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Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'

Naemanson 18 Jul 00 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,lox 17 Jul 00 - 12:13 AM
boz 16 Jul 00 - 07:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Jul 00 - 07:49 PM
Ed Pellow 16 Jul 00 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,George 15 Jul 00 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Colwyn Dane 15 Jul 00 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Joerg 15 Jul 00 - 11:46 AM
dwditty 15 Jul 00 - 10:46 AM
Terry Allan Hall 15 Jul 00 - 10:43 AM
dwditty 15 Jul 00 - 12:11 AM
katlaughing 15 Jul 00 - 12:06 AM
GUEST,Lyle 14 Jul 00 - 11:57 PM
Art Thieme 14 Jul 00 - 10:15 PM
GUEST,guitarist 14 Jul 00 - 09:21 PM
Sorcha 14 Jul 00 - 08:03 PM
Roger in Baltimore 14 Jul 00 - 08:00 PM
Lepus Rex 14 Jul 00 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Devadip Singh 14 Jul 00 - 06:58 PM
InOBU 14 Jul 00 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,me 14 Jul 00 - 05:22 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 14 Jul 00 - 02:30 PM
dwditty 14 Jul 00 - 01:58 PM
Mike Regenstreif 14 Jul 00 - 01:51 PM
radriano 14 Jul 00 - 01:26 PM
Rana who SHOULD be working 14 Jul 00 - 01:21 PM
Jeri 14 Jul 00 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Just theorizing 14 Jul 00 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,Neebrainbow@aol.com 14 Jul 00 - 12:10 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 14 Jul 00 - 12:05 PM
Rana who SHOULD be working 14 Jul 00 - 11:21 AM
Kim C 14 Jul 00 - 10:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Jul 00 - 10:26 AM
Frankham 14 Jul 00 - 10:12 AM
dwditty 14 Jul 00 - 10:04 AM
Mbo 14 Jul 00 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,peter tee 14 Jul 00 - 09:47 AM
katlaughing 14 Jul 00 - 09:32 AM
Naemanson 14 Jul 00 - 08:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Jul 00 - 08:09 AM
Escamillo 14 Jul 00 - 03:36 AM
GUEST 14 Jul 00 - 03:31 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jul 00 - 02:46 AM
dwditty 14 Jul 00 - 01:50 AM
Marymac90 14 Jul 00 - 01:35 AM
Big Mick 14 Jul 00 - 01:19 AM
katlaughing 13 Jul 00 - 11:50 PM
Mbo 13 Jul 00 - 11:09 PM
Lepus Rex 13 Jul 00 - 10:48 PM
GUEST 13 Jul 00 - 10:47 PM
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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Jul 00 - 12:40 PM

Ed, I understood what you were saying right off the bat. We all want to know about each other and this medium does not allow us the pleasure of using most of our senses. We are interested in the lives and backgrounds of our neighbors in this virtual community.

As for those who point fingers and shout "RACISM!" we are doing the same thing in this thread that people have done in any group. We are locating ourselves. How many times have we sat in a group of "white" people and questioned each other about our ancestory? How many of us point proudly to the fact that we have Irish progentiors or German, French, English, Dutch or any of the other European nationalities. Why would it be any different for someone from a nation where the predominant skin color is different from our own? We need to be able to ask and tell without worrying about the taint of racism.

And, as Rana has pointed out, you cannot tell much from skin color. Read his post. He sounds as English as any other Englishman I've heard on the this site. His progenitors come from another continent but his upbringing is English and he is proud of it. Yet I would never have known about him if I hadn't seen this thread. He, and others like him, bring something special to folk music (and apparently to morris dancing as well).

I just want to see this as a place where I can talk to people and ask them about themselves without having others accuse me of being racist. We grow by learning from each other. There are a lot of different people out there and that means I have a lot of growing to do. Does anyone want to join me in growing and learning or are we going to sit silently and let the hatred grow instead? (Judging from the responses in this thread I may be too late in extending that invitation. A lot of you are growing and learning ahead of me.)

And yes, Ed, the title could have been worded better but I think the wording you've used has sparked a livelier debate than a carefully edited title might have. Good Job!


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 17 Jul 00 - 12:13 AM

Do you think Deng Xiao Ping listened to folk, blues, funk, Hip-Hop, etc ... ?

Why don't Costa Ricans listen to Chinese Opera?

