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Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?

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GUEST,Jim Costello 08 Feb 10 - 08:41 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 10 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Feb 10 - 09:04 AM
Old Roger 08 Feb 10 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Silas 08 Feb 10 - 09:52 AM
Folknacious 08 Feb 10 - 09:52 AM
artbrooks 08 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM
Will Fly 08 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Feb 10 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,Hesk 08 Feb 10 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 08 Feb 10 - 10:50 AM
MikeL2 08 Feb 10 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Silas 08 Feb 10 - 10:56 AM
Amos 08 Feb 10 - 10:57 AM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Feb 10 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Silas 08 Feb 10 - 11:05 AM
MikeL2 08 Feb 10 - 11:09 AM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Feb 10 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 11:20 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Feb 10 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,MikeL2 08 Feb 10 - 11:25 AM
Will Fly 08 Feb 10 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,MikeL2 08 Feb 10 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 11:31 AM
evansakes 08 Feb 10 - 11:47 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM
Mavis Enderby 08 Feb 10 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 08 Feb 10 - 12:36 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Feb 10 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 08 Feb 10 - 12:53 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM
Goose Gander 08 Feb 10 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,Silas 08 Feb 10 - 01:11 PM
artbrooks 08 Feb 10 - 01:18 PM
Will Fly 08 Feb 10 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Silas 08 Feb 10 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 08 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM
Will Fly 08 Feb 10 - 01:28 PM
Will Fly 08 Feb 10 - 01:29 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Feb 10 - 01:40 PM
mousethief 08 Feb 10 - 02:22 PM
Silas 08 Feb 10 - 02:34 PM
Jack Campin 08 Feb 10 - 03:02 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 10 - 03:02 PM
Mavis Enderby 08 Feb 10 - 03:05 PM
MikeL2 08 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM
MikeL2 08 Feb 10 - 03:45 PM
Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 03:47 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 10 - 04:05 PM
evansakes 08 Feb 10 - 04:08 PM
Silas 08 Feb 10 - 04:14 PM
Jack Campin 08 Feb 10 - 04:32 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Feb 10 - 04:37 PM
Silas 08 Feb 10 - 04:39 PM
glueman 08 Feb 10 - 04:40 PM
Silas 08 Feb 10 - 04:40 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Feb 10 - 04:41 PM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Feb 10 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 08 Feb 10 - 05:12 PM
Nick 08 Feb 10 - 05:30 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Feb 10 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Feb 10 - 06:27 PM
Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 06:30 PM
Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 06:34 PM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Feb 10 - 06:36 PM
glueman 08 Feb 10 - 06:48 PM
mousethief 08 Feb 10 - 06:54 PM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Feb 10 - 06:57 PM
Spleen Cringe 08 Feb 10 - 06:57 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Feb 10 - 07:06 PM
GUEST,999 08 Feb 10 - 07:51 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 10 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Betsy 08 Feb 10 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,999 08 Feb 10 - 08:38 PM
GUEST,999 08 Feb 10 - 08:40 PM
GUEST,999 08 Feb 10 - 08:43 PM
mousethief 08 Feb 10 - 11:24 PM
GUEST,999 08 Feb 10 - 11:55 PM
mousethief 09 Feb 10 - 12:30 AM
Mr Happy 09 Feb 10 - 05:32 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Feb 10 - 06:04 AM
glueman 09 Feb 10 - 06:07 AM
Matt Seattle 09 Feb 10 - 06:13 AM
MikeL2 09 Feb 10 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 09 Feb 10 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 09 Feb 10 - 09:02 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 10 - 09:33 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 10 - 10:08 AM
Dave MacKenzie 09 Feb 10 - 10:46 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Feb 10 - 10:50 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Feb 10 - 11:03 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 10 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 09 Feb 10 - 11:12 AM
IanC 09 Feb 10 - 11:20 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 10 - 11:25 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 10 - 11:26 AM
Lighter 09 Feb 10 - 11:31 AM
Will Fly 09 Feb 10 - 11:40 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Feb 10 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 09 Feb 10 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 09 Feb 10 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 09 Feb 10 - 12:02 PM
Lighter 09 Feb 10 - 01:09 PM
Lighter 09 Feb 10 - 01:20 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Feb 10 - 01:38 PM
Mavis Enderby 09 Feb 10 - 03:54 PM
Jack Blandiver 09 Feb 10 - 04:49 PM
TheSnail 09 Feb 10 - 08:11 PM
GUEST,Burton Coggles 10 Feb 10 - 09:01 AM
Lighter 10 Feb 10 - 09:24 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Feb 10 - 11:24 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Feb 10 - 11:26 AM
Jack Campin 10 Feb 10 - 11:44 AM
Will Fly 10 Feb 10 - 11:49 AM
Will Fly 10 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 10 Feb 10 - 12:37 PM
Will Fly 10 Feb 10 - 12:47 PM
TheSnail 10 Feb 10 - 02:59 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Feb 10 - 03:26 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Feb 10 - 03:26 PM
Phil Edwards 10 Feb 10 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 11 Feb 10 - 09:52 AM
Bernard 11 Feb 10 - 11:02 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Feb 10 - 11:15 AM
Dave MacKenzie 11 Feb 10 - 11:27 AM
Phil Edwards 11 Feb 10 - 11:43 AM
Dave MacKenzie 11 Feb 10 - 02:24 PM
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Subject: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Jim Costello
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:41 AM

I went to a well established folk club recently, and during the whole evening only one traditional folk song was performed; now, I'm sure when I first went to a folk club ( in the late 60s )that would never have happened.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:43 AM

Sounds very much like that could have been our club :-(

We have lost it to the 'John Denver' brigade I'm afraid. Just started another monthly session club which is going well, but its only a matter of time...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:04 AM

This is why clubs need policies. Although if you set one expect a lot of moaning and sniping about "folk police" etc.

The "John Denver brigade" sound awful (uggghhh!!). Why can't they start their own clubs?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Old Roger
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:48 AM

Come on guys (and gals) loosen up. Folk songs are the songs which folk sing. It is a now, active, living thing, taking place in real time. Traditional stuff is what folk before us used to do. For almost all of that, the tradition (the passing-on process)is broken. We learn it in a sterile way from things like books and records, not from people we know. It becomes a nostalgic re-enactment of a script. A wishful fantasy. Lots of traditional music started as the popular music of the day. It's still happening.

Today's folk music is the trad stuff of tomorrow. We learn it if we like it no matter where it comes from and when we do it - we do it in our own way, not a slavish, "pirate or parrot" version. Give it all space, let it find its own life.

Our "Folk" club is just a place where anyone brings their gifts of song and music to delight the company gathered there. It is rich in variety. Some come to just listen and enjoy. Some come to sing, play, listen and enjoy. There is no sense of trying to meet a formula. People receive what is given on its own merits. Beginners and the nervous are strongly encouraged and supported.

We are not troubled by any angst about authenticity or getting it "right" according to some cranky folksy definition.

We are troubled by the fact that we get too many people wanting to come. Sometimes it's hard to fit them all in and it's a big room. Never less than 25 performers - Usually about 70 people all together and they all listen when someone's doing their bit.

Just ordinary folk, singing for pleasure and pastime in good company. Doesn't that have a traditional ring to it.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:52 AM

Well what you have there is an 'acoustic' club, which is fine if that is what you want.

It's not what I want though.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Folknacious
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:52 AM

Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?

Good grief no. Heaven forbid. Lizzie would never agree. Just imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth . . . And it would mean traditional music becoming deeply unfashionable again, by association. No, best keep folk clubs for people to sing Hallelujah in and let folk songs enjoy their new lease of life outside them.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: artbrooks
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM

Could a mod please post links to all of the previous "what is folk music" threads?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM

Lordy, lordy - I thought this topic had been debated to death in innumerable threads on Mudcat. There won't be any consensus, because there never is. Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:14 AM

Well in my pub session 31 Jan we had the following trad songs at least and I am thinking a number of others too that the beer has occluded

Patrick Spens
Gentlemen of High Renown
Over the Hills and Far Away
The Mermaid (and some others from the same singer that I disremember the names of)
Alison Grimes
Fine Flowers in the Valley
several shanties
a batch of American traditional
As Sylvie went walking
Cold Windy Haily Night
The Grey Cock (Burns' arrangement with later chorus)
At least one Irish rebel song done mainly to wind me up
Ramble Away

So I think that a fair bit of folk song is still getting sung.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Hesk
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:23 AM

I have very strong views about folk songs, but I keep them to myself. I know that I have a great time when they are being sung, especially when the chorus singing "raises the rafters". Most of the time, however, I listen to people "having a go at singing" and leave it at that. If you become too judgemental, you stop enjoying yourself, and, worse still, make others uncomfortable and self conscious. I actually have more of a problem with musicians, rather than singers, but I still keep it to myself!


