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What is the difference...

Bert 11 Oct 11 - 04:49 PM
Georgiansilver 12 Oct 11 - 01:38 AM
Gurney 12 Oct 11 - 02:04 AM
MGM·Lion 12 Oct 11 - 03:37 AM
John P 12 Oct 11 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Oct 11 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,999 12 Oct 11 - 10:23 AM
frogprince 12 Oct 11 - 10:39 AM
Spleen Cringe 12 Oct 11 - 10:44 AM
Morris-ey 12 Oct 11 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Oct 11 - 11:39 AM
Bert 12 Oct 11 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Eliza 12 Oct 11 - 12:11 PM
Bert 12 Oct 11 - 12:13 PM
Jeri 12 Oct 11 - 12:15 PM
Bert 12 Oct 11 - 12:32 PM
Big Mick 12 Oct 11 - 12:53 PM
Bert 12 Oct 11 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 12 Oct 11 - 02:32 PM
Bert 12 Oct 11 - 02:39 PM
Will Fly 12 Oct 11 - 02:43 PM
Bernard 12 Oct 11 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Ellen 12 Oct 11 - 05:04 PM
olddude 12 Oct 11 - 05:10 PM
Amos 12 Oct 11 - 05:38 PM
frogprince 12 Oct 11 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Ellen 13 Oct 11 - 03:53 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Oct 11 - 05:35 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Oct 11 - 05:42 AM
GUEST,Eliza 13 Oct 11 - 06:05 AM
Will Fly 13 Oct 11 - 06:34 AM
Bonzo3legs 13 Oct 11 - 07:15 AM
VirginiaTam 13 Oct 11 - 07:33 AM
Elmore 13 Oct 11 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,leeneia 13 Oct 11 - 11:02 AM
John P 13 Oct 11 - 01:54 PM
Dave the Gnome 07 Nov 11 - 03:07 AM
Crowhugger 07 Nov 11 - 09:59 AM
meself 07 Nov 11 - 10:27 AM
BTNG 07 Nov 11 - 10:29 AM
Little Hawk 07 Nov 11 - 10:38 AM
BTNG 07 Nov 11 - 10:44 AM
Mark Ross 07 Nov 11 - 11:16 AM
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Subject: What is the difference...
From: Bert
Date: 11 Oct 11 - 04:49 PM

Between blacking your face and singing Minstrel songs and singing blues songs, copying the language and style of a Black Singer and even aping the accent?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 01:38 AM

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder.... sadly so is prejudice.........


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 02:04 AM

There used to be a minstrel group on English TV. If you looked closely you could tell that one guy actually was a negro, although blacked-up like the rest.
Hard to categorise him.
Were they called The New Christy Minstrels, or was that someone else?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 03:37 AM

Gurney ~~ they were The Black & White Minstrels; survived astonishingly late (mid-70s iirc), and were, to me at any event, unaccountably popular.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: John P
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 10:04 AM

Two differences that I can think of right off:

1. Perception. Black-face has come to be associated with racism. Whether or not it means that to you, it will to a lot of other people.

2. The same difference as between playing any style of music while dressed in a costume and playing that music dressed in normal clothes.

I have often wondered why I turn into an old black guy when I sing the blues. It certainly isn't racist or mocking. I think maybe my brain and body are so steeped in the blues having that sound that it just comes out that way.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 10:12 AM

I believe Bert (OP) was jealous because Bobert just won a blues contest in North Carolina. Bert heard the news and saw all the words of congratulation, especially from charming women, and responded with a spurt of spleen, disguised as political correctness.

Bert, beware of jealousy. It's the crazy emotion.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 10:23 AM

You sayin' my internet buddy Bobert ain't Black? WHOAAAA! Since when?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: frogprince
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 10:39 AM

Ever hear the expression "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? That is essentially what you have in the typical case of the white blues performer. The minstrel show tradition was based in exaggerated spoof of those silly ignorant "darkies". The difference isn't all that subtle.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 10:44 AM

"a spurt of spleen". Oi! Easy, now...


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Morris-ey
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 11:08 AM

The Black and White Minstrel Show was hugely popular in the UK and had nothing to do with racism either by those who produced it, performed in it, or watched it.

Racism is a card all to easy to play in our "enlightened" times.

Is offence caused or do people choose to be offended (often on behalf of others)?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 11:39 AM

Has anyone seen the Bacup Coconutters? They have blackened faces and carry half-coconut shells etc. They've been accused of racism, but happily most people just see it as a bit of fun, which it is. Border Moris sides also paint their faces black, and it could be argued that they're mimicking 'Moors' from earlier times. My (very black) husband has had his photo taken with many different blacked-up Morrismen, and has always laughed like a drain, 'cos he's darker than any of them! None of it is at all racist, and I should think that any 'offended black people' are quite capable of complaining on their own behalf if they feel the need!


