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Where Have all the Folkies Gone

Jim Carroll 07 Feb 19 - 03:56 AM
Will Fly 07 Feb 19 - 08:28 AM
Vic Smith 07 Feb 19 - 10:52 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 19 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,JHW 07 Feb 19 - 12:00 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 19 - 12:35 PM
GUEST 07 Feb 19 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Akenaton 07 Feb 19 - 02:26 PM
G-Force 07 Feb 19 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,Peter 07 Feb 19 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,akenaton 07 Feb 19 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,FloraG 08 Feb 19 - 02:58 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,Rigby 08 Feb 19 - 03:47 AM
Mr Red 08 Feb 19 - 04:13 AM
Will Fly 08 Feb 19 - 04:41 AM
Howard Jones 08 Feb 19 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 08 Feb 19 - 06:14 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,akenaton 08 Feb 19 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,Peter 08 Feb 19 - 07:35 AM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,akenaton 08 Feb 19 - 08:15 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 19 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,ake 08 Feb 19 - 08:45 AM
Andy7 08 Feb 19 - 08:46 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 19 - 08:51 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 09:57 AM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 11:22 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,JoeG 08 Feb 19 - 12:00 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 12:09 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 01:10 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Rigby 08 Feb 19 - 01:29 PM
GUEST 08 Feb 19 - 01:44 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 01:47 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Rigby 08 Feb 19 - 02:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 02:39 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 02:39 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Feb 19 - 03:07 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Rigby 08 Feb 19 - 04:54 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,akenaton 08 Feb 19 - 05:13 PM
Stanron 08 Feb 19 - 05:46 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Feb 19 - 05:46 PM
Andy7 08 Feb 19 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 08 Feb 19 - 06:36 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 03:56 AM

I missed these when they first appeared (the end of 2017 and a later response)
I thought a discussion of it might cut through some of the acrimony that has arisen whenever the subject is raised
Jim Carroll

Austerity bites - but is that all?
Rod Stradling editorial Musical Traditions Magazine (end of 2017)
There can be very few of us in the UK who are not feeling the combined effects of the Tory Government's austerity programme and the fall in the Pound's value engendered by their disastrous Brexit Referendum ... very few people that I know, anyway. Sales of unimportant things like CDs of traditional music and song are, of course, being seriously effected. But I have been surprised by the extent to which they have fallen. None of the CDs I've published in the last two years have sold more than 50 copies! To put that in perspective, sales from 1998 to 2015 (before austerity really kicked in) averaged about 145 sales per CD released. Sales of CDs released since 2015 have averaged about 40 sales per CD.
The one piece of data that really surprised me relates to our 2-CD set of Sam Larner, published just before Christmas, 2014. In November 2016 I got the very welcome news that it had won The Folklore Society's Non-Print Media Award 2014 - 2016. But upon checking, earlier today, I discovered that this superb set of CDs, containing 67 songs from one of England's finest singers, many of which have never been available before, has sold just three copies since gaining that prestigious award. I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering "Is it really worth all the effort?"
I've had one single CD of Bob Lewis and Bob Copper, one double CD of early American music and song and, in a couple of weeks, another CD-ROM of Vaughan Williams' collecting work in Norfolk, released this year. And I hope, a double CD of Freda Palmer for release in 2018. Once that little lot is published, I suspect I'll need to do some hard thinking about the future. Because I'm not at all sure that it's Austerity that's entirely to blame.
Every time I publish a new CD, I send out some 1,500 email messages to everyone who's bought an MT CD or Download in the past, announcing the new publication. The interesting result is that almost half of the resultant sales seem to come from people who've never bought one before! (Or, to be realistic, people who have changed their email addresses, or whose names I don't recognise). So, maybe not half, but a significant number of new purchasers. What does this imply? From reviews, and from comments in various emails I've received over the years, I do know that people think that our CDs are pretty damn good. So why aren't many former purchasers buying the new ones? Have they all died?
It seems that we are in a new, and very different 'folk scene':
Today's young 'folk' enthusiasts seem to be primarily interested in newly composed songs (and tunes) rather than traditional ones. What's 'folk' about that?
The EFDSS seems to be almost entirely interested in this new 'folk' music - EDS now contains almost nothing related to traditional music and song.
Despite continued interest in, and playing of, traditional music - at the ECMW and several similar events and numerous sessions - there seems to be no similar enthusiasm for traditional singing.
This is quite unlike Ireland, where every county, and many cities, have regular, well attended, 'singing circles' and song weekends - most of which are entirely devoted to traditional singing.
Dance bands playing traditional music in a more-or-less traditional style (without bass'n'drum) are finding it harder and harder to get gigs.
Many of the regular dance or ceilidh events have closed, or are considering it.
Yet at festivals that still include dance events, you'll find them thronged with enthusiastic young dancers. Where do they get to dance the rest of the year?
Finally - we've lived here for 23 years, yet whenever we've been to gigs in the area to see people like Lynched, Chris Wood, Furrow Collective, Eliza Carthy, etc, the audience is mainly our age ... yet almost entirely unknown to us!
Someone I know recently wrote a complaint to the BBC about the lack of coverage of English Traditional Music (as opposed to Irish, Scots or American folk music) and questioning whether the BBC should give reasonable coverage to our national music. The response was either hilarious or appalling, depending on your frame of mind. "There have been numerous programmes on the BBC relating to folk music, most recently on BBC Four in the programme 'Folk Britannia'. There is also a number of radio programmes that play folk music including 'Radio 2's Bob Harris Country'."
Folk Britannia you may recall, was aired in 2006 - 11 years ago! - and Radio 2's Bob Harris's Country covers American music. Checking the track listing of the 2 DVDs of the three hour Folk Britanniaprogrammes, I find just Harry Cox and John & Jill Copper among those who might be described as English traditional, plus Ewan MacColl, Bob Davenport, and Martin Carthy who might be described as English traditional style. All the rest are 'Irish, Scots or American folk music' - the genres specifically excluded by the questioner!
This is a very strange world we now live in - and not just politically!
Rod Stradling

