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Who Killed Folk Music?

Hopfolk 17 Nov 05 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 16 Nov 05 - 11:48 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Nov 05 - 11:42 PM
mg 16 Nov 05 - 11:22 PM
Stephen L. Rich 16 Nov 05 - 10:44 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Nov 05 - 07:54 PM
Janice in NJ 16 Nov 05 - 07:42 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Nov 05 - 07:35 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Nov 05 - 06:30 PM
shepherdlass 16 Nov 05 - 06:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Nov 05 - 04:57 PM
Hopfolk 16 Nov 05 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,John Hernandez 16 Nov 05 - 11:42 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Nov 05 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,potbelly 16 Nov 05 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,BazT 16 Nov 05 - 10:18 AM
John P 16 Nov 05 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,BazT 16 Nov 05 - 09:42 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Nov 05 - 09:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Nov 05 - 09:05 AM
Hopfolk 16 Nov 05 - 07:31 AM
GUEST 16 Nov 05 - 07:31 AM
Betsy 16 Nov 05 - 07:23 AM
Janice in NJ 16 Nov 05 - 07:17 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Nov 05 - 07:11 AM
Bob Bolton 16 Nov 05 - 04:58 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 16 Nov 05 - 04:27 AM
Cluin 15 Nov 05 - 09:52 PM
akenaton 15 Nov 05 - 09:51 PM
GUEST,Joe_F 15 Nov 05 - 08:54 PM
Peace 15 Nov 05 - 07:57 PM
Peace 15 Nov 05 - 07:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Nov 05 - 07:50 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Nov 05 - 07:04 PM
John Routledge 15 Nov 05 - 07:00 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Nov 05 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Franz S. 15 Nov 05 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 15 Nov 05 - 05:51 PM
Stephen L. Rich 15 Nov 05 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,Paddy Reilly came back. 15 Nov 05 - 05:02 PM
shepherdlass 15 Nov 05 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 15 Nov 05 - 04:32 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Nov 05 - 04:17 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Nov 05 - 04:07 PM
dick greenhaus 15 Nov 05 - 04:01 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Nov 05 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 15 Nov 05 - 03:24 PM
Suffet 15 Nov 05 - 02:08 PM
DebC 15 Nov 05 - 12:42 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Nov 05 - 09:53 AM
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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Hopfolk
Date: 17 Nov 05 - 07:16 AM

There's always the issue of entertainment.

Prior to the 1960's, very few people had access to television and, as such, had to find their entertainment elsewhere. When TV's made staying at home an inviting prospect, I would imagine that Folksinging would have suffered somewhat due to this.

Just a though

John


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 11:48 PM

Stephen,

Great post.

I think content can define a song as folk or not too. What it is about can at least indicate whether this is the kind of thing folk-songs are about.

That's what I meant when I mentioned Ewan's "Springhill Mine Disaster" being a folksong. (Mr. Mac Coll is who I heard do it first--even though Peggy wrote it. In my mind, Ewan "had" this song. What a great version he did!!)----------It's a ballad---a good story told with a good trad-sounding tune to add to it's appeal.

On the other hand, "First Time Ever" doesn't strike me as sounding like a folk song. --- It sounds, to me, like a pop love song.

And writing a TOPICAL ballad, even though it is a new song, makes it a song I might consider learning because of it having been written very much like the older graphic historical songs I tend to choose and care so much about.

As a folksinger, I tend to think I sing/sang folk songs, or folk type songs at least 50% of the time---hopefully more. I do that because those are the songs that fulfill my criteria for what a folk song is or might be.
---
That's just how I feel about it. One fellows opinion. No value judgment intended at all.

A good discussion with many well stated takes on a topic that'll never be exhausted here apparently. It helps us all "know" that what we feel is the correct way to see things actually is, indeed, the best way to go. **SMILE**

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 11:42 PM

I re-read some of my notes, and I would like to apologize. I think I came across as rather harsh and demeaning, and that was not my intent. I completely respect, and believe it or not, I do understand the criteria of what makes a folk song.   I have deep respect for all the posters here, and I did not wish to stir up any ill feelings. It is warming to see that we are all passionate about the music.

If any of you have listened to my radio show, you will know that I have a deep respect for traditional music and I would dare say that I feature more of it on my program than on most radio shows that call themselves "folk". However, I have a similar respect for many singer-songwriters who create songs that speak to similar themes and also can be shared in the same fashion.

