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The current state of folk music in UK

GUEST,Joe G 02 Nov 19 - 08:24 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,Joe G 02 Nov 19 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,Joe G 02 Nov 19 - 07:32 PM
Jack Campin 02 Nov 19 - 07:12 PM
The Sandman 02 Nov 19 - 06:08 PM
The Sandman 02 Nov 19 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Nov 19 - 05:10 PM
Vic Smith 02 Nov 19 - 04:34 PM
Dave the Gnome 02 Nov 19 - 04:33 PM
Vic Smith 02 Nov 19 - 04:15 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 03:55 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Nov 19 - 03:34 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Nov 19 - 03:22 PM
r.padgett 02 Nov 19 - 03:07 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Nov 19 - 02:56 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 02:40 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 19 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Nov 19 - 02:13 PM
Howard Jones 02 Nov 19 - 02:11 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 01:21 PM
Howard Jones 02 Nov 19 - 01:19 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Nov 19 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Derrick 02 Nov 19 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Derrick 02 Nov 19 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Derrick 02 Nov 19 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Nov 19 - 12:38 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Nov 19 - 12:34 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Nov 19 - 12:32 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 12:22 PM
punkfolkrocker 02 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Joe G 02 Nov 19 - 11:21 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 11:14 AM
r.padgett 02 Nov 19 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,Joe G 02 Nov 19 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Starship 02 Nov 19 - 10:41 AM
Dave Hanson 02 Nov 19 - 10:09 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Starship 02 Nov 19 - 08:56 AM
Jack Campin 02 Nov 19 - 07:38 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 06:29 AM
The Sandman 02 Nov 19 - 06:01 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Nov 19 - 05:32 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 05:21 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Nov 19 - 05:16 AM
The Sandman 02 Nov 19 - 05:15 AM
The Sandman 02 Nov 19 - 05:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Nov 19 - 04:45 AM
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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 08:24 PM

I have been meaning to post this for a while. I am going to be a bit hypocritical here and talk about the past! Though only in a way I hope will shed some light on my attitude to the current discussion. Apologies for some inevitable repetition of comments I have made previously either here or on other threads

My way into folk music was, as I have said recently, via the Hartlepool Folk Club when my friend persuaded me at our tender ages of 17, against what I thought was my better judgement, to go in there one drizzly Sunday evening. Anything to get out of the rain I thought and there was nowhere else to go to nearby and almost certainly no other chance to hear live music in the town of about 100k people other than variable interpretations of pop ballads at the many working men's clubs

On entering I found a friendly crowd and was astounded by the person I thought to be the main turn. As it turned out he wasn't the booked artists but the MC - the unforgettable Graham Whitley who is tragically not still with us. Graham sang a mixture of traditional songs and Americana and sang them very well indeed all unaccompanied. he was followed by Neil Hart - a thoughtful singer and excellent guitarist who played his own material and an excellent Ralph McTell cover. The guest for that evening was Johnny Handle who was responsible for my lifelong love of mining songs - especially those of Tommy Armstrong. I was smitten. Other singers that night included Reg Crawford who introduced me to shantys and also to Ron Angel's sublime Chemical Workers Song. I became a regular attendee and revelled in the superb range of musicians that the club attracted - Jez Lowe & Ged Foley were regular floor singers and, I think, guest artists. The music was not entirely what Jim would describe as folk but it was always excellent.

After leaving Hartlepool I moved to Winchester and only have vague recollections of the folk scene down the re but do recall it seemed a bit tame. More fol de rols and less hewing ;-) Moving back North to Yorkshire I was impressed by the number of folk clubs but disappointed by the quality of many - though fortunately the Bradford Topic and the Bacca Pipes in Keighley were always solid bets. Too often, as I mentioned earlier, it was necessary to persevere the dodgy floor singers to get to hear the guest artists. I have to say that if some of the clubs in Yorkshire had been my first experience of folk music I would not have gone back and would probably to this day be oblivious of the wonderful music we all love. This is not a criticism of Yorkshire clubs per se - it could have happened anywhere

So - and this is my point - perhaps many clubs died out because they were, quite frankly, a bit pants. Many will have suffered from loss of venue, loss of individuals who drove the club, competition from the ever increasing music venues where one could actually have a good time and not sit in silence all night (though I am perfectly happy to sit in silence not everyone is) etc

When I went to that fantastic folk club in Hartlepool that drizzly evening it was the only place to go to hear decent live music - now even in Hartlepool , hardly the cultural epicentre of the world, there are many more options so why would a young person choose to go to a folk club? In York where I now live I probably go to the Black Swan FC once a month but I go to lots of other gigs where what I would describe as folk is being performed.

