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Still wondering what's folk these days?

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Lighter 03 Jun 15 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 03 Jun 15 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,leeneia 03 Jun 15 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,Jon 03 Jun 15 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 03 Jun 15 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 03 Jun 15 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,matt milton 03 Jun 15 - 02:42 PM
The Sandman 03 Jun 15 - 03:23 PM
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GUEST,punkfolkrocker 04 Jun 15 - 01:41 PM
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Subject: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 12:16 PM

Submitted for your approval:

Music review by John Donahue in The New Yorker, June 8, 2015, p.26:

"Olivia Chaney and her harmonium are reinvigorating English folk music.....

"...She embraces songs about sex, death, unrequited love, and murder....

"...Chaney is bringing the grand tradition of British folk music into the twenty-first century...She often performs barefoot....When she takes her place behind the harmonium ... and, with a steely gaze, starts singing, it's as if a mystical spirit has entered the room. It's chilling when she slowly intones 'Stand by the roadside/ facing the headlights/ wait for the break of dawn,' on her adaptation of 'Blessed Instant,' by the Norwegian jazz singer Sidsel Endresen...."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 12:26 PM

"She often performs barefoot...."

Damn those stinky cheesey foot fetishists..

not content with spamming all the online p0rn cam/chat sites..

now the kinky blighters wanna take over folk music as well....😜


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 12:48 PM

Hard to believe that somebody can reinvigorate folk with songs on the tired old themes of sex, death, unrequited love, and murder.

The harmonium, which has a lot of keys and therefore a lot of possibilities, may add something invigorating.

Does the harmonium have pedals, like a regular organ? If so, she may be playing barefoot simply to feel the pedals better. Good for her.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 12:57 PM

Puppet of a string is good barefoot. And yes, I'm sad enough to like this song)

Not sure where that gets us with what is folk though.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:10 PM

Fifty-six years ago this song by Bill Weldon was performed at the Newport Folk Festival, so maybe not much has changed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC2NMfsOEK8


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 01:10 PM

Never heard of her.. but listening now to youtube BBC Mark Radcliffe session..

First thing needs mentioning is I absolutely love harmonium drones..

and she sounds pretty good and a potential favourite singer...



But that reviewer John Donahue does appear to be a bit of a pillock
making reference to her feet as though it's some big deal...

It's the 21st century .. we at least want belly buttons these days...😈


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 02:42 PM

She does actually perform some traditional folk songs too y'know


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 03:23 PM

but does she fit the 1954 definition,and would Jim Carroll like her


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 06:08 PM

> She does actually perform some traditional folk songs too

Donahue doesn't mention them. Either he found them uninteresting, or he thought they were secondary to her real "folk" repertoire. Or both.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Padre
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 09:11 PM

Of all the things about which I am concerned, 'what is folk these days' ranks WAAAY down the list. Somewhere below how to cook an aardvark.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 02:39 AM

strangely enough I didn't attend this gig advertised as 'Gothic country, industrial folk and heretical gospel'

sandra


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 03:05 AM

Just watched her a bit on youtube , liked it a lot. She did a grand version of Joni Mitchell, "A Case of You."
I don't know if she is "folk" or not but she is very good. Thanks for the introduction!


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 12:30 PM

Barefoot eh? God that's soulful. I wonder where I put all those brass tacks.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 01:18 PM

The question is, "What kind of music are people probably talking about today when you hear them call it 'folk'?" What should you expect to hear at a "folk" concert?

Let's see, you can have one performer or several.

The instruments can be acoustic or electric.

Any melodic scale is acceptable.

Any genre except classical is likely to appear in a "folk" performance.

Large orchestral backups are a possible disqualification. (Is Celtic Woman a "folk" act?)

Singer-songwriter music is preferred. In fact, it might be the most important element.

If so, "folk music" chiefly means music and (especially) song performed by the composer/songwriter, along with whatever else sounds sort of like it - as long as it isn't classical.

True?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 01:41 PM

I think by now most of us are suffering "Folk Definition Battle Fatigue"..??? 😣

I for one just feel worn out and listless, and want it all to end quickly and painlessly.....


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Mr Red
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 07:33 AM

"Folk" is the bag that reviewers use when they can't put a specific label on the performer.

"Folk" is one of the labels that bands attach to their adjectival list, because they think it will pull in Folkies as well as punkabilly or rock-o-funk afficianados. Other mishmashes are available.

It is a sign of "fusion" music if you are kind, and imprecise focus if you are critical.

It is a current trend/fashion, as I perceive it, and given a the distance of time it will fall inevitably in the bag of "Folk Process".

But at least, with Olivia Chaney, it sounds as if there is a competent performer who, given enough listening, would do justice to a "Folk" song. Or one I (or you, or a critic on the New Yorker) would class as Folk.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:41 AM

What is Folk, b y far the most asked question on Mudcat, and no one has yet been able to come up with an answer, and I'm not about to change that ;)


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:44 AM

"Folk" is whatever gets people hard/wet whose values disincline them towards music perceived to belong to elites and to (too great a degree of) commercial pandering. The label is affective and ideological.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 09:01 AM

Thinking now, I'm not sure I'm consistent on the classical one. I'm not always fond of classical voices for "folk" but John McCormack works for me as does say Bonnie Mary of Argyle on this

A mostly Irish session I sometimes get to has part of Handel's Royal Firewoks as an occasional tune. Dit dit dit dit deeddle deelele dee.

I tend to have a harder time with some varieties of singer song writers. But that's just me. I might even prefer a more rigid definition of a "folk song" but I do consider what may work in a given say "folk club" setting a different matter. The venue may or may not in varying degrees be for me but I can find things that suit me in the variety we have.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Airymouse
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 01:47 PM

I don't know what a folk song is and I have ceased to care. A C# song
is a non-degenerate equivalence class of tunes and words at least one member of which was collected by Cecil Sharp, or would have been collected by him had he come across it. The equivalence relation, which is perhaps not well defined, is that any reasonable person upon hearing two members of the class would say, "the words are different and the tunes are different, but they are obviously the same song.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Reinhard
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 02:06 PM

a competent performer who, given enough listening, would do justice to a "Folk" song

... like e.g. The False Bride which Olivia Chaney sings on her current album even if The New Yorker does not mention it.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 02:54 PM

Or Poor Murdered Woman which she sang a lovely version of on the first Woodbine & Ivy Band album. She also does a cracking version of Bellamy/ Kipling's The Brookland Road.

http://youtu.be/R23uood10MU


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 05:29 PM

I played barefoot at a ceilidh a few weeks back: why? Because both my shoes and socks were wringing wet from an earlier venture into the May morning dew. No chance to go home in between and get dry socks and shoes, and there was a handy radiator behind me to dry them out on, so at least I could go home with dry feet! Sure my pedal control was better in bare feet........?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 05:33 PM

The first songbooks I purchased back in 1952 or '53 were A Treasury of Folk Songs, by John and Sylvia Kolb, a 35¢ paperback (Bantam Books), Best Loved American Folk Songs (Folk Song U.S.A), by John and Alan Lomax, and The American Songbag, by Carl Sandburg. I subsequently picked up other collections, such as Dick and Beth Best's Song Fest, Evelyn Kendrick Wells's The Ballad Tree, and such. I now have about twenty feet of bookshelf space devoted to folk songs and ballads, from academic collections (Sharp) to collections, such as Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, compiled by William Cole.

In addition, I began learning songs from the records of Burl Ives, Susan Reed, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and others as I became aware of their records. Miscellaneous Seegers, Ewan McColl, A.L. Lloyd, many others. About six feet of shelf space of LPs, and a great stack of CDs.

I have also learned several dozen songs directly, from people like Walt Roberson, John Dwyer, Bob Nelson, Patty McLaughlin, Claire Hess, and many others who wrote out or dictated the words, and sang me through the tune.

All of these songs have a "provenance," a history, like a piece of antique furniture. People have "used" these songs. None of them were "fresh from the workshop" or written on the bus last week. They've all been around awhile.

I do sing other songs from time to time. But I don't try to peddle a bass-baritone operatic aria from a Bryn Terfel record or comic song I learned from an old Tom Lehrer record as a "folk song."

No, I think I have a pretty good handle on what constitutes a folk song…..

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 05:38 PM

It's perfectly simple - folk consists of

a) all traditional songs, irrespective of what you do to them
b) all traditional tunes, irrespective of what you do to them
and
c) varying quantities of other stuff, defined by varying criteria but usually not irrespective of what you do to it.

So Long Lankin played by Metallica and remixed by the Aphex Twin would still be folk, but if you want your own stuff to be folk you generally have to play an acoustic guitar or similar. The rules are even stricter for cover versions, which should include at least two designated folk instruments. Hence London Calling can be called folk when done by the Bad Shepherds (fiddle, mandolin and whistle) but not when done by the Clash - or when played by Metallica and remixed by the Aphex Twin, for that matter. This also explains the controversy over Jim Moray's cover of All You Pretty Girls, most of which only includes one designated folk instrument (melodeon) - bad form there, Moray.

Joking apart, I'm really not bothered about this any more. I know what works for me, and most of it is traditional. It's a bit like being a massive fan of a particularly distinctive artist - Leonard Cohen, say, or Tom Waits: you aren't going to like everything they record, but you know that any random album of theirs is likely to contain more tracks that really do it for you than any album by somebody else. I don't like every traditional song ever recorded (!), but traditional songs have a much, much higher hit-rate for me than just about anything else. (Even if they're played by Metallica and remixed by the Aphex Twin - or arranged by Bellowhead.) Which is why I used to get arsey about the definition of 'folk' - if you can't hear this amazing music anywhere but designated folk contexts, it's a shame for it to get crowded out even there. I still think that's basically correct, I just don't think it's useful to get riled about it.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 06:24 PM

Neatly explained, Don and Phil.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 06:29 PM

I saw a film clip of operatic bass-baritone George London singing "Lord Randal" recently. He gave it the full operatic treatment, and you'd think he was doing the final act of Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," (The Death of Boris). Now, George London is one of the world's great operatic bass-baritones, but his rendition of Lord Randal was more that just a bit "over the top."

