Mudcat Café message #3188053 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3188053
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
15-Jul-11 - 03:57 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
Thing is though, all this has just happened; an unfortunate turn of events for sure, but there's been no obvious coup as such, much less any conspiracy. Call it - entropy. Perhaps one sad fact of life is that more people enjoy Jasper Carrott than enjoy Peter Bellamy, thus necessitating a more pragmatic approach to what other genres we might think of as being Folk. Then again, the Folk Revival (both Old & New Testament) is awkwardly placed with respect of The Old Songs Correctly Known as Folk Songs and the Feral Context in which they originally existed, which is about as different from Old & New Testament Revival Folk as you can get. Folk was, in effect, invented as One Thing, re-invented as another, and over the last 60 years or so has become a whole bunch of other things by logical extension. These days many Folk Clubs (most? God knows it certainly seems so) function as Open Mic Nights without the mics where pretty much anything goes - just as long as its not one of those bloody Border Ballads! Bizarrely, I've been to well-attended singarounds in which 1) I have been the only person accompanying myself on a musical instrument and 2) I have been the only person who sang a Traditional Song. How weird's that? An unnacompanied singaround where all the songs are MOR self-penned Folk Style rather than Pure Trad.

Just making observations here though; people can, and will, do what they like. As we can see by the diversity of music discussed here on Mudcat, Folk is a mutable beast and depends not on some God-like tradition as such, but the bent of the people in the room at the time. If I set up a singaround and get a load of Dylan-heads along (it has happened) then I can hardly complain if they sing Bob Dylan songs can I?

As for the Furniture Analogy - I'd say these days Folk is not even as specific as chairs (what sort of chairs? stools, armchairs, settees, sofas, benches, recliners, crackets, milking stools, park benches (I had one in a room once; one of those ones with cast iron iron snakes), pews, misericords &c.); rather Folk is as general as furniture, and even then is in need of further refinement according to taste and provenance. Are we walking Ikea Flatpacked Folk or some hand-carved Folk settle from a Victorian farmhouse? Or is it more akin to the beautifully inlaid wooden miners' cracket that has been in my family for generations - a perfect piece of Traditional Northumbrian functional folk-art? Or is it (WCS) a craft-stall modern replica of such a thing that doesn't bear too close an examination as to its construction methods much less the intention of the maker in calling it Folk Art or even Traditional? In the Manchester Gallery there is an early 19th Century chair on display of mostly Gothic influence, though in the fore-legs at least you may detect something more Classical going on. I love this chair as much I love the Thomas Toft slipware plates with which it shares the same space. I also love it because we have a Very Similar Chair which we bought in the Preston Antiques Centre for a mere 20. Thing is, do we want our Folk Clubs to more like Antique Centres or branches of Ikea? For sure we might frequent both upon occasion, but hardly with equal relish, for (perhaps ironically) only in the Antique Centre does the Humanity of the thing truly come alive - at least it does for me...