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Old folkies in retirement—what next?

Jim Dixon 23 Jun 13 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 23 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM
Deckman 23 Jun 13 - 02:50 PM
Old Grey Wolf 23 Jun 13 - 03:32 PM
Jim Dixon 23 Jun 13 - 03:45 PM
Deckman 23 Jun 13 - 04:20 PM
Jim Dixon 23 Jun 13 - 05:34 PM
Little Hawk 23 Jun 13 - 06:05 PM
Leadfingers 23 Jun 13 - 06:16 PM
Uncle Tone 24 Jun 13 - 05:51 AM
Dave Hanson 24 Jun 13 - 06:18 AM
Mr Happy 24 Jun 13 - 07:55 AM
Amos 24 Jun 13 - 09:59 AM
Uncle Tone 24 Jun 13 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Jane of 'ull 24 Jun 13 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Judy Drake 24 Jun 13 - 07:30 PM
Joybell 24 Jun 13 - 09:09 PM
Allan C. 25 Jun 13 - 10:33 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Jun 13 - 01:44 PM
Allan C. 25 Jun 13 - 03:34 PM
Leadfingers 25 Jun 13 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 25 Jun 13 - 06:25 PM
Amos 25 Jun 13 - 06:53 PM
Mark Ross 25 Jun 13 - 07:26 PM
Cool Beans 25 Jun 13 - 07:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 13 - 08:40 PM
Joybell 26 Jun 13 - 07:34 PM
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Subject: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 01:39 PM

Last night I went to a delightful concert in Minneapolis called "Roots of the West Bank II." (Links: 1, 2, 3.)

It was a reunion of sorts. Many faces were familiar. They were the old standbys of the local folk scene, most of whom had gotten their start here back in the 60s. I wasn't here then, and didn't pay enough attention when I first arrived (I regret that); and anyway, I'm not a musician, so was never really "part of the scene" myself, and I got to know these musicians much later than the 60s.

There were some surprises, to me at least: notably Roy "Catfish" Alstad, a blues man, who did some very creative stuff (can you imagine "You Are My Sunshine" recast as blues?). I was told he was a familiar face "back in the day," but then disappeared, and has recently re-emerged. I assume he had some sort of other career during the intervening years that occupied his time. Evidently he kept up his skills, but didn't perform in public for many years.

This parallels (on a smaller, less commercial scale, perhaps) what happened to Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Alberta Hunter, and dozens of others, who were "rediscovered" during the "great folk scare" of the 60s or later.

Are we heading for a second wave of rediscoveries?

Of course now we don't have hordes of record producers and concert promoters going out and searching for the old-timers, but the old-timers might be doing it on their own.

I'm thinking there might be a lot of people who used to perform folk music back in the 60s but later found it too hard to make a living that way, and so gave up public performance in order to pursue a more lucrative career in some other field. But now that their kids are grown and their social security pensions and 401(k)s are kicking in, they'll be turning their attention back to doing what they love instead of what will earn a lot of money.

Are you in this category, or do you know anyone who is?

I can think of 2 other local people who restarted a music performing career after a hiatus of many years. Guitarist Peter Lang (protege of John Fahey) gave up performing to be a video producer, then started performing again in 1999. (Unfortunately, a serious car accident 2008 forced him into retirement again.) Bluesman Dave "Snaker" Ray put his music career on the back burner for several years while he worked as an insurance agent. (He died in 2002.)

If this is indeed a trend, do you welcome it, or not?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 02:37 PM

What next? .................A wooden overcoat?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Deckman
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 02:50 PM

"Are we heading for a second wave of re-discoveries?" Maybe the third or fourth wave! Interesting thread Jim, thanks for starting it. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Old Grey Wolf
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 03:32 PM

I was never a professional performer, although I was asked to join a pair to form a trio, I turned down the request as I considered that I was not good enough - my wife says I was an idiot to refuse! That was when I was 21; I have now retired (65) and am now singing folk stuff at a local open mic evening in Cumbria. So now that I am not distracted by having to work I have re-started something I really enjoy - there's life in the Old Grey Wolf yet!


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 03:45 PM

Old Grey Wolf: You're exactly the kind of person I had in mind. I'm just wondering how many more people like you there are. If there are a lot of them, we could be on the leading edge of a great resurgence in folk music.

Now, how do we get the young people to listen? There were a few at last night's concert, but not many. (To me, "young" means under 50.)


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Deckman
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 04:20 PM

Do NOT allow them to bring in the electronic toys into the room. Then they'll listen ... and perhaps learn. bob


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 05:34 PM

I did see a few people taking pictures (maybe videos) with their cell phones, but those were the over-50s, and anyway, you see that everywhere nowadays, don't you?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 06:05 PM

Joni Mitchell just did her first public performance in 10 years (or more).


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 06:16 PM

Paul Metsers (N Z folkie , Farewell to the Gold) has apparently retired from toy making and is gigging again .

Pete Bond (WAS in a trio with Bill Caddick and a n o ) seems to have given up producing for BBC and is back on the road .

But at the same time a LOT of Old timers have just carried on , atleast in UK ! Roy Harris , to name just one !


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 05:51 AM

I'm definitely a born-again folkist.

Aged 71 now, I am really enjoying the fringe folk scene around North and East Yorkshire, while I still have a voice of sorts.

I do miss the times when I had my own folk programme on Chiltern/Horizon Radio (Herts, Beds, Bucks, Northants, Cambs, and North Middlesex), was running folk clubs, concerts and the odd (very odd) festival, and performing solo and in groups for cash. But all that was more than 25 years ago and it could become a bit of a chore fitting it all in around a hectic day job. I gave it all up for about 20 years.