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bert
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 12:00 PM

First. Congratulations Bobert.

I kinda see frogprinces point but I think that by the time The Black and White Minstrel Show came along it had got past that. They were popular because it was a well produced show with good singers and good songs.

JohnP explained the "Black Voice" thing pretty well, but don't people who sing "minstrel songs" feel the same way about being steeped in that culture?

The culture that I grew up it was OK to tease people about their difference. So I think that "Black Face" should be just as acceptable as "Black Voice".


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 12:11 PM

If a black man whitened his face and sang, say, the Eton Boating Song in a mock-posh accent, would white people be offended? I have an uncomfortable feeling that some might be. Whether this would be over-sensitive of them, I'm not sure... (I'm trying to view this from the other way round.)


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bert
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 12:13 PM

Eliza ...If a black man whitened his face and sang, say, the Eton Boating Song in a mock-posh accent...

That would be great. I'd love to see it.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Jeri
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 12:15 PM

Again, intentions don't matter-- perceptions do.

My perception of the two things Bert asked about is that "minstrel" is about ridicule and mostly makes fun of people, and "blues" is about respect, and tries to honor people.

You can argue that I misinterpreted the singers' intentions, but it doesn't matter if you think I'm wrong. If I walk out the door, that's it--I'm gone.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bert
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 12:32 PM

The Black and White Minstrel show was certainly not about ridicule.

Minstrel shows may have started out that way, but The Black and White Minstrel Show would never have run for that long if it was about ridicule. It was a musical spectacular, all about singing good songs.

...and "blues" is about respect...

I would agree with that on the whole, when it comes to copying the music, chord progressions and dialect. But when it comes to copying the actual accent, it sounds to me a bit like Eliza's remark about a "mock-posh accent".


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Big Mick
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 12:53 PM

Jeri .... Exactly right. Those that seek to alibi their actions always start with "what if a black, Moslem, Pakistani, whatever" did this. Or they say, "I am not racist, it's all in good fun...." or some other such reasoning. Often these folks are sincere people of honorable intent, but more often they are just trying to justify their poor behavior/racist feelings.

Intent is not the key issue. Perception, or perception of intent, by the aggrieved individuals is. With respect to my dear friend Bert, of course you don't understand. Your people have not suffered centuries of slavery, cruel stereotypes, outright prejudice and lack of opportunity based on skin colour.

Someone above said it well. Blackface, to African descended people's, is a symbol of mockery and oppression. Singing a Blues song in dialect symbolizes respect and admiration of culture.

I would be right behind you, Jeri

Mick


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bert
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 01:37 PM

Of course Mick, when the Black and White Minstrel show was running in England we didn't have the racial prejudice that there is in the USA.
So the Minstrel Show was considered a rich musical culture and there was nothing racially prejudiced about it.

When slavery was abolished in Britain the whole black population was absorbed within three generations.

The cruelty to slaves in the Southern States was some of the worst cruelty ever inflict by humans upon one another.

But I think that the "Black Face" versus the "Black Voice" thing is more a matter of the fact that stimuli received visually have more impact than those received aurally.

That coupled with the fact that many who are overly politically correct respond to immediate reaction and have a tendency not to listen. This has resulted in the loss of a musical tradition, which is a very sad thing.

Let us hope that they keep 'not listening' or we are likely to find that white folks will not be allowed to sing The Blues.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 02:32 PM

I'm not with this "black voice" bit, at all.
If an English black man sang a Hank Williams' song in "Hank's voice" would that be offensive?
Give over!


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bert
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 02:39 PM

I'm not saying that it is offensive. It happens and it is fine by me.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 02:43 PM

when the Black and White Minstrel show was running in England we didn't have the racial prejudice that there is in the USA

The "Black and White Minstrel Show" was first broadcast in 1958 - the year of the Notting Hill race riots... I remember both well.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bernard
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 03:01 PM

Does the person with the 'black sounding voice' have a 'black sounding guitar'...? Surely, playing style, tunings and all the other stuff go together to make it sound authentic? It would sound rather silly, for example, sung in an operatic style with orchestral accompaniment!

Before someone jumps in with both feet and yells at me, I know I'm being ridiculous - that's the whole point!

I'm afraid walking around on eggshells afraid of offending someone isn't my idea of fun - just like you cannot drive around at 10 mph on the off chance that some moron might step out in front of your car!