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:50 AM

What's surprised me over the years is that many clubs have become dominated by singers of contemporary "folk" songs and old pop/rock songs. Back in 1970, I would have said that the future of folk clubs would depend on singers of traditional songs to keep the whole thing going. The problem with situation the other night is that it will drive many trad fans away and thereby ensuring that the balance between the old and new dips evermore towards an almost total trad wipeout.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:56 AM

Hi Jim

Are you trying to suggest that only traditional folk music should be played in folk clubs ???

IMHO there as many great contempory folk songs as traditional ones...the problem is that many "traddies" don't recognise these as folk music.

If you want to listen to trad only you you should form a traditional music only venue and advertise it as such.

Folk music is here to stay.....but not necessarily as you know it.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:56 AM

Tunesmith, you are Soooooo right!


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Amos
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 10:57 AM

The same thing is happening with wine, vegetables and cattle. Force-fed versions for mass production just don't taste the same. It lacks a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, wot?


A


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:01 AM

The Folk Clubs were founded originally to preserve traditional music. If all they're interested in is bums on seats, no matter what material is being performed, then can they really call themselves Folk Clubs?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:03 AM

It's when we move into American Hotel California Pie territory that I lose the will to live... I think I might do some unnaccompanied MC5 or Stooges or Velvets next time I hear gloopy 70s singer songwriter stuff. If one is okay, I can think of no reason the other shouldn't be...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:05 AM

"Are you trying to suggest that only traditional folk music should be played in folk clubs ???

IMHO there as many great contempory folk songs as traditional ones...the problem is that many "traddies" don't recognise these as folk music.

If you want to listen to trad only you you should form a traditional music only venue and advertise it as such.

Folk music is here to stay.....but not necessarily as you know it."

The last two clubs we formwed were 'Trad' clubs, both have been taken over - I have nothing against contemporary folk songs, just keep them out of trad clubs, why can't they have the initiative to start their own clubs rather than hi-jack our?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:09 AM

hi tunesmith

<" The problem with situation the other night is that it will drive many trad fans away and thereby ensuring that the balance between the old and new dips evermore towards an almost total trad wipeout">

I hope you are wrong. There should be room for all kinds of folk music as long as it is GOOD.

I find that people will listen to most styles of music as long as it is good.

I have been here at mudcat long enough to know about the rift that appears to be present between some members over this.

I can't understand why traditional and contemporary folk music can't exist side by side.

Before coming back to my roots in folk music I played around with other types and styles of music and I never found this kind of rift between musical styles.

I played a lot of jazz and although traditional jazz has it's enthusiasts and so does modern contemporary jazz, I never found anyone that wouldn't watch or listen to the others' style.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:14 AM

The point is not that different forms of music can't exist side by side. It's rather that contemporary music has other outlets but traditional music is being squeezed out of it's only outlet.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:20 AM

... which is another way of saying that although my musical tastes are wonderfully broad and eclectic (but don't necessarily extend far beyond Roy Harper, Nick Drake, Bill Fay and a select handful of others when it comes to 70s singer-songwriters*), I would hope that when I went to a folk club there was a decent proportion of folk music - either traditional songs or newer songs in the folk idiom. My local singaround very clearly defines itself as "mainly but not exclusively traditional" (which neatly segues with what I want to hear at a folk night), but even so, there are nights when it seems the word mainly is taken with a very big pinch of salt...

Still, bottom line is, if I don't like it, no-one forces me to go. I can listen to plenty of traditional music done well at non-folk venues. If people want to get together to sing 60s and 70s pop songs, far be it from me to spoil their fun ... as long as they put a warning in their publicity! Cos isn't what a lot of this is about? Accurate advertising?

* And much as I love the music of these particular individuals, I wouldn't necessarily expect to hear it at a folk night...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:23 AM

Oh, not all this "so long as it's GOOD" bum again PLEASE.

"Swan Lake" is good, but it isn't a folk-dance; Bach's Brandenburg Concerti are good, but they are not folk-tunes; "La Donn' e Mobile is good but is isn't a folksong; "War & Peace" is good, but it isn't a folktale; Beethoven's Violin Concerto is good, but it is not scored for folk fiddle.

Please stop being so silly!


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,MikeL2
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:25 AM

Hi Dave

Is this because traddies are being too picky all the time??

After all it appears to me that it is these people who don't seem to be able to get along with other than their own "brand" of music.

I live in the NW of England and although I don't go to as many folk sessions as I used to, I still pop in and out of them when I can.

Around here we don't seem to have the split between traditional folk and other "folk" . Most of the sessions I go to have all kinds of styles happily existing together.

Speaking only for the UK could this be a North South split ???

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:27 AM

It's been pointed out before, but I suppose I should say it yet again that folk clubs are not the only outlet for traditional music. I go to 4 sessions a month in my area - quite apart from any clubs I go to - in which a high proportion of the music is traditional (tunes & songs). I know of local clubs where there's a high proportion of traditional music. I know other, local clubs where you actually rarely hear a traditional tune from one week to the next - but it can't be helped and, if you want to change that state of affairs, then start your own club and set out your ground rules! The music is not dying - it moves and shifts from period to period and place to place.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,MikeL2
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:30 AM

Hi Mike

I never said that good music is all folk music or that all folk music is good.

So what IS your point ??

I think it you who is being silly here my friend.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:31 AM

Hi Mike L2,

Just out of interest, which clubs do you go to? With the exception of the Beech singaround, I always seem to end up at nights where there is hardly any trad folk. I don't mind listening to a few people doing covers of pop/rock songs (if they're any good) and their own stuff, as long as that's not all there is...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: evansakes
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:47 AM

"I can't understand why traditional and contemporary folk music can't exist side by side"

There are many places where they do coexist side by side....and they do so peaceably and to everyone's satisfaction too. I'm pleased to say I don't think I know anyone who likes or dislikes any song based entirely on the fact that the derivation is known or not known.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM

"Is this because traddies are being too picky all the time?"
No it isn't - it is because, while I have very wide tastes in music, I prefer to be able to choose what I listen to and when - nothing whatever to do with likes and dislikes.
By calling badly (or well) performed pop songs, music hall, light or heavy opera, swing...... 'folk', you are operating a con and removing my right to choose.

A man walked into a shop and asked for a tin of tomato soup. The assistant handed a tin to him, and when he looked at the label he saw it was mushroom.
"I asked for tomato".
"I don't stock tomato; what's the difference; it's all soup?"

Stupid joke; stupid situation; but it happened to me and thousands like me over and over again in the 80s until we got fed up with being conned and stopped going to clubs. The revival lost upwards of half of its national audiences, its radio and television air space, its magazines, its integrity and its identity. The club scene has been staggering from crisis to crisis ever since.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 12:19 PM

How do clubs get "taken over"? If it's a club with paying membership, it should have a constitution, aims etc. So it doesn't it automatically have a policy? If you want an exclusively trad club, why not put it in the constitution?

Where there are no set rules, as would seem to be the case where clubs and sessions are being hijacked, why don't the traddies fight back with inspiring performances. It might move someone who performs mainly contemporary material to investigate traditional material more seriously - this has been the case with me.

Personally, I like variety. I would normally be more inclined to attend a club or session with a bit more variety, which perhaps should be called an "acoustic" rather than "folk" club/session. I would be disappointed though if somebody was put off performing traditional material because it wasn't considered a traditional session.

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 12:36 PM

"How do clubs get "taken over"?"

I'd suggest its less to do with the genre and quality of music & performance
and more to do with the ego and social status of any elite cliques
who eventually dominate the agenda of local clubs;
thriving more on petty personality power politics
above and beyond any genuine interest in 'folk' music.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 12:53 PM

Spleen: I can listen to plenty of traditional music done well at non-folk venues.

Can you? Where?

Spleen 2:With the exception of the Beech singaround, I always seem to end up at nights where there is hardly any trad folk.

M3 T00, which is why I don't generally bother going anywhere but the Beech these days. (I'm considering giving Chorlton another go this Thursday.) But if there's plenty of traditional music going on at non-folk venues, lead me to 'em.

MikeL2: I can't understand why traditional and contemporary folk music can't exist side by side.

