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A Real Folksinger

Suffet 06 Jul 01 - 07:45 PM
Rick Fielding 06 Jul 01 - 08:12 PM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Jul 01 - 09:35 PM
GUEST 06 Jul 01 - 09:37 PM
Midchuck 06 Jul 01 - 10:31 PM
Amos 06 Jul 01 - 10:37 PM
DonMeixner 06 Jul 01 - 10:39 PM
Bill D 06 Jul 01 - 10:41 PM
Art Thieme 06 Jul 01 - 10:42 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Jul 01 - 10:50 PM
catspaw49 06 Jul 01 - 10:53 PM
Amos 06 Jul 01 - 11:07 PM
Clinton Hammond 06 Jul 01 - 11:11 PM
Celtic Soul 06 Jul 01 - 11:23 PM
Suffet 06 Jul 01 - 11:25 PM
GUEST,Frogmore 06 Jul 01 - 11:39 PM
Jimmy C 07 Jul 01 - 12:00 AM
Amos 07 Jul 01 - 12:24 AM
Seamus Kennedy 07 Jul 01 - 12:34 AM
Ralphie 07 Jul 01 - 12:36 AM
Mudlark 07 Jul 01 - 01:48 AM
mg 07 Jul 01 - 02:32 AM
Clifton53 07 Jul 01 - 08:49 AM
kendall 07 Jul 01 - 08:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Jul 01 - 10:41 AM
Jon Freeman 07 Jul 01 - 11:01 AM
Art Thieme 07 Jul 01 - 11:35 AM
Jimmy C 07 Jul 01 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Frogmore 07 Jul 01 - 11:49 AM
Jeri 07 Jul 01 - 12:33 PM
Amos 07 Jul 01 - 01:53 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Jul 01 - 01:56 PM
clansfolk 07 Jul 01 - 02:38 PM
Brían 07 Jul 01 - 02:44 PM
Ralphie 07 Jul 01 - 03:01 PM
Bill D 07 Jul 01 - 03:35 PM
catspaw49 07 Jul 01 - 04:36 PM
TishA 07 Jul 01 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,jim.griffin@wolrdnet.att.net 07 Jul 01 - 05:00 PM
TishA 07 Jul 01 - 05:15 PM
Jeri 07 Jul 01 - 05:43 PM
Amos 07 Jul 01 - 05:54 PM
Jon Freeman 07 Jul 01 - 06:55 PM
Amos 07 Jul 01 - 07:14 PM
Little Hawk 07 Jul 01 - 07:27 PM
Jeri 07 Jul 01 - 07:28 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Jul 01 - 07:39 PM
Bill D 07 Jul 01 - 08:32 PM
Deckman 07 Jul 01 - 09:58 PM
catspaw49 07 Jul 01 - 10:15 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 08 Jul 01 - 12:36 AM
Ralphie 08 Jul 01 - 12:56 AM
Seamus Kennedy 08 Jul 01 - 02:57 AM
Ralphie 08 Jul 01 - 04:43 AM
Suffet 08 Jul 01 - 08:52 AM
Jeri 08 Jul 01 - 09:24 AM
Jon Freeman 08 Jul 01 - 10:04 AM
John P 08 Jul 01 - 10:32 AM
Suffet 08 Jul 01 - 12:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Jul 01 - 12:46 PM
blt 08 Jul 01 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,RobDale 08 Jul 01 - 03:51 PM
SINSULL 08 Jul 01 - 06:57 PM
Amos 08 Jul 01 - 07:23 PM
Jon Freeman 08 Jul 01 - 07:41 PM
Art Thieme 08 Jul 01 - 09:14 PM
Amos 08 Jul 01 - 10:04 PM
GUEST,RobDale 08 Jul 01 - 10:07 PM
Amos 08 Jul 01 - 11:03 PM
GUEST 09 Jul 01 - 04:05 AM
GUEST,Janice 09 Jul 01 - 02:03 PM
UB Ed 09 Jul 01 - 02:19 PM
Amos 10 Jul 01 - 02:07 AM
Suffet 10 Jul 01 - 07:35 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jul 01 - 08:00 AM
UB Ed 10 Jul 01 - 12:20 PM
Bill D 10 Jul 01 - 12:28 PM
UB Ed 10 Jul 01 - 02:00 PM
Bill D 10 Jul 01 - 04:51 PM
UB Ed 10 Jul 01 - 05:27 PM
Suffet 10 Jul 01 - 05:29 PM
Bill D 10 Jul 01 - 06:37 PM
Amos 10 Jul 01 - 08:08 PM
John P 11 Jul 01 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,John Hernandez 11 Jul 01 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,John Hernandez 11 Jul 01 - 09:27 AM
UB Ed 11 Jul 01 - 10:30 AM
Suffet 11 Jul 01 - 08:27 PM
Suffet 11 Jul 01 - 09:02 PM
UB Ed 12 Jul 01 - 08:37 AM
Bill D 12 Jul 01 - 11:13 AM
CRANKY YANKEE 12 Jul 01 - 02:00 PM
Bill D 12 Jul 01 - 03:27 PM
Whistle Stop 13 Jul 01 - 08:10 AM
Paul G. 13 Jul 01 - 11:16 PM
Amos 13 Jul 01 - 11:44 PM
CRANKY YANKEE 14 Jul 01 - 01:28 AM
CRANKY YANKEE 14 Jul 01 - 02:00 AM
Amos 14 Jul 01 - 12:17 PM
Bill D 14 Jul 01 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 14 Jul 01 - 07:16 PM
Suffet 15 Jul 01 - 12:51 PM
GUEST 15 Jul 01 - 06:09 PM
Suffet 16 Jul 01 - 06:46 AM
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Subject: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 07:45 PM

A real folksinger...

€ A real folksinger doesn't worry about bookings. A real folkinger creates his/her own venue. On street corners. In campgrounds. In parks. In schools. At parties. At family gatherings. Wherever and whenever the opportunity arises. A real folksinger plays in hospitals, and hospices, and old age homes. A real folksinger plays in prisons, and libraries, and bus stations, and at street fairs. And a real folksinger doesn't whine and bellyache and complain because such and such club or festival wouldn't have him/her.

€ A real folksinger understands that folk music is not a genre. A real folksinger understands that any song can be a folksong. A real folksonger knows there is no such thing as singing a folksong wrong. If a real folksinger forgets the words, he/she makes up new ones on the spot. If a real folksinger can't quite remember the melody, he/she invents one that fits his/her own vocal style, perhaps flatting a 7th here, jumping an octave there, or changing a major key into a mountain modal.

€ A real folksinger never calls him/herself as a singer-songwriter. And yet a real folksinger is always writing songs to sing and singing the songs he/she writes. And a real folksinger doesn't write self-centered contemplate-one's-navel type songs. A real folksinger writes songs that tell interesting stories. Yes, real folksingers have written songs about bad relationships, but those songs include "Pretty Polly," "Banks of the Ohio," and "Rose Connelly"!

€ Real folksingers have written some of the greatest lines in the whole English language. Three examples:

And all she said as she neared his bed,
Was, "Young man, I think you're dying."

Rise up, rise up, little Matty Groves,
And dress as quick as you can,
For never shall it be said in old England,
That I slew a naked man.

Dig the beets from your ground,
Cut the grapes from your vine,
To set on your table,
Your light sparkling wine.


€ A real folksinger borrows from others, and in turn expects that others will borrow from him/her. A real folksinger understands that all "anon" and "trad" songs had real live authors, and perhaps the greatest honor thaty can ever befall a real folksinger is to become the author of an anonymous/traditional song.

€ If a real folksinger wants to make money, he/she gets a job.

