Mudcat Café message #3176924 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3176924
Posted By: Jim Carroll
26-Jun-11 - 08:44 PM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
"*seriously* jangling the nerves of hard-core traddies."
A slight practical problem with all this.
I'm a Brit who, after attending, singing at and helping organise folk clubs in Manchester and London as far back as the early 60s and who started recording traditional singers in Britain and Ireland nearly 40 years ago, finally moving to the West Coast of Ireland about thirteen years ago.
Around the time my wife and I started, apart from a handful of elderly singers and musicians, the music was very much on the wane - musicians who turned up at bars with their instruments were shown the door, the media took the piss and described traditional music as "diddly di" and airspace was virtually non existant..... it was about to die out with the older generation.
A handful of stalwarts got together and decided to put it on the map - not the erzatz navel-gazing, guitar-scratching bollocks you will find in many folk clubs in the UK, but the real thing.
The Irish Traditional Music Archive was set up in Dublin, giving Ireland the two finest traditional music centres in Europe.
Here in the West locals started a week-long traditional music school dedicated to recently deceased piper, Willie Clancy; not long after that other locations in Ireland began to hold song and music weekends dedicated to singers and musicians who had passed on.... the situation was turned around completely.
Youngsters flocked to traditional music, sitting at the feet of the old-timers who passed on the skills, tunes, understanding and love of traditional music to youngsters who were anxious to listen and learn.
Last St Patrick's day in this rather remote one-street town in the arsehole of nowhere we had over 100 young people, from primary school age up to late teens on the local parade playing traditional music on fiddles, pipes, concertinas, flutes (not a bodhran in sight tbtg!!). We have produced 3 TG4 (an Irish language television station award) 'Musician of the Year' winners. Now we have the grandchildren of the old generation of musicians we were recording back in the early 70s playing the music, some to world class standard.
In the academic field, up to the recent financial crash art organisatons were throwing government money at us; applying for a grant was pushing on an open door - we received a award a couple of years ago to transcribe the Irish Traveller song tunes we had collected in London. Local traditional music centres have begun to spring up; by the end of the year we will have established one here on the West coast with a huge archive, a library, a teaching facility, regular albums of local music, and a building in the town to house it.
We can turn the radio and television on most nights of the week and get programmes dedicated to traditional music and song: art programmes, discussions, live sessions and archival material, local nd national.
Traditional music has been guaranteed a lease of life here for at least another two generations, not by slavishly emulationg the pop scene to the extent that one has become indistinguishable from the other, nor by wingeing that "we don't know what folk music is so we'll play what we fancy and call it folk", but by making the older styles and materials relevant to modern life - plenty of room for experimentation, but not at the expense of the traditional stuff.
When I read my way through smug and uninformed threads like this, and when I remember all the clubs in the UK where, with about a dozen other folkies, I've sat though some tone-deaf prat trying, and often failing, to tune his guitar, and finally not bothering because it was "near enough folk folk music", then intoning (and probably forgetting) some self-penned piece which may have meant something to him but..... I wonder if I've missed something - is the folk scene so great in Britain that you can all afford to sit back and snide at those who take their music seriously, and enjoy it all the more for having done so?
My memories of what the British scene was like and the picture I get of what I'm likely to find in all but a few dedicated clubs, and compare it to any one of the 4/5 high standard sessions I can go along to every week in this town inclines me to say "You show me yours and I'll show you mine".
Jim Carroll