It is absolutely essential to keep and preserve the old songs and Jim does a fantastic job in doing this but they are old songs and most might not have relevance today. it is good to hear them sung but to suggest they are in some ways more important than songs being written today is I have to say naive

Sorry about the long post - I could go on about how invigorating it is to see lots of young people involved in performing folk music, both traditional and contemporary, the tremendous musicians sessions at festivals such as Shrewsbury, the annual singaround sessions at Whitby I have attended for 25 years until recently, the inventiveness of artists such as Jim Moray and Jon Boden - oh it seems like I did ;-)

So my view is that folk music is in very good health (certainly compared to the end of the last century) and young people will carry it forward in their way and will do things to it we cannot yet imagine. But the music will live and thrive. Rest easy Jim - it's folk music but not as we know it :-)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 08:12 PM

From 'A simple Countryman' (Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie - 'Dear Far-Voiced Veteran' Essays in Honor of Tom Munnelly, Old Kildarboy Society (2007)

The text in red are direct transcriptions of an interview with Walter in his home, now housed at The British Library


There would be conversation, music, singing and dancing at these parties but always perfect quiet for the songs. The living room had an exposed beam running across the ceiling called the baulk and the shout would go up, “Our side of the baulk” after someone had sung from one side of the room and they would take turns across the room. They each had their own particular songs for these occasions. Apparently no-one wanted THE DARK EYED SAILOR so that was Walter’s song, or sometimes WHEN THE FIELDS WERE WHITE WITH DAISIES. They all knew the tunes but everybody was very protective of their own songs and did not want others to learn them. As the favourite youngster, Walter was the only one to whom Billy Gee would give his songs but none of his contemporaries wanted them anyway; they would only learn new songs as they came out.

“There used to be Christmas night and the Harvest Frolics, yes. Well they sung the songs as they learnt as new. The ages stretched so much, you see, from the oldest down to the youngest and there was years difference, you very near knew when they were born by the songs, you see. They’d be the folk songs that went back probably to the eighteenth century, early nineteenth; then when the younger ones come along, songs would be sung what they learned perhaps in the eighteen or nineteen hundreds, up to early perhaps nineteen twenty. So they all learnt them as new, as they come out in their time. And there was only me learnt the old ones, you see, what had gone back, what grandfather sung.
The Harvest Frolics finished when I was a boy, anyhow. Then that gradually died as the old people kept dying; then the old Christmas parties finished altogether, so there was no more left to carry it on and no-one left but me who knew the songs”.


Yours are the arguments with no basis and refuse to back them up with anything resembling evidence - you have mine

"but your arguments on here about a time long ago are becoming very tiresome"
Sorry Joe; what is happening on the scene today has to be based around what the term "folk" meant to our source singers and to those of us who took up their songs and their interpretation, otherwise it is totally relevant - you mat have merely termed your thread "the scene"

Ray
If you reduce the scene to "bums on seats", again a discussion on "the folk scene becomes meaningless

"It's not proper business if it's not done in the traditional way
Yet more snideswipes Dave !

Meant to respond to this earlier
" one thing he did that was worthwhile was encourage some of the early folk-rock stuff."
Nobody suggested Bert never made mistakes
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 07:47 PM

Good points there Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 07:32 PM

Pseud and Jim - with respect and sorry to be a bit personal but your arguments on here about a time long ago are becoming very tiresome. I'm sure we all value both your contributions to the debate where they are relevant but you clearly both have important points to make to each other about historical detail but I suspect that most people would rather you discussed these on another thread or in PMs - they really have little to do with the subject under discussion.

Dick - I'm sorry you feel that way about Lloyd's support of folk rock (I'm assuming that his support was a genuine thing as I wouldn't have been aware at the time) as, following on from my induction into folk music at the Nursery in Hartlepool, my enthusiasm was further encouraged by seeing Five Hand Reel at Durham Folk Festival and Steeleye Span at Middlesborough Town Hall. It was much later when I got to know Fairport but folk rock was and remains a very important part of my folk experience. I would imagine as well that many young people who were not as fortunate as me in having a club as eclectic and welcoming as Hartlepool found their way into folk music via folk rock. Without it I would suspect that we would have far fewer folk enthusiast from my generation (I'm 60 now)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 07:12 PM

Hobgoblin recently bought Scayles, Edinburgh's biggest folk instruments shop, when its owner retired. They haven't visibly changed it.

Maybe there are other crypto-Hobgoblins around the UK?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 06:08 PM

Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 02:15 PM

On Lloyd, one thing he did that was worthwhile was encourage some of the early folk-rock stuff."
your subjective opinion, my subjective opinion is that it was the one thing he did that was NOT worthwhile


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:27 PM

pseudonymous,do you mind telling us your identity, if you do not that is understandable


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:10 PM

"I don't suppose you can produce this"
Find it for yourself, or don't you want to learn?

