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Festival booking only trad folk????

Maryrrf 14 Jul 09 - 11:00 AM
Michael Harrison 14 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM
Art Thieme 14 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Jul 09 - 12:32 PM
Cath 14 Jul 09 - 01:26 PM
Leadfingers 14 Jul 09 - 02:34 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Jul 09 - 03:05 PM
Leadfingers 14 Jul 09 - 04:55 PM
Barb'ry 14 Jul 09 - 05:11 PM
GutBucketeer 14 Jul 09 - 05:17 PM
GutBucketeer 14 Jul 09 - 05:20 PM
Jon Bartlett 14 Jul 09 - 05:20 PM
Maryrrf 14 Jul 09 - 07:18 PM
Don Firth 14 Jul 09 - 07:39 PM
Michael Harrison 14 Jul 09 - 10:29 PM
Don Firth 14 Jul 09 - 11:16 PM
GUEST,Russ 14 Jul 09 - 11:53 PM
Maryrrf 15 Jul 09 - 09:33 AM
Mr Red 15 Jul 09 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Russ 15 Jul 09 - 11:55 AM
Barry Finn 15 Jul 09 - 02:07 PM
Leadfingers 15 Jul 09 - 02:18 PM
Barry Finn 15 Jul 09 - 02:35 PM
BB 15 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM
Mr Red 20 Jul 09 - 06:42 AM
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Subject: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Maryrrf
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 11:00 AM

The National Folk Festival was held in Richmond, Virginia for three years, and it was decided that the city would continue to host a similar festival, using the same criteria for booking 'traditional folk' performers. They've just listed the first 8 and I can't see how two of them fit it - Swamp Dog and Trouble Funk. Here's the website for the festival .

Here's what the organizers say about themselves:

The Richmond Folk Festival strives to present the very finest traditional artists from across the nation. In making its selections, the local Programming Committee is guided by the following definition, which is the guide for the National Council for Traditional Arts and the National Folk Festival, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts:

FOLK & TRADITIONAL ARTS – a definition
The folk and traditional arts are rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of a community. Community members may share a common ethnic heritage, language, religion, occupation, or geographic region. These vital and constantly reinvigorated artistic traditions are shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice. Genres of artistic activity include, but are not limited to, music, dance, crafts, and oral expression.

After the local programming committee reviews and recommends performers to the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the professional staff of the NCTA will make selections based on the highest standards of quality and representation of the cultural traditions represented by the various performers.

The NCTA staff is composed of persons who are trained in music, history and folklore, have many years of experience in organizing and staging festivals, and most are also musicians (though they do not perform at the festival). This staff attends other festivals and events, and many concerts every year, and does original fieldwork in seeking musicians and crafts people.

Every recording and video and every bio sent to the festival is seen, heard, and carefully considered. Many hundred of hours are invested in this work, and no single person makes the decisions.

Quality and authenticity are the primary selection criteria employed by those who sort the applications and sit on the Programming Committee. As regards authenticity, the festival's approach to programming focuses on presenting arts passed down through time in families, communities, tribal, ethnic, religious, regional and occupational groups.

We present artists who are firmly rooted in the community from which their music derives, rather than "interpreters" of tradition, such as contemporary singer-songwriters or "revivalist" performance groups, however accomplished they may be. Beyond that, there is an attempt to be inclusive in terms of race, ethnicity, and region. While the festival strives to include artists that reflect traditions associated with the host community and region, all applicants are held to the same standards.

I was afraid the festival would get watered down and no longer be a folk festival. Now I think that is happening.


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 11:31 AM

Well, Maryrrf, we have a very successful "Jazz and Arts" festival in our area and they book all kinds of acts into it that are nowhere near being "jazz." I was told by one of the officials of the festival that the non-jazz players fall under the umbrella of "arts." In the long run it probably generates more money that way. Cheers,........................mwh


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 12:28 PM

Maryff,
I'm not surprised given the constraints of the times.

