori Amos and Janet Jackson? Their audience, certainly more than their instrumentation or vocal style or songwriting.

So my last point is, I guess, that if you're having trouble deciding whether or not you want to be known as a folksinger or a singer/songwriter, just decide whether or not you want your audience to sing along.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Obloquy67
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 07:47 PM

Just picked up this thread- Firstly I want to mention that in some music textbooks, the primary division (in biology terms if you will, the "Kingdoms") in the taxonomic tree of music is between "Classical" and "Folk". The orders and species branch from the tree from those two points. Clearly from this definition, folk is everything from rock and roll to country to R&B. But that's not really what we're talking about here-

Secondly, I think that definitions of style or format (as opposed to genre) are more determined by their audience than anything else. As much as we might dislike labelling music, the process serves a purpose to the listener (usually to a greater degree than the performer). Music as an industry has forced the point. What's the difference, really, between Lee Ann Rimes, Tori Amos and Janet Jackson? Their audience, certainly more than their instrumentation or vocal style or songwriting.

So my last point is, I guess, that if you're having trouble deciding whether or not you want to be known as a folksinger or a singer/songwriter, just decide whether or not you want your audience to sing along.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 12:26 AM

Oops; got Liza Carthy mixed up with her mother Norma Waterson, back there. Sorry, Liza. They ARE all great.

I just got back from one day at the Yakima Festival where there was "Worldharp," "Original folk," "jazz-pop," and a buncha other names I forget. It was like Art's satire. Fortunately, there was enough good stuff that I didn't gag.

Mudjack did a great sing-along set, and I hit the open mike.

--MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 04:13 AM

MAG.

I think things are getting a little violent around here. I mean, I know this thread is Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters, but why did you have to hit the microphone? What did it ever do to you and did it hit you back? There is no need to escalate these things. What next, I ask myself?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 01:04 PM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 01:33 PM

I guess Jack-Jack was speechless after the last exchange; actually I hit the mic accidentally when the whole stage tilted backwards ...

-- MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 03:44 PM

oops...hit the return key too soon.

This is a continuation of my post above.

I left off commenting on the two poles of opinion on this matter without being able to throw in my own two cents.

I tend to think both sides are wrong in their own way.

On one hand, singer-songwriters are typically not creating or performing folk music and probably shouldn't be called folk. This is the scientist/academic truth-seeker in me talking. The part that believes in proper defenitions, rigor, formality and all that stuff. On the other hand, while I'll concede some damage being done by the improper cross reference, I don't see the damage as all that great. Musicology still stands, still occupies its poorly funded and relatively obscure postion in academia, generally unknown to the public at large. Its not undergoing any kind of revolution to accomadate the public's misunderstanding. Nobody's writing texbooks on american folk music that include chapters on Jewel. Nobody's proposing appending American Songbag to include Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot songs. Furthermore, even though musicologists have a formal use for the term folk, it doesn't have a lot of utility as a discriminator between different musical styles, at least for the purpose of common use. Blues, Irish fiddle tunes, Tamburiza bands, Reggae, Australian Digideroo (sic), call and response work songs, a lot of gospel quartet singing, Cajun Dance music, certain kinds of polka, Mountain ballads from virginia, Native American Flute, camp songs and jump rope chants, ad infinitum ad nauseum, all fall under the 'folk' umbrella (And this isn't even adressing the issue of newly created hybrid musics, e.g. Zydeco, that sprout directly from a pure folk form). The term 'Folk', by covering too much, actually defines very little. Adding singer-songwriters to the mix is just adding one more nick to the blade of an already dull knife.

I also think that 'the Horse is already out of the barn' on this issue, and that this debate is moot. Language is a common invention cooperatively owned by all those who speak it. It yeilds to the pressures imposed on it by them over time. There comes a time when the effect of those pressures become sufficiently large and permanent as to be recongnized as a new standard. That is why I give little credence to the comments that try to reduce this arguement to a choice between proper usage and linguistic anarchy, with anybody being able to call anything by any term they want. This is a straw man arguement. First of all you can use any words you want at any time, the question is not only what you mean and what words you use, but what is heard and understood by others. Second, acknowledging that the language has evolved in a particulary way is not making a choice between formal use and anarchy. Speaking alegorically, you can redraw a property line to account for a land shift that occured during an earthquake without declaring all property lines everywhere invalid and open to individual interpretation. In the present case, as much as it offends my sense of formality, I have to acknowlege that the inclusion of singer-songwriters under the term folk has achieved permanent widespread usage sufficient to be considered a permanent shift in the language.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Jul 99 - 09:14 PM

again, Jack, you are pretty much right on the money...but that does not mean I like it..*wry grin*

you can put cilantro and goat cheese with horseradish on Tacos, too, and you 'may' be able to sell a few, but some will complain it you advertise it as 'traditional Mexican cooking'...however, look what has happened to pizza and French cooking the last 40 years..(pineapple & shrimp on PIZZA?)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bert
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 10:09 AM

