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blt young folkies? (115* d) RE: young folkies? 25 Mar 01

I remember feeling somewhat out of place in high school (mid-60s)because I listened to and preferred traditional folk music/dance to rock and roll. Even during those alleged folk revival years, which really didn't last that long, perceptions of what was acceptable and cool were fairly narrow. Not that folkies pay much attention to that kind of thing, in general it seems we're a group that thrives on every possible kind of margin.

My grandson, who's 8, loves to listen to Keb Mo and to Eileen Ivers. He's heard me play and sing since he was a newborn (and before that, actually)--I'm hoping that this will open up his ear and heart to traditional music. I began putting a guitar and a mandolin in his arms when he was 2 or 3, and whenever I can I bring him to acoustic instrument stores to try out various instruments--percussion, guitars, banjos (he thought the banjo was broken until I explained that it didn't have a sound hole like a guitar), flutes.

One reason I like open mikes is that the age range is often very broad and rarely remarked upon, it simply is. I can get an idea of what interests younger folk players. Folk music is often found where activists gather, and many involved in political work are young--late teens, early 20s. When I attended a musical evening in celebration of Joe Hill, although there were certainly quite a few geriatric rabble rousers present, there were also young politicos in the crowd (dressed as if they had walked off a "Grapes of Wrath" set), singing union songs as loudly as anybody else. Maybe it's now trendy to be nostalgic for the 1930s.

Because I work with adolescents as a therapist, I often meet young people who are very creative--poets, musicians, songwriters--and they tell me that music of any kind is very important to them. When I've played my guitar and sung some of the songs I love, the response I get is usually very emotional (even if they tell me they prefer rap or heavy metal). They may tell me (privately) that they actually like folk music, although they draw the line at Country music. In movement therapy groups, I've used Hank Williams--some kids just can't tolerate it, but others think it's funny--and everybody ends up moving. I've wondered what would happen if I played an Odetta recording, or some old work chants. I also use celtic music, as a bodhran is almost impossible to sit still to.

So, I think that folk music is a part of youth culture (it can't help but being so, actually)and part of what happens is the willingness of those of us who are aging to accept that, even though we may have accumulated a lot of knowledge, there's always more sprouting up from someplace new, and usually that means from someone younger.


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