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Are all folk musicians political?

CupOfTea 28 Jan 21 - 10:37 PM
Phil Cooper 28 Jan 21 - 11:05 PM
cnd 28 Jan 21 - 11:19 PM
cnd 28 Jan 21 - 11:39 PM
BobL 29 Jan 21 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 03:01 AM
Dave the Gnome 29 Jan 21 - 03:12 AM
The Sandman 29 Jan 21 - 03:35 AM
Acorn4 29 Jan 21 - 05:36 AM
GerryM 29 Jan 21 - 05:48 AM
GerryM 29 Jan 21 - 05:52 AM
John MacKenzie 29 Jan 21 - 06:10 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Jan 21 - 06:11 AM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jan 21 - 06:30 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Jan 21 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,James Phillips 29 Jan 21 - 09:38 AM
Acorn4 29 Jan 21 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,cnd 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Observer 29 Jan 21 - 11:18 AM
John P 29 Jan 21 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 12:44 PM
Jeri 29 Jan 21 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 01:02 PM
Jeri 29 Jan 21 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,guest 29 Jan 21 - 01:29 PM
Steve Shaw 29 Jan 21 - 01:58 PM
Howard Jones 29 Jan 21 - 02:15 PM
John MacKenzie 29 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jan 21 - 03:59 PM
GerryM 29 Jan 21 - 04:37 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 21 - 06:04 PM
Steve Shaw 29 Jan 21 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jan 21 - 11:20 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jan 21 - 11:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jan 21 - 04:29 AM
The Sandman 30 Jan 21 - 05:27 AM
Steve Shaw 30 Jan 21 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Jan 21 - 10:53 AM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jan 21 - 02:50 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 21 - 02:58 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Jan 21 - 03:14 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jan 21 - 09:40 PM
GUEST,some bloke 01 Feb 21 - 01:14 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Feb 21 - 12:11 AM
The Sandman 03 Feb 21 - 03:41 AM
r.padgett 03 Feb 21 - 04:58 AM
Steve Shaw 03 Feb 21 - 06:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Feb 21 - 08:57 AM
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Subject: Are all folk musicians political?
From: CupOfTea
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 10:37 PM

Or is all folk music itself political?

I know it sounds like a question for the BS section, but I've been forced to think about how what/who I listen to and sing, and it cuts to the heart of how one acquires a repertoire. There've been plenty of discussions about eliminating ethnic slurs, names, dialect from songs, discussion of the rightness/wrongness of songs about violence against women, but I don't recall a discussion of liberal vs conservative values in folk song.

This started when I got blindsided by a very dear friend, a singer of early music, and the person who got me started in making music in church, which led to my making music with other people, singing in public, performing. She got upset by something I said on Facebook - which surprised me, since she isn't on it herself, but reading over her husband's shoulder. Now, I knew she was on the conservative side, but I didn't know that she and her whole family voted for Trump! My jaw dropped and the phone almost did, too. Later she said "I love folk music, but do you know why I NEVER come to your folk music concerts?" (I've been part of groups presenting concerts for the last 35+ years, and the recent ones have been in the church hall of the parish where we sing together) "It's because they're too political, and I don't want to have to walk out of them"

Right away I could think of some recent shows that were overtly political - Tret Fure, "Deeper than Skin" from Greg Greenway and Reggie Harris, Zoe Mulford (that was an amazing series) - and the longer I thought, well we do traditional, too... and then thought of Deb Cowan.. yep, political...and I was just stunned to think that so much of what *I* see as the right attitude doesn't seem to sit well with a conservative mindset. Now I don't know how she'd actually think about individual artists, or songs in their repertoire, because, well, she's not listening to 'em.

This is not a rabid Trumpie - she admits "Trump is a jerk" but does nibble around the fringes of some of the other rightwing thoughts. Is it the nature of folk music to not just "be political" but to be politically liberal? I know there are strains of Old Time & Bluegrass that are more congenial to conservatives, but that's just a sliver of it all. What happens when "the people's music" is not embraced by SOME of the people? I live in a liberal bubble in an otherwise conservative state, but I never considered how people could NOT love the music I love because of it's liberal content - "Not to their taste" was as far as I'd thought it through before.

