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What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?

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Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,Daisy 14 Aug 03 - 11:34 AM
Pied Piper 14 Aug 03 - 11:43 AM
Amos 14 Aug 03 - 11:50 AM
IanC 14 Aug 03 - 12:13 PM
smallpiper 14 Aug 03 - 12:16 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 12:24 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 12:27 PM
Cluin 14 Aug 03 - 12:52 PM
Bill D 14 Aug 03 - 12:53 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 01:07 PM
Amos 14 Aug 03 - 01:18 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 01:23 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 02:06 PM
Amos 14 Aug 03 - 02:33 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Q 14 Aug 03 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 14 Aug 03 - 03:29 PM
akenaton 14 Aug 03 - 03:46 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 03:52 PM
Art Thieme 14 Aug 03 - 04:06 PM
JedMarum 14 Aug 03 - 04:30 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 04:31 PM
Bill D 14 Aug 03 - 04:39 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 04:44 PM
GUEST,Q 14 Aug 03 - 05:02 PM
JedMarum 14 Aug 03 - 05:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Aug 03 - 05:15 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 05:28 PM
Bert 14 Aug 03 - 05:53 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 03 - 06:13 PM
Burke 14 Aug 03 - 07:08 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 Aug 03 - 08:32 PM
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Subject: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:07 AM

When I tell people I play folk music, the most common question I get, before their eyes glaze over is "What is that?" They're not quibbling about "What is folk music?," as we Mudcatters do in endless, repetitive threads. They don't have a clue, what I'm talking about.
Maybe the term folk music is an oxymoron? Music of folks, when folks don't even know what it is?

I've given a good chunk of my life trying to make folk music more accessible, with very limited success on my part. I ran a concert series for 27 years and a folk festival for 7. I've also performed in all kinds of settings, and the ones that are most appealing to me are those where there is a natural convergence of "folks". My group has sung at an outdoor festival in Hartford several times, where there was no admission charge, and people who were in the park wandered over because they were curious. For some of them, it may have been the first time they heard "folk" music. But like most folk festivals, the attendance dwindled over the years and the festival became a one day event. And, rather than counting the attendance, including all the performers, their families, the organizers and volunteers, if you counted the people who just came to the festival, you could have gotten them all in to a house concert.
It just seems like folk festivals have become private parties for folkies, and a chance for us all to get together with friends. I love that as much as anyone, but it doesn't draw many new people in.

I've had the honor of performing twice at the Big Muddy Festival in Boonville, Missouri, and to my mind, it is one of the most successful festivals I've ever been a part of... it reminds me of another wonderful festival... The North Country Folk Festival in Ironwood, Michigan. They share a common characteristic... they are folk festivals where folks come, as well as folkies. I ended up talking to a pig farmer at length, in Boonville, and when I walked down the street, half the people I met had come to the Festival. It was a community event and the community was a central part of the weekend.
Local churches were involved with the gospel workshop, and it was a rare festival in that there were actually a few black folks there.

I'd like to say that I know what the folk community needs, but I don't. I just know that if folk music is going to have any relevance for every-day folks, it has to reach out to every day folks.

So,George, I think that you hit the nail on the head. Any way that we can get the music out to the folks, and not be content to keep it for the folkies, I'm all for.

Several years ago, I was asked to play music for a block party. I was standing off to the side, running through some guitar licks, and three little black girls came over and asked me what I was going to play. I didn't say "folk music," because I knew they had no idea what folk music is. I said "I don't play top 40, I play lower 40." When I got up on stage and started playing, a lot of the black kids (including the three little girls) got on their feet and started dancing... did a fairly good buck and wing, not having any idea that there ever was a dance called the buck and wing. They just liked the rhythm of the music, and were having a good time dancing. When was the last time you saw a folkie get up, spontaneously and dance to music? It has to be in a gymnasium with your shoes off...

For something that is by nature supposed to be "of the folk" how has folk music become so insular, and music of folkies, not folks?

Just asking..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Daisy
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:34 AM

Like any group with a lot of shared knowledge, folkies can be insular - but this doesn't mean that they're not friendly, accessible, extrovert, welcoming etc.

