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English vs. American folk culture

Allan C. 21 Feb 14 - 07:37 AM
GUEST 21 Feb 14 - 07:55 AM
GUEST 21 Feb 14 - 08:09 AM
Will Fly 21 Feb 14 - 08:22 AM
Desert Dancer 21 Feb 14 - 06:36 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 14 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 21 Feb 14 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,airymouse 21 Feb 14 - 07:23 PM
GUEST,Musket 22 Feb 14 - 03:33 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 22 Feb 14 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,eldergirl on another computer 22 Feb 14 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,uncle sam 22 Feb 14 - 09:45 AM
Jeri 22 Feb 14 - 10:06 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 14 - 12:47 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Feb 14 - 01:05 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Feb 14 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Ed 22 Feb 14 - 01:33 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Feb 14 - 01:37 PM
Eldergirl 22 Feb 14 - 01:38 PM
Bert 22 Feb 14 - 02:55 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Feb 14 - 03:07 PM
Lighter 22 Feb 14 - 04:35 PM
Suffet 22 Feb 14 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Tony 22 Feb 14 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,eldergirl on another computer 22 Feb 14 - 08:25 PM
Leadfingers 22 Feb 14 - 08:52 PM
Suffet 23 Feb 14 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Musket 23 Feb 14 - 04:14 AM
artbrooks 23 Feb 14 - 10:12 AM
Suffet 23 Feb 14 - 12:01 PM
Jim Dixon 23 Feb 14 - 12:13 PM
DebC 23 Feb 14 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Tony 23 Feb 14 - 12:32 PM
Suffet 23 Feb 14 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,uncle sam 24 Feb 14 - 02:35 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Feb 14 - 05:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Feb 14 - 02:27 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Feb 14 - 03:06 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Feb 14 - 03:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Feb 14 - 12:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Feb 14 - 12:45 PM
Rapparee 27 Feb 14 - 11:25 PM
GUEST 28 Feb 14 - 02:45 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Feb 14 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,Hotenanny 28 Feb 14 - 06:08 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Feb 14 - 06:36 AM
Janie 28 Feb 14 - 10:13 PM
GUEST 01 Mar 14 - 04:49 AM
GUEST 01 Mar 14 - 05:58 AM
Rapparee 01 Mar 14 - 10:03 PM
Allan C. 02 Mar 14 - 09:05 AM
Stringsinger 02 Mar 14 - 12:12 PM
Allan C. 02 Mar 14 - 02:20 PM
Phil Edwards 03 Mar 14 - 04:23 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Mar 14 - 05:47 AM
Musket 04 Mar 14 - 05:15 AM
GUEST 04 Mar 14 - 06:25 AM
artbrooks 04 Mar 14 - 09:57 AM
GUEST 04 Mar 14 - 12:25 PM
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Subject: English vs. American folk culture
From: Allan C.
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 07:37 AM

One of the things I miss most about no longer living in England is the folk culture that still persists there and some would even say it thrives. Sure, all of the other forms of musical expression are there as well, but folk is still very much alive in the UK. I can't help but to wonder what happened in the US to cause it to become so diminished. Even at its peak in the States its adherents were for some reason thought to be subversive and were virtually if not in fact, shunned by "polite society". What happened? How come the UK has folk clubs and the US doesn't? Why is the American calendar not filled with folk festivals like the UK calendar? Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 07:55 AM

yes, come on Americans, take those bloody cowboy hats off and put your old moth balled Aran jumpers back on !!!!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 08:09 AM

I have been an active member in many folk clubs over the year including one in Northern Virginia patterned on the english model.

A big problem in the states is that the copyright agencies continually shake down folk venues to the point that musicians often have to carry documentation with them to prove that what they perform is all public domain. The result is that may open mics, coffee houses, etc no longer have live music.

In SW Michigan where I now live we have many venues and festivals.
P.S. I perform much nautical and English fold music myself.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 08:22 AM

I'm not sure that the traditional music scene (I prefer that to "folk") in America, through the years, can be compared to ours. For a start, the musical environments were and are very different, and I think there's a subtle difference between the grassroots music of America and the US Folk Revival and its subsequent history.

