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English Folk Music- A suspect medium?

nutty 15 Jan 09 - 06:37 AM
Chris Green 15 Jan 09 - 06:46 AM
The Borchester Echo 15 Jan 09 - 06:48 AM
The Sandman 15 Jan 09 - 07:30 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 15 Jan 09 - 07:31 AM
mattkeen 15 Jan 09 - 07:34 AM
greg stephens 15 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM
mattkeen 15 Jan 09 - 07:55 AM
Kampervan 15 Jan 09 - 08:08 AM
nutty 15 Jan 09 - 08:12 AM
Leadfingers 15 Jan 09 - 08:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 15 Jan 09 - 08:34 AM
mattkeen 15 Jan 09 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,Jon 15 Jan 09 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Mr Red - that's who. 15 Jan 09 - 10:40 AM
dick greenhaus 15 Jan 09 - 10:45 AM
wyrdolafr 15 Jan 09 - 11:58 AM
bubblyrat 15 Jan 09 - 12:15 PM
cptsnapper 15 Jan 09 - 12:20 PM
Marje 15 Jan 09 - 12:28 PM
GUEST 15 Jan 09 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 15 Jan 09 - 12:31 PM
Aeola 15 Jan 09 - 12:39 PM
Newport Boy 15 Jan 09 - 12:58 PM
Penny S. 15 Jan 09 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 15 Jan 09 - 01:31 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jan 09 - 04:22 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 17 Jan 09 - 04:37 AM
The Borchester Echo 17 Jan 09 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 05:05 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Jan 09 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Jan 09 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 06:08 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jan 09 - 06:24 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jan 09 - 06:37 AM
The Sandman 17 Jan 09 - 06:41 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Jan 09 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 06:47 AM
GUEST 17 Jan 09 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 07:14 AM
wyrdolafr 17 Jan 09 - 07:46 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Jan 09 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,DaveMc 17 Jan 09 - 08:19 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Jon 17 Jan 09 - 08:36 AM
wyrdolafr 18 Jan 09 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jan 09 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,DaveMc 18 Jan 09 - 06:40 AM
GUEST 18 Jan 09 - 07:52 AM
wyrdolafr 18 Jan 09 - 08:35 AM
Santa 18 Jan 09 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,Jon 18 Jan 09 - 10:43 AM
wyrdolafr 18 Jan 09 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Jon 18 Jan 09 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Jon 18 Jan 09 - 04:40 PM
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Subject: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: nutty
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 06:37 AM

I am at present reading 'A Class Act' Ben Harker's book on Ewan MacColl and was taken by the assertion that MacColl was blacklisted by the BBC for his communist connections. (apparently MI5 records bears this out)

This has made me wonder if this was why folk music in England has never been fully embraced by the media.

Folk music in Scotland. Ireland and Wales is applauded as nationalistic but English folk - possibly suspect - associated with communism?

Anyone got any thoughts on this theory??


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Chris Green
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 06:46 AM

Hmmm. I think you may be mistaking lethargy for policy as far as the BBC goes!


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 06:48 AM

Theory? The BBC fired Radio Ballads producer Charles Parker. They also failed to renew Michael Rosen's contract when his time as graduate trainee was up, though his career is somewhat recovered nowadays (or so's the Word Of Mouth). I had the privilege of working with Charles Parker towards the end of his life on a dramatised Ballad of John Axon at colleges. His experience, as related to me, made McCarthyism seem like park-walking.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 07:30 AM

interesting,my brother whio is completely non political,was told he would never get promotion ,as a civil servant,because my parents were members of the communist party[this was when his file was re examined at the time of the Anthony Blunt exposure].


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 07:31 AM

Did someone mention...

The Ballad of John Axon

;0)

I'm going to be very good and keep out of this thread now..because you so don't want to hear my opinion on that question, nutty.   :0)


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: mattkeen
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 07:34 AM

I think there is an element of truth in the idea.
But I also think that traditional/folk music and arts in England especially has been repressed by the establishment classes right back to and probably before the great Dissenting period of the 17th/18th century.