People who are exposed to it, even if they've never heard it before, can enjoy it, get up and join in. Great! That IS getting new people involved, isn't it? Everyone worries about the 'death of folk music' and so on - why don't we all just chill out, accept that fact that it isn't dying out, and if it was, evolution is something you can't control, so just enjoy it while it lasts!

Anyway, if the music we get in the top 40 defines pop, thank God that folk isn't popular!


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Pied Piper
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:43 AM

Hi Jerry.
I'm fortunate in playing Trad music in real non- "folkie" settings.
I earn most of my living playing Pipes at Weddings and Funerals, I also Busk and play in an English Ceilidh band.
Most of the time I perform to "ordinary" folks.
I don't go to Folk clubs that often because I'd rather play in a Pub session, which again is in the "real" world.
I don't think the music will ever die; there's so much recorded now that it will always be available as a resource for musicians.
I see myself as a musician first and a Trad player second (though trad makes up 90 % of the stuff I do) and I use anything I like from anywhere I can find it.
People will always want live performances from real performers who mean it, so I'm optimistic about the future.

All the best PP


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 11:50 AM

" how has folk music become so insular, and music of folkies?

I would imagine it is a direct correlate of the growth of mass commercial media supported by advertising. And to some degree it is still the music of folk, but a lot of 'folk' are being left out of the loop because they have been drawn in to hypnotic mass media (e.g., TV) instead of being exposed to people who play or sing and still appear to be people rather than commercial entities.

A


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: IanC
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:13 PM

I mainly play music in a pub in the middle of a small village community. Generally, people enjoy us doing it, and some of them join in fairly regularly. Occasionally, someone will buy us all a pint if he's feeling generous, otherwise we buy our own.

We're just seen as part of the general village scene like the footballers or the bellringers.

If I were to start again with organising our session, I'd probably not describe it as "folk" but that's pretty much all. What we do is music in a pub and it defies that kind of description. Some's traditional, some's fairly modern.

Two months ago I sang The Unquiet Grave in a fairly full bar. I was surprised to find, halfway through the second verse, that the whole pub had gone silent and it stayed that way till I had finished. I can't explain it, really, because my singing's not all that good but it seems to me that the people in the pub related to the song, and we relate to them.

Don't think that's insular.

:-)


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: smallpiper
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:16 PM

Ah but folk music is used in TV advertising - so even those hypnotised by the mass media are getting some exposure. I, like pied piper play in lots of non folkie settings weddings etc, but mostly in pubs where plenty of non folkies get involved and hey what-d-y-know some have even become folies as a result!


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:24 PM

IMO, it isn't the music which is insular, but the musicians. There is too much of a proprietary attitude towards much of the music that is referred to as "folk music" nowadays among musicians, collectors, and scholars. Also, those who perform/collect/study/write about the music, are often not members of the ethnic communities from which the music has come. There is a definite disconnect in that regard, that has made a lot of what we now refer to as folk music into museum music, enjoyed by an elite few with no connection to the community.

OTOH, a lot of the music that is distinguished as traditional music, does still enjoy a lot of support from the ethnic communities from which the music comes, as a form of "our music" rather than "folk music".

Over the years, I have come to define the term "folk music" as a British antiquarian term that is only meaningful in the sense you seem to be using it Jerry, in an Anglocentric context. Folk music in North America in the past two hundred years, even when it is derived from the music traditions of the islands of Britain and Ireland, has come to mean something quite different than what it has meant in the past two hundred years in the Anglo areas of Britain. Much of the Celtic communities in Britain and Ireland, unless they are scholarly types, don't refer to their people's music as folk music. They refer to it as traditional music, or as their people's music.

I see the music in much the same way as PiedPiper. I think the term "folk music" is part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that in England, the whole "folk music" thing in the last hundred years, was often revivalist/museum/collectors music, rather than an indigenous musical art form of a specific community of people. That disconnect has resulted in the steady decline of the folk club/folk festival (in the "purist" scholarly sense of a folk festival) scene that was a revival phenomenon.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:27 PM

Huzzah to all who are taking music back into pubs, street corners, parks, weddings....To me, that's bringing it all back home. I know what you're doin, IanC, and that's great.