I'm going to start at an odd place: Western Swing as personified by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys - a band that soared to great heights from the early 1940s onwards. As well as broadcasting, the band toured all over the south and west, playing in dance halls and community halls - a wonderful mixture of country music, fiddle tunes, comic songs, big band jazz, etc., played on brass, electric guitars, pedal steel guitars, fiddles, drums, bass etc. Hugely eclectic in style and content. Just listen to their recording of "Take Me Back To Tulsa": starts with a corny old country riff on two fiddles, goes to a vocal chorus, switches to a hot honky-tonk piano solo, repeats a vocal chorus, goes into a hot fiddle jazz solo, then more singing followed by two electric guitar half-solos on electric guitar and pedal steel guitar - and finishes on the vocals and fiddle duet. They literally mixed up all sorts of styles - often in one tune.

I've analysed this in some detail because it demonstrates how much more homogeneous American country/folk/traditional appeared to be than music over here. Music was embedded in the community and the barriers between one type of music and another were blurred. It was just what you played in your home, in a local bar, at a party on the back porch, for a dance. The Everly Brothers, for example, were not a lone phenomenon but one set of musicians in a long line that started with people like the Carter Family, Jimmy Rogers, the Delmore Brothers in one strand, and with a host of others in other strands. Listen to the Harry Smith Collection to see what was there. The Holy Modal Rounders could take stuff from that collection and whoop it up in a whacky but affectionate way. No hangups about it being one thing or another.

The Folk Revival, which was influenced partly by the Harry Smith Collection, was to my mind a much more self-conscious "folk" movement, with social and political motives, as exemplified by the Weavers, Pete Segger, Guthrie, and so on.

So, when you speak of the "folk culture" of the US and try to compare it with our own, you might be trying to compare apples and oranges... :-) Just my take on the question.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 06:36 PM

If you can't find it, it's probably because you're not looking! Or you're not willing to drive more than a few miles...

for example...

Greater Los Angeles area calendar (granted, this is a high-density area)

Sing Out! festival list (not entirely current, but shows you what's been out there)

Yes, the scene for singing is different, I have envied the English folk club idea from afar. But, that sure does not mean there's nothing going on.

~ Becky in Long Beach, CA


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 06:56 PM

The UK Folk Revival was VERY Pub based , whereas the American revival was Coffee Bar orientated , so there is a major difference straightaway . Also , as GUEST at 8.09 said , the US equivalent of PRS is far more active .
However , it is also ~VERY patchy - Washington DC area has a plethora of Open Mics , sessions , and House concerts . Same goes for Boston , and several other urban connotations


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 06:57 PM

You obviously don't live in the Appalachian area. If you did you wouldn't need a folk club. There is a real living tradition there with picking sessions all around not to mention fiddle festivals and bluegrass festivals.

Just because there aren't any folk clubs near you doesn't mean that there aren't any singers and musicians in the area.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,airymouse
Date: 21 Feb 14 - 07:23 PM

I think Will Fly makes an important distinction. Hidden away beneath the "folk revival" of the '60s the traditions were kept alive by people like Larry Older (NY), Hortie Barker (VA), Nellie Galt and Jean Ritchie (KY), Almeda Riddle (AK) and many, like Mary Lomax(GA), who were not being recorded at that time. The experts on this site could add many many other names. Here in southwest VA we have Friday night jamborees and jams, but with the exception of a few standard dance songs, you almost never hear old songs in public. The crooked road is not about preserving traditional songs; it's about getting the tourists' dollar.Let's face it, old songs are not money makers: you are not going to get people to hum along or dance if the tune changes in the last two verses, or the song ends in 13 seconds, or goes on and on telling a story with every verse different. And it's natural to like songs with which you are familiar, so the interesting unrecorded versions of old songs are trumped by the better-known versions of Jerry Garcia, the Carter family, Joan Baez etc. I like to think that the recent publication of Mary Lomax's songs shows that the American hidden folk culture has survived the "folk revival", but I'm not sure.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 03:33 AM

And yet.

