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Folk music is for lesbians

GUEST,Loud Mr. W. 18 Aug 02 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Loud Mr. W 18 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM
Clinton Hammond 18 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Loud Mr. W 18 Aug 02 - 12:01 PM
Clinton Hammond 18 Aug 02 - 12:13 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 18 Aug 02 - 12:16 PM
DMcG 18 Aug 02 - 12:25 PM
Clinton Hammond 18 Aug 02 - 12:28 PM
Bill D 18 Aug 02 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 18 Aug 02 - 12:46 PM
John MacKenzie 18 Aug 02 - 01:22 PM
Peter T. 18 Aug 02 - 01:31 PM
Peter T. 18 Aug 02 - 01:50 PM
Charley Noble 18 Aug 02 - 01:56 PM
khandu 18 Aug 02 - 01:59 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 18 Aug 02 - 04:31 PM
harpgirl 18 Aug 02 - 04:37 PM
harvey andrews 18 Aug 02 - 05:01 PM
Don Firth 18 Aug 02 - 05:19 PM
open mike 18 Aug 02 - 05:50 PM
Murray MacLeod 18 Aug 02 - 06:36 PM
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harvey andrews 18 Aug 02 - 08:17 PM
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Escamillo 18 Aug 02 - 10:17 PM
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Bee-dubya-ell 18 Aug 02 - 11:19 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Aug 02 - 12:08 AM
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Subject: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST,Loud Mr. W.
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 10:45 AM

...and Holly Near has gone straight.

The New York Times says so.


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Subject: RE: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST,Loud Mr. W
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM

btw, you have to register to read New York Times articles on-line. None of this huest stuff for them. Of course, you can always use your Mudcat name, or something just as silly, to register. Don't use "Loud Mr. W," that's me.


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Subject: RE: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM

How's about you copy and paste the article to here so we can all read it without signing up k?

"Folk music is for lesbians"

Well, if it is, I guess I am...


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST,Loud Mr. W
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:01 PM

I once cut and pasted an article from the New York Times into the Mudcat forum. It was deleted by Joe Offer, who said that he would delete any article that I cut and paste. The Mudcat rule, he said, was to provide the link. Fair enough, as a Guest, I follow the rules set forth by the man in charge.
    That prohibition applies only to Non-Music copy-paste articles that cover more than one screen.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:13 PM

Fair enough, but I think it sucks... I'd rather read the article here...


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:16 PM

Well, if you can't cut and paste the article, the only way we're going to know what you're talking about is to register for New york Times, which some of us may not wish to do. Personally, I don't register for anything unless I can check it out thoroughly beforehand. So, if you really want to communicate something here, I suggest you give us at least a brief synopsis of what the article says.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: DMcG
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:25 PM

Ok, here's a few sentences from it which is also a pretty fair summary:

The audience for artists like Lavin, like that of folk music in general, is predominantly female and increasingly gay. ... However, the number of female performers in folk who are openly lesbian, bisexual or actively pro-gay has been rising in recent years and seemingly at a higher rate than in other styles of music. The music festivals, concert halls and clubs have rosters full of artists who are lesbian or widely recognized as gay-friendly: Melissa Etheridge, Ani DiFranco, k.d. lang, the Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith, Holly Near, Janis Ian, Tret Fure, Melissa Ferrick, Toshi Reagon, Jill Sobule, Cheryl Wheeler, Patty Larkin and dozens more. According to Ellen Friedman, who runs a Boston-area booking agency with her lesbian partner, the proportion of gay women in folk is ''much, much greater'' than in other musical genres ''and expanding constantly.''

The whole article odd to me. Do booking agents usually ask if you are gay?


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:28 PM

Let's hear it for progressive thinking!

;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:40 PM

folks in 'alternative' life styles often write songs about it these day..*shrug*...if may be merely a matter of perception. I doubt anyone has done a scientific sampling...

(and of course, by MY stodgy way of thinking, those 'new' songs ain't 'folk' yet, anyway...*grin*)


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 12:46 PM

There are some bitchy bull-dyke type women on the Mudcat - despite them being "breeders" - they appear to be lesbians - it sort of goes with goddess spiritualism and the rejection of Judeo/Christian values.

Queer as Folk

New York Times - August 18, 2002

By DAVID HAJDU

At some point in most of her concerts, Christine Lavin goes looking for a man. A singer-songwriter prominent in the folk-music circuit for more than a decade, Lavin is a drolly impish performer with a flair for the theatrical. She affixes a miner's light on her head, steps offstage and roams around the audience in search of the best-looking man in the house. "The interesting thing to me," she says, "is that I'll be looking for a man, and I'll have the light on, and I'll see 20 women, and I'll see one man in the whole section." The audience for artists like Lavin, like that of folk music in general, is predominantly female and increasingly gay.

