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Why folk won't be popular now

Stringsinger 28 May 22 - 04:11 PM
keberoxu 28 May 22 - 05:13 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 29 May 22 - 05:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 May 22 - 06:21 AM
The Sandman 29 May 22 - 11:35 AM
Steve Gardham 29 May 22 - 04:49 PM
rosma 30 May 22 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 30 May 22 - 03:36 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 30 May 22 - 03:41 PM
keberoxu 30 May 22 - 03:51 PM
GUEST 30 May 22 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,JoeG 30 May 22 - 06:07 PM
Stringsinger 30 May 22 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 31 May 22 - 04:51 AM
Howard Jones 31 May 22 - 06:32 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 31 May 22 - 07:25 AM
Big Al Whittle 31 May 22 - 07:28 AM
Stringsinger 31 May 22 - 09:00 AM
Dave the Gnome 31 May 22 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 31 May 22 - 11:44 AM
Stringsinger 31 May 22 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 31 May 22 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 31 May 22 - 12:33 PM
Tony Rees 31 May 22 - 02:59 PM
GUEST 31 May 22 - 04:00 PM
Sol 31 May 22 - 04:16 PM
Tony Rees 31 May 22 - 04:24 PM
Mr Red 31 May 22 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 01 Jun 22 - 03:17 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jun 22 - 03:33 AM
Joe Offer 01 Jun 22 - 03:37 AM
MaJoC the Filk 01 Jun 22 - 04:50 AM
Brock 01 Jun 22 - 12:58 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Jun 22 - 04:55 PM
Stringsinger 01 Jun 22 - 05:46 PM
keberoxu 01 Jun 22 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 01 Jun 22 - 08:18 PM
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Mr Red 02 Jun 22 - 05:25 AM
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Subject: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 May 22 - 04:11 PM

https://tedgioia.substack.com/p/14-warning-signs-that-you-are-living?s=r

Folk music is now a counter-culture item. Music is being corralled by the music industry which is now being run by hedge funds from Silicon Valley, private equity firms, and slowly becoming so financialized that you won't hear it on media unless these vultures can make money with it.

This is why in the early 40's, there was an interest in folk music in left-wing circles. They appreciated that fact that music was becoming commercialized to the degree that it was a form of exploitation by oligarchic classes. The Left saw it as a usurpation by capitalists who structured it in such a way to make money at it. Non-commercial music such as folk music as Al Grossman, the manager of Peter Paul and Mary said about Llewelan Davis in the movie, "I don't hear any money in it". Al did hear quite a bit of money in what was termed folk music in the late Fifties and early Sixties. The popularization of what was called folk music introduced The Kington Trio. Some people who are on this list were introduced to folk music as a result.


The Weavers split up when some members wanted to capitalize on it but Pete Seeger saw it differently and left the group. The KT went on to fall within the framework of the popular music industry which blacklisted many who were controversial and choked the money stream.
The example of this was the TV show Hootenanny, using a term that was not manufactured by the industry but used as a format for a kind of folk concert that included audience participation. "Sing Along with Mitch" was an attempt to capitalize on this format.

Fast forwards to the present. Private Equity firms, hedge fund managers and financial business people want to own what you listen to, market only what they think you want, and try to exploit it as much as possible. Songs on media begin to sound alike. Movies also.

The radio stations used to have a Top Forty playlist. Now there maybe ten or less. Streaming, planned obsolescence by the passing of the CD, LP or other manufactured devices, Spotify and other net formats are shrinking in what they offer.

Nothing controversial in music will be heard on media unless it makes lots of money. This is why folk music on a grass roots level is so important. It's one of the few weapons we have to confront the juggernaut of the new music industry which dumbs down the musical taste of the public and attempts to financialize anything they can at the expense of actual musical value.

Some may say "so nu?" But it's more extreme now then it has ever been. Artistic musical content is being so appropriated by the business people that the younger brainwashed generation would rather play video games then listen to good music.
Here's my solution. Learn to play a musical instrument, sing a song, and encourage others to do it as well. Tom Lehrer joked about a "Folk Song Army". I think he had something there.
There is a cultural struggle that coincides with a class struggle (sorry if I sound doctrinaire).

We have to fight back before we allow musical zombies to take over our minds through the media and the so-called music industry.

Mudcatters may be aware of the problem and others might be seduced by the marketing ploys.

It's an important topic for those like me who love folk music, jazz , classical or even decent pop music of which there has been some in the past.

We have a folk song tradition if we allow it to flourish.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: keberoxu
Date: 28 May 22 - 05:13 PM

Allow me, Mr. Hamilton, to attempt to make a blicky to the link that opens your post.

14 Signs That You Are Living in a Society Without a Counterculture

Always good to hear from you at this forum.

As for what I have been reflecting on lately myself,
it comes under the category of a single popular-music act by a duo.