Sorry Jim, I've been through these flat contradictions too many time with you to waste my time putting you right. My guess is you know where it is, and if not, you probably ought to?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 04:34 PM

I wonder if our Ireland based contributors are painting a full and accurate picture of the music scene there. I know from my own experience that sessions in Clare are wonderful but they are of necessity small and intimate and from other threads we know that Dick is involved in doing an admirable job of organising a festival in West Cork - a fine example of a performer putting his experience to good use but....
Today I received an email entitled Dublin TradFest 2020 and I wondered as I opened it whether there would be something to mark the life of Frank Harte though I know An Góilín run weekend events in his honour. However, the email tells me that the TradFest headliners are The Afro-Celt Sound System, Skippinish and the Peatbog Faeries.
I wonder how many English folk festivals would book (or could afford) these bands. Cambridge possibly?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 04:33 PM

It's not proper business if it's not done in the traditional way, Vic ;-)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 04:15 PM

Punkfolkrocker
Hobgoblin shops closed...???
Howard Jones
Hobgoblin is still running, as has been pointed out.
... and the original shop in Crawley closed and moved to larger and more commercial venue in Brighton, but two of my friends who have worked for that firm tell me that these days there is more business conducted online and through their large warehouse in Worthing than in all their shops comnined. After all, this in England in 2019.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 03:55 PM

" he plainly says that he did not call the songs he sang with his family folk songs.""
I dpon't suppose you can produce this but I'll happily produce him saying exactly the opposite
Object to my language being "emotive"
I assure you I fing being called a liar far more offensive than anything I might have said
I think we're finished her - talking to you is guaranteed to get this thread closed

" he plainly says that he did not call the songs he sang with his family folk songs."
I find this descvriptin pretty offensive too Ray (and a little surprising)

"Well, I like what I'm hearing....."
Welcome to a not particularly exclusive club PFR
I've not many many folkies who didn't like Walter, though at one time, when she tried to get him a booking at a club in the London area she was told, "We don't do that sort of thing, we're a folk club"
Casualty calls, I think
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 03:34 PM

Mind though.. I did follow up the 2 Walter Pardon tracks with Bellowhead...

Now for some more up tempo Saturday night cooking hot dogs tracks
to jiggle around the kitchen to...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 03:22 PM

1 On Walter: Spotify has several items, and also 'albums' featuring him. They have a lot of other folk stuff too. Happy if other people like him: he just isn't to my taste really. Takes all sorts.

2 "It is perfectly possible to point out that somebody was a Marxist without intending to engage in a 'witchhunt'." Not if it is irrelevant and used an argument against their work, it isn't. The point was made, as I recall, in response to a comment to the effect that Lloyd did not do political things. A comment I personally still find absurd.

Well it wasn't. So no problem there, then.

I have never PMs anybody on Mudcat except the boss relating to membership, and one other occasion that I cannot recall now. Certainly not relating to Jim, though when he called me a racist on the basis that I objected to negative stereotypes of travellers I was tempted.

'Nonsense'. In an interview with Pardon online, he plainly says that he did not call the songs he sang with his family folk songs. If I was not precise enough I apologise. But 'nonsense' is not a very helpful comment here.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 03:07 PM

I am sorry to labour the point but I did say earlier that Folk clubs still rely on audiences and in particular those who gather regularly to provide the quality and social entertainment of those clubs weekly/monthly etc including floor singers and musicians

The successful clubs have a number of reasons for their continued success and may well have different reasons for their success (or failure) the strengths and weaknesses can be down to individual preferences as to what a club should be and will attract some and put off others

Purists would always want floor singers to be "the finished article" who are highly competent ~ these will not always be available as they will command or be looking to further their own talents and status

As I say Concerts will book acts often with paid or professional quality support as that is what audiences pay for

To maintain a good standard of floor singer needs a higher profile and to have some sort of progression from singarounds and sessions ~ NOTE just to Advertise a highly competent artist at a venue does NOT guarantee a successful night when only half a dozen audience turn in ~ it is not possible to know how many ppl will come unless you have built up a good "quorum" of supporters of all sorts (audience) and in fact ppl will often stay away ~ no matter what incentives are on offer

Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 02:56 PM

For what it's worth, Amazon Alexa has two Walter Pardon tracks available to stream...

[wot.. only two.. that's a bit stingy... but still two more than other old folk singers I've asked for..
Now if only the local libraries hadn't been axed by the tories...]

So as a direct result of this thread I'm having a listen,
for the first time in probably over a decade ago..

Well, I like what I'm hearing.....