€ A real folksinger doesn't sing to an audience. A real folksinger gets the audience to sing. And if the audience whips out kazoos, tmabourines, Jew's harps, and harmonicas and starts to play along, so much the better.



Feel free to add your own comments.


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 08:12 PM

I'd like to Steve, but I'm speechless!

Rick


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 09:35 PM

Steve, I buy almost everthing you say, and what I don't buy, many others will, and who am I to say they or you are wrong? A nice post.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 09:37 PM

REAL FOLKSINGERS HAVE DAY JOBS


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Midchuck
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:31 PM

Are you trying to say that when and if someone is foolish enough to offer me money to sing folk music, I should turn it down so that I can remain a "real" folksinger?

If you are, can I get some of what you're smoking/drinking?

Peter.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:37 PM

None of what's listed above says a real folksinger has to be stupid about what money he gets or getting what money he can. I doubt anyone would argue that Pete Seeger was not a "real folksinger" -- or even Bobby Dylan for all the showbusiness he's gotten sucked into. And a real folksinger remains a folksinger when he has a day job and when he doesn't, in my humble experience. I have had to earn a few meals playing, and I wouldn't want to have to depend on it completely but was glad to do it when I had to.

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: DonMeixner
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:39 PM

Hmmmm.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:41 PM

hmmmmm......interesting....but the one part really creates a problem

" A real folksinger understands that folk music is not a genre. A real folksinger understands that any song can be a folksong. A real folksonger knows there is no such thing as singing a folksong wrong. If a real folksinger forgets the words, he/she makes up new ones on the spot. If a real folksinger can't quite remember the melody, he/she invents one that fits his/her own vocal style, perhaps flatting a 7th here, jumping an octave there, or changing a major key into a mountain modal."

it seems to allow anything anyone wants to be 'folk'...in which case, why use the word?...just 'music' would do.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:42 PM

???????????????????????????????????????????????????


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:50 PM

Real folk singers ignore 'jumbly bollox' who try to tell them who or what a real folk singer is!!!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 10:53 PM

Yeah......I was kinda' waitin' for those last couple. Folk isn't a genre? I think ya' got some points, but you have some real arguments coming on some of them too. Like, you've never in the slightest way promoted yourself Steve? Making a buck or at least scrounging a living is somehow a disqualifying factor? And what's with not trying to get into a particular venue when you already do the others too?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 11:07 PM

Real folksingers don't go around trying to define "real", or prescribe the nature of "folksinger" neither!

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 11:11 PM

^5's Amos!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 11:23 PM

All in all a really wonderful post on the love of the craft.

I can't help but see one small part as being a little skewed, though.

I think that the love of a thing does not prohibit the earning of money from it. In fact, earning a living at what you love is one of the most rewarding things one can do with ones life.

So long as you treat your audience with respect, and are not up there merely for yourself, what is the harm in earning some money doing it? I go to craftsman for furniture, for instruments, for art, for jewelry and I pay for their wares and bring home something marvelous that I can enjoy and share with others.

Why is a folk musician any different than any of the other artisans to whom we pay money in trade for their hard work?

I don't want to detract from the wonderful sentiment contained, though. I thought it a beautifully penned and poetic description.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 11:25 PM

I never said there's anything wrong with making a buck. And there is certainly nothing wrong with getting paid. But that's not what folk music is all about. You make the music -- and you get other people to make music with you -- whether you're paid or not. And I'll say it again, folk music is not a genre. Any song can become a folk song. It's a matter of attitude.

One of the best folksingers I have heard in a long time is a middle aged woman whose name I believe is Betty. I don't know her last name. She's a school security officer at the Renaissance Charter School in the Borough of Queens, New York City. Once a month the school has a sing-around potluck for the children, the staff, the parents, and guests. When the turn came to Betty she first sang "The Wagoner's Lad" and then the next time sang "Silver Dagger," both songs a capella with just a hint of Gospel and blues in her voice. And she got everyone else to sing along, but quietly enough so her unamplified voice carried through the large room. I was floored. I would sooner listen to her any day than to any one of a dozen polished professional acts which call themselves folk but who don't possess one one-hundredth of Betty's soul.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,Frogmore
Date: 06 Jul 01 - 11:39 PM

Folksinger. Jazz. Bebop. Country. CATEGORIES! A waste of time in my humble opinion. I like a quote attributed to the great Duke Elligton. He sain something like, "There are only 2 kinds of music. Good music and the other." Actions speak louder than words, although I must admit I'm currently using words. Wanna pick?


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jimmy C
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 12:00 AM

A real folk singer is one who has experienced what the song is all about, if not then we are singers of folk songs and not folksingers. ??


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 12:24 AM

Well, yes... but what IS folk music, really?? ;>)

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 12:34 AM

AMOS!!!! NO, NO!!!!! Seamus


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Ralphie
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 12:36 AM

Oh No Amos......Don't start that one...!
I've lost my can-opener Lol Ralphie


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Mudlark
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 01:48 AM

"FOLK music? SURE it's folk music. Ain't no HORSE singing it." Big Bill Broonzy


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: mg
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 02:32 AM

I think it might be someone who learns what are considered folksongs via some sort of human transmission. I also think he/she should not be confused with a preacher who puts the preaching to some sort of tune. The love of the music itself has to be there somewhere.

mg


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Clifton53
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 08:49 AM

So, there ARE rules eh? I hate rules and boxes, good or bad.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: kendall
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 08:54 AM

Professional folksinger is an oxymoron.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 10:41 AM

I'm sure I'd like to get a job where I was paid to drink, and such jobs do exist, far and few. But that's not what drinking is about.

That goes for anything that is worth doing for its own sake.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 11:01 AM

"A real folksinger doesn't sing to an audience. A real folksinger gets the audience to sing. And if the audience whips out kazoos, tmabourines, Jew's harps, and harmonicas and starts to play along, so much the better."

If that is the case, I can only guess that a real folksinger either has a limited repertiore or can have no clue how to express certain songs and ballads.

Jon


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 11:35 AM

???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jimmy C
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 11:46 AM

McGrath, My brother once had a job that paid him to sample whiskey and grade it, yet at private parties he would touch the stuff. I gave his a resume every week but he could not get me into the firm, how's that for brotherly love.

BTW he married a McGrath ?.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,Frogmore
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 11:49 AM

"Folk Music" comes from the Folkland Islands.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 12:33 PM

Horses don't sing any sort of music. You want a list of stuff horses don't sing? Horses also don't folk dance, so any dancing must be folk dancing? Any art must be folk art? Likewise, I ain't never seen no humans eat hay, so anything that eats hay must be a horse? (Sorry - can you tell I'm sick of this meaningless quote?)

Real folksingers just do it. It's rather remarkable to have reached a point in traditional music where some think the common people aren't qualified to decide what music they'll keep on singing. Well, they haven't studied it, have they?

It's also futile. You may wish no new songs at all get into the collective songbag, or you may wish all of them sound like those that have gone before. The ones that get in there are going to be the ones people sing, and if that means Yellow Submarine, too bad. One thing people tend to ignore when it comes to folk music is the time line. Not every song IS a folk song (as in traditional), but every song has the potential to be.

I have my likes and dislikes, but I also realise that telling people what they should or shouldn't sing (or post or do, for that matter) is just plain anal. I was anal last week - I'm shooting for confused, but happy this week. I'll sing songs I like, and someone else may hear them and learn them, and they'll stay alive. It's a whole lot less crazy-making to get folks interested in doing something than to get them to stop.

And Steve, if someone whips out a kazoo when I'm singing a sea shanty, they're gonna need a mirror and a flashlight to find it later. (OK, maybe I'm still a wee bit anal. ;-)


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 01:53 PM

I think there's a folksong in there somewhere, Jeri -- the Mirror and the Flashlight, maybe, or the Terrible Fate of the Young Man's Kazoo...your call!