But "Lord Randal" is still a traditional (folk) ballad.

But had he done "The Death of Boris" like I feel "Lord Randal" should be done, that wouldn't have worked either.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 06:43 PM

Out of curiosity, Don. We have a Cerys Matthews CD she sings with a varitey of people. One of them is with BT. They do Migildi magildi and I quite like it.

It's a primary school song (I was born in England and don't sairad cymraeg but lived in N Wales a couple of times) and I guess with others like Dacw Mam Yn Dwad would have been learned by generations.

Ever heard that one?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 07:08 PM

Folk is an aesthetic of consumption.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 07:38 PM

No, Guest, I'm not familiar with either the singer or the song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:17 PM

I guess I shouldn't have shortened Bryn Terfyl to BT...


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 11:09 PM

Ah! Missed it! Sounds interesting, Guest. I'll try to track it down and give it a listen.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 04:03 AM

> All of these songs have a "provenance," a history, like a piece of antique furniture. People have "used" these songs. None of them were "fresh from the workshop" or written on the bus last week. They've all been around awhile.

"Folk" is thus one of the least popular musical genres in the English-speaking world. Even pseudo-folk is an also-ran compared to hiphop, CW, etc.


> But "Lord Randal" is still a traditional (folk) ballad.

But that doesn't make George London a "folk singer."

Or...does it?...


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 04:17 AM

I think if you do find the CD (not sure what's happened to ours) Don , the liner notes are probably better than a lot of the performances. Still, there's nothing like nostalgia and that particular track does work for me.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 04:22 AM

Not so sure of George London, but the late Kathleen Ferrier of course recorded a magnificent version of Blow the Wind Southerly (Roud 2619). Did that make Kathleen Ferrier a folk singer? Or did it make Blow the Wind Southerly a classical piece. It certainly propelled it into the repertoire of many a choir.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Musket
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 04:46 AM

Perhaps in 1954 she wouldn't have been able to afford shoes? Especially in the post Marshall plan UK.

Sounds nice. Fits my definition of what I refer to as folk and as the genre term is owned by no one, it is folk. Musket says so.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 11:34 AM

I realize now that my question above about foot pedals was silly. I thought at the time that a harmonium was the very small organ that I sometimes see at concerts. But no, that's the positif.

I searched for Olivia Chaney on YouTube and selected her song 'Waxwing' to listen to. Now I know what a harmonium looks like. I would have to say that the melody and harmony sound traditional. As for the lyrics, I can't tell you, because I can't understand anything except the word 'Waxwing.'


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 12:02 PM

The idea of folk music arose from people noticing that the music moving in oral tradition was largely a different thing from the music in the professional music tradition, and the observation of that reality wasn't contingent on preferring folk music over non-folk music or vice-versa.

For instance, "Hop Joint" is considered a folk song because John Hurt learned it from a friend for fun in about 1902 and we don't know of any professional musicians performing "Hop Joint" earlier than that, and "In The Good Old Summertime" is considered a non-folk song from 1902 because we think Ren Shields and George Evans actually wrote it and didn't lift it from oral tradition. Of course, that is not defining "Hop Joint" or "In The Good Old Summertime" as folk music based on how much anyone gets excited by each song.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 12:42 PM

Kathleen Ferrier of course recorded a magnificent version of Blow the Wind Southerly

It's mannered, bizarre and inspired a generation of crappy sanitized performances of traditional songs...

It certainly propelled it into the repertoire of many a choir

...like those.

Chaney is far more idiomatic.

My mother was a Kathleen Ferrier fan (she had a vaguely similar voice). I found her utterly offputting and my father's taste in singers (the Glasgow Orpheus Choir, Peter Dawson and Inia Te Wiata) didn't do much more for me. I didn't get traditional song till I heard Jean Ritchie.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 01:36 PM

"I guess I shouldn't have shortened Bryn Terfyl to BT... "
.,,.

'Deed not, Guest. You had me wondering what # I would have to punch into my phone to hear it on British Telecom...

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 02:28 PM

This is not rocket science.

George London, a classical singer, sings "Lord Randal," a folk song. Kathleen Ferrier, a classical singer, sings "Blow Ye Wind Southerly," a folk song.

Miracle of miracles!! George London and Kathleen Ferrier are still classical singers and "Lord Randal" and "Blow Ye Wind Southerly" are still folk songs.

Richard Dyer-Bennet, a classically trained singer and classic guitarist, sang mostly folk songs. The songs didn't change because he sang them. They remained folk songs. Dyer-Bennet himself did not claim to be a folk singer. In fact, he denied it. He billed himself as "the twentieth century minstrel," evoking the image of a self-accompanied travelling singer following an ancient tradition.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 02:57 PM

>are still classical singers and "Lord Randal" and "Blow Ye Wind Southerly" are still folk songs.

That certainly suggests that Olivia Chaney isn't a "folk singer" either, no matter what they say. Mostly she sings non-folk songs.

So what does a prominent critic mean when he says she sings and plays "folk"?

My personal belief is that he's drunk the marketing Kool-Aid (as we say in the States), but evidently Chaney thinks she's a folk performer too. (Because of the marginality of "folk," surely she could make a [slightly] better living calling her music something like "light jazz" or "New Age.")

It's a real question. What makes her sort of music "folk" in anybody's mind?

> The label is affective and ideological. ...Folk is an aesthetic of consumption.

Undoubtedly (I think). But the question is "What do most people mean today when they say they play or like (or don't like)'folk'?"

Obviously there's no air-tight definition covering all possible cases. Chaney-Donahue, however, is clearly a mainstream case. Mainly people seem to mean something "privitive" (i.e., something defined by what it's not rather than by its own intrinsic qualities).

Has any other musical genre ever been defined primarily by what it's *not*?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 06:17 PM

What is it that makes 'Blow the wind southerly' a folksong? Just curious. I've never come across it anywhere else other than in a Kathleen Ferrier context. It certainly made an impression on me but I don't remember ever hearing any other versions.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 06:46 PM

1. All traditional stuff is folk. Call it folk(1).
1.1. Folk(1) is folk(1) regardless of how it's performed.

2. Some other stuff gets called folk - call it folk(2).
2.1. Music that's called folk(2) is generally performed in certain ways (e.g. the solo acoustic guitarist, the guitar/banjo/fiddle combo).
2.2. However, music that's performed in those ways doesn't have to be called folk(2) and very often isn't.

More generally:

3. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what does and doesn't get included in folk(2), and you'd go mad trying to find any kind of "airtight definition".
3.1. It varies from decade to decade, year to year, week to week, and needless to say from country to country.
3.2. Some people regard this endless, omnivorous openness as a good thing, or even as the distinguishing feature of folk(2).

A couple of other things:

4. The folk audience means the kind of people who like folk(1), folk(2) or both.
4.1. Who these people are, what combination of folk(1) and folk(2) they like, and what they think of as folk(2) will also vary from year to year and country to country.

5. A folk artist is somebody whose work the folk audience likes.
5.1. Folk artists can play anything at all without ceasing to be folk artists - unless they do something the folk audience doesn't like.
5.2. Some audiences will positively welcome folk artists embracing different kinds of material and turning them into folk(2) - see 3.2.

Beyond that I'm not playing.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 06:55 PM

Has any other musical genre ever been defined primarily by what it's *not*?

Not to get hung up too much on semantics, but I don't think the "folk" being discussed is a "genre." That aside…

"Classical," "Popular," and "Folk" are three (large scale) musical "spheres" (the word I'd use -- I hope it doesn't sound pretentious) distinguished in Western society. Each is partially defined by what it is not. That is, they are defined against one another.

Yes, there is no air-tight definition of any—which is why I object to using "folk" as a category of scholarly analysis.

Roughly speaking, "Classical" became distinguished as the music of elites in the 19th century, in distinction from vernacular or "popular" music.

German-language discussants considered "Volk" to be that which was particular to people of a "nation" (not a nation-state, but an ethnically-defined nation).

English-language discussants came along and said, "Ah, music of a nation! We like that way of circumscribing music like that! But we have to get the true spirit of the Volk. That is not found in new-fangled and cosmopolitan [under the influence of interactions with others] Classical/art music. And we've got this popular music too, but look: it's been corrupted by industry and media."

So, "Folk" becomes a sort of "pure music of an ethnic group"—"pure" because it is uninfluenced by others or by education or by media or by industry. This generates an aesthetic of authenticity, and a proportional valuing of older as better and regional as better, etc.

The idea of "Folk" goes on to influence the thinking of elites (ironically?) in many places, and these places come up with somewhat different connotations. I've mentioned before that from my observations in India, *regionality* (and being sung in "regional" languages) is one of the very important characteristics of what people think of as "folk"—more so than oral transmission, since "Classical" music of India is all oral transmission, and old! This leads to mix up such as Anglophones in the West maybe thinking Classical Indian music of some sort is "folk"—it's being perceived as "of a people (essentially)," old, and oral leads to this judgement that an Indian would never make.

So what the English-speaking discussants first developed as a "Folk" concept—their reactionary split off from popular music that emphasized purity and race—wasn't scientific because 1) It wasn't universal and 2) the operating principle of definition was really subjective -- something to do with perceived authenticity. They tried to make it more scientific (C. Sharp et. al.) by attempting to quantify authenticity with the idea of "folk process" -- and idea that brings together both of the values of orality and age. But much of music in the world that wouldn't be described as "folk" undergoes that "process". It's just subjective again, a matter of degree-- a degree that satisfies the seeker of the folk aesthetic.