I played at a folk club the other night and my set had four American songs in it, the rest being my own. I noted that the floor turns sang mainly American songs.

I meant to end with an English traditional song but forgot..

I see more and more acoustic music nights as opposed to a Jim Carroll defined folk night. The term folk seems to be evolving. Conversely, I found an excellent sing around night in the UK tradition in a bar in Santa Monica CA a few years ago.

That said, I think the pub v coffee house roots together with the geography has led to different overall scenes.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 07:22 AM

I agree with the posting above. The Crooked Road is about tourism but I had been traveling that route and discovering the musicians and singers way back before the book and subsequent publicity came about.
I see nothing wrong with encouraging tourism as long as it doesn't go the route of Beale Street, Bourbon and Royal and to a certain extent Nashville's Broadway.
With singers such as Horton Barker, Almeda Riddle, Mary Lomax etc. You seem to be be referring to "Ballad Singers". It is my understanding that this type of material was mainly sung around the confines of home and family in the States whereas in the UK it would also be sung in pubs especially on a Friday or Saturday night and gaining a wider audience before the days of recording. I would assume that there are still quite a number of people that sing the old songs as well as newer ones around home but if no-one seeks them out and records them as Art Rosenbaum has with Mary Lomax then we won't ever hear them.

The term folk has certainly evolved it now seem to mean anyone with an acoustic guitar hanging from him.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,eldergirl on another computer
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 08:36 AM

lol! spot on, Hoot,that sums it up for most of the population over here! however, in the folk clubs that I go to, there's a great mixture of styles and content. some will sing only American songs, others only trad Brit, and many of us will sing a wider array of stuff, and happily we are not all trapped behind guitars!    It seems to me that we Brits are too hung up on classification these days, and miss out on the music as a result. That is of course, a heeooge generalisation, but true to some extent. like the ruddy class system. which is why we're being run by a crew of public-school millionaires who have no clue about real lives further down the food chain, but that's another matter.. sorry thread drift. oops!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,uncle sam
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 09:45 AM

The US doesn't have as much folk music for the same reason the US doesn't have a National Health Service: because it's socialism, which is a threat to our freedom.

Instead, we have Country/Western music and a law requiring poor people to buy health insurance from giant financial corporations.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 10:06 AM

In my area we only have old-time, maritime music, Irish, Scots and English trad music, blues, and polka tunes. While "country music", exists and there is some sharing, it's not what you primarily find in sessions dedicated to folk music.

There is one performer I can think of who does quite a few English song. He tours in the UK and AFAIK, does mostly American songs. It's about cross-pollination, I think. And not "carrying coals to Newcastle".


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 12:47 PM

" in the UK it would also be sung in pubs especially on a Friday or Saturday night and gaining a wider audience before the days of recording. "
Moot point Hoot -
Sam Larner once described how they used to meet regularly in the local pub 'the Fisherman's Return' and sing "everything under the sun", but he insisted that "the real singing was always done at home or at sea".
Walter Pardon never sang in a pub until he was 'discovered' by the revival and he said that he only ever saw it happen in a pub (in the back room) following Agricultural Worker's Union meetings, he watched his uncle Billy sing through the window - otherwise, he only sang at home and at harvest suppers.
I have no idea how long venues like The Eels Foot in Suffolk hosted a singing session and what type of singing took place there, but I suspect that it was not unsimilar to Sam or Walter's description.
I have never been convinced of the general existence of a pub singing scene in England, it defies logic that the long narrative songs and ballads that make up the British repertoire would survive a bar full of drinkers.
The pub sessions that were filmed and recorded by the BBC were deliberately set up by them - hilarious story of Bert Lloyd recording one and being too profligate with the 'entertainment' expenses - end result - a pub full of singers too pissed to sing.
In Ireland, all the singing, dancing and music took place in farmhouse kitchens (rambling or ceili houses) - the kitchens were such an established place for dancing that it is still possible to find 'battering pots' - old cooking utensils or even animal skulls deliberately buried under the floor to provide a 'sounding spot for a dancer to display his skills at virtuoso solo dancing.
One old musician once told us that "the music was ruined when it went into the pubs".
I believe that pub singing was overwhelmingly confined to urban areas; fascinating book on London pub singing entitled 'Tavern Singing in Early Victorian London' (The diaries of Charles Rice for 1840 and 1850)   
It was published by The Society for Theatre Research - difficult to get but well worth the effort.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 01:05 PM

