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The current state of folk music in UK

GUEST,JoeG 13 Oct 19 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,JoeG 13 Oct 19 - 08:52 PM
Joe Offer 13 Oct 19 - 09:32 PM
Stilly River Sage 13 Oct 19 - 10:58 PM
Backwoodsman 13 Oct 19 - 11:10 PM
Joe Offer 14 Oct 19 - 12:09 AM
r.padgett 14 Oct 19 - 02:48 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,Sol 14 Oct 19 - 04:18 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 19 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,matt milton 14 Oct 19 - 04:33 AM
GUEST,JoeG 14 Oct 19 - 04:54 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 05:22 AM
Vic Smith 14 Oct 19 - 05:50 AM
Steve Shaw 14 Oct 19 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,PeterC 14 Oct 19 - 06:29 AM
Jack Campin 14 Oct 19 - 06:43 AM
Dave Hanson 14 Oct 19 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,PeterC 14 Oct 19 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Observer 14 Oct 19 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,Starship 14 Oct 19 - 08:13 AM
Vic Smith 14 Oct 19 - 08:17 AM
Howard Jones 14 Oct 19 - 08:30 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 08:35 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 19 - 08:39 AM
Jack Campin 14 Oct 19 - 08:43 AM
Iains 14 Oct 19 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,matt milton 14 Oct 19 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,PeterC 14 Oct 19 - 09:07 AM
Vic Smith 14 Oct 19 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Oct 19 - 09:49 AM
Howard Jones 14 Oct 19 - 09:55 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 10:14 AM
Iains 14 Oct 19 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Observer 14 Oct 19 - 10:23 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 10:23 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Oct 19 - 10:44 AM
Backwoodsman 14 Oct 19 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,PeterC 14 Oct 19 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 14 Oct 19 - 02:30 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 02:43 PM
punkfolkrocker 14 Oct 19 - 03:04 PM
Raggytash 14 Oct 19 - 03:49 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 14 Oct 19 - 03:55 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Oct 19 - 05:16 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 Oct 19 - 05:45 PM
Raggytash 14 Oct 19 - 05:47 PM
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Subject: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 13 Oct 19 - 08:50 PM

I think the discussion under the closed thread 'Folk Revival 2019' is worth continuing. Most people contributing to that thread were respectful of each others' opinions (even if we didn't all agree) so let's start a new discussion and keep it that way. Please refrain from any personal attacks on this thread and keep it friendly if occasionally challenging :-)

I won't post an opening statement as I had almost the last word on the closed thread and said what I wanted to say - I know Jim (and others) disagree with my broad definition of folk but I respect that view even though I totally disagree with it. Let's continue in that vein.

(My broad definition of folk for the sake of clarity is 'Songs which have a narrative thread, are rooted in place and are generally but not exclusively about the employment, politics and occasionally love lives of working people - I'm sure this won't stand up to analysis but that is my definition of folk - what instruments it is played by or the volume of its delivery are irrelevant. The Whisky Priests, Jim Moray, Jon Boden or Sail Pattern to name but a few are as much folk to me as the Copper Family - they are keeping the tradition alive and vibrant and they are building upon it to keep it relevant to people in the 21st c. Without their contribution many songs will die out with those of us who have been around for a bit longer. What is folk instrumental music is possibly harder to define - I just know it when I hear it :-) )


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 13 Oct 19 - 08:52 PM

Having said I won't post an opening statement I just did :-)

Remember to keep it friendly!


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Oct 19 - 09:32 PM

I think the topic of discussion was more-or-less exhausted, and the Usual Suspects got bored and got into infighting. I don't think this thread will go anywhere, but I will allow it. And if it goes bad, I'll close it and put a hold on the subject for several months.
And that being said, let it also be known that I will not tolerate any attempt by moderators or others to suppress any point of view in this thread, as long as it sticks to the stated topic of discussion. I undeleted a number of posts in the previous thread because I could see no logic behind their deletion. I don't know if they were deleted because the posts were political, or because they were right-wing or left-wing. Whatever the case, it's clear to me that folk music has a political aspect, and that aspect must be included in this discussion without interference - as long as it relates to music. Any discussion about which posters are "banned" or not banned has no place here - NOBODY is banned from the music forum, unless they're not talking about music. I closed the previous thread because it got into petty personal squabbles, and I will quickly close this thread if it goes in the same direction. As always, I will state my reason for closing threads, but I will not allow public discussion of moderator actions. Feel free to contact me by email or personal message if you wish to discuss moderator actions. If you don't like what I have to say, you can contact Max or another moderator.
Joe Offer, Music Editor
The Mudcat Cafe
joe@mudcat.org

And if you wish to complain about this statement, contact Mudcat owner Max Spiegel by personal message or email max@mudcat.org

OK, now let's talk about "The current state of folk music in UK" - and nothing else.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Oct 19 - 10:58 PM

I vote it's exhausted as a topic. No one is changing anyone else's minds and the opinions they express are their own. Same ol' same ol'.