I think we need a new name for the stuff we sing and having looked at the Mudcat Photo album have decided that it should be "Fuzzy Folk"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 02:16 PM

I found the definition!

Now all we need is a new one to cover what we really think we are doing! In the same way that Tony Blair has hijacked the Labour party and almost wholly divorced it from its socialist roots (Hmm, interesting, do roots marry and if so how do you divorce them?) and relabelled it "New Labour", I propose "New Folk", partly for the analogy with politics, partly for the analogy with "New Country" (which in the same way that the Lord Privy Seal is neither a Lord a privy or a seal, is neither new nor country, but I still hate it anyway) to include true folk music as defined below, re-arrangements of true folk music with non-traditional instruments (viz. Steeleye Span, and with or without distortion pedals as used by Fariport on "Alison Grimes"), modern acoustic music, semi-plugged same; and semi-plugged versions of established pop songs.

Oh yes, that definition.

Folk Song

In 1954 the International Folk Music Council adopted this definition:-

"Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that. has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) Continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) Variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or group; and (iii) Selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.

The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from the rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular music and art music, and it can likewise be applied to the music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.

The term does not cover composed popular music that his been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the refashioning-and recreation of the music by the community that gives its folk character."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 05:53 PM

well, that sure makes some of my points!..i.e., ya' gotta WAIT till the 'community' has messed with it awhile before it fits!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 07:02 PM

Bill D. I don't like it either. But there it is.

I like your cooking analogy, except I think deviations from strict traditional forms have to be evaluated carefully, for preservation takes two forms. There is the formal historical preservation by which you maintain a thing exactly as it was, like an orchestra trying to perform an old classical piece with the same instruments it was originally played on. The idea being to recreate it as the composer originally concieved. This is the idea behind museums too. Yet preservation also occurs when elements of a tradition are used appropriately to create something new and valuable but still of the essential flavor as the original. Part of the rationale of maintianing the old traditions in their pure form is to provide the inspiration and motivation for new creation. What irks are those case where a tradition is not expanded but narrowed. Italian cooking is a great example. You say Italian and people think of Pizza, Pasta and Tomato sauce. But Italian cusine is an amazing branch of the culinary arts. Italy is a seafaring, maritime country. The seafood cooking tradion alone is amazing. But if you prepared a classic tuna with peppercorns and red wine dish, most people wouldn't recognize it as Italian cooking. This is a case where the deviation from the full tradition has been one of watering down or oversimplification, and that never assists in the preservation process.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bryant
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 07:29 PM

Exactly, Jack (who IS called Jack).

Over-simplification and narrowing of the definition cause far more damage to the body of traditional music than any over-broad definition ever could. Ask the hypothetical person-on-the-street what they think of "folk music" and one likely response is "Oh, you mean like campfire songs . . . 'May the Circle be Unbroken' and 'Down in the Valley." and another is "Oh, protest music . . . Bob Dylan and Donovan (or something)" That's the result of a overly narrow definition. Both of those little nitches are folk music of a sort, but by no means exhaust all the incredible variety. So I'd rather see Jewel and Shawn Colvin marketed as "folk-singers" than cultivate some kind of hyper-exclusivity that would lead people who haven't been exposed to think that "folk music" is some kind of archaic, long-dead form.

B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 08:49 PM

Has absolutely nothing to do with over-simplification. It's a direct result of too much inclusion---POOR EDUCATION as to what the rules were/are in the first place. That happens because it's in the monetary interests of so many to falsify the facts in order to maximize the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!I prefer walls (as I said) so nobody dumps shit/misinformation on me while I'm sleeping.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 13 Jul 99 - 09:04 PM

art, You woulda loved Dwayne of Black Bear Guitars in Yakima this weekend'; he makes all kinda instruments out of spam cans. He says he loves spam. there's the spamitar, spamolin, etc.

-- MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bryant
Date: 15 Jul 99 - 04:54 PM

I'm wondering, Art, if I explained how I came to be interested in traditional folk music you'd see why I'm wary of reserving the term "folk" exclusively in an academic, purist way.

Around the time I got my first acoustic guitar (at 20) I started listening to the sort of stuff that's marketed as "classic rock" -- Led Zeppelin and the Stones and what not. And what I found was that I was really strongly drawn to the mellower acoustic stuff that some of those bands were doing. Before long I was listening to Crosby, Stills, & Nash, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan -- all of which I thought of (in some loose sense) as "folk" style music largely because it was sort of marketed in that kind of vein. As years went by and I learned to play this sort of music I became interested in what music influenced these musicians I admired so much. If I liked Jerry Garcia and Bob Dylan and Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, wouldn't it be worth checking out what they were listening to when they were learning to play? So I looked into it and then the names started popping up. Like Clapton (or maybe Page) calling Robert Johnson the greatest bluesman ever. Bob Dylan's great respect for Woody Guthrie. Jerry Garcia talking about learning Mississippi John Hurt songs. Who were these guys? What did they sound like? Well, a few visits to my record store and . . . well, you know. :)

My point is that if these 60's musicians hadn't had their names associated with the term "folk" even if only for commercial reasons, I don't really know if I'd have found this whole new (to me) world of music.

And maybe that's a crass way in. It might have been more noble in some sense to have come to traditional music because I wanted to learn the history of this country through hearing it from the "folk" who shaped it. But whatever, I'm hearing it now.

I respect your desire to maintain the integrity of traditional music. But if using the term "folk" leads someone who likes the sound of an acoustic guitar and a two part harmony down the path I came, the integrity will be preserved, not compromised.

Bryant.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 11:06 AM

Bryant,

You are correct of course. And Don't get me wrong, your path and attitude are one of the many ways to get here from there. I did it the same way you did in several respects. I went from listening to Bob Atcher on the WLS Barn Dance radio show in Chicago to appreciating the more trad songs of Carl T. Sprague, Mac McClintock, Glenn Ohrlin, Gail Gardner and today, Bob Bovee & Gail Heil & Skip Gorman. We all have unique paths we've walked to make a similar journey. Here at Mudcat I'm just trying to keep bad "truth" from being accepted by too many of the searching young ones. The Freight Hoppers old time band lived in North Carolina where they had good input from the get-go. Might be why they got pretty good so very young. My mission has always been to tell it right (just my point of view) both to shorten the trip and to correct what I see as bad info. My road was closer to yours than you might think though.

Someone once said, "You can take all the sincerity in show business, stuff it into a fleas navel, and still have enough room left over for 3 carroway seeds and an agent's heart." I always stayed away from the "biz" & "glitzy" side of this business (which it wasfor me) just so I wouldn't need to say "NO" so much. Was just a different mindset. Some of it may be the differences between the 60s and the 90s but that's too simplistic. Might be more accurate to see that some of us resist change bacause we know or knew what seemed to be a more satisfying way to view it once upon a time.

As Dylan once said,

"You're right from your side and I'm right from mine,
We're both just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind."

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Jack (who is called Jack)
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 11:22 AM

Art, I have finally realized you archetype, and I sympathize.

You are the universal parent trying in vain to teach his children things that they will only learn on their own.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 01:36 PM

they will only truly learn it on their own....but IF they learn it, they will remember that you said it, and they may gain a better perspective and understanding than if they had to do it ALL on their own...my son is only now figuring out that I was right about some of the lecture I gave him years ago...( and I do try not to rub it in!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 03:30 PM

I fondly remember Hogeye Music, which was a haven when the Chicago club music thing got more and more ritualized. Their slogan, which Art probably wrote, was"50 years behind the times." and a breath of fresh air.

Art can parent me any time.

-- MA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bryant
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 04:33 PM

Me too. I need to adopt some sort of musical patriarch. My dad's a great guy but he was born in Germany and is overly fond of polka and Wagner. : )

Bryant


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: JR
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 04:43 PM

The songs I write are by, for, and about folks.. so I think I'm going to keep calling them that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 16 Jul 99 - 06:05 PM

If you don't preserve the truth it disappears.