It is the music and culture of the workers/poorest read "those who must be controlled"


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM

Generally speaking, I would think the establishment has ben totally uninterested in traditional folk music in England; it never tried to suppress it, becaause it never noticed it existed. They certainly had it in for Ewan McColl and Charles Parker, to mention but a few, but not from any hostility to folk music as such. There was a cold war on, and the powers that be were suspicious of lefties. As the lefties among us all noticed!


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: mattkeen
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 07:55 AM

Yes Greg - but by the 1950's the battle was well one try 1650


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Kampervan
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 08:08 AM

I think that Greg is right. They don't need to actively suppress folk music.

Governments in general these days do what they like and sod the rest of us. I don't think that they even bother about how to control us anywmore - they don't care what we think or do.

Doesn't mean that we should stop trying to make them care though.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: nutty
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 08:12 AM

I've always found it interesting that in the 50's, when I was at primary school, English folk music and dance were an important part of the curriculum. (We even had a rapper team)

In the 60's, at secondary school, it was rarely mentioned.

In the 70's, when I started teaching in primary school, it seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

To my mind that had to be a political decision.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 08:30 AM

There is NO doubt that the majority of people involved in the folk revival were predominantly left wing , if not actually members of any party . Its as good an explanation as any , isnt it ?


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 08:34 AM

nah! loads of tory gits involved these days....protecting the greensward, chasing each other round the maypole, following the hunt, coaching the peasantry in how to be subservient, remembering england before there were all these foreigners and sex before marriage received its reward with unwanted pregnancies and a dose of the pox, relishing the times when the press gang got rid of all the scruffy types.....

the real problem is keeping the fascists out these days.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: mattkeen
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 08:46 AM

Nice post WLD


Still a bit of Quaker in there..............


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 09:35 AM

I'm not convinced Nutty is right in her other parts of the UK remarks. I lived in N Wales from ages approx 7-13 and 18-40 we sang in school (eg. I loved Singing Together), sang some Welsh (well I can speak Welsh but it was fun joining in) songs.

At a guess, although I'd been folk clubbing since 18, had breifly joined a Morris side, found Irish session (at around 27), etc. I didn't really know Wales had a folk dance tradition until the later stages. I think I'm looking at sort of the time Andy Mac (who I'd known through Irish sessions, morris dance, etc.) joining Crasdant that I really became aware there was not just the odd tune but a lot there - where's that take me -35???
, maybe a bit younger, but certainly not from primary school.

As one suugestion that may be a mile off, perhaps Wales preferred to market itself as (not that it had any relevance to Llanudo area I lived in) as "Singing in the Valleys",sort of ideas of people coming up from coal mines to sing, etc. but something else got (unintentionally) forgotten about???

I'd wonder about marketing with Engish folk music too. It always seems odd to me for example that if I sing in my natural (mixed up) voice accent, I have an accent yet san onXFactor, everyone manages to come up with the same "pop" voice. People would think it weird if I suddenly started finding an American for example accent to talk in and I don't really see why there should be a difference (unless market forces dictate otherwise).


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Mr Red - that's who.
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 10:40 AM

McColl traded on his Scottish roots and it didn't affect Scottish Music.
But it is bound to be suspect if it wants to maintain status quo and politicians want what they want us to have. Perhaps by looking into the past we see why it went wrong before and

Well ............


Who would have predicted the credit crunch?

On the Mudcat for instance?


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 10:45 AM

Mr. Red-
MacColl published the songbook that kicked off the entire Scottish folk revival--preating Buchan and Hall by several years.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 11:58 AM

Nutty said: "In the 70's, when I started teaching in primary school, it seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth."

I'm 40-years-old (until a couple of weeks, at any rate) and I did 'country dancing' in both infants and junior school to the likes of 'All Around My Hat' &c. I live just outside Manchester and this would have covered most of the 1970s as I went to grammar school in 1979.