Up to a couple of years ago, I would have said exactly the same thing - I liked having the chance to hear whatever people felt like playing & sing whatever I felt like singing. Then I started going to the Beech & realised that, back at my usual venue (which I think you also know!), trad and contemporary weren't existing side by side - trad was existing in a small corner, with contemporary songs making up 75-95% of the average evening. This was rapidly followed by the realisation that an evening of (mostly) traditional song (mostly) done well was a damn good evening.

The reason I prefer to hear traditional folk songs in folk clubs is that, like Jim, "I prefer to be able to choose what I listen to and when" - and I'm concerned, like Dave, that "contemporary music has other outlets but traditional music is being squeezed out of its only outlet".


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 12:53 PM

Policies???

Take overs???

Steamin' Willie plays what is in his head at the time. Everything from 200 year old dirges to Oasis songs. (If you are really unlucky, some of my own songs too.)

They are all folk songs. Why?

Because they are being sung in a folk club. QED.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM

A thumbnail psychoanalysis by somebody who calls themself punkfolkrocker is unhelpful and more than a little arrogant.
I know what folk is from the point of view of a performer, a club organiser, audience, researcher, collector, writer, reader, archivist.... all stretched over coming up to half a century.
Back at the beginning "we knew what folk was when we heard it" - since then we have had thirty years in the field talking to source singers who obligingly filled in many of the gaps in our knowledge.
We really don't need to be told by people who have used the term 'folk' as a cultural dustbin to dump any old rubbish they can't be arsed to find a definition for themselves, that what we do and have done is "petty personality power politics above and beyond any genuine interest in 'folk' music."
"Because they are being sung in a folk club"
Quite right - just as songs you sing in the bath are bath songs - just as you thought it couldn't get any crasser!!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:11 PM

"Folk songs are the songs which folk sing"

"They are all folk songs. Why? . . . Because they are being sung in a folk club. QED."

Here come the horses!


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:11 PM

Oh Jim.

Brilliantly put.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: artbrooks
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:18 PM

And we go directly back to where we have been so many times before: Person X says that "I define [or, if he is feeling generous, the circle of people who agree with me defines] folk with the following age, anonymity and sound boundaries. If it doesn't fit within them, it is not folk". Person Y responds, "but you are leaving out a very broad scope of music that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy and which they accept as folk music". Person X rejoins with "they may enjoy it, and I may even grant that some of it is enjoyable to listen to, but it is not folk as defined by the Whitsun Convention of 1892, which governs what folk music is and is not, forever and ever, life everlasting". Person Y: "yeah, but...". Person X: "no, nay, never...". And around and around it goes.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:19 PM

So it does, Art, so it does...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:24 PM

Maybe, but 'I'm the Urban Spaceman Baby' is not folk, neither is 'Hungry Heart' or 'Morning town ride', but we have plenty of this sort of stuff foisted upon us at some clubs.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM

I thought Jim Carroll would wade in at some point.

There is a sense of deja vu about this thread.

So... is it folk because it is so old nobody knows who wrote it?
is it folk because Ewan McColl either wrote or claimed to have collected it?
is it folk because it has "folky" instruments playing it?

Or is it folk because it is being played in a folk club?

Sorry Jim and others, but only the last one has no exceptions.

I have a recording of Frank Sinatra singing "First time ever I saw your face," and I also have the Stereophonics singing it. I also have heard it umpteen times in a folk club.

So.. at what point did it become a folk song? (McColl wrote it.) At one point is it a crooning song (Sinatra) and rock (Stereophonics.)

I genuinely do not know what a folk song is. I also would suggest my lack of knowledge is rather widely shared....


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:28 PM

And very little of the debate on this forum will change it one way or the other, wouldn't you say?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:29 PM

Sorry SW - my last comment was as a comment to Silas.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 01:40 PM

"people who have used the term 'folk' as a cultural dustbin to dump any old rubbish"

JC the word "Folk" is a lost cause, it seems to mean whatever the user wants it to mean and so has become meaningless. I don't believe it's worth fighting for.

I stick to using "Traditional Songs" because pretty much everyone can still agree on what that means.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 02:22 PM

This is probably totally unrelated, and I know I'll get reamed with a mighty reaming of ten thousand reams, but this seems as good a place as any to ask this question:

What is "old timey" music and what is its relation to traditional folk?

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 02:34 PM

Will,you are almost probably right, but those of who know what 'folk' music is, and there are plenty of us out here, try to promote it and start clubs and sessions, but it is pretty sad when they are swamped by acoustic players who just want to sing Damien Rice or Springsteen songs. It tends to get on ones tits to be honest. However, if each of us true believers can convert just one person each on forums like this, then all the crap we have to wade through on topics like this would be worth it.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 03:02 PM

I suspect it's a more patchy phenomenon than a simple north-south split.

When I go into Edinburgh, there's a fair selection of traditional sessions. (The two folk clubs are concert-format, both mostly promoting elaborately-arranged-traditional stuff).

Nearer home in Midlothian, it's quite different. Nearly everybody with an instrument that I come across plays the sort of MOR-folk-pop that bored me senseless 30 years ago (including people who weren't even born when it was written), and if I play a traditional tune I can pretty much guarantee that it will be accompanied by a roomful of guitarists staring at the floor in dumb silence because they don't have a clue what to do and aren't even willing to try. (I am told there is one Midlothian session where there are more traditional players, but it's inaccessible to me by public transport).

The reason for this local cult of 1970s-teenager's-bedroom-music locally is mainly that that's what local guitar teachers teach. There are people in Edinburgh who can show guitarists what to do when someone starts a Scottish traditional tune or song, but ten miles away there's nobody.

The Denver/Dylan crowd are nice enough people but I'm not so desperate for a social life as to sit through an evening of that stuff. If I wanted something locally that wasn't traditional music for its social scene, I'd take up the trombone or tenor horn and join a brass band.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 03:02 PM

"So... is it folk because it is so old nobody knows who wrote it?"
No, it's folk because the folk (the same people who used folklore and told folk tales as part of their everyday lives) in the first place, made the songs to reflect their lives, beliefs and values, then passed them on where they were remade again and again until their origins were forgotten and they bacame part of a culture of ordinary people.
The term folk was devised in the 1830s to define a specific body of lore, tales, music; and to distinguish from the written and composed culture passed on to us by 'our betters'.
It is this that was and continues to be documented and archived and it is this which will survive once all the clubs disappear up their own jaxies.
I've seen people come into folk clubs, set up music stands and sing and play everything from Gounod to Gershwin - was that folk?
"I have a recording of Frank Sinatra singing "First time ever I saw your face," And your point is....? First time ever isn't a folk song (not according to its composer anyway).
Incidentally - would love to get the details of 'First Time Ever' by Sinatra - didn't know he'd recorded it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 03:05 PM

Blimey mousethief, that's another can of worms! The best I can do is refer you to this

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM

Hi Jim

< " By calling badly (or well) performed pop songs, music hall, light or heavy opera, swing...... 'folk', you are operating a con and removing my right to choose." >

I don't recall that I said that I would consider calling those styles folk.

I was only referring to contemporary folk music - I know that this can sometimes be almost anything that some people want it to be.

I completely agree with your wish to be able to choose what you want to watch and listen to. I have the same desire.

I can and do listen to much traditional music. But I aslo like to watch listen to and play contemporary "folk" music.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 03:45 PM

Hi Sleen

As I said earlier I don't get around the clubs all that much these days.

Some years ago I was hit with cancer of the throat and was out of action for some time as you would imagine.

I am pleased to say that I have almost completely recovered but I don't perform any more......except at home and at paties with family and friends.

I do go to a few sessions when I " feel the need". I go to Northwich folk club occasionally. They seem to get a reasonable mix of traditional and contempory folk music. This Friday they have Will Kaufmann as guest. The other nights are singers nights. Next month they have Peter & Barbara Snape and so on.

I also drop in sometimes at Sandbach folk club. This is more contempory. But they warn everyone what they are about...
http://www.sandbachfolk.com/chronarticle.html......sorry couldn't get the clicky blue thingy to work.

There are often other "folk" session on an ad hoc basis at various mid-Cheshire pubs and I like to go and have a pint and just sit and listen.

Yes things have changed but I am flexible enough about my music to be able to enjoy myself as long as the music is honest and good.