Remember the lines from "The Old Man's gone" about the death of Hugill -"There's no-one left to teach it right/Farewell to the master of them all/But he left his life in printed lines/Now the old man's gone"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 06:49 PM

Are labels really this important??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: RWilhelm
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 07:59 PM

I think it is interesting that the term "folk" has become so synonymous with singer/songwriters that trade magazines and radio stations now use the term "Americana" for roots-based performers who are not so introspective. In the meantime Joni Mitchel has said that she always considered her music caberet rather than folk. A number of her sensitive sisters have also stopped calling themselves folk. Of course folk music of non-english-speaking cultures is now "world music."

Maybe everyone will abandon folk and the word can mean traditional again.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 08:16 PM

Thanks for bringing up Grant Rogers, Art. I have his album, and, Sandy, I can speak from an unbiased opinion.. I'm some glad you recorded Grant!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Mark Clark
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 09:02 PM

I'm still on holiday---back to the grind tomorrow---and finally taking some time to read some of these great posts. What Art, Barry and Jack said is truly inspiring. Thank you all. I haven't heard Jack sing but I've heard Art and Barry and I'm pretty sure that if they liked a song, I'd like it too; I know I would if they'd sing it.

I'd say that folk singers are primarily about the music and singer/songwriters are primarily about a career. But that's already been said.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: blt
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 01:17 AM

These threads are tricky--I read all of this one twice and went back to read the one in defense of singer/songwriters before noticing that most of this thread dates from July 1999. My perspective, having thought of my own self as a folksinger and a songwriter for many years, is the folk process is only visible from a distance. The more detailed and rigid I get about the songs, the melody, the notes, the steps, the further I am from understanding. This discussion appears to have some of that myopia. One example of this is my recent experience with open mikes in New England (I now live in Oregon, but I spent the last two years in New Hampshire). Open mikes can be many things--frustrating, rough, poorly organized, incredibly spontaneous, chauvinistic, boring, rich, clique-ish, eclectic--but, after many nights on the open mike trail, I have to say that they are generative in the true sense of the folk process. And it is this constant creativity, like a kind of upwelling, that becomes folksong. These threads do the exact same thing, only through narrative. We are involved in the folk process constantly, whether we like it or not. It's not a commercial product, like a capo or a set of strings, no one owns the rights--folk music, folk song, the folk process--all are much bigger than I am. For me as a songwriter, I have chosen to be in the upwelling--indeed, the upwelling has really chosen me for I don't seem to be able to write anything except using traditional forms, and as a singer, I find traditional music has profound meaning to me. I also am drawn to contemporary songs, but they are almost always the ones that have a traditional chording or melody to them. blt


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 02:36 AM

Folksongs last a good long while
Nostalgic lessons' tearful smile
Folksongs live with history
Blistery and Mystery

Singer-Songwriters got the rope
On inner outings' microscope
Trendy, Spendy, words to dope
Just spell it out and give up hope...

Just trying I, to folksongs make
With overviews my piece of cake
Detatched and caring, can not fake
This living lives for all to take... ttr


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Amergin
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 03:17 AM

Long time no see, TTR.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: GUEST,EricaSmith
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 10:25 AM

hey,

As a performer new to Mudcat who does trad material and also writes, I read this thread with much interest.

As far as I can tell the only proof is in the moment -- when a song is being delivered, if people buy it or not. When I hauled my arse into the downtown clubs of NYC and sang trad stuff, I expected to be tossed out, but wasn't -- not at all! My theory is, in general people like what's good . . .

It's a shame that clubs can be so cliqueish about who they book based on trad or singer-songwriter. I've also noticed this at folk conferences such as NERFA. . . a kind of competitiveness of who's cool, who's blah blah blah. This bores me -- it's social rather than music-related. My resolution is to gun the engines and do my thing without worrying about it too much, and try to exist peacefully in both worlds. All signs good so far.

erica


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: GUEST,EricaSmith
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 10:25 AM

hey,

As a performer new to Mudcat who does trad material and also writes, I read this thread with much interest.

As far as I can tell the only proof is in the moment -- when a song is being delivered, if people buy it or not. When I hauled my arse into the downtown clubs of NYC and sang trad stuff, I expected to be tossed out, but wasn't -- not at all! My theory is, in general people like what's good . . .

It's a shame that clubs can be so cliqueish about who they book based on trad or singer-songwriter. I've also noticed this at folk conferences such as NERFA. . . a kind of competitiveness of who's cool, who's blah blah blah. This bores me -- it's social rather than music-related. My resolution is to gun the engines and do my thing without worrying about it too much, and try to exist peacefully in both worlds. All signs good so far.

erica


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bert
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 11:29 AM

Erica, a hearty welcome to Mudcat from us folky-singer/songwriters.