the old sea dog at the admiral benbow wasn't in a city....


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 01:23 PM

He was also singing alone, Al, despite the efforts of the owners of the inn to shut him up --

and, wotzmore, fictitious!

~M~


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 01:33 PM

'Tavern Singing in Early Victorian London' (The diaries of Charles Rice for 1840 and 1850)... difficult to get but well worth the effort.

Not at all difficult. You could just click here, for example.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 01:37 PM

Moreover, RLS is not historically accurate re shanty singing in Treasure Island. I once sent a note to OUP's Notes·&·Queries journal, pointing out that he has Silver acting as shantyman precisely as described by Hugill et al, but soon after the Battle of Fontenoy, 1745, in which Dr Livesey had served as military surgeon, and therefore long before shanty singing as there described (beginning of ch 10) was ever to be heard on ships like the Hispaniola.

~M~


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Eldergirl
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 01:38 PM

Guest uncle Sam; you mean giant financial corporations are Not a threat to your freedom???
Yeah I know, more thread drift, sorry.. ;-)


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Bert
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 02:55 PM

Here in Colorado Springs that slot (Folk clubs, that is) is mostly filled by Songwriters clubs and open mics.

You can't stop people singing.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 03:07 PM

"Not at all difficult."
Thanks Ed - looked for years before I stumbled on a copy in a bargain box of a second-hand bookshop
Isn't it always the way?
What is interesting about the book is the lists of performed songs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 04:35 PM

Seems like "folk culture" and "folkie culture" are becoming less and less distinguishable.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Suffet
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 04:51 PM

Greetings:

Judging by what I have encountered in my admittedly limited travels through the USA and the UK, Leadfingers is essentially correct. The UK folk scene is based in pubs or other places (social clubs, veterans' halls, etc) where alcohol is served, while in the USA it is primarily based in coffee houses, many of them located in churches, where alcohol is not served. This is a generality, of course, so there are some exceptions.

Here are some other differences:

• When there is a featured guest performer, floor singers are common in the UK, but are rarely seen in the USA.

• Unlike in the UK, where a folk club consists of a group of people who meet regularly a certain venue, a folk club in the USA is most often a formal membership organization that charges annual dues and elects officers. It is often called a folk music society rather than a club.

• House concerts are rare events in the UK, but are very common in the USA. In fact, the house concert is fast replacing the coffee house as the center of the USA folk scene.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 07:52 PM

In the USA, any place that serves alcohol is required to have at least 12 large screen televisions, all tuned to different stations, mostly sporting events, plus rock music playing from a radio station or music service. With all that noise it would be difficult to sing folk songs.

Even a place that doesn't serve alcohol (and therefore doesn't have to pay enormous fees to the state for a license to do so) still has to pay a minimum of about a thousand dollars a year to ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC if any music can be heard there. It's difficult to cover that overhead without a lot of loutish people buying alcohol at inflated prices.