As for the general premise of the thread, I think there's something in it. Whilst folk and the 'working class' might have provided much fertile ground for academics, generally 'The Establishment' and the media was very middle/upper-class/Londoncentric in a much more pronounced way than even today. When has it not been a case of them being suspicious of the proles in their unsophisticated backwaters? I mean other than times when adjectives such as 'gritty', 'quaint' or 'fascinating' are used?


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:15 PM

Cobblers !! Ex-Army Officer Denis Healey was a card-carrying member of the British Communist Party, and he became Minister of Defence in 1964, so I don't think that HMG were going to worry about a few folk-singers, my paranoid friends !! Anyway, most "folkies " that I have encountered on my 44 year folk Odyssey have either been apolitical, or ,indeed,even rather Right Wing like my good self !!Despite your obvious delusional misgivings, most of "us" love "folk music " for what it is ,rather than what it might be in your obviously over-wrought imaginations....anyway, who cares ??


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: cptsnapper
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:20 PM

And let's not forget the fact that some people involved with folk music have always been wary of anyone associated with it being too successful unless it's on their terms.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Marje
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:28 PM

Anyway, even if there was once some feeling of the music being forbidden and anti-establishment, didn't that increase rather than diminish its attraction? Maybe there would be more interest in folk music today if it was seen as dangerously radical.

Marje


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:29 PM

I live in a country which celebrates freedom of speech as a most basic right. Given that Constitutional reality, it is odd how many, particularly in artistic fields, have been harmed through guilt by association, damned by demagogues and denied fair compensation or job opportunities over the years. The McCarthy era, of course, is the obvious high-water mark in the public mind, but I still hear some people automatically linking folk musicians with communism, anarchy or ill-defined counter-culture movements.

Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton are just two prominent examples of those who have significant dossiers in the FBI archives simply for saying, or singing their beliefs openly. Neither, so far as I know, ever advocated the violent overthrow of the government - a small point.
I don't happen to agree politically with a lot of entertainers, but I absolutely defend their right to speak - or sing out. Voltaire had a point.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:31 PM

I reckon that around 1970, a quarter of a million people were visiting folk clubs in tht UK each week! In what way did the BBC reflect that massive interest?


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Aeola
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:39 PM

I'm not a political animal but my view of successive governments and the BBC is that currently they wouldn' know their left from their right anyway!!


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 12:58 PM

I don't think traditional music and dance ever went away, but from the late 1950s it was gradually swamped by a tide of more frenetic and louder pop.

We sang many English and Welsh folk songs (and a few Scots) during the 1940s and 50s in primary and secondary school. In the mid-1950s we cycled weekly from Newport to Cardiff for an evening of folk dancing - mainly Welsh & English.

In the mid-50s in London, skiffle introduced us to American folk song, and was followed by new protest songs in trad style. Late 50s extended our horizons at Ballads & Blues in Soho Square, and it was here and with CND that we were finally hooked.

On the political front, we had always been on the left of Labour (good South Wales tradition). A majority of the regular singers at Soho Square were well left of us, and we drifted that way. Returning to Newport in 1960 and starting a family, we continued with folk music, CND and protest, and also met local communists.

A group of us arranged a course on Marxist theory (given by a visting US history lecturer fom Cardiff University) and subsequently joined the party. We noticed how our photo was taken at all demos and public meetings. A few years later in Bristol, our little local party branch was joined by a young, enthusiastic member, always advocating strong action. A year or so after he left us, we saw him with the police photographers at a demo, presumably pointing us out.

There's lots more politically, but in all this I don't blame the Government, except for being weak (Thatcher excepted). It's the Establishment, which has always operated secretly at one remove from the politicians, and I've encountered many instances of the blacklist operating in all sorts of occupations.

Folk music continued in schools through the 60s and 70s, even if our kids temporarily preferred Alex Harvey - they're back to the good stuff now.

The establishment has never been keen on the music of the people, which has always carried the threat of change. It's OK to provide an atmospheric background, but some of the words!!

Oh - there were some Tory folkies in the old days - my true-blue (still) college friend was always with us. Mind, he did wear his red sweater!