Re: 'Austerity Bites' editorial
I've just had the following from someone who's just bought a copy of Just Another Saturday Night, Sussex 1960 (MTCD309-0) - Ed.
Dear Rod,
I very much sympathise with your evaluation of the younger end of current folk scene, but wanted to offer myself as an example of how all is perhaps not too glum? I am 'only' (ha!) 35, but am very much committed to real traditional singing. I came to it from a background of studying traditional singers in Bulgaria when I was at university, and a desire to find out whether we had anything similar closer to home. I found out that we most certainly did when I came across the recordings Percy Grainger made of Joseph Taylor.
Since then its been a slow process of following leads into what has felt like a lost world. I have very little interest in (though nothing against) the contemporary folk scene, though to be honest, I've never really felt inspired to investigate it too much. Instead, I've taken most of my inspiration from the sort of field recordings you have devoted yourself to making publically available, various printed and online resources, and amazing friends from Ireland (and further afield) where, as you say in your article, there is so much more value attached to traditional singing.
I don't sing in public very often. When I do, it is within events that are more part of the art/performance scene than any branch of the music world (where funnily enough, I think people are much more open minded about listening to someone sing a long song with no accompaniment), or those rare occasions when you're at someone's house for dinner, they ask you to sing, and it somehow feels like the right moment. Predominantly though, I just sing at home, in the kitchen!
Please don't lose heart. Your efforts to make rare and indescribably precious singing available to a wider audience really are filtering down through the generations, even if it might not seem like it sometimes.
Regards,
Phil Owens 14.2.18


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 08:28 AM

It's a complex topic, and I'm sure there are many reasons for Ron Stradling's complaint. I don't think for one minute that austerity has much to do with lack of CD sales. There are now so many ways of getting music - downloading, streaming, etc. - that the physical CD as an object is less important.

Take Spotify as an example. I've just looked up Walter Pardon and found two albums by him, plus inclusions of him on other album compilations. I can listen to all of it for free if I want to. I should add that I never rip off music from Spotify, but pay for it if I want it permanently - which doesn't involve buying a CD. Just one example.