Now it's just 'nice' to be able to go out and sing and listen without any pressure whatsoever, rediscovering an old repertoire including some songs from the 60s that folks around here have never heard before.

What I am finding is that the standard of performance in the fringe folk scene is amazingly good nowadays.

The DIY folk scene is alive and well, at least in Yorkshire and yes, there are many very good oldie performers in it, but also some up and coming younger ones too, I'm very glad to say.

Tone


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 06:18 AM

Old folkies never die, they just smell that way.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 07:55 AM

'DIY folk'?

Is there some other kind?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 09:59 AM

I never went pro for the same reasons==other concerns drew me in. Now retired, I am enjoying regular attendance at open Mic events, and we are finding more and more musicians popping to the surface after they retire from their day jobs. I think it's a significant demographic. Just thibnk how many Boomers started up as players during the Great Folk Scare, and are now reaching retirement age.


A


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 10:34 AM

"'DIY folk'?

Is there some other kind?"

Of course. If you pay someone to perform then you are not 'doing it yourself' are you?

Tone


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: GUEST,Jane of 'ull
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 11:18 AM

I think I will be one of these people.. I don't get half the time I'd like at the moment to do music stuff. Roll on retirement!


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: GUEST,Judy Drake
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 07:30 PM

I'm thrilled to find that there are still plenty of people, old and young alike, who are performing folk music. I thought it was a lost art, but there seems to be a resurgence. Unfortunately, it get very little radio time, but there isn't a lot of money in it. But thanks so all who are still bringing us the music we love.


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Joybell
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 09:09 PM

Hildebrand belongs in here somewhere. He has never hit the big time but he has been playing and singing all his life. He is now almost 75. Hildebrand is a skilled and accomplished performer. He graduated from Harvard and was heading for a career in linguistics when he left the academic life behind. He performed on the Boston scene in 1960-62. Bloomington Indiana 1962-69. Uppsala, Sweden in 1967-1973. Chicago 1965-66. He roamed around Europe and the Middle East and on into Asia. Ended up in Australia in 1976. He has taken on many other jobs to support himself and to buy strings for his old Gibson.   Recordings made of a performance in 1967 have just emerged. They are powerful and moving. I am blessed to be the one chosen to share his life since the 70s.
Does anyone, except Art Theime, remember him?
Joy


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Allan C.
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 10:33 AM

I once made as much as $150.00 which was split three ways among a trio I once had. Does that count?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 01:44 PM

Allan C.:

> Does that count?

No; it's irrelevant to what I hoped this conversation would be about. The question is: did you keep playing, or not? If you quit for a time, did you start again later, or are you now thinking about starting again?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Allan C.
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 03:34 PM

My comment was, for the most part, tongue in cheek. The performance of folk music has rarely ever been slated as a moneymaking scheme. When I was making the effort, I grew tired of performing at beauty pageants, Masonic lodges and the like for little or no money. The "free" meals came in handy though. I gave up even trying to scrape up gigs after a while. However, I do now most certainly fall into the category of those who are "turning their attention back to doing what they love instead of what will earn a lot of money."


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 05:14 PM

I 'discovered' folk in 1964 , and went semi pro in '72 , having honed my performance skills in any place I could have a sing or play .
After 18 months I was made an offer I couldn't refuse (Six months in Bermuda) and then sent three years working mostly in foreign parts , till I got ripped off in Hong Kong , and went back to a day job and semi pro singing/playing .
In '91 I was recruited into 'Music in Theme' - a a SERIOUS Costumed Theme act , and am stll doing it .
Ten years ago , I was able to stuff the Day Job , so have been a Pro muso again , even got Equity membership !
Does that qualify me ?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 06:25 PM

It's not that we've retired from being folkies; we've retired from the daily grind, and thus have more time to return to our original folky state. Someone I was talking with a few weeks back had a theory that once we hit 50 or thereabouts, we have a stronger inclination to take up our national heritage(oops, there's a big word) than when we were younger. I kind of see what he means. And most of us aren't in it for the money. I mean, What money?? There are so many fine, moving, tragic, hilarious, beautiful songs out there which are scarcely ever heard, so let's carry on rescuing them, singing and playing Real Good, For Free if necessary. And it usually is.


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 06:53 PM

Joybell:

I remember Hildebrand with delight from your visit here long ago. As a one-time linguist he might enjoy the linguistics thread woven into Beyond the Cascade, just emerging at Barnes&Noble and Amazon.com.

He is the only folky I know who recognized the arcane identity of Mrs. Henley in "Mrs. Henley's Revenge".


A


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 07:26 PM

Who can afford to retire?

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 07:41 PM

I'm in that boat--I'm playing open mics, showcases and gigs (never had time because I worked nights) and I've been writing songs. I know a couple other people in a similar situation. One friend, a physics professor, retired and took up the fiddle after a 45-year hiatus. He has since composed dozens of fiddle tunes, published them in a book and plays with a trio that has made a CD of his fiddle tunes.


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 08:40 PM

well, if you've retired - it means that you've survived. so thats good, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Old folkies in retirement—what next?
From: Joybell
Date: 26 Jun 13 - 07:34 PM

Oh! Amos I often think about that wonderful visit. We had such a time with many Mudcatters during that trip.
Sorry Jim for the drift.
I should add myself to this thread. I began singing when I started talking. Took in Grimm's tales as a child, played Banjo-mandolin from age 10, guitar from 12. Re-discovered folk-tales with the folk revival of the 60s. I've been put in many slots. Folkie is one of them. I've never stopped playing and singing. Paid gigs are rare these days though.
Cheers, Joy


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