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 02:40 PM

"It is perfectly possible to point out that somebody was a Marxist without intending to engage in a 'witchhunt'."
Not if it is irrelevant and used an argument against their work, it isn't
"It would also be possible to conclude that Lloyd is unreliable"
It would take proof to establish that - none forthcoming so far
My opposition to the destructive nature of what is happening to research has led to personal abuse and what amounts to PM hate mail, which I still have on record, which totally overshadows and 'emotive language I might have indulged in - if these people wish to indulge in such behaviour they should be prapared for an energetic response - the whole argument started began when I was described as a "starry-eyed naivete" for suggesting that the folk might have played a part in the making of their folk songs
"Struggling to see what or who this refers to"
Walter vehemently dismissed the idea that his pop and music hall songs were folk songs - despite this, they were given Roud numbers on the basis that he sang them   
Steve's arbitrary rejection of the definition of over a centuries research which arrived at a definition of folk song is 'tearing down the work of others' as far as I'm concerned though I find hem far more sensitive and friendly than some who share his viw (see above)
"'researchers' descended upon his he had never heard of the word 'folk'"
Nonsense - Walter and his generation were introduced to "folk" by Sharp's 'Folk Songs for Schools' nearly a century ago
I' happy to let anybody have our article on Walter entitled "A Simple Countryman ?", (named precisely on the patronising suggestion that Walter had been "got at by folkies")
If I though there was room, I'd just reproduce it here
Now we seem to be entering into the "I'd rather believe..." again
What Walter said is on record and has been quoted interminably on this forum
We worked with and were close friends with Walter for twenty years - I don't know anybody still around who can claim that
Denying what has been reported is not acceptable in my folk world unless I can prove it not to be true
Sorry - this is tending to make my case for me
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 02:15 PM

On Lloyd, one thing he did that was worthwhile was encourage some of the early folk-rock stuff.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 02:13 PM

Sigh...

It is perfectly possible to point out that somebody was a Marxist without intending to engage in a 'witchhunt'. But we all knew that, didn't we?

It would also be possible to conclude that Lloyd is unreliable on a variety of counts without disapproving of his politics. But we all know that, don't we?

There is a difference between throwing stones and taking claims and theories about this that and the other with a sensible pinch of salt. But we all know that, don't we?

"Now the latest mob are not only tearing down the work of the pioneers but also the opinions of those they talked to"

My thinking is that emotive language like this doesn't really help in taking a discussion forward. Not all of us have yet to learn this, though it has been pointed out on numerous occasions on these threads by the friends of some who use that sort of language. In fact, I have just realised that one such attempt to point it out immediately preceded the post I have quoted from.

"This is summed up perfectly by giving songs singers like Walter Pardon rejected as being folk Round numbers"

Struggling to see what or who this refers to but guessing it may be intended to comment negatively on the work of Steve Roud? That's a pity, of so. Especially if we are supposed not to be tearing down the work of others.

Also my understanding, on the basis of a piece with Pardon is that until the hordes of 'researchers' descended upon his he had never heard of the word 'folk'. This for me casts doubt on whether it is helpful to refer to what Pardon did and not consider to be folk apart from simply recording what he said on the topic for the sake of recording something he said.

On the topic of Pardon, we have already seen what appears to be one rather large creative leap from what he allegedly said to a gloss giving somebody's view of the significance of this. One is not obliged to accept others interpretations of texts.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 02:11 PM

Jim, I must challenge your constant denigration of guest clubs as "little more than mini-concerts for stars and passive bums-on seats".

You seem to forget, or to be unaware, how unusual your own background is. Most of us didn't have the benefit of advice from the leading figures in the folk revival. We didn't have workshops, discussion groups or do breathing exercises, because there was no one with the knowledge and expertise to run them. We didn't have nearby pubs full of Irish fiddlers. My folk education was almost entirely in the folk clubs, and much of that I had to pick up by observation rather than discussion.

When I first started, my education came from watching the guests. There were the ones I picked up ideas, repertoire and inspiration from. Getting up to sing in front of them made my want to get better. The club was where I got to buy their records from which to learn new material. Without the guests, it would have just been the same crowd of regular floor singers, most of whom were in the same situation. We needed that regular exposure to new, different musicians to develop our own music.