Jim Seals and Dash Crofts got their start as teenagers from Texas,
getting into a group called the Champs whose instrumental single "Tequila" was so popular that it refused to go away for a long time.
Seals and Crofts were not on that studio recording.
When one or more of the Champs members on said lucrative recording,
quit the Champs rather than tour with the group,
these two young men were hired for the tour.
They met Glen Campbell, amongst others, in that fashion.

Today, Glen Campbell has passed away after coming down with Alzheimer's.
Jim Seals survived a stroke, and no longer plays the guitar or saxophone (which he played on those Champs/"Tequila" tours); nevertheless, Seals is still alive.
So is Dash Crofts, the older of the two.

For several decades, after the demise of the Champs,
Seals & Crofts took their songwriting and performing out on the road,
converted to the Baha'i faith, and got a contract with Warner Brothers.

I don't doubt that these songwriters and performers have seen everything at least once --
the stories that they could tell!

Do you recall the variety show on television, hosted by the Smothers Brothers? I sure do.
I was pretty young at the time, but I recall watching the broadcasts.
It was on the Smothers Brothers TV show that I first saw and heard Seals & Crofts, and I bought recordings by them as a result of that introduction.
What is there today
with which to compare the Smothers Brothers variety show?

Thanks, everyone, for listening.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 29 May 22 - 05:13 AM

I agree Stringsinger &, on top of the musical practise you mention, encourage socialism/regulationism AND positive nationalism.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 May 22 - 06:21 AM

I don't give a shit. I wasn't popular even when folk music WAS popular. It won't affect me, or most people whose music I like.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 22 - 11:35 AM

we are all affected, it is important to run non commercial community based festivals and clubs where people can be creative without worrying about commercialism.
the uk folk revival is being messed up by agents, hype, nepotism etc, it is in my opinion important to encourage people to sing and make their own music just for the pleasure of doing so


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 May 22 - 04:49 PM

Well said, Dick!


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: rosma
Date: 30 May 22 - 10:09 AM

I am involved with a small sing-around club. We call ourselves a folk club though any of us will admit that not everything we sing is folk - no need for "what is folk" debates here.

A few years ago I found an article in a local magazine interviewing a chap who was starting a new folk club. He said there were no folk clubs in the area. Not only are there several, maybe dozens of folk clubs within a twenty mile or so radius, but our club was little more than "down the road". What's more it turned out that it would be a guest club, no problem with that, but one presenting a support act and the guest with no opportunity for "floor spots".

Now maybe I'm old fashioned, but for me a guest-booking folk club invites its members and visitors to provide floor spots. When I used to regularly visit such clubs I sometimes enjoyed the floor spots more than the guest, and for that reason those clubs I attended regularly I would attend even if I wasn't particularly attracted by the guest.

What this "club" was providing was in my view a "folk music venue" and not a folk club at all. If it didn't always clash with our club I might go occasionally when there was a guest I particularly wanted to see, but it's not the sort of thing I would become loyal to. I'm sure some will disagree and that's fair enough.

While he has had guests that I might have wanted to see, this is for me a commercialisation of the folk club concept. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if this sort of venue ever takes over from "proper" contributory folk clubs I will be very sad.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 30 May 22 - 03:36 PM

'folk' as understood by the masses is an industry now, with multi-nationals running it, making pots of money but killing it eventually.

In Britain, our industries used to be coal, steel, chemicals, shipbuilding and so on. Now our industries are football, sex, hospitality (this is nmainly about providing a venue for people to get pissed & pay horrendous prices for drink)- sad isn't it.

Now the old ways are gone & not coming back & even worse all the above 'industries'
rely on the money largely stolen by the vile greedy banks and bent financiers ripping off the third world & that's where we are- we rely on these corrupt people, directly or otherwise.

There are many older (sorry Dick!) 'folk' organisers who are fighting this & all credit to them, but big business is winning & our own subversive view of the music, where making pots of money is secondary to the music is disappearing fast.

I don't tour any more, and have now settled for playing my little moothie for our sheep- they don't have a musical agenda...


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 30 May 22 - 03:41 PM

We just need a revolution.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: keberoxu
Date: 30 May 22 - 03:51 PM

whatsa moothie, jim bainbridge??


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 22 - 04:41 PM

"'folk' as understood by the masses is an industry now, with multi-nationals running it, making pots of money but killing it eventually".
Who are these "multinationals" who are running "folk", even "as understood by the masses"?
Who is making "pots of money" out of "folk, as understood by the masses".
A few examples, please.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 30 May 22 - 06:07 PM

I'm sure many of my folk musician friends would love to be making pots of money from folk music! A very small number of folk artists are doing well and I am very pleased for them as they are raising awareness of the music to a wider audience. The vast majority though are playing for a share of door take which will barely cover their expenses. I value them both equally as they contribute to the wealth of folk music there is to enjoy in the UK today.

I think there are more young people involved in, and interested in, folk music now than at any time since I first walked into a folk club in the late 70's. Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated!