And can blue men play the whites?


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: boz
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 07:50 PM

Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton and The Yardbirds and Cream, Canned Heat, J.J.Cale, Alexis Korner. What is the common link?

White blues artists who revived the Blues and helped create the Electric Sixties Era.

What else did they do?

Well, the U.K. exports crossed the Atlantic and encouraged the Blues Masters to display their talents to a new and culturally ignorant generation. They revived the music scene waving goodbye to an era of old dearies bringing back to life the spirit and the passion and emotion of the root of modern music. They encouraged the Bluesmen to show off their music and travel back across the Atlantic and across Europe. These Masters were hero worshipped and feigned upon by those who re-created their influences and when you listen to the likes of Peter Green or Eric Clapton as they indulge themselves in their fluid rhythms and lyrics, you can feel the mood of the Blues that was once solely black.

Why are almost all Mudcatters white?

What was your earliest influence? Was it an older member of the family listening to a record or tuned into a particular radio broadcast? Was it a friend who introduced you to their scene or an album you were given or bought second hand in a junk shop? Or perhaps for most of us, was it the sounds of the Electric Sixties you remember growing up with?


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 07:49 PM

I thought it came up with some interesting stuff too. I'm a bit puzzled by the people who reacted as if there was something distasteful about the whole mention of this kind of thing. Racism is a disease. Sometimes it can make sense to not pay too much attention to a disease, and let your body sort it out in its own way - but that's not the way to deal with a killer disease.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 16 Jul 00 - 06:48 AM

Goodness...

I've not been here for a couple of days, and didn't realise I'd opened such a can of worms...

Just for the record, I'd like to say that I find racism utterly abhorrent, and whilst I should doubtless have given the thread a more delicate title, I don't regret starting it.

Thanks to all those who managed to understand what I was asking, and for all the intelligent replies.

Regards to you all

Ed


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,George
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 03:50 PM

Probably for the same reason that almost all rappers are black or almost all kickboxers are oriental or almost all ku klux klan members are in the USA. It's a result of the gradual workings of cultural influences, spread from person to person, and promulgated through the media of print, radio, recorded music and most of all TV. Like attracts like. North American folk music has had a largely white audience right from the beginning, although it has definitely been influenced to some extent by black music, Native American traditions, and indeed all of the world's cultural traditions. No need for concern. The universe is unfolding as it should.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,Colwyn Dane
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 01:39 PM

Art Thieme,

What works of Donegan's are you thinking of ?

I seem to remember him being called the "Irish HillBilly".

"In England Lonnie Donegan gave Afro-American folk music a bad name."


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,Joerg
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 11:46 AM

To my understanding our average "western" habits of listening to music are based on an originally celtic melodic tradition which emigrated to Northern America where it was joined by rhythm kidnapped from Africa and the whole thing then crossed the Atlantic back to Europe, mainly in the earlier part of the last century.

That's not yet folk music. Folk music - today mostly adapted to those listening habits - has a certain emphasis on the melodic aspect while what is sold as "black music" emphasizes the rhythm. From this point of view one might also call folk music "white music", and I wouldn't be surprised if somebody told me that it's not so easy for black people to get familiar with it. It simply represents that part of the music they (we all) are used to that does not point to their roots.

BUT...

Just as the celtic musical tradition has a rhythmic element (hasn't it you bodhran players?) there is also an african melodic tradition - some very specific style which is very charming to me. Where is its influence on our music? I even can't find it in the so-called "black music". It is real folk music in its extended sense i.e. including non-celtic musical traditions. I guess that style would very well match the musical taste of people who are interested in Mudcat topics, but it's neglected in a way I can't fully understand. Have the black Americans forgotten their roots in song? Or am I wrong taking this style for traditional? (In fact I know that few about it that the only examples I could tell you are recent products.)

Joerg


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: dwditty
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 10:46 AM

enough, already.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 10:43 AM

Here's one reason....there are likely many others, actually...Black folks are actively DISCOURAGED from being part of the "folk process"....by the BLACK media/movers & shakers!

Case in point...ever hear of The McCallister Family? An all-black bluegrass band who are VERY, VERY good...but few festivals will give them a chance ('cause bluegrass is {alledgedly} a "white" genre), and I've seen black folks scream obscenities at the band for playing "the white man's music"! Randy (lead vocals, mandolin) McCallister has told me about black promoters actually picketting McCallister Family gigs as being "Uncle Tom-ist", and they've had black folks throw stuff at 'em on stage a few times...