Citations would be nice. Has anyone any scholarly contributions to offer to expand the topic? Those I might sit up and listen to.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 13 Oct 19 - 11:10 PM

”I vote it's exhausted as a topic. No one is changing anyone else's minds and the opinions they express are their own. Same ol' same ol'.”

Me too.. I have opinions on this topic, but I seldom post because it’s a complete waste of effort - entrenched positions ensure that’s the case. People who never set foot in a folk club telling those of us who do that ‘clubs are failing’ and blaming we who keep them going for that supposed ‘failure’. Utter horse-puckey.

Might as well close it now, we all know where it’s going.

Just my 2p’s-worth.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 12:09 AM

But we'll wait and see where the thread goes. I wanted to join in the discussion last week but couldn't, because our power was out and it's hard to post thoughtful messages on a cell phone. It would be interesting to compare the folk revival in the UK, with that in the United States. Those with political interests, might say that the U.S. folk revival began with the People's Songs movement that started with Seeger, Lampell, Silber, and others just after World War II. But I think that research into more traditional folk music went back to the government-supported folklorists of the Depression years. The Library of Congress supported Lomax and other collectors in the 1930s.

American folk music went through a period of commercial success in the 1960s and into the 1970s, and then it mostly disappeared. But some of us "boomers" who came of age in that time continued to support it, mostly as volunteers, and it's still quite lively for us. Still, there are very few U.S. folk enthusiasts with anything but white hair - most of us are well past the grey-haired stage.

How did UK folk music develop in the 20th century, and where is it now? I think many of the best-known UK collectors were earlier than the US collectors(albeit with some overlap). Greig and Vaughan Williams and Sharp and Baring-Gould and others gave the movement a good start in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and others like Burns and Sir Walter Scott and Percy were even earlier. Ewan MacColl added a political aspect to the folk music community, and many others joined him.

Both in the UK and in the US, the folk music community has been two-sided: political and traditional. Neither should be neglected. We cannot deny one or the other and claim we are talking realistically about "folk." As for the singer-songwriter stuff, I'm not sure where to place it or how to deal with it. I like some of it, but mostly I prefer "folk-processed" songs that have stood the test of time.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 02:48 AM

Is live and well and performing many functions ~ improving musicianship, social gatherings, pub entertainment in uk, education in social history and helping the economy!

Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 02:52 AM

If this subject is exhausted, then I am afraid any future discussion of folk music (as I have come to know if over the last fifty fifty-odd years of my involvement) has no place on this forum and the heading 'Traditional' should be removed from the heading.
That is the music I and my generation knew as folk and that is the music that has been documented and archived and left for posterity.
I have been told in no uncertain terms that if I wish to find that folk music in the UK, I must go elsewhere as it is no longer available on the folk scene I helped set up and was part of for so long
It's with a great deal of sadness I watch a wonderful movement crumble and disappear because it no longer has an identity - because nobody in the UK can agree what folk song is any more.

The folk music I know to have lived up to the description still exists in the UK - it can be found in The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and a few similar establishments
On line, it can be accessed on The National Sound Archive at the British Library site, or the magnificent Scottish 'Kist O' Riches' site
Elsewhere, it can be listened to as part of The Alan Lomax Collection on line.
The Helen Hartness Flanders site is full of songs that were taken from Britain and Ireland in past centuries and survived long enough to be recorded by that dedicated lady - a wonderful resource for anybody wishing to enjoy some of our best songs
I understand that there are plans to make Ken Goldstein's Scots and Australian recordings available in the not-too-distant future - great news
I find it ironic and sad that that some of the finest examples of British folk music resides because there is no longer a place for them back home

Last week I was delighted to be told that our collection was now being put on line by the British Library - at last people can listen to what singers like Walter Pardon had to say about their folk music as well as enjoying their songs
Now I am not sure it's worth the effort and our remaining time wouldn't be better spent ascertaining that is established where it will be more appreciated and cherished - Limerick University seems the most promising
I was hoping at one time Mudcat would be able to make use of it - that didn't work out, probably just as well given what is happening

I am appalled that the last thread ended as it did
I put my case as clearly and rationally as I could, I insulted no-one and I offered evidence to what I had to say
I resent deeply that it was put down to "the usual suspects" when it crashed in flames as it did, when it in fact, the fault lay with an input of abusive and extremely personal postings aimed at my arguments and eventually at the "censorial" moderators
It has concerned me for some time now that there are a number of subjects on this forum that we are able to discuss because of this behaviour - I am saddened that traditional song has now been added to that growing list

On the bright side, I think I came out of that last thread with a clearer picture of 'The State of Folk Music in the UK' than I went into is
Useful to know, in somewhat depressing
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 04:18 AM

One current effect on the 'folk' music scene is the disappearance of suitable venues. I know of at least two previously folk friendly pubs that are changing their layout (and/or theme) that will deem them unsuitable for sessions. This has an obvious direct on the clubs that use them. The situation is also compounded by the sad demise of local pubs in general which reduces the options for alternative venues. Alas, these days folkies are fairly or unfairly labelled as soda water and lime drinkers and not the beer swillers of yesteryear. From a profit perspective, this makes landlords less keen to allocate rooms for sessions as it's probably more bother than it's worth.
I should point out that folk music will survive and always have waves of popularity however, the disappearance of suitable venues is worrying.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 04:28 AM

I think the problem with your proposition is Jim that it leaves folk music in the archives and the libraries. Or the the province of a few sages.