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 May 22 - 06:16 PM

In the States, folk music as a genre became a record bin for distributors of recording companies.
The cultural connection with a sub-group was no longer material. When the popularization (Van Ronk's Folk Scare) became obsolete then the question arose "what is folk?" Academic folklorists and musicoligists had their own definition. The Big Bill Broonzy/Louis Armstrong
bromide about "horses don't sing it" is not a good syllogism. Horses don't sing any other kind of music that we know about.

But the reason, like for most of consumables these days, is about money. The real oxymoron for me is the notion of a "folk star".

In the States, Ted Jioia believes that the "multinationals" are a part of Silicon Valley who as he says "are eating Hollywood's lunch". Hi tech money is controlling the dissemination of the music industry to the public.

We Mudcatters (and forgive me if I have the hubris to represent many here) need to fight back which actually I think we are doing. In this way I agree with Big Al in that I don't give a shit
for the popularization by media of folk music. On the other hand, it controlled the image
during the Folk Scare and a folksinger was reduced to a longhaired girl with a guitar making up personal statements or a scruffy bearded torn jeans wearing young white boy with a growly voice attempting to represent the rural Southern US. That's a straight-jacket that belies the vitality of the folk "process".

So we can give up on the mainstream media to ever launch a folk revival. The biggest folk revival will and is taking place in the living room not the Net which is being usurped by the money makers who control it.

For me, this is why Mudcat is so valuable. We define folk music. It's important in our lives and when we share it, the world is better off for it.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 31 May 22 - 04:51 AM

Odd how the perspective changes 100km east of Miami, F-L-A. Even at it's peak, the folk genre was still no more than a blip on the commercial charts. Hard to 'come back' if one was never 'there' to begin with.

2:3 of the Almanac Singers' early record labels were run by active Soviet agents. The 'originals' were the non-specific, revolving troupe organized through the New Masses “Progressive Almanac” entertainment column. Up With People with Joe Stalin in the role of Jesus Christ.

They were in on the Nazi's splitting Poland and staying out of The Battles of France & Britain & The Blitz; right up to June, 1941.

The Weavers were greatly toned down Almanacs. No surprise that.

Billboard Year-End Top Singles:
1950 – Gordon Jenkins & The Weavers – #1 Goodnight Irene. Jenkins' solo My Foolish Heart was #22; and he charted twice in '49; and The Jenkin's Chorus is backing the Weaver's cover of Wimoweh.

1951 – The Weavers: #7 – On Top of Old Smoky.

1955 – Elvis took 3 of the top 10, and 5 of the top 15; (Heartbreak Hotel, Don't be Cruel & Hound Dog &c.) Never been done before. Rock & roll scared the trousers off “The Man” on both sides of the Cold War.

Far lefty Pete Seeger jumped into bed with farther right wingnut Adm. Dan Gallery & RCA records. The Yanks responded with… wait for it… calypso and steel drums...?!?

1957 – Harry Belafonte #15 (Day-O)
1957 – The Tarriers #26 (The Banana Boat Song.)
The song was originally sponsored by the British government. Belafonte truly believed he was the 'solution' to the 'problem' of rock & roll.

1958 – Onwards was the vanilla (Neopolitan?) folk era of clean-cut, short-haired, Kingston Trio; Peter, Paul & Mary; Rooftop Singers; Trini Lopez ad nauseum.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Howard Jones
Date: 31 May 22 - 06:32 AM

I'm not sure what the complaint is here. Anyone can make music for little or no cost, but to make popular music costs big bucks - according to this article around $1m. Not only do you need to employ a lot of the very best people, but most of that goes on marketing and distribution. No one is going to invest that sort of money unless they think the song will be a hit (and it may not even then). If people didn't like popular music they wouldn't buy it. But investors aren't committed to any particular genre, and they will invest in counter-cultural music if they think it will sell. The big labels invested in punk and in folk when those genres were sufficiently popular to justify it.

Does this crowd out other forms of music, which can't afford the promotion needed to get airplay? Undoubtedly. But it is wishful thinking to believe that if only people could hear folk music it would then become popular. Some folk still gets onto mainstream media, and streaming makes it easier than ever to explore new music, and some will be turned onto folk by that. However many people, even when shown what folk music is, still decide it's not for them.

Folk is niche music (along with many other genres). It can sound quite alien to people brought up on other genres. It arguably serves a different purpose - I would say the purpose of pop music is to make people feel good, whereas the purpose of folk is to make you think. Folk dance uses unfamiliar rhythms which many find difficult to adjust to. We shouldn't be surprised that many people don't like it, just as many people don't like rap, or jazz, or opera.

If the money men are making popular music sound all the same, so what? Why should that matter to us? Besides, I think it is an exaggeration. In the UK last year the top 10 best selling albums were:

1. Adele - 30 (2021)
2. Ed Sheeran - Equals (2021)
3. Abba - Voyage (2021)
4. Olivia Rodrigo - Sour (2021)
5. Queen - Greatest Hits (1981, re-released in 2021)
6. Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia (2020)
7. Ed Sheeran - Divide (2017)
8. Elton John - Diamonds (2017)
9. Fleetwood Mac - 50 Years: Don't Stop (2018)
10. Dave - We're All Alone In This Together (2021)

I'm no expert on popular music, but there seems to be quite a bit of variety there.