That said, it is sad to see. I'm certainly with you, and understand your feelings at this moment.

Over the last 49 years, since it's inception in 1961, the festival that most informed me and my traditional musical tastes has been the University Of Chicago Folk Festival. They have been traditional through just about the entire run. Doing it with trad music is harder to do now. Things change. The masters and mistresses of their traditions, musically, who were still able and willing to show their expertise to us interested 1961 era youngsters, have, slowly, gone on to their Gray Havens. The ones who remain are older and more ill than they were----with all the degradation that might imply.

Some great young people, here and now, have taken up the various torches that were left for them by the old ones. I do hope you and the festival you love is able to look for these modern carriers of the various traditions. Their musical purity, if you know what to look for, is intact and on display.

All the best,

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 12:32 PM

There aren't many (virtually)all-trad festivals left--Eisteddfodd, in New York is one of them; Whitby, in the UK, is another. There are two problems with an all-trad festival: getting performers and getting an audience. Sad to say.


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Cath
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 01:26 PM

I don't know what makes you think that Whitby is a traditional festival. Many of the guests are but a very large number are not.
Cath


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 02:34 PM

There is a VAST difference between 'Traditional Folk' and Jazz Funk .
OK , Whitby is not 'pure' tradition , but they DONT book any thing that doesnt qualify as Folk !
I couldnt find any Audio for Swamp Dog , but it didnt look in the least 'Folkie' , and Trouble Funk is certainly not Folk at all !
I agree with Mary that she should be conerned about her 'local' festival !


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:05 PM

Cath (and Leadfingers)
You're both ight--but....the concept of "pure" tradition is, and probably always was, a myth. THings change--that's why tradition xists outside of museums. How much it can change without leaving the tradition is, of course, a highly subjective opinion. But Whitby and Eisteddfodd (as well as a large number of regional festivals here in the US) are trying very hard to stick to what theorganizers feel is tradition. And I don't think anyone can do better than that.


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 04:55 PM

We USED to have an EXCELLENT Folk Festival in Bracknell ( UK ) but they changed to a combined Folk / Blues / Jazz Festival , and it killed it ! Bad Programming didnt help though !


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Barb'ry
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 05:11 PM

The Traditions Festival near Chorley in Lancashire is a mainly trad festival - and it's really successful.


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 05:17 PM

Hmmmm. Snakehead Run plays traditional blues and jugband music. I tried to figure out how to apply to play at the National/Richmond Folk Festival in the past and never could find the contact information for the booking agent. Also, It always seemed to me that their booking was not really related to "folk" or "traditional" music per se.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 05:20 PM

Continuation of the previous thought. It seemed to be booked by some promoters or something that were bringing in people that they knew.

But that is just my opinion.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 05:20 PM

Princeton Traditional Music festival is, guess what, traditional, but it's all volunteer.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Maryrrf
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 07:18 PM

I'm used to "Folk" festivals featuring mostly singer/songwriters and anything that is vaguely acoustic, but this festival claims to be about traditional folk, so the direction they seem to be taking is very disappointing. When the local group took over after the National Folk Festival's three year run was over, I started noticing some acts that I thought were a stretch, but now I think it just may be a matter of time before they've strayed so far from the concept that it will morph into something completely different. I realize, of course, that there aren't that many source singers and instrumentalists still around, but as was pointed out, there are many younger tradition bearers who have taken up the torch, as Art put it. The festival has a sizeable budget, and I think that given those resources I could very easily find 24 acts that would fit the bill beautifully. They've only announced the first 8 performers so there's more to come - I'll be interested to see who else they book.