A


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Subject: Real Annoying!!!
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 01:56 PM

And if the audience whips out kazoos, tambourines, Jew's harps, and harmonicas and starts to play along...

I quit, take my money and go the hell home!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: clansfolk
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 02:38 PM

A real folk singer is the one who hasn't read this thread!

Doh!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Brían
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 02:44 PM

I don't mind throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. Woody Guthrie in his own words said that Pete Seeger was not a folk singer, but a SINGER OF FOLK SONGS. Pete Seeger, a true artist I respect greatly, has continued to use that label to identify himself.

I hate to use a lame analogy like "If you have to talk about folk music, you're not a folk musician". It is important to talk about it. Folk musicians are very aware of there status in society. there is, however a different types of singers who sing folk songs. I am going to gnaw on some ideas and get back to you all.

Beidh mé ag caint libh aríst,

Brían.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Ralphie
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 03:01 PM

Jeri....Sorry you've been feeling Anal.....It happens to most of us when you get to a certain age.
I recommend Brown paper and black treacle applied to the affected parts...It'll feel much better tomorrow....promise!
Ralphie


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 03:35 PM

oh, HORRORS!! not categories!!..someone might have to think! *big grin*
...you ALL use categories everyday, but some 'folks' want them to eternally fuzzy and ambiguous so they can fit their own likes & dislikes into convenient terms.
I like a certain 'flavor' of music more than others. I like 'mostly' older songs and songs with general characteristics that are a bit different than many of the newer songs. When I discovered them, 'folk' was a good term that described them...and I could be reasonably sure that I would like most of what I heard at a 'folk' club' or found in the 'folk' bin at the music store. That has changed...and I don't care for loud, electic Celtic!

Now, I would like to be able to refer to those songs without writing an entire paragraph with 27 disclaimers and subordinate clauses. What would you suggest I call it?

I understand that jazz is struggling to keep hip-hop from being subsumed, and I know that traditional Bluegrass is resisting having 'Newgrass' slipped into their venues.....and so it goes.

So...you anti-category folks...you tell me...what are we to do? Some of you say."..oh, I just call music good or bad...lets pick"....but try opening a music store with no labels on the record ummm....CD bins!

The late Chet Atkins sort of apologized for what he did to 'country' music as a category, and I doubt it will ever recover.

Fine, refuse to deal with it....but you are just hiding your head in the sand...(and frogmore..Duke Ellington may have SAID that, but what he PLAYED fit a category)


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 04:36 PM

**Small round of Applause to Bill from East Ohio**

Spaw


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: TishA
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 04:57 PM

Second the applause.

Chip A.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,jim.griffin@wolrdnet.att.net
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 05:00 PM

I read the Folksinger........I've been a folksinger all my life...in my head....never thought I could learn to strum a guitar let alone sing..But now I just turned 50 years young and started to play an old guitar I got at the local pawn shop. I've been pounding on that for a nmuber of months...I just a bought Washburn Dreadnaugt steel string, but the old pawn special still feels like the first time I put my arm around a girls waist. I'm still struggling with Tom Dooley and Good Night Irene but I really don't give a rats ass...Once I learn a few more songs I will go to to the local public market in KC and stand and play. The first person to drop a quarter in my guitar case, I will give them a dollar bill and say thanks. All the quarters I get will be donated to a local charity...I'm a folk singer. Jim


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: TishA
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 05:15 PM

Way to go, Jim!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 05:43 PM

Well, the categories ARE eternally fuzzy and ambiguous, or we wouldn't keep trying to pin the suckers down and get everyone else to agree with us.

Ralphie - TREACLE??!! Isn't that the same as molasses? Does that work the same as hot wax? OW! I think I'd rather just let the anality wear off. (Hell-week at work, in case anyone's interested.)

I think these arguments can actually be funny if you look at them the right way.

Folk
Everything
Not Everything
Yes, Everything. Except horses
Horses suck
You're a folk-[nastyword]
You're a fuzzy-category [nastyword]
...and after the discussion goes through everyone's reasons for categories and reasons against them, everyone stops for a while because it's not going anywhere. It comes back later though, and pretty much goes the same way.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 05:54 PM

But, well, what IS folkmusic, really? Mpppffffppffttttt....


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 06:55 PM

Not to worried about what it is Amos. I often use "If it sounds like folk to me, it is". I do think though that whatever definitions we use, we all have some idea of the "ballpark" - it's just that some definitions are narrower than others...

Fortunately, most of us are open enough to at least agree to dissagree with the ideas of others without the need to try to legislate for what makes it, or the singers of it real.

Jon


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 07:14 PM

Thanks for the input and clarification Jon. I'll respond as soon as I get this ducttape of my mouth!!!

LOL

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 07:27 PM

Amos - Folk music is simply this: music that begins with "F" and ends with "K".

Or else it isn't.

Either way.

- LH


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 07:28 PM

And while I am sharing my feelings
Your opinion is different than mine
We don't have to fight 'cause I know I am right
Just agree, and things will be fine

Everybody, repeat after me: "I am right, and I know it. I do not have to convince everyone else."


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 07:39 PM

Exactly Jeri - "What is Folk" is a form of social or ritual dancing here on the Mudcat. We all go through the motions, and some people take it very seriously and others don't, and in the process people get to know each other.

And, as with Morris dancing, The Horse is always likely to make an appearance at some point. (And I nornally chip in to point out that in fact horses do sing...)

It's a Living Tradition.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 08:32 PM

what is the sound of two hands clapping? MUSIC!...I think that with applause ringing in my ears, I'll retire to the sidelines


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 09:58 PM

Hey ... lighten up folks! I think you are being HAD. What did Suffet (Steve) say: "You make the music, and get other people to make music with you." What's to dissagree about? All he has done is to define most of us ... we sing at old folks homes, fairs, concerts. And we also have jobs, income, pay our bills. I think you are all being far too sensitive. Suffet (Steve) is probably bored and needed some entertainment at our expense! I'm sure he's laughing at us all right now! CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 Jul 01 - 10:15 PM

Well Deckster, however it is, HERE is a thread with probably more truth and a lot funnier!!! Love ol' Leej!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 12:36 AM

I used to know what a folk singer was. I'm not sure I do any more. I think that it was first applied to Carl Sandburg when he gave his concerts and poetry readings. I think that it was also a term used if not invented (folk music) by the Lomax's but I'm not sure.

However, I think I know a folk song presentation by someone who is part of a musical/cultural tradition although sometimes the lines about that are blurry. For example, Uncle Dave Macon was a showman, professional entertainer for medicine shows and on the Grand Ol' Opry but I think he was a real folksinger.

Jo Stafford had rural roots and put out a lovely album of folk music. She was a professional pop singer in the forties. Many would argue that she wasnt a real folksinger but I wonder if it really mattered that she wasnt? She conveyed her roots when she sang those songs.

Was Burl Ives, a professional actor and student of German Leider with an operatic coach a real folksinger?

What I think that Steve is trying to do is diffuse the pretense that some have when presenting themselves as folk singers. We usta' say that someone was "folkier than thou".

Burl Ives did a lot to present the image of a folksinger to the public. Josh White was a blues singer though he sang many folk songs. Is the blues folk music? I think so.

The point being made here is that there is something wonderfully authentic and real in the performance from someone who is a "carrier" of a tradition of music. But it can be also presented by someone who isn't steeped in it maybe from birth. The "real" part of the statement is to me the most important point that Steve is making.

I can't tell you what a real folksinger is but I can feel when they sing with truth and honesty.