Regards

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 03:47 PM

Pip - I guess what I meant was stuff like Jackie Oates at the Bury Met, The Unthanks at the Band on the Wall - that kind of thing.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:05 PM

Hi Mike,
I don't think I was referring specifically to anything you said.
In the end it isn't was we like or dislike, a specific definition only disappears when it is replaced by another - define "contemporary folk".
People argue about not putting labels on things but everything we know has a label. We use them so we know which tin to open.
"I genuinely do not know what a folk song is."
Then go and buy a book, or look it up in a dictionary - we must have several hundred on our shelves which use the term without ambiguity, many with the word 'folk' in the title..
This really isn't a question of semantics.
We started to visit Ireland regularly in the early 70s when you had to fight your way up country lanes to tucked away cottages to hear good traditional musis (with a few tiny exceptions). You never heard it on the radio and if you went into a pub with a fiddle or flute, you were looked on with deep suspicion (if you weren't thrown out on your arse, that is).
Nowadays folk music has come into its own, I can turn the radio on television on most nights of the week (I now live in Ireland) and hear and watch excellent programmes on the subject ranging from brilliant sessions to academic discussions. Traditional musicians who have long since died are remembered by singing and music weekends which start at the beginning of January and finish in mid-December each year.
Up to the present recession if you asked for money for a research project or to produce an album - you were pushing at an open door - I know because we were beneficiaries of a large grant last year.
We have two world class Traditional national music archives in the country and are in the process of establishing local ones.
Last year this one street village purchased a house to establish a county archive and visitors centre and by the end of the year we will have a large amount of material on line - we already have thousands of hours of recordings in the process of being catalogued.
Within a five mile radius of this town there must be upward of 150 children and young adults playing traditional music ranging from good to national standard.
Why; because the people concerned didn't run round like headless chickens saying 'we don't know what to call our music'.
G'luck - must go, Hustle's on the box.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: evansakes
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:08 PM

"However, if each of us true believers can convert just one person each on forums like this, then all the crap we have to wade through on topics like this would be worth it"

I've come across a fair few 'folkier than thou' manifestos over the years but that one takes the biscuit.

Congratulations, Silas!

ps This sprung to mind for some reason :-)


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:14 PM

"I've come across a fair few 'folkier than thou' manifestos over the years but that one takes the biscuit."

Well, you need to get out a bit more matey.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:32 PM

The link MikeL2 couldn't make:

http://www.sandbachfolk.com/chronarticle.html

Urgh. What a bunch of know-nothing dipshits. Are they still that bad 13 years later?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:37 PM

Well, Jim, I know we disagree on some things but here you have neatly pointed out the difference between those who have bothered to find out what "folk" means and the wilfully ignorant cultural colonialists.

It isn't, however, worth bothering to try to inform them. They don't want to know. They actively seek to promote ignorance.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:39 PM

OMG!

I suppose hell is different for different people, but I think I have just seen a tiny glimpse - shocking, truly shocking...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: glueman
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:40 PM

My pecking order goes:
Traditional folk song
Other traditions; music hall, military songs, etc.
Non-folk material performed with integrity; blues, skiffle, rock
Self-penned acoustic songs
Songwriter soundalikes; Denver, Dylan, etc


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Silas
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:40 PM

Err.my post was in response to Jack's


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:41 PM

Incidentally, "traditional" is not a synonym for "folk". All anonymous traditional music is folk, but not all folk music is either traditional or (in my contentious opinion) anonymous in that music (including song for this purpose) may enter the currency of a community, and be transmitted through and modified by that community without (in these days of modern media) passing through the oral tradition or the identity of the original writer being lost.


Oh shit, before the horses get here I spot the psychobabble brigade coming out from behind their open university degrees.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 04:53 PM

I'd agree with Richard, more or less.

This thread should not be discussing whether any particular genre is better than any other, but rather, why do we have folk clubs, and what should they doing.

As someone who usually describes himself as a blues singer, and who has been described (a long time ago) as "Edinburgh's only traditional Dylan singer", I went out of my way to learn Scottish traditional material, and to try to learn traditional styles of performance, with initially at least, some interesting results. However, when I'm in a folk club, I'll always include traditional material in my set.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 05:12 PM

glueman wrote:
"My pecking order goes:
Traditional folk song
Other traditions; music hall, military songs, etc.
Non-folk material performed with integrity; blues, skiffle, rock
Self-penned acoustic songs
Songwriter soundalikes; Denver, Dylan, etc"

Here is my top five! ( and this really applies to an English Folk Music Club)
1. Traditional English 2. Traditional Irish/Scottish/Welsh sung in English. 3. Traditional Appalachian of British Isles origin. 4. Contemporary songs dealing with English themes and written with traditional song forms in mind ( Jez Lowe, for example, fits this category). 5. As 4, but Irish/Welsh/Scottish themes.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Nick
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 05:30 PM

I posted this on another thread recently.

"Came back from our weekly music gathering (we are not a folk club and I definitely don't think of us as being primarily traditional but see below!)

High Barbary
A Hundred Years Ago
Unknown Country song
Fol-de-rol-de-riddle-i (not sure of real name)
Thousands or More
Tell Me Ma
Adieu sweet nancy
Country song
Close to the Wind
Set of three fiddle tunes
Love in America
Blues in D (for Kate Mcgarrigle)
Accordion Tune
Second Accordion Tune
Mountains of Mourne
Set of three fiddle tunes
Hole in My Bucket
Shepherd Song
My Love Has Gone
Put Out the Lights
Set of Three Fiddle Tunes
Cousin Jack
Country Song
Galway to Graceland
Sailors Life
Set of three fiddle tunes
Unknown drugs song
Northern Tide
At Seventeen
I Can Hew
Fathom the Bowl
Stormy Winds Do Blow(?)
Vincent
Bring Us a Barrel
Both Sides of the Tweed
Three Score and Ten
One Starry night
Too Long (?)
Sisters of Mercy
Lord franklyn
Big River

Hmmm.... more traditional than I thought."

Why don't people just get out and play what they want to rather than constantly bleating and moaning about how people are breaking things and spoiling things?

Perhaps I'm lucky that I have rather broader tastes than many and can have a pleasant evening playing and listening to the above but equally can enjoy the following that I am doing over the next four weeks - playing a mix of jazzy, blues and even pop tunes with my wife in a pub nr Selby, playing rock and soul to a couple of hundred vets at a black tie dinner and dance at a hotel, playing with my son, wife and a friend doing a mix of original songs and things we enjoy and an acoustic gig playing modern stuff from Duffy to Lady Gaga to anything else we fancy. And not for a moment be concerned about anything apart from enjoying ourselves and hoping the various audiences enjoy it as much as we do.

Music of all sorts will be there long after I'm gone.

Perhaps there will be another blues revival? Or jazz may make a comeback... (my son who was 18 yesterday was given a copy of Bitches Brew for his birthday by a 17 year old friend. Very hard for good music to die and it without doubt pops up where you least expect it to)


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 05:31 PM

Not sure about drawing that firm a line around 'English', Tunesmith - particularly since it would demote some works collected by F. J. Child to second place! Me, I'd go for...

1. Trad. English or Scottish
2. Trad. Irish
3. Trad. American
4. "Contemporary folk" that sounds like it's at least on nodding terms with traditional forms
5. Music hall songs, parlour ballads, general daft stuff

In terms of proportions, 60% of the first and 10% each of the rest would do me fine. Well, I can dream.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:27 PM

"I genuinely do not know what a folk song is. I also would suggest my lack of knowledge is rather widely shared...."

How true! How very, very true!

I suppose that reading any of the relevant books is out of the question? It's always seemed to me that wifull ignorance is considerably more common than genuine ignorance ...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:30 PM

Pip: "Contemporary folk" that sounds like it's at least on nodding terms with traditional forms"

Ah... there's the rub! If that was what everyone meant when they said "contemporary folk" - i.e. new music that was firmly rooted in tradition (to nick a phrase from fRoots) we wouldn't even be having this discussion. I just dunno where cover versions of songs by Cliff Richard, John Denver, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Robbie Williams and Kris Kristopherson (to name a few I've heard in folk clubs - though admittedly "Sunday Morning Coming Down" is a beautiful countrypolitan pop song) fit in.

Meanwhile, if I want to hear singer songwriter stuff, I'd rather go to a gig by a decent singer songwriter performing their own stuff than watch a bunch of blokes with acoustic guitars bashing out acoustic karaoke in a pub backroom. Nothing wrong with that in itself, of course, simply a different horse.