Another couple examples: Tracy Chapman and Richie Havens...Black radio refuses to play these talented folks recordings because they don't have that "black sound"...too much melody and intelligent song-craft, and not enough mention of "drive-by" activities?...

Reverse racism is still racist!


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: dwditty
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 12:11 AM

'cause most of us are not another color.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Jul 00 - 12:06 AM

BigRiB, well put....thanks


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,Lyle
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 11:57 PM

In the original question, "Why are almost all Mudcatter's white?" one could take out the word Mudcatter's and substitute your favorite festival of mudcat-type music and greatly expand this whole thread.

Lyle


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 10:15 PM

In England Lonnie Donegan gave Afro-American folk music a bad name. It took the British rockers like Clapton and Mick Jagger to point the way to Muddy and Wolf and Elmore James.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,guitarist
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 09:21 PM

Well, in defense of Bruce Hornsby and "That's Just The Way It Is", he was using the phrase ironically.

I don't care one way or another about Bruce Hornsby, seems like a good sort, plays ok, doesn't do much for me musically. But it is both funny and annoying to see his meaning completely twisted like that. Devadip, buddy, Bruce was saying exactly the opposite of what you seem to think.

heheh, kind of like the right-wingers who like to quote Orwell...


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 08:03 PM

Very good thoughts, RiB. Perhaps we could call (some of) ourselves, Melanin Challenged?


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 08:00 PM

I don't know the answer, but I will hazard a guess. What little I know is applicable only to America. When collectors went into the southern prisons to collect work songs in the '30's, '40's, and '50's they had to rely on the older prisoners. Many of the younger prisoner's avoided those "slave songs" as they called them. They rejected them as demeaning. As the prisons integrated and the work became more mechanized, the tradition of singing while working died.

In the same period, the spirituals in the black church were beginning to die out as they were replaced by "written music."

One reason, then, may be that African-Americans do not wish to reminded of the "old times", not just slavery, but segregation.

Another reason may the that African-Americans have fallen under the spell of the majority culture and have thrown off the old for the new.

Another reason may be that African-Americans have moved on. As one style becomes co-opted by the majority, they develop new genre's including jazz, rhythm and blues, and hip-hop.

A final reasons may be that social conditions have changed. The essential "slavery" that spawned the work songs has mostly passed. The discrimination that set such limits on possibilities for African Americans has eased considerably. Both work songs and early blues seem to me to be about the spirit overcoming harsh conditions both physical and spiritual. They are triumphs of the human spirit.

As several people have noted, there are black musicians who are renewing the blues. I think Taj Mahal deserves some credit for that.

Music is, potentially, a common ground for people. However, it requires stepping outside the boundary of what one "grew up with." Vance Gilbert, an African-American has been working the American folk circuit with some success. He is a powerful, dynamic performer. He works in the tradition of the majority culture while still bringing in his own culture.

I was at a festival this month and was introduced to a fiddler by the name of Earl White. He certainly appears to be African-American, but he was presented as an "old-time" fiddle player. He is a fine fiddler in that Appalacian style. The music he plays has an indisputable European influence. However, in the hills of Appalacia there was a co-mingling of Euro-Americans and African-Americans. So Earl may just be honoring his culture's tradition, but a part of it that others have turned their back on or ignored.

Such are my ramblin' thoughts. White people's interest in African American culture? A white musician spoke that the European view of religion is that the soul of people is the connection to the Higher Power. The body is simply a vessel and often gets in the way. Therefore, the body is "denied" in many ways and physical suffering (destruction of the body) is seen as a way to attain perfect contact with the Higher Power. He says in the African view of religion, the body is the way the soul connects with the higher power. And so the body and all of it's earthly demands is honored and celebrated. Giving oneself over to the joy of the body is seen as a way to connect with the Higher Power. This is a new thought for me, but right now I am ready to buy it. Certainly it speaks to my own experience that the African-American music I enjoy has some feeling that Euro-American often doesn't have (or I don't sense it).

Ed, I think this question has intellectual merit and may help all of us see beyond our little personal walls, whatever they may be.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Lepus Rex
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 07:05 PM

Oh, Jesus. I really hate that song, man. Now it's going to be in my head for the rest of the day... Aagh.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,Devadip Singh
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 06:58 PM

This is such a rhetorical thread.

