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GUEST,Santa UK attitudes to folk music (97* d) RE: UK attitudes to folk music 22 Sep 03

I left the paper, folded to the right place, at my wife's spot for breakfast. The word "Pop!" exploded across the room.......

Ah well, if one more convert has been made, it can't hurt.

I would argue that some of the habits of the revival, notably what can be summed up as "finger in the ear", damaged "folk music" in this country. Plus the basic irrelevance of pastoral songs in a town and city culture. I came in with the 60s swell, when folk connected to protest and commercial music in a genuine popular movement. Unfortunately, this then hurt the music when the voting turned against socialist politics.

I do agree that the way the extreme right have taken over the flag of St.George doesn't help any cause that stands up and calls itself "English". Plus the outcry from the Celtic fringe at cultural imperialism. It's OK to be Scottish or Irish or Welsh, but being English is frowned on. Strangely, I think that the growth in use in the English flag at international football matches could actually help: not all football fans are rascist loonies and the more the flag is associated with mainstream "normal" events the less any attached stigma.

Overall, I'm fairly optimistic. There are good signs - there's just been a mystery play in York Cathedral: not exactly folk music but an indication of an increasing interest in traditions. OK, the clubs aren't as common or as full as in the 60s, but there are more festivals. Yes, the audience is ageing but people are living longer. I don't think it actually matters that we don't have commercial superstars in the field, as long as there is continuity. Fashions can change back again. And again.

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