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What is a Folksinger?

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GUEST,Ray 18 Aug 00 - 05:28 AM
CarolC 18 Aug 00 - 05:32 AM
dwditty 18 Aug 00 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Roger the Skiffler 18 Aug 00 - 06:18 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 18 Aug 00 - 07:05 AM
CarolC 18 Aug 00 - 07:31 AM
rabbitrunning 18 Aug 00 - 08:16 AM
katlaughing 18 Aug 00 - 10:02 AM
Sean Belt 18 Aug 00 - 10:10 AM
Naemanson 18 Aug 00 - 12:29 PM
hesperis 18 Aug 00 - 12:33 PM
Bert 18 Aug 00 - 12:46 PM
Mbo 18 Aug 00 - 12:58 PM
Sean Belt 18 Aug 00 - 01:15 PM
DougR 18 Aug 00 - 02:12 PM
Sean Belt 18 Aug 00 - 02:40 PM
Little Hawk 18 Aug 00 - 02:41 PM
Jeri 18 Aug 00 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,CLETUS 18 Aug 00 - 02:46 PM
Whistle Stop 18 Aug 00 - 03:01 PM
Jeri 18 Aug 00 - 03:01 PM
Little Hawk 18 Aug 00 - 03:45 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 18 Aug 00 - 03:51 PM
CarolC 18 Aug 00 - 07:25 PM
rabbitrunning 18 Aug 00 - 11:19 PM
campfire 18 Aug 00 - 11:58 PM
Art Thieme 19 Aug 00 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Ray 19 Aug 00 - 02:45 AM
Escamillo 19 Aug 00 - 04:56 AM
Quincy 19 Aug 00 - 12:55 PM
Little Hawk 19 Aug 00 - 09:43 PM
CarolC 19 Aug 00 - 09:49 PM
kendall 20 Aug 00 - 10:01 PM
Whistle Stop 21 Aug 00 - 08:15 AM
Jim the Bart 21 Aug 00 - 09:47 AM
Snuffy 21 Aug 00 - 09:48 AM
Art Thieme 21 Aug 00 - 01:24 PM
Jim the Bart 21 Aug 00 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU 21 Aug 00 - 01:49 PM
Jim the Bart 21 Aug 00 - 01:49 PM
Whistle Stop 21 Aug 00 - 03:51 PM
Jim the Bart 21 Aug 00 - 06:36 PM
Mbo 21 Aug 00 - 06:48 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 21 Aug 00 - 06:54 PM
Mbo 21 Aug 00 - 06:56 PM
JamesJim 21 Aug 00 - 11:52 PM
The Shambles 30 Nov 00 - 04:22 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Nov 00 - 06:49 PM
Snuffy 30 Nov 00 - 07:15 PM
HARD LUCK SKONK 30 Nov 00 - 08:06 PM
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Subject: What is a Folksinger?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 05:28 AM

Seriously. My mind began to dazzle as I read the Rick Fielding Thread. I know there have been previous discussions on What is Folk Music and What is a Folk Song with various scholarly and unscholarly attempts to define them. So....?


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: CarolC
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 05:32 AM

Beats me. I can't even figure out exactly what a song is. (See the thread "Is it a song if....")

Best wishes, Carol


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: dwditty
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 05:52 AM

After all these discussions, it is my conclusion that the answers lie in the ears of the behearer.

dw


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: GUEST,Roger the Skiffler
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 06:18 AM

Well the DT has the Folksinger's Lament and Folk singer's blues and Fred Wedlock did a British version The Folker to the tune of Paul Simon's The Boxer: "I massacre folk music with a yard of German plywood and a capo" and a key skill seemed to be if you forgot the 42nd verse of Patrick Spens you "sing the 27th, twice and loud and in reverse, and no one noticed".
Me, I have no definition, nor feel the need for one. I sing skiffle, blues, jazz, folk, 50s rock & roll, music hall, all sorts of "oldies", all equally badly and normally in private. I don't call myself anything, certainly not a singer.
When I listen to Broonzy or Leadbelly I don't worry "Is that a blues or a folk song?". When I listen to Fred McDowell or Gary Davis I don't worry "Is that a blues or a spiritual or a folk song?"
RtS (still an ignorant old git)


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 07:05 AM

In academic theory, Folk Songs are songs which have been passed from person to person over time orally. By that definition not many of the current folk singers learned their songs that way, but through tape/record/CD/printed page.