So something is "folk" when it satisfies, to sufficient degree, the aesthetic of the person holding a concept of folk. In the Anglosphere that concept includes the ideas that great age, orality, simplicity, corporality (bare feet?), etc etc (among a host of connotations) are indicators of authenticity. Because authenticity is the ultimate goal, however, the indicators of authenticity have been able to shift with times. A performance might be "authentic," not because it is old or orally produced, but because the performer "kept it simple" or "sang in an untrained voice."

On a more basic level of musical style though, something is "folk" for Westerners if it signifies any combination of (perceived) "untrained/unrefined," "ethnically-specific," "old," "provincial," and "tradition."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 07:08 PM

I have it in a couple of books of English folk songs, and a quick Google reveals that several people other than Kathleen Ferrier have recorded it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 08:17 PM

"Still wondering what's folk these days?"

More like amused by the sort of wailing and gnashing of teeth when Dylan went electric or Belafonte being burned in effigy in Trinidad. Sometimes the audience reaction is more entertaining than what's up on the stage.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 10:30 PM

My biggest discomfort with most usual definitions of the music and social culture of 'Folk'
is I'm just not a 'people person'...

I'm much happier listening to good CDs at home in solitude.....😌


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 01:31 AM

"She does actually perform some traditional folk songs too y'know"
.,,.
True -- I just found a video of Ms Chaney singing The Dark-Eyed Sailor, with portative organ rather than harmonium. But mostly it seems to be that MOR sort-of-uplift that people who don't know much about folk delight for some reason in calling folk music. As I once wrote in a Folk Review article called "A plea for categories", [from memory] 'It's a free country: call it all folk if you like. But remember the necessity of precise communication in nomenclature. If every article of household furniture was called a chair, we shouldn't know where to park our arses' -- a formulation, I recall, that much appealed to Peter Bellamy, who went around quoting it for quite a time.

As for Ms Chaney as a performer: she seems to me deficient in clarity of articulation -- even if she did study at Chetham's & The RAM. Someone should have told her not to sing quite so close to the mic: as it is, her words get muffled and are hard to make out. Even tho she was here singing a song I know, I could only clearly hear about one phrase a stanza & had to go back to the DT to remind myself of the words. I find her a bit strident myself.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 04:05 AM

There is a thread here on Blow the Wind Southerly, and it seems to be a traditional Northumberland song, although there is a possible attribution of authorship to John Stobbs (some time in the 19th century). I think if it had not been for Kathleen Ferrier's recording it would have been an occasional part of the repertoire of folk singers particularly in that area. However the popularity of Kathleen Ferrier in the dark years after the war, the shock of her early death (her illness had been kept secret), and the fact that this particular song became her signature tune meant that it came to the attention of a much wider audience than those normally interested in folk music. Not that I remember, I was 5 months old when she died, it was on my parent's generation that this had a great impact. And I suspect that there was far less impact outside the UK.

Hence, when you type the song name into a search engine, or Youtube, you find little else.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 05:09 AM

I remember the 1949 recording by Ferrier of "Blow The Wind Southerly" very well, for it was always being played on the radio - as was her English version of "Che Faro Senza Eurydice" ("What Is Life" from Gluck's opera, "Orfeo ed Euridice".

As a boy at the time, I thought her voice rather mournful and solemn, and imagined her to be so in person. I found out much later in life that, in fact, she was a lively, funny, very talented woman - and incredibly famous - who died tragically young. Her singing of Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" is stunning.

"Blow the Wind Southerly" is a traditional English folk song from Northumbria. It tells of a woman desperately hoping for a southerly wind to blow her lover back home over the ocean to her. Roud number 2619.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 09:52 AM

> deficient in clarity of articulation

I find this to be true of Loreena McKennitt as well. I can't make out half of what she's singing. It's pleasant as aural wallpaper, however.

Perhaps this style - as though the singer is a "maid in a beautiful dream" talking in her sleep - is yet another marker of "folk."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Snuffy
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 09:58 AM

Folk? probably. The words and tune of the chorus at least, if not the verses, seem to have been widely known among seafarers by the late 19th Century: Laura Alexandrine Smith's Music of the Waters (1888) puts it amongst her Tyneside material, and Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas (1961) states:
... we next give a shanty in which the codfish and many other fishes figure. This song is called The Fishes, and although the original was undoubtedly a Scottish fisherman's song, it was sung aboard square-riggers at the capstan and often at pumps as well. The Scottish version of the chorus runs: "Blow ye winds southerly, southerly, southerly, Blow bonnie breeze, blow my lover to me." Another place of origin may have been the Tyne, as there does exist a keelman version.
He goes on to state that Colcord also collected the Scottish chorus from New England fishermen, whilst Whall (a Scot) gives a completely different tune. Hugill himself collected it from an old Bristol Channel seaman with a chorus of "Blow ye winds westerly, westerly, westerly, Our ship's in full sail, now steady she goes."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 10:02 AM

Another couple of thoughts.

1. Any definition of 'folk' in line with the way that the word is currently used would have to include Bert Jansch singing "Needle of Death", the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing the theme from Shaft, Jim Moray's recording of "All you pretty girls" and Sinead O'Connor singing "She moved through the fair".

2. As if that wasn't hard enough, the same definition would have to exclude Ed Sheeran singing "The A Team", the Love Unlimited Orchestra playing the theme from Shaft, XTC's recording of "All you pretty girls" and Sinead O'Connor singing "Nothing compares 2 U".

I suggest that it can't be done. Folk(1) can be defined - although not without some quite interesting grey areas - but folk(2) is just "whatever people are calling folk at any given time".


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 10:31 AM

I'm wondering if it's time for me to accept I'm getting nearer to old age
and change my name to folkpunkrocker...??? 👴


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 11:58 AM

> but folk(2) is just "whatever people are calling folk at any given time".

Unfortunately, any word can be defined that way, which tells us very little. ("A 'keyboard' means whatever people are calling a 'keyboard' at any given time.")

Yet we know pretty much what people mean when they talk about a keyboard, love, birth, death, even infinity - even if the details are fuzzy around the edges.

Nowadays "folk" seems fuzzy all the way through.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,folkpunkrocker
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 12:09 PM

'Folk' works in mysterious ways; it's ..[insert word of choice].. to perform....😜


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 12:14 PM

Well said, Phil! A concise summary of the reality that umpteen posts on this and several other threads have been struggling to explain.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 12:58 PM

I think the meaning of "folk" is clear enough. It's people who are fuzzy about the meaning who tend to confuse the issue.

Oftentimes there is a selfish motivation, for example, the person who writes his or her own songs and wants to "legitimize" their songs by claiming they are "folk."

Like the example I give above: the guy who makes a chair in his workshop, then puts a high price on it and tries to peddle it as an "antique." Basically, a scam, claiming a prestige it doesn't deserve.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 01:31 PM

Good point, Don. Unscrupulous people are always trying to rake in the big bucks that come along with being labelled as folk music.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 02:00 PM

Liked what I've heard so far, and though I'm with PFR in his Folk Definition Battle Fatigue, I've heard far less deserving candidates for the 'folk' label - and I don't think her diction's bad either.

The thing that did piss me off in the New Yorker quote was the old 'reinvigorating English folk music' cobblers. I've been reading press puffs telling me that some singer or band or whatever was about to 'drag English Folk Music kicking and screaming into the 21st century' for at least 30 years now, and all they tell you is that the writer knows nothing of the topic. The implication is (a) that EFR is intrinsically boring, and (b) that no-one else has ever, in the history of the world, thought of giving it a kick up the arse. Olivia Chaney is good, but hardly radical. Emily Portman does bolder things with writing new songs in old styles, and Solarference are amongst those who are way more experimental musically.

Besides, Joseph Taylor recordings made over 100 years ago, still work pretty well for me without any 'reinvigoration'.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 02:53 PM

> the person who writes his or her own songs and wants to "legitimize" their songs by claiming they are "folk."

True, but what is there about the product that "legitimizes" it? People either like or don't like other music, without musicians/publicists needing to "legitimize" it (or themselves).

> about to 'drag English Folk Music kicking and screaming into the 21st century'

If it's got to be "dragged" or "reinvigorated," then it must be pretty bad, or at least unpopular. I don't see why a musician would want to associate herself with music that's supposed to be so tedious and antiquated that it needs to be morphed into something entirely different.

Anyway, Joseph Taylor's music isn't being morphed. It's being ignored or (perhaps) used in a vague way as inspiration, much as movies that are 95% fiction marketed as "Inspired by true events."

I can understand why people would want to watch "true" events. But I can't understand why people who would be bored to tears by actual folk/traditional music performed a by an actual traditional musician, *like* to think that some utterly different contemporary music really "is" what the stuff they dislike apparently "isn't."

Maybe it's just a fake, industry-induced "nostalgia" for a distorted past that's so romanticized and plain miscomprehended that its music *must* have sounded like what the "folk" audience wants to hear now.

Offhand I can't imagine any other reason for marketing it as "folk." As I said before, why not "light jazz" or "New Age" or something like that?

On the other hand, "folk traditions" and the past are usually absent from the modern music we're talking about - except when some simplistic history is invoked in protest songs.