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 07:39 PM

Rant on a historical theme:

The best folk festivals I ever went to were the Berkeley Folk Festivals. I went in 1960, 1961, and 1964. These were learning festivals as well as entertainment. From noon on the Wednesday before Memorial Day to Sunday (leaving Monday, Memorial Day itself, free for out of towners such as myself to get back to their jobs on Tuesday), the days were filled with workshops and discussion groups with people such as Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, John Lomax, Frank Warner, The New Lost City Ramblers, Jean Ritchie, Sam Hinton, Almeda Riddle, Joan Baez, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Archie Green, Charles Seeger, and many others. In the evenings, there were concerts by these same people. The least "traditional sounding" I heard there were Marais and Miranda in 1964 (a thoroughly charming couple!).

As I say, folk music enthusiasts came more to learn than to perform themselves, although there were alternatives such as private get-togethers (in a stairwell, out on campus somewhere, or late-night parties in private homes) along with a "coffeehouse" set-up in the Bear's Lair where visiting firemen such as me could hold forth for a few songs.

I used to come back from these festivals stuffed with new knowledge, a load of new songs to learn, and with an infusion of renewed enthusiasm.

Would that there were such festivals today!

When the Seattle Folklore Society formed in the mid-1960s, the organizers (I wasn't one of them; even though I was smack in the middle of folk music activites in this area, I didn't know it was happening) decided that concerts they sponsored would consist solely of "source singers." They were not interested in people like Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl, Joan Baez, or The New Lost City Ramblers. Or Bob Nelson or Alice Stuart or me. We were "revival singers" or "city-billies." Even if we sang strictly tradtional songs, we were not "traditional singers." We were not "authentic."

Then the Seattle Folklore Society instituted the Northwest Folklife Festivals at the Seattle Center (former Seattle World's Fair grounds). I wasn't able to go to the first three or four (day job with lots of mandatory overtime), but the first time I did go, the first thing that assaulted my ears when I walked into the Seattle Center was a garage band doing "Duke, duke, duke, Duke of Earl, Earl, Earl. . . ."

Grunge rock, rappers, pop music, jazz, singer-songwriters (lots of singer-songwriters), drummers. . . . The Center throbbed incessantly for the whole weekend and you couldn't get away from it! If you wanted to hear some traditional music, your best chance was to head for the meeting rooms crammed up in the northwest corner of the Center grounds (you still heard the drummers).

What the hell had happened in a few very short years!??

Recently, the Seattle Folklore Society declined an opportunity to sponsor a concert by Jeff Warner, the son of Frank and Anne Warner. Why? Or rather, why not?

He sang traditional songs. He did not write any of his own material. So the Seattle "Folklore" Society wasn't interested!

That's when a few traditional music aficionados resurrected the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, first organized in 1953 and summarily murdered in its crib by HUAC because the first folk singer the newly organized folklore society sponsored in concert was Pete Seeger. The PNW Folklore Society had no political agenda whatsoever. We were just interested in folk music: collecting folk material locally and sponsoring local and national performers of folk music in performance. Pete was available and we just wanted to hear him.

So--when the Seattle Folklore Society declined to sponsor Jeff Warner, the PNW Folklore Society sprang up again, contacted Warner, and offered to sponsor his concert, and he accepted the offer. And then it went on to sponsor performances by other singers of traditional songs. It's alive again and doing quite well!

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, "A small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Sometimes when something needs to be done, you have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Michael Harrison
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 10:29 PM

Don - when you say that Jeff Warner sang "traditional" songs not of his writing. What songs are you referring to. Can you give me a partial list off the top of your head? Thanks,.............mwh


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 11:16 PM

Not really, Michael. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to his concert myself, nor am I really that familiar with him. But I'm very familiar with his father's work and repertoire. Frank Warner was one of the featured people at one of the Berkeley Folk Festivals, and I understand that Jeff is following in his father's footsteps.

This may give an idea of his repertoire, or at least the kind of songs he sings. Very similar to the songs his father did:

CLICKY

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 11:53 PM

Devil's advocate alert

Although Swamp Dog has been a successful, professional musician for 40 plus years, I read nothing in his bio that rules him out as a traditional and/or folk musician.