I believe is started around the Civil War, but whenever it began, there is a monument in Washington for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. A fallen soldier from each of the past wars is at rest there, each unidentifiable from their remains.   However, modern technology has come along and with procedures like DNA tests, it is unlikely that we will have "unkown" soldiers in future wars.

Folk music has become the same.   Through "modern" inventions - from the first recordings to the internet and iPods, we have an "industry". It doesn't necessarily have to be commercial, but most songs will be tagged to an owner, and I doubt future generations will have true "folk" songs to deal with from our generation and those to come.

For better or worse, the "folk scare" created a monster. We will continue to argue, but deep down we will all love the music.   Folk music will never die, no matter how many doom and gloom individuals are lurking out there.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: mg
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 11:22 PM

I just remembered...those Irish lady singers who try to sing ..or perhaps really do...like they are having spiritual moments combined with finding themselves in an old cathedral with monks in the background and they can somehow wheeze and sing at the same time. mg


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 10:44 PM

It would seem that we're back to the eternal debate of defining the music. Like philosophers debating the existance vs the non-existance of The Almighty, we are unlikely to ever reach a universally satisfactory conclusion to said debate.

That having been said, it must be pointed out that valid points have been made on either side of or current discussion.

To begin, there ARE rigid, scholarly definitions of folk music, folklore, and folk ways. The trickey bit is that how many definitions exist depends on how many ethnomusicologists you've asked recently. Each seems to have his or her own, unique definition.

Secondly, it is also true that things which are not considered "folk" at the moment may well be considered so at some point in the future. Consider the work of John roberts who is keen on perserving and recreating old Music Hall recitations. They we, when they were new, part of mainstream show buisness. Are we to consider them "not folk" because of thier origins?

Third, The point has been made that, for good or ill, folk music has become a genre. Whether it is because of commercialization of the music or due to some other cause it is a fact. Further, it has a much narrower, and much less mercurial definition than the scholarly one. It generally means any music performed exclusively on "acoustic" instruments (the word "acoustic" is in quotes because, what with so many instrument having on-board electronic these days, that definition is also a bit fluid).

Finally, non-commercial/non-performance singing is as common as it ever was. It just isn't in the same places that it used to be. It may not always be in someone's living room.
It may be a random song circle at a SCA meeting, a car-pool of people singing along with the radio, a folk music society that opens its meeting with a group sing. you have to look a bit harder for it and they're not singing a lot of the same songs that we sang back in the day, but the phenomenon is very much out there.


Stephen Lee


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:54 PM

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Main Entry: folk song
Function: noun
: a traditional or composed song typically characterized by stanzaic form, refrain, and simplicity of melody


American Heritage Dictonary:
folk song
...1. A song belonging to the folk music of a people or area, often existing in several versions or with regional variations. 2. A song composed in the style of traditional...


MSN Encarta:
folk song
folk song (plural folk songs)
noun
Definitions:

1. traditional song: a traditional song that has been passed down orally

2. modern song in traditional style: a modern song composed in the style of traditional folk music, often performed by a solo singer


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:42 PM

I was not my intention to reinflame passions over what is and what is not a folk song. All I wanted to do was describe an incident that once again reminded me that folk music is still very much alive outside of that narrow and limited environment we call the folk scene. I believe that is the point John Hernandez is making when he explains that traditional Latin American folk music is also very much alive, even in North America.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:35 PM

Don't patronize us! We all know the "definitions". Screw definitions. You change the definition of words all the time. We all do. Words, like folk music, evolve to fit the time.

Traditional and contemporary are one thing. You can't change that. But like it or not, "folk" has become a genre and no amount of whining or reciting classroom explanations will change that.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 06:30 PM

Read the F***ing definition. I hav posted it elsewhere and it was from a world council - not an English one.

When the composer is not known, and the song has been handed down AND MODIFIED BY the oral tradition, it will be folk song.

I play some folk songs. I interpret and arrange them.

I play some contemporary songs (EG "Step it out Mary" and others closer to my inherited tradition. They are not folk songs. When you say that these non-folk songs are folk songs, you destroy folk music for it is no longer evident.

Like them equally, if you do. Know the difference.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: shepherdlass
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 06:19 PM

CamoJohn said: "I agree, Peace. David Gray = Not folk"

Who'd argue with that? It bugs me as much as the next person that David Gray's dubious meanderings can be equated as folk just because they're vaguely acoustic and singer-songwritery.

