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Folk Music Is for intellectuals

Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 08:10 AM
sian, west wales 16 Jun 06 - 08:32 AM
jacqui.c 16 Jun 06 - 08:35 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 08:36 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 08:49 AM
Paul Burke 16 Jun 06 - 08:57 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 09:02 AM
Leadfingers 16 Jun 06 - 09:03 AM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 09:11 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:13 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM
jacqui.c 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM
Midchuck 16 Jun 06 - 09:16 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 09:22 AM
Barbara Shaw 16 Jun 06 - 09:27 AM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 09:29 AM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 09:32 AM
Amos 16 Jun 06 - 09:40 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:41 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 09:50 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:53 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:59 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:00 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:12 AM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 10:13 AM
GLoux 16 Jun 06 - 10:17 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:19 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:33 AM
IanC 16 Jun 06 - 10:34 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 10:36 AM
Tim theTwangler 16 Jun 06 - 10:40 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 10:45 AM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 10:48 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Jun 06 - 11:00 AM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 11:02 AM
Ebbie 16 Jun 06 - 11:33 AM
GrassStains 16 Jun 06 - 11:41 AM
GLoux 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM
The Villan 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 11:59 AM
GrassStains 16 Jun 06 - 12:07 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 12:15 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 12:30 PM
GLoux 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM
Amos 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM
Barbara Shaw 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Val 16 Jun 06 - 12:37 PM
Barbara Shaw 16 Jun 06 - 12:48 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 12:53 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 12:58 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 01:03 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 01:11 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 01:15 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Jun 06 - 01:16 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 02:05 PM
ard mhacha 16 Jun 06 - 02:19 PM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,Val 16 Jun 06 - 02:28 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 02:53 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 03:04 PM
Ebbie 16 Jun 06 - 03:16 PM
Peace 16 Jun 06 - 03:20 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 03:44 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 04:06 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 04:12 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 04:36 PM
jimmyt 16 Jun 06 - 05:10 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 05:21 PM
Amos 16 Jun 06 - 05:51 PM
Lizzie Cornish 16 Jun 06 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 05:57 PM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 06:00 PM
Peace 16 Jun 06 - 06:10 PM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 06:26 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 06:30 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Jun 06 - 06:37 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 06:48 PM
Peace 16 Jun 06 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 16 Jun 06 - 06:58 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 07:10 PM
Tootler 16 Jun 06 - 07:13 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 07:23 PM
jimmyt 16 Jun 06 - 07:28 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 07:32 PM
Ebbie 16 Jun 06 - 09:05 PM
Alba 16 Jun 06 - 09:19 PM
jimmyt 16 Jun 06 - 09:28 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 10:13 PM
Peace 16 Jun 06 - 10:31 PM
Amos 16 Jun 06 - 11:13 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 16 Jun 06 - 11:50 PM
number 6 16 Jun 06 - 11:54 PM
Peace 16 Jun 06 - 11:57 PM
Amos 17 Jun 06 - 12:13 AM
number 6 17 Jun 06 - 12:17 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 17 Jun 06 - 12:21 AM
frogprince 17 Jun 06 - 12:39 AM
Barry Finn 17 Jun 06 - 01:04 AM
Mark Clark 17 Jun 06 - 02:42 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Jun 06 - 03:37 AM
Tim theTwangler 17 Jun 06 - 03:49 AM
Lizzie Cornish 17 Jun 06 - 04:35 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Jun 06 - 04:59 AM
Lizzie Cornish 17 Jun 06 - 05:07 AM
The Villan 17 Jun 06 - 05:13 AM
Ron Davies 17 Jun 06 - 09:33 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Jun 06 - 10:10 AM
frogprince 17 Jun 06 - 10:25 AM
Lizzie Cornish 17 Jun 06 - 10:32 AM
jimmyt 17 Jun 06 - 10:42 AM
Tim theTwangler 17 Jun 06 - 10:47 AM
Amos 17 Jun 06 - 11:06 AM
Azizi 17 Jun 06 - 11:28 AM
Azizi 17 Jun 06 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 17 Jun 06 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,A bit miffed 17 Jun 06 - 12:50 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jun 06 - 01:27 PM
Azizi 17 Jun 06 - 02:01 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jun 06 - 02:04 PM
Azizi 17 Jun 06 - 02:04 PM
Azizi 17 Jun 06 - 02:05 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jun 06 - 02:09 PM
GUEST 17 Jun 06 - 02:34 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jun 06 - 03:02 PM
The Villan 17 Jun 06 - 03:13 PM
Peace 17 Jun 06 - 03:19 PM
Little Hawk 17 Jun 06 - 03:30 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 17 Jun 06 - 07:10 PM
Peace 17 Jun 06 - 07:16 PM
Ron Davies 17 Jun 06 - 07:18 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Jun 06 - 08:03 PM
Lizzie Cornish 18 Jun 06 - 03:56 AM
ard mhacha 18 Jun 06 - 05:40 AM
Ernest 18 Jun 06 - 06:18 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Jun 06 - 06:40 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Jun 06 - 06:53 AM
bbc 18 Jun 06 - 07:01 AM
Leadfingers 18 Jun 06 - 07:28 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 06 - 08:10 AM
Lizzie Cornish 18 Jun 06 - 08:16 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 06 - 08:27 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 06 - 09:12 AM
Lizzie Cornish 18 Jun 06 - 10:14 AM
GUEST 18 Jun 06 - 10:55 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Jun 06 - 11:21 AM
Peace 18 Jun 06 - 11:45 AM
jimmyt 18 Jun 06 - 12:26 PM
jimmyt 18 Jun 06 - 12:26 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Jun 06 - 12:31 PM
jimmyt 18 Jun 06 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Jun 06 - 01:01 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 06 - 01:12 PM
Peace 18 Jun 06 - 01:14 PM
number 6 18 Jun 06 - 02:04 PM
Amos 18 Jun 06 - 03:53 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Jun 06 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Jun 06 - 04:28 PM
Peace 18 Jun 06 - 04:39 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Jun 06 - 05:17 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Jun 06 - 05:38 PM
Azizi 18 Jun 06 - 05:45 PM
Peace 18 Jun 06 - 05:49 PM
Azizi 18 Jun 06 - 05:49 PM
Azizi 18 Jun 06 - 05:50 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 06 - 05:59 PM
Azizi 18 Jun 06 - 06:50 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Jun 06 - 07:14 PM
Greg B 18 Jun 06 - 07:34 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 06 - 07:42 PM
bobad 18 Jun 06 - 07:47 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 06 - 07:52 PM
Peace 18 Jun 06 - 07:55 PM
bobad 18 Jun 06 - 07:58 PM
Ebbie 18 Jun 06 - 08:06 PM
Azizi 18 Jun 06 - 08:40 PM
John Hardly 18 Jun 06 - 08:50 PM
jacqui.c 18 Jun 06 - 08:57 PM
freda underhill 18 Jun 06 - 09:25 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 06 - 09:35 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Jun 06 - 09:40 PM
Amos 18 Jun 06 - 10:09 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 06 - 10:20 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Jun 06 - 10:22 PM
Ron Davies 18 Jun 06 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Jun 06 - 10:40 PM
Amos 18 Jun 06 - 10:44 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Jun 06 - 11:13 PM
jimmyt 19 Jun 06 - 12:20 AM
Little Hawk 19 Jun 06 - 01:43 AM
George Papavgeris 19 Jun 06 - 04:52 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 19 Jun 06 - 09:37 PM
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Subject: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:10 AM

Back in the 70's and 80's I was running a monthly folk concert series. Every once in awhile I'd book a bluegrass band and I noticed that my regular audience stayed away in droves and a completely different audience came. I wouldn't see the bluegrass group again until I booked another bluegrass band. Very few of them ever came to a folk concert (and the opposite was true, too.) My folk audience had very little interest in bluegrass.

One night at my rare bluegrass concert, I talked about that with the audience and asked if they'd stop by as they were leaving and tell me why they never came to the folk concerts. They made two revealing observations:

1. They didn't want to come to hear someone sitting on a stool playing guitar and singing protest music all night.
2. Folk music is for intellectuals (or at least people who have a college education) and bluegrass was for common people. Or put another way, folk music was Public Television, bluegrass was Hee Haw! (a popular country/bluegrass/ corny comedy tv show at the time.)

I thought the first comment was way off, mostly reflecting the 60's when so much folk music was anti-war or civil rights music.

The second comment was very revealing, and with a lot of truth.. at least in the U.S. To a great extent, the folk revival came out of colleges in the 60's. It sure didn't come from small town, working class "folks." Bluegrass is much more (excuse me) grass roots music. Not that there aren't a lot of college educated bluegrass musicians (or fans.) You're just not likely to run into a lot of folks at bluegrass festivals who listen to NPR (National Public Radio) or Masterpiece Theater. They get their Jeans from Walmart, not L.L. Bean.

Like all generalities there are exceptions, but I thought the comment about folk music being for educated people was pretty much on target. Nothing wrong with it... just a fair observation, I think.

The situation may be totally different in England, but that's the way I see it here.

Any thoughts?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: sian, west wales
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:32 AM

Darn it, Jerry. You keep setting up threads that make me THINK til m' brain hurts.

"Folk" or "trad" music certainly seems to split up into 'followings'. Welsh folk songs have been rather hijacked by the middle class and turned, for the most part,into Art songs. (Unfortunately, not of the Art Thieme variety.) And often only dusted off for big competitive festivals. Then there's the 1970s 'camp' that updated some songs and set them side by side with protest songs and gave them a more 'rock' style. OK. And then there's a 'camp' today that are very accoustic and want to find a more traditonal style ... although that road is fraught with problems too. And then all of the above tend to be considered 'nationalists' - using folk music to promote a specific pro-Wales message, whether they are or not. (In actual fact, using trad music to establish or underpin a national image is a pretty common thing.)

And while all this is bubbling along, lo and behold the blue collar workers are listening to C&W and Sinatra.

Maybe trad/folk attracts people who are interested in figuring out how their communities 'tick', and the fact that it's music comes farther down the rationale scale? And these tend to be perceived as 'intellectual'?

sian


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jacqui.c
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:35 AM

Strange thing Jerry - I've had the same thought.

Just looking at the Mudcat crew I would guess that that theory would hold up pretty well. Simply from the quality of the posts to any thread it is clear that there are a lot of bright people using this site. I've found the same, on the whole, at folk sessions in both the USA and the UK. There seem to be a preponderance of college educated folk in both countries and others who may not have gone to college but would certainly have made it through, given the opportunity. I've also been to Bluegrass sessions and festivals and would agree that the general audience is different.

Maybe it's because there is more history behind a lot of the music and that there is a need, certainly for me, to actually listen to and understand the words of a song, rather than get totally into the rythmn of the tune. Anyway, that's just my opinion, for what it's worth.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:36 AM

Well, I think your depiction of what bluegrass audiences were like back in the day is pretty accurate, but I wouldn't say it is at all accurate about today's bluegrass audiences. I also wouldn't typify the bluegrass audience as 'Hee Haw'. Opry, yes. 'Hee Haw' was just an anomaly, IMO. More 'Green Acres' and 'Beverly Hillbillies' sneering condescension towards rural life and culture than anything else. I have the same complaint about Garrison Keillor, though to a much lesser extent than I do 'Hee Haw'.

One of the best & most interesting things about bluegrass today for me is how it cuts across class lines. The audience for bluegrass has a lot of people in it I find pretty interesting.

You know, a Dan Fogelberg meets Doc Watson sort of effect.

While many college educated or intellectually leaning players are now involved in bluegrass, their involvement hasn't been as revivalists. They jumped in to a river of living, thriving music traditions. Which really did set them apart from the college folk revivalists.

It also makes the bluegrass audience much more authentic and genuine in my experience. One thing that has always bothered me about the Anglo American folk scene is it's pretentiousness and preciousness about itself.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:49 AM

And I would add, in my experience with folk music types, among the American and British musicians and audiences, nationalist identification does have a lot to do with their attraction to their own culture's roots music, even though the vast majority of folkies will vehemently deny they are attracted to the music for those reasons.

Same sort of a denial syndrome you see with love/hate dynamics in personal relationships, actually!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Paul Burke
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:57 AM

What's wrong with being an intellectual? I'd like to bet that in the UK at least, the carriers of traditional music when it was a living demotic culture were generally more intelligent, more inquisitive, better educated (not necessarily formally), and generally more thinking than the general population.

GUEST sounds like our old friend trying to be naughty again. I suppose I'm into English song because I'm an English nationalist, Irish flute because I'm Irish, Swedish fiddling because I'm nordic, and Klezmer because I love my mother.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:02 AM

Yes, North American folk music was always pretty much for white, middle-class intellectuals, the collegiate crowd...while bluegrass mostly was for a different, less intellectually inclined crowd. Folk music was music to make you think, and it was driven by the lyrical content. Bluegrass was music to make you tap your feet to, and the lyrics hardly mattered.

And that explains why I loved folk music and was thoroughly bored by
bluegrass (and the Blues, generally, for that matter).

I love lyrics that make me think about all kinds of stuff in depth. That also explains why I like Bob Dylan so much.

This is the thing that people who don't like folk music just don't get, because they DON'T listen to music in order to think about things.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:03 AM

As Sian said , Jerry , you've done it again !
And THERE is the major difference - People who get into Folk in all its many ramifications tend to be the people who THINK about things , rather than just the surface emanations !!
With regard to Bluegrass as opposed to folk , The Bluegrassers are looking for something with a bit more going for it than the Tuneless Rock or totally bland country , but dont feel the need to look too deeply into the background of the music .


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:11 AM

As far as I have observed Jerry`s observations would not fit the situation in Ireland, where most people - from all parts of society - like their folk music (but I`ve met a few who don`t like their revolutionary songs). Jerry`s observations seem to be true for North America and most of western Europe, though.

Maybe the reason is not the difference in education, but the tendency of folk music (in the sense we are discussing now) to try to influence people. As Jerry pointed out, people still think folk-singers are mainly protest-singers. And many of the big names were (and still are?).

This is ok if you share the political viewpoint of the singer. If you don`t this can become quite annoying. Most people don´t like to be lectured/indoctrinated. The message can be: I am enlightened, and if you don`t agree with me, you are (intellectually or morally) inferior.
Not the best marketing move.

(This raises a question: Jerry, I know you are involved with gospel music - are there many atheists coming to gospel concerts?).

The message of Bluegrass/Country is: we are common people like you. don`t feel inferior*. Plus a lot of the repertoire is orginally folk.
Sounds like a better marketing strategy.

Good thread again, Jerry: keeps me thinking too.

Regards
Ernest

*Please note: I don`t think this is true. It is marketing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:13 AM

I didn't say that folk afficionados were just a bunch of cultural nationalists wearing musician disguises!

I said they are attracted to roots music of their own cultures for the same reasons cultural nationalists are attracted to musical and non-musical cultural traditions. It gives them a sense of identity they want.

I don't believe there is anything inherently evil in cultural nationalism. It only becomes problematical when used as a means of putting another culture/nation down, or manipulating it in political and militaristic terms.

I have no problem whatsoever with people identifying themselves, or inventing themselves, or whatever you want to call it, by their culture or nationality. And that includes music identities.

We don't have to adopt our own culture's music traditions. But many people want to, and I have no problem with that.

Nor would I call them Nazis for doing so (to hurry up and invoke the nasty N-word for nationalism and get it out of the way of an otherwise good conversation!).

There is nothing wrong with intellectuals either. We are talking about audience perceptions, not individual musicians.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM

I'd add another dimension to the conversation. Bluegrass got Da Beat, Folk music don't. Bluegrass music is to dance to, folk singers playing guitar and sitting on a stool are to listen to.

Yes, all these statements are oversimplifications, but I think with a strong element of truth.

Bluegrass has energy; most folk music is more about story telling and is more laid back. I happen to like music with energy and a strong beat (I don't like bluegrass much because I feel that most of it is so strictly homogenized that it doesn't have a lot more content than disco or polkas ... like bluegrass, all three are more "get up and get out on the floor" music. Rock and roll is music to move to, like bluegrass. Folk music is to sway to, and go Ahhhhhh.. appreciatively when the song ends.

I love folk music, and I love ballads but I must admit that if I hear too many thoughtful, sensitive or respectful songs in a row, I need a fix of Little Richard or Dire Straits.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jacqui.c
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM

Too true LH.

I think that Guest is wrong. In my case, anyway. I am English and now live in the States. Living here I have developed, alongside my liking for UK folk music, a real interest in American folk music, which has been drawn from the many cultures that make up the USA.

When you listen to the likes of Utah Phillips putting relatively modern history into song or Gordon Bok or Dave Mallet telling of the working lives of the people they know you have to listen to the words and that gives you more of an understanding of the country.

