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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Frank Hamilton Why doesn't good/our music sell more? (40) RE: Why doesn't good/our music sell more? 23 Sep 99

When we started the Old Town School of Folk Music in 1957, we taught the popularized folk music of the day in hopes that it would lead students to the more traditional music. If they could play the latest Weavers or Bob Gibson song perhaps we could stimulate an interest in trad folk. Sometimes it really worked because we had access to the traditional performers who would come and do concerts for us such as Doc Watson, Richard Chase, Horton Barker, Arvella Grey, Big Bill Broonzy, Big Joe Williams, Mama Yancey, Milijia Spasojevic, Rachel Hadass,the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and others not so well-known but were part of the citizenry of Chicago. Now, (1999)the OTS of FM has come a long way in presenting "World" music and Hispanic music to the Chicago community as well as blues (some traditional) and "Old Time" (stringband oriented mountain music). But a lot of the students are learning popularized accoustic singer/songwriter music and there are those who call that "folk" and avoid any discussion of what makes traditional folk music happen. Steve Goodman, John Prine, Joni Mitchell and other are now lumped into the "folk" bin. So, in my experience, over the last couple of decades of observing the OTS, it has grown big, the singer/songwriter has become "folk" and the traditional music is once again put on the back burner. Some of the people there don't see anything "wrong" with this and they're entitled. But where does this leave the interest, research and recreation of traditional American folk music? My conclusion: if you feed a child candy in hopes of getting him/her to eat nutritious food, the child will continue to eat candy.

Frank Hamilton

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