It is like asking, why is newsprint mostly white and the text black?

There is no need to philosophise for answers. It can all be summed up by the title of a Bruce Hornsby song "That's Just The Way It Is".


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: InOBU
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 06:52 PM

All my life, people tell me I'm red!
Larry


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,me
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 05:22 PM

most mudcatters are albinos?

i AM impressed!!!


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 02:30 PM

And Frank Zappa spoke for a generation. Blow yer harmonica, son--


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: dwditty
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:58 PM

Taj Mahal (though not too young), Keb' Mo', Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Ben Harper, Guy Davis....All the young blues cats aren't white afterall. This is off topic, but I think it was Frank Zappa who said, "I'm not black, but there's a whole lot of time I wish I could say I'm not white."

dw


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:51 PM

According to GUEST,Just theorizing, "Most of the black blues musicians are 'mature'...not too many young black musicians are taking up the blues tradition. The only one that immediately comes to mind for me is Robert Cray (and he's not that young), and he plays a 'respectable, uptown' classy style of blues, IMO; no one younger and black is trying to play a more traditional style of blues."

I usually avoid the "what about so-and-so" kind of games, but the above statement can only be made by someone who has not been paying attention. The likes of Eric Bibb, Corey Harris, Guy Davis, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart are a few of the younger black musicians who "come immediately to mind" and who are playing traditional styles of blues.

As to whether "almost all Mudcatters are white?" Only someone whose met, or seen pictures of almost all Mudcatters, could be sure and I don't think there are many of us who have. Anyone else can only be making an assumption.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: radriano
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:26 PM

Ed, I can relate to your question. Every year I attend the San Francisco Folk Music Club's Camp Harmony Campout and I often look around and feel odd that I see no black faces. I'm also active in the sea shanty scene and although a lot of shanties are attributed to negroes and negro influence I almost never see a black face in the crowd.

Here are some observations:

If you are black you are constantly bombarded by rap, hip-hop, or whatever the current music trend is. Sometimes you listen to what is popular to be with the in-crowd. Now, I'm not saying that rap and hip-hop are bad but the fact is that if you don't get exposed to other forms of music you don't get to make a choice. In some circles, white folks' music is considered dorky. It's that black versus white scenario that really is ridiculous but in some ways understandable. This really is a very complicated issue. Jazz, in its beginnings, was black music. That's not the case anymore. The same could be said for rock-and-roll.

The end result, for me, is that I listen to the music I like and attend the activities that give me pleasure. These activities tend to be all-white but not because anyone is trying to keep it that way.

I deplore racism and I do hope that the situation changes as time goes on.

Radriano


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Rana who SHOULD be working
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:21 PM

Actually M. Ted raises a good point - each type of music will tend to bring in its own crowd. It is interetsing to note this at the folk club I'm involved with. We can have a packed house for a group like Maza Meze - a toronto group getting good press and playing a Middle Eastern/Greek mix (Masa and Meze meaning appetisers in both languages) but I can usually only recognise about 4 people who would be there on another night where it may be more British. Likewise with Bulgarian music etc.

We tend to get different crowds for the different types of music - the Irish crowd will come for the Irish stuff, English trad will have a diferent crowd to that, singer-songwriter different to that.

Because of our audiences and getting the word out, we have tended to stay in the the direction which allows us to get an audience out- attempts to broaden the horizon have not been that successful (with some exceptions). A latin group would do much better in a different venue and thankfully they exist.

Rana


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:09 PM

I wrote this, decided not to post because I was going to get into trouble, then changed my mind again. Nothing ever gets learned or sorted out when people avoid the subject, although it's easier.

If we're talking cultural factors in folk music and why some groups hold onto their traditional music and some don't, there are enough questions and tentative answers for a book. African-American folk music is blues. It's also ballads, old-time tunes, sea chanteys, play party songs, jump rope songs, work songs, gospel, and the list goes on. The music has more to do with communities than ethnic group, but ethnicity was/is a factor in who lives in what community. I'm not very familiar with what types of music exist in other countries - maybe the UK is similar, maybe not.