And Amos... I'm not suggesting that folk music ever could (or should) compete with the corporate-driven music world. God forbid (I think He does, actually..) But, that doesn't mean that we can't try to take it back to the people in smaller ways. The 60's were an abberation ( a wonderful one, from my perspective.) It just seems to me that whenever there is any group or movie that arises that achieves mass popularity, too many folkies rise in protest that it isn't pure, forgetting that we all came through the impurity of popularized folk music. Nickle Cree, The Dixie Chicks, Oh Brother Where Art Thou create a big uproar, rather than a welcome from the folk community.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Cluin
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:52 PM

Folk music is for folks. That's why they like it (even if they won't admit it).


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 12:53 PM

Jerry...I am not sure about this sentence in your explanation up there ^..

" I just know that if folk music is going to have any relevance for every-day folks, it has to reach out to every day folks." It will....to some everyday folk.

"folk music" started out being the music done BY the folk, before there was the mass media and commercialization and pop songs done to ride a trend....that music had a 'different' sound & feel. Most of us know what it is, whether we can toss off a glib definition or not....and 'some' songwriters still capture some of that essence in what they create.

But the majority of today's folk, as opposed to folkies, are inundated by the shallow, throw-it-away-'cause-there'll-be-more-tomorrow foisted on them by an INDUSTRY which has quotas to meet.

I don't think it is wise for us 'folkies' to try to emulate or compete directly with that sort of thing, or we will dilute the feel & message that made the original special. If that means we always have a smaller crowd & audience, fine. (I doubt that most practitioners of Gregorian Chant care that they are not in the Top 40).

If 'folkies' keep doing the old songs, adding some new ones which fit and are gradually absorbed and give the right feeling, then we and the music will survive and attract those in the younger generation who can see beyond the hype of Madison Avenue and Motown and MTV.

If we keep having festivals, concerts, etc, doing essentially what YOU have been doing these 27 years..(including writing some things), we ARE "reaching out" by simply making it available....but if we change it (the music) enough that the crowds come pouring in, then soon the differences will not be discernable and we will end up just being a quirky sub-set of pop/rock. And I, for one, would hate to see that happen. I don't like the idea of the OLD songs slipping away to the semi-oblivion of scholarly reasearch and occasional focus of the Society of Creative Anacronism........... If this means some of us need to (and are able to) wear two or three hats and do more than on kind of concert/CD..etc., in order to survive, *shrug*...maybe that's how it can be done...

I hope I haven't drifted too far from your original question, Jerry...but I sort of read between the lines and saw more to the issue than was hinted at...(as I am wont to do..*grin*)_


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 01:07 PM

Hi, Bill:

I don't think you'll fine me suggesting that we change folk music to make it more popular to a mass media. I ran a traditional folk series and festival for all those years, because I want to keep the tradition alive. I just think that at times the mass-media is a convenient explanation for why folk venues serve such a limited (sometimes I wonder if not by choice) audience. I'm not suggesting that we let traditional music slip away into the musty corridors of acedemia.. Achoo! I'm just posing the question of how us folkie types (me included) can introduce more just plain folks who don't know the music, to it. Maybe for a start, it would help if we weren't quite as satisfied as we are... I'm not trying to knock the folk community as I are part of it... just would like to stimulate a stronger desire, and maybe some new ideas how to introduce more new people to the old music.

In November, I'll be hosting a workshop I suggested titled Songs From The Anthology Of American Folk Music.. the Harry Smith collection. I have the cd collection in front of me, and I smile, because I still can do ALL 27 songs on the ballad CD. They are still vital to me, and I will always love them and sing them. I'm not concerned about numbers (of course folk music will always have a small audience in comparison to the mega-corporate music.) That's not really the issue to me. I'm thinking in terms of individuals, not mass numbers...

As an example, I still sing Three Nights Drunk, and everywhere I sing it, whether people have ever even heard of folk music, people love it. It's one of my Mother's and my wife Ruth's favorite songs. How can we introduce people to this wonderful music, without changing it beyond recognition? I think that's a valid challenge, which may be offesnive to some. If it makes us all think about what we can do to
bring this music we all love to more people, then that's a small price to pay.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 01:18 PM

Jerry:

Well, it's like some kinds of food -- you can get so obsessed with purity that you forget the delights of eating!! I am all for stirring up a love of folk music. Even if it means starting with "Oh Brother" because that's the right step for the listeners.