He's even as old as some of the "old guys" I admire.

Many of the traditional musicians I know have tried, with varying success, to make money with their music. Does being a commercial success disquality a musician from being folk/traditional?
What about Jean Ritchie?

As for Trouble Funk,
I would be surprised if their music was NOT rooted in and reflective of the cultural life of their community and shaped by values and standards of excellence that are passed from generation to generation, most often within family and community, through demonstration, conversation, and practice.

Are they "folk"? Are they "traditional"? As far as the National Council for Traditional Arts and the National Folk Festival, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts are concerned, yes.
But I would expect organizations like these to have a very broad definition. It is their job to be inclusive.

Would I attend this festival? No.
Not because the music is not folk/traditional but because it is not music I am currently interested in.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Maryrrf
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 09:33 AM

How "inclusive" do you get before the concept is so watered down that it's meaningless???


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Mr Red
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 09:42 AM

well....... if you include profit - a long way.

Here in the UK Cambridge has acts like Bill Wyman - and for all his erudition on the subject of Folk Blues - I bet his public wanted rock music. But they still call it a folk festival. And they can't afford to not have "names" - or 25,000 people would look like 15,000 and that is a big loss.

As I see it - it is anarchy out there and money talks (and lies badly).


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 11:55 AM

maryrrf,

I assume the definition is intentionally vague bordering on meaningless.

The organizations probably want to maximize their freedom to pick and choose.
They probably want to minimize the chance that they will be criticized for musical bias and discrmination.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:07 PM

The Boston Folk Festival started out with a mix of singer songwriters, traditional & contemporary folk. The last festival (2 yrs ago) there was no folk, just singer songwriters. This yr maybe 2 of the maybe 20 performers cold make it into a loose fitting genre of folk. The rest singer songwriter/accoustic. yet they still call it a folk festival. The radio station that presents the festival used to be a folk station yrs back but now they host the same as what they air yet they no longer describe their programing as folk (that changed recently). They should do the same & drop the folk from the festival's name. It's a shame cuz while the festival hosted actual folk it did alright but as a singer songerwriter festival they had to skip last yr. We'll see how they fair this yr but I won't be there to tell.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:18 PM

At least in UK , Singer/Songwriters are still writing a lot of songs that DO qualify as 'folk' .
We even have people still writing songs to be sung unaccompanied !!


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:35 PM

We do have some songwriters that write in the tradition & some that write folk but in the New England area it is a haven for singer songwriters that aren't by a long shot folk. But that's for a different thread

Barry


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: BB
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 02:41 PM

In the UK, I would have thought that Chippenham qualifies, doesn't it?

As to Jeff Warner, Michael H., I have recordings of him singing sixty-one songs, fifty-eight of which are traditional, although a very few of the melodies are not. Sorry, it'll take too long to give you a list.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Festival booking only trad folk????
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 06:42 AM

Chippenham FF

Pop your head in the Rose & Crown Sessions at Chippers but don't reveal that Bodhran you have in your hand. They play English music! As if the Dorset riddle drum wasn't traditional! Good enough for Peter Kennedy, and a joke on a joke for Sid Kipper. (see Peter's seminal book "Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales")

traditional - I'd say. But they choose their traditions. Now the sessions in the Old Road Tavern - trad Irish but "whatever", French on Sunday night. But mostly the tradition of Joe Public entertaining themselves.

Concerts - largely traditional. SAR's? a tradition in itself. Ceilidhs - well traditional and yet vibrantly "now".

Morris? Ah! now there I detect a fashionable affectation to include women and face paint! Rarely black, all sorts of new fangled colours and glitter - I ask you - glitter. They will be trying to make Morris exciting and modern next.

As much as I dislike the preponderance of pop culture it is the vernacular of the time and "Folk" has to allow a smidgin in somewhere or it will atrophe. But moderation in all things (except moderation)


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