Gathering in homes to sing or hear folk songs is seen as a way to avoid the music mafia fees. But it probably won't last. Just as they gradually shut down the coffeehouses, they'll eventually shut down the house concerts. In a few years we'll hear about people being sued for having a birthday party for their kids and singing Happy Birthday without paying those minimum annual royalty fees.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,eldergirl on another computer
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 08:25 PM

guest Tony, hi! many pubs in the UK present similar problems to the folk\ie crowd. we are forced to seek out friendly enthusiastic landlords, usually few and far between, and if they are Moved On by their breweries, the local folk scene has to find another venue Fast. House concerts are starting to take off here, though, round London way anyhow. even though our houses are mostly on the small side. 18-20 concert goers seated in comfort? probably the Max number in most homes I've visited. As for the music Mafia, well Gawd 'elp us all, we'll have to go underground..


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Feb 14 - 08:52 PM

Back in the sixties , a lot of UK pubs had a separate room where a Club could meet - Since the later seventies , so many pubs have knocked out interior walls so only one bar can serve every one , hence no separate space for a club !
And houses here are generally not as spacious as houses in USA , making house concerts not very viable


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Suffet
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 12:12 AM

I help run a church based not-for-profit coffee house in New York City, and the performance rights organizations do not charge us thousand of dollars a year. They do, however, each charge us about $300 a year. That amounts to an annoyance, but it is not a disaster.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 04:14 AM

Lead fingers makes a good point regarding pubs losing their smaller function rooms. There are two clubs I try to get to now and then where a pool table gets on the way. Both used to be in separate rooms before.

I served my apprenticeship in concert rather than sing around style where there was a stage of sorts and floor turns got two songs. This nurtured budding artistes as you could put a wee bit of thought into your Andy Warhol slot of fame. Whereas singarounds are more inclusive but emphasise the song rather than the singer. Horses for courses.

My experience in The USA and Canada is not all that different but I would say that a session without a drink is somewhat odd for me and to be fair, I am speaking of a continent yet I have only sung in half a dozen places!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: artbrooks
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 10:12 AM

"Folk" in the UK seems to be very narrowly defined (let's not start), and "folk dance" appears to refer only to morris and what we'd call 'English country dance'. In the US, both folk music and dance derive from multiple backgrounds and the term has a much broader meaning.

For example, here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, there are stage performances of Galician piping, bluegrass, balladeers and singer-songwriters in the next few weeks, Celtic (and the term is used very broadly) jams, international folk dance and contra dance and at least two sing-arounds. On the other hand, to the best of my knowledge, there are no bars/pubs offering floor singing, if I understand what's meant by the term.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Suffet
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 12:01 PM

Irish music sessions in the USA do in fact take place in pubs or bars, and quite a few bars or pubs do present Irish music. Others present what can very loosely be called folk, but it is really country or acoustic pop. Still others present blues, but it is almost always urban Chicago style blues rather than the old Delta or Piedmont styles.

Most of the folkie scene in the USA (folk revivalists, tradition-based contemporary singer-songwriters, not-so-tradition-based contempoarysinger-songwriters, topical and political singer-songwriters, etc.) is based in coffee houses, house concerts, festivals, and the programs presented by folk music societies, which are rather different from UK folk clubs. For example, many folk music societies in the USA organize weekend getaways as part of their program.

There are also parallel "folk scenes" in the USA for various non-Anglophonic ethnic folk music communities, including Balkan, Hungarian, Scandinavian, and Latin American, among others. I am not very familiar with what goes on among them.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 12:13 PM

I have a request for all of you:

Please refrain from using phrases like "over here" without defining where "over here" is.

You might think that everyone at Mudcat knows you and knows where you live but that is not the case.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: DebC
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 12:30 PM

Thank you, Jim Dixon.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 12:32 PM

Suffet, the approximate $900 total you said you pay ($300 to each) is close to the approximate $1,000 (not thousands) per year that I mentioned. The rates go up each year and I suspect your estimate is low for this year.

That's the minimum for the smallest venue, even if there's only one concert a year and only one copyrighted song is played, and even if there's free admission and even if no one attended it.

But what is only an annoyance to a small venue in NY city, with 10 million people within a $1.50 subway ride, is a disaster to coffeehouses or folk concert programs in small towns, which have been shutting down their music calendars en masse.

Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus concerts are paying about a penny and a half per ticket sold. So the shift away from folk music has a lot to do with those music rights organizations, which distribute the money to copyright holders in proportion to mass sales statistics. Nothing goes to the people whose songs we would like to sing.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Suffet
Date: 23 Feb 14 - 03:37 PM

Tony,

Agreed. I do not handle the bookkeeping, but I believe the average for this year is closer to $320. We figure we pay about 67¢ per head over the course of a year. So for us it is an annoyance, but you are right that for a smaller venue it can certainly be a disaster.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,uncle sam
Date: 24 Feb 14 - 02:35 AM

I don't know about England, but in America when we talk about freedom we mean freedom to make a lot of money. Saying that corporations are a threat to freedom, that's like saying candy spoils your appetite. Eating candy is using your appetite, and a corporation is a way of using freedom.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Feb 14 - 05:02 AM

bloody hell! you lot are in a mess! find an empty pub . ask the proprietor if he fancies a night with a folk club. advertise fr folksingers. that's how it works over here. why wouldn't it work over there. the pub is paying the prs money anyway just for his canned music. the additional payment for live music usually isn't a deal breaker.         

that's how we do it.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Feb 14 - 02:27 PM

mike can I point out that ancient as we both are, we weren't on sailing ships pre-1745. so who knows what worksongs the sailors had.
and why wouldn't they get together in pubs and sing the worksongs for fun when they getting pissed -much as we do nowadays?


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Feb 14 - 03:06 PM

Smithsonian Folkways has issued a new CD, featuring Flaco Jimenez and Max Baca. This reminded me that where I was raised in New Mexico, I don't believe I ever heard an "English," or eastern American folksong until the folkie 1950s.
Old Spanish and Mexican songs and dances, and the Tex-Mex border music. was our folk music, and a couple of the songs popular in the California Gold Rush. The rest were the popular songs we heard on the radio or played on the phonograph.

The only other songs close to folk that I remember, are "A Capital Ship" and "Barnacle Bill."


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Feb 14 - 03:53 PM

Big Al,
There are very knowledgeable threads on this forum on the history of chanteys. Before pronouncing I suggest you have a look at some.

To put it simply, there are hundreds of verified historical records of sea chanteys in use post 1830s but absolutely nothing before that.

Mike obviously reads these threads.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Feb 14 - 12:34 PM

Falconer, William T.: An Universal Dictionary of the Marine. New Edition, T. Cadell, 1784.
Simple chants by English and French sailors used to coordinate group effort. At the windlass, inserting spikes requires dexterity, and movements were regulated by a song or howl by one of their number.

But Steve is correct; the chantey as we know it is absent from writings before the 19th century.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Feb 14 - 12:45 PM

For early 19th century marine work songs, or chanteys;
"Steerage Passenger, The Quid, or Tales of My Messmates," W. Strange, 1832.
I have not seen this book, but 'ditties' or bits of song for heaving the capstan around, are quoted.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Rapparee
Date: 27 Feb 14 - 11:25 PM

Let's see -- Pocatello, Idaho:

There's the Old Tyme Fiddlers, Kyd J. (a band), Bar J Wronglers, the Idaho Civic Symphony Foundation (which has brought Natalie McMaster and others to town), and a plethora of Celtic, Brazilian, Mexican, German, Irish, Japanese, and other musical groups that play for themselves and their friends and sometimes, in the Summer, at "Revive At Five", the Farmers' Market, and other outdoor activities. The scene is quite eclectic and includes everything from square dancing to contra to ballet. I've heard railroad songs, labor movement songs, protest songs, cowboy songs, "dirty" songs, songs of the Oregon and Mormon Trails, and a lot of other things sung.

The US is a complex weaving of cultures and nationalities (and I forgot the Greeks in the above). Jazz, rock, spirituals and all that make up American "folk culture" comes from roots so diverse as to be nearly unbelievable.

And don't forget what Deckman has completed!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 02:45 AM

The uk and the US have different attitudes to heritage. The folk movement in the Us was more based on politics, while UK was a revival and fediscovery of ancient heritage of songs?