Popular music is what it is. If you don't like it, don't listen. The same goes for folk, for that matter. They're different worlds, and one doesn't really affect the other.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 31 May 22 - 07:25 AM

I'd suggest those asking questions should read my post properly- I DON'T NEED TO NAME NAMES re 'multinationals' but recording companies, distribution companies, media outlets & financial interests of all sorts are in control & yes making pots of money from what is considered 'folk' by the masses.

To repeat, of course there is a sub-culture which refuses to accept this & I wish them all the best in their struggle

Yes, let's have a revolution by all means- oh and a moothie is a Geordie/Scottish term for a harmonica or mouth organ- Oor Wullie used to call it a sookblaw.....

** before you ask, Oor Wullie is a boy in a cartoon appearing in the Scottish Sunday paper the 'Sunday Post'


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 31 May 22 - 07:28 AM

folk music and pop music have no points of confluence.....
I think that's debatable, insomuch as its been debated endlessly on this site.

the trouble is that everyone's got a fish to fry....the folkies use it to defend utterly unmemorable music, the pop lot want any bit of artistic cred that will hopefully vindicate the latest Britpop/shitpop load of cobblers that the Cowells/Watermans etc are churning out.

Life's too short. Play if you want to, don't if you don't want to.

History will decide, if it it can be bothered.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 May 22 - 09:00 AM

I knew four members of the Almanac Singers and none of them were Soviet agents.

In the Forties, Stalin and Hitler were heroes to some Americans. There was naïveté about these figures.

The Almanacs in the early days were opposed to wars of imperialism but changed when they
saw that Hitler was a threat. Ultimately that happened to every American at that time.
Roosevelt was loathe to attack Germany. Many American figures such as Lindbergh supported Hitler. Not many knew about Stalin's atrocities. They were sympathetic to Russia as it bore
the brunt of Nazi invasions and ultimately brought WWII to and end.

The scapegoating of those who opposed with oligarchs of the Twenties,Thirties and Forties
were not receiving orders from Moscow. They were socialists, followers of Debs and Joe Hill,
and labor unions. This scapegoating and propagandistic lies continues today with the distortion of statistics and weighted political propaganda.

I speak having lived through the early Forties and got my interest in folk music because
of the left-wing movement.

No left-wing movement, no folk revival and hence no Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 31 May 22 - 10:36 AM

Folk music has never been exactly popular compared to what the music business pushes. Pop = popular. Folk/Jazz/Blues etc. = niche. There has always been some crossover where niche music of some sort has a brief forray into the popular market and likewise some pop songs make it in niche circles if done properly. They are different genres and every genre has its good and bad. Pop music may be louder than folk/jazz/blues etc. but while it may drown out the minority interests, it will never kill them off.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 31 May 22 - 11:44 AM

Frank: When folks have to change/ignore what I wrote to disagree with it, I just assume we don't actually disagree about what I actually wrote.

Label = agent
Artist & politician = useful idiot.

"In political jargon, a useful idiot is a derogatory term for a person perceived as propagandizing for a cause without fully comprehending the cause's goals, and who is cynically used by the cause's leaders."[wiki]

Keynote Recordings & Stinson were run by the KGB through Artkino. Even they didn't deny it.

The Almanacs aren't coming back because you've got ol' Pooty McPootface where Joe Stalin used to was. Cut from the exact same cloth but it's a pretty narrow niche these days.

2022 = No Google ads, no Mudcat. Three cheers for venture capitalism!


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 May 22 - 11:57 AM

There is even a problem with the niche markets and the labels that will exclude music that is valuable or to some degree unpopular with the niche. This formerly had to do with the problem of distribution. Most folk acts rely on CD sales as merchandise at the concerts. This means
that unless you concertize as part of the "folk music business" you as an artist may not be heard. The business of concertizing excludes talented people.

It is my contention that the survival of folk music (whatever definition you give it) depends on
cultivating the interest by participation. People need to feel a part of the music by taking up instrument, voice or both. In so doing they can study folk music on a personal level. They don't need to be professional. These are the people that will become audiences for concerts.

You might say that folk music blurs the line between performer and audience. Singarounds and jam sessions will aid in the discovery and the life of folk music. Songwriting will also. A song at one time in its inception was written/composed. It may have gone into aural transmission where Anonymous was the author/composer. But it was not monetized.

There is the Capitalist myth that every consumption of a product must be monetized to be valued. If this were the case, folk music wouldn't have survived. I still think professional performers should be equitably paid for their efforts but unless there is a sub-structure of interest by people who are personally invested as participants in the music, the professionals
will not succeed.