Lavin is not homosexual, but she welcomes all listeners. "There's no reason that gay women wouldn't relate to the stuff that I'm writing, because relationships are relationships," she says. But Lavin, whose latest record is "I Was in Love With a Difficult Man," has been distressed to see some of her CD's categorized in stores as "women's music" -- the code phrase for feminist and lesbian music, a great deal of it in the acoustic-folk vein. "Once you're labeled that way," she says, "men totally won't set foot in the door, because they think it's not for them."

Folk music has become the sound of lesbian culture. It is to gay women what cabaret and disco have been to gay men or what jazz has been to African-Americans -- in the phrase Duke Ellington coined, a "tone parallel" to a world underexplored in other musics. Resolutely political, intimately personal, unadorned, steeped in tradition and connected to the earth, folk music carries deep-rooted associations with what it means to be a gay woman. "We're seeing the coming together of a way of life and a form of expression that's kind of primary," says Lisa Merrill, a professor of performance history at Hofstra University. "This doesn't happen often."

The rise of gay women in folk music is difficult to quantify; all those female faces at concerts by women folksingers is no more proof of a lesbian phenomenon than arenas full of boys at Metallica shows means that all heavy-metal fans are gay. However, the number of female performers in folk who are openly lesbian, bisexual or actively pro-gay has been rising in recent years and seemingly at a higher rate than in other styles of music. The music festivals, concert halls and clubs have rosters full of artists who are lesbian or widely recognized as gay-friendly: Melissa Etheridge, Ani DiFranco, k.d. lang, the Indigo Girls, Nanci Griffith, Holly Near, Janis Ian, Tret Fure, Melissa Ferrick, Toshi Reagon, Jill Sobule, Cheryl Wheeler, Patty Larkin and dozens more. According to Ellen Friedman, who runs a Boston-area booking agency with her lesbian partner, the proportion of gay women in folk is "much, much greater" than in other musical genres "and expanding constantly."

Lesbians have had such success in acoustic music that more than one female performer has been charged with posing as a lesbian to exploit the market -- and some men in the field have begun to talk of feeling alienated. Others in folk circles, while acknowledging the right of gay women to play any music they like, express concern that folk, by definition the most inclusive of musics, might be becoming too insular, if not restrictive, and it has all happened with so little public notice that some of those at the heart of the matter are struggling to come to terms with it. "I think of the number of gay folk musicians I know, and it's amazing," says Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. "And I think of people like Dar Williams and Ani DiFranco -- they're not gay, but they have a big gay following. What is it about folk music that appeals to gay women? I'd like to know."

Pamela Means, a young biracial woman living in Boston, writes stark, defiant songs about race and lesbianism. On a Saturday evening in July, Means was scheduled to perform in the 9 to 10 o'clock slot at the Living Room, a publike folk venue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The room was full. "She has a good following here," the bartender said, beaming. By 9:20, Means had not yet arrived, and the fellow scheduled to play at 10, Carl Mullen, was asked to take the microphone. He sang and played the guitar well, though the house began to thin. Around 9:45, the manager announced that Means had fallen ill and would not be arriving, and nearly a third of the audience, all women, left. Mullen shifted to rock 'n' roll songs in panic. "I don't know what we'd do without the lesbians," the bartender said, watching the exodus. "Without them, I don't know what we'd do."

A few decades ago, things were different. "The folk clubs were nothing like they are today," Amy Ray recalls. "Lesbians were no more welcome in folk than we were anywhere else. Other musicians didn't want us there, and the audience didn't make us feel very welcome."

The intertwining of folk music and lesbian culture was a slow, complex process, the first links subterranean. As early as the 50's and 60's, some of the most popular folk performers were gay or bisexual women. But emerging in less inclusive times, these singers only suggested alternatives to heterosexual norms without being explicitly "out." In the 50's, Ronnie Gilbert, the strong-voiced woman in the Weavers, helped take folk onto the pop charts with hits like "Goodnight, Irene"; although she embodied a deglamorized feminine vigor, Gilbert was not an out lesbian until her later years. Her 60's successor, Joan Baez, the queen of the baby boomers' folk revival, exuded an imperious sexual neutrality that was a key part of her attraction (to men and women); even so, she kept her bisexuality private until 1973.

After its triumph as a full-blown international craze in the 60's, folk music began receding in popular favor. At the same time folk music lost much of its mainstream audience, however, it picked up new fans inside the lesbian community. With the feminist and gay-rights movements in the 1970's and 80's, lesbian culture evolved at an accelerated pace, and it developed new social structures. Weekend music festivals for women -- women's music festivals" -- attracted lesbians and others by the tens of thousands and, with a shift in the weight of the words, spawned a new genre as festivals of "women's music." Men, homosexual or heterosexual, were often banned; one annual event in Michigan even restricted transsexuals. By the end of the 80's, the singer-songwriter Cris Williamson was performing at some 30 festivals per year, and missing at least as many. Record labels specializing in women's music, most notably Olivia Records, were releasing albums by dozens of artists, helping to make a few of them -- Williamson, Alix Dobkin, Meg Christian, Holly Near -- celebrities within their sphere. "The wonderful thing about women's music is that it was the strongest, most powerful organizing force for lesbians in the United States next to softball," says Alix Dobkin, a Greenwich Village folkie of the 60's who pioneered lesbian music with uncompromising, intimate songs about her relationships. "The festivals brought lesbians together, and the music was at the heart of that experience."