Maybe one of the reasons is most of the folk revivalists were white middle-class. Maybe many of us are interested in folk music because of the revivalists. Barry has a point up there. Intentional or not, white revivalist performers in the US took a lot of the traditional music out of black communities. I may not have heard it without them, but I wonder if the music had been left alone, would it have continued to be "owned" by the people who had created it? The same might be said about other ethnic or regional music, but I'm damned if I can think of an example at the moment.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,Just theorizing
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 12:22 PM

I think a lot of black people are ashamed of the blues genre because they perceive it to be connected to slavery. Most of the black blues musicians are 'mature'...not too many young black musicians are taking up the blues tradition. The only one that immediately comes to mind for me is Robert Cray (and he's not that young), and he plays a 'respectable, uptown' classy style of blues, IMO; no one younger and black is trying to play a more traditional style of blues. Those who pursue the raw, emotional style of blues are liable to be white, because they harbor no negative connotations of slavery in the music. They are drawn to it because of the emotional power it conveys.

Just guessin'


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,Neebrainbow@aol.com
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 12:10 PM

is there any way in which this can be answered without sounding racist? No. I thought not.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 12:05 PM

I have noticed that though the people of Mudcat (and the folk club culture in general) tend to consider themselves musically and culturally ecletic,the music that people tend to discuss, analyze, and play here tends to filter out the Latino, Hispanic folk music and live performance traditions, even though they are among the strongest musical tradtions on our continent, as well as Arabic, Indian, and Middle Eastern music traditions, which include the most some of the olded and most sophisticated music traditions, and especially Eastern Asian/Chinese. which include some of the oldest music traditions, and also represent the largest number of people on the planet.

There are people here who care very much about these other kinds of music, but they talk quietly among themselves-- The number of "Folkies" who are familiar with this music is small. And if the listeners seem narrow, they are very open, when compared with the musicians, many of whom only care to play in a single genre.

It isn't necessarily wrong that people have a passion only for a certain kind of music, but a narrow range of interests never draws a broad range of people, a least, not for long.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Rana who SHOULD be working
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 11:21 AM

It's been interesting to follow this thread, actually somewhat amusing.

Just for the record I happen to be brown - maybe a "dark tan". Sort of arose 'cos my parents are from the Indian subcontinent. Being born and brought up in England exposed me to "folk" (European that is). Funnily I can't stand Indian "folk music". It comes down to what ones exposed to and taste.

It shouldn't be surprising that this forum will be dominated by a "white" membership. The main criteria is that everyone is welcome - indeed here race/colour should not matter. Assumptions should never be made - we had a question once about 3 members of our Morris team when standing together - who is the African, the Canadian and the European? The answers (in order) - Edward - born in what was Rhodesia and white, Jeff (great Bassoon player) whose folks are from the W. Indies and yours truly from England.

So quit worrying and enjoy the music from a varied, and I hope, ethnic folk background.

Cheers Rana


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 10:28 AM

Interesting conversation.

I have always thought it interesting that Jimmie Rodgers is regarded as the father of country music, and yet his songs were VERY much influenced by the blues.

Music is not a static thing. It evolves and changes nonstop. I borrow from you, you borrow from me, and maybe somebody else borrows the new sounds we got from borrowing from each other. We can say, "so-and-so started THIS sound" but how can we really be sure? Even something new comes from something old.

I understand what Ed's trying to ask, although my first reaction was like many of yours: how does he know I'm white? Likewise, being involved in living history, I have often asked the same question. Why are there not more minorities involved in living history? United States history belongs to them too. There are more blacks getting involved in living history and that is encouraging to me.

Music, like history, belongs to everyone. People will gravitate toward what they like and often that cuts across cultural lines.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 10:26 AM

I've noticed a tendency by American Mudcatters to sort of assume that America is the whole world - that last post didn't, which is what reminded me of it. Most black people don't live in America. Generalisations about ths kind of thing really should indicate which part of the world they are meant to apply in.

That's not a gripe, it's an observation. It's a natural reflection of the fact that Internet users have been overhwelmingly Americans, but that's a stage that's drawing to an end.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Frankham
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 10:12 AM

Black kids are listening to hip hop. This might be the folk music that they can relate to. The stuff that is written about in Mudcat doesn't seem to reach beyond a certain demographic.

I think that you have to be able to relate personally to music for it to be interesting to you. Most of the discussions about music on Mudcat are oriented to a certain frame of reference by consensus. This doesn't seem to fit with the interest of black people that I know.