I think that where clubs nowadays are in the doldrums it is because their singers don't get that exposure to new ideas, new songs and better technique. We need more guest clubs, not fewer.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 01:21 PM

Delighted to learn they're still around Derrick - I thought they'd appearance when they went from Camden Lock - thanks for the heads up

Lloyd tinkered with songs as did every traditional singer who ever got their hands on them
He was only "unreliable" to those who disapproved of his politics it would appear
It wold be interesting to see some credit being given to the work of these people from those who seem to offer folk mussic other than demolition of the greats
One o the great lessons I learned from working in the building trade was "it's far easier to tear down something others have built than to build something yourself"

Unless you are part of the research that is being carried out I see no grounds for throwing stones at the work of others
No pursuit worthy of consideration ignores or tears down the work of the past to replace it with their own that is cultural vandalism or, at best, smug hindsightism
Sarp and his colleges got what they gave us by going out to the people who preserved it - their notebooks are full of reports of what their informants had to say
Now the latest mob are not only tearing down the work of the pioneers but also the opinions of those they talked to
THis is summed up perfectly by giving songs singers like Walter Pardon rejected as being folk Round numbers
It may be interesting to take Walter's songs, but not what he had to say about them - academic arrogance in the extreme
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 01:19 PM

Hobgoblin is still running, as has been pointed out. Freed Reed (as a shop) closed a very long time ago, but is still running as a record label. However in its place there are now many more shops specialising in free reed and other folk instruments.

fRoots shut down because of lack of advertising, as the internet has taken over.

Record shops and record labels (in all genres) are struggling as people move away from physical CDs to downloads and streaming. Many more musicians are self-publishing rather than do it through a record label.

The world has changed, but these aren't necessarily symptoms of a decline in folk music.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 01:17 PM

Jim - where I think we differ so much is your tendency to make the leap
from good mainly well informed analysis,
into disdainful value judgements
of other folks activities and enjoyment...

I'd suggest far more mudcatters see that as negative
rather than helpful...

I'm very keen on grim minor key folk songs..
But would prefer gloomier pessimistic folkies to be a bit more cheerful about the current state of things...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 01:00 PM

Sorry Jim misread the line about Topic records


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:57 PM

Topic records still exist.
https://www.topicrecords.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:41 PM

Neither shop is closed.

Justgoogle hobgoblin music and free reed


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:38 PM

Jack: I am sorry you seem to have missed the context for my comments on Lloyd. It has been alleged that Lloyd never did anything political. It seems plain to me that this is incorrect, and I quoted Gammon in part to back up my view that he was political and did political things.

I do not think that at any point in my post do I dismiss Marxist thinking, by the way. Nor do I claim that Lloyd sought to conceal his own Marxism.

I have read enough about the 'tinkering' that Lloyd did to come to a view that he is not entirely reliable as an authority. Some of this may have been politically motivated, some mainly due to his own tendency to 'improve' the material he had. One thing he says in his book on folk song is that literacy can be an advantage and lead to better songs, and I sometimes wonder whether he came to this view on the basis of his own 'improvements'.

This leads in to my other point that I disagree that 'research' into folk song is some sort of cumulative enterprise, a more and more business so that if one rejects or critiques or contextualises the works of the past one is somehow subtracting from the accrued total.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:34 PM

btw.. Hobgoblin shops closed...???


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:32 PM

Jim - your personal overview present much that can at the same time be agreed and disagreeed with...???

Pint glass half empty, or half full...????

Perplexing times...


Personally I'm considering a bit more optimistic outlook for the future of UK folk music post 2019 ...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:22 PM

"The folk club scene, or the wider folk scene...????"
The wider folk scene
THe club audiences went down the clubs began to disappear, shops like Hobgoblin ad Free Reed closed, long term gmagazines like Folk Review ceased to exist and the labels dwindled to a few
Topic - the label based on producing traditional-based material along with The Living Tradition and Greentrax are among the few survivors
'Many more' and 'folk music' are moot descriptions of much that goes on on the net as far as I can see, but, even if that were true, it indicates that folk as become a spectator rather than a participatory activity
We are back to having to take what we are given, like we were in the fifties
How good is that
That's not progress - that's loss of creative opportunity
Quite honestly, it depresses te to see the mass alienation that has taken place thanks to mobile phones and the internet - communication by isolation (and that doesn't begin to describe the decline of literary skills and the use of language usage
We're turning our kids into illiterate, uncommunicative loners via a media that is rapidly becoming a threat to their personal safety and well-being
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM

"That's what began to happen at the end of the eighties and the scene hass never recovered"

Jim - but what scene exactly, has never recovered...???

The folk club scene, or the wider folk scene...????


Club centric folkies seem to disagree on whether to lament or celebrate in 2019 UK..