I know you can't please everybody, but is there a way to engage musically with conservatives without sacrificing your liberal viewpoint? Am I being saddened by an issue that cannot be resolved?

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 11:05 PM

There are quite a few performers who try to keep politics out of their sets, even if they are on the liberal side. Dave Van Ronk is one example. Ronny Cox has said on Facebook that he doesn't expound on politics in his shows. I like songs with teeth in them, so they tend to make a point, but I don't believe we make overt statements between songs. I have sometimes said any conclusions drawn from the song are purely the listener's.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: cnd
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 11:19 PM

I think what is often called "folk" music, which is most accurately described as popular folk music is often left leaning, and that has to do with its origins.

In the late 50s/early 60s, bluegrass was beginning a wave of unprecedented popularity across college campuses for a variety of reasons other people can explain better than me. For as much as the northern college crowd liked bluegrass, though, some of its stickier points of conservatism and the conservatism of its singers spurned many of those young fans, who liked the music but disagreed from the often-fundamentalist nature of the songs.

While blues filled much of the interest from ethno-musicologists and the main popular tilt of college music, those who didn't turn to blues listened instead (or supplemented their listening) with their own versions of this bluegrass music -- "folk" music (aka 'popular' folk).*

So because this 'popular' folk music was created in reaction to conservatism and was progenated among left-leaning people, it has inherently always been a left-leaning idiom of music. You got groups who survived by-and-large on making left leaning records. One example I'll look at for a politified pop-folk group was The Mitchell Trio, whose last 'successful' album, Typical American Boys, featured at least 2/3 (or more) blatantly-leftist songs (some of their songs, in particular Yowzah, have not aged so well despite their good intentions)

Speaking generally about other types of folk music, their popularity among left-leaning audiences makes sense, too. The left tends to look more favorably upon the downtrodden and the more forgotten segments of society, and what's been more forgotten than America's ethnic past? From singing songs in foreign languages a la The Limeliters (who sang in Russian, Yiddish, Portuguese, Spanish and French) to dredging up nearly-forgotten protest songs like Pete Seeger, these aspects of American folk music appeal much more to the left than to blue-collar, right-leaning Americans, for various reasons.

There were, of course, some exceptions. The Lazy Aces recorded Dave Macon's ultra-Fundamentalist (with a capitol F to refer to the Christian group specifically this time) "The Bible's True" on The Young Fogies, or The Yetties' "I Touched Her On the Toe" (see here for a short discussion on that) but more often than not, what I've said above was generally the case.

So I guess in summary, I don't think folk is inherently political; it often features the music of/about the downtrodden, and often shares left-leaning views, but I don't think it *has* to be political despite their frequent associations.

* I should also mention part of the drive from bluegrass to folk was done in the interest of finding the roots of 'true' "American" music, but that wasn't always the main reason for many.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: cnd
Date: 28 Jan 21 - 11:39 PM

If you want to read more about bluegrass/folk and conservatism and what I wrote above, some great reads are:
- Eric Stein's thesis for McGill University titled "Living Right and Being Free: Country Music and Modern American Conservatism"
- Jens Lund and R. Serge Denisoff, "The Folk Music Revival and the Counter Culture: Contributions and Contradictions" (in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 84, No. 334)
- The Sounds of Social Change ed. Denisoff and Peterson, both Jens Lund's "Fundamentalism, Racism, and Political Reaction in Country Music," and R. Serge Denisoff's "Folk music and the American left"


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: BobL
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 02:56 AM

Certainly not all (and in my record collection, hardly any, and then only in compilations). But singers with a political message tend to get more attention - let's face it, they'd be failing if they didn't.