There is another factor. One person's boredom is anothers enthusiasm. Many find old time traditional ballad singers who offer twenty verses to a song boring. Not me. I think another
set of ears has to be worn to appreciate music that is unfamiliar.

Personally I find video games to be boring and that seems to be more important to many young people than taking up music.

Folk music implies participation of it on a personal level. It's accessible to all who want it. It is denounced by some as boring, simplistic or "there's no money in it". This view is short-sighted and ignorant.

The struggle is not whether folk music sells or creates an audience. The struggle is one of value. Do we value our musical heritage or accept the trash the media and the industry gives us? The answer lies in how much we want to be a part of the music. And not just on a professional level.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 31 May 22 - 12:14 PM

PS: The KGB were more interested in the strategic materials the records were made of than the A&R. Synthetic shellac, aka vinyl, is also a thing of the past. Alas.

Every other sort of industrial/technology theft & spying, howsomever, has never been sportier.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 31 May 22 - 12:33 PM

If you search ytube for "Folk+[instrument]+last month" you will get swamped with returns.

The bulk of it is never going to find a marketplace but there's a crappe tonne of fun being had. I don't care if somebody or nobody makes a penny (as long as the ads don't pop up in the middle of the video.)

Video games are the current home of chanties. More funsies. IMNSHO Tina S. covering Guitar Hero tracks is very loud but far from boring. The kids are going to be alright.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Tony Rees
Date: 31 May 22 - 02:59 PM

I really like Stringsinger's post from 2 or 3 posts above. It encapsulates most of what I feel about folk music also.

In particular, Stringsinger said:

> The struggle is not whether folk music sells or creates an audience. The struggle is one of value. Do we value our musical heritage or accept the trash the media and the industry gives us? The answer lies in how much we want to be a part of the music. And not just on a professional level.

"The struggle is one of value". To me there are 2 different values - the social, "feel good" value of participating at a given time, either as a performer (professional/semi-pro/amateur/living-room) and listener, or as a "cultural object" i.e. persistent record captured of such a performance (think your favourite artist captured in performance, either now or in days gone by) - sometimes that is turned into a marketable product (the business end of the music business, or just to enable the creator to survive another day i.e. provide an income), sometimes not (think field recordings, audience tapes, etc.). "Value" is in the ear/eye of the beholder but I think it can be intrinsic as well as extrinsic - in other words, independent of whether or not a large number, small number, or almost zero people appreciate it at any one time (of course there is rubbish as well, that probably has no value, but who makes that decision??). Think Van Gogh's paintings that could not sell in his lifetime, and now go for millions. I would contend that their intrinsic value as a cultural/artistic object has not changed, even if their monetary value has...

That is why (among other things) I attempt to preserve my documentation (photographs and audio/video recordings) of the folk scene(s) that I have been involved with - cultural value to future listeners and viewers, plus of course those of us around today as well. If I put up a recording on youtube or donate a photo to wikimedia commons, it is there (in my intention) for the "long haul" as an item of either present or likely future cultural value... of course there is a cutoff point (again someone has to act as gatekeeper to avoid swamping the world with rubbish) but in general more is possibly better than less. E.g. I have a book of "complete works of Van Gogh" that includes early works (preliminary sketches and juvenilia) he would probably have consigned to the wastebasket in other circumstances, but are a dream to future scholars... again of questionable monetary value at the time. I guess I am just saying that artistic (and social/feel good) value and commercial value may occasionally coincide, but may also have no connection whatsoever, and we should not confuse them.


Cheers Tony


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST
Date: 31 May 22 - 04:00 PM

I think one aspect is that the profit on a "marketable product" that allows many artists with a small audience to "survive another day" will make an artist a lot of money if it is taken up by a large audience. If that audience allows bigger venues and large tours, and the artist take up the opportunity, can they avoid engaging with the music industry - the people who can organize and manage things on that scale?


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Sol
Date: 31 May 22 - 04:16 PM

At what point does a successful 'folk singer' turn into 'a show biz personality'? Is it possible to be both? Have they sold their soul to commercialism when the prime object of their performances is profit?
I guess we should just make up our own minds on this one.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Tony Rees
Date: 31 May 22 - 04:24 PM

"can they avoid engaging with the music industry - the people who can organize and manage things on that scale?" - clearly no. I guess (getting back to the slant of the original post) can they avoid engaging with the big commercial behemoths (the Sonys and CBS's of the present day) and remain more "true to their roots" via independent routes (that have an arguably more artistic, less solely commercial vision)? hopefully yes. I have no doubt that at least some artists come up via the independent route and manage to penetrate public consciousness without completely selling out to the big players (for Australian examples, see e.g. Lior and The Waifs ... I doubt that most "folk" (acoustic / roots / Americana / whatever) artists are really what is (currently) sought after by the major labels anyway, and opportunities for self marketing are probably greater now than they have ever been...


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Mr Red
Date: 31 May 22 - 05:56 PM

Folk music will always survive.