Stylistically, the festivals strove to be catholic, including women playing jazz, rock, pop -- any chords, as long as the words rang true to the spirit of the lesbian and feminist movements. Yet the festivals seemed most successful with folk-style singer-songwriters, solo voices telling personal stories to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars. "I started out playing harder music, rock 'n' roll," Tret Fure recalls. "I found that that just didn't work very well with the women's music audience, and I softened my presentation to more of a folk-rock kind of thing. There's something about the folk format, maybe the intimacy, that makes it a very effective way for women to connect with other women."

For Fure, Melissa Etheridge and other gay women of their generation who felt unwelcome in the rock world during their youth, women's music provided career-sustaining nourishment. "That movement was very important to my development," recalls Etheridge, who became famous as a rock 'n' roll singer in the mid-90's but first cut her musical teeth playing folk at women's music festivals. "I would listen to Meg Christian and Alix Dobkin, and I would see these women standing up, saying, 'Yeah, I'm queer, and I'm singing, and everyone's lovin' it.' I was inspired. The first women's music festivals I played were the first large audiences I ever played for. They were very warm and receptive. Since then, I've reached the mainstream, but at that point, the mainstream was not available to women like me."

s lesbians made more political and social inroads in the 90's, the women's-music movement faded -- but its musical legacy was firmly established. The festivals had served as a training ground for hundreds of musicians, including a wave of younger women like Ani DiFranco and Melissa Etheridge, and it had helped countless gay women develop an affection for the sound of women singing with acoustic guitars. Like "jump blues" of the 1940's, a genre music that infiltrated the culture at large in the transmuted form of rock 'n' roll, women's music prevailed through its transformation of the larger folk-music scene.

At this summer's Ithaca Women's Music Festival, several hundred women, along with some children and men, gathered in a field behind a gay center near Cornell. Vendors sold books and CD's, beads, T-shirts ("I like girls"), burgers and vegan snacks. The main attraction was the singer Janis Ian, who is gay. She lounged on a folding steel chair, chain-smoking during the afternoon. About every five minutes, a fan would inch up to her to chat or ask for an autograph. One had a teenage girl in tow. "This is my daughter, Becky," the fan announced.

"You like music?" Ian asked the girl.

"Yeah, a lot," she answered.

"What do you listen to?"

"Well, I really like Ani DiFranco."

Ian grinned approvingly, and the mother looked at her and joked, "Ani DiFranco -- she's your daughter!"

For today's generation of lesbian musicians -- young artists like Pamela Means, Toshi Reagon and Lynette Schultz -- gay women simply belong in acoustic music. To be gay and out and to play the guitar seem like common birthrights. As Means says cheerily, "If you're a girl with a guitar, it's definitely a good time to be queer."

Among kindred spirits in folk, young lesbian artists say they feel a sense of community, acceptance and insulation from the demands of the high-pressure pop-music business. "I really feel at home in the folk world," Means says. "My kind of message isn't really going to be embraced by the masses." Means found this feeling confirmed when she performed at South by Southwest, an annual music-industry convention. "I met this hotshot from L.A., and he was like: 'Oh, yeah, I'm going to get you signed. Do you have a boyfriend?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Oh, a girlfriend?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said: 'O.K., no problem -- just don't tell anybody. Every guy in the audience has to think he has a chance with you.' " Means passed on the offer. As she puts it, "I'm embraced where I am, in the folk world."

Another reason folk appeals to lesbian artists is that, in its service to rural, earthy projections of authenticity, it does not seem to objectify women (at least not in the same way) as other kinds of music, especially pop. Jamie Anderson, a North Carolinian who writes buoyant, comic snapshots of gay life, finds this liberating. "The thing I like about the folk scene," she says, "is that it's something that doesn't have a whole lot of glitter and you-gotta-look-like-name-the-diva-of-the-day kind of feeling to it, and I think that's what attracts a lot of lesbians to folk music."

At the same time, the alliance of folk music and lesbianism has created a tricky situation for male artists -- and some women, including several of the most prominent names in the field. Although young male artists like Rufus Wainwright and Jeffrey Lewis are carving out respectable careers in folk, others waiting in the wings have come to see their prospects as limited and accept their place in the folk scene as marginal. "I'm working in a lesbian art form," says one male singer-songwriter. "But I honestly don't have any problem with that. I can still do it, and nobody's telling me not to. I'm just sort of like a white guy who can play jazz. It's what I do, and I love it -- it's just not the art form of my people."