Phil


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 01:30 PM

Kent ran courses in teaching country dance in primary schools in the 70s or 80s - can't remember which. I was marked down as a dissenter as I didn't see why I had to pair Y4 boys and girls - the boys really enjoyed dance if not forced to dance with girls. And those who insisted on that pairing were the same who insisted that women shouldn't do morris, having their own ceremonial dances, sources not given.

What I notice now is the absence of carols from Christmas concerts, no traditional material at all, butr Slade and American "holiday" songs. Nothing to do with politics, but a change in staff background.

They do country dance - it's in the curriculum I gather.

Penny


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 15 Jan 09 - 01:31 PM

Since the Scottish revival had open Communists like Morris Blythman, Hamish Henderson, and Arthur Johnstone, with more in the next generation like Eddie McGuire and Dick Gaughan, the idea that the Red Menace had some specific effect in England doesn't fit.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 04:22 AM

It has invariably been my experience that the attitude to politics and folk song has not been that you shouldn't sing political songs, but rather "You shouldn't sing political songs that I don't agree with"; usually flag waving, empire promoting crap meets with no objection whatever (Bold Nelson's Praise - my arse).
Of course the BBC has a political bias - it has always been a part of the establishment and an arm of government. The late Charles Parker and Philip Donellan bore the brunt of that bias. The ending of the Radio Ballads and the destruction of The Features Department made sure that 'ordinary' people no longer had a voice on what was, and continues to be a very exclusive 'Gentleman's private club'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 04:37 AM

The ordinary people don't have a voice in folk music, it's been taken over by 'academics' Jim. That's what drives me nuts. I'm too political for folk music anyway, I *want* the protest songs and they want 'larks in the morning' (oer-er missus!) Ewan MacColl, I feel, is partly responsible for all the crazy rules and regulations which keep the traditional folk world small.

Right, I'm not really here, as I said I'd not come into this thread, :0) but I just needed to say that.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 04:47 AM

Peggy Seeger and The Ballads & Blues


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 05:05 AM

Lizzie, what do you sing or play that causes you political problems?

Have been there myself in an earlier life form before I decided to drop the rebel songs. I was actually an audience member and casual singing during the break when I was threatened with very strict action. One more word of Kevin Barry and you are banned from this pub. Met the guy I was singing it with some years later. Turned out he was a member of her majesties forces but saw that song as a folk song and (rightly) didn't believe either of us were about say encouraging pub bombings. It can be complicated but I'm interested to know where you have been.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 05:52 AM

Guest Jon, I can believe Lizzie faces censorship. After all what is this endless debate about what is folk music - other than an attempt to deny the validity of another man or woman's position within the movement?

And yes, it is political. Its the subtle English middle classes getting their own way and their hands on the money once again.

They can and do talk and argue their point til they are blue (what other colour!) in their little faces. but it really is so much self interest. the farmers telling the turkeys that being killed and silent is good for them.

I did a gig at one of the few folk clubs interested in booking me on tuesday. i did this song called Wild bird Flying in a Coal black night. Its a song of great lyricism and beauty by the late roger brooks.

Roger died about five years ago. he wrote five or six of the most exquisitely beautiful songs of our generation. and as a performer, he was mercurial and one of the finest guitarists I ever knew. and noone ever got to hear of him - cos of england's stupid ass folkmusic fascists.

Bit earlier in the week I had been clearing my mother in laws house and there was an old MU magazine from a few years back. Liza carthy had made eleven albums by then. i bet every track cost more to make that Roger's entire recorded output.

theres no equality in the present situation. i don't dislike Liza - i can see see she's quite talented but she hasn't written one song as good as Roger's best. Her Dad proudly proclaimed - she has made herself a writer because that's the kind of deal she could get, on his acoustic masters dvd. I worship her Dad's guitar playing incidentally. Not as enjoyable as roger's, but of what's recorded - pretty damn good.

like I say, the situation isn't right. And no amount of you guys saying that it is, will make it so.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 05:56 AM

Yep - I was in a singaround a few years ago when a guy did "The Men Behind the Wire". I've never heard it any other time. Turned out he was a policeman.