Bert


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 12:30 PM

gee, it was fun re-reading this....and I'm glad to see I still agree with me!

and I miss Jack (who is called Jack)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bert
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 01:04 PM

Well Bill D., I've changed a little. Seeing as you have listened politely to me singing my own songs and have encouraged me to sing others as well. I now find myself learning and singing more traditional songs.

Thanks,

Bert.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: blt
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 10:16 PM

I have no idea why my post above highlighted itself. I was trying to add space between paragraphs using the html guide from the FAQ and obviously I didn't understand what I was doing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 02:23 AM

It's now not the 3rd of January--2001- any more. Our Audubon Society clock just did it's Northern Mockingbird imitation which means that it's 1:00 AM and not Carol's and my 34th anniversary any longer. We spent the time today thinking about love and change and all the great beauteous and heavy stuff that's happened for and to us in those fleeting moments we call years and decades. And the notes of the mockingbird seemed to me to be just about the perfect symbol for the topic of this good thread---and a grand way to end our perfact day. Mockingbirds grab the songs just like we do---and then they regurgiresurrect (Nice word, huh? I made it up recently for a poem.) the music for any who might be passing by to hear and maybe take it for their own. I suspect that's what we all have more or less been striving to do all along.

I'm gonna save this thread on a floppy I think.

Onward -- and now to get some sleep.

Art and Carol Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: John P
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 07:57 AM

My own tastes run towards traditional folk music, both for listening and for playing. And for when I writed music, for that matter. My personal definition of folk music does not include most contemporary songwriting, but I am realistic enough to know that the word has come to include some part of that genre.

One thing I have noticed is that if you give a singer/songwirter a budget, she all too ofteh turns into either a pop band or a country-pop band. I have a hard time telling the difference between a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar being backed up by electric bass, drums, and synthesizer and, say, Jethro Tull or the Beatles using an acoustic guitar. Or Nirvana Unplugged, for that matter. Are these bands all folk bands? Or do they become folk bands when they use an acoustic guitar? On the other hand, if you play traditional folk music in a cross-genre setting like a rock band, a jazz band, or a classical string quartet, it remains traditional folk music. You don't even need any acoustic instruments. The nature of the music itself doesn't change.

By the way, I am not bashing singer/songwriters here, I am just commenting on my own takes on the words we use. Everyone should play whatever music they are called to play, and a good song is a good song wherever it comes from.

John


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Luke
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 09:25 AM

I love this thread. It reads like the map of my life in a way. I grew up with singing, learning from my dad and brothers. In the 60's learned about folk music from my brother. He brought the banjo into the house and the rest of the family shuddered. My oldest brother Myke said things like "if your a real singer, you don't need that thing to lean on", and "when you walk in the door with that thing it's the first thing people will see and not just you and your voice". He was protecting a tradition.

I don't have an academic overview like some here. I was amazed while living in Bloomington In. all those years to run into many folklore students. They had a wide scope of interests. Some were writing their disertations on fiddling, some on stories collected about west coast mullusks, some on just old fashioned lies told in one region of the country pertaining to sheep. It was obvious to me that what I was doing didn't figure into anything that they might have called folk. This sort of left me in mid-air having to define myself. I did play an annual folklorist's convention once. They were interested in the resergance of the macaronic songs we had in our repertoire. Hell I thought we were just singing in 2 languages at once. A common thing for a fellow trying to get by in the music biz. Forked-tongue comes allready installed at birth in my family.

What I'm saying I guess is the average street player (me) must do what he must to survive. I love traditional music, food, stories, and am always ready to hear and play and sup at the table of tradition when it meets my standards of edibility. (very broad). When given money to sing and play I do so. When given money to write I do that. I feel unworthy in both cases but still I must eat. Maybe someday a folklorist will have an interest in music and songs made for survival. There is a certain servicability in the vessel of traditional music. It builds strong songs that can carry very heavy loads for long distances. Made for me.

Art for president,

Luke


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 08:19 PM

Luke,

It's been said by many before us: The old songs are not good because they are old. They are old because they are good.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Folkies vs Singer/Songwriters
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Jan 01 - 10:44 PM

Bert...I really enjoyed some of your own songs...and I truly noticed how many of the 'trad' songs you have been adding...and you are doing well with them. I suspect we have both profited from trading remarks and ideas...(The cuckoos nest did my heart good!)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 January 9:36 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.