Mudcat Café message #2153255 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #104892   Message #2153255
Posted By: GUEST, Tom Bliss
20-Sep-07 - 04:18 AM
Thread Name: Folk Music for the Middle Class
Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk Music for the Middle Class
"middle class folksingers... can effortlessly evoke an atmosphere of tedium" Tee hee, so THAT'S why you kept nodding off at the Woodlark, Al! (Thanks for staying even so).

I don't think it's true that only middle class artists get funding and exposure, though. The picture is much much more complicated than that.

There has been and still is much injustice and abuse within the British class system, though it's much better these days than when my ancestor William Bliss (who's own ancesters were simple weavers - so how far back do we go?) was first pioneering 'Utopian Socialism' along with Titus Salt, Robert Owen, and John Cadbury. (He was awarded a medal of honour by Napoloen Bonaparte for the liberal and benign treatment of his work force).

I sometimes think, though, that class warfare is partly about tribal identity as much as political justice - not that this in any way reduces our mutual duty to agitate for a better system. We see it from both (/all?) sides of the 'divide.' People are put in boxes because of how they talk, and judged for who they seem to be, rather than who they really are.

In most walks of life RP is still an advantage (though far less so than it was 30 years ago), but in the folk world it is not.

When I decided to launch myself on the poor innocent folk fans of this parish, I did worry that my 'capitalist' background (though actually, as those who've heard my song about it will know, we lost the lot and my father grew up with very little), my connection with the Channel Islands (a red rag to lots of red bulls) and my 'posh' voice might inhibit my progress.

I'm still unsure if it has - there are certainly some who believe that folk music is the province of the 'working classes' and that people like me should steer clear.

But while it's true that songs and tunes have had massive value and spiritual (and political) relevance to many groups of down-trodden people through the years, there is some evidence that 'middle class' people have always been involved, to some extent - and may even have originally written some of the material - even if it might appear at first glance to be the work of an 'uneducated' man or woman.

M/classers have certainly had a major role to play in the collecting and promotion of traditional music (not always benignly, though, I grant you).

So where does that leave us? Well, apart from a healthy debate on whether Michael's point is still valid in the 21st C (are we talking abut poverty of wealth, education or happiness, Michael?) it all leaves people like me having to decide if I should go on making the music I love, or take Mr Sissons advice and get the hell out of his territory.

I'm thinking on