As to taste, and whether interest in traditional English (as opposed to Scottish, Irish, etc.) is waning, I couldn't say, and I'm probably too old to guess at a younger generational outlook. The young people I meet at our local sessions - in their twenties - play all sorts of stuff, including very traditional material, contemporary in-the-style tunes by people like Chris Wood, and whatever takes their fancy. And they play to a very high standard.

From my own experience of playing for dancing in a ceilidh band, I see little lessening of interest - as we get bookings regularly, though mainly for functions. The ebb and flow of bookings varies with the wedding and party seasons, but we play as much as we want to, and always to full houses. Mostly we have drum and bass with us, but not always - depends on what the client wants. But it's always fun. And when we're not playing for dancing, there are innumerable sessions and singarounds, as well as folk clubs - too many to fit in sometimes. I'm talking Sussex here - can't speak for anywhere else at the moment.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 10:52 AM

The rate of collapse of the physical forms of all media has accelerated in recent years - people go to the likes of Netflix et al for their films rather than buying actual DVDs, they download games for their Playstations et al rather than buying the physical object and their music comes from download. This is just to emphasise what Mike said above is his opening sentence. The effect on the retail sales of these objects has been devastating. A few years ago we lost the amazing Borders shops and now we are losing HMV. A very rare thing for me, I went to a boot sale recently and saw a man selling good recent film DVDs 5 for £1. It's becoming that you can't give them away.
It's not quite an even across-the-board decline, however. Music that might be regarded as transient is undergoing the most rapid decline. The turnover of the names at the top of pop and rock is more rapid than ever. Music bought by buyers who feel that they are buying a product that they might still want to listen to in ten years time, are bearing up. The big areas for this are nostalgia and the specialist musics - jazz, folk, country, world music. The exception is the very sad decline in classical music sales which is now confined to their own specialist labels, the big boys have withdrawn from this area years ago.
In terms of our own specialist area, Ian Anderson of fRoots reports no decline in the numbers of albums being sent to him for review but a big change from company releases - the Topics and Greentrax of our world - to own label, often crowd-funded releases. Distribution a problem? Not a worry, we will sell them on gigs. Increasingly these album are of all-round higher technical quality. Every time I go to folk club these days there is a merchandising table which is crowded at the interval and at the end of the evening. People get a chance to talk to their heroes, perhaps get the booklet autographed and be invited to sign their name & email up to the artists' circular lists and everyone is happy.
I can't prove it, but I would bet that the majority of folk CDs are now sold at live performances. The trouble with the CDs that Rod sells is that they do not fall into this category. I'll only mention some of the names of the singers whose albums I have been involved in the production of for Rod's Musical Traditions label like Pop Maynard, Daisy Chapman, Bob Copper, Lizzie Higgins - none of them are around for people to hear their exquisite live performances any more.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 11:50 AM

Rod stradling makes a number of points, inability to sell CDs being only one
In particular, he mentions the abandoning of folk song by EFDSS and a disinterest in traditional English folk singing in the clubs
I've attempted to discuss this only to be told that nothing is wrong on the club scene   
His correspondent describes having to sing at home among a small circle of friends
Frankly, I believe something has gone seriously wrong and, if not addressed soon, things will only get worse
The club scene is not alone of course - I've attempted to air my views on the New book thread
I was appalled to learn that only three Sam Larner CDs were sold, especially as we bought one of them
It is people like Sam, Harry, Walter and the rest who gave us our inspiration - I have no idea who will do so in the future
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,JHW
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 12:00 PM

There's too much in these posts to read it all but I wouldn't say CD sales are representative or even matter much.
A lot of Folkies don't turn out any more because they're dead. Many may make a value judgement - is it worth it. Did it used to be better or did we just think so because we were younger?