..and many folkies at mudcat enjoy folk music from far more diverse sources than ever before in 2019 UK...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 11:53 AM

It stands to sense to me that if you cease to guarantee to give an audience what they expect based oon 'what it says on the label' people will stop coming
That's what began to happen at the end of the eighties and the scene hass never recovered
Liverpool's 'Hustler' solution using the jacks door used to sort out pain-in-the-arse MCs quick enough without losing too many audience members
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 11:21 AM

Mmmm - not sure about that Ray - the club where I suffered that closed many years ago - the ones I have been to more recently stick to the two or three floor spots. I can imagine a lot of people like myself would never go back there - there were four of us there that night so they lost four potential customers for future gigs

Another issue can be MC's hogging the limelight - this very rarely happens and most club MCs are excellent in my experience but I do know of one who was alienating the audience by insisting on performing a couple of songs each half preventing other (almost always always better) floor singers performing - most nights half of the audience were out in the bar for a good portion of the night to avoid him. The club dealt with this after one particularly bad episode but I'd suggest that such issues, combined with the greater number of alternative sources of music and the loss of venues, has as much to do with the loss of clubs as does Jim's concerns about folk music 'not being heard' at them


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 11:14 AM

"Nice offer and I'll likely take you up on it, Jim. Thanks
I'm away for a few days from tomorrow - off to Dublin to see the new Ken Loach and listen to some wonderful new singers at The Cobblestone - might even fit in some piping while we're there
If any non-member would like to contact me with an e-mail address I hope Dave or someone else who has mine will pass it on

"a dozen mediocre or worse floor singers over the course of the evening"
I see nothing to dispute here Joe - I share your frustration
It really doesn't have to be like that and it never was a major problem - the general feeling used to be that, if you sang in public you needed to put in the basic work first - that seems to have gone by the board
Folk singing has always been the pursuit of amateurs (in Britain anyway) the songs weer sung, adapted and probably created by fishermen, farmers mill-workers, soldiers, sailors.... they was not a weakness - it is what makes them unique
Any club that couldn't hold its own without guests wa, in my opinion, doomed to be little more than mini-concerts for stars and passive bums-on seats - indistinguishable from manufactured entertainment
I often used to skip guests because I could buy their albums
Seeing a group of friends and associates pull off a good evening without outside assistance was as good as it got (almost) - being part of such an evening left you walking on air till the next time
I used to get a buzz from hearing some of our top guests saying what a great night they had had being part of these nights
It was interesting when some of London's best Irish musicians used to come and sit quietly at the back because they ahd enjoyed being a guest - beats all the best write-ups
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 11:09 AM

Yes as I believe I mentioned earlier (somewhere) clubs' support is often from regular singers of whatever ability ~ the need to have a lot of floor singers is sometimes necessary

Concerts are a different matter

Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 10:43 AM

Hi Dave - well you are partly correct - I generally do prefer modern songs that are written about current day or relatively recent issues eg - to name some better known contemporary folk singers - the songs of John Tams, Jez Lowe, Joe Solo, Steve Knightley, Reg Meuross etc

Where you are incorrect though is that I certainly don't dislike traditional songs especially those that relate to urban working life and sea songs. My earliest experience of folk music was very much focussed around mining songs and shanties as they were very commonly sung at Hartlepool Folk Club. I have a particular passion for the songs of Tommy Armstrong - I assume his songs would class as traditional? The only songs I would say I am not keen on (again generalising massively) are those of a more rural nature - especially if they have fol de lol refrains in them! I mentioned earlier that Jim Moray has released a CD of traditional material and I enjoyed his concert at Musicport where he performed almost exclusively traditional songs. I am also a fan of Jon Boden's Folk Song a Day. I particularly enjoy York based Joshua Burnell's take on traditional song where he takes a prog rock approach to the material very successfully in my view - and in the view of others given the fact he is often invited back to festivals and other venues

What I do not enjoy is paying to see an artist at a folk club and then having to sit through a dozen mediocre or worse floor singers over the course of the evening - fortunately the club where this happened no longer exists and most clubs I have attended limit floor spots to two or three each half. Having said that I am a firm believer in the value of the floor spot and have discovered and encouraged many artists I have seen doing such a spot. I rarely attend singarounds or music sessions as I do not sing or play but when I do I enjoy them.

Hope that clarifies things


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 10:41 AM

Songs that last tend to share a few similarities: beautiful melodies that catch the ear and won't let go; lyrics to which one might feel kinship with. I'm partial to major key melodies, can think of very few minor key melodies I care for at all. (And remembering the latter would be a task.) The beautiful melody part is something I first noticed five or six decades ago--time flies when you're having fun. If the song's not got a good melody or at least one that works with the lyrics then I doubt it will be long remembered--but having made more than a few misjudgments along the way, I could be wrong. Nice offer and I'll likely take you up on it, Jim. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 10:09 AM

Having known Joe G [ not well ] but for a few years I can tell you that his main interest is NOT traditional folksong but modern conteporary song, I don't think he really likes traditional stuff.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 09:35 AM

"Someone out there may enjoy reading this:"
Great article based on an interview I instigated when I was editor of The Singer's Club Magazine, The Lark, (I irritated Ewan no-end by referring to it as "Thrush")

I really can't understand how people can challenge Bert's massive contribution to folk song
He approached it from the perfect position - as a singer, and he put some of or best folksongs into the repertoire
I've discovered recently that several of the songs he sang came from English singers who emigrated to the North Eastern States of America and to Canada
He was vague about their origins sometimes - it didn't seem to bother too many people before folk research went ivory-towerist and became a status symbol rather than something to be enjoyed and understood by all
I remember Pat being told she was wrong about something we had discovered about Irish Travellers by the co-author of one of the major books on English Folk Song, she was firmly put in her place by being told, "I've done a course on it".