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 04:28 AM

not really guest - the reason people flooded into folk clubs in the fifties and sixties was really to do with the stuff they were seeing on the tv - new songwriters. the mass exodus started when the rediscoverers of the tradition started laying down the law.

rather like in this thread. common sense tells us that there were maritime worksongs pre 1830 - tuned at the capstan bars - as RLS puts in Treasure Island). However now we are reliably informed that it was only in 1830 the sailors got the right to call the songs sea shanties.

breath taking.....


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST,Hotenanny
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 06:08 AM

Guest, you obviously weren't around the British folk scene in the 60's.
There certainly was a great interest in the research and re-discovery of old songs and the people that still sang them. Of course many of the people involved were/are on the left in politics but politics wasn't the reason for their interest.
Listen to the pop music garbage of the time on both sides of the Atlantic and you will understand partly why "folk music" was so appealing.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 06:36 AM

not only that - folk clubs were places where the entertainment was adult. there were many refugees from the rolf harris and val doonican show.

also they were none threatening places for women. they could sit in a pub without being chatted up - a bit like line dancing nowadays gives them the pleasure of dancing without needing a partner.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Janie
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 10:13 PM

Have never been to the UK so have no idea what the "folk culture" is there. Also don't have much of a handle on what might be meant by "folk culture" here in the USA. Also not sure if this is about communal or informal singing or performance singing as occurs even in song circles. My impression, which may be incorrect, is there is a tradition of communal singing, at least on the choruses, in pubs in the UK and Ireland that has never found a foothold in what is now the USA. Don't know if it found a foothold in Canada or not.

Communal public singing in the USA has always been present, but happened more in churches and/or southern fields arising out of African traditions of work songs and field hollers. Or, as Hoot noted, on front porches. Has always been singing and playing on the back porch throughout the central and southern Appalachians. Our large land mass has made for a much different experience in the USA. In New England and what is often referred to as the Atlantic Seaboard (from perhaps Philadelphia and north, where geography and topography fostered villages and people living in close proximity relative to points south and and west,) there may be something approaching a pub tradition of singing and choruses, but I base that purely on what I have read, learned and perhaps incorrectly assumed from reading posts above the line on Mudcat over the past many years.   

After typing all of this, which I will let stand, fwiw, I realize I don't really understand what your experience was in the UK, nor what your experience has been here on the other side of the pond. I also don't know what you mean by folk culture.

As has been demonstrated 'in this town many times before' folks can fight all day and all night about "what is folk." I have no interest in that debate and suspect you don't have a dog in that fight either. Just wondering what it is that you experience as different within your own personal context between your experiences in the UK and your experiences here. It sounds like whatever you experienced in the UK was good and satisfying in your experience in a way that you have not found on this side of the pond.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 14 - 04:49 AM

Over poplation and inbreeding , 402 people/ km2   VS 31 people/ km2, and all the woes and advantages that go with it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1306213/England-populated-country-EU.html

http://www.mostlyodd.com/death-by-utopia/

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


Nothing to be smug about. For England the addition of darker skinned immigrant population may be its only salvation from the weak chinned genetic curse. It has certainly saved its otherwise boring inbreed musical trad.Oil


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 14 - 05:58 AM

Dont see the last post as relevant to this thread at all!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Rapparee
Date: 01 Mar 14 - 10:03 PM

Oh, singing and music in The West, from the Spanish to the Mountain Men to wagon trains, is very well documented. So is dancing. "Hurdy-gurdy" houses were places for dancing, not (primarily) for "sporting." I think that wherever people get together for work there has been music which they either made themselves or was provided for them. The Mormons sang as they pulled the handcarts, the 49ers sang as they walked west, the sourdoughs up in the Klondike sang in the long winters, the Spanish in Santa Fe and California had dances ("fandangos") whenever the chance arose.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 14 - 09:05 AM

Perhaps my experiences in England and Ireland were not exemplary of the norm. How could I know, given the brief time I was there? But my sense was and is that virtually anyone with a voice loud enough to be heard above the usual din of a pub, could raise a song and feel somewhat certain that at least a few others would be likely to join on the chorus. I won't say this could occur in every pub in the nation, but I would daresay it might be true in many. In contrast, an attempt of that sort in the USA would almost certainly fall flat. In general, people here don't know and don't care about the old songs. Praise be to the gods that there are some who still do!