This, possibly, is why folkies tend to have more interest in the folk music of their own countries - if you can't understand what is being sung because you don't speak the language you're back to just listening to the tune and maybe we want more than that.

By the way, I do agree that some folkies can be rather precious and pretentious but maybe Guest has been moving in the wrong circles. Come to the Getaway, Old Songs or to many of the UK festivals and get involved in the open sessions - that's where you will generally find the people who ENJOY their music and aloow it to continue as a living thing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Midchuck
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:16 AM

The odd thing is, bluegrass existed since 1946, but it almost died in the late 50s and early 60s, due to the popularity of rockabilly. It was the city folkies that saved it, by giving it a different name - before that it was just a particular form within country music, which made it untouchable by educated city people - and bringing BG performers to the folk festivals and to concerts in the city.

One could go so far as to say the bluegrass as a genre was saved by Joan Baez's decision to put the Greenbriar Boys on two cuts on her second Vanguard album. That's probably what first turned me on to it, anyhow.

Of course, I was a freak - upper middle class upbringing and education, but loved country music from childhood until it died around 1985.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:22 AM

Hey, Ernest:

People respond to the beat and a good chorus for many tupes of music. Not everyone who sings sea chanties has worked on a ship. Or even rowed a boat. I've done gospel workshops at Folk Festivals where I was the only performer who believed in God. I've sat next to Jews in Gospel workshops, as well as Atheists. They like the music. My group was even asked to sing at a jewish memorial service for a woman who was Jewish but loved black gospel.

Several years ago, our tenor couldn't make a performance we were doing at a folk festival and we asked Sandy Paton to fill in on a song. We all had such a good time that he ended up singing tenor harmony with us for the full 50 minute concert.. singing many songs he'd never heard before. Sandy was an Atheist, last time that I checked.

Just don't ask me to sing any Republican songs.. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:27 AM

The generalities may have been true for your audiences back in the 70's and 80's, but it doesn't apply today. Have you been to any number of bluegrass festivals lately? Check out the Thomas Point Beach bluegrass festival in Brunswick, ME over Labor Day weekend, and you'll see a healthy mix of Bowdoin college types along with some good ole boys from the back hills and a large number of Boston area urban professionals. And then there are people like myself --lots of them.

I don't see anything especially intellectual about sea chanteys, and some purportedly intellectual singer-songwriters bore former English majors like myself. Old-timey is certainly folk, but there's very little intellect required for Cluck Old Hen or Boil Them Cabbage Down. And some country music fans love the music especially because of the lyrical content.

People sometimes gravitate to what they're used to, what they've been exposed to, regardless of intellectual content. Since I straddle many fences musically (especially bluegrass, classical and folk) I see vast differences in the audiences. Of all the festivals I go to, folk festivals seem to have the most homogeneous audience in terms of appearance, politics, education level. None of which necessarily define intellect.

Interesting intellectual challenge, this thread, Jerry!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:29 AM

Thanks for answering my question, Jerry! So I won`t use the gospel/atheist argument... ;0)

Maybe it was a bad example anyway: Religion often also demands a certain degree of education, and our modern societies are more tolerant towards other peoples beliefs.

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:32 AM

Little Hawk,
do I understanding you correctly {and most others on this thread} to say that the only music that makes people think and the only music where lyrics matter is music that is peformed and produced by White people?

Personally, I can tap my feet and think at the same time. And I gather that I'm not "into" the same type of folk music you are into.

Which brings me to my point that ,imo, your definition of North American folk music as music composed and performed by White North Americans is much too limited.

But what else is new?...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:40 AM

Well, Azizi, Little Hawk, in addition to actually being white, is also a Canadian, so he is doubly blessed with short-sight. Although, to be fair, he did say "FOR white North Americans....". But I think that is a case of confusing your own market niche with the whole damn world. Way too limited.


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:41 AM

Barbara said "Of all the festivals I go to, folk festivals seem to have the most homogeneous audience in terms of appearance, politics, education level."

That is my perception too.

I also agree with you Jerry, that danceability also is a main draw and distinction between audiences.

But that doesn't mean bluegrass and country music fans aren't just as appreciative of story songs/ballads. Quite the contrary, in my experience.

I believe that artists like the Dixie Chicks are a good example of how contemporary musicians are taking advantage of what Art refers to as "the blur".

My entry to bluegrass and country music was not through the folk scene. It was through the dead bluegrass scene, whose demise has been greatly exaggerated by folk revivalists.

I've always been a whole lot more Flatt & Scruggs than that other guy anyway. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:50 AM

Hi, Barbara: Glad you joined in. First of all, I should add that I enjoy Shoregrass very much, mostly I guess because they don't sound formulaic and do an interesting mix of bluegrass, folk and whatever else sounds good to them. Technically, I guess Shoregrass IS a bluegrass band but like some more recent bands, they are far more adventurous.

And Azizi: I don't think Little Hawk was saying things in as limited a way as you heard him. For me, blues (other than the variants on OOh Weee, my baby left me and I'm feeling so bad) not only has rhythm (which I seem to need, like calcium) but it is often thought provoking (but not what people generally mean by "intellectual" which is thought of more as formally educated.) There's a beautiful lyricism in some blues that has always attracted me:

"I got the blues before sunrise
Tears standing in my eyes
It's such a miserable old feeling
A feeling I do despise"

I do feel that music is made for many reasons. Music to dance to usually has simpler, more repetitive, catchy (Or infuriatingly irritating) lines. How many times can you sing "That's the way I like it, Uh-huh!" before going insane? But the music is to dance to, not to reflect upon. Now maybe a folk singer could take that line (or someone like me) and reflect endlessly on the innate selfishness of the line, examining my own conscience and vowing to write a song that keeps repeating "That's the way you like it, Way Cool!"

I never liked disco, or polkas and don't generally enjoy any music that is "danceable" (like bluegrass) because I am a lousy dancer and make a fool of myself if I "get up and get out on the floor." I'd rather people not know how clumsy I am. Folk music is more of a "sit down and listen, and sing along if you want to" music. Barbry Allen doesn't get many people up and out on the floor.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:53 AM

Good points, Azizi.

Perhaps some here forget that bluegrass, as a "blurred genre", was influenced by European American AND African American music traditions, even though the audience and performers are almost exclusively white?

There are also American music genres that are almost exclusively black, too.

I also don't have a problem with that, going either way. Just like I don't have a problem with Irish music largely being by and for Irish folks, English music being by and for English folks, etc.

It seems to me it was the folk revivalists who got people going on all this stuff, because it fulfilled needs in their academic lives, not their musical ones. I still think that is the case with folk music especially.

We don't see near as many musicology degrees with a bluegrass emphasis as we do blues or jazz or folk. Of course, that too will change once a critical mass is reached, and middle class folks who aren't satisfied with the small amount of money a professional bluegrass musician makes, decide to supplement their income by becoming musicology majors!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:59 AM

PS I also love a good polka.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:00 AM

And a good church picnic with rockin' accordions, regardless of the 'music genre' they might be playing.

Rockin' accordion polka music goes real good with barbecue.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:12 AM

And I don't care if the accordion players are Polish, Mexican, or Cajun. Everybody can dance and barbecue at church picnics to pretty good effect (and without being religious), in my experience.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:13 AM

Maybe it is a mix what attracts people: Especially the generations "trained" by MTV etc. are not used to listen for more than 3 minutes anymore...

And before that tv-shows and vaudeville drew their success by mixing music and comedy

Only hard-core fans can stand an evening of reflective singer songwriter material - or an purely instrumental irish session for that matter.

Oh, and Guest: just as the music mixes, so are the musicians. Lots of music today is more a style than a heritage. Leaving apart the Can-a-white-boy-play-the-blues-question here in Berlin one of my favourite irish-style banjo players is Austrian, one of my favourite irish-style fiddlers is German and one irish-step-dancer Russian.

Best

Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:17 AM

Jerry,

I don't agree with the "education-thing", with regard to folk music, because I know some overly educated fans of bluegrass, however I won't deny folk musics' ties to the college audiences from the days of the "folk scare"...I also don't agree with the reference to bluegrass with dance...you can't dance to bluegrass, although it does have a beat. There is rhythm in bluegrass, but it is too "flat" to be danceable, IMHO.

I don't know why I'm so disagreeable this morning. Maybe I should eat some prunes.

I do agree with your first-hand observation that generally speaking, bluegrass and folk crowds don't mix, although there are some folks who strive to stay right between the two genres...David Bromberg comes to mind.

There are too many gross generalizations in this thread that make me uncomfortable. Here's another: I have a book from 1968 by Milton Okun entitled "Something to Sing About -- The Personal Choices of America's Folk Singers" and of course it is a wonderful book, but it is very interesting who the author considers "Folk Singers"...there are a bunch of African Americans included:

Mississippi John Hurt
Paul Robeson
Muddy Waters
Josh White
Reverend Gary Davis
Jesse Fuller
Mahalia Jackson
Harry Belafonte
Odetta
Malvina Reynolds
Richie Havens

I think with our "2006-rose colored glasses" many of these folks would not be considered folk singers today, but it is interesting that back in the 60s, someone reasonably important did.

I'm not sure what my point is here, but I think the prunes are kicking in...

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:19 AM

Agreed Ernest. The global music marketplace has made it so for quite some time.

Never bothered me a bit if a white boy could play the blues, anymore than if a black boy could play bluegrass.

If you can play it, you can play it.

But that doesn't necessarily mean you feel/experience the music the same way either!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:33 AM

Now Greg, when has music not being danceable ever stopped people from dancing?

Rockabilly is danceable. Or not.

But your point is well taken. A lot of bluegrass music is performed while people are sitting and listening, rather than dancing.

Also, people aren't too keen on discussing the high lonesome and/or harmony sangin' thing here, either. To me, that also is a hallmark of bluegrass.

But I'm not so sure I can state unequivocally that you can't dance to Foggy Mountain Boys!

Also, I find that today's bluegrass afficionados know a lot more about trad folk than today's folkies know about bluegrass.

Why? Well, they draw from the same well. They just use a different methodology? A different bucket to draw the water, so to speak.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: IanC
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:34 AM

Well, I think this is one reason why I'm getting more and more reluctant to call what I do "Folk Music". Most of it's traditional, but what the hell.

For me, folk music is for the people in the bar of the Rose & Crown. Especially the drunks (regulars), as they tend to appreciate it more in the long run.

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:36 AM

No, you don't understand me correctly, Azizi. ;-) I am saying that the folk music of the 60's and since has had mostly a white following, and that it has been a style of music that, more than most other populuar styles of music, attracted people who liked songs that make them think.

I never said that it's the ONLY music that makes people think nor did I say that ONLY white people like music that makes them think!   

Classical music attracts a thinking crowd. Some rock music attracts a thinking audience too...depending on the songwriter. I love Dire Straits, for example, because I find that Mark Knopfler's songs DO give me a lot to think about.

Jackson Browne was always a songwriter for the thinking listener, but is he a folk musician? Not exactly. He has some folky aspects, but he seems just as much rooted in pop/rock as anything else...that California sound. Warren Zevon makes me think. He's basically a rocker. Van Morrison makes me think. What would you call his music? It has some folk overtones, but it also combines rock and jazz. And so it goes...

There are some songs in almost any genre of music you can mention that will attract an audience who like songs that make them think...but that depends on the songwriter.

Al Stewart definitely wrote songs for the thinking listener. That's why I love Al Stewart. He was seen as a "folkie" in the early days, because he started out as one guy playing a guitar and singing original songs, but he ended up doing a very sophisticated style of band and orchestral music with extraordinary lyrical content that could hardly be termed "folk" in the usual sense.

The point is, what do the majority of fans of a music style listen to that music mainly for? How's this for a ballpark guess:

rock - the heavy beat and the party atmosphere
jazz - the "groove" and the instrumental technique
rap - the heavy beat and the "attitude"
blues - the riffs, the beat, and the attitude
classical - the sound and the intricacies and the tradition
opera - same as classical, plus the spectacle
bluegrass - the general groove and the beat
pop - the beat, the emotional content, the tune
country - the cultural sense of belonging (actually THAT applies to ALL the above), the beat, the twang, the emotional content

and then theres....

folk - the LYRICS, the message, the meaning, the sound, the cultural traditions in many cases....but NOT the beat!

And yet...some folksongs can have a great beat.

So, the only really crucial difference I see with folk music is that more than any other general category of music it attracts an audience that is very focused on lyrical content of a more complex and varied nature than is usually found in popular music....and it attracts an audience that is less focused on "the beat" or "the partying" aspect...not that they are incapable of appreciating a good beat when they hear it or a good party when they're in the mood for one.

Does that help?

Amos, I specifically indicated in my first post that I was describing North American folk music, as I know it. And that was all. My impression is, for example, that folk audiences in the UK have a stronger contingent that specifically focuses in on Trad songs...but curiously enough, the UK audience was also more inclined to pay close attention to strong modern lyrical content (such as Dylan) than their North American counterparts. When Dylan hit the British consciousness he just became HUGE over there in a very short period of time, because of his lyrics. The North American audience took a little longer to accept him on a mass basis, I think, although he certainly had a very strong cult following early on.

Also, I basically grew up in New York State, not in Canada. I lived in New York State from 1958-1969, and that period encompassed my entire early experience (the first ten years) of exposure to folk music. How does that render me someone who only sees folk music, as you suggest, from an insular Canadian aspect? To the contrary, it was the folk music happening IN the USA that got my attention. I can't help it that several of the most important early folksingers of the time, performing IN the USA, were Canadian: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell....hey, Canada had good representation for a small power, eh? ;-) But at the same time I was also listening to Dylan, Baez, Ramblin' Jack, the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, Judy Collins...all of whom were American...and I was listening to English or Irish players too.

I am NOT confusing my market niche, as you put it, with the whole world...I'm just talking about the music that I personally liked and listened to at the time. Why would I assume that that was "the whole world"? It was just my part of the world at the time, that's all, and what separated the people who liked "folk music" from the people who didn't, in my experience, was, the people who liked the folk music tended much more to listen to the words.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:40 AM

Oh sh*t all this time I thought I loved folk music and really I only like Bluegrass because I didnt go to colledge and am a common working bloke in the uk.
The least intresting bit about folk music is the long winded explanations about why some one is going to sing a song and why they think some one else wrote it and why we should therefore value it highly.
Music either moves you or it doesnt. It doesnt make the music bad or the listener an intelectual.
IMHO
Ask any one in UK how many folk clubs are overrun with pretentious preachy middle class types who prattle and preach instead of playing
Then ask how many folk clubs would be left if there were no middle class etc etc .......get my drift?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:45 AM

I don't think Bluegrass is much for dancing, but it IS for toe-tapping. In other words, the rythm and beat and the fast picking are crucial to most bluegrass. That's what the bluegrass audience is mainly there to hear, as far as I can see.

What does a bluegrass ace performer aim for in his mind? He wants to pick cleaner and faster than anybody else can.

What does a folk ace performer aim for in his mind? Terrifically meaningful lyrics that say something better than anybody else could have said it...wedded to a good tune, if at all possible.

Those are totally divergent objectives, although they are both certainly worthy objectives in their own right.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM

GLoux - I'm wondering if Milton Okun is African or African American. The last name sounds Nigerian, then again I'm probably thinking of "Ogun" and "Oshun"-Yoruba dieties....

Wikipedia has this entry for Milt Ogun:
"Milt Okun (born 23 December 1923 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American arranger best known as a member of The Belafonte Folk Singers with Harry Belafonte.

Okun also recorded several albums of his own in the 1960s. Has made arrangements for a large number of well known artists like The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Brothers Four and John Denver."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Okun

-snip-

Also, check out these entries for Milt Okun:

Miscellaneous Crew - filmography
(1990s) (1970s) (1960s)

The Indian Runner (1991) (executive: Cherry Lane Film Publishing)
... aka Indian Runner (Japan: English title)


Golden Rendezvous (1977) (music consultant)
... aka Nuclear Terror (USA: TV title)


Gone Are the Days! (1963) (conductor: choral music, "Happy as the is Long" and "Massa's in de Cold Ground") (music adaptor: "Happy as the is Long" and "Massa's in de Cold Ground") (music arranger: choral music, "Happy as the Is Long" and "Massa's in de Cold Ground")
... aka Purlie Victorious
... aka The Man from C.O.T.T.O.N. (USA: reissue title)
The Young One (1960) (music arranger: song "Sinner Man")
... aka Island of Shame (UK)
... aka Joven, La (Mexico)
... aka White Trash (USA)

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0645800/

-snip-

All this to say, if Milt Okun isn't Black, he did alot of work with and about Black people {And I'm not counting the White Trash film}

That may account for his inclusion of Black artists in his folk music book.