Frank


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Ralphie
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 12:56 AM

Just to digress slightly
A Swedish friend of mine having been to his first English Barndance (Whitby, actually)
referred to it as "Flok-Dancing"......."You British are like sheep, you don't know how to dance until somebody shows you how!!"
Ralphie


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 02:57 AM

Hey, 'Spaw, wanna get together and come up with a new genre? We could call it 'fock music." Just a thought.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Ralphie
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 04:43 AM

Seamus.....Spell check ....????!!
Regards R xx


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 08:52 AM

Let me repeat this point: I never said there's anything wrong with making a buck. And there is certainly nothing wrong with getting paid for a performance, a workshop, guitar lessons, studio work, etc. But that's not what folk music is all about. You make the music -- and you get other people to make music with you -- whether you're paid or not. Being a folksinger is a matter of attitude.

I would argue that Pete Seeger fits my description of a real folksinger. I am certain we would all agree that Pete Seeger is a professional. When he appears at Carnegie Hall he certainly gets paid. And he is a member of the American Federation of Musicians, so I know he would not do a commercial appearance without getting union scale, at very least. But that doesn't stop Pete making music whenever and wherever he feels like doing so with little or no remuneration.

In the past few years I have heard Pete at a Community Environmental Center, when some young apprentices had just built a new yawlboat for the Clearwater. I also heard him at a small song circle, at a child care center, at a rally to save community gardens, and at several meetings of Clearwater committees. I even heard Pete sit in with a group of musicians who get together once a month to play big band standards from the 1930s and '40s. There's nothing quite the same as dancing to the big band sounds of Pete Seeger and the Dutchess County All-Stars (my name for the group, not theirs).

In the spring of 1999, Pete came to a 2-hour songwriting class I taught once a week at a high school in Brooklyn, New York. He was there not to put on a show in the usual sense, but to try out and critique the songs the students had written. His only reimbursement was $20 for the taxicab fare from Grand Central Station in Manhattan to the school. And that was only because he was on a tight schedule and didn't have time to take the subway. A year later Pete sang one of those songs at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Well, actually Pete got up and joined in while Matt Turk, Joel Landy, Sharon Perez-Abreu, and I were singing the song at Liberty State Park. Pete recognized it and liked it so much he just climbed up on stage with his 12-string guitar and began to sing and play!

Yes, a person can be what I call a real folksinger and still make a living at it. Just don't expect to make one. For every Pete Seeger, there are ten thousand other really good folk musicians out there holding down non-musical jobs.

By the way, Frank Hamilton is also as real as it gets.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jeri
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 09:24 AM

Deckman, I don't think Steve was bored and needed entertainment. I think he was mainly posting about what makes folk music special to him, and other folks needed to argue for entertainment. Sometimes folks would rather see negatives than positives. I do it myself. (Makes for a short thread if everyone just says "I agree.")

When I think of folk music, I think of music one sings or plays to entertain one's self. It's participatory.

We have a lot of wonderful professionals who share songs and tunes with us. They're usually very good at what they do, or we wouldn't pay to hear them or their recordings. I'm glad I can listen to them make music. I'm even more glad I can. One big reason I know I can make music is because of folks like Pete Seeger and Sandy & Caroline Paton. This is not inclusive, and other folks have names of other performers who have provoked them to sing. I'll bet Steve's on some people's lists.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 10:04 AM

Not the way I read it Jeri. Steve was presenting what makes folk music special to him or perhaps more accurately what he believes folk music is about in a manner that suggests HIS is the REAL (and presumably only) view. Such a presentation will naturally provoke argument.

For what it's worth, a "real" folk singer to me is. Anyone who sings folk songs (take that loosly) they chose to sing with enjoyment and some degree of understanding or feeling. Whether they get paid for it, the venues they may choose, whether they also write songs, whether they they like others joining in, etc. is completely irrelevant.

Jon


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: John P
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 10:32 AM

Bravo, Jon. It seems rather obvious, doesn't it? A folksinger is one who sings folksongs.

John


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 12:32 PM

Jeri got my point pretty clearly. And, yes, I was trying to provoke some discussion. But, no, I do not believe my way is the only way of looking at the issue. I put forth the extreme view, but I also see the shades of grey. In any event, it has been a pretty decent thread.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 12:46 PM

Agreed. A good trot round the issues, even if at times it looked like turning into a squabble.

You know there are some people around, you say "Good Morning" to them and they'll come back with "What do you mean by that?" squaring up for a fight...

Discussions and arguments shouldn't be confused with brawling. (And since I said that it means it's my opinion, which is another way of saying I think it's true. But it isn't another way of saying it's the only view, any more than it was for Steve.)


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: blt
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 02:01 PM

Maybe the territory the words folksinger and folk music cover is so broad and has such depth that it is impossible for those of us who are mortal to experience and understand more than a small piece of it. (I can't speak for the immortals among us.) These discussions always remind me of that story of 7 (or was it 9) blind men examining an elephant.

blt


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,RobDale
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 03:51 PM

I'd been ignoring this tread this while because of the tittle but another thread drew me back here. Here is another point of view.

What is a Real Folksinger?

I give you Pat. Pat grew up in an isolated village on a remote island off tha coast of Newfoundland. A few times a year my Father would have a group of his drinking buddies come by the house and when they would get him drunk enough, Pat would sing. He'd sing about fishing, hard work, heartbreak and poverty. He'd sing in an amazing voice, sounding nothing you would hear in popular music, or even in folk music from the rest of North America. The songs were hundreds of years old, passed on from generation to generation at kitchen tables in small fishing villiages.

Would you call Pat a folksinger? Because he wouldn't. He calls himself a town engineer.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: SINSULL
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 06:57 PM

I agree with Mr. Thieme. ????!!!!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 07:23 PM

RobDale:

Charge yourself with the mission of encoding Pat's songs somehow -- on tape, CD, vinyl or some digital format -- just so that much history and bright talent is not lost, if it be not too late....

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 07:41 PM

Rob, I'd call Pat a town engineer AND a folksinger. Unless of course folk singing is part of town engineer's job.

Jon


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 09:14 PM

I've said what a folksinger is to me in tons of other threads. That is why !!!!!!!!!!!! and ??????????? is an apropriate posting for me to make here.

That said, I was a folksinger for 40 years. I knew what I was----and I was that. Many, lately, try to tell me that, after all, I wasn't one.

As Irving Berlin said to George Gershwin, "George, you and I are the only ones left, and to hell with everybody else !" ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 10:04 PM

Art:

If anyone has the brazen idiocy to try to tell you you weren't what you was, I recommend W.C. Fields' advice:

"Give him an evasive answer...tell him to go fuck himself!". Fields, I believe, also coined the equally appropriate remark (maybe it was to Mayer of MGM):

"You, sir, are a no-good sonuvabitch; I would not piss in your ear if your brain were on fire!!"

Take yer pick!

Regards,

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,RobDale
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 10:07 PM

I guess I just wanted to thank you all for reminding me about Pat. I'll decline on that project. He's a couple a thousand miles away. And though many of the definitions here I may be a folksinger, I know I am not a folklorist. Pat has been asked to record before. I hope that he does. But even more so, I hope some kid is learning his songs in some nice warm Newfoundland kitchen.

We do have some fun discussions here. I appreciate that.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 08 Jul 01 - 11:03 PM

Well, at least write him, man!! The notion may have not crossed his mind. His kids should be recording him, but they may not know how to get him drunk....

Your call of course -- I just feel strongly someone like that ought to have their beauty captured for the future...