"There are those who make things happen, those who watch things happening, and those who ask what happened." Seems to me that too many political songs are written from the point of view of the third group, complaining about the actions of the first.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:01 AM

Everything is political - whether you like it or not.

Choosing not to discuss politics is a political act.

Choosing not to take part is a political act.

Left, right, or centre, there's no escaping it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:12 AM

I guess your question is not so much why they are political as why they are left leaning. As "the world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet's population" (Sorce: Oxfam 2020) it follows that performers singing of oppression and uneven distribution of wealth will be popular with the vast majority of people. Folk music is by definition music for and by the people. It is pretty obvious, to me anyway, that music stemming from a majority of people that are poor and oppressed will reflect that situation. In my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:35 AM

Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest - PM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:01 AM

Everything is political - whether you like it or not.

Choosing not to discuss politics is a political act.

Choosing not to take part is a political act.

Left, right, or centre, there's no escapin
quote
Excellent post


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Acorn4
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 05:36 AM

I think here in the UK things changed a bit with Brexit.

In the days of Thatcher I think most folkies were firmly in the left camp and knew exactly where they stood, although there were one or two right leaning supporters who probably kept quiet because they liked the music.

With Brexit you were faced with a choice of supporting either David Cameron and Tony Blair or Rupert Murdoch and Michael Gove - total arseholes on both sides of the fence. Most folkies did seem to support remain but I think there were probably more quiet Brexter/sceptics than in the pre-Brexit days.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GerryM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 05:48 AM

"The Mitchell Trio, whose last 'successful' album, Typical American Boys, featured at least 2/3 (or more) blatantly-leftist songs...."

I'm not sure how you're measuring success – I thought the later albums with John Denver were very good – but let's look at the tracks on Typical American Boys:

You Were On My Mind
Jesse James
Cherry Tree Carol
Which Hat Shall I Wear
The Last Thing On My Mind
The Natural Girl For Me
Waves On The Sea
One Man's Hands
Yowzah
My Name Is Morgan
Gorpus Morpus
With God On Our Side

That's 12 tracks. Two-thirds of 12 is eight – can we find eight (or more) "blatantly leftist songs" here?

Certainly we can count Which Hat Shall I Wear, One Man's Hands, Yowzah, and With God On Our Side. That's four. I don't remember what Waves On The Sea is about, maybe it's blatantly leftist, that's five.

But I wouldn't classify You Were On My Mind as blatantly leftist, nor Jesse James, nor Cherry Tree Carol. There's nothing particularly leftist about The Last Thing On My Mind, or The Natural Girl For Me, or My Name Is Morgan. And Gorpus Morpus is an instrumental.

So I count at most five tracks out of 12 – less than half – as blatantly leftist.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GerryM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 05:52 AM

Found the lyrics to Waves On The Sea – not political, so we're down to four out of 12. One-third, not two-thirds.

CHAD MITCHELL TRIO
Waves On The Sea Lyrics
?
Chorus:
Oh, the waves on the sea, how they roll.
And those chilly winds, how they do blow.
My own true love went down in the deep
And the ship never got to the shore.

[CHORUS]

Well the first on the deck
was the captain of the ship,
And a rough-looking sailor was he.
He said, "I care no more
For my wife and my child
Than I do for the fish in the sea."

[CHORUS]

Well the second on board
was a true man of God,
?
Yes, a right reverend Deacon was he.
Said: "I'll forsake all the faith
That I've got in my soul
To be saved from that ragin' sea."

[CHORUS]

Well the third on deck
was my own true love
And a fine lookin' woman was she.
And I heard her cry
As the waves swept her by,
"Please save my baby and me."

[CHORUS]

My own true love went down in the deep,
And the ship never got to the shore.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:10 AM

Protest songs, were they political?
They are certainly anti-establishment, but as the establishment can change after elections, that makes it apolitical surely?
Looking at it from my side of the ditch, the US seems to split into several political camps, musically. My perception is that folk musicians, and remember that what is classified as folk in the US doesn't always coincide with what is classified as folk over here, seem to be left leaning, while country music seems to lean the other way.
Over here the folk scene seems to be almost 100% left wing.