Source singers are still available, but are becoming fewer and fewer.

There seems to be a distinction between the person who writes the song as well. All songs are written by someone. Some are older, and we may not know who wrote them. Still there are songwriters, who write songs to commemorate an event. Some of those songs can seem to be enough of a keeper, that they will last. I consider those people to be folk singers too as they usually sing their own songs. Check out Dave Stone from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: CarolC
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 07:31 AM

In case anybody decides to get all steamed up in this thread, I vote for one rule here in the Mudcat.

I vote that anybody who gets pissed off (angry, for our Brittish friends), should be required to go read the "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" thread, and then be happy.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: rabbitrunning
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 08:16 AM

Or, for fun, try reading Ellis Peter's mystery book "Black is the Colour of My True Love's Heart" which is set at a weekend convention of folksingers/lovers in 1960's Britain for the background conversation on folk music.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: katlaughing
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 10:02 AM

Or, just remember your manners and be polite.:-)


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 10:10 AM

It's obvious isn't it? A folk singer is a singer of folk songs. Every time your momma sang "Hush little baby, don't say a word..." when you were little, she was a folksinger. Everytime you hear a bunch of kids singing "Ring a ring o'roses", they're folk singers. When you absent-mindedly sing or hum a folk song (whatever THAT is!) you're a folksinger. It's a transient designation, I think and moves from person to person freely and frequently. :-)

- Sean


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Naemanson
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 12:29 PM

George Seto- If we learn from a recorded source aren't we learning from the singer? How is that different from sitting at her/her knee and learning a song? (Sure there is a world of aesthetic differences but...)

This is a question that has bothered me for sime time. I have a few of the rereleased collections of Lomaxes field recordings. How does learning a song from that differ from learning a song from, say, a Stan Rogers or Joan Baez album?

As a slight thread creep I have a friend who claims that most of us have no right to sing the blues. Of course, it is part of his intro to a blues number that he does a superb job on...


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: hesperis
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 12:33 PM

Lie, la lie
Lie, la lie, lie, lie la lie
Lie, la lie...

(Couldn't resist, sorry!)


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Bert
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 12:46 PM

Me


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Mbo
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 12:58 PM

What if I find little known, well-written music that no one has really ever heard, and make it my job to educate people about this wonderful music that has long lain unnoticed. Can this make me a type of folksinger EVEN if the music in not "folk" per se, or even that old?

--Matt


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 01:15 PM

More and more these sorts of discussions where we all try to pin down an elusive term like "folk music" or "folk singer" remind me of a conversation I had a few years ago with a friend of mine who makes his living as an artist. The topic of what exactly is art came up and I figured, "Here's a guy who does this for a living. He should certainly be able to define what he does." So, I asked him point blank: "Larry, what is art?"

He thought about it for a little while, took a drink from his coffee cup and said -- in all seriousness mind you -- "Well, I guess I'd have to say that art is what artists do."

- Sean


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: DougR
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 02:12 PM

I would define a folk singer as one who earns his/her living from folksinging.

However, Sean makes a very valid point I guess. Anyone who sings folk music is a folk singer when they are warbling.

Oh, I don't know.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Sean Belt
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 02:40 PM

DougR,
I have to take issue with your statement that "a folk singer as one who earns his/her living from folksinging". That's a definition of a "professional" folksinger, certainly. But I think it leaves a lot of ground uncovered. For instance, if a person earns only 20% of their living from folksinging and earns the balance from say teaching music in a grade school or some other field not related to music at all, does that prevent him/her from being a folksinger? Would that criteria have prevented Van Gogh from being called an artist?

I guess if I seem to waffle on this point, its because I'm really uncomfortable with labeling and defining this stuff in any rigorous, hard and fast way.

I do think that in order to call yourself a folksinger (or an artist, actor, musician, athlete, etc.) you have to genuinely participate in the field. I'm not one of those folks who believe that "I'm and artist if I say I am" or "I don't have to do art, I am art". I mean, there does have to be some form of sincere effort involved. But, I don't see that making money has that much to do with it. I'm just sayin' is all.

- "artsy fartsy" Sean


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 02:41 PM

Anyone I think is a folksinger is a folksinger. :-}

Jesse Helms is not a folksinger.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 02:42 PM

DougR, your definition leaves out most "source" singers. It leaves out sailors singing chanteys, members of chain gangs, people pleasantly pickin' on a porch, singing in church or on a street corner. Of course, the professional aspect is perhaps what caused the term to originate. Wonder if Frank Proffitt considered himself a folksinger, or just a fellow who liked to pick and sing.