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jul 01 - 04:05 AM

music is not a genre course it is


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,Janice
Date: 09 Jul 01 - 02:03 PM

Jeri says, "I'll bet Steve's on some people's lists." He's certainly on mine from the day he singled me out and started singing "Baby, let me buy you some tacos. We can go to this placed called Paco's. I'd do anything in this God almighty world if you'd just let me buy you a taco." Then he started singing verses about jalapenos, refried beans, salsa picante (which he rhymed with "Jimmy Durante"), Monterrey Jack queso (rhymed with "It only costs one peso"), etc. My first reaction was "Why me?" But by the time he finsihed I nearly died laughing.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: UB Ed
Date: 09 Jul 01 - 02:19 PM

Bill D. come back from the sidelines for just one minute...

I have been finding myself playing some of the older "rock" tunes solo acoustically. Aerosmith's "Dream On", the Who "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Behind Blue Eyes", "Pinball Wizard" as well as some old Bowie and other whatnot. Needless to say, I'm not "covering" the tune; at best I'm talking the song and moving it to a single guitar/voice arrangement. The lyrics are compelling.

So do I get to qualify that as folk having moved those songs into a folk style presentation?

Ed


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 02:07 AM

UB Ed:

Sorry -- nothing by Aerosmith qualifies as an "older" rock tune!!! Try "48 Miles", "Sh-Boom", or maybe "Green Door" or "Honeycomb"!!! LOL

Regards,

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 07:35 AM

I said earlier that any song can become a folksong. Moving a rock composition to a single voice acoustic arrangement may be a step in the process. But more important would getting that song to become part of the collective repertoire of a community. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (at least the chorus) and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" have both, in my opinion, become folksongs, even though both started as Tin Pan Alley creations. So have "Frosty the Snowman," "Yellow Submarine," "The Unicorn," and dozens of other songs that children learn in what is essentially a folkloric process.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 08:00 AM

Amos - why not just piss in their ear whether or not their brain is on fire? Just retribution if y'ask me.
That first post reminds me of the 'Love is..' series. It has that weird flavour you get in those inspirational emails that do the rounds. Sorry Suffet, I don't mean that nastily, its just the way it struck as I read it. Wry smile. I enjoyed it really - it does ring very true.

As for me, I don't much mind whether I'm a real folksinger - actually I suspect I'm a completely fake one. A mere veneer.
Ah well...

Kris


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: UB Ed
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 12:20 PM

Well Amos, we may both be showing some vintage here. Had I been more thoughtful during my previous post, I'd have mentioned the Stones as well. Kris, I'm an imaginary folksinger...

I like the collective repertoire concept; but I also respect songs that were salvaged verbally from an old grandfather prior to his passing.

Perhaps folk is more of a style? Back in Pink Floyd land one could certainly play "Wish You Were Here" and (for someone who'd never heard that song) pass it as "folk."


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 12:28 PM

UB Ed..if you list 27 different things that 'seem' to be charactertics of folk songs (songs almost EVERYONE agrees are folk), being played acoustically is one. Certain rhythms are another. Im my not-so-humble *grin* opinion, I wouldn't call a song folk until it had a preponderance of the 27(or 14..or 58) characteristics...and preferably more than ¾ or so. (No real dividing line for me, and NOT being folk does NOT mean I can't like it, I just would say that THIS song I like is pop, or Bluegrass...or whatever)

So...my answer is, no, I don't think your Arrowsmith example makes it 'folk', as changing only a couple things don't change the 'basics'...doesn't mean it's a bad thing to do, or that you should change anything you sing....just means that if you get famous and record it, I have an opinion about where it should be located in the music store.

As you have seen, my opinions are not necessarily shared by everyone.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: UB Ed
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 02:00 PM

Bill, its important to have differences of opinion and equally that others respect those differences.

I wandered into the 'Cat last December, so I feel I'm still kinda new. I've learned to search the trad and (most of the time) do blue clickys correctly. I have developed a tremendous amount of respect for the musical knowledge and devotion of the regular 'Catters (some of the politics is squirrelly, but thats politics).

The group I'm in plays traditional irish music like a bunch of Americans. If for no other reason than (1) we don't know any better, (2) the audience seems to like it and (3) we're a bunch of Americans. Occasionally we stumble into a fellow performer who is always complimentary about what we do, but never fails to point out that we're not doing traditional Irish music. It is beyond our abilities to discern why he's telling us this. We're having a ball and people are getting to hear songs they normally wouldn't come across.

So a thread like this sparks my interest, especially with the parallel Floyd thread. Art Thieme's response was troubling to me as he is one of the Old Timers and I am generally curious if there is definition of folk (or "traditional Irish" for that matter). So I searched the database.

Please excuse me. I have stumbled late onto a discussion that gnawed your arm off bored two years ago! Although I can say with absolute certainity that I still don't "know" what folk is, I certainly have a new appreciation for the previos attempts made to define and categorize.

With all that, here is a thread Alice in Montana started. It'll take a while to read, but provides a good place for all wishing to discuss this to ground themselves. I'd even suggest permathread status.

Click here

Ed


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 04:51 PM

yep, Ed...we have discussed it a lot. There has even been a catorization of the categorizers...into 'lumpers' & 'splitters'...(you know the old line..."there's two types of people- those who divide people into types, and those who don't")

The thing is, I believe that most people use categories everyday, but some want categories to reflect their 'personal' habits & attitudes, rather than being expected to follow some logic or order.

The Irish musicians you have met have a long-standing notion of how that music should be played...pace, tune, intonation...ever order of tunes sometimes! That is what 'tradition' MEANS... other ways are not exactly wrong, but there is, as you have seen, some resistance to gratuitous change.
..(I have similar reactions to hearing old familar songs "bluegrassed" --thus changing their entire character. I wonder why they WANT to play "Red River Valley" at double tempo with driving banjo!)

I do know that music does change over time...'folk processing', they call it, and I no doubt do some of that myself...but to use a phrase of my own coinage, it bothers me to have the Folk Processor set on 'pureé'.

I am admittedly in the conservative camp in this debate, but I have VERY detailed reasons and justifications for expecting certain venues and institutions to pay attention to the categories. I don't have any right to tell them what to play, who to hire, what to record, how to write...etc., but I DO claim it is careless -bordering on rude- to NAME the genrés in a slippery, self-serving way.

The cuckoo is renowned in song as a sneaky bird who lays her eggs in another birds nest and pushes the owners eggs out. That is a bit like I feel when someone writes a song about their navel, or changes words and tune to a traditional song, and calls it 'folk'. So, ummm...what am I now to call those old songs I like? 'Folk' was a useful term for a number of years, so was 'traditional'...now they are telling me Mary Chapin Carpenter is 'folk' and Bob Dylan is 'traditional'...*sigh*

So...perhaps in some venues, your group might issue a disclaimer, as Phil Cooper & Margaret Nelson do when they perform... Margaret says.."yes, I 'messed with' some of these songs, so don't be surprised is they are a little different than you are used to.".......That helps ME decide whether I want to buy their CDs or go to their concerts. 'Messing with' is not exactly a category, but it sure makes things clear!..(and some of their 'messing' is ok)

[incidentally, my other life is woodworking...and you ought to hear me when people (especially dealers)..make up cute names for wood just for advertising purposes, or use already 'known' words like Walnut & Rosewood to refer to trees that are NOT in the Juglans or Dalbergia families!....and there are similar disputes in the "Freeware" newsgroup where some want to advertise their ad-supported programs and get yelled at by those who want FREE to mean NO strings attached!...it goes on & on..quilters, antique collectors, Civil War buffs, SCA groups...ALL have debates about inclusion & exclusion of items, practices and categories]

It seems to me that there is no end to it, as people are simply wired differently as to how they see things............but..*grin*,,you DID ask!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: UB Ed
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 05:27 PM

Bill....that's specifically why I did ask as well as start plowing back over old discussions! And I appreciate your thoughtful response.

