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Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?

GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 06:45 PM
PoppaGator 16 Nov 04 - 06:48 PM
The Shambles 16 Nov 04 - 06:51 PM
Once Famous 16 Nov 04 - 07:01 PM
dulcimer 16 Nov 04 - 07:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Nov 04 - 07:05 PM
GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 07:09 PM
Once Famous 16 Nov 04 - 07:15 PM
GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 07:17 PM
Leadfingers 16 Nov 04 - 07:32 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Nov 04 - 08:48 PM
GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 08:51 PM
GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 08:53 PM
catspaw49 16 Nov 04 - 09:50 PM
GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 09:55 PM
Scoville 16 Nov 04 - 09:55 PM
Once Famous 16 Nov 04 - 10:07 PM
dick greenhaus 16 Nov 04 - 10:11 PM
Bill D 16 Nov 04 - 10:14 PM
GLoux 16 Nov 04 - 10:14 PM
GUEST,Arnie 16 Nov 04 - 10:17 PM
rich-joy 16 Nov 04 - 10:50 PM
rich-joy 16 Nov 04 - 11:06 PM
rich-joy 16 Nov 04 - 11:09 PM
Amos 16 Nov 04 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 17 Nov 04 - 12:36 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 17 Nov 04 - 12:48 AM
GUEST 17 Nov 04 - 02:00 AM
GUEST,Boab 17 Nov 04 - 02:04 AM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Nov 04 - 03:03 AM
chris nightbird childs 17 Nov 04 - 03:09 AM
Neighmond 17 Nov 04 - 03:21 AM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Nov 04 - 03:24 AM
Mark Cohen 17 Nov 04 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 17 Nov 04 - 07:29 AM
Janie 17 Nov 04 - 08:51 AM
Maryrrf 17 Nov 04 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Arnie 17 Nov 04 - 08:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Nov 04 - 09:01 AM
Amos 17 Nov 04 - 09:03 AM
MMario 17 Nov 04 - 09:09 AM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Mike, Halifax UK 17 Nov 04 - 09:47 AM
BanjoRay 17 Nov 04 - 10:22 AM
mack/misophist 17 Nov 04 - 11:21 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Nov 04 - 11:41 AM
Once Famous 17 Nov 04 - 12:00 PM
Mrs.Duck 17 Nov 04 - 12:12 PM
Peace 17 Nov 04 - 12:26 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Nov 04 - 12:38 PM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 01:13 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Nov 04 - 01:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Nov 04 - 01:38 PM
akenaton 17 Nov 04 - 01:55 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Nov 04 - 02:38 PM
Once Famous 17 Nov 04 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 17 Nov 04 - 02:44 PM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Nov 04 - 03:40 PM
GUEST,Kaleb 17 Nov 04 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 17 Nov 04 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Arnie 17 Nov 04 - 03:48 PM
Uncle_DaveO 17 Nov 04 - 03:50 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Nov 04 - 04:28 PM
Cluin 17 Nov 04 - 04:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Nov 04 - 04:40 PM
pdq 17 Nov 04 - 05:15 PM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 05:21 PM
BanjoRay 17 Nov 04 - 05:24 PM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 06:43 PM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 06:57 PM
GLoux 17 Nov 04 - 09:54 PM
GUEST,Boab 18 Nov 04 - 12:43 AM
GUEST 18 Nov 04 - 02:16 AM
The Fooles Troupe 18 Nov 04 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,Arnie 18 Nov 04 - 09:37 AM
Terry Allan Hall 18 Nov 04 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Nov 04 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,Russ 18 Nov 04 - 01:55 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 04 - 02:13 PM
Dani 18 Nov 04 - 02:16 PM
Fortunato 18 Nov 04 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,reggie miles 18 Nov 04 - 03:23 PM
Santa 18 Nov 04 - 04:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 04 - 08:39 PM
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Subject: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 06:45 PM

I'm following Jerry's lead on asking provocative questions...

As an old-time musician, I am constantly amazed by the "knee-jerk reaction" by a more-than-significant number of folk musicians who dislike old-time music. This is not new...I have memories going back 20+ years of snide remarks, cliquish-behavior, and "it's just not cool" body language.

Locally (in the Philadelphia area) there is a series of folk house concerts that I've enjoyed from time to time, and I approached the organizer last year about my band getting on their schedule...her reaction was basically, "Old-Time??? No way". She never even heard us.

To me, the best old-time musicians are the ones who are most respectful of folk tradition.

Is it the folk music = singer-songwriter conundrum?

Is it that folk music must be about "contemporary" issues in "contemporary" language?

In this forum, I've observed posts about old-time music that were, IMHO, uninformed, wrong, and just plain mean-spirited.

Why? It is almost like some are defending a secret consensus among a predominant percent of folkies that old-time is crap. Is there a secret hand-shake?

What are the real issues here?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 06:48 PM

Hmmm, interesting.

Too bad you're in the US, playing American old-time music. I get the impression (by reading Mudcat, of course) that in the UK, all forms of older traditional music are *much* more respected than any contemporary singer-songwriter stuff.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 06:51 PM

From my point of view 'old time' IS American folk music.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Once Famous
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:01 PM

Gloux

The old-timey stuff that I have been exposed to over the years and yes, unfortunately have disliked is because:

A. It's so damn repetitious, the songs seem to go on forever. I keep wondering, "is this the last time we are going to play it through?"
B. It lacks any edge
C. It usually is played without a bass rendering it somewhat hollow for me.
D. The newest song seems to be Old Joe Clark
E. It lacks flashy and flambouyant leads
F. Every one always plays at the same volume as there seems to be a lack of dynamics.

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a folkie, a country singer, and a bluegrass player. I am not saying any of these opinions mean spirited, but am trying to be very honest. When that hammered dulcimer comes out in a bluegrass jam, it can clear out the room.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: dulcimer
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:04 PM

I play folk and old-time (Carter Family era). Much of the music is the same, just a different way of presentation. But....there may be a lot of old-time music that is associated with country music and that leads to bluegrass and what I currently call "rock" country music. So maybe people/folkes don't want to get that close.   On the other hand, I don't like a lot of the contemporary folk music like I hear on the NPR show "Folk Sampler."   Sounds more like "soft" rock to me. I like more traditional folk music.

I play about twice a month with old time fiddlers, pickers, and singers. They do a lot of country music from the 40-70s. I slip folk and Irish in, and it is appreciated (or at least tolerated). I have played in a wide variety of music situations and have never been told what to play or what not to play. The people might not appreciate my playing, but haven't had comments on the selection of music.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:05 PM

Shambles said it. There's a place for contemporary stuff, but it's always second place.

But is this complaint by Glouz really well-founded? Looking at the film of Down From The Mountains, the spin-off concert from Oh Brother Where Art Thou? I got the distinct impression that there's a lot of respect for traditional American music from people whose respect is worth having.

It sounds like that Philadelphia organiser just didn't like folk music.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:09 PM

PoppaGator...you're absolutely right, it is one of those American/Amurican (I'm a search-sensitive (ss) kind-of-guy, unlike Jerry) folk music issues that we never talk about and that our own Martin Gibson (a bluegrasser!!) has recently presented VERY strong negative opinions about that I want to get to the heart of. (Did I just dump some gasoline on the fire? I hope so...)