Even "folk-rock" would make a wee bit more sense: but perhaps today "folk" is just an abbreviation for "folk-rock."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 04:41 PM

Lighter - we're in violent agreement. The point of folk(2) is that it can only be defined as "whatever people happen to be calling folk at the moment" - or, in your words, it's fuzzy all the way through.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,The oldest banjo player in Franklin County (
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 05:56 PM

It is not just mudcat where the "What is... etc." rages on. The Banjo Hangout has many a thread attempting to answer that and other questions of equal unimportance. Brought to my easily confused memory was this verse from Roy Berkeley's parody "Party Folksinger" about the activities of the Peoples' Artists (singing those "good old People's songs)

"Their material is corny
But their motives are the purest
And their spirit can never be broke.
As they go right on with their great noble crusade
Of teaching folk music to the folk"

I have a button which says: Folk You! (nicely, though)

I used to hate folk music until I realized folk music is the music people enjoy in spite of commercialization, promotion and the agenda of impressing all and sundry with virtuosity for it's own sake.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 09:07 PM

> commercialization, promotion and the agenda of impressing all and sundry with virtuosity for it's own sake.

What so many professional "folk musicians" are into.

> questions of equal unimportance

In other words, most questions. This just happens to be one that interests some of us.

> Lighter - we're in violent agreement.

Finally there's somebody....

OK then. You've got your "traditional music," which everybody seems to be able to agree on, whether they want to listen to it or not. It's also known as "folk."

Then you've got your "folk-rock," which can be either rock arrangements of traditional music (like Steeleye)or else new rock songs claimed to have some relationship, however tenuous, to traditional music (I'm thinking early Dylan). That too is sometimes just called "folk."

Finally you've got "folk" of the Chaney-McKennitt variety, which is essentially "new or recent singer-songwriter material that is usually acoustic, draws on various styles including jazz, strives for nuanced, often romantic lyrics on a wide variety of subjects, is believed to be especially personal and sincere, and is often sung in a dreamy or understated way."

And I think number three is what most people are thinking of when they talk about and pay money for "folk."

What makes it complicated is that "folk" has not one, not two, but at least three distinct meanings when applied to music.

And you never know which one is going to pop up....


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 03:25 AM

Then there's category four. From the Cambridge Folk Festival to the smallest, most traditional singaround, the audience will always perk up for an acoustic Anarchy in the UK, a John Cooper Clarke poem done in the style of Gordon Lightfoot, Good Vibrations unaccompanied and in three-part harmony or Telstar on whistle, bodhran and autoharp. They (we) love that stuff.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Mr Red
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 04:17 AM

Anyone mention Chas & Dave?
If they ain't folk, just give them 100 years and the techno-folkism of that era will look nostalgically at the "Old Songs".

Gertcha!

The problem with defining "Folk" is that "modern" does not have that patina, that distance, that age. But the Folk Songs of the future are all around us, I dare you to spot them.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 07:35 AM

> But the Folk Songs of the future are all around us,

Heh heh. So they've been saying.

But let's look back. To the 1920s for example.

That was nearly one hundred years ago. I can't think of even one 1920s pop song that is now a "folk song."

Unless "folk song" now means "very old song you rarely if ever hear anymore."

Which is certainly a possibility.

The last American (non-bawdy) songs to have been subject to many changes in oral tradition seem to be a few from the 1890s (before radio and practically before phonographs):

"John Hardy"
"The Wreck on the C & O Road"
"Stackolee"
"Frankie and Johnny"
"Railroad Bill"
"Mister McKinley" (1901 but what the hell)
   

Probably a handful more.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 08:29 AM

1908 My Brudda Sylvest. I don't know about America where it originated but it was sung a lot in WWII and carried on in the pub sings until the folk scene got hold of it. I doubt if 'Old Johnny Booker' is much older.

Moving on to the folk scene, plenty of English folk artistes of the 60s were including 20s comic songs in their repertoires, such as 'Taking my Oyster for Walkies'. Popular songs of any period will always be accepted into the folk repertoire but they won't be forced!

Recording source singers in more recent years they often offer songs they were taught at school like 'The Jolly Wagonner'.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 08:42 AM

I think some people have a bit of a hair-shirt approach to folk music, maybe all genres of music have aficionados with this approach. So, not having heard of Joseph Taylor, and wondering why his music was being ignored, with the magic of Youtube you can listen to a small number of these. Two I found were Rufford Park Poachers and Sprig of Thyme. A good singer, with a good voice, but not, I think, out of the ordinary. The recording is a scratchy wax cylinder recording and the sound quality is of course dreadful, but its 105 years ago, so what do you expect.

A recording of great historical importance, yes. But for an evening's relaxation I will listen to Nic Jones singing Rufford Park Poachers, or Anne Briggs singing Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, with modern sound recording techniques (remastering a live performance in the case of Nic Jones). Did these people listen to Joseph Taylor's recordings? Who knows? In any case, Joseph Taylor's music is not being ignored, it is being recorded by people with great talent, in the case of those two possibly greater than his, and with vastly superior recording technology.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker/folkpunkrocker/rockpunkfolker
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 08:48 AM

1920s American pop songs now accepted as folk... ???

.. so not forgetting the influential early 20th Cent popular old timey country & blues hit selling 78rpm records;
and perhaps a fair few broadway show songs
creeping in at the margins of the broad 21st Cent 'folk' repertoire...????


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 08:57 AM

Just as songs passed back and forth between print and oral tradition in earlier centuries, so from the advent of recording technology onwards songs pass back and forth between records and oral tradition.

Little Pigs/The Old Sow
c1830s glee....pub tradition....oral tradition....Albert Richardson 78....oral tradition...?

Plenty of other examples. Fire ship...etc.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 09:01 AM

Interesting you mention Nic Jones there in that connection, Dave; because he it was (once when visiting our house when we were neighbours in Cambridgeshire [only 12 mile apart!], & my late wife Valerie mentioned how she couldn't warm to the Leader & Topic records I would get for review of the source singers like Joseph Taylor, Pop Maynard, et al) who replied, "Ah, but they are of great scholarly importance; they aren't meant to be 'entertainment'." Valerie, who was a scholar herself*, saw what he meant immediately, and never again inveighed against those that she had up-to-then dismissively called "your old men".

≈M≈

*[google her on Wikipedia, Valerie Grosvenor Myer]


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 09:32 AM

I also listened to Olivia Chaney, a good singer and a multi-instrumentalist (and in my view loads better than Loreena McKennitt). Is her music New Age? I have never really understood what New Age music is, New age is a philosophical outlook derived a bit from Theosophy, but I am not really sure how it came to be a musical genre. It seems to mean music which sounds a bit like Enya, or maybe something involving William Orbit.

I don't see how her music can be thought of as any kind of Jazz, even Light Jazz (and definitely not Lite Jazz). Jazz is an American form and Olivia Chaney is definitely an English singer.

She sings songs by writers usually thought of as folk artists, such as Bert Jansch, and she sings them in a bit of an MoR way. I though a bit like Vashti Bunyan, though better on the instruments.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 09:56 AM

I was careful to say, "The last American (non-bawdy) songs to have been *subject to many changes in oral tradition*...."

Plus, "I can't think of even one 1920s pop song that is now a "folk song. Unless 'folk song' now means "very old song you rarely if ever hear anymore."

By that standard, "Purple People Eater" is a folksong. You can call it that if you want, but it just confuses the issue - as so many other threads have shown.

The English songs mentioned appear to fall into the category of "old, rarely sung songs that hardly change - and that people don't want to change." Undoubtedly some songs written today may be sung a century from now, and very possibly they'll be called "folk songs."

But they'll have almost *nothing* in common with the titles I mentioned. That in itself should show that the distinction is useful and real.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 10:37 AM

I've come to the realisation that these days I seem to spend more time reading and thinking about 'folk' music
than I do performing, or even listening to it...

Likewise, I'm convinced some mudcatters obsessively devote disproportionate hours
writing and theorising about 'folk'...!!!???

What a weird little subcultural preoccupation...??????

oh well... if it keeps us safely off the streets and out of trouble....😏


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 10:58 AM

thishttps://www.ecosia.org/search?q=billericay+dickie+you+tube


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 11:00 AM

The point of the thread is to discover what most people generally mean when they talk glibly about "folk."

That's not the same as asking. "What really is or should be a folksong?"

And anyone who's heard me play will agree that I'm better off theorizing.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 11:23 AM

The point of the thread is to discover what most people generally mean when they talk glibly about "folk.""


Doesn't help any but I think I'd have to go along with the equally vague anything you might reasonably expect to hear in a folk club or session on that one...

In practice on "what is folk" and in terms of getting out, I and most others I know just try to be "fitters in". Initially, you go to a session (my own preference is usually for mostly tunes) or a club and try to get a feeling for what in your own sense of "folk" repertoire would work there. Where the "goal posts" are placed is down to those who've been around longer. And for me, the only real debate is to what extent I fit/enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 11:48 AM

Songs from the 1920s; what about The Prisoner's Song by Guy Massey
© 1924 by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc.

Oh, I wish I had someone to love me,
Someone to call me their own.
Oh, I wish I had someone to live with
'Cause I'm tired of livin' alone.

There are some Jimmie Rodgers songs too;
Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas) was recorded in 1927.
In the Jailhouse Now" was recorded February 15, 1928.

Bye, Bye, Blackbird is a song by composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon was first recorded by Gene Austin in 1926.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 12:58 PM

"something to do with perceived authenticity" "aesthetic of authenticity" "quantify authenticity" "indicators of authenticity. Because authenticity is the ultimate goal...."

Any time someone perceives something as "authentic" without asking himself "authentically what," he's indulging in an idealism that has nothing to do with understanding history.

As for the repeated suggestion that categorization is about personal taste, not when it's done right.

"was really subjective" "It's just subjective" Technically speaking, everything we do is "just subjective." So what?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 01:32 PM

As I suggested, none of the songs mentioned by henryp have been subject to much alteration by any oral tradition or "folk process." The yare what they've always been.

