Mudcat Café message #3264935 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #141742   Message #3264935
Posted By: Suffet
28-Nov-11 - 02:25 PM
Thread Name: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)

I am not talking just about the organizers (program directors, bookers, whatever), but about all the Big Boys and Big Girls of Folk Music who seem to go out of their way to make people feel unwelcome. I hope it is only 1%, but I suspect that it is even more. I also suspect tat their behavior is not intentional, but rather just part of their personalities. And yes, I admit that most of them are both hardworking and unpaid, but that does not excuse them.

Here are several actual examples, all from the USA, that I have either seen myself or have first hand knowledge from the people to whom it has happened.

A young woman just out of college goes to a weekend retreat sponsored by an established folk club. When no one else is making any music, she takes out a penny whistle and starts to play Soldier's Joy. A long-time officer of the club immediately tells her to stop because she is playing the tune in thew wrong key, G instead of D. What a way to make a newcomer feel welcome!

At a different weekend retreat, during an open jam, a singer-guitarist starts to play Hesitation Blues in a major key. One of the leaders with a bigger guitar and louder voice feels he is doing it wrong, and proceeds to drown him out by playing the same song in a minor key.

At yet a different weekend retreat, a banjo player starts to take a seat in the inner circle of an open jam. He is told he cannot sit there because "that seat is reserved for good musicians" and he is instructed to sit in the outer circle.

At a club sponsored pub sing, a woman from the neighborhood who is not a club member comes with a double bowed psaltry and plays a couple of simple tunes the best she knows how. And what does the organizer say? "She should learn her tunes better." The woman got not even a thank you, let alone a comment on what an unusual and fascinating instrument she brought.

At a folk society sponsored forum on folk music held in an urban high school with many students in attendance, a speaker talks about how much of the topical and protest music today comes out of the hip-hop genre. The next speaker, a well known folk musician, follows up by saying "You know what I call rap music? I call it crap music." That will surely win over the young ones, won't it?

At another event held in a high school, in a workshop on using music for community outreach, a leader in the folk music community makes a joke about always pronouncing "New Age" so it rhymes with "sewage."

After a mostly traditional folk club presents Joe Jencks, a very accomplished singer-songwriter, a long-time officer of the clubs says, "I would sooner shut the club down than have that kind of music." By the way, no one in the audience complains about Jencks or his music.

A person comes to a folk club for the first time, and mentions that she loves folk music. When asked what kind, she replies, "Oh, stuff like Nanci Griffith, Kate Wolf, and Lauro Nyro." A club officer then tells her, "That's not folk music." I guess the only thing worse would have been if she said she likes Peter, Paul, and Mary or the Kingston Trio.

A woman who has never previously heard Jack Langstaff goes to a talk he is giving. Afterwards she approaches the moderator and asks a few very basic questions. Instead of answering her, the moderator brushes her off saying in a sarcastic tone, "You mean to tell me you don't know who Jack Langstaff is?" (Jack, by the way, is a perfect gentleman and he later answers the woman's questions.)

I hope that behavior like this does not occur in the UK. It is bad enough that it happens in one country.

--- Steve