Yes generalisations I guess, but as I am not a political animal myself, it's the best I can do.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:11 AM

You might have thought that "folk" music, music that connects with "folk" (the ordinary people??) would generally attract people who lean towards socialist sentiment, even though they may not identify as socialists or party tribalists, or even as "political" at all. Looking at Mudcat participants, I've always found it to be somewhat surprising (and, to me, disappointing) that a good number of Brits here are (or were, some of them, before they got the boot or passed away) decidedly and expressly right-wing. In the US it has always seemed to me that there is a general and traditional aversion (with honourable exceptions) to the kind of left-wing politics that a few of we leftie Brits cheerily and openly espouse. The Democratic Party is about as left-wing as Cameron or Thatcher were, and calling Bernie Sanders a socialist was an easy slur (you'd hardly recognise him as such this end!), and, to an extent, we need to look at this interesting issue through that lens (I can't make my mind up about the Aussies here, just as I couldn't when I visited Oz - my experience was pretty limited, but politics didn't seem to be much up for discussion). Use small sample size at your peril... And who sez that Mudcat is representative anyway?

I regard myself as a "folk musician," by the way, though, as I am purely an instrumentalist, I find it slightly difficult to express any political sentiment while I'm playing :-) My mates in the pub session were universally of "leftie" sentiment, though that was rarely articulated in the banter even between tunes/songs, and, when I think back, I was probably the only one who was in any way a party animal (which, as you can imagine, would have made me very unpopular had I gone on about it). Heavily "political" songs wouldn't have gone down well with the pub crowd in these parts, and we didn't want to jeopardise the free beer...

On the subject of political songs, I've always been a long-time admirer of the singing of Dick Gaughan and Christy Moore. Many of their songs are overtly political, and I must say that I found their punch-in-the-face political proselytising too much to bear at times. Woody would never have got away with that in the political climate of the US of the time - but didn't he put across an equally powerful, if not more powerful, political message anyway, just by telling the stories in song, without bitter polemic, of badly-treated folk enduring hard times...?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:30 AM

I prefer live recordings of leftie folk performers, then I can delete the Martin Simpson type comments!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:39 AM

Both of our countries have become very partisan in the last 10 years particularly, with very little space in the middle. You're either right or left, and generally speaking you tend to associate with other people of like mind.

About a year ago I posted something to the effect that everyone I have ever met on the British folk scene was decidedly left leaning, if not outright actively socialist. Immediately ONE person, no longer with us unfortunately, jumped in and said they were right wing. Note the emphasis on ONE!

As most posters here have hinted, it goes with the music this side of the pond.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,James Phillips
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 09:38 AM

I don't consider myself to be a "leftie," I'm more of a libertarian whose social views are somewhat liberal. I find myself siding with the left over issues like conservatism, Trump etc. The main difference is that I'm not against capitalism and would never consider myself a socialist or a Marxist. That being said, some of my favorite folk artists are die hard lefties (Andy Irvine, Dick Gaughan etc) and despite the fact that I would probably be at odds with them in an argument about economics, I don't think any less of them as people for holding different views to mine, and I have never let it interfere with my enjoyment of the tunes that I like. I do, however, tend to skip past the overly political songs. It's not so much that I'm "offended" by them, or that I feel like I would have to agree with the sentiment in order to enjoy the song - it's just that in my experience, overly political songs tend to be less interesting musically (e.g. heavy strumming instead of nice fingerpicking etc).


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Acorn4
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:13 AM

I remember a few years ago, the late Roy Bailey did a tour with the late Tony Benn.

It was an interesting combination and I shared a lot (but not all) of their views but suddenly thought what is the point of this as they are essentially preaching to the converted? If you were a Tory you probably wouldn't be going to the gig.