But then what do you do with work, nay anthems, from other "johnny come latelys" (Jez Lowe's "Black Diamonds"; Billy Bragg's "Between the Wars"; any amount of current output from "world music" artists like Gilberto Gil or Youssou n'Dour; the magic riff of Eliza Carthy's "Accordion Song"; Leon Rosselson's "World turned Upside Down"; Robbie Williams' "Angels" if you want to push the extremities of the definition). These are songwriters who produce music relevant to their communities (alright, I'm not sure about Robbie, but one hell of a lot of people seem to identify with that song) and that seem likely to be sung within their communities or at least at weddings/gatherings/pub singarounds (and not necessarily limited to folk clubs) for decades to come.   Surely entry into the tradition can't be barred to anything written since 1950?


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 04:57 PM

You're probably right. I should have warned you about the paranoid delusions, before you tried to engage in serious conversation with me.

I used to think One Step Byond was a documentary. I still think it made pertinent value judgements.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Hopfolk
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 03:30 PM

Weelittledrummer: Why shout that? Are you one of those people who suddenly stands up in the cinema and shouts stuff like "THE ALIENS ARE COMING"?

'Folk' had revivals in the Victorian period, Music hall, 2nd world Wartime, 60's, 80's and there might just be one going on now. Ever tried to get a ticket for Cambridge, Sidmouth, Bridport? Where was all this stuff in the early 90's?
It was there but much more low key. All hail the Internet!!!

Cheers

John


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,John Hernandez
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 11:42 AM

La musica folklorica is what traditional folk music is called in Latin America, and it's alive and well as it always has been, and it follows la raza al Norte, meaning that truly traditional Latin folk music can be found in almost any North American city. It may not be the stuff that's played on the radio, but it there just the same. The old people remember and love it, but the young people know it, too. It's what they would call very old school, and the may not pay much attention to it 99 percent of the time. But on a warm summer's evening the streets come alive with the sounds of plena. Where did these muchachos y muchachas learn it? Who knows? But they did.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 11:39 AM

"Way up there in the thread somewhere Ron talked about how we aren't singing as much as we used to and how folk music has become a spectator sport. This is only true if you are looking for folk music in concert halls, pubs, and CDs. While those are the places were performers of folk music can make money at it and where spectators can spectate, that isn't where most folk music happens. I'm singing more than ever, and so are most of my friends. Singing in the living room, at work, and while out walking."


Jim, I think what you are doing is excellent, and more people should be doing that. But your examples are largely solo efforts.   I was actually talking about social singing with others.    Of course there are still outlets for it, but I don't think they are as prevelant as they once were.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,potbelly
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 10:25 AM

as long as they is folk (people) we will have folk songs


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,BazT
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 10:18 AM

For some reason only half of my last post actually got posted, and therefore I fear it appeared more facetious than I intended.......I won't re-type everything, but I wanted to bring to you attention I quote I remember reading somewhere. The story goes that Bob Dylan met Thelonious Monk and introduced himself as someon who "played folk music", to which Monk replied "Man, we ALL play folk music!"

To a very large extent, the practice of differentiating music by genre was invented to make records easier to sell. I don't necessarily discourage this, but I always remember that I don't live in a record shop.

You play music. I play music. Long may it continu. Surely whether or not we decide to call it "folk" or not is not the most important thing here?


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: John P
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 09:56 AM

Folk music isn't dead. Way up there in the thread somewhere Ron talked about how we aren't singing as much as we used to and how folk music has become a spectator sport. This is only true if you are looking for folk music in concert halls, pubs, and CDs. While those are the places were performers of folk music can make money at it and where spectators can spectate, that isn't where most folk music happens. I'm singing more than ever, and so are most of my friends. Singing in the living room, at work, and while out walking.

Here in Seattle you can go to a "folk" dance of some type every night of the week if you want to. Not ethnic dance performances with costumes -- just normal folks getting together after work and dancing away the night. With live music. The musicians make a few bucks and the hall has to be rented, but it's really just a flourishing folk music and dance scene happening without the need to perform, get paid, attend conferences, worry about what happened to folk music, be on the radio, or any of the stuff that people usually think about when they think about the Music Business. Because it ain't business -- its people singing and playing and dancing as a vital part of their daily lives.