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Once Famous
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:15 PM

Let's clear the air before we go any further.

I have no malice at all toward my old-timey musician cousins or that they enjoy what they have a passion for.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:17 PM

Martin Gibson,

You (fortunately) have apparently not scratched the surface of old-time (American) music.

I'm not going to, but I feel I could turn almost all of your comments around and direct them right back at bluegrass jams I've been involved in.

Come to Clifftop. Look me up. You'll believe...

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:32 PM

I sing all sorts of stuff and play all sorts of stuff , from Jazz and Blues to unaccompanied harmony ! I get well paid for playing whistle and mandolin in an Irish band and spent yesterday evening at an Irish session . However , Irish music is NOT as enjoyable as English tunes to MY ear , and a whole weekend of Unaccompanied Singing would leave me cold . Its all a matter of personal taste , and bad mouthing someone who doesnt have the same taste as yourself seems to me to be totally unproductive ! We used to have a serious dichotomy in UK between SOME traditional people and SOME contemporary people , which seems to have evened out in the last few years . For Pete's sake , its ALL music , so just enjoy it all !


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:48 PM

Hey GLoux: Which definition of old-timey music are you talking about? The obviously prejudicial one that claims that old timey bands just keep playing the same boring, simplistic tunes endlessly?
THat's not what the Double Decker String Band or Major Contay and The Canebrake Rattlers do (for more recent bands) and it sure ain't what Charlie Poole, Gid Tanner, Grayson & Whitter and the Carolina Tarheels did. Now, I've been at festivals where, the moment I sit down to play a song, I have eighteen approximately tuned banjos and fiddles joining in. If that's what people think "old-timey" is, then I agree that it does go on and on.

Now, we all show our prejudices in here.. me included. I happen to love old-timey music in all it's myriad ramifications. Fortunato (Chance and his wife) do a wonderful approximation of an old time radio program (including phony commercials) and I consider their music olf-timey. It sure as hell isn't new-timey.

Maybe "what we have here is a lack of commnication." You may be dealing with the age old split of singers and instrumentalists (all of whom sing. There are certainly coffee house venues that have developed a loyal audience who come to sing along on easy chorus songs, where they might or might not respond to an old-timer band. Try to sing along on the Chorus to Charlie Poole's Frankie and Johnnie.. Coffee houses and concert series take on a life of their own after awhile, narrowing down to singer-songwriters, bands or more tradition-based singers. There is a little bit of petrification that occurs through time where the audience limits the range of what they are willing to listen to. My best advice is, stay away from places like that. When someone would tell me that their audience wouldn't like my music, I just said, "You know your audience... thanks for being honest," and moved on. When I would tell musicians the same thing who asked for bookings at the series I ran, too many of them responded "I can make anyone like me." Yeah, sure... I was really gald not to book them with that attitude.

Now, I was still running my concert series, I'd book your band in a heartbeat. And my audience would love you, as they loved other old-timey bands. And, just exactly the opposite of what people criticize old-timey bands for, my audience liked them because they put the song first. If that meant a lack oaf fancy breaks between each verse, that suited my audience fine. The came more for the songs than for fancy instrumental licks. Didn't make the audience superior to a bluegrass audience. Just different.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:51 PM

MG-

I'll take the lack-o-malice comment and accept it...

But, let me change my mind and say I lied about turning comments around:

A. It's so damn repetitious, the songs seem to go on forever. I keep wondering, "is this the last time we are going to play it through?"

A.1. Question: Is the use of the word "damn" nice-spirited or mean-spirited?

A.2. Most JAMS that I'm involved with are with people who are just learning the tune, so there is an effort to play a tune long enough to make sure someone who doesn't know it can pick it up well enough to remember it. We try to avoid tunes that have been literally beat into the ground (like Old Joe Clark).

A.3. I've never been to an old-time CONCERT that was "so damn repetitious". Have you ever been to an old-time CONCERT? The Big Medicine concert in West Chester, PA last weekend was phenomenal. Perhaps you're choosing to form an opinion just based upon some JAMS with some old-time starters. Have you ever stood in the shadows of a crowd observing Bruce Molsky in a JAM? David Bass? Rayna Gellert? Rich Hartness? Richard Bowman? My wife, Palmer? There are many more I could list and I'm sorry if I've offended anyone by not including them (that's why I included my wife...).

B. It lacks any edge

Refer to A.3. above. Bluegrass has become too predictable, too formulaic (if that's a word), too rule-driven...and I think bluegrass has lost any semblance of subtlety. The rhythmic subtlety of old-time is perhaps its strongest attraction for me.

C. It usually is played without a bass rendering it somewhat hollow for me.

Maybe this is the olive-branch bridge I can toss to you...There are many excellent bass players in old-time music who have eschewed bluegrass, or continue to maintain a high-regard for bluegrass...but, having said that, there needs to be more bass players in old-time. At a good old-time festival like Clifftop, I would say that good bass players are the most sought-after musicians, followed by guitar players. The principle instruments are fiddle and banjo. Bass in old-time is not glamorous, but if really good, is the heart of the band. I've observed some bluegrass bass players who get into an old-time jam start slapping the bass or otherwise start trying to draw attention to themselves, which distracts from the point. That's a major difference between old-time and bluegrass...the point is to contribute and not show that everyone is a virtuoso.

On the other hand, a lot of old-time is done without a bass. With you being a bass player, I will duplicitously assert that this could be a sticking point for a bass player, but hope you could pick up a guitar, banjo or fiddle, too...

I was just re-reading the liner notes to Gail Gillespie's TRAVELING SHOES CD today and there's a paragraph about my friend, Tolly Tollefson, and her playing with the New Southern Broadcasters:

After spending most of her musical years as a fiddler she has recently found a calling with the stand-up-bass. A multi-talented musician, Tolly enjoys contributing to the music on whatever instrument she happens to have in her hands. As she says, "Playing old-time music is what is fun, the instrument you play it on is secondary."

D. The newest song seems to be Old Joe Clark

Refer to A.3. above. There exists a short list of fiddle tunes that have worked their way into the bluegrass repertoire that is so stagnant that it has never ceased to amaze me (Bill Cheatum (sp), Old Joe Clark, Sally Goodin, Devil's Dream, not to mention the show tunes like Orange Blossom Special, Listen to the Mockingbird, etc.) that the literally THOUSANDS of other great fiddle tunes are so painstakingly ignored so that points like your D. point prevail. A suggestion: get your band to learn Ed Haley's BLUEGRASS MEADOWS. It's completely different from the hackneed, typical BG repertoire, and it's got BLUEGRASS in the title!!