Bert's international stuff is stunning - 'Songs of the People', 'Folk Song Virtuoso', 'The Lament', 'Voice of the Gods', 'The Savage in the Concert Hall'.... and all the other wonderful stuff the BBC sneaked out for the intelligentsia on The Third Programme
If anybody would like to avail themselves of this gold-mine, send me your e-mail address - I've just put it up on my PCloud for distribution (this offer includes anybody I may have fallen out with - it's far too important to allow personal differences to stop it being distributed)

Personally, I found Bert far more difficult to communicate with than I did Ewan and Peggy - he was a far more private person, but his work still stands out as a monument to 'The best of times' of the English revival
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 08:56 AM

Someone out there may enjoy reading this:

https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/lloyd2.htm


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 07:38 AM

Gammon wrote this way back in 1984. It is one of several pieces which explain how Lloyd was influenced by AL Morton's Marxist history of Britain.

Gammon wouldn't have had any colleagues left at his job if the ones influenced by Marxist history all went. It's a standard item in any academic's toolbox. I suspect you are taking this out of context.

Lloyd never made any secret of his Marxism and his work is the better for it.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 06:29 AM

No they are not Dick - we don't need gods - but we do need everyy ounce of information gathered by them and others if we are evevr going to understand our music
As you say, we would be far less informed than we are without them
Perhaps it's time to put this "Marxist" nonsense to bed once and for all
Pseud quotes Vic Gammon - who I have laways understood to be a Marxist or at least fairly left
Vic certainly wrote for teh Marxist, Histort Workshop Journal edited by Marxist Raphael Samuels
We still have his excellent article claiming that songs like "All Jolly Fellows" were political outbursts
If there is to be a blacklist, then Vic's name would be on it

One of teh most outspoken and extreme Marxists on the scene was Dave Harker" who was doing exactly what Pseaud and others are doing in pulling down the work of Child, Sharp, MacColl, Lloyd, and even the timid Frank Kidson and Lucy Broadwood
He had a hitlist of all the poineers which he once decared he woul d expose for the romantics and charlatans they were one of Pseaud's supporters here once declared Harker "a great scholar"

"I would rather take advice on how to think about the researchers of the past"
I would much rather not need to be advised on how to think about anything and would much rather read everything, compare it to my own researches and think for myself
The supporter I mentioned above, rather than discuss the problems his own theories raised, offered to provide me with a list of people who agreed with him - that's a tad Messianic as far as I'm concerned
Relying on Gurus rather than your own common sense is as likely to produce a Charles Manson or a David Koresh as it it a Mahatma Ghandi
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 06:01 AM

Sharp, Child, and Lloyd, were not gods before whom we are required to prostrate ourselves and there seems to me to be something rather unfolk-like about behaving as if they were."
But where would we be without them, I do not know who you are PSEUD, BUT WITHOUT THE EFFORTS OF ALL 3 OUR REPERTOIRE WOULD BE COMARABLY SMALLER.now can we stick to topic please


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:53 AM

Sigh
Marxism is as valid philosophy as is any other branch
MaCarthist witch-hunting was exposed for the horror that is was in the sixties when it tried to jail Pete Seeger - i has no place here
Please stop it - now
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:32 AM

Here is another point of view on how to treat research from the past, from Vic Gammon:

" I must admit to some ... diffidence when I published my 'Song, Sex and Society' article … a couple of years ago. I found it hard to criticise a man who had given me so much. We have to overcome such feelings if the work is to progress. We have seen the results of intellectual fossilisation ...'

Gammon wrote this way back in 1984. It is one of several pieces which explain how Lloyd was influenced by AL Morton's Marxist history of Britain. I think it is well worth a read, as is more or less anything by Gammon. He has a website for anybody interested.

Roy Palmer has also analysed and critiquing Child's work; producing a well-argued piece in 1996, which has the additional merit of giving us a fair account of what Child's 'dunghill' comment actually meant, together with some insight into the complicated and, possibly, ultimately confused thinking which determined which songs and versions went in and which were left out of the work and which put in.