I'm just saying...




Also,


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:48 AM

Yes, Tim, the vital thing about any music is...does it move you? And that's why I like music from many different genres, not just what is termed "folk music".


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:00 AM

Having done a "folk" music radio show for a few decades and now booking a local coffeehouse, I have tried to get a feel from family, friends, and others who do not attend folk music concerts. There are actually several stereotypes at work.

1. Kumbayah music. Some people view "folk" as something that is sung in church basements and is one step away from being a cult. That is a quote from a co-worker at my "dayjob".   I know that growing up one of the places I heard folk music was at church (yes, I used to attend) where a guitar was brought out and we would sing songs that we were told to sing.

2. Tom Dooley grandparent music. I have relatives that feel this way. This is music that shows up on PBS fundraisers and is played for geriatic audiences that are too tired to sit through those loud doo-wop concerts.

3. Singer-songwhiners. A more recent stereotype. "I don't want to hear people crying into their beer" was an answer given to me by a so-called friend. Instrospective songwhiners have created an image. A sub genere is the SWGWG - single white girl with guitar.

4. History teachers. My daughter felt this way. This is close to Jerry's "intellectuals".   Because folk music is often introduced in schools to help teach subjects, there are many young adults who will turn up their nose when they see the word "folk" if they are looking for some entertainment.

5. Bomb throwing radicals.   A quote from a politically middle-of-the road co-worker. Often folk music is shown on television with images of musicians singing protest songs - often Peter, Paul & Mary doing Blowing in the Wind. The McCarthy era also feeds into this. It has created an image that audiences will be subjected to diatribes meant to incite overthrowing the government.

There are some truths in all of the above. Often the music is presented only to reach out to an older audience or making weak gestures to reach out to others.

The bottom line is - you can't patronize the "non-believers", nor should we perpetuate the stereotypes. The music is what the music is. People will be attracted to it for different reasons.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:02 AM

Hmmm..."Also"???

Pardon me as I leave the discussion for a time and put on some Billie Holliday while I think about what else I meant to say...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:33 AM

Wow. That last, Little Hawk, is perfect. I like bluegrass because of its energy, its clean picking, its harmonies, its mix of instruments- but I don't think I know a single bluegrass song in which I consider the lyrics to be the most important part. (Oh, wait, how about 'The Fields Have Turned Brown'? That's a heartbreaker.)

I tend to agree with GLoux:
"...you can't dance to bluegrass, although it does have a beat. There is rhythm in bluegrass, but it is too "flat" to be danceable, IMHO. GLoux"

It seems to me when members of the audience get up and dance to bluegrass it's more of a hop up and down motion. It ain't purdy!

I like country because it's a down home thing to me, it's what I grew up with. There are- or were - some good songs in it but as a general thing the lyrics of most of them are not earth shaking. I have a musician friend in Juneau- Don Drew - who sings the old country songs (he has a great voice and tremendous control) of pre-1965 and I love them; it's a nostalgia thing. Don, incidentally, is black.

I love 'folk' music because of its nuanced lyrics, the mood it so frequently creates. I listen to folk songs.

Juneau is a linear town- narrow but long. The downtown area, which is where the Capitol and the government buildings are, is considered much more liberal politically than the Mendenhall Valley area less than 10 miles away. These differences are reflected in a number of different ways.

* The Valley has the honky tonk bars (Why isn't 'honky' in this context considered peforative? *G*), the roughhouse boxing and our local version of Hooters. Oh, and the prison.
* Downtown Juneau has the coffe houses, the theatres, the folk music venues, the performance halls.

** This categorization, of course, is grossly over-simplified. Our Friday night music, for instance, draws several people from the valley, one who sings Steve Goodman, John Prine, Shel Silverstein, Jesse Winchester, and others; another who sings Donovan (one member of the group is trying to expose her to Townes Van Zandt in an effort to wean her from Donovan. *G*)

The most striking thing I ever experienced in this town - musically -was some years ago when the local police academy booked Jerry Reed, the country singer.

I went because he was a part of my younger days. What amazed me was that even though it was a full house, I knew only three people in the line there. And one of those was the sound man.

Evidently these were people from the Valley, people I normally didn't run into.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GrassStains
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:41 AM

I'm with Barbara Shaw and Greg on this, though as others have said, it's been interesting to think about. But the subject line and general line of thinking do seem too full of generalizations. Partly I'm thinking of such bluegrass greats as Vassar Clements and Del McCoury and The Country Gentleman: we're WAY past toe-tapping in how these people have reached me. Partly too I am thinking of the other music I am immersed in, Irish traditional music, especially the purely instrumental, unison music known for its rhythmic energy. It seems every bit as atractive to intellectuals as to those who might classify themselves otherwise. I wonder if one useful distinction between folk and bluegrass, however, might be that bluegrass is, first of all, relatively new, and second (and related), more a recording and performance tradition than a back porch stomp, so it may have a more commercial element in it and in that way attract a different crowd??

Interesting, though. Still kinda scratchin' my head.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM

GUEST, I didn't say you couldn't dance to bluegrass. You can dance to tiny voices in your mind if you want to.

I've played for a bunch of square dances and contra dances in various old-time bands over the years, and I've played in bluegrass bands, too. Generally speaking, bluegrass's focus isn't to get people to dance.

Azizi, here's a link to a photo of Milton Okun.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM

Blimey Tim, I didn't realise that at MRFC there is you and us LOL

I enjoy listening to the background information concerning a song.

Graham Moore wrote a song about father and his son and did it to the Lords prayer, I think. It didn't mean much until he told me about the reasons for writing the song. Did the hairs on the back of my hair rise from then on. Brings tears to my eyes.

Les


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:59 AM

First, let me thank Jerry also for starting this thread. I disagree with some but not most of his assumptions about folk and bluegrass.

But I also disagree with others about folk and bluegrass too.

Here is a great example. Carol, I would say that, according to my definitions of folk and bluegrass, bluegrass is older than a lot of what we are talking about as 'folk'!

I don't use the term 'folk' music to apply to anything other than the 60s revival.

Other than that, I use the term 'traditional' music.

Now, just to complicate matters, I would define bluegrass as a new shoot off a traditional music root.

Part of the problem here is where we demarcate the boundaries between traditions and genres.

One way to talk about it is to say that music traditions are culturally defined, and music genres are stylistically defined. But that isn't the only way to talk about it.

We all (should) know that music definitions, labels, and boundaries are pretty fluid these days, and that no one definition, label, or boundary works for all of us all the time.

I also pay attention to how technology and globalization has changed traditions and genres, just like it has changed our perceptions of those traditions and genres.

But I'm ok with that sort of ambiguity, because I just love music! Lots of it, and lots of different sounding music. I don't care if it is archaically old, or brand spanking new. I love both "old" sounding and "new" sounding music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GrassStains
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:07 PM

Guest, I would agree with you. I did not mean 'folk' in the sense you use it--I was thinking 'traditional.' Sorry for the confusion.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:15 PM

Hey! What an interesting mix of perspectives... all with their element of truth to them. And I take it back... bluegrass is more sit and listen to music in most contexts, not dance music.

I'm still trying to think as I type.

Certainly a distinction between bluegrass and folk is the emphasis on lyrics versus instrumental prowess.

I really love the Stanley Brothers, although I generally don't enjoy bluegrass much. Maybe I like them for the same reason that I like Shoregrass. I like their harmony singing and their choice of material. Bluegrass harmony in its most traditional form is so stylized and cast in stone that you could probably do a computer program and print out the exact notes for each part, just knowing the melody. It doesn't have to be that way. I also love the singing of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and have several of their albums. And of course, Alison Krause and the Whites.

Dang! (to quote Bobert) I like a fair amount of bluegrass for someone who doesn't like bluegrass...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:30 PM

And Jerry, for bluegrass not being dance music, an awful lot of folks are up and moving around to it a lot at the festivals I go to! But as Ebbie noted, it isn't exactly pleasing to the eye sort of dancing! It isn't a structured sort of dance the way square dancing or polka is, for instance.

The haughty sniffing from some that the players' intention is NOT to make dance music (say in the same way a lot of instrumental Irish trad is dance music), there is a lot of audience movement to the music at bluegrass festivals especially.

But I agree, it is not a dance music tradition. It is a foot stompin' twirlin' in circles, and bobbin' up and down sort of music.

I think that high lonesome sound draws at least some stylistic conventions from shape note, hence it's highly stylized sound. It's either a sound you like or you don't, usually. Though for some it has become an acquired taste.

I like both the bluegrass solo singing and the harmony singing, depending upon the songs and the singers. I like old bluegrass and so-called newgrass. I'm enamored of the bluegrass albums Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton made. I don't own them, but I enjoy hearing them and would love to see them perform the songs live.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM

Azizi, there appears to be some sort of problem with my link to the photo of Milton Okun, sorry...if you Google/Image with Milton Okun, you'll see a bunch of images of projects he's worked on over the years, but if you weed through it, you'll see a photo of him as founder of Cherry Lane Music Group. You'll see that he's white.

Jerry, I think the Stanley Brothers did a great job blurring the distinctions between bluegrass, old-time and the brother duet...what could be better? I've often wondered what they would be like if Carter Stanley were still around today.

With regard to your original topic, I guess that people are going to like what they like, and dislike what they dislike.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM

I think there is a certain projection of pure human feeling in good music of any genre. You can take on of the sappiest songs ever written -- "What a Beautiful World". Out it in the hands of a real showman like Satchmo, and it becomes a world-class bit.

Take high technical excellence, on mandolin or banjo, and crafty lyrics, but put them in the hands of people who are merely technicans, and you get technically excellent bluegrass that really doesn't inspire much. But three guys having fun and pouring out the feeling can make even the most ordinary bluegrass tune sound like a humdinger and get people's feet tapping.

This is a subtle distinction, and technique definitely is a necessary component of the art, but without the critical skill in generating connection with the human frequencies, it doesn't pull the freight by itself. When the balance is right you can do "Greensleeves", "Sally Gardens", or "Bile Them Cabbage" or "Wabash" or "Stewball" and people will nod and hum right along for the pleasure of it.

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM

There is a fair amount of bluegrass that I do NOT like, believe it or not! I can get pretty tired of the old chestnuts pretty quick. Thanks, Jerry, for all the good ShoreGrass remarks! We need more people like you who don't like bluegrass!

Coupla quick comments:

GrassStains said that bluegrass had "more a recording and performance tradition than a back porch stomp, so it may have a more commercial element in it"... This is apparently true of the early days, but today it definitely has more of a "back porch stomp" to it, especially around MY house. One of the reasons it is growing so much in popularity --yes, it is-- is because it is so participative and many people who start out as audience eventually take up an instrument and join in.

Bluegrass is generally not dance music, although a lot of the faster stuff --there are LOTS of slower songs, by the way-- is toe-tapping. It is rhythmic, however, with much less room for creative fluctuations and interpretations of tempo such as found in classical and some folk. There's no conductor to keep everyone together, and there are multiple musicians in a band or jam who need to hang together, after all.

(I'll be back...)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:37 PM

Something that seems to have been almost touched upon in this discussion but not quite explicitly brought up for consideration (unless I missed something in this read-through):

Could MARKETING be one factor that defines an audience?

Bluegrass is a style that is easily sold to radio stations, record stores, etc as a sub-genre of Country (is it called American Country over across the pond?). And if the radio stations & record stores don't want to split it out on it's own, it can be lumped with other now-popular Country stars. But the ability to pigeonhole an album is central to The Music Business these days.

So you get a bluegrass-style piece on an album that gets pushed Up The Charts by promoters, and consumers become familiar with the style - so they go to concerts.

"Folk", on the other hand, has not seen the same marketing blitz in the past couple of decades that you've gotten with Country. Perhaps because it's harder to pigeonhole, perhaps because Record Companies didn't want to bother with the potentially controversial subjects from singer-songwriters, perhaps because "toe tapping music" pulls in more Consumer Dollars than historical or "intellectual" Folk, perhaps for some other reasons. For whatever reason you don't have Promoters trying to sell out stadiums to see a Folk singer. (yeah, there are exceptions)

So maybe part of the difference (Folk vs. Bluegrass) is the Folk audience seeks out music that is not so heavily marketed. And some of the Bluegrass audience didn't realize they liked Bluegrass until they heard it on the radio.

Also (and this has been sort of touched on earlier as well) Bluegrass as a style is fairly narrowly defined. Heck, the term was coined specifically to tell audiences that "this band plays music like that other band"! So the audience has in advance a really good idea the sort of music they'll hear. If they like one Bluegrass band, they'll probably like 'em all. With Folk, unless you know the particular performer you might not have any idea whether you'll like the show. It takes a different sort of person to plunk down some of their limited entertainment budget to go see a show that will probably make them think, but otherwise may or may not be a style they're in the mood for.

Val


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:48 PM

Sheeesh... would you all mind just turning off your computer and refraining from posting any more thoughtful and intriguing comments on this thread, so I can GET SOME THINGS DONE?????!!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:53 PM

That was a good rundown of a number of the "folk" stereotypes that may come into people's minds when they think of folk music, Ron Olesko. Well said.

Of the ones you mentioned, I favor the last three more...

1. Kumbayah music?   Bores me.

2. Tom Dooley grandparent music? Also bores me.

3. Singer-songwhiners? Yeah! That's the aspect I most relate to in what I term "folk music". It all basically came from Bob Dylan, but before him it came from Woody Guthrie and a few others. To me it was people like: Dylan, Jackson Browne, Baez (in her later career), Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Al Stewart...THAT was the folk music that really turned me on. The songs can be about ANYTHING...certainly not restricted "people crying in their beer".

4. History teachers? Yeah! You betcha. The Trad stuff is great for developing a keener sense of history and culture, and most of the better singer-songwriters have a way of building on that and harkening back to it in various ways, while Al Stewart, for one, has built up a repertoire of historical songs that are pretty amazing.

5. (so-called) "bomb throwing radicals"? Yeah! ;-) Heh! I value the fact that folk musicians have had the imagination and the guts to challenge the ruling forces in society (which are huge financial interests and military industries), that they have traditionally taken the side of the poor, the disenfranchised, the powerless, that they have tirelessly opposed fascism in all its guises...You betcha! It's a vital part of the folk tradition.

Folk music is for the revolution and it is against all tyrannical rule by the privileged few who have 98% of all the money. It is the music that inspired the fight for unions, back in the early days (though unions have mostly become a corrupt power structure since). It is the music of social ferment and the voice that is raised against the Big Bosses and oppressors of the common man, whoever or wherever they may be.

Azizi - I might mention that although the folk audience was primarily middle class white people, it was that very middle class white contingent who fought passionately for integration and the establishment of racial equality in the late 50's and the 60's when the crucial battles in that fight were being fought! Joan Baez marched beside Martin Luther King at the early demonstrations and put herself in the line of danger again and again in that regard. So did Judy Collins. So did many others among the white folk musicians. Dylan wrote many of the greatest anthems protesting the terrible treatment of black people and calling for change. He has done so all his life. Without the support of that white middle class contingent (most of them from the northern "liberal" states that tend to vote Democratic in most elections), without the support of those same middle class white people who loved folk music, blacks in the Deep South would have been pretty much on their own.

If this is not remembered and appreciated anymore, then it's a damned shame.

The Folk Movement in the late 50's and the 60's had 2 great passionate political causes to fight for. One was to end the War in Vietnam and bring American soldiers home. The other was to end segregation and see that black people had dignity and equality with white people in America. That WAS the folk movement.

There were also numerous black musicians who were part of folk music at the time, and beloved to the folk audience. Among them: Odetta, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, and Taj Mahal, for example. They were playing to a primarily white middle class audience, and that was no problem for anybody, it was just the way it was at the time. The majority of the black music audience, as far as I know, was focused on other styles of music such as Rythm and Blues, Doo-Wop, early Motown, and that sort of thing.

Harry Belafonte's Calypso sound was certainly well liked by much of the white folk audience too, and he always had good connections with the folk musicians and the liberal poltical causes associated with that community.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:58 PM

Val, I don't know what radio you listen to, but I wouldn't say that bluegrass music is played more often than folk music is on radio.

Contemporary country music commercial radio plays bluegrass about as often as adult contemporary commercial radio plays Malvina Reynolds. or Pete Seeger. That is to say: never!

I listen to public radio to hear bluegrass through broadcast media. But even then, I don't hear much of it. Once a week programs, usually.

Maybe that's another difference! Folk is public tv fundraiser weeks and bluegrass is Saturday morning and Sunday night public radio? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 01:03 PM

I'd be surprised if anything was played less on radio than folk music! ;-) But it's hard for me to know, because I don't normally listen to radio anymore, and basically haven't since the early 70's. I listen to CDs and records. That way I choose what I get to listen to, you see, and I don't have to put up with a barrage of commercial advertising and other crap I have no interest in.