What I do is once a month or so I rare back and sing out loud in Balboa Park with Banjoest and a few others. And it always gets 'em -- I think, looking back at the various expressions of delight I have seen, especially from kids, that the tragedy of mass media is that they forget that ordinary people make music! They see it so rarely it seems like something rare. Ain't that a poke in the eye with a sharp stick?

A


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 01:23 PM

Hey Amos... I have a friend who is such a conniseur of coffee that he hasn't had a cup he enjoyed in years. None of it lives up to his standards. I just like the stuff... and enjoy 95% of it. Ignorance sometimes IS bliss...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 02:06 PM

Get out to places where communities congregate. Farmer's markets. Flea markets. NASCAR race days and motorcycle rallies (I'm not kidding--you can attract a whole lot of people at racetracks and rallies when you are a competent musician of any sort--I've seen it happen).

Anyone who doesn't understand "the folk" love of NASCAR racing days don't know jack about folk music, IMNSHO. Today's rallies and races are the equivalent of the horse racing and festivals of yesteryear.

I've always felt though, that farmer's markets and flea markets are a natural place for folk and traditional musicians to build an audience. All you have to do is find someone in those organizations you can convince to invest a little time and money to draw more people with the music, and voila!

There are so many ideas I can think of where folkies could be taking the music, that I get kinda tired of the whole "woe is us, no new blood in the music" hand wringing. Folkies, if they want to be relevant today in their communities, need to go where the folk are, play some music, and quit their navel gazing and whining around.

And Jerry, I am not directing the above sentence to you. There is nothing wrong with asking the question. But there is something wrong with folkies who refuse to accept the answer, when it is put right in front of their too often upturned noses. Why, I can even hear some of them saying to themselves in their cyber thoughts:

"Us folkies play a NASCAR gig?" [haughty sniff] "Over my dead body."


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 02:33 PM

Ya want navel gazing and whining? Consider the obsessively anonymous critic! It's so much easier to be critical when your identity could be any goddamned place.

A


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:02 PM

I thought all the suggestions were excellent, oh anonymous one. Even if they were anonymouse. Flea Markets are a great place to reach people who are interested in old stuff! Same with Farmer's Markets..

Jerry Out Of The Closet


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:28 PM

Last week there was a folk festival in Calgary. I think it was fairly well attended (a million people to draw from) but it received negative press and, as a result, a lot of bad backfence gossip, because some of the acts tried to sell an anti-Bush-U. S. political agenda. This will hurt the festival organizers in the future. People here generally opposed the Iraq war, but they get more than enough in the press and TV.

The Dixie Chicks performed here yesterday to 15,000, but their protest content (a small part of the whole) was not aimed at particular politicians but at war itself. They received a good review in our arch-conservative paper, as well as from those who paid big bucks to attend. Of course, "country" music is big here.

Another fact of life is that musicians must be good entertainers, able to deliver varied content over the length of a program.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:29 PM

I totally agree with the Anonymous Guest. There is plenty of folk music around and it's called bluegrass. There are many festivals and on-going jam sessions that are much more family friendly with no booze and plenty of musical comraderie than pubs and bars with boy and guitar acts could ever offer.

And who really cares if the critic is anonymous or not?


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: akenaton
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:46 PM

In my youth before TV came to our area, weekly concerts were held in the local hall.Every one was expected to contribute to the entertainment,either by singing,playing an instrument or reciting verse. Although there were no professional in our gathering everyones contribution was appreciated and cheered to the echo.    Nowadays there seems to be a wish to "bring people down" if they are not up to the required standard. People have become self conscious about singing....you dont hear folks "raise the roof" the way they used to.And what happened to Community singing at big events...The demise of Folk music has various causes chiefly...prosperity and as we become better off we personally become more insular,we dont need one another.   Anothor thought of mine is that folk music ,on record and radio became to "clever" and high tech for its own good .Its out of touch with the roots...Ake.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 03:52 PM

Actually, any folk festival held in a rural or conservative area could tremble in fear of the politics of the musicians and punters offending the locals. Been there, didn't really care.

At the end of the day, the locals in Calgary will care a damn sight more about the one million people contributing to their local economy, than what the political slant of the event was.