Also, there is a movement today to separate black culture from others. The American black culture is not a racial thing, necessarilly but it is a cultural entity. It doesn't exist in Africa or in other countries such as the Australian Outback. It's to be expected that our heroes look very much like us or how we would idealize ourselves. If there were more discussions on black musicians there would be probably more interest on the part of black people.

Mudcat talks about pop music occasionally and it's effect on folk music. Most of the references are about white pop "folk" music, not black. An interesting thread would be about Tricia Rose's book "Black Noise". A discussion about the folk influences there would prompt some interest in black participation I would think.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: dwditty
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 10:04 AM

Black folk music is the blues.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Mbo
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 09:54 AM

Yeah! Ha ha ha!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST,peter tee
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 09:47 AM

Because Ed, Most cool black folks are out gettin it on boogying to hip-hop, rock, rap, and jazz and other forms of up-beat melodies, while you white dudes are sittin around sippin cappucino, listening to hundred year old banjo's (and not gettin anything).


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 09:32 AM

I found this of interest and relevant to what has been said by Naemanson and others. I saw a show about one of its women masters the other night on television. This is taken from a website here:

What is Capoeira?
an expression of freedom.
a cross-cultural social exchange.
an ancestral art, and an art of the future.
a way to build physical, mental and spiritual strength and balance.
a reflection, celebration and preservation of Afro-Brazilian culture.
music, self-defense, acrobatics, dance and social interaction.
a form of self-expression in a time of oppression.
a path toward self-empowerment.

Capoeira is an internationally respected art form that has survived for over 300 years--created in Brazil by African slaves as an act of resistance.

As slaves from a mixture of African cultures came together, they integrated cultural practices--their songs, music, rituals, dance, and they exchanged fighting techniques, self-defense and acrobatics. Capoeira evolved as an expression of freedom by a repressed, but creatively unified people. It became the quintessential expression of Brazilian culture--characterized by spirited cultural diversity.

Capoeira was a means of preserving cultural practices, as well as an act of resistance against enslavement. Through music and song, slaves were able to conceal its combative purpose--while simultaneously illustrating the strength and beauty of cultural sharing and integration. The cultures of African slaves, Brazilian indigenous peoples and Portuguese immigrants all contributed to the art of Capoeira.

The Capoeira "Roda" A "roda" (pronounced "ho-da") refers to the circle that Capoeira players form, and inside of which the game is played. Those forming the roda are as important to the game as the two players inside--adding to the energy and rhythm of the game by clapping hands, singing chorus, playing instruments and leading songs. The players inside receive energy and support from the roda. As a metaphor for the circle of life, the Capoeira roda illustrates that all individuals are important in the creation of the whole, and that cooperation is essential to the process.

The Annual Batizado A Batizado (Baptism) is a traditional ceremony in which the new student is initiated into the group and the world of Capoeira. The student receives a Capoeira nickname and plays with Masters and teachers of Capoeira. New and continuing students receive a corda (colored cord) which reflects his or her growth and level in Capoeira. The Batizado is not a competition or a show, it is an event of confraternity between schools, and an opportunity for the public to experience the beauty of Capoeira. ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco holds a series of annual Batizado workshops led by visiting ABADÁ instructors--including ABADÁ-Capoeira's founder, Mestre Camisa--which culminates with the Batizado graduation ceremony. This ten day event offers a unique opportunity for cultural exchange, inspiration and community-building.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Naemanson
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 08:54 AM

I see what you meant way back with your first post Ed. I don't think it is a problem with under representation. Consider us run of the mill folkies. How many of us are there as compared to the main stream?

The Side Door Coffeehouse in Brunswick, Maine, brings in as many as 60 to 75 people when there is a popular featured performer. The same space is packed to the rafters for a concert by a mediocre local rock band. We do not represent the main stream, we are in a very small minority.

Now translate that to the black population. How many of them go to folk clubs? I would guess a smaller percentage the whites who go to folk clubs. If 5% of whites enjoy folk music perhaps 2% of blacks do too. (Just guessing at the percentages) And there are fewer blacks in these Untied States (intentional misspelling) than whites. (Definition of minority) Consider the number of black artists you know of. I have not been able to attend a large number of festivals but I have seen black performers and I have seen blacks in the audiences so I know there is some representation.