It is just a question of how niche you want to be. If you want it popular, it will just bastardize a lot more.

Fashions come in cycles. Cecil Sharp would have shuddered to hear Bob Dylan plagiarise some of his collectings. But Mr Zimmerman did spearhead the rise in Folk in his era.

Who can say what the scenario will be in the future - Folk will rise again, but not in a way I can predict. Futurology is littered with inaccurate prognostications. With minor facets that futurologists can hang their face-saving hats on!


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 03:17 AM

WOW!

I mega disagree.

Never have there been as many live performances.
Never has distribution been more egalitarian.
Never has mixing, control and recording been so available.
Never has collaboration been so wide.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

the cigar man would have choked, withered, and died from his own fumes in today's rarefied atmosphere.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 03:33 AM

be a degree of confusion as to what this thread is about. I get a definite feeling of cross purposes.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 03:37 AM

I suppose that for most folk performers, it helps a whole hell of a lot to have a "real job" to support a career as a folksinger. One way or another, many people do it. There are lots of really good performers around, and it is so wonderful to see them perform at house concerts instead of at big venues. And yeah, they have to make some sacrifices; but I think they have as good a time at their performances, as their audiences do. Debra Cowan does it exceptionally well, but I know she has to work really hard. I'm sure that's true for a lot of performers I see in house concerts. But they do it.
I am in awe of the people who host regular house concerts, where all the income goes to the performer. But the main thing is that if we want this music, then we have to do it. And we do it in so many ways.

It's not folk, but I have to be proud of my son, Nic Offer, who calls his current musical form "techno." He turns 50 this year, and has made his living as a musician all his life without making compromises. His band is !!! (chk chk chk). He's the one in shorts in the videos.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 04:50 AM

> it helps a whole hell of a lot to have a "real job" to support a
> career as a folksinger.

I believe that some Jazz people call their mundane job "the day gig", even if it's a permanent job.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Brock
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 12:58 PM

I'm fairly new to folk and am slightly depressed about how much of my life I spent listening to pop and rock, a lot of it TOO LOUD!
I go to the Focsle Club in Southampton. I love the 'earthiness' of it, especially when there's a song people can join in with. When there are guests there is always 'singaround' as well which is great.

Paul B


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 04:55 PM

I think (for what its worth) that it depends to a large extent on your field of endeavour.

To make my music. I've used about seventy different guitars over the last 60 years; microphones; PA systems; recording studios, etc.

And that doesn't just apply to pop/contemporary stuff, I've never spent as much on a guitar as my concertina squeezing mates spend on Wheatstones and Anglo's.

Its a personal sort of thing. You don't decide. The music decides what you need to make it. And that decides what you need to do to afford it.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 05:46 PM

A combo of House Concerts and jam (playing together or a sing around) makes a lot of sense to me. I see folk music as a social outlet, a chance to share with others. I see folk music as accessible music for anyone who wants it. It's worth it to work hard at House Concerts.
Performing never seemed like work to me. It was often exhilarating and sometimes very
difficult.

Did you ever have a gig where you are playing to an unsympathetic audience and while you were performing ask yourself "What am I doing here?" Then other times, in the zone, the time goes by fast and you're lifted up by the audience.

Earning a complete living as a performer at this time is damn near impossible. I know two performers who were making a living (not in the music industry) but their careers went bye bye when Covid hit.

Having known a great many Lefty leaning folk singers in my time I can honestly say that none would ever take orders from the Kremlin. This goes for the many folklorists, recording people and musicians I've met that the Left has fostered.. The connection with American folk performers on the Left and the former Soviet Union or KGB is extremely unlikely or non-existent.

Most of the aforementioned became disillusioned with the Soviet Union as did Paul Robeson
who went over there. I even talked to Pete Seeger before he died and he wouldn't even
accept Gorbachev calling him an "apparatchik". The Soviet experiment failed in a big way.
It's amazing how many people today don't understand that and are still fighting a Cold War.
Russia is a Capitalist country.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: keberoxu
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 07:22 PM

Where is the affectionate satire,
"A Mighty Wind",
in relation to this discussion, I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 08:18 PM

Frank: Having known a great many Lefty leaning folk singers in my time I can honestly say that none would ever take orders from the Kremlin. 

Puh-leeeze! The FBI or KGB interrogating/debriefing you, Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger on the finer points of vinyl chloride polymerization would play like the psychiatrist skit in No Time for Sergeants.

Forget the 'Kremlin'... what can you 'honestly say' about your 1939 lefty folkie venture capitalists & label owners and their purchase orders & invoices? If there is a Keynote &c discography, somebody, somewhere, at some time did indeed take an order from the KGB. Indirectly and unknowingly... maybe... maybe not.

The right got their digs in too. Belafonte's manager (and psychiatrist) were both Yank intelligence operatives. Now... H.B. don't know nothing from PVC neither. They were spying on Dr. King and the southern civil rights movement.