Part of the reason, of course, is copyright. Another reason is that people no longer care to alter the songs they hear - partly because commercially recorded songs are usually about as good as they're going to get.

In the English-speaking world, bawdy or rugby songs appear to be the only ones that are still subject to a meaningful "folk process." But the Internet is probably changing that too, since now no one *ever* has to remember words. They can just run a search.

I don't say that the old-time folk tradition was good or bad, merely that it has nothing of significance to do with what is now generally considered to be "folk."

Nor am I passing judgment on the quality or value of the music.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 02:15 PM

If only I could still muster even half my brain power of 30 years ago,
when I was a post grad student concerned with matters of culture, ideology, and identity...

If I could.. I'd try to understand 'folk' less by the musical genre style and content,
but place more emphasis on analysing the prevailing dominant agendas & vested interests
of self-serving commercial & academic institutions;
and the predisposition, attitudes, prejudices, and social status of performers, audience, critics, etc...

... or maybe I'd just turn the lights off, put my head in an insulated hot water bottle cosy
and scream for 10 minutes....😫


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 05:39 PM

Guest, Dave, wrote:

"So, not having heard of Joseph Taylor, and wondering why his music was being ignored, with the magic of Youtube you can listen to a small number of these... A good singer, with a good voice, but not, I think, out of the ordinary. The recording is a scratchy wax cylinder recording and the sound quality is of course dreadful, but its 105 years ago, so what do you expect.

A recording of great historical importance, yes. But for an evening's relaxation I will listen to Nic Jones singing Rufford Park Poachers..."

Hi, Dave. I'm happy that you took the trouble to listen to Joseph Taylor, and it doesn't bother me greatly that you prefer Nic Jones' 'Rufford Park Poachers'. I might, too, depending on the circumstances. I wasn't grumbling that Taylor's singing was being ignored, just saying that 100 year old recordings still do it for ME, without any 'reinvigoration'. A personal view only - no-one has a duty to listen to Taylor, but if someone does as a result of my mentioning him, that makes me happy.

Brigg Fair is perhaps his biggest hit, but personally I think his 'Rufford Park' is great too.

I chose JT as an example, partly because his are the oldest recordings we have of a traditional English singer who was also highly skilled. Without any disrespect to Anne Briggs, Taylor pulls off decorations that any revival singer - ever - would have found it hard to reproduce: technically he was very, very good. The recordings are, of course, scratchy, but so are those of Robert Johnson, and many blues fans would prefer his 'Crossroads' over Clapton's any day.

I teach classes on traditional singing regularly, and never tire of hearing Taylor's singing when I play it to a class - although there are other old singers I might listen to for pleasure before him. I spent a happy hour or so with Walter Pardon on a recent car journey, and Sam Larner, Phil Tanner and Caroline Hughes never fail to give pleasure. If Nic Jones said [see MGM's post]: "they are of great scholarly importance; they aren't meant to be 'entertainment'", I completely disagree. Sam Larner won singing competitions in fishermen's clubs the length of the East Coast because he was a fantastic entertainer. He certainly entertains me.

For singers looking for traditional repertoire, of course you can view old singers primarily as a source, but they have a vast amount to offer the listener, through technique and sheer ability to connect. It isn't always easy to get into this stuff on the first hearing, but it is well worth persevering with. IMO, of course.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 01:00 AM

Interesting thread. I realize that the whole 'what is folk' theme is one that creates a lot of frustration and yawns.

If it weren't for the fact that the category gets used to describe certain types of music, I'd be willing to pass it by.

My dilemma is that our government run Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as part of their radio station licensing requirements requires that we play 35% Canadian content for any rock, pop or country music (they even have an acoustic pop category). (Category 2)

But they also have another category called Category 3---which is special interest music. It includes something called "folk or folk-oriented'.   'Folk' to me is fairly clear in terms of traditional music.   'Folk-oriented'?   I have no idea.

So this discussion helps. Knowing what people who define themselves as folk music fans like gives me some idea.

I like Phil Edward's inclusion of:

a) all traditional songs, irrespective of what you do to them
b) all traditional tunes, irrespective of what you do to them
and
c) varying quantities of other stuff, defined by varying criteria but usually not irrespective of what you do to it.

So now all I have to worry about is what constitutes (c)

At this point I'm including is mostly acoustic, isn't too complicated, and which the 'folk' can sing. And especially if it says something relatively meaningful.

Unless others come up with better ideas.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Musket
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:32 AM

Alternatively, see what iTunes calls it as a genre.

Vin Garbutt is country and western apparently, when I bought an album of his recently! Notwithstanding that some on here would say that he isn't folk, despite a long successful career entertaining folk music appreciating audiences...

Folk isn't really a genre. It encompasses too much. It is certainly prone to being a music of the people due to the mainly acoustic and therefore more easily attainable entertainment. Certain styles are folk in that they are easy to reproduce without expensive electronic props. Traditional songs and tunes fit the bill nicely.

But folk is and always will be subjective and whatever you are comfortable with calling it. The folk I play and love listening to most tends to be classed as roots these days. A sub genre if you really must take a librarian approach.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Dave
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:52 AM

Larry, Phil, your category (b) would include Mike Oldfield's version of In Dulci Jubilo, and Led Zeppelin's Black Mountain Side, is that what you intend?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 05:30 AM

There's another category I would add to Phil's list:

d) All songs sung by a Source Singer (or a Well Established Folk Singer)

This has become particularly apparent to me, as I've been listening to a lot of the Musical Traditions label albums recently (all crazily cheap to download currently).

It's interesting that all the songs get Roud Index numbers, including ones that were sentimental tunes of the 20s and 30s popularised by Classical singers or crooners or country singers - songs that the Source Singer would have learned from a 78rpm or radio.

One case in point being the song 'City of Laughter, City of Tears', which I heard recently on the Bob Hart album 'A Broadside'. Thanks to youTube, I can hear that this is a Light Classical piece recorded by the tenor William Thomas, with orchestra.

There's a corollary to this Stateside, in the case of singers like Mance Lipscomb or Mississippi John Hurt, where the boundary between folk song and jazz/blues standards and country standards of the day gets blurred.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 06:01 AM

Brian -- I don't think Nic meant his "not ... entertainment" as any sort of put-down; but was just pointing out to Valerie that she, as a scholarly person herself, should appreciate that there was more to the singing of such singers than merely instant appeal. Remember too that we have ears attuned by custom to different criteria from those of the popular-music listener at large.

Many found Sam Larner 'entertaining' becoz of his humorous-intro-+-cante·fable style, which, tho I loved his basic material, I personally found something of a turn-off: "Just belt up & sing, why dontcha!", I would mutter under my breath, as he went off on his facetious & interminable & predictable & otiose (the song is funny enough to make its own point without needing the humour drawn to the attention of thickos like me, thank you!) "You know what old women are like don't you" shtick in the middle of "Butter & Cheese". Harry Cox never indulged in such distracting self-indulgences, & I think would have thought shame to do so. But, as always, in the indispensible formula of Abe Lincoln, as cited by Miss Jean Brodie et al, "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like".

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 07:35 AM

Fair points, Michael, and each to their own. Attunement of ears is a necessary prerequisite to enjoying traditional singing for many people, I would think.

I never saw Larner perform - was the 'old women' schtick always there in his live performances of 'Butter', d'you remember? Personally I found Harry Cox's rather austere style a lot harder to get into, at least at first.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 08:01 AM

Wasn't goint to bother with this, much of which seems about as far from folk so songs as you can get, but I'm in the process of digitising some of my old vinyl albums, (now up to the U.S. ones) and cant help wondering 'Where have all the flowers gone?'
Having just done Dillard Chandler, Roscoe Holcomb, Nimrod Workman and Frank Proffitt, I'm in the middle of the 2 Beech Mountain Folk Legacy selections.
Does anybody sing as good songs as that as well as that anymore.
Not in my hearing, and isn't the folk world a much impoverished place for it.
Talk about 'the best of times and the worst of times!!'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 10:06 AM

You must be happy as a pig in shit right now, Jim. What a wonderful selection of people to be digitising. I'm not familiar with the Beech Mountain selections, though. Do tell more...


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,just a-passin' through
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 10:42 AM

I've always found "folk" to mean "unadulterated" and "unadorned".

If I sing the Springsteen song "The River" straight, because it's a good song and resonates with my experience, that's folk.

If I'm putting on that it's great because I'm from NJ and he's a star and I'm giving my best "earnest" imitation of the man, then it's bullshit.

If I have a natural tremolo/warble/whatever to my voice when I sing, that's folk. If I force myself to sing with, or without, those effects because they're more "traditional", that's bullshit, because it's not honestly coming from my natural self.

Folk is common themes delivered in ways that the populace can understand. A bunch of ri-tee-diddly-um-day doesn't mean a thing to a young urban black audience unless you've connected them to the themes running through the song. The problem is that education, at least Stateside, isn't community/folk-based anymore. it's formulated hypothetically, and from the top down, to try to be one-size-fits as many as possible. If education these days was based on relevance rather than on regurgitation, we'd have teachers relating their lessons in ways their students can grasp by identifying commonalities.

Folk music identifies, highlights and celebrates those commonalities. the fishermen of today can relate to "The Shoals Of Herring" because the work is the same even if the technology and sociopolitical times are different in some ways.

The reason the old songs and acoustic instruments still reign as "folk" by definition is because what is folk can always be boiled down to the simplest delivery. The human voice, the simple scale, the rhythmic clap or relatively primitive drum beat. Even rap, when used to communicate truth rather than to celebrate fantasy at the expense of the ignorant, can be delivered, folk-style, with just a voice.