E. It lacks flashy and flambouyant leads

No it doesn't. In a JAM, the fiddle has the lead and the banjo is right there with it. It lacks slick ("LOOK AT WHAT I CAN DO") all-about-ME showiness because the heart of the music is not the individual, but the whole group, or JAM. Most typically, a JAM sounds a whole lot different, rhythmically and intensively (?) at the end than at the beginning, because it builds each time around. Geez, fiddlers like Bruce Molsky get criticized for being too flashy. Of course while singing SONGS while performing in a CONCERT, the vocals have the lead and there are some over-the-top singers today (and of course, in the past)...Ginny Hawker, Carol Elizabeth Jones, Beverly Smith & Carl Jones...Big Medicine's vocals are incredible...so vital...

F. Every one always plays at the same volume as there seems to be a lack of dynamics.

Having no individual breaks cannot be equivalenced with a lack of dynamics. After so many years of listening to it and playing it, I find the formulaic break-taking of bluegrass one instrument at-a-time to be boringly predictable and lacking in dynamics. To hear a rhythmic groove of fiddle, banjo, guitar and (if we're lucky) bass raising the roof higher and higher as the dynamic intensity increases is one of the things I live for.



Martin Gibson,

I'm not trying to be adversarial here, but on the other hand, I can't passively sit by and take your comments about the music I love and have spent so much time working on, without reacting. No malice on my part intended. Just give old-time a real listen...I know a lot of over-the-top bluegrass musicians who have come around to old-time.

Look out. My mission is to convert you...you're doomed...

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:53 PM

It sounds like that Philadelphia organiser just didn't like folk music.

That's my question, too...Why was she organizing for the Philadelphia Folksong Society?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 09:50 PM

I think around here you'll find the premise of this thread is bogus. Then again we have a lot of newer members this past year or so that may differ.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 09:55 PM

Technically, the organizer of the house concert series wasn't putting on a directly-sponsored Philadelphia Folk Song Society event, but the head of the PFSS and other prominent board members were in attendance. The folk scene here is larger than the PFSS and it is a very close knit community.

But, getting back to my point, which Jerry has once again managed to prompt this poster to sharpen, I'm trying to understand what, given the initial responses to my question, may turn out to be unique to the Philadelphia microcosm. We have a thriving old-time community here, but it is only minimally represented in the "folk" events. There are excellent, broadly talented acts (instrumental and vocal) both local and within the greater regional northeast US that could be playing in the "folk" venues but aren't.

This has led to the formation of a small number of organizations in the area that cater to the old-time community, most prominent of which is the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, who has a very vital concert series of old-time and bluegrass in the area. Another organization has recently formed to bring even more old-time music to the area. For example, this new organization is sponsoring a concert by "Jawbone", a new group featuring Tony Trishka, Bruce Molsky and Paula Bradley this upcoming weekend. Major headliners, to be sure, but not sponsored by the folkies, but rather by a grass-roots old-time group. Don't get me wrong, I'm SO grateful for the BFOTM and this new organization's efforts to support old-time...because I'm so much a student and fan of old-time music, I consider myself lucky to live where I do.

Getting back to my original question, rephrased a bit softer, or otherwise embellished...why isn't old time music more warmly embraced as American folk music by the folk community? Why do singer-songwriters dominate "folk" when old-time IS American folk music? Is old-time too grass-roots to be accepted?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Scoville
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 09:55 PM

OK, so I'm not sure why folkies/old-time-ers butt heads, either, and I don't mean to be antagonistic, I sit on the old-time side of the fenc first. I spent my college years playing square-dance music in the midwest (my unofficial minor). There are many enormously talented and creative old-time musicians, past and present. Martin Gibson just isn't listening to the right recordings.

A. It's so damn repetitious.

If you're talking about the instrumentals, yes, it can be repetitious. It's called dance music. It helps keep square- and contradancers on cue. However, if nobody's dancing, it doesn't have to be and shouldn't be. Any old-time band worth their salt can trade off leads and play some variation.

It's no more repetitious than most UK or Irish tunes, really (not suprising, since it's often descended from them).

B. It lacks any edge

What does that mean? Just because a lot of us--not all of us--don't want to cave in to the latest "fusion" fad doesn't mean we lack edge. Part of the point of playing these tunes is their preservation, not their bastardization. I gave up listening to modern bluegrass and country when they became so commercialized (specifically, when Nickel Creek won a bluegrass award).

C. It usually is played without a bass rendering it somewhat hollow for me.

This is a band-specific complaint. Most old-time bands would KILL to find a good bass player. Personally, I think there is a general shortage of competent but not-too-showy stand-up and washtub bassists (bass is the bodhran of old-time music; my friend Rex the bodhran player always says you want somebody who can keep the rhythm above all, play some interesting variations, but doesn't overpower the melody).

D. The newest song seems to be Old Joe Clark

A lot of old-time musicians write their own old-style music and "Old Joe Clark" isn't by any means the best of our repertoires (I personally cannot stand that song and refuse ever to play the melody again; I've hated it since I first learned it on the piano 20 years ago). Even at that, so what if they're old tunes? The traditional UK songs are even older but nobody seems to be complaining.

E. It lacks flashy and flamboyant leads

A) so, not everyone is that egocentric. B) that's not the point; the point is that it's a band effort. C) No, it often doesn't.

F. Every one always plays at the same volume as there seems to be a lack of dynamics.

If you're talking about recording quality: this depends a lot on the band and the recording quality. Many of the recordings I have, even if professionally produced or remastered, are recorded on low-rent if not homemade equipment, which does a number on sound recordings. If there were a *bigger market* for this kind of music, better-quality recordings would probably be available, but since there isn't, these artists are probably funding the recordings themselves if they are recording at all.

If you're talking about arrangements: again, depends on the skill and creativity of the band. I can't believe anyone could accuse the original Red Clay Ramblers of lacking dynamics.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Once Famous
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:07 PM

OK, OK

First of all my "damn" was neither fun spirited or mean spirited.   Let's just say it was....................spirited.

Gloux, you will never convert me. I've been kicking around 40 years and have played with 'em all. I have been to concerts with old-timey acts and they have not been memorable.

I have tried to sit in with my upright bass with this lot and have had to try to pinch myself to stay awake.

If someone does not know what I mean when I say that the music has no edge, than I guess I feel sorry for them.

Defend it all you want, enjoy it even more. I'll take a hot banjo player any day. Thank God music evolves.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:11 PM

Y'know--"Old Timey" catch-as-catch can jam sessions, in common with Celtoid "sessiuns" and Bluegrass jams are essentially masturbatory in nature. Them may be fun for those participating, but they can be a monumental drag for listeners. The biggest objection I've encountered to any and all of them is that they're boring, loud and tend to take over from any other music that may be present.

Good bluegrass is fine (though a bit rigid in structure for my taste); good Celtic music is fine; good "Old Timey" is fine. Too much of any of these tend to be not good. Good or bad, they're loud.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:14 PM

I guess it is the difference between those who like a drive on a mountain road at a reasonable pace, and those who need the Indy 500. Depends on how much adrenaline you need in your system. Fast banjo players amaze & impress, but bore me...


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:14 PM

Spaw-

Ahh...From your "friendly" response, I get the sense that you've got the answer to my question, but you're not talking...