Now, I know I made a blanket statement regarding the old songs. I know full and well that there are places one can find if one searches diligently where folk music in its various forms can be heard in the US. But my sense is that such places are not nearly as ubiquitous as they are in the UK.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Mar 14 - 12:12 PM

Five reasons for the demise of the interest in folk music in America was that:
1. It was killed by the academics such as D.K. Wilgus at U.C.L.A. who refused non-traditional performers such as Joan Baez to be on the folk song programs, not allowing for a wider circle of interest by audiences who could have been exposed to traditional folk and learned to appreciate it. Alan Lomax was also inconsistent on this issue, setting an arbitrary standard for what he considered "folk", often vituperatively protesting exponents of the commercialization of folk music such as excellent musicians, Bud and Travis, yet embracing the Kingston Trio as OK.
2. Young people who once had an interest in folk music found it to be creatively stultifying and turned to rock or pop instead, finding there a creative place in that form of music before it became corporatized.
3. Young black musicians found a white oriented "folk music" too restrictive so turned to "rap" and "hip hop" or "blues". Today that's being remedied by such exciting black groups, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Guy Davis, Erik Bibb and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Black folk musicians have not surfaced in the UK because the anti-black racism is ignored there and not as not overt as it is in the US.
4. International folk music was labeled "ethnic" and often outside the realm of what many people thought was "folk music" however it flourishes in other parts of the world where Commercial American Musical Imperialism hasn't taken hold.
5. In America, arbitrary distinctions were made classifying different "branches" of folk music in record bins such as "celtic" or "blues" labeled by pedants and recording salespeople often excluding the best part of folk music, an amalgam of various previous folk music forms, perhaps standing the chance of being tomorrow's legitimate folk music.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 14 - 02:20 PM

Case well stated, Stringsinger!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 03 Mar 14 - 04:23 AM

Perhaps my experiences in England and Ireland were not exemplary of the norm. How could I know, given the brief time I was there? But my sense was and is that virtually anyone with a voice loud enough to be heard above the usual din of a pub, could raise a song and feel somewhat certain that at least a few others would be likely to join on the chorus.

I don't know what pubs you went to! In my experience that's a risky assumption at a lot of folk clubs, let alone ordinary pubs.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Mar 14 - 05:47 AM

yes I would love to take him out for a meal to brewers fayre - he'd liven up the place!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Musket
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 05:15 AM

On the western edge of the pond, they speak of something called a chantey. We get pissed and sing shanties.

Perhaps the tectonic plates are drifting?


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 06:25 AM

"Black folk musicians have not surfaced in the UK because the anti-black racism is ignored there and not as not overt as it is in the US."

I have to pull you up on that outrageous statement!

The USA and UK have very different histories. Even now there are far fewer black people in the UK as a proportion of the population- and before WWII the black population of Britain would have been tiny.

While there have been black performers noted in Britain going back at least as far as Victorian times there has never been a distinct "black" folk music tradition in the UK to compare with the wealth of blues, gospel etc in the USA. The point being that the black population of the USA have had a great impact on the historic folk tradition of that country- this is not the case in the UK.

On the other hand, ever since there has been a substantial black population in the UK have been many successful Black-British acts- often building on music that has emerged from folk traditions- from Lord Kitchener and the Calyspo musicians who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948 onwards!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: artbrooks
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 09:57 AM

GUEST 06:25 AM - are you trying to have a logical discussion with Stringslinger? Most of us don't attempt to do so.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 12:25 PM

Thank you Allan. Artschnooks, who is this "we" Kimosabe?


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