Real is folk. Fake, with the crutches of innovation for the sake of "the new", and adornments to make otherwise trite and useless pablum palatable, is never folk.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 12:29 PM

I like what just-a-passin' through says.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 12:43 PM

Brian -- I only actually saw Sam Larner 2 or 3 times, and we are going back now to the mid-1950s, so some few years ago. But my recollection is that he did the "you know about old women" bit every time.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 02:38 PM

The earliest mention of this in the chanty literature—that I'm able to find at the moment!—is by C. Fox Smith in her 1927 collection. (I have looked at writing mentioning this song back to the 1860s, but, unless I didn't put it in my notes because I thought it wasn't notable, I don't find attention called to this feature.)

I'm not sure when in the year 1927 Smith's book was published, but the March 1927 issue of Gramophone had a review of a recent batch of recordings of chanties commercially released. The review covers 5 different groups' recordings (chanties were REALLY a popular fad at that time, it seems), and all contain renditions of "Rio Grande." About two, the author of the review notes that they pronounced Rio incorrectly--they sing Ree-o instead of Rye-o. I can't say whether the author knows this from experience with oral tradition or if he/she got it from a book like Smith's.

Doing a quick check, these field-recorded singers pronounce "Rye-o":

Mark Page - Carpenter Collection - at sea 1849-1879 - recorded in late 1920s

Joseph Hyson of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia - Helen Creighton - recorded sometime between 1930s-1956

Leighton Robinson of Falmouth - Library of Congress, Sidney Robertson Cowell - went to sea 1888 - recorded in California, 1939

St. Vincentian whalermen of the 1960s sang "Royo Groun."


Myself attempting to sing in this style, "Royo Groun"


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,BrendanB
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:17 PM

Everybody has an opinion about what folk is, and they are all subjective. Consequently, it is entirely reasonable to say that folk is what you choose it to be.   'Purists' can rant and rave as they will, if you think it's folk then it's folk. Furthermore, why on earth does anyone give a shit?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:25 PM

"what is folk can always be boiled down to the simplest delivery." Not even close to true. Old-time folk fiddlers didn't respect each other to the extent that they played simply. Many folk guitarists weren't trying to make sure no one thought they had talent for the guitar that simpler guitarists lacked. Some of "the populace" can play instruments very fast, for instance, just like some of "the populace" can fix engines very fast.

Within oral transmission there were traditional ways to adorn. Within oral transmission there were traditional ways to change music, and whether we call a change "adulteration" is merely a matter of personal taste.

"Real is folk." There's no such thing as unqualified authenticity. Authenticity is always about authentically what.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 03:29 PM

Might as well say that a dollar bill or a pound coin are "what you choose them to be". Now try going out with a piece of lavatory paper or a pebble, BrendanB, and see how much change you'll get if you offer it for a chocci-bar in the Five-and-dime or the corner shop.

One gives a shit becoz if one HumptiDumptifies the language, communication breaks down -- indeed, doesn't even start. You know that perfectly well. Devil's advocates are mostly the most boring of peeps.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 04:03 PM

"Everybody has an opinion about what folk is, and they are all subjective. Consequently, it is entirely reasonable to say that folk is what you choose it to be." Non sequitur.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 04:55 PM

I've given up on these debates. I vascillate hopelessly depending on the time of day, though in my heart of hearts, I really know that folk is really the old stuff, passed on by word of mouth, in a way that isn't really done in the west anymore. You sometimes hear people imitating it in folk clubs and festivals...


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jun 15 - 07:33 PM

jim carroll,
this very night i sang a roscoe holcomb song accompanied by banjo, it was well appreciated, i sold 5 cds, some of us still do the business and cut the mustard, and dont just talk about it. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 04:00 AM

It's always struck me that those folkies who find folk song proper 'old and boring' and feel the need for 'something new, are not unlike, say, those who follow Classical Music saying, "we've got fed up with that old Beethoven and Mozart crap and have decided to introduce a bit of Heavy Metal onto the scene (still remember the embarrassing 'Classics Go Pop' campaign that fizzled out - not soon enough)
Here in Ireland over the last 20 years, there's seen an amazing upturn in the fortunes of traditional/folk music proper, with many thousands of young people taking up traditional instruments and going to the older musicians, either in the flesh or through recordings, to learn the older styles of playin - no need for constant searching for 'something new' - they've realised that, played well and with respect, the traditional tunes and styles work as well as they have for centuries.
Doesn't mean that some don't experiment with new forms, but the fact that the improvement has built a firm foundation in the tradition to come back to means that folk music has been guaranteed a future for at least another two generations and does not need to seek constant change to keep it alive      
Nice feeling.
An unexpected offshoot of this upturn has been that is has fed into the Irish economy and now brings many thousands of visitors to Ireland in search of 'the real stuff' - it's helped weather the economic crash caused by the bankers bleeding the nation dry.
In a few weeks time this one-street town in The West will be hosting the 42nd annual, week-long Willie Clancy Summer School, dedicated to the teaching and promoting of traditional music and song, and throughout the year we boast at least half-a-dozen traditional music sessions ranging from enjoyable to world-class.
It seems there is life in the old music yet, if you put your mind to it.
The same has yet to happen with traditional song, but there are signs that things are stirring in that direction and some of the best singing can be heard in Dublin in a club set up and run by young people who have adopted the policy of encouraging people of their own age to perform.
Similarly, earlier this year we heard some stunning singing from young people at a two-day conference at Limerick University's 'World Music Centre' - came home walking on air.
We are hoping that the new websites of song that have been facilitated by The Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin and our own Clare County Library site will be the start of making available the large collections of recorded song that are, at present inaccessible.

GOILÍN

CLARE COLLECTION

INISHOWEN PROJECT

Jim Carroll
"this very night i sang a roscoe holcomb song accompanied by banjo"
Sorry to have missed that !!!!


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 06:16 AM

Jim - to add to your post, do you know the Dublin band Lynched? Very encouraging young Dublin singers

https://lynchedfolkmiscreants.bandcamp.com/album/cold-old-fire


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 07:25 AM

It also seems to be true that the audience for "contemporary folk" tends to be more affluent and better educated than audiences for other non-Classical genres, and tend strongly to be white, female, and politically left of center.

I think that by calling one's music "folk," a performer suggests that in some way he or (more often) she represents the "voice of the people" speaking out to the cultural and political Establishment.

The limited popularity of "folk" in any sense, however, calls that assumption into serious question.

Once again I'm only describing what I see.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 07:33 AM

"It also seems to be true that the audience for "contemporary folk" tends to be more affluent and better educated
than audiences for other non-Classical genres, and tend strongly to be white, female, and politically left of center.
"

Lighter - if nothing else, it seems you've just summed up a prominent current faddish niche market for ukuleles... 😜


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 08:12 AM

"Here in Ireland over the last 20 years, there's seen an amazing upturn in the fortunes of traditional/folk music proper, with many thousands of young people taking up traditional instruments and going to the older musicians, either in the flesh or through recordings, to learn the older styles of playin - no need for constant searching for 'something new' - they've realised that, played well and with respect, the traditional tunes and styles work as well as they have for centuries.
Doesn't mean that some don't experiment with new forms, but the fact that the improvement has built a firm foundation in the tradition to come back to means that folk music has been guaranteed a future for at least another two generations and does not need to seek constant change to keep it alive"
some of the upturn is due to CCE, However their competitions do not encourage innovation, to be fair they get a lot of children playing ,but the downside is that it seems to encourage a competitive attitude, their marking system encourages over ornamentation and a homoeoginsed CCE STYLE, Their marking system d couragesis harmony and innovation in certain competitions, in my experience there is very little experimentation within CCE and not much experimentation or innovation outside CCE, If this trencd continues the music will not progress.
In my opinion Jim is painting a rosy picture , that is not acurate


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 08:13 AM

Jim says:

"It's always struck me that those folkies who find folk song proper 'old and boring' and feel the need for 'something new, are not unlike, say, those who follow Classical Music saying, "we've got fed up with that old Beethoven and Mozart crap and have decided to introduce a bit of Heavy Metal onto the scene (still remember the embarrassing 'Classics Go Pop' campaign that fizzled out - not soon enough)"

But I don't think thats right, its more akin to those who follow classical music deciding to introduce a bit of Schoenberg. Which they do. So if those who follow folk wand to introduce a bit of Olivia Chaney, or Laura Marling, or in past times Fairport Convention, or, dare I say it, Mumford and Sons, whats the problem. Clearly some people do have a problem though.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,R Sole
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 08:26 AM

I got dragged into a similar discussion at the office last week. Is baroque classical or are they different genres?