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 12:35 PM

Go count the clubs, members, magazines audiences ... we have lost
Remember the time you could go to the clubs and be guaranteed to hear folk songs
If you have to ask you were part of a different scene than I was]#
That you can't be bothered to read the posts says what needs to be said, I think - there certainly isn't too much to read as far as Im concerned - hardly enough
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 02:25 PM

I think its time to get the music back on the street like we see in the Irish festivals....Its about connecting with the public again, that's what folk and jazz should be about....getting people dancing, singing and listening live.
Dave Hum the banjo player spent most of his life performing on the street, another was Jim Mckillop the fiddler.
I stumbled on this group from "N'Orlins" who push street performance although they seem to have a large following.
Tuba Skinny


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Akenaton
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 02:26 PM

Sorry that was me.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: G-Force
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 02:33 PM

We also stumbled upon Tuba Skinny in the street in New Orleans, and bloody marvellous they were too.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 02:37 PM

Rod exagerates about the "abandoment" of folk song by EFDSS, or maybe things have changed since his post over a year ago. The high profile ACE funding is for "new" music, which is an Arts Council rather than EFDSS failing, but across the board the society is covering all its bases although it should shout a bit louder about what it is doing on the education side both directly with young people and in supporting teachers.

I agree with both Jim that there are a lot of clubs where you are lucky to hear one or two traditional songs in a night. This isn't universal but I seldom go to my local club for that reason.

With regard to singing the big thing seems to be the proliferation of "folk choirs". As a listener I find the arrangements smoothed out and uninspiring but a lot of people seem to prefer the format to risking being the one standing out in a folk club chorus.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 02:58 PM

Yes G force I've become a big fan.....these folks are great musicians, but its about a lot more than musical ability, its about connecting with the people.....they are just so attractive, so committed.    Folk music used to be like that!


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 02:58 AM

My new car does not have a CD player - or tape deck. I can get downloads from a memory stick. Could this partially account for the problem for CD sales?
Flora G.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 03:24 AM

I think the appalling level of sales are indicative of a disinterest - even hostility towards traditional singing
I've been experiencing the same while trying to find a hope for an archive that took a few of us a lifetime to put together
There has never been so much good traditional song and music available for the asking yet there is little sign that it is being taken up
We haven't even scratched the surface of the masses of information that was recorded from our older generation of singers
I found a new Harry Cox song last month - I thought I'd heard all his songs but there it was on the Lomax site - a dirty song we recited as a poem as kids in the schoolyard - one that was found by an early collector who wrote down the tune but refused to write down the words (and made a point of saying so in the Folk Song Journal) because it was "unsuitable for public ears"
Our collections are full of this stuff and, if folk song is to survive, it needs to be passed on and made use of - the only reason I can see of that not happening is disinterest
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 03:47 AM

I am sure that CD sales are down in all genres. The most recent US number one album sold only 800 copies that way. That's not to do with Brexit or austerity, just changing patterns of consumption.

But I agree there's an issue. It's frustrating when people who are really good performers of traditional songs choose to make mediocre singer-songwriter albums instead.

Where I live, there is a long-established folk club that programmes a wide variety of music including some very good traditional acts. However, when they have open stage nights, it's rare to hear any traditional material at all. People who were frustrated with this set up a second folk club to create an environment where traditional music could be heard. I went there for the first time in ages last week, and it too seems to have fallen prey to tedious cover versions and uninteresting confessional songwriting. Maybe it's inevitable. I certainly can't complain, as I haven't contributed anything on the organisational front.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Mr Red
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 04:13 AM

where have all the Folkies gone?
Gone to festivals everyone.......................

When will they ever yearn?


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 04:41 AM

People arrive at their particular musical destination by many varied routes and for their own personal reasons. Traditional music - meaning both songs and tunes - is no different. My own route to traditional music, covering a period of 50+ years, has been through the music itself - intriguing chord progressions, dozens and dozens of beautiful melodies, the joy of playing these melodies with other musicians - rather than through songs. Just the way it was and is. I'm less interested in folk songs or ballads and stories in song form, and I'm not interested in them as social documents. I'm very interested in social history, mainly through family history research, but not that of the folk songs.

So - an example of disinterest in folk song, I suppose.