Across the lines of gender and sexual orientation, moreover, there are concerns that the folk scene, in its tightening links to lesbian culture, is becoming exclusionary, limiting its audience and freezing the music in orthodoxy. "The problem is that the gay community -- unfortunately, especially the lesbian community -- can be, in my opinion, extraordinarily phobic itself," says the country-influenced traditional singer Melissa Ferrick, who is openly gay. "There's a real sense of not letting anybody else in." Through its insularity, some charge, the scene is already suffering an erosion of artistic standards. Ellen Friedman, the folk-music promoter, says, "There are women, and I'd rather not name names, but they all come to me -- there are women who have nothing going for them except that they're a lesbian." She pauses. "If they weren't lesbian, they'd have no careers."

Robb D. Cohen
The Indigo Girls, a gay folk duo, once played to the fringe. Now they find themselves icons of a genre.

According to the gay folk veteran Nancy Carlen, who served as road manager for Joan Baez: "It's disgraceful. A lot of what I hear out there is just juvenile. It would never cut it if it didn't have a guaranteed audience."

For those women whose sexual identities defy categorization, the strength of the lesbian audience has proved to be a treacherous asset. "I have seen in the business that the lesbian following is a hugely loyal fan base and one that is envied," Melissa Etheridge points out. "It seems like everybody's trying for the lesbian audience, because they're so loyal." In fact, at least a couple of female performers have been accused of "passing" as gay.

Jill Sobule, a quirkily original singer, guitarist and songwriter, is nearly impossible to classify, musically or personally. After her folky pop tune about sexual experimentation, "I Kissed a Girl," became a hit in 1995, "All anyone wanted to know was, What was I?" Sobule says. "It was a weird thing, because there was a part of me that wanted to say I'm bisexual, but I just didn't want to get into that. There was a big debate about me, and people were saying, 'Oh, she's such a closet case -- she won't come out and say she's a lesbian.' And other people were saying, 'Oh, she's a heterosexual woman trying to catch a lesbian trend.' You couldn't win."

Dar Williams, one of the most acclaimed and best established singer-songwriters of the current generation, has always considered herself heterosexual but was vague about her sexual orientation to her sizable gay following -- until her marriage to a man this spring necessitated that she "come out and say: 'O.K. I'm straight.' " She found it difficult. "It was hard to do, because I have so many gay fans," she says. "I had made a point about talking about lesbians at every concert I did, and I was ambiguous about myself. I kept it ambiguous as a way of saying it doesn't matter. Now I hear that people think I was allowing myself to be identified as a lesbian for as long as it took to get a certain following. I never said I was a lesbian, but I was aware that there was a marketing angle -- there was an angle that I had that I wouldn't have had if I were just identified as straight."

Ani DiFranco and Holly Near have both followed mercurial paths in private life, to the detriment of their images as role models in the lesbian community. DiFranco is a highly charismatic and virtuosic musician who wrote with uncommon eloquence about her bisexuality in songs like "In or Out": "To me what's more important/is the person that I bring/not just getting to the same restaurant/and eating the same thing." In 1998, she found herself barraged with charges of betrayal and duplicity when she married a man. "I had to have a lot of really asinine discussions about my big betrayal of the queer community by getting married, and it sucked all my energy for a while," DiFranco says. "I was forced into the position of martyr, representative, mouthpiece for personal empowerment. It's funny -- when people are searching for something in their lives, and you come to represent something to them that turns you into a symbol, not a person, not a changeable, flawed Homo sapiens, you have to become this shiny symbol of something for this individual, and when they realize you aren't that, that kind of adulation can turn very quickly to . . . whatever. And that can be a little intense, a little claustrophobic.

"I have the right to be myself and not be ashamed of my experiences or my inner life. If other people are dying to cry out 'hypocrisy,' as long as I look in the mirror and know that that is not true, I can sleep. The minute you begin to do anything for whatever people think, you're down the wrong road."

Holly Near has found herself approaching that road, struggling to maintain her bearings. A vocal early champion of the lesbian movement, Near takes pride in being one of the first musicians to come out as gay in People magazine, 21 years ago. Since 1986, she has been dating men, a fact that she avoided making public for some time and still prefers to keep a private matter. Her following among gay women has diminished: "Holly's lost a lot of her audience, because she was a kind of icon to gay women," Ellen Friedman says. "When the word got out that she's with a man, a lot of people got angry with her. It's too bad." Paradoxically, Near says that she has played down her current heterosexual relationship out of loyalty to her gay following and a sense of responsibility to her role as a lesbian spokesperson.