As for the difference between traditional music and singer-songwriter music, it's just a different genre of music. A lot of the same people like to listen to both. But the cultures the musics are played in are very different. The melodic structures are very different. The lyrics are very different. And, except for a relatively few exceptions, the musicians don't hang out with each other and play each other's music. There's no judgement here -- just an observation that calling it all folk music is like saying rap and rockabilly are both rock music. Yes, it's true in a way. And there may be a few people who play both and a few more who listen to both. Some of the same musical instruments may get used. But calling it all rock music doesn't really tell us anything meaningful about rap or about rockabilly.

I play almost exlusively old traditional European folk music, some of which I write. I don't ever go to concerts by singer-songwriters. They don't much come to my shows. When I find myself jamming with one at a party, I usually find that I can jam along on their songs and they haven't a clue what's going on when I play mine. Of course the same is true with the bluegrass folks.

I mix and match cultures in the music I play, and am completely aware that I am in some way diluting the traditions. Two things about that: the culture seems to be doing OK even with me pouring fusion on it and running it through the folk processor. There are lots of people from all the places I steal music from who are firmly carrying the tradition. Secondly, I'm an American. The American culture exists as a result of mixing an matching. I see it as melting pot music, a reflection of the culture I grew up in an live in. I'm never going to be a purely traditional Norwegian folk musician, or an Irish musician, or a Bulgarian musician. I didn't grow up in those cultures and I came to this music as an adult. The folks I play with have a variety of ethnic heritages and learned traditional music in different ways and have different areas of focus. Sort of like the American society as a whole.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,BazT
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 09:42 AM

I understand what people mean when they say that contemporary songs need to wait 100 or 200 years to become absorbed into the folk tradition, and finally be worthy of the the description "folk", but seeing as how none of us will be around then, why don't we stop mithering about it and enjoy whatever music we enjoy?


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 09:30 AM

"Springhill Mine Disaster" = folk music
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" = pop = not folk music


By following that logic, would "Barbara Allen" be considered a pop song?


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 09:05 AM

WAIT ANOTHER TWO HUNDRED YEARS......!


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Hopfolk
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:31 AM

Folk MUSIC is alive and well, it's folk SINGING that has suffered.

I agree, Peace. David Gray = Not folk

As a relatively young fan of Trad.Folk (37) I have done lots of research in the last three years and it seems to me that Pete+Peggy Seeger had a great deal to do with the confusion and evolution of Folk music in Britain.
Although I understand that the Seegers are important people in their own right, they concentrate mostly with protest songs, played in a contemporary style = Not folk.
Oh yes, I know there ARE folk songs that are also protest songs but Trad.folk (And let's face it, that's where the definition of folk starts) doesn't dwell on protest. Circumstances that might be unfair are mostly sung of in a storytelling vein, not on a whingeing vein.
I offer 'Andrew Rose' and 'A-Beggin' I will go' and 'Rigs of the time' as examples of this.

I'm trying my hardest to make Folk singing, in public (Where it should be) attractive to the people around me. By promotion, participation and information. It's fun and it's hard work.

Here's to the revival

John


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:31 AM

What passes as folk-trad for many people here on this Thread, would not be recognised as such in Ireland, yes I know we have countless songs and music all of which goes back a long way and I suppose that means we can turn our nose up at the Kingston Trio and other Johnny -come-latelys.

I can enjoy all of those artists but some of their material would never consitute what we know as folk music, I am not being a musical snob, just stating facts. Just enjoy the music that your contempary artists bring, but wait another couple of hundred years and then you may call it folk.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Betsy
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:23 AM