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:17 PM

There are so many great and beautiful aspects to old time music- but I understand how it's an aquired taste. My first old time music fix was listening to The New Lost City Ramblers. I liked a lot of their songs but at first I didn't hardly understand the fiddle tunes. I looked up a lot of the original recording artists they mentioned and listened to them - like Uncle dave Macon, Charlie Poole, Grayson and Whitter, The Skillet Lickers, The Delmore Brothers and more and gradually got myself an education and understanding of the music. I started playing banjo and picking up songs and fiddle tunes from there, and gradually many tunes got worked into my soul. The first time I arrived at an informal old time festival I got out of my car and walked right into the most powerful presence of fiddle music with banjo, guitar and bass I have ever heard - a sound that penetrated my veins. It was exciting, spirited, beautiful and complex and played with sheer love and drive - I became addicted to the quality and the aspects of that music and since then I am constantly still learning great things about it. Old time music can be very complex or very simple - often in it's simplicity the listener doesn't realise the complexity of it until they try to play it themselves. It's an understanding - an education. Once you get it, you're hooked.
Often people ask me what kind of music I play and I try to explain it like this: something like bluegrass but an earlier style related to folk music. It's terribly hard to explain unless they hear it.
In Toronto old time music concerts are few, but are respected by the audience and presenters when they occur. Folk festivals are for the most part not hiring old time musicians unless they are very well known or have big fiddle bands with good looking fiddle playing ladies in them (not to dis them - they are very good too!) and traditional music in general is gradually dissapearing from these festivals in favor of the modern singer-songwriter. This is the age of the singer/songwriter- it's what sells to the buying younger generation for the most part.
At Clifftop - in the hottest old time spot, you'd swear that the music is everywhere and is part of a huge resurgence- and it is true that there are so many good recordings available now and many young people are learning to play really well, but the old time scene is still really pretty small and unknown for the most part.
I have high hopes for the music- I can see the enthusiasm and ability of new players, new tunes are now being made up all the time, and the singer songwriter craze will give way to performance opportunities of traditional music more in the future.
By the way a Canadian friend of mine has released a CD of all new old time Canadian tunes, and it's one killer great recording! Check out Brian Pickell's website and his "Fresh Canadian Fiddle Tunes" CD if you are interested. http://www.brianpickell.com/music/
Arnie Naiman


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: rich-joy
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 10:50 PM

Well, there are a great many Folkies down in Oz who absolutely LOVE American Old Timey music!!! Our beloved 'catter, Stewie, is a notable case in point! There's great HEART in this music!

Bluegrass is popular as well, but there's a perception that BG is perhaps less "accessable" - unless you're a shit-hot player, that is??!!

In Oz, "singer/songwriters" and "acoustic music" are often regarded as "folk music" by the general populace!
But to "Folkies", these categories are, at best, "contemporary folk" ...

Cheers!
R-J


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: rich-joy
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:06 PM

PS


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: rich-joy
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:09 PM

ahhh ... I accidentally hit the "tab" button and it posted me!!


I was about to say that many of us Folkies in Oz also LOVE Bluegrass Gospel (but NOT coz of any religious message!!!)

Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Amos
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:47 PM

Say fellas -- what are some of the great definitive songs that you identify in your minds as "old timey" rather than "folk" or "bluegrass"??

Do you have some idea of a definition in mind that could be laid down for those of us interested in following the conversation?

Is "The State of Arkansas" old-timey? How about "The Unfortunate Man" or, say, "Down in Rackensack", or "Poor Willie Sutton"?

Is "Get Along Home Cindy, Cindy" oldtimey? Seems like it to me, but I am curious about the categories being thrown around here. "Darlin' Corey"? "Roving Gambler"?

Some of these are played more often by bluegrass groups , I guess. Just wondering how the line is drawn as you-all see it.

A


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:36 AM

Amos, hello,

For starters, of the revivalists who specialize in this music, look at anything that has ever been recorded by the The Philo Glee And Mandolin Society(one LP), the New Lost City Ramblers, the Double Decker String Band, Mac Benford, Alice Girrard and Hazel Dickens---.

In the 1960s, these people learned the old-timey structures and sounds and instrumentalities from the great exponents of this music that had first recorded it thirty years earlier. The N.L.C.R. especially taught the generations following them exactly what OLD-TIMEY music was, is, and how to do it. Some bands, like the amazing Red Clay Ramblers took old-timey music in other directions that were wonderfully inventive while still retaining the old-timey sound inherent in earlier inventive bands bands like Charlie Poole and his North Carolina Ramblers.

In choosing their name, the N.L.C.Ramblers were tipping their hats to Charlie Poole and his ramblers. And the Red Clay Ramblers were tipping their hat in turn to Mike Seeger, Tom Paley, John Cohen and Tracy Schwarz----the N.L.C.Ramblers. It realy is amazing how this music keeps on keeping on. As an old style words-loving folksinger, I mourn the passing of the balladeer in this brave new folkie scene. I think I know the secret of the survival of old-timey music though. It's a vital part of the social dancing community. As long as it remains a part of this dynamic social scene it will inspire the youth to pick up and learn these instruments and styles.--------------------------------- As folklorist Archie Green told me back in 1961 at the first University Of Chicago Folk Festival: "There's nothing like a square dance or a revival meeting for populating a new nation." ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:48 AM

Sorry, I remembered wrong. It Wasn't Archie Green who told me that. It was his co-host and M.C. at that festival, Prof. Robert Cosby. (Studs Terkel did some M.C.ing there too.)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:00 AM

Yeah for Art!! (Thieme, that is)

I personally dislike virtuosity for its own sake. Showiness and flamboyance? I have noted that often (but not always, certainly) those who are so incredibly able in their playing can't sing worth a hoot. To ME (who cares, right?) Old Timey is the WHOLE package. The instruments, the singing and the poetry! Folk music (again, to ME) is music that has come from and survived through oral tradition (or kitchen tradition) There are "folk" songs which aren't. I think that these are what might be called "synthetic old timey". Music created to sound like old time or traditional music but which were created last month or are created to speak to a particular event, political position, social injustice, etc. These can be wonderful and powerful but I try to keep these seperate from what I call old timey and don't really like "folk" as a description of that catagory.

I have a large white lapel button which says "Folk You!" I'm not sure where I got it but I know I have had it since 1962 or so.

I think that "folkies" are those people who like "Puff the Magic Dragon" or "Blue Tail Fly" (as opposed to Jim Cracked Corn). They don't like Old Timey because it is "bonafide" (to quote Penelope McGill-Warvey). I think that people who perform folk music, oral tradition music, music from other cultures etc. are performers and presenters of music which moves or informs us or both. I guess it is easier to call them 'folkies' than "people who perform and present music which moves and informs us".

I spent a lovely evening listening to the Ozark Hens (last Saturday) who sing and play old timey string band music and old style country gospel and confess that they do it because they have fun when they do. Me too. I had fun listening to them, I had fun playing in the jam after the performance. People who get jacked up about what is right, correct, impressive, showey and flashy are missing out and missing a point. In the old days, people played music because it was fun. How many of you expect to become "stars"? Reach fame and fortune? Secure a "following". And why?