In fact I think I'm on to something. Anyone up for an acoustic karaoke night?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:34 PM

PS: Mousethief! Does this answer the question? Wonderful...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:36 PM

To quote a friend of mine "People who sing songs that bad usually write them themselves".


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: glueman
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:48 PM

I was going to break traditional down regionally but I assume English trad will be the priority of an English club, Scottish north of the border, Irish, Welsh, etc., so left No 1 as Traditional.

There's also the problem of exclusively Trad. Eng. being easier to prove lyrically than musically and as I don't believe there's such as thing as English music, only regional English sounds, it seemed too much faff.
If the pecking order took on Linnaean categorisation I'd top it with revenge ballads played on concertina and bass brass.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:54 PM

Is William McBride (Green Fields of France) folk? If not what is it?

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:57 PM

It's a modern song composed in a tradition that stretches back to the "Unfortunate Rake" and includes such diverse songs as "The Dying Stockman" and "Fiddler's Green".


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 06:57 PM

I'd call it contemporary folk - new music rooted in tradition.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 07:06 PM

It has not yet been sufficiently altered by transmission within the community.

Contrast "Slipjigs and Reels" or "Ride On" - the diversity of local variants of which is amazing.

"McBride" is therefore contemporary acoustic (or "folk-style") whereas the latter two are contemporary folk.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 07:51 PM

Another bullshit thread for another bullshit question.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 07:58 PM

"Another bullshit thread for another bullshit question."
And another braindead troll emerges to throw stones (from the safety of anonymity course) and scurry back under his bridge.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:01 PM

I can't bear those twats who read Les Barker poems or other monologues and don't know or realise where to highlight / emphasise the funny bits -I have now made a point of going to the toilet (or bar) to avoid such numbskulls .


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:38 PM

Jim,

My name is Bruce M. Go screw yourself.

Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:40 PM

BTW, you spend so much time putting people down you have little time left for niceness. Have a good look at yourself, Jim. You have become a very unpleasant individual.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 08:43 PM

As another btw, Jim, I am no more anonymous than any other GUEST that posts to Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: mousethief
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:24 PM

BTW, you spend so much time putting people down you have little time left for niceness.

This from a guy who called this a bullshit thread based on a bullshit question. Does the cognitive dissonance eat holes in your brain?

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 08 Feb 10 - 11:55 PM

You suggesting it was done for a serious purpose? Check your own processes, MT.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: mousethief
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 12:30 AM

If your joke fails, blame the audience.

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 05:32 AM

The weakly get together me & chums do includes 'trad folk songs/ tunes' [whatever they are?] but in the main everyone presents the stuff they like.

Ultimately, if anyone's in an FC, sesh or WHY, then its up to themselves to initiate their faves, then they're guaranteed satisfaction!


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 06:04 AM

Bruce M (what a short surname)
I get a little tired of, on the one hand, being accused of being a 'folk policeman' and on the other, constantly reading postings like yours from people who apparently think that we shouldn't be discussing things that don't interest them.
I do have a short fuse and am constantly apologising for same (apologies), and if that makes me nasty - so be it, but your 'bullshit' posting doesn't win too many prizes in the 'Dale-Carnegie-How-To-Win-Friends-and-Influence-People' race.
If you are not interested in a topic - feel free not to join in.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: glueman
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 06:07 AM

Most punters go to see attractive people or gnarly characters sing old songs in a compelling way. If it's 100% kosher 1954 attested herd direct line to Arthur's bosom song by a dull sod sung in a boring way it's crap-folk.
There's a genre to chew on.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Matt Seattle
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 06:13 AM

Jim Carroll is OK, one of the most thoughtful, knowledgeable and considerate frequent posters here.

I share that short fuse syndrome. Sometimes I write the fuming message, leave it for a bit, then delete it. Sometimes I mail it. Oops.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MikeL2
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 06:40 AM

Hi Jim

Many thanks for your interesting description of the state of folk music in Ireland.

It is good to hear that something positive is being done to preserve the wealth of music for others to enjoy and to follow in years to come.

As I have said here before I am interested in all kinds of folk music and I am just as happy to watch and listen to traditional music as to contemporary.

Like you I can relate to folk clubs as an organiser, resident, guest performer and audience participator.

In those roles I tried to introduce a good balance into what we did.

Though I don't think that my particular style really lends itself to traditional music I have on many occasions performed them ( having learned them first ).   

I have visited Ireland on a few occasions and have always been pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of ( mainly ) traditional music and it's honesty and spontanaity. Long may it be so.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 08:53 AM

Well, I still haven't read two replies that agree on "folk" songs. I suppose that makes me a troll or whatever they call somebody who doesn't agree with somebody else...

I don't hide, by the way. Steamin' Willie caught on before the interweb and I have been using it in a spoof fashion for years whilst er... singing... "Folk" songs. I do have another name, but not sure it is relevant or indeed known by anybody, hence Steamin' Willie to those who fill my glass.

McColl certainly did say that "First Time.." is not a folk song, which is rather strange as it is a love song and there are many love songs that are classed by just about everybody as "folk." But there again, dare I say, he used to say that you can only sing songs that are indigenous to you, then hide his Salford accent with a phoney Scottish one. (Not to mention hide his name under it.)

I was interested by Jim Carroll's definition of songs that are so old nobody can remember their original meaning. About two years after the Boomtown Rats released "I don't like Mondays" most people had forgotten about the American school shooting Bob Geldof had written about. Does that make it a folk song? (Around that time, Dave Burland started singing it and telling everybody it is a folk song, so that settles that then!)

Sinatra? I will try and dig it out. It is on a "crooning" compilation album I used to play the odd track from when I was a part time radio presenter many years ago. BBC Radio Sheffield may still have a copy or at least a reference to it.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 09:02 AM

I'd consider it an honour to be insulted by a man of Jim Carroll's calibre and reputation.
Though, as in this instance, he may sometimes display traits
of paranoid bilious pomposity and be too quick to react over-defensively
to perceived slights in what he imagines other posters might mean by their writing.

Jim, we are actually on the same side and mostly in agreement
on this issue.

My personal taste in trad folk music stems from my life long enjoyment
of early music / medieval forms of rhythm, drone, and rasping abrasive
instrumental timbres that informed classic recordings by late 60's early 70's folk rock artists..

I however, as a punkfolkrocker would substitute a fuzz box or minimoog
for the likes of the hurdy gurdy or psaltery
in any personal attempt to pay honest respect to my cherished influences.

My hastily scribbled generalization
[based on a quarter of a century of my own experience
of the petty favouritisms and spites of vainglorious local community
music scene 'entrepreneurs']
was actually aimed at the kind of local pub club that wastes my time and money advertising 'Folk Night'
and then presenting a dismal evening of nothing but insipid rich twats with guitars
that cost nearly the same amount as a good 2nd hand family car
relentlessly crucifing the easier to play chord 'favourites;
from the Beatles songbook.

We all can always strive to better express ourselves with clarity
and precision, but buggered if I can be arsed to try to pre-empt
every possible way my chosen 'mudcat nom de persona' can be misconstrued
by any over-sensitive folk constantly on the look out to pick a row with anyone about anything as often as they feel like it....