I like songs that highlight individual cases of injustice rather than a broad political sweep unless the latter have an interesting angle.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,cnd
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM

GerryM, that was meant to be read as 2 or 3 and not two thirds, sorry for any confusion.

The claim it was one of their last successful albums comes from reviewer Richard Foss, though it's not a hill I'd die defending.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:17 AM

Couldn't stand Roy Bailey so I wouldn't have gone to the gig!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:18 AM

I dare say that all folk musicians are political in that they hold their own political opinions on a multitude of different issues. Whether those opinions are pushed in their choice of material and performance is something else entirely.

Whether at a festival or at a gig, I go to listen to the music, I do not go to attend a Party Political Broadcast, on the rare occasions that has happened I have voted with my feet and gone to find something else to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: John P
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:54 AM

I am very political in my personal life, and not at all in my music. I like to argue politics, but make art as an act of creation.

a quote from above:
Choosing not to take part is a political act.

Ack! Not at all. Please read up on logical fallacies, and stop telling me what I think. This is just as dumb as the religious folks who claim that atheism is a faith-based choice. It's like saying I'm a philatelist because I don't have a stamp collection. The world is full of things that have nothing to do with politics, and so am I.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 12:44 PM

"The world is full of things that have nothing to do with politics".

Name one.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 12:50 PM

A good shortbread recipe?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 12:54 PM

I'm guessing the shortbread would contain ingredients which are subject to taxation?

Would this a printed recipe? In a magazine or newspaper? Online?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:02 PM

And, John P, who makes your clothes?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Jeri
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:11 PM

Flour, sugar, butter, and it's just the one I've always used, and I don't know if that stuff is taxed.
But I see your point.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:29 PM

Jeri,

I'm sure your shortbread is delicious and I hope the people who produced the ingredients were paid a decent wage.

I can't think of anything on this planet that doesn't involve human beings and we all operate within political systems. Some fairer than others but very few genuinely fair ones (if any?).


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 01:58 PM

Fully with you on that, Greg (but you knew that already...)


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 02:15 PM

Steve Shaw is probably right when he says that "folk" music, music that connects with "folk" (the ordinary people??) would generally attract people who lean towards socialist sentiment. Many on the left then fall into the trap (I'm not accusing Steve of this) of thinking that it could only attract people of that way of thinking. They also fall into the trap of believing that only those on the left are aware of social issues and injustices and are the only ones who care, whereas many on the right also see these but have different ideas about how to deal with them.

It is undoubtedly true that many of the key figures in the folk revivals in both the US and UK were motivated as much by left wing politics as they were by musical considerations, perhaps more. It is also true that folk became the principle musical vehicle for expressing left wing views and social commentary (until punk took over). Consequently no one is much surprised by left wing views in folk, whereas any other point of view will inevitably provoke an argument (remember the row when Vin Garbutt sang a song opposed to abortion?). Those with alternative political views who simply want to enjoy music without getting into an argument tend to keep their opinions to themselves. Perhaps this is why some are so surprised, aggrieved even, to find that others who share their love of this music don't also share their political views.

It's just music. It's an aesthetic experience above everything else. If your politics gives you a particular perspective which helps you enjoy that experience that's fine, but don't assume that political views are necessary in order to enjoy it, or that those views need be the same as yours in order to enjoy it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM

And... don't sit on a stage and tell me how I should vote/think/feel, about A, B, or C. I'm also not really interested in how you feel about it either. I am there to hear you perform, not pontificate. I would never in my wildest dreams attend a political meeting, and I don't expect to find one in my local folk club. Having a microphone and amplification, is no reason to proselytise !
Yes there are hard line singers who always introduce politics onto the stage, and that's why I don't go to their concerts.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 03:59 PM

Martin Simpson for instance!!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GerryM
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 04:37 PM

Apologies, cnd, for misunderstanding your post.

Maybe this is a good place to remind people of Tom Lehrer's take on folk/politics.

The Folk Song Army

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against, like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on.