Coyote Breath


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:04 AM

I think most folks contributing to this thread have much in music that is common to each of them. Various instrumental preferences shine through. Every individual has his own pet instrument[s]. The sound of celtic piping [Scots or Irish] has a "blood-call" for me. Reels and jigs. The harp, fiddle, or elbow pipes; slow airs. M.G. might note that his much-loved upright bass can have little part to play in such, and may even feel like belittling the genre in consequence. He shouldn't, as far as I am concerned. There is an abundance of "bass-friendly" and quality material there for the playing. And I'm one of the host of music addicts who enjoys the good music from that airt. There are fair swathes of the "music industry" which kind of get up my nose. Most of these can be found in the myriad "top twenty" one month [at most] wonders of the pop world, in the "listen to what I have found" ancient rubbish occasionally dug up by "traddies" , and in the insidious trash churned out by those who persistently give American Country music a bad name; a bad name which it need not have, by the way, for there are many truly topnotch ballads in the country genre.
   So I think we should all recognise that there is much in every musical genre that is of high quality and is enjoyable. And there is a fair proportion of each that is plain crap.
    I go to each session with little doubt that I am about to enjoy what I will hear---for the most part. Those who are on the learning curve should have respect too---we all started with raggedy edges [and some of us STILL have them!]


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:03 AM

Most of us, if we're honest. A thoroughly interesting and informative discussion, and enlightening for those of us who would consider "folk" and "old time" to be essentially the same thing approached in a different way. Good upright bass players are in short supply, true; but catch one that can handle a bow and you'll get a whole new perspective on those "celtic" slow airs, for one thing.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:09 AM

Thankfully, a lot of Mudcatters AREN'T traditionallists. We have some very open minds here, and there's always room for something good... no matter what genre.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Neighmond
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:21 AM

I can't play or sing any more remarkably than the next person, but I find that one of our fellow 'catters was right when they said that the difference between old time and bluegrass was with bluegrass the performers use the song to show how good they are, and with old time music the performers use themselves to show how good the song is.

FWIW

Chaz


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:24 AM

I think Greg's point was that the "traditionalists" do respect Old Time, whereas the "folkies" (for which, read "contemporary singer-songwriters and their fans", at any rate in America) often don't. Could be wrong, mind: I'm a foreigner, after all.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 05:01 AM

I think part of the problem is that old-time music isn't at its best when it's just being listened to. To get the most out of it, you have to play it or dance to it. As a contra and square dancer, I'll take a driving old-time band over a bluegrass band any day of the week. The music plays differently, too, when it's played for dancers than when it's played in a circle on a porch. Not that one is better than the other, but when a good band is truly interacting with the dancers I think even Martin would have to agree there's a drive and an edge to the music. And ever since I was in Bruce Molsky's band lab at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in 1989, I've learned what a joy it is to sit in one of those old-time jams with my guitar, being the drum and bass, and hearing the fiddles and banjos get inside the tune, making subtle changes with each repetition. But as my dad used to say, that's why they make chocolate and vanilla. And butter pecan.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 07:29 AM

Well I am a 100% folkie, and I love oldtime music. But I am a Brit folkie, and I suspect the implication of the word may be radically different in America. To my way of thinking, oldtime(in this context) means "American folk music", so it would be funny to be a folkie and not like folk music. But I believe "folkie" in this American context carries implications of "liker of modern singer songwriters", and obviously someone in that category might not like oldtime.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Janie
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 08:51 AM

What Mark Cohen said.

Janie


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 08:56 AM

I am an American "folkie" with a strong preference for traditional (as opposed to singer/songwriters). I have no problem with Old Timey and would consider it to be a branch of American folk music. If I were running a "folk" venue I would book an old-timey band.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 08:57 AM

"Music created to sound like old time or traditional music but which were created last month or are created to speak to a particular event, political position, social injustice, etc. These can be wonderful and powerful but I try to keep these seperate from what I call old timey and don't really like "folk" as a description of that catagory."
The music has to evolve as well to live on and I like much of the new music being played. Some of it I don't like - a matter to taste and open mindedness I guess. I was blown away with the strong music The Horseflies played when I first heard them, but some of the stuff they did I couldn't handle at all. I'm not too fond of a young modern pop singer/songwriter trendy type act suddenly putting a funky version of Reuben in their repetoire and selling 10,000 or more CD's and everybody raves about this old time style discovery. However, even so- it does get something about the music in the mainstream for people especially young listeners to get curious about, and perhaps they will have the initiative to search out the really good old time music players and singers.
"I think part of the problem is that old-time music isn't at its best when it's just being listened to"
Well that depends - listening to some old time jam sessions can be pretty bad often, and playing in some can be just as bad. I have a slew of great listening old time music CD'S modern and old recordings that really turn my crank, and some recordings that are terrible for the average music appreciation listener - so I guess if an unkowing folkie gets a hold of the latter , all could be lost.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:01 AM

Malcolm is spot on about the way that using a bow can make the bass fiddle a welcome instrument in all kinds of music where it normally doesn't fit.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Amos
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:03 AM

I don't think a genuine folkie would prefer Puff the Magic Dragon!! It may be a matter of preference for one definition or another, but I consider anyone a folkie who loves...well...um....folk music!! There, I said it! Modern singer-songwriters qualify if they are writing folk music, too, but Puff ain't it, man!




A


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: MMario
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:09 AM

Coyote Breath said "I think that "folkies" are those people who like "Puff the Magic Dragon" or "Blue Tail Fly" (as opposed to Jim Cracked Corn).

To which I reply "OUCH!"

Not even close to what I would define "folkie" as...


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:27 AM

Very interesting comments. Thank you all for your thoughts. Mark Cohen's comments reminded me of something I read...so I dug it out.

In the liner notes to the Highwoods String Band "Feed Your Babies Onions" compilation CD, Walt Koken writes retrospectively:

Ironically, the more well known we became as a band, the less necessary we were to the growing old-time music scene, since one of the messages of the music is to do it yourself - unplug it, and take it home!

There are some folks who are trying to do both...old-time and singer-songwriter. Beverly Smith and Carl Jones are a perfect example. They put on a great show and Carl's songwriting is superb, IMHO.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Mike, Halifax UK
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:47 AM

I just have to say that I have been a UK folkie for many years but I did spend a couple of years playing 'old time' music (mainly American, Charlie Poole et al) and had some of the best sessions ever. Yes some tunes/songs often went on for ten minutes plus but it was a real opportunity to get into a tune/song and try out all sorts of improvisations and work on my guitar playing technique with other dedicated musicians. Technically and musically I learned so much. You only get out what you are prepared to put in.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 10:22 AM

Yes Greg, Beverly Smith and Carl Jones are great examples of the best of different styles, whom some of us in the UK have seen, heard and jammed with - which is why we're booking them for our 2006 Gainsborough festival - possibly together with Rafe Stefanini, a truly wonderful fiddler.
Ray (Chairman of Foaotmad)


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: mack/misophist
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 11:21 AM

I like both. What I don't like, and what the festival organizer may not have liked, is too big a disparity in the kind of music I'm listening to at a particular session.