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM

Can I just make clear my position on the clubs and folk music.
I came on to the scene in the early sixties when virtually everything being presented as folk was just that – folk. We had some access to the BBC material collected ten years earlier through the Caedmon/Topic 'Folk Songs of Britain' series, and, thanks to some prodding by Alan Lomax we were examining our own British and Irish repertoires. It wasn't all great by any means, but the enthusiasm 'buzzed' and I can't recall people who got up to sing who were incapable of holding two notes together or reading from scripts – we all thought that the stuff we were doing was worth making an effort for.
Some clubs were 'purist' and frowned on non-folk songs and musical instruments, others like the Lloyd/MacColl camp, used accompaniment and saw the tradition as an inspiration for creating new songs. I was a part of this latter crowd; I even regarded Dylan as worth a listen before he 'popped out' of the scene and went for the big bucks. I admired songwriters like MacColl, Seeger, McGinn, Tawney, Pickford and the many others who were creating in the folk idiom – it was really what we were about. With the Radio Ballads I really thought we'd made it – the perfect marriage of the tradition and newly written songs.
In the mid seventies things started to change and by the eighties it became virtually impossible to be guaranteed a night of folk or folk related songs, the clubs had become a platform for navel-gazing introspective mumbling their way through stuff that was neither fish nor fowl; so thousands of walked away and what I described further up the thread happened – clubs, audiences, magazines, radio and TV programmes – all gone quicker than you could say Led Zepplin! And along with them, any chance of being taken seriously by the establishment in order to set up the necessary archives and libraries desperately needed to preserve what we had collected from the tradition. The big bang in the club scene was marked by a series of articles and letters in the then leading folk magazine, Folk Review entitled 'Crap Begets Crap'.
The scene hadn't yet become the refuge for failed, fifteenth-rate pop performers and would be Sinatra wannabes, that it has since become, but that didn't take too long to happen.   
With this latter we lost something else; the chance to attract new blood to our music; no self respecting youngster is going to bother their arse listening to crappily performed pop songs by crumblies like us when they have easy access to the real thing – would any of you?
I've got no objection to people playing and singing what rings their particular bell – the more the merrier – but please don't call it folk, or even folk-inspired unless you are ready to define your terms.
Steamin' Willie;
"Well, I still haven't read two replies that agree on "folk" songs."
As I said, buy a book if you have real problems.
Folk is probably the most well-researched and documented of all musics; the fact that today's tiny handful of folkies can't (or don't want to) define the term indicates a nasty case of dyslexia rather than a problem of definition.
Speak for yourself - or point out one song which is "...so old nobody can remember their original meaning." I would guess I'll have to wait as long as I have waited for an answer to my original question, which was, in the hope of getting an answer, if a Gounod piece from Faust is performed at a folk club, is it folk?
Where are these 'totally everbody' people who claim that love songs are defined as 'folk' - that's a totally new one on me?
Phony accent - MacColl came from a Scots backgound - I knew his mother when she was in her 70s and sometimes had problems understanding her Perthshire accent. He grew up surrounded by Scots people and chose the accent in order to sing songs of his heritage - whether he did the accent well enough is a matter of opinion, but it's certainly preferable to the strange Mid-Atlantic hybrid I heard at many clubs.
Tiresome chestnut about MacColl's name change - can I assume you feel the same about Robert Zimmerman?
Thank you for those kind words Matt Seattle - the cheque's in the post.
There - that must put me in the running for the wordiest Catter!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 09:33 AM

rich twats with guitars that cost nearly the same amount as a good 2nd hand family car relentlessly crucifing the easier to play chord 'favourites' from the Beatles songbook

I have a great deal of sympathy for your aversion to people crucifying the favourites from the Beatles songbook and similar, but let's not get hijacked by inverted class snobbery. There may well be rich twats with expensive guitars who are extremely good performers and choose their material with care. I, for example have several expensive guitars. Rich I am not. Twat - well, that's up to those that know me.

It's obviously just as possible for the cream of the Beatles songbook to be performed by poor twats with crap guitars.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 10:08 AM

Some clubs were 'purist' and frowned on non-folk songs and musical instruments, others like the Lloyd/MacColl camp, used accompaniment and saw the tradition as an inspiration for creating new songs. I was a part of this latter crowd; I even regarded Dylan as worth a listen before he 'popped out' of the scene and went for the big bucks. I admired songwriters like MacColl, Seeger, McGinn, Tawney, Pickford and the many others who were creating in the folk idiom – it was really what we were about. With the Radio Ballads I really thought we'd made it – the perfect marriage of the tradition and newly written songs.

Jim, can I just dig a little deeper and draw you out further on this point of "creating in the folk idiom"? I'm interested in this because, whereas there appears to be a fairly clear chalk line drawn around the songs passed down through what we've called the oral tradition and the "folk process", the grey area which fuels part of these Mudcat debates is precisely this folk idiom.

I wouldn't claim to be a great definer of the folk idiom, but my sense of it is that the composers of the newly written songs were writing in their own voice, about the world around them, about their community, using the ballad and verse and song techniques of their predecessors. Can we perhaps take two or three examples of such songs and do a spot of comparison? Purely in the spirit of debate.

My first example is a song written by West Country singer Roger Bryant - "Cornish Lads" - which, in succinct language, describes the pain of the decline in the Cornish fishing industry and the tin mining industry. Great tune, great words, great point - sung by a local man about the world he inhabits. (This, as it happens, was sung unaccompanied beautifully in Lewes last Saturday by local singer Mike Nicholson). Using your definition of the folk idiom as a marriage of tradition and new composition, I would class this as a worthy example.

My second example is a song by Scottish singer Bert Jansch - "Needle of Death" - which, also in succinct and imaginative language, describes the death of a friend of his through heroin. Great tune, great words, great point - also sung by someone about the world he inhabits. Different theme, of course, but personal and direct. Now, whether you consider this to be in the same folk idiom or not, I don't know. It's a much older song than Roger Bryant's, of course, and from a different milieu. It's certainly very different in feeling and style.

The point I'm somewhat laboriously trying to get to is where, in the spectrum from McColl, Tawney et al to Jansch to Bryant - and beyond - is the next chalk line drawn? What, then becomes acceptable and in the folk idiom, and what is unacceptable and beyond the idiom - or the pale? We can pronounce - and agree - for example, on the boredom of hearing a not very good couple singing an Abba song from words and chords on a music stand in a folk club (I would certainly be bored). But at what point on the long line which connects, however tenuously, the songs that "fit" the folk idiom and those that don't would you say "stop"?

It's a bit like the old joke about the millionaire who says to a woman, "If I gave you a million pounds, would you sleep with me?" She thinks a bit and then replies, "Yes." He says, "If I gave you a hundred thousand pounds, would you sleep with me?" She thinks a bit longer and then says, "OK". He says, "Would you sleep with me if I gave you a fiver?" Outraged, she says, "Certainly not - what do you think I am?" He replies, "We've established what you are - we're just haggling about the price."

I should just add that I remember the scene around the time of Cyril Tawney and Seeger and McColl - too young to be part of it - but certainly conscious of things like the Radio Ballads.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 10:46 AM

Didn't Hamish Henderson say something along the lines that he knew he'd written a folk song when he collected it in the field and his informant swore blind that they'd got it from their grannie? (I'm paraphrasing heavily)


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 10:50 AM

In my entry on FOLKLORE in The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature [NY 2003], I wrote "Many singers steeped in tradtional song , such as Ewan MacColl, Cyril Tawney, Peter Bellamy, Bob Pegg, Peter Coe, succeeded in creating new songs in the traditional idiom that the revival had brought to a wider audience" [italics added]. The essential point is that these original songs were made by those within the folksong movement, who went on simultaneously performing within it as well as introducing some songs of their own. The same applied to others mentioned above {McGinn, Jansch, Bryant, Pickford, Seeger...}. Their songs were not pop-infiltrators, but made by those who understood what a folksong typically was and what it typically did, and, I reiterate, went on singing them alongside their original contributions. That surely is where the line requested above by Will Fly et al will be drawn.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:03 AM

IMHO it is generally impossible to define a "style" with precision, but it is possible to be clear on the derivation and modification of a song and its adoption in a community. Those are the facets of the 1954 definition and IMHO they are right.

I don't do much American stuff, but if I do do "Worried Man Blues" I often put in a verse of Amazing Grace (in the style of the Shepherds' Bush Comets) - if you see my point.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:05 AM

That's an interesting point, MtheGM, because I suspect that - for many whose prime interest is in traditional music - writers like Jansch might be considered the thin end of the singer-songwriter, "contemporary" folk wedge which led on to stuff further and further off-track. I should add that I'm not requesting anyone to draw a line, necessarily. I was interested in exploring Jim's very clear description of what he believes the folk idiom to be - and how far he (and others) consider that particular elastic band can be stretched.

I'll give you an example of the band being stretched. If you hear a new song in a folk club of the same quality as, say "Cornish Lads", how do you know that the writer was steeped in traditional song? He or she might just be a very sophisticated and clever writer. Unlikely, perhaps but...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:12 AM

Will - interesting one. I wouldn't have any trouble saying that Freeborn Man or the Scarecrow or Boots of Spanish Leather is "in the folk idiom". What that actually means & how it could be measured I'm not sure. I think probably the most important characteristic is a kind of declamatory, public style, as if the singer is telling a story or acting out a scene rather than talking to his loved one. There's a kind of singleness of focus, as if the song is there to get a job done & then stop. And, I think, there should be quite a limited vocabulary and a heavy reliance on conventional phrases - which doesn't at all limit what you can get done in the song.

So my definition would exclude Needle of Death; it would exclude a lot of MacColl's work, come to that (and Dylan's, and Lal Waterson's). I mean, I wouldn't say that Sweet Thames Flow Softly, Red Wine and Promises or Mr Tambourine Man is in the folk idiom - they're great songs and I love them dearly, but they're different.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: IanC
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:20 AM

Seems simpler to me than all that. The question will be whether those songs are sung by anybody in 50 years time and why.