"I came 'out' to cheering crowds," Near says. "So I went through an incredible transition that was very, very difficult, after I had been out all over the world. Having been out that much, when I ended up being in a relationship with a man, I kept that quiet for a while -- not because I was ashamed of it but because it wasn't time yet for the lesbian community to lose a representative. There had been so many women who had been outed as gay and then immediately got married and went on "The Tonight Show" to prove that they were straight that the lesbian movement had become very, very defensive about someone ending up back in a relationship with a man and saying, 'Well, it was a phase.' So I kind of kept my relationship with a man in the background. And then I had to go through a process with the lesbian community, because they thought I was disappearing, which is what women always do. But I continue to sing lesbian songs; I continue to sing at their events; I continue to be a part of lesbian culture. I just don't publicize our private life." In the folk world today, hers is the love that dare not speak its name.

"Your personal choices are not really what it's about," Near stresses. "To be a folk artist is about being part of the social-change movement, no matter what your private life is like."

Indeed, just as Near says she feels that change is good for society, change is good for music. In the case of folk, lesbian artists have taken the genre in fresh directions; in order for the form to remain vital, however, new voices must continue to be heard. Musicologists like to talk of the "folk process": the way music takes on new shapes and colors as it passes from singer to singer, group to group, generation to generation. That is, after all, part of what makes it folk music, whomever the folks may be.

David Hajdu is the author, most recently, of "Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina."

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

I made a few cosmetic changes to make this easier to read; for example, closing the unclosed 'italic' and 'center' commands. --JoeClone, 18-Aug-02.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 01:22 PM

Do register for this site, as under cars there is a very old photograph of William Shatner, in his 63 Corvette. LH should hear of this!!
Frightening.....Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Peter T.
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 01:31 PM

Yep, nothing like those down home Judeo-Christian values. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Fluoridation, Mandrake, fluoridation.....

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Peter T.
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 01:50 PM

Sorry, always forget the footnotes. Exodus 22:17, and Dr. Strangelove (Jack D. Ripper). And who can ever forget Leviticus 20:13 (Kill the homosexuals)? Give me that old time religion, give me that old time religion......


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 01:56 PM

Very trendy article! Now if they'd only come up with another article about how sea shanty music was dominated by ancient immature white males with limited sailing experience like MYSELF, the news media would truly be riveting.:-(

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: khandu
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 01:59 PM

SFW?

khandu


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 04:31 PM

As long as their music doesn't graphically advertise their sexuality, I don't care who or what someone chooses to screw. And is there something unusual about a person who is part of a minority group attracting more of a following from within that group than without? I'd think it was really weird if James Brown gave a concert and the audience was mostly white, and I'd think it was really weird if the Indigo Girls gave one and the audience was mostly straight.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: harpgirl
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 04:37 PM

...gee garg...you couldn't mean me. I've been hitting on you for years and you've only answered my e-mail once...boo hoo....(pining in the piney woods) hg


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 05:01 PM

I think we're not talking about folk music here. We're talking about female relationship songwriters, not singers of stories about "us" (male, female, young, old, political,social, etc as in the tradition) but about "I". I had some sing before me a couple of times in Canada and frankly, they were appalling. There sexuality is not the issue, it's their content.They appeared to sing through the guitar hole and into their navel.It was like some singing TV discussion progs that swamp our TV now. Confess!!Feel!! Empathise!!Cry with me!! It's got us singer/songwriters a bad name as we've discussed on other threads.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 05:19 PM

I don't buy the "horse" definition of folk music (but I don't want to open that can of worms here). I think the problem is that many people (possibly Hajdo included, although I should think he would know better) seem to think that if someone sings to the accompaniment of an acoustical instrument, especially if they write their own songs, that ipso facto makes them a "folk singer."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: open mike
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 05:50 PM

they forgot Mary Gauthier who sings about Drag Queens and Limosines...and i htink Alice Di Michele sings about her partner being a female, too. Hey did that article say that Ani De Fanco was Janis Ian's daughter--interesting factoid...


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 06:36 PM

open mike, Janis Ian doesn't have any kids, and Ani DiFranco certainly isn't one of them ....

Murray


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 07:04 PM

Hadju's next investigate report will focus on the rumor that the earth revolves around the sun.

I read the article a few times and I'm still not sure of the point. IF Hadju truly understood folk music he would understand the wide scope of material and audiences that are wrapped in the umbrella of "folk". It's another genre of folk music - sea chanties, anti-war songs, civil rights songs, gospel, Child ballads, and gay folk songs.

Harvey Andrews does make a point about the navel gazing blurring the definition of what is "folk", but I wouldn't but the blame on gay musicians. There are plenty of heterosexual singer-songwhiners that have turned the music into a psychoanalyis session. To say that "gay" singer-songwriters write about "female relationships" certainly misses the fact that Holly Near authored a volume of songs that speaks to all of us.

Why is Hadju making a big deal out of what makes up a "folk" audience? Does anyone really care about the makeup of the audience? Christine Lavin's point about being labeled as part of "women's music" only shows how stupid labeling music styles has become. Ever check out the "Celtic" section at Tower Records? You will find everything from Joe Heaney to Riverdance to Planxty to Bing Crosby.