If most people were like me, the radio and TV stations would be out of business. They'd be defunct. Or else they'd change...and quit being just a vehicle to flog consumer products.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 01:11 PM

Actually, I listen to the internet more than anything nowadays!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 01:15 PM

Same here. Due to the Internet I find that radio, TV, and the telephone are all becoming more or less obsolete in my life. Mind you, I gave up on radio and TV a long time ago regardless...because of the commercials, and because they mostly were not offering much I wanted to listen to or watch anyway.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 01:16 PM

Thanks Little Hawk. I agree with most of your takes on the stereotypes I mentioned. The stereotypes I mentioned are not those that I agree with, BUT, I pointed out because they are actual comments I've heard from people who do not listen to the same music that I do. While these stereotypes that others have perpetuated is a turnoff, those of us who choose to keep an open mind discover things we like. The beauty of "folk" music, no matter what the individuals definition may be, is that there is usually something that can be enjoyed by those with "other" tastes.

It isn't for everyone, but the nice thing is that usually there is something for everyone. The problem becomes how it is presented.

Kids won't eat their vegetables if you preach to them that it is good for them - they will enjoy their vegetables when they discover for themselves that they like the taste. The same thing with music. Every individual, and for that matter every generation, discovers a music that relates to their specifics.   What worked for us 20, 30 or 40 years ago won't have the same meaning to someone born in 1990.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 02:05 PM

Part of the problem some of us have with the Official Definition of Folk Music (tm) here is that it is too often exclusively white guys. When it's "progressive" a few token black guys and women get tossed in for good measure.

See, I'm more of a Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman folkie than a Dylan/Seeger/Guthrie or Carthy/Swarbrick/Waterston folkie.

I never bought Dylan records, though I did buy The Band. I bought Richie Havens, Gil Scott Heron, Laura Nyro, Emmy Lou, and Gram & Chris Cosmic American Music records.

I don't own now, and never have owned a record or CD by Dylan, Seeger, Guthrie, Carthy, Swarbrick, Waterston, et al. Oh wait, I do have a couple of Arlo's records. But no Woody.

So Little Hawk, maybe you should think about diversifying your music idols a bit. They seem rather staid, stodgy, and well. White guy.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: ard mhacha
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 02:19 PM

Ernest is correct in stating that in Ireland all and sundry sing and play the music of the country it dosen`t matter what your background is,I have seen the College Professor play alongside the factory worker.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 02:25 PM

I would like to make several points:

Greg, thanks for the that information about Milt Okun. You will note that I wrote that "if Milt Okun isn't Black, he did alot of work with and about Black people.." which may have accounted for him including a number of Black people in his list of folk artists.

....


I continue to place myself among the ranks of those on Mudcat and elsewhere who believe in an expanded definition of what is folk music. And I continue to believe that the definition for folk music that seems to be used in this thread is far too narrow.

....

Little Hawks, there's alot that I could say about your comments about the civil rights movement, but I think that you mean well, so I won't even go there.

Perhaps another time, another thead...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 02:28 PM

RE: "you don't hear Bluegrass on the radio"

Well, that probably brings up a conversation parallel to "what is Folk Music?"

I've heard artists like Allison Krause (sp?)/Union Station described as Bluegrass. And they get a fair amount of airplay. Is it "Real Bluegrass" music? Maybe not. Seems I've seen a discussion like this elsewhere on Mudcat. But if Joe Consumer heres something he likes, and the DJ says "that's Bluegrass-style", then Joe Consumer might go to a Bluegrass concert.

Not sayin' it's right, just sayin' what The Music Industry is tryin' to shove down our throats.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 02:53 PM

I go for Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman in a big way, Guest. I remember seeing a short movie clip that Armatrading was airing in the theatres way back when, before the main feature, and I thought, "Wow! Really great!"

As for the "White Guy" complaint, hey....of my three favorite folk performers of all time...2 of them are females: Joan Baez and Buffy Sainte-Marie. The 3rd is Bob Dylan.

That's one white guy, one Mexican-Irish gal, and one Native American (Cree) gal.

Looks to me like your "white guy" theory doesn't hold up so well after all.

Among folksinger/songwriters I presently really like...same as back then...more of them are females than males. That was always the case with me, and I'll tell you why. On average, as far as I'm concerned, female songwriters tend to write better stuff than most male songwriters. They're more perceptive, they're more subtle, and they tend to work with a broader pallet of themes. Women, on average, have superior verbal skills to men too, so why should it be a surprise that they are often finer songwriters?

Among other female singers I have hugely appreciated are: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Grace Slick, Tanita Tikaram, The Wailing Jennies, Tish Hinojosa, Emmy Lou Harris, and the Dixie Chicks. They could all knock most male songwriters off the stage as far as I'm concerned.

Azizi - Yeah, I mean well. The whole folk movement in the 60's backed the struggle for civil rights. That counts for something. We weren't perfect people...we had our flaws and weaknesses and we had our blind spots...but who doesn't? We were young and inexperienced and full of idealistic dreams. Like other young people, we did the best we knew how at the time. One thing I know, no matter what you do or say in this world, somebody won't like it, and somebody else will think you could have done more, and somebody else will misconstrue your intentions entirely. Such is life.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 03:04 PM

Actually, ard mhaca, if we expanded the definition of folk music a bit as Azizi suggests we should (and I agree), I think you would find many, many folk, country, trad & blues musicians in the US would cut across class and occupational lines in the same way.

How often is Polish American folk music discussed here? Or Mexican American folk music? Some discussion of norteno or ranchera music perhaps? How about Somali jazz? Or the NAMMY awards? I love Rita Coolidge with Walela, for example. Or Jesse Ed Davis or Keith Secola. All NAMA recipients.

People who play in polka or ranchera bands come from a lot of different occupations, and aren't so bound by race, class, and gender distinctions that are so rigid in this forum. Be it Vlaka or Vicente, Rita or Keith, we could all stand to broaden the definitons here.

Unless, of course, you are all happy keeping it to Anglo sorts of music. In which case, carry on & I'll shut up!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 03:16 PM

"I have seen the College Professor play alongside the factory worker. ard mhacha"

Yes. One of my favorite bluegrass fiddlers is David Mannheim, an Alaska Supreme Court justice.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 03:20 PM

From    www.apa.org/monitor/julaug03/listen.html


You are what you listen to

Most people's music preferences fall into one of four broad categories, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 84, No. 6).

What's more, preferences for those categories correlate with traits such as personality, political orientation, verbal ability and athleticism.

"We can learn a lot about personality by looking at everyday life, and music preference is just one facet of everyday life," says Jason Rentfrow, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin who co-authored the study with his adviser, psychologist Samuel Gosling, PhD.

Rentfrow and Gosling collected data on the music preferences of several thousand undergraduates at The University of Texas using a new scale--the Short Test of Music Preferences (STOMP). They also analyzed the music collections of people who use Internet file-sharing services.

In both samples, music preferences tended to clump into one of four categories, which Rentfrow and Gosling dubbed "reflective and complex," "intense and rebellious," "upbeat and conventional" and "energetic and rhythmic." Each category included several kinds of music. "Reflective and complex," for example, covered classical, jazz, blues and folk, while "upbeat and conventional" covered country, religious, soundtrack and pop.

Those categories turn out to be significantly correlated with a variety of personal traits, including "Big Five" personality measures.

People who listen to "reflective and complex" music, for example, score highly on openness to new experiences, verbal ability, self-perceived intelligence and political liberalism, while people who listen to "upbeat and conventional" music score highly on extraversion, self-perceived physical attractiveness, athleticism and political conservatism.

Two factors appear to drive the connection between music preferences and personal characteristics, say Rentfrow and Gosling. First, people choose to listen to music that suits their moods and activities. "People who enjoy spending time with others, people who enjoy talking and socializing, tend to enjoy music that is also extraverted--in some ways, party music," says Rentfrow.

People also use music to inform others about themselves. "Adolescents, in particular, use music as a way to fit into groups, as a way to manage people's impressions of them," says Rentfrow. "It's a badge, if you will, of their identity."

This study is part of a broader effort to understand the relationship between personality and everyday life--an area overly neglected by psychologists, says Gosling.

"If we try to partition up our day, we listen to music, we pray, we tend to our gardens, we cook, we eat food," he says. "It's amazing how little many of these things that really occupy our days are studied by psychologists."

--E. BENSON


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 03:44 PM

Fascinating post, Peace: I've always kidded that you can tell how old someone is within five year without seeing or hearing them. Ask them the music they love most and listen to. Pop music is likely to be what was popular when they were between the ages of 16-21... or more accurately, puberty to marriage. Of course some folks pube earlier than others, and in recent years, many folks marry much later. But, it's no coincidence that so many people who were in their teens and early twenties in the 50's like the "oldies" from that era. Same with any era you pick. What is unusual is for someone to really enjoy popular music they listened to when they were in the fifties. So many of us here on the Cat first heard folk music during that time span. Some also love the rockabilly, rhythm and blues and British invasion stuff, the psychedlic era and folk rock. Depends on how adventurous people are. Of course, this is just a personal opinion and not a scholarly research project. I do happen to agree with everything that you posted above.

How else can you explain Toby Keith's latest hit, "Get Drunk and Be Somebody."

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 04:06 PM

Very interesting post, Peace! My own tastes are clearly most strongly in the "reflective and complex" category...but...with a fair bit of "intense and rebellious" thrown into the mix...and then sometimes I like the other 2 categories as well. All four categories can be good in their own way, that's for sure.

You think about it...Dylan's work is definitely reflective and complex...but also intense and rebellious. The same was true of Buffy Sainte-Marie and Joan Baez.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 04:12 PM

Although...I would gather that "intense and rebellious" in the study you cite might be more aimed toward describing the more aggressive and loud young people's music such as: rap, punk, heavy metal, hiphop, early Rolling Stones, the Who, acid rock, stuff like that...?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 04:36 PM

Still trying to suss out what "energetic and rhythmic" is supposed to be.

Fascinating, studying college students and then proclaiming your study is indicative of universal personality types.

Sounds a bit like phrenology to me.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 05:10 PM

Jerry,

My guys play a hard driving folk music with tons of energy, or at least that is my favorite stuff to perform. Maybe it is a Folkgrass style?

By the way, If you have any Republican recommendations for music I would love to have them. Not that we would play it. No sir! We are too busy evicting unwed mommas from the tenements for that! And don't forget we are putting a mall that unfortunately will require capping off Old Faithful in Yellowstone but we have ensured its continued viewing by a multimedia IMAX movie so that should't offend anyone. grin


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 05:21 PM

Republican songs... hmmm... how about Welfare Caddilac? Or Working Man Blues, and Okie From Muskogee (or several others by one of my very favorite country singers, Merle Haggard.) You know, Jimmy... that tight-fisted, mean-spirited stuff... (grinning, too.)

Yeah, your group does play with energy. For all that the Kingston Trio gets knocked in here, they definitely had energy. The folk music community could use more of that as an antidote for preciousness and hushed respect.

Now let's see... who haven't we offended yet?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 05:51 PM

How about "Take This Job and Shove It"? Or the "Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song"?


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 05:52 PM

Hmmmmm.......

"Folk music is for intellectuals"

Really?

But WHAT is an intellectual? Is that YOU? And if so, do you think of yourself as being more intelligent than others? Can you only like or *understand* folk music if you've been to University, College...whatever?

You see, you could of all found the answer for me. Because I 'found' folk music about three years ago and I have been RAVING about it on messageboards ever since..BUT, I keep being told that I don't belong, that I am a troll, that I am thick, stupid etc. etc. etc....

Perhaps I am, after all I packed in my A levels as I wanted to join the real world. I took my kids out of school so that they could truly learn, I dance at folk festivals and love folk rock...also some bluegrass.

But...if...IF I am so thick, stupid and un-intelligent, then WHY does this music mean so much to me? Why can I sit spellbound listening to John Tams, or George Papavgeris all night long?   Why does the music of Coope Boyes & Simpson sometimes make me cry? And when Mike Harding sings 'Bombers Moon' why does he take me up there inside the Lancaster Bomber where his father died and makes me think of so many other things? And WHY do I still cling on madly to this music, when some of the very people who assume that they know better than I, should have put me off folk music for the rest of my life??????

Why?

For my children. Pure and simple!

I KNOW that the messages held within these songs are important! I KNOW that the wisdom from the writers in the folk world matters! I KNOW that this music should *not* be in a box, but out there in the wide world, surrounding us all...not in a select club of Self-Appointed Intellectuals who assume they are brighter than the rest of humanity!

Intelligence needs no exams. It cannot be measured...it is in your heart and your soul! You can be a person who is unable ever to read or write, but you may be able to write a song filled with the *deepest* wisdom. Your words may never be written down by you personallly, but they will be sung by a million people across the world.

So..speak not to me of intellectualism!

Folk music is the bringer of wisdom and the guardian of history.

And if you don't believe me, then listen to John Trudell singing the words of Crazy Horse, one of the most wise and intellectual people that I've EVER heard!

http://www.myspace.com/johntrudell


"One does not sell the earth that people walk upon. We...are the land"




Lizzie


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 05:57 PM

Still trying to suss out what "energetic and rhythmic" is supposed to be.


You do that, and when you suss it out, let us all know.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:00 PM

Oh yes... republican songs, I forgot to ask a question earlier on: What about songs from the times of Abraham Lincoln (wasn`t the republican party founded as an abolitionist party ?)

Would that be pc for a folkie?

Just wondering...
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:10 PM

Since when do folkies have to be politically correct? Give Pat Sky's "Songs That Made America Famous" a listen sometime.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:26 PM

Thanks for the tip, Peace. I will look for that song.

And I understood from previous posts that republican songs would not be "pc" (tongue-in-cheek)among folkies....

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:30 PM

Nice post there, Lizzie. It all makes good sense to me. If you were assuming that "we" think that all people who are into folk music must have a university degree or be intellectuals, you're mistaken. The traditional base of folk music was among the poorer, less educated people. It wasn't until the 1960's that the collegiate crowd, generally, latched onto folk music, due to its sudden boom in popularity. The fact that that collegiate crowd was mostly from fairly prosperous middle class homes determined the general makeup of the mass audience at that point.

This doesn't mean that folk music appreciation is confined to intellectuals by any means, but it takes a more thoughtful or introspective mind to pay attention to the sort of complex lyrics that arose through the influence of Bob Dylan and many other 60's songwriters than it does to pay attention to your standard partying rock n' roll or pop songs. Such thoughtful minds are found both among intellectuals and among non-intellectuals, I assure you.

They always were. They always will be. You are not the odd person out among folk fans that you may think you are. Not in my opinion.

Al Stewart was thought by many listeners and music critics to be an intellectual, because he wrote very erudite song lyrics on very serious subjects. He laughed at that notion, because he didn't consider himself to be an intellectual at all! He figured he was just an ordinary guy. I don't think he ever even went to college or anything like that.

You don't need a diploma to have a way with words.

By the way, I'm a big admirer of Crazy Horse too.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:37 PM

Since the Americans here were recently concerned that there were too many from the UK, I will point outthat this seems to be very largely (Jacqui C and LIzzie excepted) and American discussion.

Which may be why folk music is largely here equated (but not wholly) with Snigger Snogwriter stuff. Although Martin Carthy is mentioned.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:48 PM

You say that (Snigger Snogwriter) like it's a bad thing, Richard Bridge... ;-P

The fact is, all that trad music was also written by ancient Snigger Snogwriters, only you don't know who they were. Accordingly, you can clothe them in the glory of yore, it seems, and accord their work full respect. How abitrary. The best stuff I've ever heard in my life was written by people who are mostly living right now....and there's a whole lot more of it coming in the future. That, my friend, IS the ongoing folk process in action.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:55 PM

Ditto LH.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 06:58 PM

Jerry,

This thread really got me thinking. What happened to folk music per se is that it was embraced by academic types and it tended toward analysis and dissection. The music still stands unencumbered by this.

I don't think that you could say that someone like Leadbelly was an intellectual although he might appeal to some who call themselves that. Woody was called an "intellectual" by Gordon Freisen (Sis Cunningham's husband) because he was never on the "business end of a steam hammer-drill". He did work as a merchant marine, though.

Pete Seeger is definitely an intellectual in that he is highly knowledgeable and reads a great deal. He also has a little Harvard in his background.