The majority of the songs you approve of were written by young vigorous people living and participating in society. And of necessity they were on the edge of society - detached enough to comment on their lives. Did Sam Larner strike you as the guy who would spent his time rooting through libraries.

if we follow your predilection for the Irish model - people who would sit in classes being given a set of rules to express themselves - they have no appeal for me, nor I believe the English character.

The people's need to express themselves in song is folk music in our country. No one gets it together in five minutes, and stumbling across a roomful of people struggling with the chords of a beatles tune is not an inspiring sight or sound, but it deserves more respect than a sneer.   Everyone starts somewhere.

We are doing our best. We all choose our own starting point. for you it was the Spinners - for kids today it seems to be a Chinese guitar and Oasis. Its their first step towards creativity, and as such worthy of respect.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 04:33 AM

Actually, if we focus purely on the 'music' side, it seems fairly healthy to me.

If I wanted to, I could go out to a folk club or session every night of the week. (I live in London) The majority of the material at said events would be traditional.

Yes, the audiences tend to be quite old. But there are enough people involved in their 20s, 30s and 40s to suggest that traditional folk singarounds, gigs and sessions will continue to exist in London for several generations to come.

In terms of recorded music, I'm encouraged by musicians such as Stick in the Wheel, Lankum, Cath & Phil Tyler, Alasdair Roberts and Nick Hart, who are making music that's a lot less sugar-coated than the folk mainstream.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 04:54 AM

Thanks Joe

I did wonder about the wisdom of attempting to continue the discussion but it seemed to me that amongst the chaff of some unhelpful contributions there was some wheat to be harvested. If we can ensure this discussion remains focussed and free of personal antagonism then I think it might be worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:22 AM

"Jim that it leaves folk music in the archives and the libraries."
My point exactly Al
Those libraries were't set up to preserve the songs in aspic - they were there to allow them to be accesses and learned from
The archives had a double purpose as far as I was concerned - to preserve the songs fist certainly, but where possible, to make them accessible to be learned from
Books and Archives are tools, not an end in themselves
Your Chinese guitars and also tools - it's what you make with those tools that's important
It is ironic that now it is possible to make them available world-wide via the Net there is no longer sufficient interest to make use of them widely

The clubs were set up in the first place from the songs released from the BBC collecting project and later from a small handful of books
We took them snad learned the songs
The folk boom drew in more people, yet later became a diversion and, like the similar jazz boom, crashed when the industry decided there was not enough money to be made from it, leaving behind the die-hards

The best of the clubs came later - many survived and prospered
The Singers Club died shortly after MaccColl died because Peggy moved back to America (for a time) - so the club MacColl started in the sixties carried on to the end of his life - not a bad thing to take to your grave, I think

My start wan't really The Spinners - they were the first live music I heard, but it was the songs themselves that kept me here and still keep me active

Groups like Oasis have been around forever - they have nothing to do with folk music - or this discussion
When we first started coming to Ireland the kids were listening to Boomtown Rats, Thin Lizzie, Gilbert O'Sullivan and the like and it was widely believed that the rich traditional stuff had seen its last generation
Dedication and buckets of blood, sweat and tears shed by a few people have introduced Irish kids to their traditional inheritance and they've taken to it big-time

One of the strange contradictions I've seen is the changing roles of the generations
When I was an avid pop listener my father would deride my music and say I should "listen to something decent instead of that rubbish"
He and my mother bought me my first MacColl album for my 21st, which started the rot
Both were somewhat sceptical when I started to sing (my mother once said "If you were singing for shit you wouldn't get the smell of it" - I cherish that as a classic piece of Liverpool humour)
Both came around to it and began to like the songs, my dad even started to sing his father's sea shanties and some Dominic Behan songs.
Unfortunately, neither lived long enough to see my interest develop from a pastime to an obsession - they died within 18 months of one another when I was in my mid twenties) but I think that would have been happy to see how things turned out.

What seems to be happening today is, while The Irish youngsters have leapt the wall and joined tha band of traddies, back in the UK, the oldies still left in the revival have turned to the pop music my dad despised and aredoing their best to ascertain the the British kids won't follow their Irish counterparts and take an interest in their traditions
Strange or what !!!
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:50 AM

GUEST,Sol wrote -
Alas, these days folkies are fairly or unfairly labelled as soda water and lime drinkers and not the beer swillers of yesteryear.