Yes, you should take reasonable precautions, but the operative word is reasonable. You can never legislate for every eventuality, and you will run yourself ragged trying to do so.

Bill Cosby Jr. once said:
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,Ellen
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 05:04 PM

In The B&W Minstrel all the men blacked up, and the women didn't, so presenting as black men and white women - which would be deeply offensive to the average racist!


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: olddude
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 05:10 PM

Why would anyone do that ... I mean if you are about the music .. then music is music ... who hell cares what color your skin is .. when you sing the blues it is the story, the pain and the suffering .. that's why the call it the blues (elton john). Likewise if a black person sings Irish folk songs (I know many that do a superb job of it also)
do any of them have the need to paint their face ... makes no sense to me other than to offend and degrate

anyway .. what is the need to do that other than to offend someone I guess ... makes little sense to me ..


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Amos
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 05:38 PM

Honoring someone's indigenous art is so obviously different from mimicking a racial caricature that the question begs to be ignored.


A


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: frogprince
Date: 12 Oct 11 - 06:29 PM

I'll note that I have no acquaintance whatever with the "Black and White Minstrel Show" in the discussion, and therefore have no idea whether or not it was in any way racist. I spoke from looking back at the general character of American minstrel shows of the past.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,Ellen
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 03:53 AM

B&W consisted of a group of men singing popular (but not pop) songs and a group of women who were been dancers, can't remember whether they sang or not. (It was a long time ago). It was totally middle of the road. Sometimes a male soloist would sing something romantic holding hand of and gazing into eyes of one of the women.

The men blacked up - presumably they regarding this as being in the tradition of minstrel shows in the past.

The oddity was that if you took what was being presented, it was about black men and white women, which I understand is something racists find exceptionally offensive. You certainly couldn't have shown the B&WMS in South Africa!


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 05:35 AM

Frogprince & others - here is a note on the show which follows the youtube selection whose url is appended at the end.-------

The Black and White Minstrel Show was a British television series that ran from 1958 until 1978 and was a popular stage show. It was a weekly light entertainment and variety show presenting traditional American minstrel and Country songs, as well as show and music hall numbers, usually performed in blackface, and with lavish costumes.

The show was first broadcast on the BBC on June 14, 1958. It began as a one-off special featuring the male Mitchell Minstrels (after George Mitchell, the Musical Director) and the female Television Toppers dancers in 1957. It was popular and soon developed into a regular 45 minute show on Saturday evenings, featuring both solo and minstrel pieces (often with extended segueing) as well as "comedy interludes". It was produced by George Inns with George Mitchell.

Audiences regularly exceeded 18 million. The Minstrels also had a theatrical show which ran for 6,477 performances from 19601972 and established itself in The Guinness Book of Records as the stage show seen by the largest number of people. At this time, the creation had gained considerable international respect and kudos. The show won a Golden Rose at Montreux in 1961 for best light entertainment programme and the first three albums of songs (19601962) all did extremely well, the first two being long-running number ones in the British album chart.

While the show started off being broadcast in (genuine) black-and-white, the show was one of the very first to be moved to colour by the BBC in 1967.

Several famous personalities guested on the show, while others started their careers there. Comedian Lenny Henry was one such star, being the first black comedian to appear, in 1975.
The show's premise began to be seen as offensive on account of its portrayal of blacked-up characters behaving in a stereotypical manner. A petition against it was received by the BBC in 1967, and since cancellation it has come to be seen more widely as an embarrassment, despite its popularity at the time.

The BBC1 TV show was cancelled in 1978 as part of a reduction in variety programming (although by this point the blackface element had been reduced), but the stage show continued. Having left the Victoria Palace Theatre, where the stage show played from 1962 to 1972, the show toured almost every year to various big city and seaside resort theatres around the UK, including The Futurist in Scarborough, The Festival Hall in Paignton and The Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth. This continued each summer until 1987, when a final tour of three Butlins resorts (Minehead, Bognor Regis and Barry Island) saw the last official Black and White Minstrel Show on stage.

This film footage is from the Archive Collection held and administered by the Alexandra Palace Television Society.

http://www.apts.org.uk


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 05:42 AM

Sorry ~ that's the wrong url ~~ but just google -youtube black and white minstrels- and you will find many examples of their shows.

I should add that Valerie & I were always embarrassed by it, but knew many who loved it as a piece of "harmless, undemanding entertainment".