I think that there is another category. That of musician. This tends to overlap into all kinds of music. Here's an interesting thing. I like Disco (particularly early such as K.C. and the Sunshine Band) and I like Motown, Burt Bachrach, early Stanley Brothers, Texas Gladden, The Doobie Brothers, I like Earl Scruggs, Cisco Houston, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Judy Collins, Brownie and Sonny and Fela Anikapalo Kuti. I like Spike Jones and Homer and Jethro. I think Irving Berlin was one of America's greatest songwriters. I like Steve Sondheim, Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Eddie Davis (the tenor banjo player) Elmer Snowden (the tenor banjo player) and Micheal Coleman, James Morrison, Margaret Barry and Jeannie Robertson. I like Gershwin, Porter, Kern and all the old musical theater cats and I like Jimmie Rodgers (The Singing Brakeman), the Carter Family, Bobby McFerrin, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Bunk Johnson, George Lewis, Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Blind Lemon Jefferson,Hank Williams, Alfred Apaka, Keola Beamer, Gabby Pahanui, Horton Barker, Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Tony Bennett, Bela Bartok, Phillip Glass......and the list goes on and on.

What do you say about someone like me with a broad ecclectic taste?

One of the things about all the preceding artists on the list is that they are all excellent musicians in their respective fields.

I tend to reject stereotypes. Audiences can change from generation to generation and the people who go to folk music concerts are different than the ones that I grew up knowing.

Music merchants know how to market to certain audiences. They can create a "folk audience" (as did Al Grossman in the fifites and sixties). They can create a college audience which was originally done by a man by the name of Paul Endicott in the early Fifties who was booking college concerts of folk music before anyone else did.

Recording companies also have sophisticated marketing techniques as well.

Here's another unfortunate thing. The Audio library that I go to in Georgia used to have an extensive folk music collection. It has been entirely expunged. This is a form of negative marketing.

Here's another interesting thing. Jean Ritchie who is on this list is a brilliant lady who is highly educated (intellectual) but sings songs from her background of basically working-class people with an honesty and someone who is part of that rich heritage.
Would the bluegrass contigent dismiss her and her contributions to American traditional folk music? I know that Earl Scruggs or Ralph Stanley would not. She's also a great songwriter.

Jerry, bottom line. All kinds of music for all kinds of people and to hell with the stereotypes. That was what Pete Seeger meant when he talked about a "Hootenanny" which became something else rather quickly. he saw it as a pot pourri of all musical styles that could communicate with an audience who could participate, singing, clapping, or dancing.

Now where the "cheese gets binding" is what happens when academic types get ahold of music and put it under a test tube. They can kill it.

Amateur musicologists abound and they are the proverbial blind men stroking the elephant.

So I remain an "issues" person. I'll accept or reject each artist in any given field because I relate or don't. I refuse to tow any musical party line.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 07:10 PM

Excellent post, Frank.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 07:13 PM

And of course you missed Richard's point which is also something that has irritated me. That is the implicit assumption that folk music equals a singer accompanying him or herself on a guitar.

Without wishing to get into the "what is folk music" debate, that does seem to me to be an unduly restrictive definition of folk music. There have been hints earlier in the thread that others think likewise. Certainly here in the UK, folk music seems to mean more than just singer - guitarists.

I have always been under the impression that bluegrass can be considered a genre of folk music - even if it does have a strong commercial element. But then maybe that is a naive UK perspective.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 07:23 PM

Yes, I think I would agree with you that Bluegrass is a form of folk music. No, I don't think that folk music equals a singer accompanying him or herself on a guitar.

That might be folk music. It might not.

A 20 piece band might be folk music. An acapella performance might be folk music.

There are any number of possibilities.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 07:28 PM

"Take this Job and Shove it" is definately a Democrat song. Were it a Republican it would be:

"I will take this company over with a hostle takeover, sell off the profitable components, sell off the stock with insider trading, then pilfer the pension fund and end up with a golden parachute!"

now THATS a Republican anthem you can hang your hat on!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 07:32 PM

Heh! I think you're onto something there, jimmy.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:05 PM

Jimmy! Jimmy! What's the matter, boy? Surely you don't bear allegiance to something you perceive that way? Is that tongue in your cheek?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Alba
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:19 PM

Frank Hamilton....Great post.
Best Wishes
Jude


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:28 PM

Ebbie, me dear! I am only making a jest! I am a poor Republican who is actually soft and cuddly, not like those harsh evil ones you read about in the fairy tales!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:13 PM

Hey, Frank:

What do I call a person like you?

A brother.

I can see your list and raise you another list of fifty. I don't know a lot of people who just love good music, without boundaries.
Now, by my theory, it would be mighty hard to figure out how old you are by your list. Or me by mine.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:31 PM

Let me ask y'all this: when you hear a good piece of music does it not grab your attention? Captivate you? Draw you into it?

I am not a jazz lover. As a genre, it's not for me. However, I will ever be a fan of Pete Fountain, Dave Brubeck, Nina Simone, Django Reinhardt, Stephan Grappelli, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, The Double Six of Paris, Thelonious Monk (even the guy's name is fantastic) and scads of others. I think it's mostly because they are so darned GOOD. They take music to places it's never been before and despite my lack of knowledge about jazz, they mange to take me to those places, too. And even though it's not the 'kind' of music I care to listen to LOTS of, it's certainly music I know I have to listen to because it informs my hearing and listening 'senses'.

The same goes for other types of music as well. Good is good, and great is great. That's the way I see it.

Frank: Beautiful post.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:13 PM

Thanks to both Lizzie and Frank for their heartfelt and articulate posts.

Lizzie, it is obvious you are not a troll; if someone around here called you one, they were mistaken.

You both reflect the most magic thing there is -- what happens when someone lets the soul out of the bag, whether with a sax, a violin, or a mountain fiddle.

It is transforming to the nth degree.

That's why I hang around this joint.


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:14 PM

Hey, Peace: When my youngest son was feeling lost and confused becvause of all the conflicting advice people were gibing him, I told him "Don't let anyone define who you are." Just as importantly, "Don't define yourself is such a limited way that it will keep you from becoming who you are to be." That applies to music, as well as anything else. I still have to work to live up to the advice I give. I can say that I don't like bluegrass, and yet there is enough bluegrass that I do like to expose the statement as a lie. On top of that, I haven't closed myself off to bluegrass, and have bought a fair amount in the last few years.

Reminds me of liverwurst. A long time ago it irritated me that I didn't like liverwurst. It was on my short list of food I didn't like. So I set about trying to like it. I'd make a sandwich with liverwurst when I was hungry enough to eat my shoe, with a thin slice, doctored up in a variety of ways. Through time, I started to get a taste for it, and now I like it well enough to eat it and enjoy it. I just don't seek it out.

I did the same with opera.

Opera, liverwurst, polkas... the principle applies..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:50 PM

Folks, I must let y'all know that for about 15 or 20 years Mr. Jerry Rasmussen and I were through-the-mail (snailmail) therapists for each other. It was a wonderful discourse that, for me, was just about life-saving on several occasions. We did a real job running some of these topics to roost (if not to rest) back then when the manual typewriter with skinny margins was the modus opperandi and clicking it off to someone entailed affixing a first class stamp instead of a cyber-click into the ether. I thought about what I'd written more then than I do now---and I'd get in more right than not before sending it off. Sometimes I'd wait a week and then re-type it again (or three times) before mailing.

Now, though, it's just too damn easy to "click" from the hip, and send stuff too quick---if ya know what I mean. But since Jerry is using some of our old topics for Mucat cannon fodder, I'm gonna have to go back and read what we were talking about in those grand letters (his, not mine) -- and then start some new threads from this end.

Jerry,(on this topic)
Yes, I think you are right on mostly in what you say in the opening post here. As with our letters, for me, at least, I was working things out on paper--and figuring out, by trial and error, exactly what it is I think about things in this life we're experiencing. ----------- With all that said, and to paraphrase Descartes, "I think, therefore I must be an intellectual." ---

Bottom line is: Intellectual sure ain't a tag I'm comfortable with. But if it means having a love for puns, it's an appellation I can tolerate.

There's the rub! Sure it's for intellectuals---self-styled and otherwise. Making points, like folk music does, with emotional chords, and with words---words that, once in a while, might prompt the listener to re-think their own positions on heavy topics like: Do "frogs really go a-courtin'?" Or was Brian O'Lynn a moron of some kind or actually brilliant like the alchemist guy who took absolutely nothing (like a ten cent cup of coffee and thin air) and made STARBUCKS??!! Or do "long-haired preachers actually go out every night to tell you what's wrong and what's right."   ----

I do wish the answers were all "blowin' in the wind"; more likely, though, it's only a fart!

Like the universe, there is no end to it. Bantering these questions around endlessly is whay I spent thirty-seven years schmoozing and singing at the No Exit Coffeehouse in Chicago--and also doing that at Jerry's kitchen table. And it's why I'm hanging out here too. All that time I had proudly emblazened around the rim of my banjo head, "This Machine Kills Time!!" Does this add up to being an intellectual? --- If that means that I lived in my head mostly, the answer is YES!! It sure beat having a day job!!!!

Those letters are fewer between Mr. R. and me now. But look at the postage we're saving?!

Love,

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: number 6
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:54 PM

A day without hearing Thelonius Monk, is like a day without sunshine.

sIx


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:57 PM

Jerry: You just nailed a key point IMO. The various kinds of music require that we learn enough about them to listen to a given pieces on their terms, not ours.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 12:13 AM

As Slick Willie would say, it depends on how you define "is".

Sure, folk music is for people of intellect (intellectuals).

But is equally much for people of brawn (brawnuals) and people of heart (corazonians) and people of emotion(emotionals) and people of intutiion (intuitists) and people of passion (appasionatas) and people of fear (scaredy-cats) and people of artistic temperament (arts-gratisials?) and people of spirit (spirituals). Why, folk music is ever for people of EVIL (evilials) 'cause it gives them a chance to reform.

What's next?


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: number 6
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 12:17 AM

Personally it doesn't matter to me what people listen to ... and I tend not to make any judgment calls on who they are, what they are by their musical tastes ... if they happen to like what I like, then of course a certain mutual bond will develop.

sIx
whose music collection mainly consists of ....

Jazz
Bluegrass.
East Indian (could be classified as folk, but I don't give a rats ass)
Folk (whatever that is)
Israeli (won't even try classifying this, could incite useless arguments)
Phillip Glass (don't even try classifying this)

As to the level of my intellectual plateau ... why should anyone who doesn't know me, judge me by my musical tastes. All I know is that I am passionate about music beyond it's categorized barriers .. and I believe all other's should not be inhibited in the least bit about reaching out to the the music they like and choose to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 12:21 AM

Jerry knows, there was a time I looked seriously at Christianity and religeon--even God. Our letters attest to that. Like his liverwurst, after trying to to like it, trying to, as the Twelve Step Programs say, trying "to act as if" it were true, I finally had to own up to what I really felt if I was to be true to myself---in the Polonius/Hamlet sense.

I'd never try to create/write a folk song on this topic though. In the real world, any song ever written on this topic would NEVER actually be a folk song. ###SMILE### That is simply an intellectual observation from the folksinger old Art.

Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: frogprince
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 12:39 AM

I just sat down to this thread after everyone had put in so many engaging thoughts that I really don't know what to add, save that I've been totally absorbed while reading all through this rather slowly.
This "snippet" from Azizi happened to stick in my head, though:

"Pardon me as I leave the discussion for a time and put on some Billie Holliday".

If the kind of lyrics Ms. Holliday sang didn't make you listen and reflect, I don't know what would!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 01:04 AM

100
(sorry leadfingers, it won't happen again)
Barry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:42 AM

Whew! What a lot to read and absorb. Allow me to add a few random thoughts without really tying them into any thesis. It'll be a couple of days before I can get back to this with a clear head.

I came at folk music as both a new set of sounds and a refreshing change from what pop music had become by 1959-60. In a sense it became an intellectual diversion first.

It soon became obvious that the folk music available on the radio was just a transmogrification of pop and had little intellectual appeal.

Union songs and other collected topical material had much more intellectual appeal. Those songs also permitted us to give polite society the finger while expanding our understanding. Those songs also taught us to question the status quo more, another intellectual excersise.

Ca. 1962, I began to notice that real intellectuals were gravitating towards bluegrass music. The Greenbriar Boys (urban intellectuals all) had become the first bluegrass band to arise in a northeastern liberal urban setting. The idea of liberal, monied, urban intellectuals embracing a music associated with simple, conservative, southern, rural people just fascinated me.

Bill Monroe might have been relegated to relative obscurity had it not been for the efforts of northern intellectuals such as Mike Seeger and Ralph Rinzler; intellectuals both.

After 1963 many of Monroe's sidemen were urban intellectuals drawn to bluegrass music.

I've also found that intellectuals are drawn to early country blues artists and to jazz.

My early and immediated affinity for Art Thieme's music was largely an appreciation of his art but was at least partly due to my perception of Art as an intellectual. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Art had carefully researched the background of each song. Art also approached his music with an insistance on technical excellence that was quite beyond what most folk performers were doing at the time.

I'm falling asleep and must cut this off. Maybe more later.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 03:37 AM

I suggest LH et al re-read the thread. You will find one of the main thrusts of the criticism of folkmusic (namely that it is for intellectuals) that is thetopic of the thread is that folk music largely comprises individuals sitting on chairs singing their diaries (my shift of emphasis) to their guitars.

Why should that be so? Over here in the UK most folkies, even contemplative contemporary acoustic players, stand up to perform (the Barden of England - largely a snigger snogwriter - excepted). Sinagrounds are different: there standing up is frowned on as grandstanding. Ron Truman-Border, a thoughtful songwriter, prowls around like an angry lion.

Over here most singarounds will have at least one player (sometimes it's me (English), or it might be John Matthews (Scottish)) doing material (even if not wholly doing material) that does spring from their inherited cultural background - and has been passed down by and modified by the oral tradition: this has been filtered by such passage and the worst self-indulgences have happily been forgotten, so the folk process does have a useful function.

That (at least in part) is why I point out that the equation of folk music with snigger-snogwriter stuff seems not to reflect the UK position. It was this thread that rehearsed such material as a reason for avoiding folk music.

I point out that the folk process evolution of contemporary material can (IMHO) add to it. If you hear what a bundle of people round here (lets take a hypothetical assembly of the Barden of England, Kenneth Ingham, my humble self, Brian and Marion Rodgers and Jeff Cole) have done by way of evolution to Ride On, to "Slipjigs and reels" (I can't think of its real name at the moment, it's about Billy the Kid), to Coal Town Road etc, the added impetus and drive are IMHO a gain - the folk process adopting and improving stuff that was not originally folk music. This process distances folk music as perceived (here) from snigger snogwriter.

Once the process has done its work then IMHO even if the name of the original composer has not been lost, the transformed material can properly be thought of as having some claim to be folk music.

Sorry to raise "is it folk music?" again, but it seems inextricably linked to the issue of "why is folkmusic for intellectuals". It all depends on what you mean by "folk music" (and, I suppose, "intellectuals" - a term of praise in France but seemingly one of insult in the UK and USA). My answer is that it isn't, in one sense, namely that it is not exclusory, rather inclusory. You don't have to analyse and understand it to enjoy it, and not all of it (in fact, not even much of it once filtered as I suggested) is in the time signature of "1", so foot tapping and dancing are possible. As, I rather thought, Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention long ago proved, although I do not know of any US equivalents.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 03:49 AM

Hi Villan Great night at your Fc yet again. WEll done
If I like a song I will buy the CD and if I want to know the history of it I will Read the cover notes.
If i pay to hear the music I wanna hear the music If I wanna near toy about the music I will ask the performer afterwards ,However by then the story about the music has lost its interest for them because it si no longer of any use .
They have already padded their thirty minute set out to fourty and now the waffle will be on their time and money.
Sorry is bit of thread .


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 04:35 AM

From Llittle Hawk:

>>>>You say that (Snigger Snogwriter) like it's a bad thing, Richard Bridge... ;-P

The fact is, all that trad music was also written by ancient Snigger Snogwriters, only you don't know who they were. Accordingly, you can clothe them in the glory of yore, it seems, and accord their work full respect. How abitrary. The best stuff I've ever heard in my life was written by people who are mostly living right now....and there's a whole lot more of it coming in the future. That, my friend, IS the ongoing folk process in action.<<<

Absolutely agree with you Little Hawk!

The very derisory term 'Snigger Snogwriters' which these self-appointed, self-opnionated twits use over and over, here in the UK, to belittle many deeply talented people, is appalling. But their desire to use belittling and spite in the way they do, sums them all up, in my very non-intellectual view of course. ;0)



From Jerry:

>>>This thread really got me thinking. What happened to folk music per se is that it was embraced by academic types and it tended toward analysis and dissection. The music still stands unencumbered by this<<<

Again, I totally agree Jerry. The over-obsessive have guarded English folk music for many a year and they have turned many people away from it with their attitude. But just because these people regard themselves as 'academic' doesn't mean a thing to me. I go on people's souls, not on their qualifications.