I had an illuminating conversation many years ago with a singer, and as I shall attribute / paraphrase some of his comments, but I shall preserve his anonymity and simply call him Bob.
Here in the U.K. he believed that the rise of the folk scene and club, in the 60's gave people a different view of life and values than that propagated by the huge musical industry. We were all a bit bolshy - buoyed-up by the Beatles and Dylan esp. with his "Times are a-changing".
When the festivals came along - due to a dearth in full-time time performers and stars - the people (groups and individuals ) who found themselves able to take time off to perform at the festivals - were generally schoolteachers who were already on holiday in the Summer term.
These schoolteachers became relatively well known and became the "names" to book at the clubs.
They came along to the clubs and sanitised them - no more angry singers and writers, no more weird ideas , songs, swearing ( cussing ) or any behaviour for which a schoolteacher could be criticised by his School superiors.
As such the whole thing lost it's edge, became a bit pseudo intellectual and far too comfortable and institutionalised and in later years is probably the reason why the Folk scene does not attract the younger person.
It's too safe, has no teeth and too reverent to society.
There's no risk or fun in the Folk evening - people tut-tutting when someone sings a Beatle song or uses the F* word even when contained in a really funny joke.
Someone reproducing a Carthy song complete with Martin Cathy's EXACT accent and delivery is loudly applauded. We don't need these mimics and copycats - it is silly. It has all become too Conservative when the scene was built on opposite principles.
All the foregoing shouldn't stop the many of us who are trying to "Gee-up" the system, and, the experience of going to a Folk night, but MC's / Organisers please monitor the performers and ensure that they are not boring and frightening-off your most regular and enthusiastic supporters who bring life and vigour to your Club.
Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:17 AM

Tomorrow will be one week since my Waiting for the Morning Train incident, the lesson of which is that regardless of our debates over what is and what is not folk music, and in spite of how folk music is ignored by the mass media and by the music business, authentic folk music is still alive here in the USA, or at least in one little corner of the USA. I'll be at the Amtrak station in Providence a little later today. Let's see if any inquisitive teenage boys are present!


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 07:11 AM

I liked and respected Ewan MacColl. he was a great man and a great artist.

But a lot more people listened to the Kingston Trio, and a lot of people stopped listening when they packed in. A lot of people were listening to folk music in those days who would never have sat through Ewan singing the ballad of Tam Linn.

we could do with people like that nowadays, people who can communicate folk music with a mass audience and get folk songs into ordinary households - otherwise children will never learn these songs of their heritage.

In England The spinners did it it and The Corries, and they were largely despised for their efforts. They never had the mass success the Kingston Trio enjoyed in America though - I would think only Lonnie Donnegan made albums with folksongs on, that lots of people bought - having said that not many people bought albums - as I remember. Perhaps Nina and frederick also should be given credit. we had few tv channels in those days and there was always a folk music slot on a BBC early evening programme called Tonight.

The present tendency of serious folk artists to strive after an authentic ethnic sound makes that sort of exposure for ordinary people to folk music very unlikely nowadays.

I guess its perhaps different in America - a different set of circumstances that I don't understand. But really I would think you need as many people behind the folk music barricades with you as possible - the barbarians are not just at the gates, they are already here!


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 04:58 AM

G'day Art (you'll have to get someone to bake you a new cookie ...!),

Springhill Mine Disaster is Peggy's ...

The first time I heard Ewan's love song to Peggy: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face ... sung on an Australian television program ... about 1963, by Martyn Wyndham-Read, I was stunned by its simple and honest expression of deep emotion. That's what folk music can do!

What Roberta Flack ... and the recording studio ... makes of it is pop ... but pretty good pop! Ewan's words can still survive and be cherished by the folk ...

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 16 Nov 05 - 04:27 AM

Ewan's "Springhill Mine Disaster" = folk music

Ewan's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" = pop = not folk music

Woody and Cisco doing "Worried Man" = folk music

Kingston Trio doing "It Takes A Worried Man" = bowdlerized pimply hyperbole = folk based money maker music

Bottom line is: If you've done the homework, you know the truth of what Richard and Peace and I are getting at. If you've not got the inclination to look for what has gone down, your forays into the musical future will have some basic flaws that could diminish your output like soot specks falling on uncovered milk. Sure, it can get mixed in and be nearly undetectable. But some will be able to see the graying of it--and then show the emperor that he's less than clothed. That's a mixed metaphor, but still valid, even if it only shows that the scanty revealing clothes being worn are simply out of fashion.

Art


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Cluin
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 09:52 PM

Ed Sullivan


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: akenaton
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 09:51 PM

Word on the street is ...It was a suicide.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 08:54 PM

The idea seems to be: if it isn't coming out of a million loudspeakers, it's dead. That idea strikes me as wrong.