I too am a bit baffled as to what Lizzie might sing that would offend people. Anarchy in the UK? The Burning Times? Coke is The Drink of the Death Squads? Fuck Tha Police?


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:00 AM

"After all what is this endless debate about what is folk music"

A debate in which from my perspective some will say for example "EVERYING IS a folk song" but my "I don't think about it that way can be seen as shouting and dictating terms.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:08 AM

Drifting a bit but, while I do know it, I've never heard that song in a folk club either.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:24 AM

"Ewan MacColl, I feel, is partly responsible for all the crazy rules and regulations "
Don't be shy! Would be grateful if you cound expound on this.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:37 AM

Sorry, not been following this thread, hence not reading it fully -
"The ordinary people don't have a voice in folk music, it's been taken over by 'academics' Jim"
Having mixed with agricultural labourers, Travellers, small farmers, carpenters and fishermen for my music - not sure I can altogether agree with this.
Can't speak for the scene today, but if you mean the clubs, MacColl' Singers Club was frequented by a mix of manual and clerical workers, students, teachers, unemployed... true we didn't get many company directors or newspaper proprietors, but you can't win 'em all.
Don't know who the bums on seats are today, but don't know where all the folk songs disappeared to either,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:41 AM

well I am not an academic,as can be seen from my punctuation.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:43 AM

In the seventies when there bombs going off in Birmingham, it wasn't a good time to be a singer of Irish rebel songs. I suppose you might meet the occasionally very odd voice of complaint nowadays - but with the Peace Process keeping things together, they're all pretty uncontroversial.

Anyway - don't worry about the Irish - they can take care of themselves.

Its our own Augean stables we need to clean out. the class war rages on!


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:47 AM

If we want to time/ place mine, it was North West Wales maybe 81/82. The landlord was from Birmingham though.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 07:12 AM

Thinking again and going off at a different tangent, I don't suppose I've ever really got the class aspect. I could be hearing some conversation about some noble men and the duke of Wellington, singing a great song about a "sport" I detest. Tune wise, I'm sure we have all met academics (eg. a good musician friend of mine is a phd, something of the lines of microbiology) as well as there being a place for an alcoholic and unemployable me. It can be quite a eeting point of people of so different backGrounds, ideas, etc. and I'm going to suggest for this thread,


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 07:14 AM

lost the last bit above and (sorry Joe, forgot my name) but to sugesst... that is one of folk music's strengths that different people can meet???


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 07:46 AM

Regarding areas of employment in a 'working class vs middle-class' discussion, I think it's a bit misleading in that given the disappearance of the industries traditionally associated with 'working classes'. There's no real manufacturing base any more and many 'working class' people are now employed in areas that would have once been seen as very 'middle-class'. Think how many people are now employed in some kind of office environment or other.

The changes to technology and economics and the knock-on effects to society generally has blurred some of the previous distinctions between 'working-class' and 'middle-class'.

That's not to say all the distinctions are becoming blurred though - I read a few things last year that suggested social mobility was becoming harder rather than easier and that relative levels of poverty were also increasing rapidly.

Maybe in ten or twenty years we can expect to hear a januty 'The Lincolnshire PVC window-fitter' or maybe Bert Jansch could do a haunting refrain about shopping 'malls' called 'Bluewater Side'.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:07 AM

well why not....?


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,DaveMc
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:19 AM

Given that the BBC is culturally left-of-centre, and has been for at least 20 years, you'd think it would mesh quite nicely with the left-of-centre folk scene these days. Most folk clubs and many a folk recording are full of people romantically singing about long lost leftie causes. Perhaps this is unattractive - irrelevant? - even to those who are of a similar political persuasion. It certainly has little appeal to me.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

OK but to maybe badly try to move away from industry, a couple of my mums favourites, were written, I think by Lady Nairne, eg. (if persuadable to sing to others) she could sing you a Caller Herrin. Can we really sort of work out her, daughter of a (single parent in the 30s even) hard working (she was 53 yrs from looking after her parents to retirement!) sub postmistress in rural Shropshire to a song written by a titled person yet carried down (though I don't know how it got there) with love from my grandmother to my mum? I just like to think some songs were good songs people just liked.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:36 AM

Maybe I don' always get causes, either Dave?