How do I know? Been there, done that, and found that the economic boost was something the entire local community appreciated, even if they did think (and rightfully so) the whole thing was damn inconvenient for them. It is a big inconvenience when a million people come to town. But some things are worth being inconvenienced for a weekend. When the money stays in the hands of locals, it will go round and round for quite some time, which makes more of the local people stay put. Especially the young people, who are so prone to running off to the bigger cities for jobs and adventure.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 04:06 PM

Jerry---and all,

Be sure to count folks who've used folk music in schools to illustrate history, geography, the arts and a slew of other topics to enlighten with our music.

And how about riverboats? All those years I played on the Mississippi River for folks who had no inkling of what it was they were hearing. And then they bought one o' my recordings. In the 1970s and 80s the "folk clubs/coffeehouses" and bars (pubs) presented the most appreciative and educated audiences. But there was no way to raise a family on what they paid. I had to learn to branch out and play for less knowing audiences. The pay was better there even though the feedback might not be as ego stroking. -------- My big payoff came when Chris got his college diploma. I made a Xerox of it, stapled all the pay stubs from those river years gigs to it, and then I put it in my "EGO BOX" on the top shelf of the closet---with all my other memorabilia and favorite press reviews. ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 04:30 PM

like rubber neck drivers along the commuter hour highway at a car wreck - folks "turn their heads" to look at the scarey, edgy, weird or dangerous stuff. Mass marketeers sell edgy stuff - because they konw that's what cuts through the din of rush hour traffic - and the cacaphony of varied, quality music we have to choose from, in this day and age. Folks would love folk music, if when they get the chance to hear it - but it's difficult to get them to turn off the tube, put down the remote and travel out to where they might particpate in some non-edgy folk music festival, concert or similar event. This is similar to Amos's comment above.

But folks who go to pubs, not particularly to listen to folks music, usually enjoy it when the ye get there ... they might even stop chatting now and again to listen - as mentioned above by IanC.

When we get folks to get out to festivals, Celtic, Folk or similiar flavors - and folks hear good folk musicians playing/singing folk music well - folks respond and enjoy it. They buy CDs and listen to it at home. Many never even knew they liked folk music! They'll listen to their new Sandy and Caroline Patton or Kendall Morse CDs at home, along with their favorite Willy Nelson and Journey Cds! Some will find a new home in folk music and discover Doc Watson, Jerry Rasmussen, Altan, The Cheiftains, Bill Monroe, Ed Miller, Art Thieme, Brian McNeill and on and on.

We live in a fast world. There're lots and lots folks all hurrying about. TV is the lowest common denomonator and so Mass marketeers have a good sales tool - but folk music still appeals to folks. And there's lotsa kinds of folk music. We've even got our own edgy, mass market folkies.

As folkies, I'm not sure if we are insular - it is certainly a small crowd folks within this modern world who care as deeply about folk as we do ... but when the dust settles long enough for non-folkies to hear folk; it still has broad appeal.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 04:31 PM

How could I not count you, Art? You are number ONE in my book for bringing folk music to whoever was willing to listen to it. Maybe there's been someone who did more than you (although I'm not aware of them) but no one could ever touch your enthusiasm and humor. I've seen and heard so many people who make a living of sorts out of singing for schools and libraries who suck every ounce of life, humor and fun out of the music, either by giving endlessly long, boring introductions, or showing such reverence for the music that they forget that folk music is supposed to be entertaining. Making folk music boring is a talent that I'm glad more people aren't blessed with..

In much the same way out of my own beliefs, the Gospel Messengers take the message out into the world, and sing out of churches far more than in. We've sung countless times at nursing homes, senior centers, homeless shelters, United Way breakfasts, Habitat For Humanity fund-raisers... even for a Jewish memorial service. We belive in what we sing as much as you believe in what you sing, Art, and we sing wherever we can.

And we never forget that music should be entertaining.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Bill D
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 04:39 PM

" There is plenty of folk music around and it's called bluegrass"

ummm..and there is plenty of beer out there and it's called "lager"

(I had typed 'Budweiser', but wanted the metaphor to be reasonable)

Bluegrass does what it does, and has its virtues, but is way too inbred and self-indulgent to be considered main-stream folk.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 04:44 PM

"Making folk music boring is a talent that I'm glad more people aren't blessed with.."