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 06:05 AM

Bert, I agree with you, I'd be delighted to see a black guy impersonating the Eton Boating crew, but we have, I suppose, to consider all viewpoints, and some folk would be a bit miffed.
Regarding the great popularity of the Black and White Minstrel Show, that doesn't in itself exonerate it. Racist stuff can be popular with millions, but still seen as politically incorrect at a later time.
You could say that Wilson, Keppel and Betty (the Desert Sand Dance) was 'racist' as they were dressed as Egyptians, but I've always found it a very funny dance. (like the Bacup Coconutters)
I personally like all these kind of things, and am not in the least 'racist' as my husband is black. But I'd hate to think that minorities were hurt and offended, so I would advocate not persenting them if this were the case.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 06:34 AM

I remember being in my mid-teens when the Black & White Minstrels appeared on TV. I thought at the time it was not only crappily demeaning but also utterly cheesy and mind-numbingly boring.

I've just watched a bit of the last broadcast show - on YouTube - and nothing's changed...


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:15 AM

We saw the Soweto Gospel Choir cavorting about and singing wonderfully on Monday in Tunbridge Wells. I should think they would laugh their heads off at the ramblings on this thread!!!!


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 07:33 AM

Afraid I am guilty of aping the accent. Perhaps it is wrong for an old white woman to sing the blues they way I hear and feel them. But A black woman who used to frequent this forum liked my singing enough to ask for a CD. So, evidently she was not offended by the put on accent.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Elmore
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 09:16 AM

If white people can't sing the blues, that great black string band, The Carolina Chocolate Drops had best get out of the business.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 11:02 AM

Of course white people can sing the blues. Happens all the time. (Good for you, VTam.)

As for 'aping the accent,' if you got a reasonable sample (let's say 500) of southerners from the same area with the same level of cultivation and recorded their speech, I'm sure Mudcatters could not tell the whites from the blacks.

Of course, accemts are changing as more northerners move south.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: John P
Date: 13 Oct 11 - 01:54 PM

I can't say I've ever faked an accent while singing the blues. It's more of a tone quality thing.


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 03:07 AM

Eliza - On one of the Caribean islands (can't remember which) a Pace Egg Play is performed. The lads who play it are black and they 'white up' to do it - Just as we have blacked up to do our Pace Egg play for many years. I'll see if I can find any details over the course of today but I have a feeling it is just in a book I once saw.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Crowhugger
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 09:59 AM

It's peculiar to me that performing in blackface nowadays apparently must be about mocking blacks. I would expect it to be, and to be perceived as history and/or satire. I'd be pretty shocked if it seemed to be sincere and I would keep studying the act intently to find a smirk or crack I'd missed or some other indication they weren't serious. To perform minstrel music in blackface and make it realistic I don't see how one could pull it off effectively without copying enough of the accent for to ring true to the audience expectations.

When I sing blues, I use my own accent.

Maybe this a bit of thread drift, if so, I apologize, but here goes: It continues addle me how often people capitalize 'black' when it's a descriptor in lieu of African- or Negro. I find it excessive because 'black' in that usage is euphemistic, neither a proper noun nor an adjective derived from a proper noun. When a white person does it, I rather suspect "Look, see I'm being oh so respectful" and when a black person does it I expect a tone of "I'm braced and ready for the world to dis me". Either way I presuppose a strong sensitivity to race issues. Yet perhaps it's equally or more likely they saw it that way somewhere and emulated it. Ah the dangerous power of assumptions...So tell me, why do YOU say 'Black' instead of 'black'?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: meself
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 10:27 AM

Could it be because a person followed an internet forum on which a Black person stated a preference for the capitalized 'Black' and suggested that this preference was widespread among Black people, and so said-follower of the internet forum in question decided what the heck it makes no difference to me so if it will make someone's day a little easier why not?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: BTNG
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 10:29 AM

"white people can sing the blues"

yes but can blue people sing the whites (a question posed by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, many years ago, and never really answered)
and should they be allowed to?


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 10:38 AM

Well, what about chimp impersonators? You know, a human band that all dress in chimp suits and act like chimps while playing their instruments, going "Ook! Ook! Ook!", grooming each other between songs, hooting and screeching and capering, throwing...stuff...at the audience.

Is that a musicial form that demeans chimps and other primates or is it a beloved cultural tradition with roots that go deep in the history of performance art? Should we be offended by it? Or deighted? Should we let others DECIDE if we should be offended or delighted by it?

It's all a matter of perception, innit? ;-)


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: BTNG
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 10:44 AM

well there was The Monkees, but that maybe a primate of a different colour


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Subject: RE: What is the difference...
From: Mark Ross
Date: 07 Nov 11 - 11:16 AM

John Jackson (an African-American roots musician) from Virginia, was asked if he knew of any black banjo players. He immediately asked, "What about Uncle Dave Macon?" He didn't realize that Uncle Dave was white.


Mark Ross


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