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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Howard Jones UK 60s Folk Club Boom? (1167* d) RE: UK 60s Folk Club Boom? 27 Feb 19

Jim, as you very well know "folk" has acquired two entirely distinct meanings. One is the original meaning, which you cling to. The other is broader, and includes traditional song but also extends to modern songs, It can be briefly, if not entirely accurately, summarised as a "singer with a guitar". It is this broader meaning which is what the general public understands by "folk music", which is why I am confident that most people would have said my busker was performing a folk song. In much the same way I would expect them to be able to recognise a jazz band or a classical string quartet, and distinguish between a fiddler playing folk tunes and a violinist around the corner playning Bach. People may not know much about musical genres, but they have a broad idea what they sound like.

You may feel this is an incorrect meaning (I assume it comes from America, where it may have more of a connection with authentic traditional folk) but that is how it is widely understood. The folk scene as a whole also embraced that meaning, from at least the 1960s. There may be a case to be made that the 60s boom was largely given its impetus by this sort of folk, at a time when performers like Dylan, Donovan, Peter Paul & Mary, Simon & Garfunkel etc were part of mainstream popular music. Individual clubs positioned themselves at different points along the spectrum between wholly trad and wholly contemporary, but in most you could expect to hear a mixture of both.

To pretend that this meaning of "folk" does not exist or should be ignored is to bury your head in the sand. This is the music, centred on traditional songs but including much more, which the folk clubs existed to promote. This is what the public at large, "the folk", understand "folk music" to be.

This is why I said earlier that we are at cross purposes, because when we we talk about "folk" we mean different things.

I don't want to get sidetracked into a discussion about why the clubs declined, that has been discussed at length elsewhere. You have claimed that the current problem is that folk clubs have become places where you can expect to hear pop songs rather than traditional songs. Can you please give some examples of some of these pop songs which you feel present such a threat?

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