Recently, I received my regular circular email from South London's premier folk club. It has been having its problems with venues over the last decade. Once they were in a pub that was prepared to let them have the room but there were no chairs in the room so they had to ask their regulars to bring camping chairs with them. They found a more suitable venue a few stops down the Northern Line and found a suitable room in Tooting where they have thrived for the last three years. Then a new management came in and stated that unless the folk club could guarantee £500 sales of beer each week, they could not have the clubroom under any circumstances. They could not give this guarantee so the club is currently homeless. This is the reality facing current and potential folk club organisers in England, particularly in the capital. My interest (rather than my regular attendance) means that I am on the mailing list of two north London folk clubs, both of whom have suffered repeated venue problems in recent years.
One cannot blame the landlords; the old-fashioned drinks-only pub with an upstairs or back room available for hire seems to be no longer a sustainable business model. Publicans have to be inventive in the use of their premises to make ends meet and they seem to be fighting a losing battle with the price differential between supermarket and pub prices of drinks.
The nature programmes on television are always telling us that it is the loss of habitat that leads to species extinction. Well, the natural habitat of the folk club was the pub clubroom So it is adapt or die - and as has been pointed out on a number of threads of this nature, there is a lot of adaptation going on.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 06:07 AM

My penchant is for traditional Irish music, mainly not song, but for a number of years I hardly missed a single Friday night at our folk club until, sadly, it closed in 1996. So I enjoyed many of the great and the good (and a few of the bad) of the folk music of these islands and my harmonica playing had to be endured by attendees almost every time. We kept the fire aflame in the form of weekly pub sessions for twenty years after that. I had to stop several years ago as my hearing declined. Anyway, I think I'm qualified to read these threads and occasionally stick my oar in. Joe Offer, it's fine to try to firmly set the parameters for discussion but you should be doing that in a positive and constructive - and friendly - manner. I for one would applaud that. But, as I've said several times before, it's not fine to do it whilst failing (again) to resist the urge to eyeball those who you pejoratively call "usual suspects." I could name at least three "usual suspects" of the very worst kind from down the years who didn't even think they were (or, in one case is) "usual suspects." As they say, it's about outcomes, dear boy, outcomes...

As for the topic, as long as folk show up to sing songs without crib sheets, some old, some new, get us to join in the choruses now and then, and do it without plugging into complex sound systems and who don't put themselves on pedestals, or who try to "see a career in it," and who are respectful of the long tradition of folk song without necessarily shackling themselves to it a hundred percent of the time, let's enjoy it and see where it goes. And anyone can sing...

(Back to the cave, then, Stevieboy...)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 06:29 AM

Depending where I go I can see either Jim's scenario "the oldies still left in the revival have turned to the pop music my dad despised" or Mat's "The majority of the material at said events would be traditional. ". The folk music scene in south east England at least is by no means homogeneous. The split is in proportions similar to Brexit.

One thing that older people working in fairly young teams have commented to me is that younger people are less likely to go to "the club" every week be it any sport or genre of music or just a regular venue for a drink than our generaton were. If you can get somebody over 50 into your club and they like it they will probably come back of their own accord, with a younger audience you have to sell each night to them.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 06:43 AM

Trad music long predates its migration into pubs, and the pub session or club phase is nearing its end. I'm playing much more in people's houses now than ever before. And situating the music in private houses makes for much better intergenerational communication than even the most child-friendly pub.

The only people who lose out by this move are the obnoxious pillocks nobody would want to be host to unless they were buying enough drink to be worth the aggravation.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 06:50 AM

The ' pub seesion ' is hardly coming to an end, I play in 2 sessions every week, both very well attended and playing 90% traditional songs and tunes.

I know other sessions that are equally thriving.

Or is this happening in West Yorkshire only ?

Dave H


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 07:32 AM

My previous post was explicitly responding to comments about "clubs". Certainly there are plenty of sessions around where I am but these are increasingly having to fit in around the meal trade. One regular session that I go to was bounced from its last venue earlier this year and could only find a new pub by switching from the Sunday lunch timings it had used for the previous 20 years to mid afternoon.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:13 AM

It would appear from what some are saying here that in various places in the UK what they see as "The Folk Scene" is thriving and to varying but constantly high percentages the material is "Traditional".

My guess with regard to those writing such statements and referring to "sessions" they play in, that these are predominantly "tune sessions" in which case I am not at all surprised that there is a high percentage of traditional material played.

Like others, if I wanted to, I could, with a low to moderate degree of travel within the area I live in, enjoy live music almost every night of any given week. Many of these venues describe themselves as "Folk Clubs", or "Folk Sessions" and they do so rather dishonestly as if truth be told very little if anything when it comes to songs are either "folk songs" or traditional songs. So what sessions and what venues do I go to? That is decided by word of mouth, which tells me who will be there and from that I know whether or not I will enjoy the evening. That being my personal experience I can appreciate what Jim Carroll and Akenaton complain of I do not want to drive 40 miles to what I think is a "Folk Club" to hear poor and mediocre acoustic versions of "Dire Straits" numbers, Beatles Songs and 50s rock 'n roll (Which oddly enough, we are told are so popular and such crowd pleasers that, those singing them and joining in only know the first verse and the chorus, then it just dries up).