I truly want to know what is meant by "folk" and "traditional". In another thread a distinction is made between "old time" and "blue grass" fiddling. I think its important to be aware these distinctions exist. If there are such distinctions, we need to know them so we don't have to reinvent the freaking wheel everytime a bunch of us neophytes come along.

And it really isn't as subjective as some of us wish to believe. Don't get me wrong; I play what and how I feel with a keen eye/ear to the audience. But I also want to know the subtle differences between what I'm doing and "traditional" or "folk" so I may intelligently talk about it and, if requested, play it.

At this point, when asked, all I know is I play "Irish-American Pub Music". I just happen to know this is different from folk and traditional but not how. I hope to ultimately be able to discern this from my 'Catsearch.

Without a common grounding of meanings and definitions, it is extremely difficult to chat intelligently. That being said, I also recognize there are some of us you are less compelled to bone up before joining in; I personally prefer to be informed prior to rendering an opinion.

Nonetheless, we don't wish to discourage the occasional "new" question, rather we wish to gently respond by guiding the questioner to additional information and cultivating a conversational climate of respect.

Susan and some others have occasionally suggested compilation of previous threads. Seems to me a Mudcat reference thread could do the trick. Think how simple it would have been to be able to refer people to the What is Folk discussion. That said, I also suspect there are few among us with the skill/time to make such editorials and as such that comes down on the shoulders of Max, Joe and select others.

Anyway, thanks for the answers. I have much to learn!

Ed


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Subject: Baby, Let Me Buy You a Taco
From: Suffet
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 05:29 PM

Now, Alice Flynn from Montana. There's a true folksinger any day of the week. I heard the Clancy Brothers sing "The Work of the Weavers," and I wrote "The Work of the Landlord" to the same tune. (It should be in the DT.) Then Alice comes along and parodies my parody with her own song, "The Work of the Guru." Darn, that's the highest honor a fellow can get!

And, Janice, thanks for reminding me.

BABY, LET ME BUY YOU A TACO

Music: "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" by Eric Von Schmidt, based on traditional
Words: Stephen L. Suffet © 1978, 2001

Baby, let me buy you a taco,
We can go to this place called Paco's,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

Let me fill it with my refried beans,
Guacamole and my sweet sour cream,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

Let me top it with Jalisco queso,
Baby, it will cost just a peso,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

Some chilis and a hot jalapeño,
So spicy you never can say no,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

I'll give you my salsa picante,
While I sing just like Jimmy Durante,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

Baby, I'll never mistreat you,
If you come and taste my burrito,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

Baby, let me buy you some flan,
Let me be your sweet loving man,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.

Baby, let me buy you a taco,
We can go to this place called Paco's,
I'd do anything in this God Almighty world,
If you just let me buy you a taco.


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 06:37 PM

well Ed, the only way I developed any idea of the differences was to hear them done many times...this meant 'mostly' records...not always easy to find these days. but it helps a lot!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 10 Jul 01 - 08:08 PM

Nice song, Suffet!! First rate! I can hear Bob Dylan singing it down in Chula Vista!!

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: John P
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 08:25 AM

UB Ed,
You said, "The group I'm in plays traditional irish music like a bunch of Americans. If for no other reason than . . . we're a bunch of Americans. Occasionally we stumble into a fellow performer who . . . never fails to point out that we're not doing traditional Irish music."

One of the "things" (for me, anyway) about traditional folk music is that it is local music. The concept of learning everything there is to know about local music from somewhere else and then trying to play it like it is played somewhere else seems almost the antithesis of traditional musianship. It's really scholarly musicology, isn't it? Of course you are not doing traditional Irish music. As you say, you're a bunch of Americans. It sounds to me like you are doing traditional music from whatever city you are from. The music happens to have originated in Ireland, but so what? It's not in Ireland now, and neither are you. That doesn't decrease the traditional nature of the music, it just means that the locals are playing it in the local style -- making it even more traditional, if you will. It also doesn't change the Irish origins of the music, so calling it Irish music is still perfectly accurate.

Bill D, I have to say that I'm not one who lists being played acoustically as one of the necessary criteria for something being considered a folk song. It seems to me that most of Steeleye Span's songs are folk songs, and most singer-songerwriter songs are not. I consider a traditional folk song, even when sung by the worst classical soprano warbler, the most distorted garage band, or the fastest bluegrass band, to still be a traditional folk song. I guess my emphasis is more on the song itself and where it came from more than on where or how it is played. I've actually had people tell me that a song stops being a traditional folk song if I take it on stage and play it for pay with a band that has arranged it for performance. But the very same song is traditional if I sit around the living room playing it with some friends. I've always thought that was a bizarre concept. The song itself is a set of lyrics and a melody. They aren't really changed by being played in different venues on different instruments for different reasons.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,John Hernandez
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 09:10 AM

I think I heard the taco song once at a Mexican restaurant in Vermont. That was a long time ago.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,John Hernandez
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 09:27 AM

John P. made an excellent point worth repeating: "One of the 'things' (for me, anyway) about traditional folk music is that it is local music. The concept of learning everything there is to know about local music from somewhere else and then trying to play it like it is played somewhere else seems almost the antithesis of traditional musianship. It's really scholarly musicology, isn't it? Of course you are not doing traditional Irish music. As you say, you're a bunch of Americans."

When I've gone to Ireland and have sung songs like "Kevin Barry" and "Gilgarry Mountain," someone invariably points out that I do them differently from than how they are done there. Not wrong, just differently. If anything, the people in Ireland are curious about how their songs evolved after having taken root in America. And they still look on those songs as Irish music.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: UB Ed
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 10:30 AM

Bill, given the conversation, this struck me funny:

After seeing Suffet's Taco song, I gotta play it. I'm embarrassed to not know the tune, but went looking. I searched for "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down"+Lyrics. While I got what I was looking for , half the other hits were for Aerosmith's "Dude Looks A Lady". They use the phrase at the end of the song.

Now, I'm not saying "Dude" is folk, but Tyler certainly heard the Dylan and Von Schmidt.

Seems we may be mixing the basic song with performance and influence?


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 08:27 PM

Bob Dylan recorded Von Schmidt's "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" on his first Columbia LP about 40 years ago. The album is just called "Bob Dylan," and it should be available on CD.


Eric Von Schmidt's secret to a really fine and funky BLMFYD is to play an E-flat chord (in the key of G) where one would expect to hear a C7. The vocal melody is hitting a B-flat note at that time.


BABY, LET ME FOLLOW YOU DOWN
As performed by Eric Von Schmidt
Chord name appears immediately before syllable on which change occurs.

[G] Baby, let me follow you [F] down,

[C] Baby, let me follow you [E-flat] down,

I'd [G] do any- [D] thing in this [C] God Almighty [D] world,

If you [C] just let me [D] follow you [G] down.


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 11 Jul 01 - 09:02 PM

The Mexican restaurant was probably Pancho's Wreck on Route 9, about midway bewteen Bennington and Brattleboro. I would sometimes do a late afternoon or early evening set at the bar in exchange for a dinner and a beer before the regular entertainment showed up. I would always sing "Pancho's" instead of "Paco's" and the verses would vary from one performance to the next. I also sang "Baby, Let Me Buy You a Taco" at several other places, but I can't recall any other Mexican restaurants in Vermont.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: UB Ed
Date: 12 Jul 01 - 08:37 AM

Thanks, Steve. Saw the Eb and did wonder about it. Found a snippet from one of the searches and I see how it fits...

I hope I get to play it sometime. I'll credit ya, of course.