I'm shocked that in 2002 the New York Times deems this to be a story. Maybe I'm missing the point, but how can you have a story when there is no issue???

At least Hadju wrote an article that once again brings folk music into the spotlight. It could have been worse, he could have written an article on the old showtunes cliche.

Ron


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 08:17 PM

"Harvey Andrews does make a point about the navel gazing blurring the definition of what is "folk", but I wouldn't but the blame on gay musicians. There are plenty of heterosexual singer-songwhiners that have turned the music into a psychoanalyis session. To say that "gay" singer-songwriters write about "female relationships" certainly misses the fact that Holly Near authored a volume of songs that speaks to all of us." I wasn't making the point about gay writers, but about a type of writing that appeals to a female audience predominantly. We are different species on the same planet and in many cases the choice of song subject shows it. I have a large cd collection and to find a female writer tackling anything but "relationships" is rare. We all have our love songs but there is no female Phil Ochs or Stan Rogers or Harry Chapin or Steve Goodman or Eric Bogle or....It doesn't mean to say I'm saying women can't write them, but that they don't choose to in general. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are rare. So, there is an audience for the type of writing the article talks about and, it appears, that type of song attracts the gay community. Different strokes for different folks, but it ain't folk music, it's acoustic confessional. ( hey, that's maybe a good new category to file it under), It's like bookshops...Shelves and shelves of self-help, holisitic, mystical, etc with rows of young girls dipping in..not a male in sight..they're over at sports, planes , cars, technology etc. That's not prejudice, just a generalisation based on observation. Vive le difference!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Hippie Chick
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 09:08 PM

So, Don, what is the 'horse' definition of folk music? I seem to have missed a groove here. :)

HC


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 09:33 PM

I don't think I've written a navel-gazing song yet. I agree about 'acoustic confessional', but it strikes me as a pop music thing - people do whatever they do because it gets them attention and money. Female singer songwriters who write about relationships are pretty popular these days. I don't know why, but it seems they are.

Whatever genre of music they fall into, if an artist loses fans because of whom they sleep with, those fans never cared much about their music anyway. They cared about label, image and personality - not the music.

Good music transcends that 'cult of personality'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Escamillo
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 10:17 PM

The percentage of gay tenors in classical choral groups is much higher than in folk or popular choirs, and growing. Hence, classical choral music seems to be the genre of gay men.

(I was wondering if it was possible to find another BS more solemn, but I finally found one !)

Un abrazo - Andrés (like to sing Haendel with acoustic instruments - Oh my God!) :))


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: catspaw49
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 11:01 PM

The genre being described by this isn't folk of course, but who cares? A good song is a good song and a bad one is a bad one and it doesn't matter a whit if either was written by a lesbian, a gay guy, or a pregnant, cross dressing, Albanian hat blocker, on roller skates.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 18 Aug 02 - 11:19 PM

Hippie Chick

The "horse" definition of folk music refers to an old story about, I believe, Leadbelly's response when someone asked him if he considered his music folk music. Supposedly he answered something like, "Of course it's folk music. I'm a folk ain't I. I ain't no horse". Under such a broad-based definition just about anything qualifies as folk music.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 12:08 AM

Harry, I would have to say there aren't many MALE singer-songwriters out there like Phil Ochs or Stan Rogers or Harry Chapin or Steve Goodman or Eric Bogle. Aside from Eric, the rest are long gone and there are few artists that can fill their shoes. I'm not trying to generalize because there are some good male AND female songwriters.

You say that exceptions are rare. Hardly. I would say listen to Holly Near, Peggy Seeger, Anne Feeney, Ani Difranco, Cathie Ryan (known as a vocalist but she has written some stirring songs), Christine Lavin, Janis Ian, Hazel Dickens, and probably about a dozen others that I would classify as songwriters of the ilk that you mentioned. They do not focus on the relationship type songs that you mentioned but rather speak to a wider audience and important topics. True, they do not have the popularity as those you mentioned, but maybe that is another story.

Ron


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Venthony
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 04:01 AM

Just to clarify:

Ian, Etheridge, DiFranco, Near, Griffith and their cohorts -- and all of the above certainly write and sing some wonderful tunes -- are NOT folk musicians.

Doc Watson and Elizabeth Cotten are folk musicians.

So, by the way, is Janis Duley. (Someone PLEASE go to Branson and give this woman a recording contract. She's a master Ozark storyteller and sings like an angel. Nice guitar player too.)

Uh, anyway, the women in question play, not folk, but self-absorbed, autobiographic electric pop at REALLY LOUD rock n roll levels while incorporating certain folk elements -- something like James Taylor used to do.

There is sort of a lesbian, coffeehouse, bookstore, "buy my organically grown, earth-momma CDs over the net" scene, but it has little or nothing to do with folk music.