To me, and to move into the rebel songs again, Roddy McCorley is an incredibly (whether you agree with the motivations or not) powerful march of defiance. You (are I suppose I mean I) could put yourself there singing in full voice as loud as you can, could be marching down the road as you sing it. A pained voice "struggle" with guitar can't stir up that same emotion for me.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 03:32 AM

Weelittledrummer wrote: "well why not....?"

I suppose there's no real reason why not. An obvious example is that a lot if not most of Lancashire's folk-song history is rooted in a massive change in industry and employment.

However, I think folk has an historical context which it's never really allowed to breakout from in some quarters.



GuestDavMc wrote: "Given that the BBC is culturally left-of-centre"

I think if the BBC is culturally anything I think it's London-centric first and foremost.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 06:22 AM

"Given that the BBC is culturally left-of-centre"
WHAT??????
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,DaveMc
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 06:40 AM

Jim Carroll: "WHAT?????"

You must tune in more often, Jim. It has consistently criticised government policy of the day from the Left, whether it be through the Tory years or the more recent Labour ones. It promotes based on a range of politically correct liberal criteria and is happy to laud figures on the left while censoring views that are even mildly right of centre.

Wyrdolafr: "I think if the BBC is culturally anything I think it's London-centric first and foremost."

It's definitely that, too. As the BBC's former Chief Political Correspondent (and current employee and Labour luvvie), Andrew Marr has written:

"The BBC is not impartial or neutral. It's a publicly funded, urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias"


My point is that Folk Music is certainly not discriminated against on grounds of it being too left wing. That may have happened in the dim and distant past but not for the last 20 years.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 07:52 AM

Interestingly it was Dave Harkers earlier book "Fakesong" which gave an explanation of why English traditional song is so undervalued. I hope I am not misrepresenting his arguments which are from one reading a long time ago but as I understood them his thesis was that there is really no such thing as traditional folk, there is workers and peasants music. Potential ruling classes would take elements of this music, invent and codify others and label it 'Irish music' or 'Scottish music'. When you look at England of course the last thing our ruling class wants us to do is reunite our working class with their history of songs about Plug riots, WCaptain Swing, Peterloo, riots mutinies and crime.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 08:35 AM

GUEST,DaveMc wrote: "My point is that Folk Music is certainly not discriminated against on grounds of it being too left wing. That may have happened in the dim and distant past but not for the last 20 years".

Maybe the issue here - as with a lot of things - is in definitions. 'Left wing' is often used as a fairly relative term and 'left vs right' is a fairly meaningless and antiquated way of looking at politics. A single axis approach really doesn't serve any political thinking too well.

The Political Compass site has a good/interesting page on UK political parties as they were in 2008 relative to where they were in previous years here.

A point lost on the BBC is that their take on cultural liberalism, which is presumably meant to be 'inclusive', can also be very excluding.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: Santa
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 09:12 AM

I met folk music in primary school, but not in secondary. I got involved in clubs etc through the influence of protest songs, as heard on mainstream radio. Clubs rose in response to mass interest in this music. As the Vietnam War ended, there seemed rather less point to protest songs, so they died out. Then followed the mainstream success of folkrock, but as far as mainstream was concerned it was a fashion that flared (pun intentional) and died. With the dying of the Cold War, political songs became even more unfashionable. The clubs declined but went on, and as we can see today the audience reduced to a hard core of the older generation that is what remained from more popular days.