Ed


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Jul 01 - 11:13 AM

John P..."necessary criteria for something being considered a folk song. "....it's not that I consider acoustic a necessary criterion, but it is one of many ways in which folk or traditional has been identified.
My approach is a bit different, since I KNOW we can never all agree about a strict linear 'definition' of a genré.

Let me try again, as briefly as I can. If we take bunches & bunches (hundreds?..thousands?) of songs (and varied versions & performances of those songs) and ask bunches & bunches of people to rate them as folk or not folk, we will eventually get a list of songs that MOST people consider to BE folk. Perhaps "The Fox" will be on on it...perhaps "Barbry Allen"....perhaps "Mr Tamborine Man" will not be..*shrug*..(yet)

Then, we look at those songs & versions & performances and ask ourselves, "Now, what is common among those songs that made almost everyone agree about them?"

We will get some sort of list of characteristics that seem to commonly appear..(tune patterns, age, acoustic presentation, style, subject matter,..etc.) The list is not an absolute, as the analysis is partly subjective, but you can GET a list of 8 to 30 pretty easily.

Now....you look at a song, you look at your list, and you ask yourself..."does this songs have a majority of those, just a few, or hardly any?" The point is, if it has most of the items on your list, it tends to qualify...(the singer used his own tune variation for "Barbry Allen", but left everything else..or he did it straight, but played it on a electric dulcimer)

I do NOT presume that anyone will keep some long printout in their pocket so that they can run thru some tedious checklist every time they hear a song..*grin*...it is 92.3147% an attitude.
This system will get you some songs that fall right in the middle with no clear consensus....but....it will sure allow you to EXCLUDE some, and it will help you to be aware of what is happening to various music and formats.

After awhile, it isn't even a concious thing....you just sort of do a processing thing like you'd do with some variation in a favorite food..."like Mom used to make" or "wierd spicy version that I don't think I like".

All this assumes you CARE...I do care, because I like some spices and not others....but, yes, I have heard 'folk' songs played on non-acoustic instruments that still retained most of the feeling of 'folk', and that I enjoyed....not as MUCH as if they were played acoustically, perhaps, but *shrug*. And a song could be played on a Martin D-18, by a famous 'folk' singer, with words and tune right out of Child...but at a frenzied pace that left me gasping...I might CALL it folk, and still not like it!

so...not so brief, huh? Well, anyway, everytime I do this, the exercise helps me refine my own attitude about it all, so it ain't wasted, even if very few read it...I can go back and use it as notes to my 27 volume analysis of **FOLK MUSIC** (*grin*)


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 12 Jul 01 - 02:00 PM

Yeah, Yeah, I know, I know.

From, THE DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPT.

As stated previously, I'll give it another shot and say this one more time.

STAND UP STRAIGHT, LOOK INTELLIGENT AND DON'T DRAG YOUR KNUCKLES.

Also, Entirely too many of you are spending entirely too much time categorizing when you could be listening to composing, singing and enjoying (or being disgusted with) music

I'm an old folk (72) who earns his living singing to other folks. I occasionally compose new material. I know and sing at least 1500 pieces of "stuff" (that's what my wife and I have in our list of song titles) I enjoy myself more than the other folks who are listening to me do. If I like it, I learn it and perform it (if my musical abilities are up to it) The list includes "La Donna E Mobile" from Rigoletto as well as Home on the Range, One Meatball,Saint Louis Blues, My old Man's a Dustman and Life Get's Tedjius, Don't it ? etc. etc. etc.

I cinsider myself to be "A Folksinger"

WHAT? YOU DISAPPROVE?

I AM DEVESTATED!!!!!!

I SHALL NEVER SING ANOTHER NOTE. I WILL,FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, SIT QUIETLY IN THE CORNER AND ATTEMPT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS THAT LED YOU TO THIS "NON-APPROVAL"

I remain, humbly and crest-fallen, Y'R Ob'd't s'v'nt>

JODY GIBSON


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Jul 01 - 03:27 PM

LOL, Jody!....somehow, I doubt you're gonna cancel that next gig because some younger curmudgeon (a sprightly 62) has an obsession with categories. (And I'd hate it if you did!)

Fact is, even 'folk singer' doesn't do justice to what you seem to do, and I expect I'd enjoy hearing you. All that category stuff is interesting to me, but when I decide what to sing, I don't run an analysis on it first, and I song lots of stuff that I don't CALL folk/trad music.

If I were to try making a living at it, I suppose I'd call myself a singer of music "in the traditions"...that is 'mostly' related to folk.....and if someone pressed me, I'd declare that not all of what I do IS folk.

My only real point is, calling yourself something doesn't magically make anything you do 'folk'. If you did "The Toreador Song", "La Donna E Mobile", "Mein liebster Freund" by Mozart, "Ritorna vincitor", from Aïde, and several more of that ilk and only a couple like "Home on the Range" and "One Meatball", people would consider you an Opera singer with strange habits, and insisting you were a folk singer would be pointless.

It seems like MOST of what you do is folk, so I'll not dispute that it is a useful label...but LOTS of people out there are doing stuff that is NOT, and using 'folk' to describe themselves...and when I pay money to hear them, I get frustrated, because that's not what I expected.

I belong to the "Folklore Society of Greater Washington", and it gets REAL interesting when I go to a concert and find 75% of the songs were written in the last 5 years, in a style and with subject matter I don't care for! They may be very good musicians and quite popular, but I can FIND singer/songwriter and pop/rock music everywhere...I wa't a tiny little corner where the older stuff is done in a more traditional way......*grin*...and it is hard to find!

So....*shrug*..everyone should sing what they want, but when they advertise it, tell me the TRUTH about what it is!


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 08:10 AM

Bill, have you considered that you have just adopted a more limited definition than your colleagues? You can rail against the rest of the world to your heart's content, but it sounds to me like you're in the minority on this, and will continue to be. If you really don't want to shell out your hard-earned money to hear people who play "songs written in the last 5 years, in a style and with subject matter [you] don't care for," perhaps you should pay more attention to the advertised content of these performances -- who the performers are and what they are known for doing -- rather than just relying on the word "folk" to guide you, in the hopes that everyone else will adopt your narrow interpretation of the word.

The self-ordained professors' tongues may declare that they know what folk music is, but I would hardly expect the larger folk music community -- which tends to be a pretty independent-minded bunch -- to meekly accept the pronouncements of the "experts". Ironically, the definition of the term "folk music" will continue to be determined by the folk process -- people collectively deciding what the words mean to them -- rather than by the academics and "official" authorities. It seems that the people have spoken, and in general they prefer a more inclusive definition. Fortunately for me, I like it that way.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Paul G.
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 11:16 PM

Man, I guess I'm stepping into this one pretty late in the game...but I've been away for a while...singing folk songs...most of which I've written....guess that makes me a singer/songwriter, which makes me an UNREAL folk singer. I've been writing and playing more country style stuff lately, which has certainly contributed to the increase in bookings, and money....which further makes me an UNREAL folk singer. Oh, and my daughter and her husband have 6 horses on their farm and they all sing...not folk though, mostly western swing.

Ah, it's grand to be back...and uable to restrain myself from contributing to the 79th iteration of the "what is folk music" thread...must be the humidity.

pg


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 11:44 PM

The reason this gets so silly is that because of various glitches and twists in hostory, the poor abused "folk" has been tortured and torn and stuffed into at least four unique meanings, and these get sluing around as if they were only one, or two. This generates endless bales of cognitive dissonance and gigabytes of "shorty" file content.

1. Folk means, oeioke in general.

2. In an era when a small number were highly priveleged, and a very large number very under priveleged, "folk" meant the people who were not priveleged, and therefore not as a rule educated in formal musical traditions.

3. Therefore folk also came to mean the music generated by laboring people, usually of an uneducated sort using simpler themes, basic stories, recurring basic structures like 1-4-5, etc.