You do not have to *study* folk music to understand it...and as someone mentioned above, the traditional songs were so often written by people who were never able to read or write in the first place. Yet it is the words of the so-called and wrongly 'labelled' non-intellectuals, that the 'apparent' academics now argue over, discuss in depth and guard as if they were The Crown Jewels...and yet the people from whom these songs came, would probably never be allowed into their 'the inner circle'

Interesting isn't it? And so daft too, yet these people who regard themselves as being of a far higher intelligence level cannot see it!

The 'folk people' of today, our singer songwriters, are writing some deeply powerful things at present and their music is starting to roll down that hill like a snowball, growing bigger and bigger all the time. How this world needs them at present.

The music of the past is as important as the music of the present and the music of the future. It is ALL the story of *us*, it 'belongs' to no *one* person or group, it 'belongs' to us all.



Henry David Thoreau:

"When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest."


Over to you Richard! ;0)


Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 04:59 AM

Lizzie can you read?

Go back and check the early posts. You will find reportage of US attitudes to folk music being adversely conditioned by the view that "folk" was all singer songwriters.

Get a brain transplant if there is room for one in your pointy little head. I really don't have the time to waste on your idiocy.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 05:07 AM

Oh...the wise and compassionate words of a lawyer Richard!

Glad to see you are now using the correct and respectful term for talented musicians though.

At least this thread has taught you something!


Lizzie :0)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: The Villan
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 05:13 AM

It was a very good worn't it Tim:-) Lotta quality last night.

You have a point. and we wont agree :-) But hey we is all different and life would be bloody boring if we all thought and liked the same. :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 09:33 AM

I would disagree with those who say lyrics are not important in bluegrass--on 2 bases.

1) In the subgenre of gospel bluegrass, message is virtually everything. The performance can be gorgeous (e.g. the Seldom Scene) but it can be just as effective--or more so--done rough-hewn---like the Stanley Brothers or Bill Monroe.

2) Bluegrass often shows a great sense of humor--does not take itself so seriously as virtually all singer-songwriters in folk---from excellent musicians and craftsmen like Gordon Bok, Utah Phillips, Stan Rogers, and many others------to the garden variety singer-songwhiner at the open mike. In bluegrass, you find all sorts of great lyrics--not to be taken deadly seriously, I suspect--like "Pa Fell Asleep and the Hogs Et Him", "Sleep With One Eye Open" and "I Know You're Married But I Love You Still".

Give me a sense of humor in music--over something that, even in the best of causes, whacks you over the head with its message over and over until you're a bloody pulp.

That, in addition to the close harmonies--I'm a sucker for close harmonies-- and certain instruments--I love mandolin in any setting--is why I love bluegrass. Instrumental flashiness is, for me at least, way, way down the list.

Re "folk": The problem, of course, in talking about "folk" music,--as other posters have noted---is that "folk" is SO broad a "category.

As far as I'm concerned, Dylan is barely folk--at least not since "Talkin' New York Blues" etc--in 1962?

But the list of styles which might well be considered folk--just of music I really like a lot--includes 1930s-40's calypso--("message" music WITH a sense of humor), Cajun, sea chanteys, Gordon Bok Utah Phillips, Stan Rogers etc. type music, Irish, Bob Wills (he's not bluegrass--among other things he pre-dated it), Scottish, English pub songs, black gospel, Tex-Mex, blues, 19th century parlor songs, Balkan womens' groups, mining songs, railroad songs, Ladysmith Black Mambazo---and the list goes on.

Conspicuous by their absence are singer-songwhiners---unless they spoof themselves.

No way I can make any generalization about all those types of music--except they are virtually all vocal---and that I love to hear them---and sing many.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 10:10 AM

This thread has taught me nothing about snigger snogwriters or singer songwhiners I didn't already know. Some (like the Barden of England, and I am sure George Papagaveris) have ability. An awful lot need to do a lot more self-editing, in that respect rather like you.

Has it taught you why so many people avoid them like the plague? Don't argue with me about the fact - look back up the thread.

The thread has however taught me why you have been stated to have the reputation you have been stated to have.

And why not get to the point - why do so many people in the USA (as stated above) avoid folk music because they think it is snigger snogwriters?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: frogprince
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 10:25 AM

Richard Bridge, at least you didn't come at Lizzie with obscene sexual references, but your slam at her was absolutely uncalled for and inexcusable.          Dean.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 10:32 AM

I'm not ever having you as my lawyer Richard. You is a scary man!

;0)

In my opinion, and I can only talk about folk music in this country..it is people like yourself and your *some* of your pals who scare the pants off people with your (imo) supercillious attitude that only you know about music and the 'right' kind of singer/songwriter!

Good Lordy...any minute now Grumpy Ed's gang will be turning up here with their disparaging ARSS campaign that was launched on the old BBC Radio 2 board. ARSS for those *not* in the know is the obviously insulting acronym that fRoots use for Acoustic Rock Singer Songwriters....and it was brought over to the Radio 2 board to insult two excellent singer songwriters who are not in 'the club', that of Steve Knightley and Martyn Joseph! Two men who are writing songs that thousands of people are starting to listen to!!

Here Richard, old chap....take a listen to Steve's new song 'Roots' that he sings alongside Phil Beer, in their band Show of Hands, a folk song of today...as is Witness, as is Country Life...etc...etc:

http://www.myspace.com/showofhandsuk

And then....take a listen to the other man, the one who is so passionate about people, this planet, how we are all treating each other...Martyn Joseph, 'How Did We End Up Here' a change from Ploughboys I know, as it is about Bush and Iraq...but another folk song of our times:

http://www.myspace.com/martynjoseph


And by the way Richard, old buddie...for your information, American folk music, in my opinion ALL stems from the Native Americans! Here, why not argue with these *truly* wise men!

http://www.myspace.com/aimggc

And I will damn well argue with you, if I so choose, lawyer or not, because I am not in the slightest bit impressed with your title...and even LESS impressed with your personality!!

Now....IF you will excuse me I have to go listen to my favourite Don Henley track and calm myself down!


Lizzie


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 10:42 AM

Richard, It is also interesting that some venues will ONLY have singer-songwriter material, and don't even want to try their audience with groups that do traditional or folkscare music. Rather sad, because many times these audiences would really enjoy the old stuff if they had a chance to hear it performed.

I have heard some singer-songwriter material that was outstanding, EL Greko being on top of the list. ALso a guy named Michael Vietch up in Vermont who was very talented. Most of the time though, as in an open mike night I went to at the Pressroom in Portsmouth, a steady stream of angry young man with new Taylors and 3 and a half chords memorised and stupid or vulgar lyrics, would take the stage. It was very difficult for me to find anything positive in this.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 10:47 AM

I am quite appalled at the personal nature of some of the comments on here. It does seem to enforce my veiw that there is a self appointed group of people who are rather silly about their music.
If you dont like new materiel dont got to places where it is being played.
All music has to be dreamed up at some point.
I like most of it.
Some more than others, but why is there this ridiculous need with some to impose their veiws on the rest of us?
My old Dad used to say If you cant think of something nice to say,dont say anything.
It does seem to avoid a bit of agro.
Ps I am learning to play guitar a d trying to sing a bit in public places.
SHock horror I write my own stuff.
I dont have any trouble finding folk who are much more proffictent than myself to join in.
I can take critisism if it is constructive or accept that what I do others may not like.
I probably would react badly to insulting or stupid comments such as those made on here was a it just a joke and I misunderstood?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 11:06 AM

Hellluva shew, boys and girls.

It is possible that the key trait of a viable song -- one that grows in acceptance -- is not it's birth date but its quality of communication.

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 11:28 AM

TimTheTwangler,

you wrote that "My old Dad used to say If you cant think of something nice to say,dont say anything."

My mother said the same thing.

There's no question that there are times that comments posted on this forum are "insulting and stupid". But more often, I've found that folks here share insightful, informative, supportive, and appropriately witty & humorous comments.

Mudcat has some genuinely good folks. I hope that you don't let the negative encounters that you witness turn you off from participating on this forum.

Best wishes!

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 11:40 AM

Btw, if I were a betting person, {which I'm not} I'd bet a whole lot of money that the British referent "Snigger Snogwriter" won't catch on in the United States.

And, as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing.

I'd not 'heard' that referent before seeing it on this thread. But it appears that its a putdown on singer/songwriters. And some of my best friends are singer/songwriters.

Also, its first word is too close in spelling and sound to another word which is quite offensive to me and alot of other people I know and am friendly with.

This is another example of how American English and British English are different. And-in this regard at least-thank God for that.

It seems to me that British folks might want to reconsider the use of this term for those two reasons, but that is a battle that I'm not going to fight.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 12:00 PM

Lizzie, I mean this seriously and with no malice toward you personally at all:

My considered opinion, after thinking about this, is that you are mostly wrong, and richard is quite a bit more right than not.-- For what it's worth.

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,A bit miffed
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 12:50 PM

Snigger: To laugh in a stifled way: giggle, snicker, titter.
Snog:    The British version of the American term "make-out".

Neither of these words will be dropped from my Vocabulary anytime in the future as they are used frequently and are, at least where I come from, totally harmless. To be quite frank I am offended that anyone would suggest that I adjust my Country's Language because they are unaware of the meaning behind the words that I used daily where I live.
It might even be prudent to Travel outside the United States in order to learn about other Cultures who speak English as their first language before one feels they are in a position to judge other poster's choices of vocabulary.
There are many words in American-English Language that seem incorrect to people on the other side of the Pond but so far on the Mudcat we have all managed to be very tolerant of the differences between the English Language and the Amercian-English Language.
Some people may benefit perhaps from standing back and having a look at how they are approaching certain topics on this Forum.
Rude is rude in either language.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 01:27 PM

I like it all, Richard, if it's good. I like the good singer-songwriter material (both contemporary and older material), of which there is plenty. I like trad songs. I like sea shanties. I like instrumental stuff. I like jigs and reels. I like a bit of bluegrass now and them, a bit of blues now and then. I like it all. It's all folk to me. I never assumed that folk was ONLY singer-songwriter material..."a guy or a girl with a guitar, singing a song".

If your objection is to people who DO make that assumption, well fine. They would be as mistaken as people who only assume folk to be songs that were written over 300 years ago and played on a lute!

In either case you'd have people engaging in a sort of elitist snobbishness, wouldn't you?

If you are saying that there is a lot of self-indulgent, third-rate singer-songwriter material being written now...well, hey! I agree. But that is no reason to turn your nose up at the very good singer-songwriter material that is also being written now and dump it all in the same trashbin.

Your use of the term "snigger snogwriter" is deliberately offensive, it's snide, it's nasty, it's superior, and it does not reflect well on your attitude toward other people. Why don't you consider dropping it? It doesn't make any useful contribution to a friendly discussion about folk music. It's a deliberate taunt, and taunts are favored by schoolyard bullies, aren't they?

I am sure that there was any amount of dreadful stuff being churned out 300 years ago too...material that would now be considered "trad"....songs full of cliches about people dying of love with white doves sitting on their chest and so on...but most of that dreadful stuff has probably been lost to antiquity...disposable music...just like now. Today's singer-songerwriters are probably just as varied in their abilities and skills as those of former times...and a few of them really shine, while others are not so good. It's the stuff that really shines that is more likely to be remembered in the long run.

Today's singer-songwriter...if he or she is really good at it...is the composer of some future day's "trad" music. And so it goes.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:01 PM

Hey, Little Hawk!

It seems that we agree about that "snigger snogwriter" referent...

And we probably agree on alot of other subjects too.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:04 PM

I'm sure we do, Azizi. ;-) Best wishes to you too.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:04 PM

Change that-

We definitely agree on a lot of other subjects too.

[for what it's worth].

:o)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:05 PM

Ha! We cross posted!

See we're on the same wavelength!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:09 PM

Either that or we both are incapable of tearing ourselves away from the computer... Heh!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 02:34 PM

To answer the question. Not necessarily, but it is music for those of a questing mind who wish to look for something other than pop pap. When I first went to a folk club in the 60's I met my tribe, politically interested, college educated or self-educated young people who liked many forms of music, just like me. Many of the first pros on the British scene were college or university educated and many were teachers.
As to the singer/songwriter put downs they exhibit only ignorance and a closed mind, especially the post that says Stan Rogers is allright, but then proceeds to dismiss singer/songwriters! What the hell was Stan if not a singer/songwriter?
I would argue however with this point, that women;

tend to work with a broader pallet of themes.
The poster then goes on to list these women. I challenge you all to check the subject matter of their cds and you will find that at least 9 out of ten tracks deal with "relationships" of one form or another. For a broad pallet of themes I think Stan and Dave Mallett, El Greko, and many others have them beaten hands down. Check out their cds and see how many songs deal ONLY with some aspect of "Love".
This is no criticism of female songwriters, just an observation. They don't in general write in the abstract. The worst of them churn out overworked cliches and get the genre its bad name.
"Anon" was a singer/songwriter!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 03:02 PM

Yes, I understand your point about that. It's true that many female songwriters tend to write mostly about personal relationships. When doing so, I think they do it better...on average...but there are certainly individual exceptions to that. Some male writers write with a VERY broad pallete. Dylan and Leonard Cohen certainly do.

What I noticed was that among the main run-of-the-mill average songwriters that the males tended to be a bit less imaginative than the females generally, and that's what I was focusing on. When you get to the very best songwriters, male or female...it's a different story.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: The Villan
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 03:13 PM

I get an incredible number of performers who are singer songwriters through my folk club. I love em. Whilst all these stupid tw*ts pontificate, I get to see some amazing singer song writers with some lovely songs.

Now let me see, in the last year since my club got up and running again, I have seen a lot of performers who have done floorspots at the club and have written songs themselves. Here are a few.

John Conolly
Dave & Julie Evardson
Winter/Wilson
Graham Moore
Anthony John Clarke
Cara
Stitherum
HissyFit
HarriWatts Band
James Raynard
Paul Dickinson & Angela King
Big Al Whittle
Wild Wolds Women
Helian Keys
Jane Kitchen
Bram Taylor
Phil Hare
Tina Taylor
Clarty Sough
Rhyzome
Harbour Lights
Phil Brougham
Tina Taylor
No Fixed Abode


That does not include many performers who do not write their own songs, but nick em from somebody else :-)

It has made for a very wide and thoroughly enjoyable folk club. It also shows what wonderful talent is out there that most folkies never ever get to see. It also keeps my audience happy.

Sorry if I missed out any singer songwriters.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 03:19 PM

Both of these were written by songwriter-poets. One is traditional because it's 300 years old, one isn't. Posted without comment.


Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened,
They all began to sing.
Now, wasn't that a dainty dish
To set before the King?

The King was in his countinghouse,
Counting out his money;
The Queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes.
Along there came a big black bird
And snipped off her nose!

History:

First published in 1744, the rhyme is one of many rhymes depicting bakers putting "suprises" in baked items.




Love Minus Zero/No Limit by Bob Dylan

My love she speaks like silence,
Without ideals or violence,
She doesn't have to say she's faithful,
Yet she's true, like ice, like fire.
People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can't buy her.

In the dime stores and bus stations,
People talk of situations,
Read books, repeat quotations,
Draw conclusions on the wall.
Some speak of the future,
My love she speaks softly,
She knows there's no success like failure
And that failure's no success at all.

The cloak and dagger dangles,
Madams light the candles.
In ceremonies of the horsemen,
Even the pawn must hold a grudge.
Statues made of match sticks,
Crumble into one another,
My love winks, she does not bother,
She knows too much to argue or to judge.

The bridge at midnight trembles,
The country doctor rambles,
Bankers' nieces seek perfection,
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring.
The wind howls like a hammer,
The night blows cold and rainy,
My love she's like some raven
At my window with a broken wing.

Copyright © 1965; renewed 1993 Special Rider Music


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 03:30 PM

Heh! Nice counterpoint, Peace.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 07:10 PM

Only a couple of thoughts, for what they are worth.

"Singer/songwhiners" or "snigger/snogwriters":- Two smug and supercilious descriptors, one from either side of the pond, which are so far off the mark as to be utter nonsense.

The folk tradition would not exist if singer/songwriters were indeed the irritating pest they are currently perceived to be by many diehard traditionalists. Since traditional folk relies on the oral route for the handing down of the songs, it was always necessary for the composer of a song to be able to sing it.

He/She HAD to be a singer/songwriter.

I consider myself a singer/songwriter, and feel personally insulted by the "whiner" tag. I don't write whining introspective songs, and failed my navel gazing module at college.