Every once in a while, when I am at the supermarket or the laundromat, the gangster sleaze or mechanized tantrums are interrupted and an actual song comes out of the loudspeakers. That is a relief; but its prolongation would not put me in paradise. In my paradise, the loudspeakers have all been bulldozed into sanitary landfills (a noise to end noise!) and people, some of them, sing while they push their carts around.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. :||


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Peace
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 07:57 PM

. . . so I'm glad you didn't say it isn't GONNA be folk music.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Peace
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 07:52 PM

"Nothing wrong with contemporary music. But it isn't folk music. Why can't you get it through your heads that if I say it isn't folk music, I am not denigrating it. I am merely saying it isn't folk music."

Much of it will be in a hundred years.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 07:50 PM

to be honest, we've heard it all before and it pulled me up in my trax the first time I heard it.

Ewan MacColl said all this in an interview in New Musical Express in 1965 - June I think. It was rubbish then, and its rubbish now. You can't blame Ewan - he'd been beating the drum for folk music for, over a decade and a load of whippersnappers like Donovan and Dylan happened along. he must have been pig sick.

the only thing that sustains any artistic movement - is the energy, creativity of the artists and if they are lucky enough to gain recognition - either before or after death - the audience factor, shall we say.

You are denigrating these artists efforts Richard.

the implication of what you are saying is that these people don't have a place in the folk song movement. Their place is a matter of historical record, and they have made a fabulous contribution to civilisation and culture. And incidentally, they have interested an awful lot of people in traditional material, by presenting it what is initially a more accessible form to modern ears.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 07:04 PM

Richard, you just used the word "chaps".    In this country (U.S.) the word means an article of clothing that are worn by cowboys. Yet you have a different usage of the word.

Folk music means different things to different people. I certainly would not call singer-songwriters "traditional", but I have no problem calling certain artists "folk".


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: John Routledge
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 07:00 PM

On Tyneside (UK) a performer called Little Billy Fane recreated the atmosphere of Music Hall performances often with relatively modern materal.

As he said "Music Hall didn't die - it just moved round a bit."


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 06:55 PM

Look - contemporary chaps.

Nothing wrong with contemporary music. But it isn't folk music. Why can't you get it through your heads that if I say it isn't folk music, I am not denigrating it. I am merely saying it isn't folk music.

You may be creating a new and valid community singing programme - but it isn't folk music. Saying it is is what makes folk music disappear. There is so much other stuff being called folk music that folk music disappears.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Franz S.
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 06:43 PM

Three-four years ago my wife and I were driving crosscountry from Nova Scotia (where music could be found in almost every parking lot, it seemed) to California. One night we wound up at the Interstate motel-restaurant complex just outside Richfield, Utah. When we entered the restaurant I saw in the giftshop a one-page flyer called Guitar News which among other things reminded people that there was a music party every Tuesday night at that very restaurant.

It started at 7. There were about 50 people there, all ages from 9 months to 90 years. About 10-15 people took the part of musicians, mostly guitars but a couple of fiddles, a keyboard or two, accordion, and one woman with an amazing collection of homemade percussion instruments.   They took turns leading songs, which included everything from Frank Sinatra to country hits to hymns, to show tunes to...whatever.   People sang along when they felt like it.   Couples got up and danced when they felt like it, including the 12-y and the 80-year-old who danced together.   There was a dessert potluck.    The party was going strong when I left at 9:30.

I refuse to believe that Richfield,Utah, is the only place that sort of thing happens. In fact, I know it isn't. The San Francisco Folk Music Club newsletter lists 2 legalsized pages in tiny type of events, venues, and get-togethers just in this part of the country every couple of months.

I know that it's really hard for most singer-songwriters or performers to make a living. I wish I had enough money to let them know tangibly how much they add to my quality of life. But that is a separate issue from whether or not folks is still making music.   Most of us occupy a position somewhere between that of performers and that of consumers.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 05:51 PM

No, the music isn't dead--just some different. That it lives in a way that bothers me now must be because I liked it better in other times. I truly respect all of you folks' for your talent, and I also enjoy a good portion of the music being made. And I hope you all can understand that my feelings about what I heard on stage when the truly brilliant David Amram took everyone hired to perform at a given folk festival -- and had them jam on stage?!---The result was, for me, a real sonic hodge podge at best. At worst, it was an invitation to others to do their own fusion thing---maybe for a living -- if only they could get a label and show-biz pushing and advertising machinations behind it. If it was done in the name of brotherhood, it could be considered kosher, right? Well, that is surely a laudible end to shoot at. But the misinformation produced as a byproduct just might diminish and change greatly (even while not killing) the music. As we've seen on many battlefields in recent years, misinformation, to achieve what is thought by some to be a defensible position, can lead to random early deaths -- of various kinds.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 05:03 PM

You know, for something that is supposed to be dead folk music is doing a heck of a lot of moving around.