Clean-cut, mainstream, acoustic folk was everybody's anti-rock. Dylan going electric was the white flag and surrender to the folk-rock marketplace. The ultimate betrayal.

Bottom line, a modern revival of the Almanac's folk business model isn't going to fly in today's ESG/sanction driven marketplace. Russian capital, on or off the books, is positively radioactive these days.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Jun 22 - 09:28 PM

too weird. of course a 1940's approach won't cut it 80 years later. no more than a doctor turning up for his first day at work with a bag of leeches would be appreciated.

you do what you can to earn a living. that goes for musicians, bus drivers, television repair men, anything.
I think theres probably more people working as musicians than any time previously in history.   The question is do you fancy the job as is?

Its no use wishing you could get by doing what the Almanac singers did. Society has changed.

I remember reading Mr Jelly Roll when I was 15 and deciding I fancied being a piano player in a brothel.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Jun 22 - 05:25 AM

Where is the affectionate satire,
"A Mighty Wind",
in relation to this discussion, I wonder?


In relation to Folk, I would put it as affectionate, and we can laugh at ourselves, can't we Folks? So realistic you try to remember which group did the "E at Oes" line - was it for real or just allegorical? so clever, either way.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Jun 22 - 05:52 PM

It's so interesting despite the condemnation of Joseph McCarthy, red-baiting still goes on.
I knew a lot of people on the Left pretty closely and the idea of their being subjected to KGB interrogations is risible. We know that the Right Wing dumped on the folk singers as being "communists" when many of the ones I knew had a short stint with CP because many thought it too doctrinaire. Most of the folkies that I knew had never read Das Kapital or any Marx. I personally never saw a KGB agent or any Soviet agent who attempted to sway me in a political direction. This paranoia is with us today even when the Soviet Union, a failed government,
was dissolved.

Associating folk singers with Soviet ties is nonsense. Folkies that I knew were largely unaware of Stalin's atrocities. Many may have been naive about "Uncle Joe" but I think the ones I knew
were sophisticated enough to finally realize that they were mistaken about him.

The movie "Reds" shows what happened when Jack Reed went to Russia. He was attempting to
defend the CPUSA and the Soviet government dissed him. Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger were disillusioned by the Soviet Union and have stated so publicly. To try to paint them as brainwashed is insulting. This smear tactic about Lefty folkies is endemic to the Right-Wing proto-fascist movement which is on the rise throughout the world today.

The new smear tactic reminds me of an old song, "Roll it on the ground, spread it all around, dig it with hoe, it'll make your flowers grow".


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 04 Jun 22 - 03:54 PM

Remedial: 2:3 of the Almanac Singers' early record labels were run by active Soviet agents.

The Cold War came after WWII. Your venture capitalists were George Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (VOX) & Marian Distler (Folkways.) The latter was one of the longest suffering souls ever walked the halls of a record label. Not.a.spy.

Let's do the easy one first. Noel Meadow (Stinson) wasn't a 'spy' either. Propagandizing the U.S.S.R. wasn't illegal in the U.S.A.. Fill out all the proper forms; call it 'art' & 'publicity;' good to go. Artkino advertised in Billboard.

Herbert Harris (Stinson) managed the Artkino concessions in their chain of American cinemas. The morning the Nazis invaded the U.S.S.R. – Meadow & Harris were running movies and news reels trying to put a smiley face on Molotov-Ribbentrop. And selling out the whole of the Western European left & center in the process. What a difference a day made, 24 little hours.

Stinson distributed Asch records through the Artkino concessions. Profits from those sales financed the recording studio. Garden variety capitalism with apolitical Jazz at the Phil (Granz) and Wayfaring Stranger (Ives) as top sellers & cash cows for the milking. Plus the content of every Russian record label ever nationalized for the artists' royalty & rights-free bootlegging.

That Stalinist brand of 'venture' capital and 'popular' is not coming back and that's a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: michaelr
Date: 05 Jun 22 - 03:48 PM

I respectfully submit that in this day and age, there are better causes to "fight back" for than taking on the music industry, which has been a hopeless case for decades. Let's dedicate our energies to the survival of democracy instead.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jun 22 - 04:24 PM

I have dedicated myself over the last 10 years to running a community based music festival,
democracy is a smoke screen we can all talk but we are powerless


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Jun 22 - 03:41 PM

The best way for musicians, folk singers, and performers is to by-pass the music industry rather than take them on. The internet allows access for this. It tends to democratize by offering alternative outlets for music that is not controlled by the industry.

Today, the music industry is on a downward trajectory because it doesn’t really meet the honest needs of the consumer. Still, it operates in the same way as main stream news. It impedes access to music that could be heard and appreciated by the public.

There are those who are sophisticated enough to bypass the influences of media control, which is what the music industry is. Others are short-changed because the general public is not given a choice in their preferences.