I think folk singers are those who are known for singing primarily folk songs. Now if everyone will just agree with my definition of a folk song! I can't remember actually using the word to describe anyone, though. "He/she's a musician who plays banjo and sings some old songs, and some new ones."


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: GUEST,CLETUS
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 02:46 PM

I wuzza thinkin ittid be sumbuddy whyt singz filk songz like Jei dun sed , like thet Frank Proffitt feller.

CLETUS


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 03:01 PM

Jesse Helms isn't a folksinger?!? Why does everyone I know refer to him as "that folkin' Jesse Helms"?


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 03:01 PM

I think a lot of the confusion comes from the world having turned into such a big place. Many Native American nations described themselves with a word meaning "the people." I think we slap labels on things now that once were just "our music" for a group of people. I guess we need labels and categories if we're trying to describe one particular type/style/location of origin of music or the people that does it, but we labelers are from all over too - it's a bit like being in a sort Tower of Babel at times. When so-and-so talks about folk music or folksingers, they mean "X," and when the next so-and-so talks about those things, they mean "Y." (And both get very irritated when others don't see the words their way.) Probably the only way to discuss topics like this without ending up in an argument is to try to understand what the other person is talking about, get them to try to understand what we're talking about, and quit worrying about convincing them we're right.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 03:45 PM

Got that right, Jen.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 03:51 PM

A folk singer is a person who doesn't care anymore about being popular. A popular singer is a person who doesn't care anymore about being smart. A smart singer is a person who doesn't care anymore about love. A loving singer doesn't care anymore about melodrama. A melodramatic singer doesn't care anymore about peaceful sentiment. A singer of peaceful sentiment doesn't sing about stressful situations. A singer of stressful situations doesn't care any more about ignorance. A singer of ignorance doesn't care anymore about folk music.(return to top)


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: CarolC
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 07:25 PM

I seems to me, from what I have observed in various threads since I've been here, that trying do define things like folk, folk singers, and even songs, is a lot like trying to nail jello to a wall.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: rabbitrunning
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 11:19 PM

I figure that a folksinger is someone who tends to learn songs from anyplace that tickles their fancy, sings them whenever they please, changes them to suit the moment, passes them to friends along with the jokes they've written on the backs of envelopes, knows three or four tunes and all sorts of different ways to sing or play them, more verses than they can remember, a plethora of trivia, and most of all, a folksinger is someone who is willing to take the time to teach someone else a song via the oral tradition.

Being able to carry a tune in a bucket is optional.

(At least I sure hope it is!)


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: campfire
Date: 18 Aug 00 - 11:58 PM

rabbitrunning, I think I like your definition best. Then even I can be a folksinger!

campfire


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Aug 00 - 12:12 AM

A folksinger is what I have been for the last 40 years.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 19 Aug 00 - 02:45 AM

Then Art is Folk.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Escamillo
Date: 19 Aug 00 - 04:56 AM

I like very much Rabbitrunning's definition !


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Subject: ADD: Jimmy the Belfast Folksinger
From: Quincy
Date: 19 Aug 00 - 12:55 PM

As the Ulster comedian James Young used to sing....to the tune of "Black Velvet Band"

Chorus
I'm Jimmy the Belfast folk singer,
Folk songs are my 'specialty', But whenever I sing, the crowd seems to spring,
And head for the WC!

I am a folk singer from Belfast,
With long hair, a beard and guitar,
I sing all the folk songs that you've ever heard,
I sing them in every lounge bar.

Three chords is all that's required,
One lesson and you'll be a star,
Like me you'll be singing the ballads and folk
And a chorus of "fine girl you are".

I get up each day at twelve-thirty,
To sign at our local boru (brew, dole)
I bring my guitar, in my motor car
And park at the end of the queue.

Them income tax fellas are at me,
And that is why I'm on the run
I'm shaking to bits, they give me the...fits(???)
No tax paid since one nine five one!


best wishes Yvonne


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Aug 00 - 09:43 PM

"She works up to her britches, up to her neck, writes me letters and sends me checks...she's a humdinger...folksinger"

Tell me now...who wrote that? And about whom?

