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Am I a throwback?

Dan Schatz 23 Nov 10 - 02:43 PM
Roger in Baltimore 23 Nov 10 - 02:56 PM
Amos 23 Nov 10 - 03:10 PM
Charley Noble 23 Nov 10 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,Russ 24 Nov 10 - 08:21 AM
GUEST, Richard Bridge on 56k 24 Nov 10 - 01:14 PM
Dan Schatz 26 Nov 10 - 01:48 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Nov 10 - 12:51 AM
r.padgett 27 Nov 10 - 04:26 AM
John MacKenzie 27 Nov 10 - 06:05 AM
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Subject: Am I a throwback?
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 02:43 PM

When my first CD came out, Sing Out! printed a nice review from Tom Druckenmiller . He began by saying, "While listening to Dan Schatz I was reminded of the many folk song interpreters I listened to as I was just starting to enjoy traditional music. Most of us didn't start off listening to source material or field recordings as we began our individual journeys, we let the interpreters do the heavy lifting and we followed their direction."

FAME has just posted a nice review of my new album, The Song and the Sigh. Mark Tucker writes: "Now, he's stepped back to concentrate on his own work in a marvelous CD/book combination that features not only his tunes but also writings and commentary. The Song and the Sigh is a time machine back to the American and European folk wave of the 60s and 70s, when the rime of much older days still hung nicely on the movement."

I'm extremely gratified to be getting such kind reviews, but it makes me wonder. As a younger person in folk music (and isn't it sad that 38 constitutes younger in folk music?) I am often compared with the folk music styles of 40 years ago. Ironically, I often have not listened very much to the musicians I am being compared to - though I confess to a touch of pride at comparisons with Pete Seeger and Ralph McTell, as in the most recent one. And I do listen to them.

But by and large, the era of music with which I am most often compared is one that I wasn't around for. What I do listen to is a lot of the same traditional music that influenced those giants of the 60s, and a lot of the lesser known musicians who I grew up around in the folk music community of the DC area and Eastern seaboard. Yes, Pete Seeger. Like some of those musicians of the 60s, I've kept very strong roots in traditional music - I can't help it; it's in my bones. And like some of those musicians, I write some songs, and sing songs written by others, along with the strictly traditional material. (The new CD actually has no traditional material, but still seems to evoke tradition, if reviews are to be believed.) Like some of those musicians, I try to sing songs that matter - songs about real working people, or about justice, or about the inner life. Along with songs that are simply fun.

The thing is, I am not a 60s or 70s singer, and I'm not trying to be one. I'm simply trying to be myself, straddling these two worlds of traditional and contemporary folk music in a time when the those worlds are very much divided from each other. Does this make me a throwback to an earlier era, a musician out of time? Is there a place for new voices and musicians to make this kind of music and be heard? Are there new audiences for music that is firmly and lovingly rooted in, but not bound by, tradition?

What do you think?


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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 02:56 PM


My experience with many current folk singers is that their songs tend to involve a lot of navel gazing. What I see in your music is a focus on others, their lives and their experiences. I think that is part of what attracted me to folk music. I suspect it is part of what attracted you. You know, I can't think of one Pete Seeger song that seemed to be about Pete Seeger. I think that's a clue.

Roger in Baltimore

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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 03:10 PM

IF you'd been thrown back when you were first caught, Dan, you wouldn't be writing this. That's self evident.

If you are focusing on being yourself and doing justice to the songs you sing--which is evident in your excellent executions--then I wouldn't worry much about what kind of opinions people come up with about it. There is an infinite number of fanciful notions people can come up with. I think you're doing a great job.


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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 09:53 PM


What you're doing is very hard work and it's pretty rare nowadays to have that work applauded or even evaluated. But in my opinion you're doing a fine job.

Charley Noble, from the Pleistocene Period of Folk Music

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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 08:21 AM


Glad to hear about the positive feedback you are getting.

You deserve it.