Venues are getting fewer and fewer because the traditional venue, local pubs are closing right left and centre. "House Concerts" are becoming more common I have been to quite a few but there you tend to meet the same people time and time again and all seem to be very much of an age, I've certainly seen no evidence of "intergenerational communication".

When I was very much younger, you had to go to folk clubs to hear folk music, it wasn't played all that much on television or on radio. Today the big change is that if youngsters want to listen to whatever music they like they just use their mobile phones and listen to the actual artists performance, not some bumbling amateur making a hash of it.

Crib sheets, i-pads and tablets do not help anyone "learn" a song they become an indespensable crutch and the song is never learned. As to the contention that "Anyone can sing"? That perhaps is true but they should not inflict it on others until they have actually sat down and listened to themselves to hear what they sound like. I dare say anyone could be a brain surgeon but that does not mean they should actually attempt it.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:13 AM

". . . with a younger audience you have to sell each night to them."

PeterC has voiced a common difficulty with clubs everywhere--meaning not just the UK and Ireland. Teenagers and young adults have authority figures talking at but not necessarily with them in schools, at work, at home. They won't go to a club, pub session or anywhere else if they think the same thing will be happening there. Unless people are made to feel welcome they just won't be back to places they aren't required to be.

Folk/music (whatever one thinks that means) becomes a commodity the moment it's promoted for sale, and like any other commodity it will be sought after by some and disregarded by others.

When I go to listen to a singer/vocal performer I go to listen. I don't want to socialize or otherwise interact with anyone else while the person I came to hear is 'in the spotlight'. But over the years I've noticed an increasing number of audience members who just have to talk while the performer performs, and frankly it's a real turn-off.

If older-in-age members would think back to the moment they had that 'Wow, this is for me' feeling about a club or music venue, what exactly was it that piqued your interest and kept it going, and took you with it? There are many good performers, musicians, singers, instrumentalists on this site who should be able to pinpoint why audiences are static or diminishing in numbers.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:17 AM

Peter C -
Depending where I go I can see either Jim's scenario "the oldies still left in the revival have turned to the pop music my dad despised" or Mat's "The majority of the material at said events would be traditional. ".

In Sussex, the majority of folk clubs would certainly fall into Matt's category but I have just received a circular email of an account of an evening from a place that used to be a folk club and still calls itself a folk club:-
2nd October 2019

Thanks to all for a great evening.

Yvette started the evening with Love Potion Number Nine by The Searchers, Ticket To Ride and Karma Chameleon by Culture Club

Laurie was next playing his accordion, You're My World, Windmill In Old Amsterdam, and Streets Of London

Tony Cox then played the harmonica, Yellow Rose Of Texas, Paper Roses originally by Anita Bryant in 1960 and later by Marie Osmond, and The Wayward Wind. A classic set of Country and Western songs.

Ted then ventured into traditional folk with High Germany, The White Cockade, and The Jolly Ploughboy

Audrey Lee was next up playing the autoharp, her own song Brittle Miss Harper, and Nick Cave's Ship Song

Lorna then played the recorder, Sunset Over Aire & Still Rushing Around.

Ged treated us to a section of old and new rock and roll with Picture Of You, Rosie, and Viva La Vida by Coldplay

The INTERVAL was an opportunity to buy tickets for the famous [*** NAME OF CLUB HERE***] raffle and catch up with friends old and new. Thanks to the Rafflers.

Ken opened the second half with If I Were A Carpenter by The Four Tops, Cats In The Cradle by Harry Chapin, and John Denver's Leaving On A Jet Plane.

Chris Leaney continued in the folky style with Vincent Black Lightning 1952, Old Goldmine, and Her Lost Youth.

Kim and Rob then entertained us with the 1951 Merle Travis song Nine Pound Hammer, Diamonds And Rust by Joan Baez, and the old Robert Johnson song The Last Fair Deal Gone Down. Such a sweet sound.

After the RAFFLE
Tony Simpson began the last 'spasm' with Teach Your Children, Blowing In The Wind, and Carolina Star

Bamboozle (Liz and Derek) closed the evening with Wading Through The Waters, Only You, and How Long

Hmm! Under a previous regime we used to be booked at this club. Well, each to his own, I suppose, but somehow, I get the impression that this would not be Jim's sort of club.
I must admit that it made me smile to read that - in a folk club - someone had "ventured into traditional folk" - very brave of them, I would say. It reminded me of those very old maps where the uncharted areas were marked "Here be Dragons!"
The circular was accompanied by some photos of performers. It was difficult to see some of the their faces because every head was bent over a music stand.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:30 AM

The decline of the clubs echoes the decline of the pub itself. Once pub landlords considered themselves a community service - many would still like to, but the harsh economics of the pub trade mean that they increasingly rely on selling food and many no longer have a spare room they can make available for free or a modest amount.

It also has to be said that we don't help ourselves. Folkies seem to be a remarkably stingy lot, unwilling to spend much at the bar (although drink-driving laws don't help) and unwilling even to pay a realistic sum to pay to hear the music they claim to love. Yes I know some genuinely can't afford much, but many more can.