Yes, folk music is dead as a mass-market item. for all our sakes (and for the sake of the music itself) let's hope that it stays that way.It's very difficult, if not impossible, to be a force for creativity, human obsevation, and social change when you've been co-opted by the powers that be. That co-opting (if there is such a word) started when "Goodnight, Irene" became a hit song. The door, at that point, was open. The mainstream music buisness was paying attention.
The subsequent success of the Kingston Trio set it in stone. After that the powers of the biz saw folkies as a cheap, easy way to make a hit record -- the Flok Boom ( or "Scare" if you prefer) was off and running. Then it was just buisness as usual with a new, low cost way to make money. It reached its logical extreme when the Kingston Trio sang a jingle for Pepsi and Tom Paxton's song "MY Dog's Bigger Than Your Dog" became the jingle for Ken-L-Ration dog food.
    I should point out that I am not in any way unhappy about the success of the Weavers, The Kingston Trio, PP&M, or anyone else. My Kingston Trio records happen to be amongst the most treasured in my collection. If not for the and Peter, Paul and Mary it is entirely possible that I'd would be making a living in comedy rather than folk music. I'm merely explaining the realities of the buisness.

    While the "Boom" was going on there was a growing underground of fans and performers who were busy building something else with the music; something meaningful; something lasting;something productive and creative. This underground was lead by word of mouth, radio programs like "The Midnight Special", and magazines like "Sing Out!" and "Broadside(NY)". As the mainstream music buisness began to discover that they weren't getting as many hit songs as they wanted out of folk music and that they had just about milked the last dime's worth of money out of it, the "underground" kept growing.

    We are the living results of that "underground". We are its legacy. We're still growing. I run an open mic in Madison, WI. Every week I see a few new faces; not just to perform but to listen. The ages range from retirees to highschool student. I see, hear, feel and experience the strength of folk music on a weekly basis. Folk music is the healthiest damned corpse I've ever seen in my life!!!

Stephen Lee Rich


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Paddy Reilly came back.
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 05:02 PM

In Ireland folk singing is as strong as ever it was, I do not detect any sign of it dying here, RTE and the Irish language station TG4 have great programmes weekly and also our Radio Programmes cater for good folk and traditional music, it ain`t dead here.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: shepherdlass
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 04:35 PM

Can I raise an obvious point? If someone killed folk music, then why are there enough enthusiasts around to discuss this?


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 04:32 PM

the Beatles revived folk music.

"We All live a Yellow Submarine, Ob La DI, Ob La Da will be sung by children 100 years from now and be considered popular folk tunes of the mid 20th century.

The way I see it, if the song passes through a generation, it is folk music. It all has to start somewhere. It just can't really ever die, just be redefined.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 04:17 PM

I hope that my postings have not come across as "abusive" to any of our fellow mudcatters. I have tremendous respect for Art, Dick , Richard, Debra and the others who have taken part in this discussion.   Weelittledrummer is correct, we are all bound together by our love of this music - however we define it.

Dick Greenhaus made a very good point about social and exhibition singing. I don't think social singing is as prevelant as it should be, but I know that for me - I look forward to the Old Songs Festival for the after concert singing that takes place in the Dutch Barn (usually led by Mr. Greenhaus!)   That is an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and while my voice would clear out the room if I tried to lead a room in song, I truly enjoy joining in a chorus and learning new songs.   At the same time, I enjoy watching an artist perform a song - be it an old folk tune or a new contemporary ballad. I can't draw to save my life, but I appreciate the beauty of a good painting. Participate or witness, good music is good music.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 04:07 PM

scotch and ice cream... line 'em up! (how did you know my favourite....and yes i'll have a cherry!)

What Binds us together is that we CARE about folk music ...and that is more important than any differences.

to accuse one another of killing the art form that we love is abusive.

One can always find something to be abusive about. there are worthier subjects than our fellow mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 04:01 PM

It might be worthwhile to stop considering "folk" as a value judgment, and recognize that we're lumping two entirely different subjects: Social singing, and performance singing. They serve different functions, even though the same people may indulge in both.

