Mudcat Café message #2595289 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119547   Message #2595289
Posted By: WFDU - Ron Olesko
23-Mar-09 - 10:00 AM
Thread Name: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
"Yes, but what's your reason for saying that it's folk music? To put it another way, what's your answer when someone says it isn't?"

I answer that they are wrong. They are not considering the fact that folk music is a living tradition. Cecil Sharp took a snapshot of a community and their traditions at a certain point in time. Whatever rudimentary methods were used for transmission of the song was reflected in the source.

During the last 100 years, our sense of "community" has changed. You can sit and cry in your beer about the loss of tradition, or you can realize that tradition evolves with these changes.

The singer-songwriters are creating songs for a specific community. It is not "pop" music as it does not incorporate the qualities that would insure commercial acceptance to a wide audience. The songs are created for the same need that the songs that we consider "traditional" were created.   I was interviewing Eric Andersen and he explained it very clearly. They started writing songs because they could not find traditional songs that spoke directly to the issues and lifestyle that they were leading. They needed songs that would serve their own community.

The folk community spawned Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and many others - and it continues to do so with emerging writers like Danny Schmidt, Joe Jencks, Lindsay Mac, Antje Duvekot and others.

Trust me - I am not knocking the study and enjoyment of traditional music. It is extremely important to preserve and learn from these songs and traditions. I feel that is also important to recognize that these traditions evolve.   There is a strong community, at least in this country, that accepts certain contemporary singer-songwriters under the "folk" umbrella.   They do not get confused about what they are listening to.