Within each genre there's music for the musicians and there's music for the audience. That must make a difference, too.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 11:41 AM

And I'm quite fond of Puff the Magic Dragon, when it comes to that.

I tend to favour a "both/and" rather than an "either/or" attitude.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Once Famous
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:00 PM

Amos, Puff is sometthing that I wouldn't prefer to sing but I have been asked to.

Why? Because it's a beloved American folk song.

I do agree that bluegrass musicians tend to dazzle more. Why? Are they better musicians as a whole? I tend to believe this. It's the ones who don't dazzle or impress me that accomplished musicians might find boring. Unless, of course, their subtlty is so differentiated to compensate.

As far as bluegrass being more structured, yes, thank God. At least we know where the song ends and there is a great chance that we might all end it at the xsame time.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:12 PM

I was introduced to American old time music when I met Geoff as, although definitely a folkie, it is his first love and the type of music he prefers to play on the banjo and more recently fiddle. I was amused by someones complaint about the age of the tunes - hardly expect old time to be new. That said I am a great fan of Kate Lisseur and she certainly mixes traditional stuff with other tunes and songs done in the style of.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Peace
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:26 PM

Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?

This one doesn't.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 12:38 PM

Looks like I am in a real minority, thinking old-time music means older rural music whether sung by a duo, played by a band or played as a fiddle solo.
In the context of this discussion, old-time means string band.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 01:13 PM

I hope you don't feel in a minority because of something I said...I'm in complete agreement with you, Jerry, except I'd add solo banjo like Clarence Ashley.

Was there any old-time at NOMAD?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 01:32 PM

I am very puzzled by the conflation of folk with singer-songwriter. In England that is the great antithesis.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 01:38 PM

Can you have overlapping antitheses? Making up songs is a very traditional thing to do.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: akenaton
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 01:55 PM

Hope I'm not teaching my granny to suck eggs here...But it seems Old timey music is staging a revival in the US.

Iv been listening to a lot of stuff by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
They are supposed to be very popular, and play a lot of Gospel , bluegrass and old time. They have a very authentic and exciting sound.

Another popular group the Begood Tanya's play a lot of old time..Ake


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:38 PM

Yes Magrath, but (thread drift setting in) they do not fall within the 1954 Folk Music Council definition until later...


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Once Famous
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:43 PM

Jerry

There is to me a difference between string band style old-timey music and brother/family style act type of old country music.

This is the disconnect.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:44 PM

Too much overlapping blurs the edges !

Art


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:23 PM

The distinction between old-time string band music and old country music is lost on me. For example, when the Delmore Brothers played with Arthur Smith as the Dixieliners, they were a string band, but when they played as the Delmore Brothers (often with backup) they were old country music? I don't see (or hear) a disconnect.

Old-time string band is old country music. So is solo fiddle, solo banjo, solo ballad singing.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:40 PM

Greg It would seem to me that this has been alluded to above but is it not the fact that folk music to the average American, means the guitar wielding singer/song writer who probably has never or only on rare occasions sung a folk song in his/her life?.

Re lack of Bass players at Clifftop, this certainly isn't the case at Mount Airy but you probably know that.

To Banjo Ray; Who else will be at Gainsborough? I couldn't see any details on the web-site last week.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Kaleb
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:44 PM

Here's some Old Time with edge. http://www.banjonews.com/PrtyLtlGrl.mp3
I like bluegrass but I prefer the tight, driving sound of a hot oldtime stringband like in the link above. Bluegrass tends to be a little too egocentric for me. I heard someone say once that bluegrassers use a tune to show off their talents and oldtimers use their talent to show off the tune.

There's no right or wrong here. Just opinions and personal preferences. There's enough music floating around for everyone to find something they like.

-Kaleb


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:46 PM

Oh boy, where to start!
Supporting evidence for Gloux' original comment: in the Phila area most people who know that we play "traditional music" say "oh, will we see you at the Philly Folk Festival?" and I say "no, the people who run Philly seldom if ever book old time music." We still don't know WHY they feel that way. But the phenomenon is real-- in this area at least.
Martin Gibson-- think Gloux' most recent post a very good question: Fiddlin'Arthur Smith and the Dixieliners are an old time band-- but how come Smith's "sidemen" weren't?
   I think there IS some justice in the idea that a selection of fiddle tunes, with guitar, banjo (and mandolin and bass) alone can be much more interesting to those playing it (or dancing to it) than the listener. But the old bands weren't like that! From my own hero Charlie Poole to the Skillet Lickers and the Bucklebusters . . . everybody has their own favorites. The first of the revival bands, the NLCRamblers, did about 3 songs to every instrumental. Highwoods ditto. Red Clay Ramblers ditto. Those guys put on a good show!

And as for topical songs by good singer-songwriters. . . we're starting to sing songs in code these days, like Tenting Tonight (Many are the hearts that are weary tonight, wishing for the war to cease) and Franklin D. Roosevelt's Back Again. . .

And lastly, I hope that anybody who ever gets a chance will RUN buy a ticket to hear the Run of the Mill String Band, Gloux, guitarist. They are an exception to my opinion in para 3 above.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:48 PM

I'm with Greg. I like to lump all the pre bluegrass players of country music as fiddlers, banjoists, mountain ballad singers,solo country singers (like Jimmie Rodgers), country duets (like The Carter Family, Delmores), stringbands, and maybe jugbands in the old time category. There may be those on the boarder line of old and new- How about The Louvin Brothers - Stanley Brothers - who else?
Some confusion with folkies may be the genre is so big they don't realise it - but that should be the key to it being so good!


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:50 PM

Speaking only for myself, I don't think I'd say I "dislike" old-time so much as I don't get much out of most of it.

Why? Because most of it, in my experience, is group instrumental, and what singing is in it is not usually story-telling, which is "where I live". Much the same reason I don't turn on to bluegrass.

My interest is in the singing, more particularly the story singing. Yes, before someone else says it, there are old-time pieces in which the song tells a story, but I find them few and far between. When I find them, I like them (probably).

Note that I'm not putting old-time down; it's fine for those who look for what it offers, but most of it that I run across doesn't do much for me.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 04:28 PM

Does anybody agree on what old-time music is?

Guess not.

I'm with you, GLoux

Jerry

(I didn't hear any old-time music at NOMAD, but there was so much music there, I'm sure there was some. For tha matter, some of the stuff that the "bluegrass band" Shore Grass does, I would call old-time.. particularly when it includes clawhammer banjo.)


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Cluin
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 04:37 PM

In my experience, the really good musicians are also good people who don't get stuck up about boundaries and definitions of types of music, etc. They may play in their own "style" but that doesn't prevent them liking other music.

The good ones like to share, educate, and learn all the time. They may get tired of playing or hearing some of the old "standards", time and time again, but if they are played or sung honestly or well, or with a different twist, they are pretty open to participation.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 04:40 PM

I think most people out in the wide world would (and a lot of people inside the folk enclave, for that matter) see old-timey and string bands, and bluegrass and "folkies" and traditional stuff as all part of the same thing.

