Mudcat Café message #2521208 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116964   Message #2521208
Posted By: GUEST,Tom Bliss (wearily)
21-Dec-08 - 05:53 AM
Thread Name: Why folk clubs are dying
Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
I'm sorry I'm don't know how to do bold and italic etc here so I'll put * by my replies.

"First: There's really no point in debating this with you Jim because it's obvious that your mind is closed". // Bit of arrogance here Tom - neither of us have given ground on our original stance - doesn't this indicate that if one mind is closed, both are?

* Fair point. Apologies for my arrogance. I was frustrated that this thread had reverted to the old debate and been taken off track by it.

"But I - and most artists, promoters, journalists etc who don't want only to converse with the converted"

* Not arrogance. A turn of phrase intended to suggest the outward-facing stance of those who seek to draw in new converts.

Funny word, 'academic', often used as an insult.

* Not intended as such.

However, the suggestion that it is 'academic to continue to use the term 'folk' in the way that is is used by the researchers, writers and collectors is pretty nonsensical (if a bit of an improvement on your earlier suggestion of 'a thing of the past).

* I meant that it's not a problem for those who wish to use that word in that way to do so (I've never said it was). It's only a problem when they attack innocent parties for using it, correctly, to mean the new definition.

"It also lies fully within the new popular definition, so there is no problem for those who know what they are talking about".

* See above.

So you know what you're talking about - but the rest of us (academics included) don't? - hmmm!)

* That's not what I said. Read my sentence again. The people who 'know what they are talking about' ARE the academics etc.

Perhaps you might be able to tell us who gave us this new "popular definition" - is it still the countless millions you originally cited or is it the "'Grammy' - or maybe 'Young Folk Awards'"

* It arrived slowly by media coverage and popular usage over 40 years, and is accepted in most online dictionaries (I've not bought a paper one for decades).

Wikipedia has: Folk music can have a number of different meanings, including:
        •        Traditional music: The original meaning of the term "folk music" was synonymous with the term "Traditional music", also often including World Music and Roots music; the term "Traditional music" was given its more specific meaning to distinguish it from the other definitions that "Folk music" is now considered to encompass.
        •        Folk music can also describe a particular kind of popular music which is based on traditional music. In contemporary times, this kind of folk music is often performed by professional musicians. Related genres include Folk rock and Progressive folk music.
        •        In American culture, folk music refers to the American folk music revival, music exemplified by such musicians as Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Joan Baez, who popularized and encouraged the lyrical style in the 1950s and 1960s.

Here is another from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language:         
1.        Music originating among the common people of a nation or region and spread about or passed down orally, often with considerable variation.
        2.        Contemporary music in the style of traditional folk music.

"(Lord, how many times will I have to type these words)?"
Probably about as many times as I have to repeat; THERE IS NO POPULAR DEFINITION OUTSIDE THE GREENHOUSE ENVIRONMENT OF THE FOLK WORLD, at least not a commonly agreed one.

* Err, see above.

Throughout the time I have been involved with the music I have made a point of discussing it with workmates, family members, drinking companions, whoever.... whenever the opportunity has arisen. For me, your appeal for a survey has always been an essential part of what I do. The over-riding impression I am left with is one of total confusion, general ignorance and above all indifference.

* Have you spent much time around teenagers in a city like Leeds lately?

Where opinions have been offered they have ranged from the Sharp songs taught in schools, the Clancys, Dubliners, Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor and The Spinners of the folk boom and Dylan (before he moved to the fresh fields and pastures new of the Pop world). It seems to me that all of these have far more of a foothold in 'folk' than your arbitrary application of the term to the the singer-songwriters who owe nothing whatever to real folk.

* It is not MY arbitrary application. It is many people's and it's not actually an application. It's an inclusion, along with all those you list, their ilk, and a lot of other stuff. And they're not being included WITHIN the old definition. The tin remains undiluted. The word from the tin has merely been stuck on the larder door.

If you are basing your claim on folk on "common parlance", I'm afraid you are building your house on sand.

* Err, ok. Let's meet in 100 years and see if it's still standing.

" most of us have replaced the academic word 'folk' with the word 'traditional.'"
Is not 'traditional' an 'academically conceived term?

* Yes. That's precisely why we use it. Because unlike 'folk' it's not been eroded. Yet.

"Second: I'm not sure that it's up to me to resolve the "copyright/public domain dilemma"
Didn't suggest it was up to you - Just think that you need to be aware of the financial burden you are imposing on the folk scene by your presenting your self written (and copyrighted - so it can never belong to 'the folk') material to folk clubs, thereby, as I said, opening the door to the PRS jackals.

* Fair enough. I'm sorry you see it that way. I hadn't realised that's what you felt - it does explain a lot. But don't worry, only 6 months to go then I'm a reformed character.

Maybe there is not much that an individual can do, apart from accepting responsibility.

* In that case, I do.

Putting the onus on us is rather like demanding that we wipe up your mess.

* I'm not sure I did that, I didn't mean to. But if you tell me where you keep the mop I'll take care of it at once.

Didn't understand your last point about standards and best practice, though, but then again, a good deal of what YOU say confuses ME.

* I have explained this before, Jim. As a board member of folkWISE I feel I have accepted a responsibility to help protect and develop opportunities for 'folk' musicians in the UK (but without damaging anything else in the process). That means making what contribution I can to debates around topics which impact on potential work for 'folk' musicians. But I also care about this music very much for itself, and, as an individual, would champion many of the values that you hold dear. There are some massive contradictions around, and I'd like to see more consensus and less conflict - which will require debate and open minds. I want to see a healthy 'folk' scene, at all levels, and believe that it operates as a kind of ecosystem, which requires all levels and species within it to be healthy for the system to flourish. Not many working musicians with a national remit feel able to engage publicly about things like fees and floor singers. I don't enjoy it, and frequently scare myself witless, but I believe passionately that our experience and knowledge needs to be in the mix along with that of experts like your good self, because I see some terrifying misconceptions around the very concept of the trade musician, which need to be redressed for the sanity of all. I'm also concerned that we may be about to loose a vital cog in the current system. Not soon, but within the next 15 years - with a major impact on the whole shebang, including the parts you care about. I have therefore spent a fair amount of time talking to people, setting up talking shops and writing, in a specific effort to seek out what works for people up and down the land - so we can maybe share those ideas (or 'best practice') for the potential good of all. That effort is the sole reason I engage in discussions like this. If you want to see one of the results of it, go here (I've posted links to it many many times, as have others - have you seen it?). See also my forthcoming article in Living Tradition.

(end of my bit)

I understand your own standards to be double ones

* I can't think why. I do try to avoid them, but no-one's perfect.

- "Jim and others are wrong to seek to apply any kind of quality threshold in this type of gathering."

* Err, actually would you retract that, please, Jim? That's a deliberate misquote. I asked Richard to confirm that he was "saying that at a free/cheap-entry folk singaround or folk singers club everyone should be free to have a go, and therefore JIm and others are wrong to seek to apply any kind of quality threshold in this type of gathering. (If so you seem to be in a majority here anyway)." I very carefully did not voice an opinion myself.

I have always believed that standards should apply equally to both guest and residents evenings; otherwise, you have a series of concerts and not a club and you are guilty of passing on shoddy goods to your regulars - always been the principle of the clubs I've been involved with I'm proud to say.

* I don't understand this part, but never mind. You don't like people like me playing in folk clubs, fair enough. I shall desist on the 17th of July at Gainsborough. Can you hold your breath till then?

Sorry to everyone else - but I hope you'll all agree that I did need to address this one.

Tom Bliss