Where the clubs can't carry on, folk events are either becoming larger by moving into concert-style halls and theatres or else they are small-scale house concerts. However there are still a lot of less formal sessions and singarounds.

Folk music is a broad term and for most people includes more than its more technical sense of traditional music. People tend to incline towards events where they will hear the music they most enjoy, so some prefer traditional while others prefer contemporary folk. There's room for both, but with fewer venues it may be more difficult to find one which suits you, and you may have to travel further.

No one would pretend that the folk scene is as strong as it once once, but it is still possible to hear a very wide range of excellent music superbly performed, and there are still opportunities for people to sing and play themselves.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:35 AM

"My previous post was explicitly responding to comments about "clubs"."
For me, if the clubs go, then so does the song - the music has found a comfortable niche in the sessions, though, as Jack said, its origins were in homes rather than pubs
Song is presented with a massive problem in the sense that it is not at home in pub sessions - nobody wants to stop drinking to listen to a song - let alone a ten verse ballad
Sam Larner once made the point perfectly when he said, "Yes, we sang at 'The Fisherman's Return' every week, but the serious singing was always done at home or at sea"
If festivals and concerts are the future, then we return to pre-revival days of being passive observers of performances - which is what we tried to move away from

That youngsters are capable of making and sharing music in a social environment is beyond doubt
When I started visiting this West of Ireland Town I saw youngsters learning to play from scratch   
Two of our leading local musicians were teenagers learning their craft
Bríd O'Donoghue is still playing superbly, but her greatest contribution to Irish music is the hundreds of youngsters she has encouraged and taught
BRÍD'S FAMILY are all fine musicians in their own right

EDEL FOX has become one of Ireland's leading concertina players, but she also has a track record of teaching young people to play   
As I say, singing has some way to go but IT'S BEGINNING TO HAPPEN
Jim Carroll

None of this would have happened if we'd settled for being passive audiences


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:39 AM

Well if i didn't mind playing rhythm guitar all week, i could attend trad sessions in Weymouth, 2 nights in Dorchester, 1 in Bridport.
That's without going too far down the shit Dorset roads. That's four a week - if i wanted. But as you know - I'm more at home with the people struggling to get started like i did. Plenty of those song sessions and open mics.

The thing -even if i play traditional material. People know that I do other stuff.

Your description of your parents' initial reaction to you becoming a singer - very much reminds me of my own, Jim. I'm really jealous of the supportive parents and the ease of access to music and instruments that kids have nowadays.

Still - they wouldn't have been your parents, would they?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:43 AM

My guess with regard to those writing such statements and referring to "sessions" they play in, that these are predominantly "tune sessions" in which case I am not at all surprised that there is a high percentage of traditional material played.

Your guess would be wrong. Most sessions are predominantly about recently composed tunes in the traditional idiom (or an idiom recognizably derived from it).


"House Concerts" are becoming more common I have been to quite a few but there you tend to meet the same people time and time again and all seem to be very much of an age, I've certainly seen no evidence of "intergenerational communication".

I was talking about participatory events, not concerts. (I've been to three house concerts in my life and I was playing at two of them).


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Iains
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:43 AM

In Ireland the number of pubs has dropped 20% since 2005. In the UK 25% since 2000. Loss of venue is common in both countries. An additional problem in Ireland is much lower breathalyser limits.(50mg for all drivers, 20mg for specified drivers. In the UK it is 80mg) In rural areas this hits particularly hard. This all conspires to diminish the number of people out and about that would have had a casual exposure to folk. It is a dedicated diehard sups on orange juice all evening.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 08:52 AM

"younger people are less likely to go to "the club" every week be it any sport or genre of music or just a regular venue for a drink than our generaton were."

Some of the monthly folk clubs I go to seem to have regular attendees who are in their 20s. I make every effort to go to two particular ones (Tooting Folk Club and Bermondsey Folk Club if you're interested). I don't know if they'd go every week if the clubs were weekly, however. I would have felt the same: you're more sociable in your 20s and committing to a music night every week just seems too formal.

By the way, Vic: I know the club of which you speak. I often wonder if the Court Sessions attendees are aware of their near neighbours, Tooting Folk Club? www.tootingfolk.com
They would all be more than welcome to attend. It currently meets monthly at the Gorringe Park.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 09:07 AM

Bermondsey? Have they found a new venue? Last thing I heard was that they were temporarily homeless.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 09:33 AM

Could I politely point out to Jim that two of his three posts in this thread - though interesting - deal with historic matters? We have been asked specifically to stick to "The current state of folk music in UK" - and nothing else.
So far the thread has been interesting and informative with experiences in different parts of the country being shared. Let's keep it that way.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 09:49 AM

I agree with Al's point about respect.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 09:55 AM

Festivals and concerts are part of the future, but not the only part. There are still other opportunities to perform.

House concerts are usually by invitation (no one wants random strangers in their house) so the audiences do tend to come from a fairly small group, but no smaller in my experience than the group of regulars at a folk club. They include a range of ages. Whilst the performance itself is in the form of a concert, at the ones I go to there is usually an informal session as well, and sometimes a workshop.