But the nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which, I realize, should be accompanied on a folk instrument, in which category the piano does not, alas, qualify. So imagine, if you will, that I am playing an 88-string guitar!

We are the folk song army,
Every one of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs, yeah,
But we regard 'em with scorn.
The folks who sing 'em have no social conscience,
Why, they don't even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don't have to be clever,
And it don't matter if you put a couple extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English
And it don't even gotta rhyme...excuse me: rhyne!

Remember the war against Franco?
That's the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs!

So join in the folk song army!
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready, aim, sing!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:04 PM

Martin Simpson, what have you done?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 06:12 PM

I understand that guest posts are allowed in this section. A post from guest Greg F, perfectly respectable and inoffensive, was deleted, yet my response to it is still there. This forum has allowed posts to stand from banned posters, posting as guests in the music forum, which have been far more controversial. I'd point out that the ones allowed to remain were largely from banned right-wing contributors, whereas Greg's cheery and brief contribution was from a leftie. I suppose it shows, within the context of the thread, that at least one moderator on this here folkie forum is of right-wing persuasion...

As Andy Irvine sang, "They're reds and what more do you need..."

As ever, not my gig, of course...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:20 PM

Silly stuff:
Above: "The world is full of things that have nothing to do with politics".
Name one.


Iron (Fe.)

Also: a quote from above:
Choosing not to take part is a political act.
Ack! Not at all. Please read up on logical fallacies, and stop telling me what I think.


That ancient, now banned, Philosophy 101 joke… “Is there a dog house in your back yard?”

Political? The Almanac Singers' name is from the eponymous Daily Worker entertainment column. 2:3 of their early record labels were run by active Soviet agents. What would it take for you to not have to ask if it's political?


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jan 21 - 11:26 PM

But seriously folk:

Hospitality: ...eft la vertu d'une grande ame, qui tient à tout l'univers par les liens de l'humanité. Les Stoïciens la regardoient comme un devoir inspiré par Dieu même. [Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt, 1751]*

Joanne: I know you can't please everybody, but is there a way to engage musically with conservatives without sacrificing your liberal viewpoint? Am I being saddened by an issue that cannot be resolved?

We choose when, where and how to express any viewpoint we may hold and we do it all the time with everybody we know. Duty and sacrifice are a matched set and it's not like your others are asking an arm and a leg of you here.**

*For Steve, roughly speaking: “...is the virtue of the great soul who cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity. The Stoics regard it as a duty inspired by God.” or words to that effect.

**Fish and guests in three days are stale. [Euphues the euphemismist]


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 04:29 AM

my ukulele kills young methodists...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 05:27 AM

my concertina kills bodhran players


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 07:32 AM

My melodeon kills my nipples


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 10:53 AM

So Joanne: Which of the three preceeding killer 'liberal viewpoints' would you not be willing to temporarily 'sacrifice' for the sake of a friend?

If you feel sadness, trust and believe, there is a reason for it.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 02:50 PM

and if you don't feel anything, there could be a reason.

Its presumptious and naive to interpolate someone's political beliefs from the music he or she plays.

you think there are no tories out there playing Blackleg Miner....?

no clueless airhead women out there singing Don't Get Married Girls...?

No henpecked impotent bluesmen sing Hoochie Coochie Man....?

As Bo Diddley said You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 02:58 PM

Going back to Joanne's common predicament. You could go crazy trying to provide an entertainment that appeals to everybody. We are all different and have different preferences. That's why we seek to belong to communities that have common preferences, which is what you are doing by running your concerts and what we all do as organisers. If you are providing an entertainment that appeals to enough people that makes it worthwhile to continue then you are doing enough. Don't worry about the others who don't agree with what you are doing.

We take our music out to the general public and we very rarely receive any negative responses, but part of that is we are doing what we love and believe in, and by and large we do it for free. And those concerts we run that are ticketed, if the same people are coming back for the next concert then we are doing it right, no matter what genre you are involved in.

