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English vs. American folk culture

Allan C. 02 Mar 14 - 09:05 AM
Stringsinger 02 Mar 14 - 12:12 PM
Allan C. 02 Mar 14 - 02:20 PM
Phil Edwards 03 Mar 14 - 04:23 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Mar 14 - 05:47 AM
Musket 04 Mar 14 - 05:15 AM
GUEST 04 Mar 14 - 06:25 AM
artbrooks 04 Mar 14 - 09:57 AM
GUEST 04 Mar 14 - 12:25 PM
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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 14 - 09:05 AM

Perhaps my experiences in England and Ireland were not exemplary of the norm. How could I know, given the brief time I was there? But my sense was and is that virtually anyone with a voice loud enough to be heard above the usual din of a pub, could raise a song and feel somewhat certain that at least a few others would be likely to join on the chorus. I won't say this could occur in every pub in the nation, but I would daresay it might be true in many. In contrast, an attempt of that sort in the USA would almost certainly fall flat. In general, people here don't know and don't care about the old songs. Praise be to the gods that there are some who still do!

Now, I know I made a blanket statement regarding the old songs. I know full and well that there are places one can find if one searches diligently where folk music in its various forms can be heard in the US. But my sense is that such places are not nearly as ubiquitous as they are in the UK.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Mar 14 - 12:12 PM

Five reasons for the demise of the interest in folk music in America was that:
1. It was killed by the academics such as D.K. Wilgus at U.C.L.A. who refused non-traditional performers such as Joan Baez to be on the folk song programs, not allowing for a wider circle of interest by audiences who could have been exposed to traditional folk and learned to appreciate it. Alan Lomax was also inconsistent on this issue, setting an arbitrary standard for what he considered "folk", often vituperatively protesting exponents of the commercialization of folk music such as excellent musicians, Bud and Travis, yet embracing the Kingston Trio as OK.
2. Young people who once had an interest in folk music found it to be creatively stultifying and turned to rock or pop instead, finding there a creative place in that form of music before it became corporatized.
3. Young black musicians found a white oriented "folk music" too restrictive so turned to "rap" and "hip hop" or "blues". Today that's being remedied by such exciting black groups, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Guy Davis, Erik Bibb and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Black folk musicians have not surfaced in the UK because the anti-black racism is ignored there and not as not overt as it is in the US.
4. International folk music was labeled "ethnic" and often outside the realm of what many people thought was "folk music" however it flourishes in other parts of the world where Commercial American Musical Imperialism hasn't taken hold.
5. In America, arbitrary distinctions were made classifying different "branches" of folk music in record bins such as "celtic" or "blues" labeled by pedants and recording salespeople often excluding the best part of folk music, an amalgam of various previous folk music forms, perhaps standing the chance of being tomorrow's legitimate folk music.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Allan C.
Date: 02 Mar 14 - 02:20 PM

Case well stated, Stringsinger!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 03 Mar 14 - 04:23 AM

Perhaps my experiences in England and Ireland were not exemplary of the norm. How could I know, given the brief time I was there? But my sense was and is that virtually anyone with a voice loud enough to be heard above the usual din of a pub, could raise a song and feel somewhat certain that at least a few others would be likely to join on the chorus.

I don't know what pubs you went to! In my experience that's a risky assumption at a lot of folk clubs, let alone ordinary pubs.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Mar 14 - 05:47 AM

yes I would love to take him out for a meal to brewers fayre - he'd liven up the place!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: Musket
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 05:15 AM

On the western edge of the pond, they speak of something called a chantey. We get pissed and sing shanties.

Perhaps the tectonic plates are drifting?


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 06:25 AM

"Black folk musicians have not surfaced in the UK because the anti-black racism is ignored there and not as not overt as it is in the US."

I have to pull you up on that outrageous statement!

The USA and UK have very different histories. Even now there are far fewer black people in the UK as a proportion of the population- and before WWII the black population of Britain would have been tiny.

While there have been black performers noted in Britain going back at least as far as Victorian times there has never been a distinct "black" folk music tradition in the UK to compare with the wealth of blues, gospel etc in the USA. The point being that the black population of the USA have had a great impact on the historic folk tradition of that country- this is not the case in the UK.

On the other hand, ever since there has been a substantial black population in the UK have been many successful Black-British acts- often building on music that has emerged from folk traditions- from Lord Kitchener and the Calyspo musicians who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948 onwards!


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: artbrooks
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 09:57 AM

GUEST 06:25 AM - are you trying to have a logical discussion with Stringslinger? Most of us don't attempt to do so.


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Subject: RE: English vs. American folk culture
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 12:25 PM

Thank you Allan. Artschnooks, who is this "we" Kimosabe?


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