I tend to be suspicious of the types of people who have to give everything a label.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 09:13 AM

"But I don't think thats right, its more akin to those who follow classical music deciding to introduce a bit of Schoenberg"
Would be nice to think so, but gave up that idea when I found myself leaving folk club after folk club in Britain without ever hearing a song remotely resembling folk
I've had enough arguments on this forum where I've been told that folk ain't folk any more but now includes anything people choose to call "folk"
I was attracted by the comment here quoting the American Scene describing the old English folk songs as in need of modernising, and I still get a bit of giggle about the American "Traditional" Folk Festival that has a policy of only booking guests that "write their own stuff".
Not so long ago someone produced a horrific ad from a University folk song course in England saying that its study course would commence with (some modern pop group whose name totally escapes me (tbtG)
"who have to give everything a label."
Labels are so we know what's in the bottle when we but it - without them, we could well be swigging cyanide
"that is not acurate"
It most certainly is
Wall to wall traditional music programmes on the radio and television, two of the finest traditional music archives in the world, year round - music festivals and schools, thousands of kids playing like maestros - a respect for Irish traditional music throughout the world, applications for research and performance grants as easy as pushing on an open door (up to the Bankers shenanigans having naused up the economy)
Beats the old "diddly-di music" image that we encountered when we fist started recording over here.
You may not have it in your corner of the country, but please don't denigrate the the progress that has been made elsewhere
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 01:37 PM

Jim
"Wall to wall traditional music programmes on the radio and television, two of the finest traditional music archives in the world, year round - music festivals and schools, thousands of kids playing like maestros - a respect for Irish traditional music throughout the world, applications for research and performance grants as easy as pushing on an open door (up to the Bankers shenanigans having naused up the economy)"
thousands of kids playing in the style of CCE, some looking miserable, dancers wearing ridiculous wigs and over the top apparrell,technically proficient players but who lack the joie de vivre of the emigrant irish playing in england, in the sixties and seventies, jim in my opinion you are talking up the situation, but then you have a vested interest in doing that, you fool nobody.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 01:46 PM

"thousands of kids playing in the style of CCE"
CCE hardly features in today's upturn - it is living up to its description as "an organisation with a great future behind it"
Whay are you trying to denigrate the many thousands of young people who have coome to the miusic of their own volition without the help of Comhaltas - not trying to sung like "Roscoe Holcomb" maybe.
The facts of the healthy state of Irish music are to bee seen and heard virtually every night on the radio and television - stop begrudging young mussicianswho are streets better than yourself (maybe that's your problem)
Jim Carrol


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 02:03 PM

... well it's taken a week since the thread opened,
but after a slow build up the fight is now on...

Two evenly matched Irish based contenders,
maybe no longer at the absolute peak of their game,
but still guaranteed to pull in a crowd...

No gloves.. no gumshields ..

just a time honoured traditional rules free brawl in a muddy field behind the caravans...

Maybe this time we'll see a clear winner...???

Soooo..Let's get it on before the police arrive and throw us all in the van...😜


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 03:39 PM

Edel Fox, former pupil at Willie Clancy Summer School, now ateacher of music to many young peole young
concertina player


Padraig Keane winner of last years Gradam Ceol - grandson to Irish/London piper, Tom McCarthy - third generation musician
Padraig Keane - Clare/London piper Tom McCarthy's grandson

Young piper and fidlde player
Maitiú Ó Casaide

Young Sean Nos singer
Young singer

Young dancer "wearing ridiculous wig and over the top apparrell"
young sean Nós dancer

Can I say, I have always found attacking a thirty year dead singer pretty distasteful, but for a performer to make up for his own inability and lack of talent by taking it out on aspiring young musicians is way beyond anything I've experienced
Gane, set and match, I think
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 06:45 PM

"ukuleles" Which the folk (e.g. Ada Powers) played in the late '10s and '20s because _everyone_ was.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 03:48 AM

I am not begrudging anybody, I am giving my opinion, that the irish traditional music scene in ireland is not as rosy as you portray, anmd that is partly because of the input of CCE.
My abilty and your lack of ability is irrelevant to the entitlement to have an opinion, lets face it Jim you have no competence as a musician, yet you still feel free to give your opinions, the fact that you can produce a few examples of very good players proves nothing.
CCE receives massive financial assistance from the irish government
Its current Director General is Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú. it has more than 400 branches worldwide, in Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
   "CCE hardly features in today's upturn"
what a ridiculous statement, typical uninformed claptrap, the national fleadh and all the regional fleadhs attract thousands of musicians who play in a competitive style to become a champion,CCE attracts thousands of people who go there to make music in sessions , CCE closed down the clontarf branch and tried to prevent musicians from making music in A DICTATORIAL STALINIST FASHION
these are facts, not UNINFORMED opinion, to say that this has no or little effect on the irish trad music scene is inaccurate, AND WELL YOU KNOW IT.
You are a person who cannot play any traditional instrument to any degree of competence ,you have a vested interest in promoting tradtional music collections including your own,and talking up the irish trad scene, the truth of the matter is that country and irish and country and western is more popular in IRELAND
I believe that the irish music scene is not as healthy as your portrayal,
i have NOT said that it does not contain some very good players of all ages chris droney edel fox, noel hill, enda scahill and a lot more THEY ARE VERY GOOD PLAYERS, but it also contains a lot of CCE trained players who play with a competitive attitude, in CCE homegoeonised style, and who do not play in any known regional style., These are facts
Game, set and match, GO OFF AND PLAY IN YOUR FOLK MUSEUM.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Musket
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 04:11 AM

I suggest the rest of us folk off.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 04:21 AM

for the next 4 days , I will be busy organising thishttps://fastnetmaritime.com and unable to participate in discussion.
as can be seen from the programme, the following good irish trad musicians have been booked, Matt Cranitch Jackie Daly, MaryTisdall Tom Sullivan Richie Tisdall PatFleming, ifJim Carrolls ridiculous and pathetically inaccurate statement that I am denigrating IRISH TRAD MUSICIANS was true, I would hardly be promoting and booking top irish trad musicians ,WOULD I?
jIMcARROLL , Please stop making slanderous comments and stop saying inaccurate things about me, you are a person who cannot play any instrument to any degree of competence yet you attack my musical abilties, and make comments about my opinions that are inaccurate.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Jun 15 - 07:02 AM

Can I add that as I sit here in my office, the sound of traditional tunes played on an accordian is wafting in through my window from the shopping centre outside. It's an old fellow who often turns up to play when the sun comes out. It makes ploughing through key performance indicators less arduous...


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Jun 15 - 06:44 PM

I Hate to quote The New Yorker again, but it *is* a highly respected publication. According to reviewer Anwen Crawford,

"As an answer to [singer-songwriter Jenny Hval's own question on the first track of her last album], 'What is soft dick rock?' [her new album] presents a kind of experimental folk music, which resists the rhythmic and melodic efficiencies...of chart pop in favor of something slower and more irregular, with few hooks or choruses."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Jun 15 - 06:44 PM

I hate to quote The New Yorker again, but it *is* a highly respected publication. According to reviewer Anwen Crawford,

"As an answer to [singer-songwriter Jenny Hval's own question on the first track of her last album], 'What is soft dick rock?' [her new album] presents a kind of experimental folk music, which resists the rhythmic and melodic efficiencies...of chart pop in favor of something slower and more irregular, with few hooks or choruses."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 09:01 AM

Jenny Hval doesn'the call herself a folk singer. Mainly, I would imagine, because she isn't. I don't even think the reviewer is describing her music as folk music. In fact this is the only use of the word "folk" in the entire review. I suspect by using the phrase "a kind of experimental folk music," the reviewer is using the f-word to try to evoke something recognisable for the reader, rather than bluntly describing this as a folk album. Folk ballads are often slower than pop,are irregular and have few hooks or choruses, so it seems quite an apt analogy to make.

If we cleared reviews of descriptors, they wouldn'the tell us anything. And no folk music was harmed in the writing of the review.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 10:02 AM

In case anyone might think from what Jim and Dick have written above that all is fine and dandy in the Irish music scene, listen to the sound of barrels being scraped:

Zelda: A Link to the Celts

(The uilleann piper is pretty good. But...)


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 10:07 AM

It doesn't matter what Hval says. In the world of criticism, the author/composer's word is never definitive. Obviously *Crawford* thinks the music is enough like "folk music" to invoke the f-word.

> evoke something recognisable

But what? The sentence would be clearer without the "folk." It's an "experimental kind of music." If "folk" adds anything, what is it? Maybe a warm fuzzy feeling. Or does it just mean "non-mainstream"?

Of course, it could mean folk-all.

But there has to be something about Hval's music that strikes Crawford as "folky" (not "folksy").


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 10:10 AM

Lighter - My advice ? Stop reading The New Yorker....😬


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 11:20 AM

THe writer, Lighter, is absolutely clear about this. What puts her in mind of folk music is the sense that the music:

"Resists the rhythmic and melodic efficiencies...of chart pop in favor of something slower and more irregular, with few hooks or choruses."

This would also be an apt description of an unaccompanied folk ballad, so I think it's a pretty good analogy. It doesn't mean she's saying it is folk music. I hear plenty of music that puts me in mind of something it isn't. I think humans like to see connections between things.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 11:35 AM

Spleen - yeah... all part of enjoying a multi faceted living and breathing dynamic 'entertainment' culture..

I like discovering modern day set movies that put me in mind of classic westerns...

eg the recent Aussie "Mystery Road" where an aboriginal cop is easily recognisable as the 'new sheriff' in town...

that's just one very good example of intelligent use of stylistic echoes and references linking seemingly separate genres... 😎


[bollocks.. if only I could remember the seriously clever big words
I used to write in cultural product critique essays 30 odd years ago.....]


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: OlgaJ
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 01:17 PM

Got down this thread until it turned into what most threads turn in to so I might have missed something really important but in my limited experience of Comholtas concerts (in Ireland) all those talented young people look so bored playing exactly as they are instructed that they appear never to have learned how to enjoy the music of their own heritage. Maybe that is why some of their dancers from England and the USA manage to win competitions over the Irish contestants. On a different point we were in Ireland a few years back (we go most years) and it was obvious that the songs expected to be learned that year were Ellis Island and Caledonia. Some of the young singers in a session we attended actually thought Caledonia was Irish! We had to point out that the clue was in the title which is the Roman name for Scotland. They didn't know neither song was traditional either.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 03:41 PM

Presumably the "experimental" is of greater significance to Hval and Crawford than is the "folk," but Crawford clearly describes Hval's music as "a kind" of "folk music," whether Hval thinks so or not.

Crawford doesn't call it "experimental music that [kind of] resembles folk music, with few hooks or choruses."

She says flatly it's a "kind of experimental folk music." That logically means "an experimental subset of folk music." Whether some "folk music" has "few hooks or choruses" doesn't change that.