As a working musician, I am concerned about this issue.The cultural artistic life of a nation is being hampered by a musical imperialism based on the usual profit motive rather than the intrinsic value of the art. Anyone concerned about the value of folk music should be interested in this issue because it affects audiences for this music. You might think that what happens to the music culture of a nation is not personally important to you but as a musician and music teacher I see the corruption of the value of music taking place in the US. The music industry is at fault. Without the true value of art, democracy is meaningless.

The role of music in society is an analogue for what we are experiencing now. Artistic pursuits are denegrated to money making or treated as “entertainment” for diversion. Our culture is one of escapism and trivializing rather than reaching for meaning in our lives. Folk music is in danger of being considered a cute pastime rather than an important index into our history.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: MaJoC the Filk
Date: 07 Jun 22 - 06:10 AM

> democracy is a smoke screen we can all talk but we are powerless

Much depends on the autocrat. As the owner of a technical talker was once moved to say, while pulling rank to settle a loud dispute:

Democracy is merely the front-end.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: leeneia
Date: 07 Jun 22 - 10:47 AM

What do you mean, folk not popular. I was just at an early-music workshop where many people cheerfully by-passed Purcell and Palestrina to play Celtic airs and dances.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 22 - 02:58 PM

it's a long time since folk was popular in the literal sense!


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Tony Rees
Date: 07 Jun 22 - 03:12 PM

Stringsinger wrote:

(quote) The role of music in society is an analogue for what we are experiencing now. Artistic pursuits are denegrated to money making or treated as “entertainment” for diversion. Our culture is one of escapism and trivializing rather than reaching for meaning in our lives. Folk music is in danger of being considered a cute pastime rather than an important index into our history (end quote)

Was it not always thus, to varying degrees? Even in the days of the "folk scare" (thinking Greenwich Village early 60s), and through following decades, performers had to make their act "entertaining" enough that promoters/club owners etc; would book them - no audience, no repeat work. In most cases the "entertainment" aspect would then be a "front" for deeper engagement with the music through the set. Presentation of folk music as a serious, academic-only, special interest pursuit has never had much popular appeal even though on some occasions it may be warranted (such as performances by important singers/musicians from the past, received with some reverence hopefully).

Of course there are other areas (such classical music) where the music is expected to speak for itself (appeal directly to the senses) without requiring a veneer of "entertainment", and some folk music does that as well - again part of the mix. But rarely "popular" except perhaps at the peak of the "folk boom" when (e.g.) Pentangle could sell out the Royal Albert Hall, mostly an underground/niche area that relies on local level support for its ongoing existence (I am discounting the folk-pop singers here e.g. the John Denver types who successfully made the transition to the world of popular entertainment - although arguably some have done this as well without losing their integrity, think maybe Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris etc. on the U.S. scene, not sure who their equivalents would be in the U.K.).

Cheers - Tony


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Stringsinger
Date: 08 Jun 22 - 11:09 AM

I think that the notion of “folk music” has always been commercialized by recording companies, radio stations, TV and other media. The difference today is that at least here in the States, the musical culture is being monopolized more than it has ever been before. At the same time, a renewed interest in folk music here is being undertaken by young people but is denied access to the public who is unaware of the enormous talent that exists away from the media. I believe that now more than ever it is a concerted effort to repress music that is not commericial by business interests away even from the traditional music industry which is coopted by Silicon Valley and areas of private enterprise. I think of it as the Walmartization of music. You really have to spend time and energy on ferreting out good music now.
The general public is deprived of it.

When this occurred during the late Fifties, college concerts were prevalent and people like Pete Seeger were opening up new pathways for good music to reach the public. There were coffee houses and small venues available. Today, Covid shut many of these venues down. The situation might be different in Britain, Scotland, Ireland or Wales or Australia but in the US, you see this diminishing availability of new important talent reflected in movie companies such as Netflix, and outlets for classical music and jazz. There is a kind of cancel culture being spread that overlaps into the artistic communities fostered by private business interests. My point it that it is more extreme now than it has ever been.

Solution: encourage people to participate more in music by learning to play it. As this is done, a taste for music is developed and not minimized.
The analogy would be a grass roots participation in local political and social activity rather than going along mindlessly with the popular culture. This is why Mudcat is so valuable.


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Subject: RE: Why folk won't be popular now
From: Vic Smith
Date: 08 Jun 22 - 11:54 AM

From: Stringsinger - PM
Date: 06 Jun 22 - 03:41 PM

The best way for musicians, folk singers, and performers is to by-pass the music industry rather than take them on


With the gradual opening up of pubs / venues in the Hastings - Lewes - Brighton area, the trend is towards more free tune sessions in some welcoming screen-free pubs. I have been to several in various past month and I have been able to take part in some wonderful tune and song & tune sessions. Mostly not a penny changes hands but in some Brighton weekly sessions the pub will pay a retainer to the central lead musicians to be there each week.
From a musical point this feels healthy.
From a health point of view there, it remains problematic because this mild form of Covid is rife in this area and I could name many musicians (including my wife) who have tested positive and then felt very rough for a couple of days after being infected at folk clubs and sessions.


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