You also have to consider that one of the reasons we like this music is that in some way or another it speaks to something inside us. I like sea music. I have had a strong connection with the sea all my life. Much of that music is derived from black culture across centuries yet there are few black performers of this kind of music. Why? I don't know. Or consider the subject of many of the so-called Anglo folk music. How many black performers do you think would get that special feeling singing about a red haired girl or cheeks as pale as lillies? Sure the singer may be attracted to a person from another race but the song suddenly acquires other meanings in the ears of the listeners and some of those interpretations are ugly. And the song does not necessarily relate to his/her cultural background anyway.

Folk music connects us to our past. Much of what we are calling black music was either work songs or songs of hope to help an overworked, terribly mistreated people cope with their difficult circumstances. You need to remember that it wasn't very long ago that, in some southern states, a black man would get lynched for certain behaviors. None of this is conducive to a desire for black people to connect to their past. Thus the representation of black culture is bound to be small.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 08:09 AM

"Folk clubs being primarily caucasian" - out in the Caucasus that may be truie, if there are folk clubs in places like Georgia and Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"Caucasian" in any other context is a term left over from the racist theories about there being a Caucasian Race and a Mongoloid Race and a Hamitic Race and a Semitic Race and so forth. "White" and "Black" are terms that have the merit of being self-evidently a bit daft, when you look at a crowd of people with all their range of shades of colour - redfaced ranging to darkish olive being described as "white", slightly paler olive ranging to almost jet black all being described as "black."

Terms like "Caucasian" were invented to give a pseudo-scientific gloss to it all. (And no, that's not intended as a knock to moonchild form using the term - I know it's a lot more curtrent in America than it is in other places)

This thread seems to be making people uncomfortable. The point is, if we have a folk scene which is disproportionately "white" in some countries, what kind of reasons might explain this. How can that be a racist question, anymore than it might be a racist question to ask why it is there are disproportionately few black people in the police force in England, or the army?

I'm just a bit doubtful if "white folk music enthusuasts" speculating about it are going to be in a good position to throw that much light on the subject.

But I remember a few years ago when an Irish Club was set up at last in our town. Suddenly, going in there you felt a sense of relaxation that was missing in the other pubs around - which have never been short of a few Irish, with Irish music mostly well liked. But it was different, there was a sense there wasn't going to some oaf cracking Irish jokes, a feeling that people weren't being seen as generic Irish, but as Dubliners and Culchies and London Irish and so forth. And you never had to gve the bar staff lessons in how to pour a Guinness properly.

But whether that kind of thing carries over into a global virtual community like the Mudcat, I just don't know. That's why my initial response to Ed's question was "How do you know that anyway?"


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Escamillo
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 03:36 AM

Hey, who ate my cookie ? The above message is mine.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 03:31 AM

At least, the day has already come for all races joining together to LISTEN to music of every source, and that´s good. And even some adventurers like Escamillo who being descendant of Frenches and Spanish dare to stand in front of a piano (with somebody else playing) and shamelessly sing gospel and blues.(And soon traditionals)
As to Ed's question, I think that the Mudcat does nothing except reflecting the reality of people's tastes and cultural roots, and that´s good too, as far as doors are open for everybody, which I can testify, as the only Latin American here, and as far as everybody respects the general orientation and don´t try to deviate it. In Argentina, the tango is a typical urban expression, played and composed by Italians and Spanish and even Arabs descendants, while country music is pretty different and mostly originated in provinces, both genres affected by African rhytms too.
Hope to have contributed to a good and friendly confusion. Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 02:46 AM

I'm reading an unpublished book by an interesting fellow named Dave Lippman. The book is called Bleaching Our Roots: Race and Culture in American Popular Music. Lippman's thesis is that most of the varieties of music popular in the United States (including "folk" music) are pasteurized versions of what was originally the music of black Americans. I think Lippman is a bit strident in his presentation and that he does not give enough credit to European and other influences on our music, but he does have a point. If black culture has music that is less influenced by commercial interests, why go to the commercial stuff? Black culture has such a rich musical tradition - why should they bother with the music white people learn from songbooks and recordings?
I hope there will be a day when all races join together in making music, but that day hasn't come yet - and I don't think that sort of unity is something you can force to happen.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: dwditty
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:50 AM

IMO, you dig what you dig, whether it's based on how the music moves you or whether it's just because the people you are with dig it. My 8 year old has discovered Brittany Spears. Does she like that music because she is white? 'cause the music moves her? 'cause she's been well marketed to? 'cause the other kids like it? In this case I have my suspicions. But I think that people gravitate to certain music for all kinds of reasons. Why don't more white people play African music - Olatunji Doe? Let's face it, we all wind up in whatever circles we wind up in . Let's face it, lots of people of every color think folk music is pretty square.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Marymac90
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:35 AM

So far, I think Gary T and Barry have given good, thoughtful answers to Ed's question.