Amen to that!

And to add to the list of natural audiences for folkies, there are all the harvest type celebrations held around the world (well, northern hemisphere right now) at this time of year for just about any old thing from green beans to garlic to seafood, right on up into the hunting seasons. Plenty of events to play for right there, with a ready made "folk" community too.

Still, I'd like to see more folkies get with the spirit of NASCAR and Sturgis type things. I think that is a natural audience too, and goodness knows, a whole lotta them folks could use some left leaning proselytizing through song wafting over them now and again.

As a young pup, I loved car and motocross racing. But that was before the era of the huge NASCAR phenomenon. But we raced everywhere. On ice, dirt, water, tracks...


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:02 PM

I think Guest misunderstood my post. I meant that the metropolitan area of Calgary is well over a million people, not that that many people would attend the festival. Only a few thousand attended the festival daily.
The event did NOT bring money to the community. If the event was more popular, many more people would attend, and out-of-towners would come. The fact is that they don't.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:05 PM

Bill??? "main-stream folk"???

Now there is an oxymoron!

;-)


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:15 PM

Surely the real and paradoxical oxymoron is "unpopular folk music"? That's why it's not really a good term for a minority music. A pretty lively minority, and a pretty lively music, and being in a minority is nothing to be ashamed of.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:28 PM

Apologies for misinterpreting your post there Q. I thought you were using the term "a million" as a colorful exaggeration to make a point, as in use of the word "gazillions" or something.

I stand corrected on the numbers thing. But I still don't think that in a city of a million people that the left leaning proclivities of a couple thousand folkies is going to hurt anybody, including the festival that can't get an audience.

Arts events and organizations aren't meant to last forever, or remain popular forever. There is, and should be, a natural life cycle to them, as there is with everything else. It isn't all that uncommon for an arts group to fade away with the energies of its founder after a decade or so, or after a few years if it is a successful arts event. You don't want them to become so institutionalized that they suck up all the limited funds available to small arts ventures, especially new ones. You don't want festivals and events to become that entrenched, because that event then gets the lion share of the resources and audience, while the rest of the arts community and it's audiences won't be served. Not a good thing, in my opinion.

So who cares if it is the politics of politicians or the politics of the organization who brings on the timely death? The immediate players, sure. But I have never, in my 30 years in the arts, heard of a folk festival going out of business because the musicians, organizers, and fans were too politically liberal for their own good. That just sounds silly.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Bert
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 05:53 PM

Jerry, You're in America, it's the Americans who are insular not the music.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 06:13 PM

Only some of them, Bert. Just like where you live.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Burke
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 07:08 PM

I regualarly attend the Old Songs Festival & really enjoy it. The same venue (Altamont Fairgrounds) has an Irish Festival that has both traditional and contemporary Irish music and Scottish Games with plenty of music. The crowds at these events always seem to me to be very different, but as larger or larger than Old Songs.

Sometimes I think "folk" is just too amorphous a term to really reach its market. I don't think of myself a folkie. I actually began with International Folk dancing & loved the music I was dancing to. I try to find specific music & musicians that I like & have found that I really like the traditional music of lots (but not all) regions. I have found that the music that is created at Old Songs appeals to me, the music at Falcon Ridge does not.

Don't forget, though, that there are lots of ways people can spend their time & energy. For the many, probably a majority, it's not music at all, so they rather passively take in whatever the media feeds them. Many of my friends & acquaintances are mildly interested in my music, but they are busy with their own priorities and don't have time to share my interests to the extent I might like.

I guess I think the advice to go where they are is good. You can have your music appreciated. You may sell some recordings & gain some fans of your group. Just don't expect to create a lot of fans of generic folk music this way.


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Subject: RE: What Is More Insular Than Folk Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 Aug 03 - 08:32 PM

You may be right, Bert. England, being slightly larger than a shoe box, and having a longer tradition (and more pubs per square foot) is very different than over here. If I want to visit a folk music friend of mine, all I have to do is hop in the car and drive for several hours.. I can only talk about over here, and then through my own limited vision.. :-)


Jerry


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