Was English folk music, in the traditional form, ever more than a thin stream in this more eclectic mix? Other strands came and went, so that at times a more generic "pop/folk music" was more common and popular, at times it was back to the ghetto. The leftwing involvement in "folk" was more prominent in the 50/60/70s, and no doubt lead to some disfavour from the establishment: but this must be seen alongside a general growth in anti-establishment feeling in the media and population. Folk music did not fade in popularity because it was seen as anti-establishment. It boomed and faded as various of the its strands came into and went out of fashion. One of which has to be its simple, acoustic roots in an amplified, sophisticated age. Perhaps the new singer-songwriters will successfully bring in the electronic age, or perhaps a new "punk folk" will emerge as society looks to a simpler approach to life. Wait and see, or get out and help, according to taste.

The more traditional songs are never going to be more than a minority interest, because the traditions are dead, or at least moribund, kept alive by enthusiasts as an amusement rather than by community involvement. Was this ever different? Did the Elizabethan English sing Chaucerian songs? Or the peasantry of Plantagenet times sing how times were so much better under Anglo-Saxon rule? Is the archetypal English folk song "When this old hat was new?" Ah, things were so much better when Ewan ran things....

Or not.

Which has drifted a bit, but "the establishment" is not going to approve of anti-establishment actions, be they only songs, and it is hardly intelligent to assume it ever will. Unless of course they are profitable....... As long as folk music is associated with political activism, there will be a cloud hanging over it in many minds - not just those within "the establishment" and their cronies. I think there is much more to English folk music than the political activism, but it is never going to be popular and accepted (whatever that exactly means) until it deals with popular issues in a popular manner. At the moment, this does not include leftwing diatribes, morris dancing, or bewailing your sad lovelife behind an acoustic guitar. English folk music has gone from a curiosity to a popular movement to an object of public ridicule.

Those of us who do appreciate it will just have to carry on enjoying ourselves, to those performers prepared to dedicate their lives to such.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 10:43 AM

I think there is much more to English folk music than the political activism

Of course. The tunes might provide an easy way to look at this. I mostly play Irish but the sae would apply with English music. If you are in the middle of a tune session and it's going well, quite possibly the only place your head is is in some sort of common effort of playing for the music. I don't dance but look round group of people just dancing and spot happy faces. Our collections of traditional music can take us in completely different directions to I suppose cares of the world.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 12:24 PM

Santa wrote: "I think there is much more to English folk music than the political activism, but it is never going to be popular and accepted (whatever that exactly means) until it deals with popular issues in a popular manner. At the moment, this does not include leftwing diatribes, morris dancing, or bewailing your sad lovelife behind an acoustic guitar. English folk music has gone from a curiosity to a popular movement to an object of public ridicule".

But what do people actually want out of any kind of music in the first place these days? If you look around at music that is commercially popular - not necessarily a guarantee of quality but some kind of indicator about what people are interested in - you'll see that most people aren't really interested in things that make them think too much. I don't think people, generally, actually want to deal with popular issues, at least not on any kind regular basis.

I think most people now see music as purely a backdrop for getting wasted and escaping from real-life rather than as a lens or a mirror for it. 'Boy meets girl' still tends to be lyric du jour, whether it's the handsome shepherd who espies a bonny maid or a ho who likes the way I roll (or something).

I think any kind of music - perhaps barring some forms of rap - that deals with issues or politics is always going to be a niche market.

It's also a bit odd to see a phrase like "your sad lovelife behind an acoustic guitar" given the massive success over people like James Blunt and David Gray over the last couple of years. I think generally people in general don't have that much of a beef with 'acoustica' - and, if anything, I think the majority of people actually define that as being 'folk' anyway. Maybe not Mikey Mudcat's view, but perhaps Joe Public's view.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 01:09 PM

you'll see that most people aren't really interested in things that make them think too much

But you could suggest the same about some things I go to that are folk music. I don't see much in the way of words to contemplate in this for example. I Instead, I can just get lost in it.

I'd still think than many of the public would think a few fiddlers, flutes, etc. a bit odd. I could suggest that fashion suggests it must be so.


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Subject: RE: English Folk Music- A suspect medium?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 04:40 PM

"your sad lovelife behind an acoustic guitar"
here is a favorite failed lovelife of mine.


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