If you want folk music, go to the Mountain View, Ark., courthouse square in July -- about the only place I know of where anyone picks the stuff anymore.

I don't want to sound offensive. If you're a girl who can sing and play and likes to sleep with other women -- fine. You go girl. Just quit slipping jazz chords into "Amazing Grace."

Tony


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 11:12 AM

Oh no!!!!

Say it ain't so!!!!

It's not FAIR!!!!

I need for the meaning of the phrase "folk music" to retain its traditional vagueness. It is extremely useful in certain contexts for describing the sort of music I do. It stops being useful if it's meaning is changing and becoming more specific in the direction indicated by the article.

Russ (boomer WASP male)


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 11:16 AM

I'm lesbian!! I didn't know it!! ;))


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 11:27 AM

It's OK, Guest, these revelations come to all of us. I only discovered recently that because I like women and everytime I look in the mirror I see a fat person that I am, by default, an annorxic lesbian...;-)

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 03:31 PM

Hippy Chick, Bee-dubya-ell has it essentially right. The way I heard the story, it was Big Bill Broonzy. Someone asked him if a song he had just sung was a folk song. He is alleged to have answered, "It must be! I've never heard it sung by a horse!" Whenever the question "just what is a folk song, anyway?" comes up, almost invariably someone quotes a variation of the "Horse Theory." This is not helpful at all. It defines nothing. According to the Horse Theory, Wotan's Farewell from Richard Wagner's Die Walküre has to be considered a "folk song" because it's sung by an operatic bass-baritone portraying Wotan, a Norse god, not by Brünnhilde's horse.

The Horse Theory is usually quoted by someone who has just written a song and wants it to be considered a "folk song." Or who likes to be considered a folk singer, but who prefers to sing songs by Jacques Brel rather than the kind of songs and ballads that Francis James Child and Alan Lomax were talking about.

The first person to ever use the term "folk song" was Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), a German philosopher and collector of volkslieder (folk songs). He was referring to songs of the rural peasant class. In this modern world, which has become more urbanized and which we like to think of as "classless" despite the mind-boggling spread between the richest and the poorest, it makes people uncomfortable to think that there might still be such a thing as a peasant class. When many poor people live in the cities and try to keep body and soul together by scrubbing toilets and flipping burgers (preferably not the same person and not in that order), we don't like to acknowledge that we may still have what might be considered a peasant class. It embarrasses people. It embarrasses governments. Thus volk has slowly morphed into "just plain folks," which we like to apply to everybody, including people with annual incomes that exceed the GNP of a medium-sized country. And the term "folk singer" got pried loose from traditional singers of traditional songs and got stuck on any singer who sings fairly simple, strophic songs to the accompaniment of a portable musical instrument, especially if they write the songs themselves and like to call themselves "folk singers." And especially if they've recorded a CD and music stores opt to put it in the "folk music" bin.

So these days you can call just about anything "folk music and just about anyone a "folk singer." If anyone wants to argue with you, just quote the Horse Theory.

End of weary sigh. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: mousethief
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 03:44 PM

I think it's sad that Holly Near has to keep her relationship hush-hush to avoid offending her Lesbian audience. It just goes to show you that prejudice isn't limited to white hetero males.

Alex


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Hippie Chick
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 03:47 PM

Thank you BWL and thank you Don Firth! I always learn new stuff on Mudcat and Tweedsburg.

"The genre being described by this isn't folk of course, but who cares? A good song is a good song and a bad one is a bad one and it doesn't matter a whit if either was written by a lesbian, a gay guy, or a pregnant, cross dressing, Albanian hat blocker, on roller skates."

You GO Spaw!


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: beadie
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 03:50 PM

Peter T. :

"Flouridation." Isn't that what's going to happen to the Great Lakes as a result of the inexorable movement of the Tropic climes to the North with global warming?


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Erica Smith
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 05:37 PM

The best way I could understand the article was to see it as a piece on lesbian culture rather than on music. Hadju draws a parallel early on between 'folk music' and lesbian culture, and disco and gay male culture. I think that's the heart of the matter.

It seems as if he's made the shocking discovery that lesbians are devoted fans of contemporary acoustic music. Members of that subgroup even rise to great mainsteram popularity -- which might not have been possible, at least in an overt way, 30 years ago. He tries to introduce tension by saying that the audience can be as finicky as it is loyal. That puts artists like Dar Williams, recently outed as hetero, in somewhat of a pickle, ahem.

As an artist, it is an amazing boon to be adopted by avid folkgoers of any stripe. It is news to a lot of people that there still are avid folkgoers in this day and age!

I wish Hadju had been more clear (or less lazy, depending on how generous you feel). 'Folk' was a misnomer, but most people don't know what a Child ballad or sea shanty is, so he slapped on some axel grease and slid right past it.

ah well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Dharmabum
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 05:42 PM

Now Spaw,You know you shouldn't rollerskate when you're pregnant!