The tune sessions I attend are usually mostly traditional English tunes, and usually a few songs.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 10:14 AM

Despite the drop in the number of Irish Pubs, finding a venue in rural ares isn't a problem to my knowledge
Landlords seem willing to accept anything that will fill empty pubs during the week
We're lucky here - there are still two bars which have historically hosted traditional music and they have been added to as this town has gained the reputation of being 'the home of Irish Traditional Music
There are sessions six nights out of seven, several on some nights
This used to drop when the visitors stopped coming, but there's little sign of that so far
The standard varies from reasonable to extremely high, one of our locals, Jackie Daly, has just won an award for his services to Irish music and at least three more have a national/international reputation
Certainly not the case all over Ireland, but the foundations have now been laid for that to change
One of the stars in our crown is Oidhreacht an Chláir a local heritage group with a strong emhasis on the traditional arts
Some problems, but getting there, thanks to a growing interest in the Tradition
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Iains
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 10:21 AM

It has been a few years since I was in the Lincolnshire area, but it all seems very healthy to me.

http://www.folk-now.co.uk/folktalk/talk2.htm#Session
http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-clubs/lincolnshire.htm
Some venues close, some even demolished but the scene continues.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 10:23 AM

Festivals and concerts are part of the future, but not the only part. There are still other opportunities to perform.

Festivals and concerts are where people are paying good money to place their bums on the seats and they are, or should be a "listening" and attentive audience (Agree wholeheartedly about people who feel that they have a right to chatter away during concerts). These venues also require a high standard of performance and that is where the University students and graduates from the previous thread come into the picture. So far this has all been non-participation so it is the "other opportunities to perform that allows participation of those attending and that if I am understanding Jim correctly is this sort of environment where "folk music" and trad originally in days long gone came from and is now nurtured. A place where old songs are sung and new ones fitting in style and content can be absorbed to be passed on and submit to the "folk process".


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 10:23 AM

"The current state of folk music in UK"
Sorry Vic - there seems little point in confining ones comments to what is happening, especially if you are not happy if you believe it needs improving (as it must be obvious I do)
I would much rather make helpful suggestions (with examples) of how things might be improved - no compulsion of course
If that's not allowed I'll just go and finish my Codeword, but I'd hate to think that anybody would restrict any discussions to just self-congratulatory back-slapping or griping and carping
That's not the way I have ever viewed this forum
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 10:44 AM

Having returned from an internet free couple of days away I am glad to see the discussion continues on this thread.

As far as I am concerned, the current state of folk music in the UK is pretty good for both listening and participating. Others will disagree of course but it does look like most posters on here concur with that analysis.

What do you want to get out of the discussion, JoeG? Is it a type of survey of views or do you want to get involved in talks about a definition of folk song? Or something entirely different!?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 11:21 AM

The ‘Folk-Scene’ in Lincolnshire is indeed very healthy - I will be going to Epworth Folk and Acoustic club tonight to do three or four songs myself, listen to seven or eight other performers (of varying levels of competence, but we all had to start somewhere didn’t we), and have a drink and a chuckle with Musket about the latest closed ‘WTF is Folk’ thread. Not all Trad - mostly the aforementioned Musket doing the Trad stuff - maybe a couple of ‘pop’ songs thinly disguised as ‘nearly-folk’, and plenty of ‘singer-songwriter’ stuff. And a grand time will be had by all.

There will be performers’ clubs and sessions operating during the rest of the week and at the weekend, I may go to one or two, or I may rest in the bosom of my family depending on how I feel.

But, in my part of the Backwoods at least, it’s out there and flourishing and, should I decide to take my passport and cross the border into South Yorkshire or Notts, it’s flourishing even more. Some of the stuff I, and others, are doing would probably not pass Jim’s Litmus-Test, but he won’t be there! ;-)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 11:44 AM

Festivals and concerts are where people are paying good money to place their bums on the seats

Festivals vary as much as folk clubs. At one extreme you have events like Sidmouth and Whitby with a mix of formats where you participate or sit back and be entertained in whatever combination suits you and at the other what is no more than a longer than usual concert.

Looking around the demographics of various events I suspect that the next couple of decades will see a contraction in song based events as the dominant generation dies out and an expansion in dance which is where I see more youngsters.

Once we have all gone there will, no doubt, be another generation of "young radicals" who will rebel against the heavily arranged performances of the current crop of graduates and look back to the sources.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 02:30 PM

Is maybe a whole lot of generlisation going on here? Even to the likes of drink driving limit differences between the UK and Ireland. The limit for normal drinkers is the same in Scotland as it is in the Republic and much lower than it is in Northern Ireland. I live smack in the middle of the rural Scottish Borders and there are sessions on through the region on virtually every night plus the weekends. Some trad and some not right enough but folks are travelling and attending regularly despite the lower 50mg limit.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 02:43 PM

" Jim’s Litmus-Test, but he won’t be there!"
My 'litmus test' is based on what is sung - not how many bums are on seats Baccy
I've been told that I have to go else where if I want folk music so I'm happy to accept that's how it is
Not much of this means too much to me
If I just wanted a successful evening I'd probably be as weel looking up a good disco - at least they could probably explain what they are doing
Not what I signed up for
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 03:04 PM

I find all the folk music I like on the internet and CDs..
I represent the kind of folkie who enjoys listening on my own to high quality performers and recordings
through good Hi Fi headphones;
and who aint that interested in socialiing in communal sings songs...