And they'd be right too, when it come down to the wire. The same way dog fanciers might make a grreat thing about particular breeds, but they are all dogs, to people who prefer cats. Or to people who love dogs, but haven't settled to particularl care about one sort and not the others.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: pdq
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 05:15 PM

Wow! This is getting to be a whole series.

If it goes on long enough, we might see topics like:

"Why Bavarian Organ Grinders Dislike Nepalese Nose Flute Players!"


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 05:21 PM

Hoot, I didn't mean to imply a lack of bass players at Clifftop. I did mean to imply that if you're a bass player at Clifftop, you'll find yourself fully employed.

Pete, thanks for chiming in...might be that this is a Philly phenomenon...but from all the contributions, it is definitely an American situation.

Jerry, I do know that friend and NY old-time fiddler Ambrose Verdibello was listed as playing in a band for a contra dance at NOMAD.

I also want to add that I hope I didn't come off as trying to slam the Philadelphia Folksong Society. They did hire Run of the Mill String Band for last year's (2003) Philadelphia Folk Festival which was great. I have to admit to falling out of my chair when they called, but we were delighted to be asked. We appeared in a sea of singer-songwriters and world music (we followed Xavier Rudd!), but we were real glad to be there.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 05:24 PM

Guest Hootenanny - The Gainsborough festival I was talking about was Feb 2006, and so far most artists haven't yet been booked. In the coming february 11-13 2005 we have ace fiddler and nice guy Alan Jabbour, Gandydancer (with Dave & Tim Bing, Gerry Milnes, Ron Mullenex and a bass player), probably Gordy Hinners dancing as well as banjo playing, Ulf Jagfors from Sweden talking about the African origins of the banjo, and British bands Henhouse Allstars and Doctor Proctor's Antidote.
Concerts, sessions and workshops will abound.
Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 06:43 PM

Great job, Ray!

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 06:57 PM

Warm thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread (pdq...LOL!) but I have to highlight my favorite post from GUEST, greg stephens:

To my way of thinking, oldtime(in this context) means "American folk music", so it would be funny to be a folkie and not like folk music. But I believe "folkie" in this American context carries implications of "liker of modern singer songwriters"

Your statements capture the irony of the situation.

Thanks again,
-Greg


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GLoux
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:54 PM

I didn't mean to try to close out the dialogue here because I felt the need to thank the participants, but I am disappointed that some Philly-area "folkies" haven't responded. I feel 100% sure that there are folks from the PFSS-and-greater community "listening" to my comments. You're lurking. I believe I'm asking an honest question and am soliciting an honest answer.

PP said:

Supporting evidence for Gloux' original comment: in the Phila area most people who know that we play "traditional music" say "oh, will we see you at the Philly Folk Festival?" and I say "no, the people who run Philly seldom if ever book old time music." We still don't know WHY they feel that way. But the phenomenon is real-- in this area at least.

This is not unique to the PFSS, but it is defintely a prevailing attitude ssue I'm soliciting illucidation upon is: We still don't know WHY they feel that way.

I'm hoping for an honest, open dialogue to bring the issues forward...the situation obviously seems to be an American parochial issue that needs to be explored (I'm trying my best to be understated).


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 12:43 AM

Cluin---dead right; anyone who hasn't the same outlook is suffering from self-deprivation!


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:16 AM

I think that some truly inspiring poetry is to be found in songs of the string band/balladeer/frontporch/mountaineer/kitchen traditions. Music of unabashed enthusiasm and (usually) honesty. Played for enjoyment for the most part.

True, "Cluck Old Hen" may not be in this catagory but "Cold Rain and Snow" and "Come all you Fair and Tender Maidens" is. To my sense of it, singing is as important and sometimes more important than playing. Listen again to the chain gang singing during the opening credits of O Brother.

When I perform I will do two and sometimes three numbers acacpella. I have done whole sets with minimal accompianment or none. I really love doing "Texas Rangers" and "Handsome Cabin Boy".

I also play "Dixie" and don't sing it's words (insulting as they are).

I've "written" a half dozen instrumentals. When I play them and when I play other instrumentals (breakdowns, etc) I keep it short, maybe as long as two minutes, usually less.

If I am playing for dancers, I play as long as they want me to. I've played "Cripple Creek" for as long as ten minutes, it is physically tiring and mentally numbing.

I'm not sure why I just posted this, It is late and I'm going to bed.

Coyote Breath
(lost my cookie)


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 08:03 AM

Not all do...


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 09:37 AM

Folk Festival director's trends theses days are to discount traditional music as outdated. Your situation in Philadelphia is not unique. Just the name "Old Time" probably turns them off as a passe genre. How about traditional ballad singers? Do they hire them? How many not so famous older musicians do they hire in compared to not so famous younger musicians? Mariposa up here used to be a diverse festival. If you check their lineup at their website from last year you will hardly find one traditional act. It's shameful. The very definition of roots/folk music has morphed into Lord knows what. The acts they get are really good, but they are leaving out so many trad artists from the rosters that the young audience isn't even getting exposed to the music anymore.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 10:12 AM

I like it all. Old-time, "traditional, S/S, bluegrass...it's ALL good!


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 12:10 PM

WE folkies do NOT dislike old-timey music. We love it:

Time was in the 60s that every year at the University of Chicago Folk Fest one could see from what was being played by those of us soaking up the music and trying our own hands at all of it what the "in" music of that given year might be. First, it was old-timey sting bands, then fingerpicking on guitar, then frailing on the banjo, then a capella singing, then mountain dulcimers were discovered" by us, next jug bands, followed by blues bands with locals Butterfield and Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite. Then cajun music, bluegrass---so many others. We learned to go back to the roots--- and we venerated those traditional experts still alive who knew we would take their handoff and run expertly with the ball ourselves if we would just listen carefully to their lead.

Yes, most of all we came away with a real appreciation for "the real thing"---rspect for the roots experts who had, before leaving, laid down the styles in the form of collected tapes made by some great collectors of folk songs. These set the norms for many of us.

Most of all, we loved and still love (NOT DISLIKE) listening to ALL the musical forms that were so generously presented to us by the expert living examples---before they passed on. They left us to carry it on and stand up for what they had preserved.

As an old-folkie, I say here and now that I love old-timey music---and most others as well. If I don't understand the WORLD MUSIC now being lionized it is possibly the result of my fires being partially banked now. It took and takes youth and those glandular secretions of that youth to pursue the artistic passions of youth.

Again, the ideas expressed in the title of this thread are just simply not true.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 01:55 PM

Greg,

I feel your pain.

I was a member of the PFSS for one year because they had a series of concerts that I planned to attend and it worked out to be cheaper to buy a membership. Apparently whoever scheduled the concerts was fired or realized the error of his/her ways. They haven't scheduled anybody I am interested in since.

Anyway, the people who appeared to be in charge all seemed to be boomers or older. My age. So my guess is that the PFSS shakers and movers have gone the way of all us boomers. Their interests have narrowed and focused. However they used to feel about old time music, it floats no boats anymore.

Unfortunately, I see the same pattern elsewhere. I am thinking of another group in the Philly area formerly noted for its support of old time music that will remain nameless. Most of the people who make the decisions seem to have lost interest in old time music. Probably for the same reasons.