I put a great deal of effort into making people laugh, and my serious songs are mostly stories from observation, so it gripes me to hear what I do described in a way that would put people off the idea of listening.

Not every singer/songwriter is trying to be another Nick Drake, and it's about time that those who use these terms develop a little tolerance for other people's opinions and quit.

The kicker is that I also perform traditional songs, and deeply love and respect the folk tradition, so it is doubly galling to be subjected to disrespect by pretentious, self appointed guardians of the "Tradition", who are, in point of fact, the reason for the current lack of interest in the folk scene on the part of the general public.

All music has merit to those who enjoy it, and nobody has the right to set himself up as the definitive arbiter of musical taste.

Rant over, and I'm off to crack open a cold one.
Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 07:16 PM

Well said, Don.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 07:18 PM

Nobody says that Gordon Bok, Utah Phillips, Stan Rogers, and a host of others are anything but excellent writers and singers. But singer-songwhiners do exist--and unfortunately seem to dominate at open-mike situations. At least when I last went to one. It appears that Jimmy T's recent experience was similar.

All power to you, Don, for taking a humorous and entertaining approach, instead.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Jun 06 - 08:03 PM

Like Don T, I are an accursed singer/songwriter wot rarely whines or sniggers. I can comfortably do an evening of traditional music and write out of a love of the tradition. Seems to me that if you get enough exceptions you start to bring the "rule" into question. It's like saying " all ......s are lazy, and when you start pointing out endless exceptions, the person says, "well yeah, sure... they aren't lazy." But they'll stick to their "rule." Better to say that inexperienced, self-focused writers are boring and let it go at that. Howzabout saying that people who sing tradtional music are boring? because some are?

I got ya coming and going... I am both a songwriter and sing traditional music... I can irritate AND bore you at the same time.

Don T.? Weren't you in Don T and The Infernos?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 03:56 AM

From Don:

>>>>The kicker is that I also perform traditional songs, and deeply love and respect the folk tradition, so it is doubly galling to be subjected to disrespect by pretentious, self appointed guardians of the "Tradition", who are, in point of fact, the reason for the current lack of interest in the folk scene on the part of the general public.

All music has merit to those who enjoy it, and nobody has the right to set himself up as the definitive arbiter of musical taste.<<<<


Sock it to 'em Don!! I'm just getting our "We love Don" banner ready for Sidmouth. ;0)


Here's a good singer songwriter:

Paul Sachs:
http://www.myspace.com/paulsachs


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: ard mhacha
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:40 AM

After reading all of the above, it seems intellectuals hogging folk music, seems to be a US problem.
Is it ok if I sign this with an x.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 06:18 AM

Let me say about singer/songwriters what Ian McCalman said about bodhran-players:

Good singer/songwriters are great, bad singer/songwriters are plentiful.

This is no insult to any of you, Jerry, Don, Tim etc. I am sure you belong to the good ones. You must, you`re on Mudcat. And this is not a joke: being here shows that you care for he tradition. It shows that you know more than writing introspective songs that are of no interest to anyone except the writer. I have`nt heard every singer-songwriter who is a `catter, but I liked what I found through the links to your material that you shared with us here.

We see you as fellow folk musicians that happen to write their own songs as well. The Sands family for instance play mostly their own songs, still they are seen (and advertised) as an Irish folk band.

So if we ridicule singer/songwriters: we don`t mean you.

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 06:40 AM

Thanks for your glowing praise, ard: I consider being called an intellectual a fine compliment.

I started this thread with a comment made by someone who loved bluegrass and didn't like what he thought of as folk music. It wasn't my comment. He didn't say he didn't like singer/songwriters (a term that wasn't in vogue when he said it) or snigger snogwriters. He thought of folk music as protest songs. Penny's Farm is a protest song, as are many anti-war and civil rights songs. He didn't like songs that preach. Somehow, this conversation has wandered into whether it's some singer/songwriters or some traditional purists who are responsible for the decreased national interest in folk music. It's a false argument, in my opinion. Folk music isn't hitting the charts because the pop music world is fickle and driven by commercial factors, not musical.

As for myself, I do consider "intellectual" to be a positive quality.
I don't equate it with well-educated, necessarily. In my college days, most of the kids I went to school with were going to college for materialistic reasons, not intellectual. Not that there was anything inherently wrong in their goals, either. They went to college so that they could get a better-paying, more interesting job.
Not many went out of intellectual curiosity. Like everyone else, I've know many people who I consider "intellectual" who never went to college who have no idea who Sarte or Dostoyevsky were. My perception of a person who is "intellectual" is someone who has a curious, open mind, who reflects on their life and desires to understand those who are different than them. They are not just inward looking (0r navel-gazing.) They seek to understand the world around them. I think someone who is truly intellectual is tolerant and non-judgmental, because they see the complexity of life and recognize their own limitations. Those are all qualities that are desireable.

There is a big difference between being an intellectual and being an intellectual snob. Someone who thinks that their education and sophistication makes them superior to those who never had the same opportunities or desires is not an intellectual in my mind.

I don't measure people on their level of education or their sophistication. Some of the wisest people I've known and admired were not formally educated or widely read. It was their approach to understanding and appreciating their life, and their willingness to accept that other ways of life have their value too that made them "intellectual" in my mind.

To me, being intellectual above anything else means having an open, cuorious mind. My Mother is an intellectual and she grew up on a dairy farm in a town of less than 1,000 population, never went to college and isn't a reader. She is an observer and a thinker.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 06:53 AM

"To me, being intellectual above anything else means having an open, cuorious mind. My Mother is an intellectual and she grew up on a dairy farm in a town of less than 1,000 population, never went to college and isn't a reader. She is an observer and a thinker.

Jerry"


I can relate to that Jerry, having one of the most "curious" minds of the twelfth century (grin).

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: bbc
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:01 AM

Jerry,

I appreciated you putting some words around what "intellectual" means to you. I fear that it, like the word "Christian" has gathered negative connotations for many people. What you call an "intellectual" I refer to simply as a thinking person. I noticed, some years ago (being a thinking person), that some folks think about things & ideas outside of the realm of their daily lives (what's for dinner, what will I do for fun tonight, etc.) & some don't seem to. I'm conscious that that change, for me, came during my growing-up years, as a needed response to dealing with painful relationship issues, ie. I needed to think to be able to deal with my life. And, yes, Jerry, I heartily agree that that kind of intellect or maturity has little to do with education.

best,

bbc


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:28 AM

Ernest got there before me - The problem with a lot of singer songwriters is that they are NOT Ralph McTell , or Steve Knightly , or Uncle Tom Paxton and all ! I have no objection to people honing their art at sessions or clubs , as hopefully they will improve with time and practice . Its the writers who CANT write that get them ALL the bad name - And of course the 'Traditional' songs that have survived are the GOOD songs that have stood the test of time , and been through what we call 'the Folk Process' with different singers changing a word here or there to improve the song .
There is ( as was pointed out earlier in this thread) a fairly wide variaton in what is called 'Folk' depending on which side of the pond you are on , as traditional music and song is a far bigger proportion of the scene here in UK than is the case in America . What IS good is that when we DO get together , we ALL enjoy the music , wether we are approaching from The Blues side , OR the Bluegrass side , or even from Jazz . Happy memories of last years Getaway !!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:10 AM

In my experience, it isn't the intellectuals that put people off 'folk' music in the US (and squarely in the bluegrass camp), but the attitude we are seeing exhibited by some pretty arrogant and condescending British folk musicians here.

While their definitions of what folk music is might be accurate for them, as others of has pointed out, it is far too exclusive and limited to match our own experiences of music.

The thing that is truly off-putting about those sorts of attitudes is, it limits the definition of 'folk' to almost exclusively the Anglo folk tradition as the gold standard.

I love the Anglo folk tradition and it's North American derivatives, but it isn't even remotely close to the only 'folk' music I value and respect.

The use of terms like 'snigger snogwriter' is yet another sign of the attempts by Anglocentric musicians lording it over others--never a way to bring more folks in the door.

And they wonder why their fellow citizens are put off by the music?

Maybe it isn't the music that puts them off, eh?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:16 AM

I don't want to rock the boat here...but I've heard some AWFUL 'folk' singers too. Where is this superior 'them' and 'us' attitude coming from?

And WHAT is the difference between a singer songwriter and a folk songwriter who sings his own songs, in the first place? I'm obviously, as always, missing the point.

Surely folk singers are either singer/songwriter themselves or they are singing the songs of er...singer/songwriters.

Oh..and...

""To me, being intellectual above anything else means having an open, cuorious mind. My Mother is an intellectual and she grew up on a dairy farm in a town of less than 1,000 population, never went to college and isn't a reader. She is an observer and a thinker."

....I have my 'I HEART Jerry' T shirt on as I write this! ;0)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:27 AM

Lizzie, there is a difference between contemporary acoustic musicians who write their own material exclusively, and contemporary acoustic musicians who perform traditional songs that survived through the oral tradition.

But with the advent of recording, the folk tradition was forever changed. The folk Nazis (and you should learn not to let them trip your triggers) just haven't accepted that fact yet.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 09:12 AM

Also, it should be painfully obvious by now that these same (largely British) group of musicians is profoundly uncomfortable with the contemporary world, and all that comes with it. Like technology.

This is a group of people who seem to believe the only good music is the music of their father's fathers. Or music that is old, and performed without technology being involved, and surrounded by a group of people who think and behave the same way they themselves think and behave. There is no doubt in my mind that a love of elitism is a big draw for this kind of music snobbery. But you don't just see this level of elitism and music snobbery in folk music. You see it in relation to some other music genres too. I'm trying to think of a music genre that is more elitist and snobby, but really, I can't think of one. I put these folk music snobs on a par with the classical music snobs. If there are snobbier groups of music lovers, I don't know who it would be.

Theirs is a very limited worldview about music, but it is theirs and they are entitled to it. What isn't cool at all though, is their proclivity to insult anyone who isn't part of their very small elitist group of music snobs. I really don't mind music snobs, so long as they don't get in my face.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Lizzie Cornish
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:14 AM

Hang on a minute....I'll just put my "I HEART Guest" headband on, to go with my "I HEART Jerry T Shirt...at this rate, I could be dressed from head to toe in HEARTS! ;0)

The troule is Guest, *they* are all around me! They know exactly how to 'trip my triggers' and besides they need bellowing at, because they're the very ones who've given all this wonderful music a bad name in the first place! (in my opinion)

Over on the Radio 2 Music Club board, I've got a new brand of Weird Ones who are now trying to get me certified because I've merely had the audacity to talk about folk and acoustic music on er...a music board! I mean...is it me?   WHY can't you even *talk* about folk music without people seeming to be terrified or enraged?!

And on Folk Britannia the other day, it showed old films of folk clubs. The Scots were whooping it up, swinging their kilts to and fro, (ooh matron!)....and dancing with their lassies, but the English?..The ENGLISH were sat round, stock still. I thought they were attending a Scientific Maths Seminar, but no......they were watching Pete Seeger! Now Pete, he was smiling and tapping his foot, moving with the music and generally having a great time, but that audience...well, it looked as if they'd died about 30 years ago!! I mean it was a genuine case of an audience brought in from 'Cadavers R Us'

Sheesh!!

And at Sidmouth last year....in the Ham Marquee, there were people KNITTING whilst Kathryn Tickell was on! KNITTING!!!!! WHAT is going on in the English folk world? That young lady is a dream! Her music and her lovely personality....yet they were knitting!

When we saw Stephen Fearing recently he was saying how Canadian audiences 'let go' almost immediately and how different it is over here. Have the English lost the plot do you think? Has English folk music been so long in the hands of The Superior Ones that it can never break free?

Do they have Folk Police in the USA, or Scotland, Ireland or Wales? Perhaps I need to emigrate!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:55 AM

Lizzie, there are self-appointed music police everywhere. If you don't believe that, try looking in on a punk music board.

But in the Anglo dominant folk vein, it is a particular form of condescension and derision from a very small group of English traditional music enthusiasts, and their British and Irish friends, who may be Scottish music snobs, or Irish music snobs, or Welsh music snobs--but they are all snobs, and all live in those islands.

I've always put their behavior down to an inferiority complex. It seems to function as that sort of a psychological dynamic for them, just as it does any sort of snobbery, which I think is always rooted in fear that the snob's inferior status/abilities will be discovered by others.

British society is extremely hierarchical and status driven, don't forget. You see that played out anywhere there are a lot of them congregating and jockeying for higher status. They often get to the top of their alpha heap by becoming very talented and gifted at being derisive, sneeringly condescending, and arrogant. Countess richard and Richard Bridge are two exemplars of that "folk tradition" in Britain. They sort of come with the territory.

But you should also know there are many more wonderful, warm and congenial folks involved in the folk music scene there too. You might prefer railing at their windmills, but many people find them and their sort of personalities obnoxious enough to avoid them entirely.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 11:21 AM

I love traditional music. I try not to mess with it when I perform it, although I am not a slavish reproductionist. I don't think that as a form of music, traditional folk music is superior to contemporary acoustic music, or jazz or blues or even hip hop (although I really don't relate much to hip hop.) They are all forms of communication to those who are moved by the music. I try not to confuse what I personally enjoy with what is "good," or worthy of my approval. There is a lot of great music that I don't enjoy.

In the long run, we always end up talking about ourselves. Me included.

And I know many wonderful, warm, open, accepting, "intellectual" folks from the UK and would hate to generalize about them any more than I want to generalize about singer/songwriters.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 11:45 AM

. . . and although I am not a fan of blues, when I hear people like Mississippi John Hurt, John Hammond, Muddy Waters, Nina Simone (I thinks she's both jazz and blues), I see more deeply into the motivations and feelings of the human race, and so I overlook my 'non-liking' of blues and just enjoy the music.

. . . and when I listen to gospel (which I don't like), I get off on phrasings and harmonies that groups do (The Gospel Messengers, The Staple Singers, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) and simply forget I don't like the stuff and enjoy the prestntations.

. . . and when I listen to rock and roll (which I do like), I wonder what happened to it over the years. And all too often I simply turn off the radio or take off the CD because it isn't what I call rock and roll. People like Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, some Beatles, some Stones, some Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers can still make it happen, but where did it go in general?

. . . and folk music which I love--and seems to mean so many different things to so many different people: NO. I don't want to listen to Danny Boy, and I don't care who sings it. Yes I do want to listen to Wild Mountain Thyme, Maggie, October Winds, and even those rebel songs that some folks think are too political to be folk, but can still stir the blood.

. . . and I admit to a liking for many songs from other cultures and languages: Io Vagabondo, Eres Tu: hey, y'all ever given a listen to Italian rock? Spanish rock? Try it, you might like it.

. . . and listening to many singer-songwriters who can reach out and touch the heart/soul with their writings: Judith McKeown, Davy Steele, Jerry Rasmussen, Alan Moorhouse--they ain't whiners. They are writers, and I thank God for them, because the world needs new songs. And NO, everyone will not like them and everything they wrote or sung, but even their weaker stuff is better than most of what I'm hearing on the damned radio these days.

Having said that for I know not why, I hope everyone has a great day listening to whatever turns their individual crank. I think I know what's good. But even if I don't, I do know what I like.

Now, Buddy Holly, ABBA or The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem--naw, how's about a little Lonnie johnson. Yeah, Lonnie . . . .


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:26 PM

wow, Jerry, I bet you never intended to open this can o' worms!

Lizzie, I do see where you are coming from and can empathise with you on many of these issues. I guess it is a little annoying to have any one person or group put "their music" on a higher plane than other peoples' music.

I enjoy almost all the music we have discussed here, (except rap which I simply don't get, but I feel that is mostly my own fault) but what I play the most, what I enjoy performing, what gives me the most pleasure RIGHT NOW in my musical odyssey, is oldie American folk ala Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tom Paxton, Gordon Lightfoot, etc. We perform this to audiences who truly love it.

I found it a bit off-putting at the Getaway last year at some of the audience reaction when a group of us said we were going to do a Kingston Trio song for the Saturday night performance. There were more than a few moans and sniggers in the audience. Once we did it, even these folk purists seemed to enjoy it though.

Folk music is, in my opinion, the music of the people, and inasmuch as that seems to be true, it has fairly liberal leanings. Why oh why do liberals have so much trouble having open minds? I thought that should be part of the definition. Rant over


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:26 PM

150


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:31 PM

151.... nyahhhhhh!

Hi, jimmy:

In case you haven't noticed, James, Liberal with a capital L isn't a synonym for open-minded. It's folks with a particular set of beliefs (some shared with small "l" liberal Republicans.)