To complain about these interesting and well=argued critiques seems to me to be unreasonable. Sharp, Child, and Lloyd, were not gods before whom we are required to prostrate ourselves and there seems to me to be something rather unfolk-like about behaving as if they were.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:21 AM

"The issue I have with it being all about the "story" is foreign language songs."
I have the same problem with Irish language songs - you learn to enjoy them for different things and realise the similarities, if there are any
Why shouldn't Morris tunes be folk ? - they are by and large not songs and what words there are tend to serve the dance, but they are certainly part of our folk heritage
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:16 AM

Nick
Yes - the song is the thing - every time
The secret is to regard each song as an individual carrier of pleasure and information
Once you lift the corner to see what lies underneath you guarantee that you will never be bored again
Walter sang everything that took his fancy, but he was quite clear and extremely articulate in pointing out that not all of them were the "old folk songs"
He told us that he first took an interest in them when he realised that his cousins and other contemporaries had lost interest in them and were followng the latest musical tends
He set out to write his family's songs in a big notebook (which turned out to be two) and learned the melodeon to memorise the tunes
He relived every one of his songs each time he sang them - the secret for all of us it to treat each song a an individual statement
Eventually, he was persuaded by a relative to put them on tape - a story in itself

"Frances Child, who was really more of a student of the grammar of old forms of English than a student of English Literature"
Child is remembered for his magnificent work on ballads - that work had given us ove a century of pleasure and need to nbe treated with te respect often lacking in today's scene by a tiny handful of researchers who treat research like a pair of old socks, regularly discarded to make room for new ones
That is appalling research
I knw Bert Lloyd and never once heard him utter a 'Marxist' statement - he was, as most Marxists are, a socialist humanist seeking a better world - Sharp was a Fabian socialist who went out to use county songs to creat a new National Music and came home having realised that the People's Voice was far more important in its own right
If it hadn't been for people like Lloyd, MacColl, Gerry Sharp, Bill Leader.... and all those wonderful humanitarians who devoted their lives to gathering and making songs and sharing them and their findings with the rest of us we wouldn't have had a modern scene and people like me wouldn't have had the more than half a century of pleasure and interest that we have been blessed with

I fully accept that not everyone wants to take the songs and music as seriously as some of us do but it would be a very repressive and limited scene that doesn't allow us to do so and to share that with others
That's why it disturbs me when I see people being urded "don't go their" when things like definition raise their head - if you don't want to, don't try to stop others from doing so

They remind me of the story the two schoolkids coming out of a class given by a popular teacher
One says, "You've got to watch that buggger, drop your guard for a minute and you find you've learned something"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:15 AM

to continue, i am also steeped in the blues and jazz genre ,but i do not feel i can sing it as well as uk folk material, so one cannot be too didactic in thend subjectivity enters the equation


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 05:12 AM

For me it's the tune rather than anything. But I'm not a singer."
Tune is a contributory factor,but for me it also lyric as a singer the lyric is important.
Dave music and genres are OCCASIONALY LINKED BUT NOT ALWAYS.FOR example the HarryChapin song the shortest story, i heard this sung by richard grainger performed in a folk style, it was very powerful, however we are all going on a summer holiday by cliff richard or lily the pink are typical popgenre that imo have nothing to do with folk music.
then because something uses a folk tune that does not automaticaally mean it is a folk song.
jazz by its defintion has to use some improvisation, so pop songs can become jazz,likewise folk music tunes can become jazz and there will be crossover situations where it could be both, i am sure if charlie parker had played miss mcleods ree[originally a scottish tune]it would have sounded more like modern jazz than a dance tune , so treatment comes into the equation ,for treatment to make miss mcleods reel to use improvisationand still souns folky charlie parker would have to have been steeped in irish folk music ,he was not he was steeped in jazz result it would sound more like jazz .
likewise when a performer is a pop singer and sings a folk song he wil make it sound like a popsong .there are of course grey areas Dusty springfield did a fairly good job of lagan love better than ed shheran singing wild mountain thyme , but as i understand both had some irish roots subsequently they did in the first case fairly well and in the second ok[ although ed should drop the american acct and sing in his natural accent , but can you imagine buddy holly trying to sing adieu sweet lovely nancy.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Nov 19 - 04:45 AM

The issue I have with it being all about the "story" is foreign language songs. I have enjoyed many Russian songs for instance but I lost that language when I started school so, apart from a few words, I don't understand what they are saying. Are they not folk songs? Of course they are. I also enjoy instrumental music. Are Morris dance tunes not folk music either? The sung or spoken word in English is only part of it. Take "The carnival is over" by the Seekers for instance. It is based on the Russian Folk song "Stenka Rasin" . Or Elvis Presley's "Wooden Heart" which uses German folk tune "Muss i denn". The music and genres are all inexorably linked and impossible to categorise exactly. In my opinion.


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