By contrast, three of us sat round a table in a quiet pub in Shoreham-on-Sea (West Sussex) on Wednesday night last - guitar, tenor guitar, fiddle and mandolin - and for two and a half hours without a break went through about 25-30 tunes. Lovely traditional tunes and a few contemporary tunes written in the idiom by excellent players like Andy Cutting and Chris Wood. A glorious evening, with no cash, but free beer provided by the landlord, who loved it. And this points up the divergence between folk songs and folk tunes. The latter, unlike the former, can seamlessly incorporate the old and the modern without any infighting about it being "folk" or not - they're just tunes. The "folk process" in fact, as local variants of those tunes thrive. So we can pair "Jacky Tar" and "The Flowers Of Edinburgh" just as easily as we can pair "Trip To Pakistan" with "Glen Kabul", or "Tripping Up Stairs" with "Jump At The Sun". No problems whatsoever - and the music thrives, judging by the number of places round here where we can get to play it.

We can bewail an apparent disinterest in folk song - and disinterest in any form of music will strike from time to time over the years - but other forms of traditional music are very much alive and well.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 04:42 AM

I think that true traditional singing has always been a minority interest even among folkies. Some (including some Mudcatters) are open scornful about it. I believe most people are attracted to folk music by hearing modern revival performers, and on first hearing traditional singers can sound too rough-and-ready compared with modern singers. It is a very different aesthetic from modern interpretations and takes time and careful listening to come to appreciate. It was much easier when you could be in the room with the singers and experience the full force of their personalities, but sadly many of them are no longer with us.

I started going to folk clubs around 1970. All I knew was revival folk sung by young(ish) people with guitars and the occasional more exotic instrument. For a long time I was under the impression that traditional folk singers had all died out around the time of Cecil Sharp, and apart from a couple of rare survivals such as the Coppers and Fred Jordan there was no 'real' folk song left. I was completely unaware that only an hour up the A12 from where I lived there was still a relatively thriving traditional music community. My first visit to an English Country Music Weekend in Suffolk was a revelation.

Most younger folkies won't have that experience or be exposed to traditional singing, unless they deliberately seek it out. However they're about as likely to own a CD player as my generation was to own a cylinder gramophone. I think Rod's admirable efforts are caught between serving an older generation (who generally prefer to own a physical item and have the technology to play it) and a generation who are more used to streaming music for free.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 06:14 AM

AK,
    Oh, for more of that in the streets.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 06:25 AM

"I think that true traditional singing has always been a minority interest even among folkies"
AI agree with that, but this is the first time in over a half a century when I've had cause to doubt whether it has a future other than to spend the lext generation or so locked in a cupboard
The btreayal by EFDSS and the shennanigans by the New Age researchers has only addded to that doubt
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 06:41 AM

Yes John, I think that's how to start a new revival, take the music back to the people don't for them to come to us.
These street performances encourage people to participate even if its just dancing or clapping in time.....I remember that excitement from the folk music of the early sixties when the hard travellin' men only cared about getting a bed a drink and spreading the word.
That jazz group get a big kick when the "audience" show their appreciation of their performance......I love it!!


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 07:35 AM

My new car does not have a CD player - or tape deck. I can get downloads from a memory stick. Could this partially account for the problem for CD sales?
Flora G.

Mine does but I can't play Rod's CDs on it. Either he uses disks that are thicker than standard or paper labels that make them too thick for a front loader (I am not at home and can't check at the moment)

I would be quite happy without a CD player in the car, I have hours of music ripped to my phone and just use the Bluetooth connection on the sound system. Much safer than changing a CD on the motorway.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 07:45 AM

Could it possibly be something to do with the way you have conducted yourselves?


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 08:15 AM

:0)


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 08:28 AM

What happened to CD sales and what happened to the one true way in folk singing are two very different and completely unrelated questions.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,ake
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 08:45 AM

I think most of them disappeared up their own arses.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Andy7
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 08:46 AM

I happily pay to see lots of different folk performers each year, so in that way I'm financially supporting the folk genre. And worth every penny it is too!

But I almost never buy their CDs afterwards. I've already heard the songs once, live ... that's usually enough for me! I own very few CDs that I'd ever want to sit down and listen to all the way through. Usually there are just 1 or 2 outstanding tracks at most.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 08:51 AM


But I almost never buy their CDs afterwards. I've already heard the songs once, live ... that's usually enough for me! I own very few CDs that I'd ever want to sit down and listen to all the way through. Usually there are just 1 or 2 outstanding tracks at most.