I say that, being a liberal and on many issues a Liberal, too.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 12:47 PM

I guess they would be similar, though Jerry, but hey, what do I know! by the way, Happy Father's day to you! jimmyt


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 01:01 PM

...and I think that is the actual situation most of us find ourselves in. We know what we like. The vehemence and the hurt expressed here is a result of some of us feeling, to a greater or a lesser extent, that we've been marginalized and/or backed into musical and aesthetic corners by louder, and momentarily more numerous voices. Liz has, seemingly, been aesthetically violated and she is angry. If those musical fluctuations in the personal paradigm along the time line translate to a loss, or a gain, of monetary or social status, that can make for hard feelings as well.

Change, and our reactions to those differences, is what this seems to be about.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 01:12 PM

I always considered the term "intellectual" to be a complimentary one, and I agree with your definition of it, Jerry. It indicates that a person, as you said, has an inquiring mind, an interest in many subjects, and a good ability to understand ideas and articulate them. All this is good!

However, NEVER let yourself be labelled as an "intellectual" if you are running for high office in the USA!!!! It's the kiss of death in that arena. LOL!

Adlai Stevenson was considered an intellectual. The poor soul never had a chance! It was implied quite a bit in the last election by some people that John Kerry is an intellectual. Not good for John Kerry's chances! That's the way it goes in American politics.

Ever since Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett and all those other fontier heroes there has been a tradition of prejudice against "intellectuals" in the American political arena. They are considered to be apart from the common people, lacking in the common touch, ivory tower types, too clever by half, and NOT to be trusted!

This is a really, really stupid thing to believe (intellectuals in fact have frequently inspired and led populist revolutions on behalf of the common people)...but it is nevertheless a key factor in American politics and media and entertainment...where the primitive hero, the guy who splits rails, chaws on grass stems, spits tobaccy, and has lots of dirt under his fingernails is celebrated over and over again in the prevailing mythology, while the intellectual man is despised.

It's a factor not much evident in Canadian culture. It's no disadvantage, in fact, being pegged as an intellectual if you're running for high office in Canada, Pierre Trudeau being a notable case in point.

If intellectuals like folk music...that speaks well for folk music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 01:14 PM

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
(George Weiss / Bob Thiele)

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"

I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: number 6
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 02:04 PM

"but where did it go in general"

..... it 'went' when people started analyzing it.

sIx


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 03:53 PM

There is no rule against rejecting mediocrity, Superior Anonymouse, although there are ways to do it politely.

In any genre, there is a certain magic achieved by the right balance of technical ability and live power of communication.

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 04:05 PM

Don T - I started using the term "singer-songwhiner" on my radioshow several years ago, and it was meant to separate the truly outstanding songwriters from the wannabees.   I noticed that back in the 1960's, songwriters were learning from the tradition - and various traditions at that. The music was diverse and interesting - even when it was personal.   I think the downward trend began in the 1980s when the inspiration became the songwriters of the 60's and 70's. The music began to sound similar and it appeared that songwriters were saving money on therapy sessions by putting their troubles into song and inflicting it on poor audiences. Of course there were outstanding songwriters still coming through, but soon everyone with a guitar was writing AND recording songs. I receive about 20 CD's each week, and many artists just aren't ready to be heard by a wider audience.

I am glad you take offense to the term. I hope you and every other songwriter will fight that tag.   Don't forget the premise of this thread, and my earlier posts.   These are stereotypes. There may be some truth, but we all know that there is talent out there that deserve to be heard.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 04:28 PM

Rejecting mediocrity when it is ignorant is a duty. We can strive not to be offensive when we do that, but it is often the case that a strongly stated opinion, ESPECIALLY in cyberspace, is construed to be a direct personal challenge by some individuals who have differing thoughts on the subject. And it is too easy to click off an un-thought-out reaction. It's like giving someone the bird from the safety of your speeding car. Being over solicitous and touchy-feely in ones response, in order to avoid hurt feelings, is quite off putting in a NutraSweet kind of way.

Still, rejecting mediocrity, as with modern politics, is often necessary.

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 04:39 PM

GIGO

Songwriters know that. So do listeners. The problem then becomes one of defining the terms.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:17 PM

"The use of terms like 'snigger snogwriter' is yet another sign of the attempts by Anglocentric musicians lording it over others--never a way to bring more folks in the door."

May I point out that there were two terms to which I had objections, the second being "singer/songwhiners", which was, i believe, posted by one of our American cousins. There are folk "nazis" on both sides of the Atlantic.

In response to your post, Ron Olesko, I hadn't realised till now that yours was the first use of that term on this thread. I can only say that, while I understand your reasoning, any comment that puts people off the idea of visiting folk clubs can only be counterproductive if the aim is to get them along to listen to what is good in that arena.

I don't profess to know all the answers, but I do know this. If people are dissuaded from attending the venues where I appear, they will never find out whether I am any good, or not.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:38 PM

Don, I do understand your points. It was not my attention to insult any decent songwriter, or to keep invalid perceptions alive.

It is an easy play on words, and there are probably others who have used it as well. The term came to me several years ago when I was having a discussion with someone about audience perceptions AND actual examples of music that was too self-serving. Singer-songwhiner seemed to fit the image. I started using the expression on my radio show, but ONLY when I was showing an artist who did NOT fit the term. My point was to attack the image that had grown of these "singer-songwriters". People were staying away from the clubs because they were tired of the similarity in the music and the introspective nature that did not easily open up to commonality. My point was to show that the image is wrong. Sometimes humor can work to point out the silliness in stereotypes.

Like any artform, there is mediocrity. Sometimes it is abundant. I've known many strong songwriters who could not catch a break. I've known others that got lucky with one song and gave up trying. I know too many good songwriters are out there that are not encouraged. I know too many terrible songwriters that are not given honest feedback.

Personally I take offense at "folk nazi", for a variety of reasons and I would never use the term. "Folk police" will suffice.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:45 PM

Don T., as a matter of information, in California and other parts of the USA, "Anglo" is usually used by Latinos as a [non-offensive]group referent for "White people".

I suppose that term might refer to people who are White -in the USA or Europe or elsewhere. However, I'm not sure if this is what Guest meant when s/he used that term.

****

Speaking of the meaning of terms, what does GIGO mean?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:49 PM

Garbage in, garbage out.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:49 PM

And, for what it's worth, I cringe when I hear the term "folk nazi". I also prefer the term "folk police", if any such term is needed.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:50 PM

Oh-okay, thanks Peace. I'll have to remember that one.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 05:59 PM

When white folks use the term "Anglo", Azizi, it generally refers to people of English/Scottish/Welsh background...either from the British Isles or descendants of people from the British Isles. Canada used to be primarily an Anglo-French society, (with a strong Irish contingent too, of course). Now it is a huge multicultural mixture from all over the world. The French, however, still tend to refer to the English speaking majority as "Anglo".

Toronto was definitely an Anglo-dominated city in the cultural sense when I was a kid. It isn't that way any more. It's like a league of nations now...with the strongest new influences being Asian.

The "Anglos", in fact, have been moving out of Toronto in droves, heading for communities to the north, east, and west, such as the city of Barrie and numerous others strung out along the 400, the 401, and hiway 11. Some have referred to this redistribution of ethnicity as the "great White flight from Toronto". ;-) Suburbs that were all white when I was 20 are mostly Asian or Caribbean now.

The change in the city in the last 50 years has simply been incredible. It's a very different place now, culturally speaking. It's bigger, wealthier, more crowded, dirtier, busier, noisier. The variety of restaurant fare and other entertainment has improved tremendously, while crime, vandalism, and homelessness are also on the upswing. This is what happens when a relatively small and somewhat sleepy provincial capital becomes a huge international centre of commerce.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 06:50 PM

Thanks, Little Hawk, that's interesting information. The use of the referent "Anglo" by various populations points out the difficulties that might occur with words & phrases being misunderstood when used in a discussion forum that has participants from various nations around the world.

When in doubt about the meaning of a word or phrase, I try to figure out its meaning from how people use it. If that doesn't work, I sometimes turn to a dictionary or google. Or I ask for clarification from the poster who used that term or others.

And-other times-when I think that there may be some confusion about a term's meaning, I might chime in with what I hope is clarifying information.

But, with regards to that "Anglo" term, I repeat that I'm not sure if that explanation I gave was the way Guest meant it...

I may have just added more mud to the waters that separate us.

If, so...I'm sorry.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:14 PM

Talk about different meanings: There are two lines in a song I wrote about my Father growing up:

"Its a long ways from knickers and high cut boots
To a part down the middle and a brand new suit"

The verse was supposed to follow that transition from a young boy with knickers (usually corduroy pants that came down just below the knee, worn with high-cut boots,) to a man wearing a blue suit.

My friend and fellow Catter played the recording for some folks in the UK and it sounded very kinky to them. "Knickers" in the UK are what we'd call panties over here. The image of my Father in panties and high cut boots (so, what about the whip and whipped cream?) is a little more than my imagination can take...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Greg B
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:34 PM

At risk of being tangiental, I resigned from AFM 1000 when I found
that the local was being controlled by one particular political
faction which was bound to offend the politics of, say, the
main-line bluegrass types, etc.

I found that their concern for things like pension funds, etc., was
over-ridden by things like the SOA protests and so on.

Now, I'm about as left-wing as it comes, but I'm also mature enough
to recognize that not every 'traditional' or 'folk' musician shares
my inclination to John Kerry over George Bush.

But what we run into is that those who want to 'win that one big
union by-and-by' expect that the more conservative will come to them,
not the other way around.

There is a certain cultural elitism in folk music which causes it
to be self-limiting to a great extent.

What I found with AFM 1000 was that pensions, contracts, etc. were
imporartant...so long as you voted for John Kerry or Ralph Nader.

I still believe that the moral majority is neither.

But I also believe that those who arrogantly believe in their right
to be right (or left) are missing out on a whole bunch of good people
with whom to have intelligent discourse...and fraternity that rises
above who wins the next election.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:42 PM

There is a certain cultural elitism in almost ANY given group of people which causes them to be self-limiting to a great extent. ;-)

Rap artists. Neo-cons. Ku Klux Klan. Daughters of the American Revolution. Republicans. Democrats. Shriners. Catholics. Dentists. Dachshund owners. Moonshiners. Skateboarders...

You name it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: bobad
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:47 PM

I'll add eunuchs to that list.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:52 PM

Right on, bobad! ;-) I should not have left them out.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Peace
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:55 PM

"I should not have left them out."

They shouldn't have either.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: bobad
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 07:58 PM

HA, HA, HA good one!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ebbie
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:06 PM

lol, Peace.


"Its a long ways from knickers and high cut boots
To a part down the middle and a brand new suit"

Not to mention the "part down the middle", Jerry.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:40 PM

And I used to think that the BS section was the only witty section of Mudcat...

No longer.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: John Hardly
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:50 PM

I enjoy/appreciate intellectuals, but rarely those who would characterize themselves as such.

Yeah, the Kingston Trio really brought out the, you know, intellectuals.

Kumbaya on the MTA.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jacqui.c
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 08:57 PM

Lizzie - why such a problem with people knitting whilst listening to a performer? I quite often will be crocheting during a concert/song circle. Doesn't mean that I'm not listening to and enjoying the music. I know at least two well regarded folk performers who generally have some craftwork to hand at festivals and concerts as well.

These handicrafts have, like folk music, been handed down from generation to generation and it is good to see that some people still carry them on. Most of us who do these crafts are capable of holding a conversation, watching TV or a performance whilst doing the work. The shawls that Mmario and I have out on the auction have probably been partly made during folk events.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: freda underhill
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 09:25 PM

I agree, Jacqui. Knitting doesn't stop you listening. When I was growing up we had sessions at our home on a Sunday evening and my mother used to knit while people sang and played. And we had some good people at our sessions, one who is now internationally renowned. And he didn't mind the knitting.

I often sit and sketch during sessions - and as a result have pictures of the many people who have performed over the years in my songbooks.

freda


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 09:35 PM

The only real danger is that people will take you for a knitwit.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 09:40 PM

It all seems like knitpicking to me..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:09 PM

It's an old purl of wisdom not to engage in a whole-cloth battle of wits with a half-knit unarmed man. Not to start a row, or anything.

"H-A-R with a V!
V-A-R with a D!
Knit ONE
Purl TWO
HAHVAHD!
Yooo-HOOO!!"

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:20 PM

Always remember knot to knit your purls before swine!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:22 PM

If you break a leg is it alright for it to knit while you're listening to music?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ron Davies
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:30 PM

I'm not sure, but I think the reason people at the Getaway (elsewhere too?, I don't know) are not enthusiastic about Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary etc. hits is that we feel they don't need our support--and lots of other music does--or it may die out eventually. Anything that was either done A LOT in the 60's or was a huge hit can be heard on radio--and probably will be for the foreseeable future. But there is a lot of music which has very little chance to to be heard on radio--or anywhere else. And a lot of it (I'm not talking about singer-songwriter stuff here) is great stuff. Though the Carter Family, Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon etc. wrote words--and sang--so they're singer-songwriters, right? Well, I suppose the difference is they didn't have hits in the 60's (sung by them). Some of the songs during the folk boom (especially when folk "made the charts" are great music--but if we don't sing them they'll still survive.

That may play a role here.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:40 PM

Jerry,

It's for good luck!!

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 10:44 PM

A wise remark, Ron.

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jun 06 - 11:13 PM

GregBr,

When other musicians and I were in the woods having a Rendezvous and trying to form the first "union" of folksingers so long ago---the group eventually known as HEY RUBE---I was there because I needed affordable health insurance in the worst way for my wife and young son and myself. At one point we were discussing/arguing about whether we wanted to become an actual UNION or a benevolent self-help organization. A leader of the group was pontificating in a direction that would've turned us into a clone of the I.W.W. He was a mentor of mine and it was quite hard to have to tell him, rather forcefully, and a bit facetiously too, that I couldn't stay and be a member if it meant I would be defined by the words in the Wobbly Preamble. I was ready to walk away too.

The irony was that when Hey Rube was formed, and eventually we got a health policy to offer us members, I couldn't afford it!

The best made plans of mice and men...

I do think I understand your quandary. I guess it's a result of being an intellectual !! ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jimmyt
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 12:20 AM

LittlieHawk, I only made your list twice... I sold my skateboard and threw in the dachshund, so that cut 2 more mentions.........


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 01:43 AM

Heh! Well, a man who abandons his dachshund is of course...capable of anything!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 04:52 AM

Jaysus on a pushbike, but it took me half an hour to even scan through this thread lightly! Loads of good comments and observations. I will keep some quotes for future use ("Anon was a singer/songwriter", and I loved Richard's "...singing their diaries to their guitars"). In fairness to Richard and others though, I didn't find their use of the term "snigger/snogwriter" offensive at all; indeed, I often use it myself, when in self-deprecatory mode (dawn till dusk). I first read it used by Countess Richard on another board, and latched on to it because it is indeed descriptive of a large majority. Also, I am a sucker for a bit of cheap wordplay (does that make me intellectual, or the opposite?).

But I am surprised that the discussion on this thread, although quited detailed and despite its many twists and turns, only considered one of the two possible interpretations of the title - that of applicability ("Is folk music applicable to intellectuals?"), and not the one of intent ("Is folk music intended for intellectuals?"). My weird brain saw the second option first, and it caused me to question my own motives.

It would be too easy to say "I intend my songs to be for all people" - sure, I would hope that they would all like them, however I now think that I do in fact focus subconsciously on a subsection of potential audiences. I do it every time I use a tune that has a "traddy" or "rocky" bent to it, or substitute a word or expression with another for ease of understanding by those of a certain generation - not always mine! So, does the term "intellectual" describe my target audience?

In short, no. My focus is more age- and experience-related (I repeat, different ages for different songs), with the baby-boomers taking the lion's share, but also with conscious forays into other generations, especially more recently. In all cases, I would ask of the audience to focus on the lyrics, to think about them and to allow them to affect/release their emotions - but I don't call that being "intellectual", except in comparison with the "unthinking" sections of society, those that my daughter calls "Kevs and Sharons". But if I only could, it is precisely those "unthinking ones" that I would most like to affect, it's their lives I want to describe and bring to the fore, and to show that the term "unthinking" applied to them is actually unfair and incorrect; that they share the same basic emotions and drives with the "intellectual" ones - it's just that they don't have the luxury of time and energy (and the fortune of background, sometimes) to spend on matters that the "intellectuals" find attractive.

So no, my songs are not for intellectuals by a long chalk.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 09:37 PM

"Don T.? Weren't you in Don T and The Infernos?

Jerry"

No Jerry, can't say that I was.

I do remember, back in the early days when I played tea chest base and washboard in a skiffle group, my parents complaining about "that infernal racket".

Don T.


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Mudcat time: 21 October 2:31 PM EDT

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