While most people want to have the best-paying job they can get (so the workforce is fairly well-integrated), most people also want to spend their leisure time in settings that are comfortable and supportive to them. People of color tend to gather with other people of color, and listen to music listened to by other people of color. Folk clubs and folk fests that are ~99% white do not feel comfortable and welcoming to people of color.

Musical genres popular with many African-Americans tend to be rap, house, jazz, and gospel. Although there are black blues musicians of all ages, black blues fans are usually middle aged or older. White fans of the blues cross age ranges, but I think some blues appeals to younger fans "testing the waters" of folk, who like things that are loud, fast, electric, and closer to the rock they have grown up on.

There is more to integrating folk clubs and festivals than just inviting your black chum from work to come sometime. Many festivals are some distance from urban areas, and most aren't accessible by public transportation. Many expect people to come and camp out for the weekend. Most black people I know consider camping as something unpleasant they had to do while in the military, if they consider it at all. The idea of voluntarily using porta-johns, forgoing showers, and sleeping on the ground for a weekend is not appealing to most black friends of mine.

Add to that a feeling that most forms of music that African Americans enjoy would be looked down on as "Not Folk", and you have some substantial barriers. Is there some way we can be more open, to break down these barriers?

I was discussing some of these ideas with volunteer staffers from the Cherry Tree, a folk club on an urban university campus that's located in a mixed neighborhood. Could they offer a bill combining a youth gospel choir from a local church, with a blues musician, for instance? Could you give each young singer two free passes for family or friends? People of color do not want to be the "only ones" of their group present.

Another group I belong to, the People's Music Network, has made a lot of strides in this area, by looking at it, and being willing to try different things. While they hold a summer camping weekend, they also hold a winter weekend in an urban area each Jan. Many African Americans have friends and families in different cities who they could ask for housing for a weekend.

PMN also is not limited to strictly "folk" or "acoustic" music. If there was a rapper today who picked up where Woodie left off, would we even know it?

Another reason PMN has had some success is that they have elected people of color to their board. To gain people's trust, you have to be willing to follow their leadership, and not just expect them to follow yours. Do any of our folk societies have any people of color on their boards?

I hope these thoughts are useful to Ed and others, who would like to see our folk events more inclusive to different segments of our larger communities.

Mary McCaffrey


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Big Mick
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 01:19 AM

I love you all, my dear Mudcat friends, but would you read the questions/comments and think about them before jumping in? I saw Ed explain at least three times that he wasn't asking the question from any sort of racist angle. He is just wondering/pondering how a distinctly African American form of music became dominated by white performers. And secondarily, or actually primarily, he was wondering why the folk traditions that we explore have so few black adherents. Now, I don't think I necessarily agree with him on either point and others have expressed opinions that I agree with. So I won't rehash those. But Ed Pellow has been around these parts a long time and to my knowledge has always been a positive influence.

Ed, on a number of occasions I have had black people attend my concerts and have a ball. They expressed great enjoyment of the music and asked me for recommendations of CD's to get to explore it further. One fella, upon watching me play the bodhran went out to his car and brought in a rim drum that he used. We had a ball, and even asked him to sit in. It was wonderful.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 11:50 PM

Ed, I think I understand why you asked and I do not think you meant it as a racist question. You may find some answers or at least interesting reading in this old thread, How ethnically diverse are we?

All the best,

kat


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Mbo
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 11:09 PM

I know, Lepus! I wanted to put DARIUS RUCKER, my IDOL!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: Lepus Rex
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 10:48 PM

Why name white blues musicians? Race is a false concept.


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Subject: RE: Why are almost all 'mudcatters 'white?'
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 10:47 PM

Paul Butterfield, Elvin Bishop, Edgar Winter, Johnny Winter...


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