One reason why I rip them. With a lot of CDs each track is good in its own right but there is too little variation to make it worth listening for 40 or 50 minutes in one go. Randomised among tracks from a bunch of other CDs the variety is just right.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 09:57 AM

"I'm financially supporting the folk genre."
Not really Andy - if you have to pay to listen to folk song you are supporting the performer
Very few modern paid 'folk singers' of any description put anything back into the music - a few maybe, but gone are the days of singers working with lesser experienced singers
Ewan and Peggy threw their home, library, archive, use of recording equipment open to wanabe singers for nearly ten years - I don't know many others who did that, yet MacColl is ritually dug up and given a kicking thirty years after huis death
Funny old world - funny old values
Jim


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 11:22 AM

we all pass on what we can. it must be obvious to you that different people mean different things when the term 'folk music ' comes up.

you may feel you own the absolute truth on the matter, but really that's part of the problem.

You've made it exclusive.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 11:42 AM

"different people mean different things when the term 'folk music ' comes up."
Doesn't matter what people make it mean Al - unless they have a consensus on what theyy think it means, it means what it means - folk = belonging to 'the folk sun, played, and probably made by them - that is what it has been documented as when applied to song, music, dancing storytelling, lore.... and any other related discipline.
couple it with traditional (as it should be) and you have the people's music that has been passed through a process, adapted, changed to suit wherever it lands   
Far from it being "exclusive" it is the most democratic, publicly owned art form there is - it belongs to 'the folk', 'the common people' - 'the masses' -or rather - it belongs to nobody
We use anguage to communicate with each other - if we decide words mean whatever somebody wants them to mean we stop talking to each other
What do you think would happen if you suddenlt decided you wanted to call the music you perform 'jazz' or 'classical' - or 'chamber music' - or hip-hop'...?
I reckon you'd find yourself on a trades description charge
Why should folk be any different - that's the label that was stuck on our product in 1846 - it's our logo
Jim


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 12:00 PM

It might be ' the most democratic, publicly owned art form there is - it belongs to 'the folk', 'the common people' - 'the masses' -or rather - it belongs to nobody' but 'traditional' folk however you define it is a minority interest and I am all for those artists who try to attract new audiences by making it more interesting. Otherwise it will die out when we all die out! :-)


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 12:09 PM

"but 'traditional' folk however you define it is a minority interest and I am all for those artists who try to attract new audiences by making it more interesting."Can you explain how you make a word based narrative musical form "more interesting" by drowning out the words with usually loud electronic accompaniment
The only thing you are doing to folk song is using it to create something something else, which you are quite entitled to do
It's a little arrogant to claim that makes it "more interesting" - who is it more interesting to - not me
It would be nice to put more bums on seats but in the end, it's a specific and well established music that counts - not arses
We really were here first and we put the years in to get the music to where it got
Nobody's asking you to like it, but that's what it is
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 01:10 PM

it won't die out, because everyone needs to make music.

folk music won't die out as long as there are folk. its an essential function of being a folk. like breathing, eating, dancing, and reproduction.

what's sad is that in other countries they freely acknowledge how folk music feeds into , and is an essential part of the indigent culture.

half the stuff on spanish radio sounds a bit like flamenco
blues singers acknowledge the relationship between their music with rap and jazz.

anyone with ears not actually constructed of oak can spot how folk music feeds in to The Beatles and Oasis, and yet only in England was this blank incomprehension as to how such music found its way into folk clubs.

