Mudcat Café message #2539602 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116964   Message #2539602
Posted By: Jack Blandiver
14-Jan-09 - 09:39 AM
Thread Name: Why folk clubs are dying
Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
We all used to go folk clubs in the 1960's because we didn't want to stay at home and watch Rolf harris, Val Doonican and The Younger Generation

Born in 1961 I had little choice to stay home and watch Rolf Harris, Val Doonican and The Young Generation. In fact, it wasn't until 1976 that I made my first forays into folk clubs, aged 14, curiosity if not killing the cat then giving it a right good kicking; thus finding myself the youngest in the back room though by then I was already well equipped with the archive - going straight for the Trad. Jugular, the big ballads and the brutal old songs; the Lucy Wans and the McGintie's Meal an' Ales, leaving the Dylanesque guitar crooners & singer-songwriters to what I hoped would be a merciful extinction not too long in the coming. By 1976, the sixties were finally over & the game was well and truly afoot, and over the next few years I saw The Damned, The Ramones, Derek Bailey, Peter Bellamy, Jim Eldon, Evan Parker, The National Health, Rene Clemencic, The Watersons, Lol Coxhill, June Tabor, Sun Ra, John & Sue Kirkpatrick, Joy Division and The Fall, though not all of them in folk clubs I admit, but cultural life in the late seventies / early eighties was pretty cool.

Scroll on 33 years & at 47 I'm still the youngest in the Folk Club room, and still bored shitless by the Dylanesque guitar crooners & singer-songwriters who still think the answer's blowin' in the wind. I still sup from the unfailing blood of the Trad. Jugular - the real meat of folk, which, then as now, I regard as the pure essence of the thing; the Muckle Sangs and the real Traditional Singers, who were always more than fecking source singers for revivalists to plunder, as any self-respecting revivalist would admit. These days I take heart that anyone sings this stuff at all; these exacting enthusiasts and devotees so glibly dismissed as elitists purely because they are in a minority.

There's no point to this by the way, just an autobiographical note from a non baby-boomer Traddy for whom Traditional Song is but one small part of the cultural landscape, however so revived and exclusive that may be, and not without good reason. I often ponder why the folk-revival happened at all - and why it did nothing to encourage, engender or otherwise facilitate a second wave until comparatively recently. It is enough, however, that it happens at all, however so small a thing it might be, however so intimate, however so human, however so defined as much by context as it ever was by content, but there it is, big enough for me. Another 33 years down the line however... feck, now there's a sobering thought!