"Performance" singing od folkish material is (largely) dead as a mass-media phenomenon just because , like all mass-media phenomena, it was replaced by something else. In this field "new" is what's important.

Social singing, on t'other hand, is alive and well, though its importance has been diminished by mass-media entertainment (including commercial "folk singing".


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 03:46 PM

Art, I do see the point that you and Richard are trying to make. However, let me use your example.   There are people who would not touch the concotion simply because it is not scotch served with a splash of water and others that would not drink it because it isn't a vanilla shake with ice cream and milk, period.   There are others that would leap at the chance to see how good, or bad, this experiment will taste. I am sure the person who invented the White Russian was faced with the same dilemma, but now it is a staple in most establishments. It isn't for everyone to drink, but it is there and has people that enjoy it. I certainly would not move my barstool if someone sitting next to me was drinking one.

Diluting a clear vision?   Is it a clear vision when a white kid from a wealthy family who attended prep school in Connecticut and then went on to Harvard and then goes around singing native African folk songs?   Doesn't sound like a folk singer,and the roots are surely diluted, but I think most of us accept Pete Seeger.   Pete never played the songs in an "authentic" style, but he fused his own musical upbringing into his performance.

Believe me, I do know what you are saying.   I think it is extremely important that field recordings are preserved and that people understand what the traditions are all about.   At the same time, I think it is important that we keep an open mind about "fusion". Some of it can be quite satisfying and it will open doors for new "fans". I grew up on Bob Dylan, and I began to search out the roots.   I know fans of David Grisman who have gone further into the music to learn about the Carter Family and their sources.    We truly need to preserve our traditions.

Now I am going to look for my blender and the bottle of scotch I received last Christmas.


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 03:24 PM

Richard Bridge has said exactly what I was intimating in my last post. That is as accurate as one is likely to get on this topic.

Many years ago, I saw folks like David Amram with their pushing onto the folk performing stages the fusions of divergent ethnic musics as simply muddying the waters beyond any logical limit. This diluted the clear visions--and led to a lessening of what defined the music. It also made some see it as maybe killing the music.----- Whatever.

There is real value to drawing easily identifiable lines that clearly define the roots musics. You are good people, I know, doing the best you can to make a living --- but you who are saying that Richard Bridge (and me too) are wrong are not seeing the reality of it. You are blending single malt scotch with ice cream, and insisting that be called a proper milk shake.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: Suffet
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 02:08 PM

Greetings agai:

Ron will be happy to know that I'm a singer-songwriter who only writes traditional folk songs. :-)

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: DebC
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 12:42 PM

I knew there was a good reason that I hang out with Mr. Olesko.

I too am tired of the fractious nature of our community. We all need to come together and we all need to listen to each other. I love traditional song and perform many, but I love a GOOD composed song and sing those as well.

I do wish that we can all come together and enjoy the music whatever we call it. There is so much great stuff out there, trad and contemporary.

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: Who Killed Folk Music?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Nov 05 - 09:53 AM

"Anyone who writes contemporary music and calls it folk music helps to kill folk music"

Sorry, but I am with weelittledrummer - I disagree 100% with Richard's statements. If you wish to follow that logic, than anyone who ever steps in front of a microphone to record a song is killing folk music.   Anytime anyone sings a song in a pub, song circle, campfire, etc - they are killing folk music.

I am sick to death of the hand wringing that goes in trad circles whenever someone sees a contemporary songwriter. I am also sick to death of the contemporary singer songwriters who refuse to explore their roots.   Each group sings about community, peace and love - but there is a battle going on between both hypocritical camps - there are individuals on both sides are too self-absorbed to see beyond their narrow point of view.

Sorry, but this angers me. I feel that we've become too involved in creating labels that we lose sight of a good song.

I don't want to hear a lecture on the definition of "folk song". I completely understand the clinical definition of the folk process and tradition, but folk music is not something that belongs in a museum. It is a living tradition and it is meant to be used.   I can go into a museum and see an example of a 300 year old hammer, but when I need to hang a picture I am going to grab my own personal hammer from my tool kit or I will improvise and use the heel of my shoe.

Discussions like this are what is killing folk music. Groucho Marx once said that if you have to analyze comedy, it isn't funny.   When you waste time trying to determine what is and what isn't folk music - you end up turning people off.   No wonder attendance is down in most folk venues.    Let's wake up people!


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