For people of Tom's and my age, everybody we meet reminds us of somebody.
Same with music.

Sounds like you have spent your musical life reinventing the wheel. As did your folkie predecessors.

No matter how many times the wheel gets reinvented, it comes out round.

Russ (Permanent GUEST and aging folkie)

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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge on 56k
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 01:14 PM

I think this is very nice. I think that while so may have forgotten that folk song and music have roots, Dan feels it - probably does not consciously remember it but knows intuitively that that is where his music comes from. Of course "folk" still means something different each side of the Atlantic, but it is good that someone knows what it is about.

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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 01:48 AM

Thanks guys. I wasn't fishing for complements, and I certainly didn't mean "throwback" in the fishing sense! And I'm not complaining; these are nice reviews. What I am interested in is opening a conversation on this music that straddles the traditional and the contemporary - not so much through fusion of genres (as in the Horseflues, Steeleye Span, etc) but through influence.

I know several musicians who bridge these worlds, but most are a generation, or half generation, older than me. Most folks my age or younger seem to be all the way contemporary singer-songwriters or all the way traditional singers. It seems to be relatively rare to find new voices doing a mix of traditional, original and other contemporary material. And of course "contemporary" for me is much more traditionally rooted than much of what receives that term. Perhaps it's different in the UK?

It is true that this sometimes makes it tough to find a niche - many venues seem to want one or another, and there's a risk of being neither fish nor fowl. Recent noteriety has helped me overcome this obstacle somewhat. But still, there's the comparison that raises the question - is this a new version of a kind if music that is mostly in the past, a 60s throwback, or is there a space in the folk music world for new voices that seek to bring together new and old?

I'm sure there are lots of folks who do this kind of thing. I sure hope there are in any case.

Please pardon any typos; I'm writing from a phone!


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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Nov 10 - 12:51 AM

I never liked the term "throwback". To me, it is a fishing term that means what I caught wasn't big enough or good enough to be kept with the rest of the big fish.

Comparisons only serve to confuse and demean. You are Dan Schatz and you sing the songs you want to sing, and you are damn good at it! I enjoy sharing your recordings and I do not stop to think if you sound like someone else. When I play you in a set, I do not stop to think if all the artists are of the same era. The songs and the performance count.

"Throwback" is limiting, and in a sense prejudiced - just like Roger's comment that his experience with current folk singers involves "naval gazing".   When we set up stereotypes and put people in boxes, we limit their art.   My experience with current singer songwriters in our folk community is that most are NOT naval gazers, but creating songs for the same reasons about the same subjects that people have always been using.

Dan, please continue to follow your path, sing the songs that speak to your heart and soul, and the rest of will continue to enjoy and be enriched by your music. Don't worry about what "era" you belong in or you will be making a bigger "error". We need more people like you.

Ron Olesko

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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: r.padgett
Date: 27 Nov 10 - 04:26 AM

Whilst being on the other side of the "pond" I am rooted in the traditional song base of the 60/70s

Pete Seeger/Almanac singers/Weavers ~ reprints from Sing Out and all the early UK folk singers ~ Copper family/Fred Jordan/Sam Larner/Harry Cox and the traditionalist singers such as Cyril Tawney and Keith Marsden all have a place still in my understanding and folk song being

I sing mainly traditional songs from England, but have one or two songs of Social history of more recent years

I do think that whilst musicianship has improved greatly over the last 30 yrs "folk" has to some extent been highjacked by more navel gazing contemporary folk singers, some songs have their place in folk, but some may be more pop based, good as they are! (UK)

That is no doubt down to taste, but surely folk should be more purposeful? and not musak? Industrial songs, Social unrest, Social history, political and the voice of the people, maybe

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Subject: RE: Am I a throwback?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 27 Nov 10 - 06:05 AM

Dave Goulder said that one of the things he liked about me, was that I sing all the old songs. My response was, "Dave they weren't old when I learned them"
Guess I should be thrown back too :)

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