In fact, the phrase "few hooks or choruses" seems at least as likely to modify Hval's music as it does "folk music."

Moreover, Crawford's review comes from the same editorial office as Donahue's. To influential and highly educated New Yorker reviewers (and thus presumably to many, many others), one kind of "folk music" seems to be little more than "non-mainstream music."

> humans like to see connections between things

Not me.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 03:56 PM

"In case anyone might think from what Jim and Dick have written above that all is fine and dandy in the Irish music scene"
Never said it was.
The point I made is that the progress made over the last twenty years has been built on the solid foundation of the tradition - youngsters listening to the older singers, no competitions, no attempting to re-define (or, in the case of the U.K. un-define the meaning of the words "folk" or "tradition") - just progress based on the roots of what has gone before - you have examples of what is happening - many, many more of the same to be had played by enthusiastic youngsters.
Wheter the youngsters stick with what they've learned, or decide t's not for them, remains to be sees, but at the moment there is a healthy scene with the chance of a health future.
I have to say, I watched the final of the three programmes on the singing revival in Northern Ireland with some despair - the same old dead-end approach - experimentation and career chasing.
We'll see!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 04:39 PM

This might be down to different interpretations - my sense is that she is being figurative, yours is that she's being literal. For instance I described Song for the Setting Sun Part 1 & 2 by Daniel Bachman as follows in a review: "the first part is a small group of friends passing around a bottle as they sit close by the fire they have lit on the riverbank - when the tempo changes half way through to mark the setting of the sun, you can see the embers flying away into the night sky. The second part is like a slow dance tune, couples coming together, drifting apart and melting into the darkness." Clearly none of these things are literally correct - it's a two part fingerstyle acoustic guitar instrumental.

I listened to a track off the new Jenny Hval album - I'd describe it as influenced by Bjork and Hissing of Summer Lawns era Joni Mitchell. As the mainstream media and music industry labelled Joni a folk singer, that might be the point of reference. And unless the reviewer is deeply involved in the folk scene and aware of its nuances and precisions, there's no reason why she wouldn't call it folk - to her no doubt it is. As far as I can see, it's only a subset of folk enthusiasts and academics who are particularly taxed about such things, and this is probably not her intended audience.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 18 Jun 15 - 04:40 PM

Sorry, that was in reply to Lighter, not Jim.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Jun 15 - 04:08 AM

Jim, at the festival there was a spot from the lisheen school choir, the spot involved team work in the performance [not competition] the high standard was noteworthy, so to some extent I agree with you.
please note TO SOME EXTENT, in fairness it may be that in your area there is less CCE input and less emphasis on competition.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jun 15 - 04:19 AM

" so to some extent I agree with you."
Whew - that's a relief!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Oct 15 - 05:40 PM

Once more from The New Yorker (Oct. 26, 2015):

"Sierra and Bianca Casady, the two sisters who form the freak-folk band CocoRosie, were grabbing lunch. ...

"Their music combines Bianca's surrealistic lyrics and Sierra's operatic arias with children's windup toys and broken instruments."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 08:41 AM

Various Artist - Best Folk (2015)

[16 tracks compilation | Sony Music Hong Kong]

Tracklist:

01. The Brothers Four - Try To Remember
02. The New Christy Minstrels - Today
03. Harry Belafonte - Jamaica Farewell
04. Bob Dylan - In The Wind
05. Simon & Garfunkel - The Sound Of Silence
06. Loggins & Messina - Danny's Song
07. Jim Croce - I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
08. Dan Fogelberg - Longer
09. Mary MacGregor - Torn Between Two Lovers
10. Dolly Parton - I Will Always Love You
11. Willie Nelson - Always On My Mind
12. Jennifier Warnes - I Know A Heartache When I See One
13. Albert Hammond - It Never Rains In Southern California
14. Art Garfunkel - (What A) Wonderful World
15. Heart - Dog & Butterfly
16. Kansas - Dust In The Wind



welll... there you go... hat's the best folk...


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 08:43 AM

that's - not hat's


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 09:48 AM

What, no CocoRosie?


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: PHJim
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 03:35 PM

Lighter said, on 04 Jun 2015 at 01:18 PM
"Singer-songwriter music is preferred. In fact, it might be the most important element.
If so, "folk music" chiefly means music and (especially) song performed by the composer/songwriter, along with whatever else sounds sort of like it - as long as it isn't classical.
True?"

I once went to the Flying Cloud Folk Club in Toronto wearing a Shelter Valley Folk Festival T-shirt. I was told by a group of folks at the next table, "Shelter Valley is a nice festival, but it sure ain't FOLK. It's more of a singer/songwriter festival. These people considered folk music to be traditional or, as Michael Cooney once (probably more than once) said, "If you know who wrote it, it's not folk."


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 05:24 PM

Folk music is probably the most clearly defined well researched, documented and published of any other musical form and the basis of all this documentation dates back to 1846 when William Thom coined the term 'Folk'.
From then till now, nobody has produced an alternative definition, so whatever misuse the term is put to, that definition remains - it refers to a music, song, arraive, custom, belief.... from a specific social group, serving a specific cultural purpose.
So is anybody can come up with an alternative acceptable to us all --- "then bring your witness love and I'll never deny you".... as the song says.
A small group of self-interested folkies who can't even agree among themselves doesn't hack it, I'm afraid (neither does the predatory pontifications of a self-interested music industry).
I'll show you my books if you'll show me yours.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 05:57 PM

What interests me here is less how the term is used by the well-informed, but how it's used by the media and the general public.

No amount of specialist wishing or insisting will make the latter "misuses" go away. They may even be burgeoning. And as the playlist of Guest's "Best of" CD proves, the "misuse" is what you're far more likely to meet with beyond the library walls.

As I've suggested previously, that's the way the cookie crumbles. But it doesn't mean that the narrow, technical definition is useless or obsolete; only that relatively few people, educated or otherwise, will know what we're talking about.

That's certainly been my experience for many, many years.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 15 - 08:15 PM

"No amount of specialist wishing or insisting will make the latter "misuses" go away. "
The general public don't have a single definition - folk music has passed them by.
There was a (sort of) definition at the time of the 'folk boom' largely based on 'the real thing' as presented by the folk superstars - The Clancys, Dubliners, Spinners....
Dylan, in the early days, based much of what he did on 'the real thing' - but he walked away from that and became a born-again rock performer.
In the early days, the media, certainly in the form of radio, had a pretty clear veiw of what constituted "folk" - Lloyd, Deben Bhattacharya, John Levy.... produced some of the finest examples of folk music ever to be publicly broadcast.... the media walked away from it and the term "folk" has become meaningless to them as it has in the "folk" clubs.
You can't 'wish' or manipulate a definition into existence into being to suit yourself - one has to evolve through popularisation or constant misuse by a significant enough number of people for it to pass into common currency - hasn't happened.
What has happened is that a small and dwindling group of people have decided to hang their hat on a hook that is already occupied because they either can't or can't be bothered to create a term that covers what they do.
Personally, I walked away from the folk clubs when I stopped hearing folk songs - no reason to hang around when they all turned into lucky dips and magical mystery tours.
If I want to check what the term 'folk' means I only have to pull down one of several hundred books from the shelf, or dig around sites like 'The Library of Congress' (far more succinct and satisfying than anything ever produced in Britain, as I am finding at the present time).
So far - nobody has come up with an alternative, so what is happening today is that there are efforts by an extremely small,agenda-driven group of people not to re-define 'folk' but to de-define it - to make it meaningless - as has been stated here "whatever else sounds sort of like it - as long as it isn't classical" - this is cultural vandalism.
It has always been accepted that there are a unique group of songs that have been identified as 'folk' (in the case of song, since at least 1899).            
In my opinion, based of forty years of questioning field singers, these songs have a social, cultural and historical significance to our culture as a whole - "The Songs of the People" - "The Voice of the People" - "The Common Muse".... whatever term you care to choose - take your pick.
In making the term meaningless, you stand to marginalise and eventually silence that voice - and in doing so you take away a significant piece of our oral history.
If you are going to do that, you should at least have the common decency to come up with an alternative definition - "folk is whatever I choose to call it" really doesn't hack it.
Sorry to be such a bore
One more thing - Irish instrumental traditional/folk music is at present enjoying a renaissance - its future has been guaranteed for at least another two generations.
That future has been built on a solid foundation of the accepted definition - not by re or de defining the music but by saying - "this is your heritage" take it as it is or go and do whatever you wish with it - the real thing will always be here if you want to revisit it".
That's why we now have thousands of young people playing and teaching traditional music - in some cases, to virtuoso standard.
Wouldn't have got here if the few people who dedicated their lives to building that foundation had decided to please everybody - that way, they would have ended up pleasing fewer and fewer as us oldies died off.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 01:14 PM

I was at a very good folk club last week...Bodmin, the standard of performance was good, I think you would have enjoyed it Jim, the club has been established many years, I remember doing it back in 1982, every song that i heard i would have described as a folk song,many of the songs were trad, i did not hear any pop songs.
lets put it this way i know a folk song when i hear it


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 01:40 PM

"It has always been accepted that there are a unique group of songs that have been identified as 'folk' (in the case of song, since at least 1899)."

_Folk Song And Folk-Speech Of Lancashire_ by William Axon [no date, 1870s or 1880s].
"Negro Folk Songs," _Dwight's Journal Of Music_, 4/5/1873.
.
.
.


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Subject: RE: Still wondering what's folk these days?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Oct 15 - 02:43 PM

"Folk Song And Folk-Speech Of Lancashir"
I did say "at least".
It was probably Sharp's 'Some Conclusions' (1907) that made the first detailed effort to put flesh on the bones of the term
Jim Carroll


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