Mudcat Café message #3182876 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3182876
Posted By: Jim Carroll
07-Jul-11 - 03:01 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
"There's room for, need for, and interest in venues that are for very specific types of folk music"
The term "folk" is in itself pretty specific, or at least, it was; it acted as an indicator to what we would find when we went to a folk club - it was the label on the tin.
It's when that ceased to be the case that the problems arose and we lost our audiences.
Sorry Cap'n; the folk scene is a directionless mess when we can't even discuss the subject without throwing the furniture about, and when we have to defend the music we listen to, sing, write about, archive..... from generalised nonsensical attacks like this one.
As worthy as that objective is, it has never been our job to provide an alternative to wallpaper music. If we have any 'grand objective' it is to present people with a specific type of music performed to a standard that they can enjoy.
Whether it is done accompanied or unaccompanied is entirely up to the people concerned, just as it is with a jazz band, a chamber orchestra or a rock group. Insisting on your own preferences is as bad as making claims that singers should no longer sing ballads because they are too long - as I have seen propose on this forum on a number of occasions.
As it happens, my own tastes are similar to your own; I would prefer a policy of using instruments to accompany songs, I was a member, organiser, and resident at a club in London which had some of the best accompanists on the scene, but that was our choice and nobody elses. The same club had an active policy of producing new songs, though we did attempt to see that they didn't diverge too far from traditional styles so our audiences knew what they were getting when they came through the door. We even held occasional songwriting competitions - John Pole won a first edition of Child for one of his.
While not being happy with the 'no instrument' policy that was adopted by some of the early clubs (I haven't seen it in the UK since the mid-sixties), I can understand the logic behind it.
I've witnessed on numerous occurrences singer songwriters turning up at clubs, giving their name at the door to sing, sitting at the bar until they were called to sing, then getting up and mumbling their way through a navel-gazing outpouring of angst - and then asking for a booking. The fact that they never got one was one of the reasons our club got a reputation as "purist".
It wasn't - we had an active policy of encouraging the use of accomaniment; our workshop at one time ran classes and we organised several public talks on accompaniment by IMO, some of the best accompanists on the scene.
We were a traditional-based club dedicated to presenting traditional and using those styles to produce new songs - but that was our choice and nobody elses - and that's the way it has to be - sorry.
As for "discouraging people" - you do that when you confine yourself to one type of music - and that's the way it has to be too - sorry again.
I'm rather taken with Steamin' Willie's idea of referring to himself as an "accoustic roots" performer - far more honest than calling yourself "folk" when you are not
Jim Carroll