The mistake was to exclude the folk. If now you feel excluded, it is hardly surprising.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 01:23 PM

"it won't die out, because everyone needs to make music."
Nobody needs to make any specific type of music Al
Unfortunately, while music is in the hands of a massive, profit-making industry we will remain passive recipients of our music, so what we do have we need to take care of and cherish
If you want to see how cose to extinction our music has become I suggest you compare what was happening in the seventies and eighties and calculate how music and what we have already lost
The times I was in Barcelona, Seville and the White Mountains I heard largely American inspired pop
I was told when we were in Hungary and Czechoslovakia that their traditional music was being swapled out of existence by Western pop and was in the hands of only a few elderly people
Twenty years ago they were saying the same about Irish music (there was more of it in London than in Ireland then
A few people, like Nicholas Carolan devoted their lives to bulding a foundation and now it's booming
That's the only way to do it - the establishment takes the attitude if you can't sell it it's not worth keeping
I'm sure you are as aware of that as I am
Jim


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 01:29 PM

Speaking for myself I have no interest in maintaining the purity of the tradition. I like what some of the revival singers did with English song, and I like their entirely non-authentic guitar accompaniments. I love me a good bit of folk-rock and some people have done fascinating things blending folk and electronica. And there are some songwriters who have produced excellent original material that draws on traditional song.

But what bothers me is when you go to an evening of 'folk' music and nothing appears to have any connection to the tradition. All too often 'folk' just ends up meaning 'music played on acoustic instruments'.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 01:44 PM

"But what bothers me is when you go to an evening of 'folk' music and nothing appears to have any connection to the tradition. All too often 'folk' just ends up meaning 'music played on acoustic instruments'".
Exactly. Bothers me too.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 01:47 PM

"Speaking for myself I have no interest in maintaining the purity of the tradition."
Me neither, but I do have an interest in preserving it as an important art form
I worked with MacColl, who used the tradition to create over three hundred new songs and managed to preserve the integrity (not the purity) of the traditional songs he sang
He used the tradition to create the radio ballads, to update mummers plays and put on theatrical performances
Peggy experimented with accompaniments without impinging on the narrative of the songs she and Ewan sang
They were far more experimental that any other folk artists I have ever met yet they fall under the description "purists" - work that one out
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 01:58 PM

well we're not going to sort this out. however you've heard my solution to your problem often enough.

The Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame have always named the Dubliners as one of their main influences. That's one of the directions folk music has gone. And when a kid turns up at your folk club singing the theme song to the Royle family - he's really only a spit and a fart away from roots singers.

The whole point about the purity of folk music - it never was pure.   The ploughman took his memory of a song and reworked it. how many hands did Henry martin pass through before it became the Lofty tall ship, or vice versa...who knows?


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 02:08 PM

Maybe you have a more sensitive ability to detect traditional influences, then, because I don't hear them in the music of Oasis.

There are distinctive melodic and lyrical features that are characteristic of English, Scottish and Irish traditional songs, and these just aren't present in the pop covers and so on that I hear. What Oasis song has a burden rather than a chorus, for example?


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 02:39 PM

despite having attended folk clubs - many of them claiming to specialise in English folksong since 1964 - I have no idea of what you speak.

Well done you have found a basis on which to exclude me from this discussion.

This is the spirit of exclusivity which leads to Jim looking woebegone and saying - not my fault guv',


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 02:39 PM

despite having attended folk clubs - many of them claiming to specialise in English folksong since 1964 - I have no idea of what you speak.

Well done you have found a basis on which to exclude me from this discussion.

This is the spirit of exclusivity which leads to Jim looking woebegone and saying - not my fault guv',


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 03:07 PM

"The Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame have always named the Dubliners as one of their main influences. "
Neither of which are traditional by nature of course
Luke was a fine solo singer back in the day, but he sacrificed his talent (and eventually his voice) by following the pennies
I was in the Singers Club one night when it was just paing up when the Dubliners waked in
Ewan and Luke threw their arms around each other like long lost brothers and they sat and talked for a couple of hours with pat and I sitting in
Luke admitted what I have just said
I agree totally with Rigby - even if you don't know how to define a folk song you know one when you hear it
Ewan and Peggy gave Joe Heaney a bed for a few days in 1964 and spent hours interviewing him - 'some of the results can be heard on Topic's 'Road from Conemara'
Part of the interview was to play Joe recordings from all over the world, some traditional, some not
When Joe was asked to identify which was which he scored nine out of ten - not bad for a rural dweller from the arsehole of the West of Ireland
Jowe was so steeped in the sound of hist traditional music that he could identify it in other cultures - I doubt if the Gallaghers could claim that and even if they could it didn't show in their singing - folk singing should be like wearing an old coat - once you've worn it a few times it becomes part of you
I never get 'woebegone' Al - I've got my folk to keep me warm
Jim


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 04:46 PM

Well I think there are many elements of traditional music in what the Dubliners do. I admire them.