One contributing factor appears to be an increasing emphasis on beancounter considerations rather than music. Of course it turns into a vicious circle. Old time events are not scheduled because they won't attract a large enough audience. Because old time events are not scheduled the music does not have a chance to build an audience. When the goal becomes a bigger festival every year, the rules change, and not in ways to favor music with smaller audiences.

It doesn't help matters that the old time community in the area is so unpredictable. A group of us have learned the hard way that the local old time music community cannot be counted on to consistently support the music. It wouldn't surprise me if the PFSS has reached the same conclusions.

Old time music in the Philly area has always seemed to me to be something of a hot house flower. It has never been a part of the "indigenous" musical traditions of the area the way it is a bit further south. Maybe the surprising thing is not that its local popularity has declined but that it was every popular at all.

Old time music started as "fringe" music. It seems to have returned to that state. Not necessarily a bad thing.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM

Is it any wonder that there is a problem communicating in this thread? If people can't agree what folk music is, how can you tell what someone means by "folkie?" Whoever these "folkies" are, they don't seem to like "old-time" music. Whatever that is... Clarence Ashley or Hobart Smith playing a banjo and singing, or Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers.

Apparently, some members of an undefineable group of people don't like some undefineable music.

Dang..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:13 PM

Maybe a "What is a folkie?" thread is called for...


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Dani
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:16 PM

Mark, you are right on! I remember the first time I heard Joe Thompson, the old-time fiddler, play. He was at an open-air thing that was intended to showcase his playing, so just he and a supporting guitar player were there. He played a couple of tunes, then put down the fiddle and said something about how hard it was to play when people are just sitting there watching and listening, that the music was made to DANCE to! My then 4-ish daughter and I took him at his word, and danced up a storm on the lawn... and Joe won my heart.

I have the great honor and privilege of hosting, at our restaurant, Old-Time jams and concerts of all kinds. There have definitely been nights when my staff begged me, "do we have to listen to them play that same song AGAIN!?" I think that's what Dick is talking about! And then there have been the many, many other nights I get goosebumps to see old and young swapping songs, learning, playing and dancing. And then there are the people who sift the 'old' stuff down into their own, people like our own Shivers, like (former Rambler) Bill Hicks and his wife Libby, who played here to an adoring crowd the other night, and like Alice Gerrard, who inspires young players all over.

All that said, Old-Time is not necessarily this folk-lovers cup of tea, but then not every kind of 'folk' music is!

Dani


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Fortunato
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 02:40 PM

Jerry, thanks for the plug! Susette and I appreciate your kind words. We are to folk/oldtime/bluegrass what Doc Watson is (not in expertise or talent or stature, obviously, but in that we play some instrumental fiddle tunes, sing songs collected or recorded mostly by 1942, though Doc will sing a modern song we rarely do). We don't fit all the way in any category except the catchall, 'folk'.

For the Shivers the experience has been that the Folklore Society of Greater Washington(DC), with whom we interact most (some 30 years for me, does not dislike Old Time, rather this group has historically preferred the music they can sing with. There was always a subgroup of folkies that came to see Doc Scantlin's Red Hot Peppers, a Georgia-style twin fiddle old time string band I played with for several years. Or my friends Craig and Bruce in Double Decker and they were the dancers usually (also a subgroup). As a whole the music found on Folk Legacy, wonderful stuff like the Boarding Pary, was more to the taste of the DC folkies in general, and they gathered that music to sing.
They tend not be players, or perhaps not great players, with wonderful exceptions of course. But they love to sing a great chorus and do it well.

For us it's not been a question of dislike but question of folks liking one thing a little better than another sometimes exclusively, sometimes not. I'm reminded of the songs of Craig Johnson that crossed boundaries so beautifully.

chance


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: GUEST,reggie miles
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 03:23 PM

Terry Alan Hall, Cluin, Boab, I'm with you. It is all good. Enjoy what you will and can.

As to the why of this festival's choices, we may never know. I've faced the same from other venues, just as friends of mine have at still other events.

Some friends, mostly originating from the up state NY area, played in a wonderful jug band, and for years, try as they might, they could never get their foot in the door at a certain festival. Oddly, a little combo I played with was hired off the street by the event while busking in the area.

We never applied or even had any interest in performing at the festival. We were all from the Northwest and most of the band didn't even want to spend the time waiting for the event. So, when everyone in the combo I was playing with split to go back home, I stayed and did the gig with the jug band. We had a great time and a great show. The festival didn't get what they initially hired but nevertheless a very fine performance.

The combo I arrived with played our own version of Hippie/Voodoo/Acid/Oldtimey/Fiddletunes and Bluegrass/Jugband/Blues/Singer-Songwriter mayhem. The jugband I ended up doing the gig with had a great feel for the that classic old jug band blues genre and had some wild originals they they performed in that same style. Why their approach to music was not acceptable to the festival organizers is still a mystery to me.

I wasn't able to get back the following year. So, I told the boys in the jug band to go ahead and try to land a return gig at the event using the previous year's performance as a reference. I thought, since they were able to perform with me the year before, and since the show went well, it might have been enough of an introduction for the festival folks to help them get another show at the event, but they were not able to convince the event to host their performance again.

Sometimes I think that that part is the most difficult part of all of this. You enjoy music, and find that folks enjoy your efforts, and so you begin to seek out events to share what you do with others, but cannot convince those who organize the events that you are worth hosting. What do you do in response?

1) Adapt, or find material, or a combo to work with that the event 'will' find acceptable

2) Migrate, find other avenues or outlets for your talent at other events, there has to be another festival out there somewhere

Or, 3) Die, hang yourself by your own necktie, bite the bullet, slash your vital blood carrying supply lines, etc.

I keep trying those first two choices.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: Santa
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 04:00 PM

As an outsider I suspect I'm missing many of the subtleties, but it does seem to me that here there's the same split between those who play the tunes and those who sing the words. Those who like words, whether to sing along with or just to listen to, don't have the same appreciation of "tunes" as someone who just wants to go diddley-diddley all night. OOPs, was that a bias showing?

So there is a compatibility between a singer-songwriter and a singer of traditional songs, ballads or not, that can generate something of an antipathy to a "tune" that goes on and on with repetitive rythms until eventually stopping at some apparently totally random point.

I don't think this is a difference between singers and musicians, as such - few songs survive well without their music. Perhaps its a difference between music and "tunes"?

But whichever you go for, they're all folkies in the UK. Two nations divided by a common language again? Maybe our ghetto is just too small to form significant sub-groups, but the borderline modern singer-songwriters and their fans tend to be loud in distancing themselves from mere folk music.


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Subject: RE: Why do 'folkies' dislike 'old-time'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 08:39 PM

I tend to agree with those who've said that instrumental music is basically for dancing to, rather than sitting and listening to.

If the music is such that people couldn't dance to it, even if they were up for dancing, there is something wrong with the music. (Of course in England the about such things can get in the way, since when people start dancing in pubs - sets and such - it tends to cause problems with the law.)


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