All sorts of stuff was sung in the 60s and 70s purporting to be "folk songs" but we're now 50 years or so down the line and it's looking as though "Blowing in the Wind" is still being widely sung by people and so are some Beatles and Kinks numbers. In my session, we sing "Kites" by the Simon Dupree and The Big Sound. Certainly didn't seem like a traditional song at the time but it may well become one, at least in parts of Hertfordshire. The test is one of whether people continue to sing things over a longish period.

In the heyday of the traditional "singing pubs" of Suffolk people were singing material from as recently as 10 years ago.

As I've said earlier, I don't go to folk clubs much. Seems to me they often have a biased idea of what is "folk" or "in the tradition" or "in a traditional idiom" whereas what people do themselves in their groupings in more traditional surroundings may well be very different.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:25 AM

What that actually means & how it could be measured I'm not sure.

Exactly, Pip. I think all of us could say about songs on the margin of the folk idiom, such-and-such sounds OK - and such-and-such doesn't sound OK. Where the line is drawn is probably individual taste.

I should add that, as a musician, I come at traditional and not-so-traditional music from a quite different perspective - which is tunes and not words. I'm primarily interested in playing melodies and I'm a sucker for a good melody. Many of those fall well within the tradition and others do not. I get as much pleasure, for example, from playing Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farwell" and Tom Anderson's "Da Slockit Light" as I do from playing "Donald Cameron's Polka" and "Beatrice Hill's Three Hand Polka". Words take on less importance for me - which doesn't mean that I don't care for the songs, just that it's the tunes that move me!

So, in many sessions I attend, I find there's less worry over the provenance of a tune and more interest in the musical character and performance of a tune. In the monthly session I run in my local pub, the emphasis - whatever the tune being played - is to encourage and stimulate improvisation around the tune. Which I think is also in a worthy tradition.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:26 AM

Whoops - Three-Hand REEL...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:31 AM

The "ideal" folk song, it seems to me, would be anonymous, widely known among some sizable ethnic group, expressive of admirable sentiments, beautifully phrased in a fully traditional manner, not too long or too short, sung to a beautiful old melody of unknown date or origin, incorporating bits of folklore or superstition, provably old (centuries preferably), and existing in numerous wonderful variants. What's more, few if any of its singers could have learned it from print or recordings.

I said "ideal." How well something qualifies as a "folk song" depends on the judge's impression of how close it comes to that implausible ideal. (Even "Barbara Allen" seems likely to have started as a stage song.)


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:40 AM

I don't think anyone would take much issue with that - but what you're describing falls well within the "first circle". I'm really exploring the outer circle - the "folk idiom". :-)


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:48 AM

Lighter - Don't think that the case re BARBARA ALLEN'S ORIGINS. Earliest known REF TO IT is, I realise, PEPYS HAVING RECORDED hearing actress Mrs Knipp singing it (2 January 1665), but he calls it "the Scotch song of Barbara Allen", which shows that he realised it didn't originate with her or the performance he was attending.

[Apologies for confusion with shift-lock above - didn't intend to SHOUT!]


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:58 AM

just for amusement and possible edification, could this possibly be a living breathing illustration
of folk process and evolution in action within one short generation ???

1. Kirsty MacColl & Billy Bragg 1991

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7aVZ3BHp3k


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:59 AM

2. The same song performed at an informal social 'folk' gathering in 2007
by it's original writer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtCo2nxh1XA


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 12:02 PM

3. the same song performed in 2008 by its origional writer
but as a reminder of the style it was first presented to a late 70's
music audience

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m34MATtD4Us&feature=related


give it another 30 years ????


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 01:09 PM

What Pepys writes of is "Mrs. Knipp...and *her* [my emphasis] little Scotch song of 'Barbary Allen.'" That may suggest a greater exclusivity to Knipps, and far less familiarity to Pepys, than "the."

Since Mrs. Knipp was a noted actress, it becomes more plausible that the song originated on the stage. OTOH, the diary has she and Pepys singing at "Lord Brouncker's," not in a performance as some writers seem to have assumed. Yet in a subsequent note to Pepys, the lady signed herself "Barbary Allen." This might suggest equally either a stage persona or mere coquettery.

I may have overstated the likelihood of a stage origin (not that it would make the song less "folk," just a little farther from the platonic ideal); but the case is annoyingly ambiguous.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 01:20 PM

For pedants like MtheGM and myself only:

The earliest printing of "BA" seems not to have occurred till ca1690, or about twenty-five after Pepys heard it.

No conclusion may be drawn, but that may be a long time to wait for either a truly well-known anonymous song or a popular stage song to get into print. Did Mrs. Knipps write it herself? If word-of-mouth currency began about 1665, and was at first restricted to a relatively limited social circle, it might well have taken the ballad a long time to come to the attention of the printer.

Just thinking aloud.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 01:38 PM

Having checked the diary entry, agree that song heard at a party at Lord Bruncker's. It seems that Mrs Knipp sang several songs [Pepys sang along with her, tho whether in all the songs she sang, incl this one, is not made clear], of which "her little Scotch song of Barbary Allen" was the one he enjoyed most. This suggests to me it was one she habitually sang, and this not first time he had heard her sing it [hence, surely, *her* song]; and that she had indicated it as a 'Scotch song'. The fact that she was also an actress does not appear to be that significant here, or necessarily indicate that she had learned the song as part of a play in which she was appearing or had appeared — she seemed to enjoy singing on social occasions quite independently of her profession; & indeed later in same entry Pepys sings in the coach on the way home while he feels up her breasts - so they were clearly on extremely friendly terms of which their singing together formed part. I agree however that the question is open ~ as so often in Pepys, not quite enough info to get the full picture between the lines.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 03:54 PM

I'd be interested to hear opinions on why traditional songs & tunes have been edged out of folk clubs?

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 04:49 PM

In my session, we sing "Kites" by the Simon Dupree and The Big Sound.

Cool. Of course SD&TBS went on to become Gentle Giant, masters of medieval-folk-proggery thus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK4cuXJa7QE.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 08:11 PM

Burton Coggles

I'd be interested to hear opinions on why traditional songs & tunes have been edged out of folk clubs?

Have they? Not in the folk clubs I go to.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Burton Coggles
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:01 AM

Snail: I'm just going on what seems to be a strongly held opinion by several people on this thread. I've only limited experience of folk clubs myself (2-3 years) so I have no personal experience of how they were in the past.

As I've stated above, my preference is for variety. Perhaps what I like shouldn't be called a folk club, I've no problem with that. But I have been introduced to trad songs/tunes through the clubs I've attended, and I probably wouldn't have attended them if they were "policy" traditional only clubs or sessions. FWIW Will Fly's session where the emphasis is on improvisation around the tune (trad or otherwise) sounds excellent - if a bit of singing is OK too!

Perhaps I'm better asking **if you are of the opinion** that trad. songs and tunes have been edged out, why do you think this is so?

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:24 AM

Pete, this won't answer your question, but it does seem relevant. A thread last fall invited 'Catters to name their favorite songs, the ones that make them "drop everything."

'Catters are thought to be the most trad-loving of all humans in the English-speaking world.

Check my comment here:

http://mudcat.org/detail.cfm?messages__Message_ID=2767699

detail.cfm?messages__Message_ID=2767699

There were no "thoughts," FWIW.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 11:24 AM

I'm firmly of the opinion that trad. songs have been edged out. I've seen a rough 50|25|25 split, in several different venues, between singer-songwriter (covers), singer-songwriter (own material) and everything else (parlour songs, novelty songs, recitations... and traditional songs). The "covers" 50% comes in several different varieties - in one club it'll be Gordon Bok and Tom Paxton, in another Keith Marsden and Jez Lowe, while in a more 'contemporary' club it'll be Suzanne Vega and Beck. I guess it could be argued that Jez Lowe (or Gordon Bok) *is* folk in a way that Suzanne Vega isn't, but if what you're looking for is traditional song there really isn't that big a difference.