I'd hazard to guess there are far more like me than folk club oriented folkies would prefer...???

If I ever do want to perform my take on folk music, It'll be recorded and uploaded,
just like all the many thousands of other world wide 21st century internet focused folkies...

'Pro' quality hobbyist recordings that if any good and lucky,
might be discovered by a few like minded musicians and fans
from all around the planet...

My aspiration would be enough 'fans' to merit me posting an Amazon wish list...

btw.. nearly all the 'new' folk I've found and enjoyed listening to
is East European and Indian/Turkish/Middle Eastern/etc..

Not the kind of live music I'd easily find in a culturally isolated provincial west country pub acoustic evening...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 03:49 PM

Despite reports to the contrary folk music, as I understand it, is alive and well and flourishing wherever I go in England or Ireland.

It is vibrant, dynamic and spirited all over these lands.

There are some superb performers, as well as others (to be kind) who are perhaps not quite so "accomplished"

However I doubt whether the vast majority would pass "the litmus test"

I really don't care for categorising what is and what isn't folk music. My criteria is that if it sounds like folk music, it moves me like folk music, it is folk music.

As I have said before the 1954 "definition" has done much to damage fok music.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 03:55 PM

Folk music and singing in our United Nations varies a lot, thank God - as mentioned on the other Folk Revival thread, e.g., Mongolians have their throat singing, whereas Chinese use a shrill voice and, in my opinion, our best folkies have an earthy sound.

And these traditions have survived due to folks being impressed by how THEIR OWN forebears did things - hence, as I also said, many classical musicians wishing to give a nod to nationalism have turned to folk music.

Accordingly and sadly, globalisation/Americanisation, economic/CAPITALIST immigration, and, in England, e.g., the relentless promotion of internal ethnic diversity (whereas, a few decades ago "assimilation" was promoted) are largely responsible for the decline of these traditions/the current state of folk music in the UK being much less popular than American (c)rap, pop, rock, country, etc.

And, accordingly, positive nationalism/ "Nationalism without Conquest" is a key solution.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:16 PM

"Despite reports to the contrary folk music, as I understand it, is alive and well and flourishing wherever I go in England or Ireland.
"
Sorry Rag - still meaningless unless you define your folk music
You mau as well take someone to a crammed ROH and say - "Look - who said the folk scene wa in trouble"
Why not ?
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:45 PM

Subject: RE: the uk folk revival in 2019
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 11 Oct 19 - 08:52 AM

...
As a singer, I have a loose definition that makes sure that people who turn up to hear folk songs will hear them or songs based on folk syles


Remember tbat, Jim?

We all have our own "loose definition". Who judges which one is right?

You are right of course. We cannot judge what the current state of folk music in the UK is unless we know what we mean by folk music. You say yourself that the 1954 definition is not fit for purpose and you just have a "loose definition". I have a loose definition. Raggy has a loose defintion. We all know what is meant by folk music and I strongly suspect we are in agreement on 80% of the songs we chose. Can you not just accept that?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:47 PM

That's the problem Jim, you and your ilk have to "define" folk music. The majority of us understand folk music when we hear it. My interpretation of folk music will differ from the next man, woman or child, that does not make their interpretation any less valid than mine.

I suspect that most of the singer/songwriters who I consider to be brilliant exponents of the art won't past muster with you.

I seem to inhabit a world that frankly perished in the middle of the last century and have not be able to accept that folk music like all forms of art changes through time.

Your loss not mine.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:54 PM

Sorry that should have read "You seem to inhabit a world..." not "I inhabit a world ...."

Just one more thing Jim, I have been involved in my version of folk music for over 60 years, during that time I have seen dozens, scores, if not hundreds of people put of folk music because of the views expressed by people like yourself.

Reading the posts on this forum would lead to believe I am not alone in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:54 PM

Sorry that should have read "You seem to inhabit a world..." not "I inhabit a world ...."

Just one more thing Jim, I have been involved in my version of folk music for over 60 years, during that time I have seen dozens, scores, if not hundreds of people put of folk music because of the views expressed by people like yourself.

Reading the posts on this forum would lead to believe I am not alone in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 14 Oct 19 - 05:55 PM

Do a survey at a shopping centre in England asking have they heard of American Emmylou Harris, then try say Fay Hield or Bella Hardy of England - the gap would NOT be due to quality but hype.

If someone said to Paul McCartney that the Beatles were very good at an aspect of American, rather than their own, culture he would not deny it but probably say something like - it's a cool thing to do, man.

We need to convince English that appreciating, practising and performing their own good culture is a right and proper thing to do, lads and lasses.


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