Deep down I'm sure you already know that your friend is not going to be swayed by any philosophy coming out of your music, even if she is 'nibbling at the edges'. If she voted for the DT knowing his many faults perhaps you are better off without!


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 03:14 PM

The masses (some would say the 'folk') prefer their music emanating from a piece of machinery. That's fine. It takes all sorts.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jan 21 - 09:40 PM

I think maybe OP has to ask herself....

If there were an accomplished, sophisticated, urbane songwriter doing concerts - but with Donald trump set of opinions and values would she booking be him/her for her concerts?

Perhaps its just a set of things that you don't see eye to eye with. Either way Facebooking each other about your different ideas won't help. An open squabble on FB will only attract your friend's even nuttier friends.

At various times I've had margaret Thatcher fans and Arthur Scargill fans catholics and orangemen work as my roadies cos they liked my guitar playing, or they liked me.

Its one of our tragedies as humans that whilst we may be political animals, and indeed politics may inveigle its way into every part of our lives - still we are more complicated than that. and Thank god, or whoever that we are.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: GUEST,some bloke
Date: 01 Feb 21 - 01:14 PM

I suppose songs complaining about how the champagne on the last flight was non vintage doesn't have the same edge as one about the factory polluting the water supply.

I remain bemused by the many politically inspired mining songs that have sprung up on the folk scene over the last 35 years. As an ex miner I should feel an affinity with them, but like most actual miners, I don't recognise much beyond the reality.

Reality isn't romantic enough sometimes....


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 12:11 AM

There again, the first time I saw Johnny Handle was at Exmouth folk Club. the place was full of posh rugger buggers from St Lukes Training College and Exeter University. A lot of it comes down to the charm of the performer.

Long time ago - Johnny was telling us how Alf Robens would sort out the coal mines.


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 03:41 AM

Al, i disagreed with vin garbutt views of abortion but i respect the fact he has a right to freedom of speech.
i would not have had a problem booking him, people can vote with their feet and he still drew audiences.
I once made some off the cuff, humourous, uncomplimentary remarks about mrs thatcher at a gig, an organiser [who was a rabid tory] from a different club was there and would not book me, it took 30years and the organisers death, before i played the club


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: r.padgett
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 04:58 AM

The title asks "are all folk musicians political" musicians is the key word here ~ musicians I assume perhaps should be singers [maybe we should start again lol]

I think folk song is the important distinction ~ singers convey largely the malcontent that they themselves have suffered or empathise with having seen ~ this may or may not have political repercussions or indeed may be the result of political decisions made

All points of view are raised in songs which you may or may not agree with ~ the politics by and large tends to be from workers leftist angle

Ray


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 06:37 AM

The "Vin has a right to free speech" argument, though I'm not disagreeing with you, is quite an interesting one. I'm not talented enough to be regularly booked anywhere, so I don't get the opportunities to gain a public platform, as Vin did, to spout about a subject unconnected to my musical talents. I have same the thought when I see or read about some low-culture celeb sounding off in the Daily Mail about how we should all be bloody vegan or about how we should be bringing up our kids, etc. We all have the right to say these things but we don't all the same "right" (aka access) to the platform that they have. Well I suppose I could petition the Mail's editor to let me have a double-page spread with colour photos of me with me tits heaving out, accompanied by my thoughts on the evils of eating red meat, or the merits of homeopathy, or how pomegranate juice and goji berries saved my life, or how great my "therapist" is and everyone should have one, but I somehow doubt it would get me the gig...


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Subject: RE: Are all folk musicians political?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Feb 21 - 08:57 AM

I think Vin's career did suffer from expressing his views. I'm pretty sure Graham Parker's career also hit a few obstacles after his anti- abortion song became a news story

Not being in sympathy with those views, it didn't bother me much at the time.

Its odd when you look at all those people voting for and supporting SPUC etc - its strange they didn't ride to Vin and Graham's rescue. After all Trump had millions of supporters. The Catholic Church , you would think, would have lent support to artists echoing their views.


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