As for why, I think it's a combination of novelty and accessibility; traditional song has got a reputation for being either incredibly familiar and already done to death ("Early One Morning"), or ferociously obscure and difficult ("In Sir Patrick Spens I clean forgot the forty-second verse..."). A Suzanne Vega song you haven't heard isn't going to sound exactly like the ones you have, but it's not going to sound that different; it'll go down easily.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 11:26 AM

Will: as a musician, I come at traditional and not-so-traditional music from a quite different perspective - which is tunes and not words

I just knew you were going to say that! But you started on the songs, so I thought I'd follow suit.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 11:44 AM

I have been introduced to trad songs/tunes through the clubs I've attended, and I probably wouldn't have attended them if they were "policy" traditional only clubs or sessions.

Are there any trad-only clubs or sessions? I don't think I've ever been to one.

There are quite a few no-trad-allowed clubs and sessions, as the Sandbach example shows (and as is the situation in practice with some of the sessions in Midlothian, and at virtually any event anywhere described as an "open mike"). But the other way round? Really?


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 11:49 AM

FWIW Will Fly's session where the emphasis is on improvisation around the tune (trad or otherwise) sounds excellent - if a bit of singing is OK too!

Yes, there's singing as well - it's an eclectic session, and what is played or sung depends on who turns up. We just sit round a table or two and go round the table, allowing each person - if they want to - to play or sing whatever they choose. People join in if they know it, or if it sounds appropriate to join in. If you don't know the tune, you're encouraged to have a go. If I'm singing a song, for example, and others are playing along on their instruments, I invite people to play a chorus - improvise whenever they want to - sing a harmony - essentially make music. There are several traditional tunes sessions in my Sussex area - and very good ones {"English tunes and no bloody singing!"} for those who want exclusively that kind of session.

The monthly session (last Sunday of the month) at the Bull in Ditchling is the same kind of session as mine - though with many more musicians attending - and it's the one on which I modelled my own session: come as you are, do what you want, as long it's acoustic. As it happens, we usually get a nice mix of traditional tunes and songs, plus some American old-time and early country stuff, jug band music, even the odd Richard Thompson ditty - just to cheer us all up...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM

Pip Radish:
Will: as a musician, I come at traditional and not-so-traditional music from a quite different perspective - which is tunes and not words

I just knew you were going to say that! But you started on the songs, so I thought I'd follow suit.


I should say that my preference for tunes is not as a result of disliking songs - I certainly do sing as a live performer - but I prefer my long helpings of sex, death, betrayal, battles and ballads, etc. to come in printed, rather than vocal form. There's nothing nicer than to curl up with Bob Copper's "A Song For Every Season" and books of songs, and a large glass of Dalwhinnie by a roaring radiator. In that genre, I prefer written prose and verse to sung prose and verse.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 12:37 PM

"come as you are, do what you want, as long it's acoustic"


well that's where the likes of electric trad folkies like me are buggered all round then !!!


..even though these days the music gear consumer market
is over abundantly supplied with plenty of different brands of light mobile
very low wattage sensibly quiet volume
battery powered amps and speakers
that can be discretely positioned at sessions barely noticable under chairs and tables....


..and what about kiddies practice electric guitars with nicely gnarly distorting built in speakers ???

surely you'd be less audibly tortured if I turned up with one of them
instead of an ear bleedin' psaltery..


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 12:47 PM

Ah well, I don't know many ear bleedin' psaltery players - and the ones who might be in my area don't come to my session. :-)

I have nothing against amplified music (played electric guitar as a pro and semi-pro in various bands for over 30 years) and I remember the glory years of Fairport, Steeleye Span, etc. The main problem is that - in my experience - amplified stuff tends to get louder and louder as each player in turn surreptitiously turns up so that he/she can be heard. If you really like electric sessions - and there's no reason why you shouldn't - then why not start one up? I'd bring my 100w Gallien-Krueger and my G&L ASAT...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 02:59 PM

Burton Coggles

Snail: I'm just going on what seems to be a strongly held opinion by several people on this thread.

There's the difference. I'm going on what I hear in folk clubs.

Perhaps I'm better asking **if you are of the opinion** that trad. songs and tunes have been edged out,

As I said, not in the folk clubs I go to.

why do you think this is so?

Couldn't say, but if it is in some places, then a comment you made a couple of days ago might be relevant -

Where there are no set rules, as would seem to be the case where clubs and sessions are being hijacked, why don't the traddies fight back with inspiring performances. It might move someone who performs mainly contemporary material to investigate traditional material more seriously - this has been the case with me.

Jack Campin

Are there any trad-only clubs or sessions? I don't think I've ever been to one.

You're probably right, Jack. We think of ourselves as pretty solidly traddy but our publicity material says "Our interest is mainly (but not exclusively) in British traditional music and song and contemporary folk music/song derived from the tradition." and that fairly accurately describes what we get.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 03:26 PM

Will,
"Jim, can I just dig a little deeper and….."
Sorry about the long pause, but I found your questions took a little time to think about - truth to tell,
I don't think I ever rationalised the way we worked, or even if there was a set method.
My first instinct was to say – like we used to about folk song, "I can't define what we did fully but I know what it is when we hear it", but that wouldn't be strictly true.
It needs to be remembered that The Singers Club was very much a 'policy' club, based mainly on presenting traditional song, so anything which was performed there had to fit in with this; that's what we came together for and that's what the audiences expected to hear.
MacColl, with others, (Charles Parker, for one) were entirely hooked on the idea that folksong drew its strength from the vernacular; the idioms and accents of the people who created the songs, and he/they believed that these could form the foundations of a new/continuing (depending whether you accept that the old one was dead) oral tradition.   
In my opinion, most of MacColls best songs were based on his and Parker's recorded actuality recorded for the Radio Ballads and other projects. Shoals of Herring drew directly from recordings of East Anglian fishermen, Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls; Freeborn Man, Thirty Foot Trailer, etc., from Minty Smith, Gordon Boswell and Belle Stewart; The Big Hewer and a number of other mining songs from, Jack Elliot etc. I've listened to these fairly extensively and know this to be the case. MacColl was constantly playing or urging us to listen to chunks of these recordings in view to our using them to make new songs and to familiarise ourselves with the different dialects and accents, and above all, the use of language.
The Critics Group was by no means the only ones doing this; I was serving my apprenticeship on the Liverpool Docks and can vividly remember how McGinn's 'Swan Necked Valve' leapt out of the speaker of my Dansette the first time I played 'The Iron Muse' – that was as much about my life as it was the composer's.
MacColl ran several song-writing classes, but there were no hard and fast rules to how the songs were written.
At one time a Singers Club member donated a first edition of Child's first compilation 'English and Scottish Ballads' to be given as a prize for the best new song. The winner was John Pole for his 'Punch and Judy'; hardly recognisable as being in a strictly conventional 'folk' style, but slap in London vernacular.
In order to promote new songs Peggy edited 'The New City Songers' made up from new songs from all over Britain, and later from the US and Australia. It ran into 20-odd editions and made available hundreds of new songs.

This is taking far too long and I don't really want to make it another marathon, so, if nobody objects, I'll take up the rest of your question later.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 03:26 PM

I don't necessarily think that clubs are "being highjacked" as such. In the case of my local folk club I think it has been a mixture of 75% plus singer-songwriter doing their own songs and pop/rock/sing-songwriter cover versions since it started...


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 04:03 PM

Sounds about right - and I've been going most of that time. I think Les has been going since the beginning (November '02; I started going the following February).


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 09:52 AM

Ok, I will veer away from McColl is this debate, as Jim Carroll possibly met the guy a few more times than I did, and I only interviewed him once for the radio, but never did meet his mum....

Instead, I recall an old friend Tom Brown who entertained the clubs years ago with his Norfolk songs. if Tom was around today, I know how he would define a song as folk...

"Here's one I learned at my mother's knee."

On a related point, I remember a concert many years ago in London, Kris Kristofferson. he was introducing "Me & Bobby McGee." he said, "If it sounds like a country song, then I guess it is one..."

Quite.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Bernard
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 11:02 AM

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody!" - Bill Cosby


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 11:15 AM

Yes Willie, that's the point. Country is a style. Folk is a derivation.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 11:27 AM

I suspect that there is an eternal problem with moving goalposts. For the past couple of hundred years at least, we've come along, been enamoured by the repertoire of the working classes, tried to write in that style, then the next generation has come along, been horrified at what we've perpetrated on the "songs of the people", and started the process all over again.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 11:43 AM

Dave - yes and no. I know that an awful lot of "contemporary folk" is now showing its age, in a way that (paradoxically?) traditional song hardly ever does. But writing in the folk idiom can be done. I mentioned The Scarecrow earlier on - I'd defy anyone hearing that for the first time to peg it as a 38-year-old song.


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Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 02:24 PM

Time will tell.


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