3. When the feudal model gradually gave way to a rising middle class thanks to technoloical and philosophical advances it became necessary to build an endlessly expanding classification system to provide libraries and other forms of information for specialized professions, and a more populous reading class. In categorizing things, the word "folk was used to describe all kinds of music that seemed generally related to (2). This was gradually extended to a fourth definition of broader classes of music similarly built or expressing similar sentiments.

There are various intersections of these four balls of meaning, but given that people bounce around among them fairly freely it isn't too surprising that agreeing on what "it" means is a rare event.

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 01:28 AM

Hey Amos, Your last paragraph reminded me of the time took My Grandmother (Sophia Puzelli) to Yankee Stadium to see Joe DiMaggio play. Grandma Loved the fact that an Italian American was considered to be one of the finest players the game has ever seen. I couldn't help but agree, even though I was a Brooklyn Dodger Fanatic.

All my cousins chipped in and we managed a couple of box seats right behind the Yankee Dugout. When the "Clipper" came to bat, Grandma was on the edge of her seat. Well, they walked him. As he trotted by on his way to first base, Grandma wanted to know how come he wasn't running. I told her, "because he got four balls".

A strange look came over Grandma's face, she sprang to her feet and yelled,
"WALK PROUD, JOE DI MAGGIO".

The point being that one person's definition, in such a nebulous area, might not suffice for everyone.

I've always thought of Folk music as being a reflection of the folks who create it. Russian folk music does, very much, reflect the Russ8ian -Ukranian-East European peoples. Italian folk music, with which I am somewhat familiar, does indeed reflect the different types of Italians, Napolitano (Oh Sole Mio) Sicilian, Calabrese, Bolognase, etc.
I translated an Italian "Hillbilly song" which at first hearing I thought to be very much like , "Cindy" Old Joe Clark,Going Downtown, etc.
My friend and Karate teacher, Giuseppe Scagliarini, wrote down a literal translation , (first Verse) Oh God of Heaven who has created the Rose. Provide a husband for each of these (Girls) The refrain following each verse translated to Marianne goes to the countryside when the sun sets, sun sets, sun sets. Who knows, who knows when she'll return. Which I then translated as, "Lord up above, who made the rose and daisy, please find a husband for each or these young ladies, And Mary Ann goes to the country, today when the sun goes down, but who knows who knows when she'll come back to town.

Giuseppe was flabergasted, (all 5 verses bore the same almost perfect translation) "That's what it says" He exclaimed, that's exactly what it says.
In the Italian version, the verses had the same kind of rhythm that Cindy-Old Joe Clark etc, had. But the rhythm (not the meter) changed for the refrain, into a "Tarantelle" like beat. This melody, which accurately refleced the kind of music in the area from whence it came, SIMPLY WOIULD NOT ADMIT THE aMERICAN LYRICS. The words fit the meter, exactly, but definitely not the mood. I HAD TO CHANGE THE MELODY TO ONE MORE LIKE OUR HILLBILLY MUSIC. A FOUR NOTE DIFFERENCE , AND ALSO HAD TO CHANGE THE BEAT OF THE REFRAIN TO A RHYTHM EXACTLY LIKE THE VERSES. Then it worked. When I perform this song, I switch back and forth to go with the language. It works,

S O T H E R E. WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US AND HOW DOES IT FIT IN WITH THE PREVIOUSLY POSTED OPINIONS? IN THE WORDS OF SAM SHIMBASHI (must rub the back of your neck while shaking your head, and inhaling the first word) "SSSSSSSSSAAAAAAA" "PARI WAKARA-NAI" (BEATS ME)


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: CRANKY YANKEE
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 02:00 AM

i HAVE A DOG THAT SINGS. (foir my Britt friends, "I have a bitch that sings) Her name is "Tilly" (short for Mathilda) (her parents came from Australia) She is a Jack Russel Terrier. We discovered, quite by accident, that any time she heard the notes that were on our doorbell chimes, "Day-Oh" like in the banana boat song, tillie would answer with the same notes. (Also, "YOO-HOO") So we taught her the Harry Belefonte version of the banana boat song. Honest. I don't, for the life of me' know how she manages the actual word or two that she sticks in, because dogs do not have vocal chords. She gets the melody right on and actually, once she's primed w8ith a pennywhistle, 30-06 cartridge case (quit yelling at me) or a harmonica, sings the first few words quite clearly.

"DAY OH, DAAAY OH, WOO,OO,OO -GO HOME" ETC ETC. If any of you doubt this, and give me enough of an ioncentive (like repeated, "yeah, yea., I know , I know) I'll send you a tape. Jim Bennett, who reads this drivel occasionally, has heard Tilly Sing and will verify this.

Dr. Cyrill Allen, our Vet, says that the occasional dog that sings does so for the same reason that other canids do, for the pure enjoyment of it./


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 12:17 PM

Yankee --

I know it wasn't really your grandmother, as I was teaching her to suck eggs at the time of that game, but your story cracked me up anyway!! Thankls for a good laugh!!

A


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 01:24 PM

ahhh, Whistle Stop...I do pay attention to advertised programs as best I can, and lately, our program people have been doing a better job of identifying the nature of the program to be presented. (And I am getting better at reading between the lines).

But, programs which feature the more traditional stuff is just not as common, and I suppose the people HAVE spoken. I do know that a few performers like to come to FSGW because they can sing old ballads and trad stuff and be appreciated, whereas some college campus gigs demand the newer stuff, whatever it is called.

I know friends who sing the old things, and we have some swaps...and I have my records....but as to " railing against the rest of the world", I guess I just hope that those who hear my pleas will at least have an idea of what the issue really is and perhaps realize that those older style songs have some appeal in their own right.
(I have actually MET touring musicians who barely knew where to FIND songs older than Bob Dylan and who considered The Kingston Trio to be ancient history!)

ah, well,,,we do what we can...(and I keep listening and finding new things that even I like...though I will NOT file most of it under folk/trad *evil smile*)


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 07:16 PM

It's interesting how this topic is reminiscent of the way some talk about jazz. What is jazz? This can also start a lively debate. Some say that any arranged swing oriented dance band can be called jazz. Others say that jazz is only based on improvisation. Even the term "classical" music is ambiguous. I guess labels seem to trigger reactions.

The solution is to go with the style of music that you like. As a consumer of music, it doesn't do any good any more to group music under any different label because the terms "folk", "jazz", "classical" have be appropriated by the recording industry to sell the kind of genre they think the public will buy. It becomes important to know more about what record labels produce and their artists.

The frame of reference for dealing with these musical terms has deteriorated because there are no standardized definitions that people can agree upon.

For those like me who like a certain kind of music that we used to call folk, the solution would be to follow the culture that created the music that you like. Take a folklorist or anthropologist view of the music and you'll find what you're looking for. You probably won't find it in the popular music field.

Frank


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 12:51 PM

Good people,

If you reread the initial message in this thread, you will see that I never discussed what folk music is and isn't. That's an entirely different matter from what I wrote about.

What I did in the first message was name several characteristics of what I called a real folksinger. Taken as a whole, being a folksinger is more a question of attitude than of repertoire. That's why I continue to hold that any song can be a folksong, and that folk music isn't a genre.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 06:09 PM

Never sings a real folk song as it was traditionally sung. Always has to change it so it will be known by his/her name.


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Subject: RE: A Real Folksinger
From: Suffet
Date: 16 Jul 01 - 06:46 AM

Which explains why Elvis just couldn't leave "Aura Lee" well enough alone!

Actually, I do sing "Love Me Tender" once in a while. I'm holding off on "Aura Lee" until I do a musical about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair.

--- Steve


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