DB.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: BH
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 06:12 PM

I am an avid reader of the Times===but the Sunday magazine is probably something that is becoming quite "dumbed down" in trying so hard for pop culture and readership. The fashion section is in the worst taste---sickly looking starved child models in Appalachia in $6000 "rags" and so on. Then, of course, you can name a section "Styles" and it nothing but the Times version of a NYPost Page 6.

Not really off topic here since the Hajdu article is of a similar thing I describe above.

I await the next piece by Mr. Hajdu modifying Einstein's Relativity Theory---I am sure he can work it out.

Thankfully the paper still has a wonderful weekday format and op ed page.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 06:58 PM

As anyone can find out by reading her BIO Holly Near has a long history of singing a hell of a lot more than what has been characterised in general, in this thread. She also makes no bones about saying that she is in a relationship with a man now.

She has been a tireless political activist and sung with others of the same, including Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and many more. While even Holly doesn't call herself a folksinger, some of her songs may well be, one day, along with those of Ferron and a few others.

I agree, the article in the NYT is rubbish, mostly, and I am glad that you, Ron, Spaw, and Don have posted some clarification, but I am bothered by the overall negative generalisation about a lot of the women artists named in this thread.

katgladHollyhasjoinedthebalancedbicommunity:-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Mudlark
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 08:08 PM

I read thru the whole...loooong....article and came to much the same conclusion...a slick pop article about what is essentially a pop scene. (I doubt very much if Ani deFranco routinely refers to herself as a folksinger.)

I know I'm way out of the mainstream these days, but I have known a lot of nonprofessional folksingers over the years and have never seen any particular sexual persuasion among them...they've come in allsorts, just like the rest of the population.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Erica Smith
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 10:55 PM

speaking of lazy, I apologize for misspelling the author's name (*blush*)

I do think Ms DiFranco identifies herself on some level as a folksinger, and gains a lot of cred with me for actively trying to turn her audience on to other artists, from Woody Guthrie to Greg Brown to Gillian Welch.

Ani and Dar do have fanbases that are incredibly devoted, and/or cultlike, depending on your view. But I always found a good portion of it youth-identified rather than defined by sexuality. And the 'phenomenon' of these artists has been in swing for ten years, almost. The question, as I see it, is what's next?


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 03:59 AM

Gargoyle, thanks for posting the article.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 10:53 AM

stupid, useless, somewhat 'sensational' article about a small group of female singer/songwriters. Joan Baez is the only person mentioned (okay, maybe Ronnie Gilbert also) who could be called a 'folksinger', and that is a stretch in both cases. to Murray McCleod - the speaker in the article was speaking to Janis and saying that Ani DiFranco was her 'spiritual' daughter, or in some way her 'musical' daughter, not claiming that she was Janis' actual daughter. Whole thing was a waste of space, time, etc. If I had known the article was in the Sunday Magazine section I would have known it was not worth reading.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 02:59 PM

Regarding the "horse" issue, at a festival several years ago, I was talking with Pete Seeger about his definition of FM. He said that first, giraffes don't sing it and, second, people kept singing it because it remained relevant.

Issues of authorship are not really relevant except for paying copyright fees. If it has legs, it is folk music, whether it is lieder, opera, the Beatles or just, plain folk music.


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 03:04 PM

Venthony

Man oh man, am I ever glad I don't live in your world!

.-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Big Mick
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 03:20 PM

This has thread has certainly broadened my horizons, as well as my arse from sitting and reading it. My observations:

1. It is refreshing to know that I am a lesbian. I love folk music and I love women! Wait..........I love folk music and hate most disco, and I love men...........shit........I love my cat too..........OMMYGAWD, I love Spaw, too..........We need another definition, folks.........err, volks........

2. As a folksinger (I think, but after reading Don's post, I am not sure!), I will take my audiences any damn way I can get them.......you should know now, that if I am doing a gig in your neck of the woods, you may come as you are.......gay, straight, big, small, black, white, brown, yellow, whatever, furry, bald, potent, impotent..........I just don't care. Just enjoy the music and stick around and do a little singing, OK? I can remember times when I played for lampposts, so I am happy anytime folks, er volks,.....whatever....want to hear my music.

Now........what the hell am I again?

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 03:25 PM

Amicus Giganticus Mickus, m'dear...LOL


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Subject: RE: BS: Folk music is for lesbians
From: Burke
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 06:53 PM

From the article:

"However, the number of female performers in folk who are openly lesbian, bisexual or actively pro-gay has been rising in recent years and seemingly at a higher rate than in other styles of music."

Are there any female performers (really singer/songwriters) who don't fit one of these categories? If they address social/political issues at all gay rights can enter into it even just a little.

In this article Women's music festivals seem to be treated as the total of folk festivals, instead of along side of an somewhat overlapping.


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