Joe Heaney - Pete Coe flogged me the double cd. About ten years back at one of Alan Bell's Folkus Weekends> I couldn't make much of it, but I liked the idea of it I spent a week or two putting the Ballad of Una Bhan into a song.

We are what we are. And I thought one at least of Joe's stories was worth retelling. But I could only do it in my own way. I need to sing in the world I inhabit - just like Joe did.. From what I've read about his career -tours of America etc - he probably made a damn sight more out of music than most of the poor bastards 'chasing the pennies'.

You are imposing a formality on the nature of folk music which is utterly counter productive - and really is based on some desire to give it middle class respectability and status.

As Bob Dylan said in one of his songs, The cops don't need you...No government, Irish, English, Chinese has anything to contribute to folk music, which is basically anarchic in nature.

I suppose a cynic would point out Woody Guthrie's songs that the government commissioned. But in my book, music created chasing pennies doesn't preclude it from being folk music.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 04:54 PM

"You are imposing a formality on the nature of folk music which is utterly counter productive - and really is based on some desire to give it middle class respectability and status."

No!... this is completely arse backwards.

No-one's imposing anything on folk music. It's the other way around. People hear that folk music strikes the ear in a distinctive way and analyse it in a bid to understand what gives it that character.

What you find is that there is a loose set of traits that is characteristic of a folk tradition. No one song within that tradition will have all of those traits. Some might have very few. It's a set with fuzzy boundaries. But it's still a real set and it maps onto our immediate reaction to hearing folk songs.

The music of Oasis doesn't trigger the same experience, because it doesn't have those same characteristics.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 05:06 PM

well all artistic experience is subjective in nature.

Oasis is not my favourite music, but I think maybe you need to listen to some more varieties of folk music. the connections are there.

I can see songwriters using the elements they have learned from Oasis to write songs about their lives sometime in the future - if it hasn't happened already.

You simply cannot speak for what may inspire an artist at some future time.

being prescriptive in the way you are, earns you nothing but an empty folk club - and sad little threads saying where have all the folkies gone.

they've voted with their feet.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 05:13 PM

In think Al is right, Oasis and some other "pop" groups and singers have a gritty emotional edge to their writing and singing which compares to a lot of contemporary folk and even some traditional.
I remember watching Arcade Fire putting a torch to the Glastonbury crowd, and thinking, this is folk music.
The tradition is a different genre and In feel the only hope is to put it to sleep for a few decades, to be rediscovered when we are in the mood for social history.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Stanron
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 05:46 PM

I like the distinction between folk music and traditional music. I have most difficulty with the idea of traditional music. I tend to go with the idea that traditional music is, or was, a construct of middle class insecurity. Perhaps even labeling music as traditional stops it being folk music. It is possible to maintain the distinction and also recognise commercial music as something else again.


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 05:46 PM

we have this sodding stupid argument at every juncture.

i can remember someone saying there was no connection between George Formby and Blind Blakes stuff - even though the chord sequences are identical.

Oasis's music, I admit I don't know very well.

But from the tradition.
I should say it takes:-

modal approach to singing (the Manchester accent somehow seems to contain a drone string), the anthemic type choruses, the lyricism, the metrical putty approach that is there in every ballad,
its there in the accompaniments - those haunting open strings...


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: Andy7
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 06:23 PM

"I agree totally with Rigby - even if you don't know how to define a folk song you know one when you hear it"

Who do you mean by the 'you' in "you know one when you hear it", Jim?

I strongly suspect that you mean yourself, and not me! :-)


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Subject: RE: Where Have all the Folkies Gone
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 06:36 PM

"We really were here first and we put the years in to get the music to where it got"

That's quite a claim. Where would we have been without you Jim?


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