The winner gets my undying love and respect...or an autographed picture of Wayne Newton in a tutu.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: CarolC
Date: 19 Aug 00 - 09:49 PM

Little Hawk, I don't know the answer to that question, and I'm having a hard time figuring out if that's a good thing, or a bad thing.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: kendall
Date: 20 Aug 00 - 10:01 PM

professional folk singer is an oxymoron


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 08:15 AM

Little Hawk, that was written by Bob Dylan. Could have been about Baez, I suppose (it's on Freewheelin', so the timing would be about right), but I don't know that it was necessarily about anyone in particular. So I guess I get half of the prize -- would that be the love or the respect? [I'll pass on the Wayne Newton picture, unless it's also autographed by J. Edgar Hoover, from whom Wayne probably borrowed the tutu in the first place.]


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 09:47 AM

Participating in (playing or enjoying) folk music is part of our oral tradition. Defining folk music is part of our anal tradition. Now tell me - which would you rather be doing right now?

I'd rather do either than work, but you do what ya gotta do. Have a great day - catch ya later.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 09:48 AM

A folksinger is someone who makes money from singing.

A folk singer is someone who doesn't.

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:24 PM

A folksinger, on occasion, is an alchemist. He/she sings into the wind---and turns it into the rent (hopefully).

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:45 PM

I think folk singing is like murder - whether something is or isn't is often a question of intent. If you listen the the very first Elvis Presley Sun recordings, you have a kid singing to save his soul. He didn't know what he was doing, or if anyone would buy it, or if anybody would like it. He just had this MUSIC in him that he slapped together out of everything he had heard before that just had to come out. When he hit on "That's Alright Momma, that's alright for you" and Scotty and Bill jumped in, hanging on for dear life, that was truly folk music. That was a FOLK MUSIC MOMENT. And then it was gone. When Sam Philips asked what they were going to put on the other side of the single and they did "Blue Moon of Kentucky", it was already commerce.

So to qualify what Art said (respectfully), if you sing into the wind and the rent appears, it's folk music. If you sing it because you're hoping the rent will follow, it's probably Country and Western.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: GUEST,Mbo_at_ECU
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:49 PM

Did you know that the original recording of "That's Alright, Momma" came from a store where you could go in, sing a song, and for a small fee, have it recorded on a record? He sang that song and had it recorded as a present to his mother on her birthday.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 01:49 PM

Before I get paddled for the second part of my last posting by the professional folksingers among us - I was kidding. Joking. Funning.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 03:51 PM

Actually, Mbo, the song he recorded for his mother's birthday was a piece of syrupy drivel called "My Happiness". When he recorded "That's All Right, Mama" some months later, it was the result of a lot of trial and error in Sun Studios with Scotty and Bill, trying various songs in various arrangements and seeing if something worked. The moment itself is shrouded in legend, but the more persistent legend has it that Elvis started fooling around with the song during a break in their more "serious" efforts, Scotty and Bill jumped in, and then Sam Phillips (owner of the studio and recording engineer) told them to do it again while he ran the tape.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 06:36 PM

Whistle Stop - that's 'xactly how I read it, too.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 06:48 PM

Oh dang! Actually, I thought the song was cute! Although he sounded NOTHING like the Elvis we all know and love.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 06:54 PM

"a folksinger is what I call myself when I want to end the conversation."


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Mbo
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 06:56 PM

"What the world needs now is another folksinger, like I need a hole in my head"

--Cracker


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: JamesJim
Date: 21 Aug 00 - 11:52 PM

A folksinger is not only a "singer of folksongs," he or she is also a writer of same. Of course, this is a general statement and it doesn't mean a damned thing (except it has a lot of truth to it).

Jim


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Nov 00 - 04:22 PM

The term 'source singer', is one that bothers me a little. It seems to used to describe a singer that is good enough to steal material from but not one that is good enough to actually listen to.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Nov 00 - 06:49 PM

To quote the late Richard Dyer-bennett:

There are folk singers that sing the songs of their culture, and there are singer who sing folk songs and there are quacks.


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: Snuffy
Date: 30 Nov 00 - 07:15 PM

Anyone remember a schmalzy song called "The Folk Singer" from the early 60's by (I think) Tommy Roe? Made me puke every time I heard it.

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Help: What is a Folksinger?
From: HARD LUCK SKONK
Date: 30 Nov 00 - 08:06 PM

NOT SURE HOW TO APPLY TO FOLKSING-ER, BUT DIDN'T WOODY GUTHRIE DEFINE FOLKSINGING AS FOLKS SINGING?


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