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What's wrong with 'Folk Music'

Wincing Devil 19 Mar 02 - 12:48 AM
toadfrog 19 Mar 02 - 01:22 AM
Sarah the flute 19 Mar 02 - 03:37 AM
Steve Parkes 19 Mar 02 - 03:48 AM
Nigel Parsons 19 Mar 02 - 05:21 AM
Wincing Devil 19 Mar 02 - 07:30 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Mar 02 - 08:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Mar 02 - 08:08 AM
Steve Parkes 19 Mar 02 - 08:49 AM
BanjoRay 19 Mar 02 - 08:51 AM
jeffp 19 Mar 02 - 08:52 AM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 19 Mar 02 - 09:36 AM
greg stephens 19 Mar 02 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 19 Mar 02 - 10:06 AM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 10:09 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Mar 02 - 10:21 AM
greg stephens 19 Mar 02 - 10:34 AM
reggie miles 19 Mar 02 - 10:48 AM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 10:49 AM
greg stephens 19 Mar 02 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 19 Mar 02 - 11:08 AM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 11:13 AM
greg stephens 19 Mar 02 - 11:18 AM
Rick Fielding 19 Mar 02 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 19 Mar 02 - 11:37 AM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 11:38 AM
MMario 19 Mar 02 - 11:42 AM
Scabby Douglas 19 Mar 02 - 11:47 AM
greg stephens 19 Mar 02 - 12:01 PM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 12:01 PM
Bullfrog Jones 19 Mar 02 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 19 Mar 02 - 12:39 PM
greg stephens 19 Mar 02 - 12:46 PM
Francy 19 Mar 02 - 12:51 PM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 01:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Mar 02 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Papalew 19 Mar 02 - 02:10 PM
dick greenhaus 19 Mar 02 - 02:17 PM
Mike Regenstreif 19 Mar 02 - 02:56 PM
catspaw49 19 Mar 02 - 03:08 PM
Mike Regenstreif 19 Mar 02 - 03:19 PM
Ron Olesko 19 Mar 02 - 03:35 PM
SDShad 19 Mar 02 - 03:51 PM
Bullfrog Jones 19 Mar 02 - 04:24 PM
M.Ted 19 Mar 02 - 05:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Mar 02 - 05:12 PM
radriano 19 Mar 02 - 05:34 PM
Phil Cooper 19 Mar 02 - 05:52 PM
toadfrog 19 Mar 02 - 06:20 PM
Steve in Idaho 19 Mar 02 - 06:31 PM
catspaw49 19 Mar 02 - 07:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Mar 02 - 08:39 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Mar 02 - 11:23 PM
Steve Parkes 20 Mar 02 - 03:34 AM
Pied Piper 20 Mar 02 - 10:03 AM
GUEST,in the Mudcat Observatory Tower 20 Mar 02 - 10:36 AM
GUEST 20 Mar 02 - 11:05 AM
dick greenhaus 20 Mar 02 - 01:58 PM
Herga Kitty 20 Mar 02 - 02:09 PM
Fortunato 20 Mar 02 - 02:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Mar 02 - 02:27 PM
John Routledge 20 Mar 02 - 02:42 PM
DaveJ 20 Mar 02 - 02:45 PM
GUEST 20 Mar 02 - 03:28 PM
GUEST 20 Mar 02 - 03:33 PM
dick greenhaus 20 Mar 02 - 05:44 PM
Nigel Parsons 21 Mar 02 - 05:49 AM
GUEST,Declan 21 Mar 02 - 06:32 AM
GUEST 21 Mar 02 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Declan 21 Mar 02 - 09:49 AM
harvey andrews 21 Mar 02 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Declan 21 Mar 02 - 11:22 AM
DaveJ 21 Mar 02 - 12:00 PM
Steve Parkes 21 Mar 02 - 12:07 PM
harvey andrews 21 Mar 02 - 01:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Mar 02 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,Declan 22 Mar 02 - 05:51 AM
harvey andrews 22 Mar 02 - 07:04 AM
GUEST,Fortunato 22 Mar 02 - 08:59 AM
Phil Cooper 22 Mar 02 - 01:12 PM
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Subject: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Wincing Devil
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:48 AM

I haven't seen the movie, but with all the publicity from winning the Grammy for best Screenplay, I wentout and bought the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". It was a extremely good collection of American folk music. The liner notes, however, and a lot of the critical press, refer to it as "American Roots Music".

Where did this new buzzword for old music come from?

What's wrong with the term "Folk Music"?

WD
Click here for an 1812 American flag in HTML


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: toadfrog
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 01:22 AM

When you say "folk music," most people think of singer-songwriter things, which tends to reflect an urban, middle class sensibility and does not sound very real to many of us. On the other hand, "roots music" is substantially broader than "folk music" and blurs over into bluegrass, at least old country, and probably R&B and things line that. Some of which is clearly commercial and not usually thought of as "folk," but which still sounds down-home.

The "O Brother" disk includes "In the jailhouse Now," which I've always thought of as country-western rather than folk music. Good song though. On the other hand, "Didn't I Leave Nobody but the Baby" doesn't sound like roots music to me, it just sounds phoney. Not to say the rest of the songs don't sound great.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Sarah the flute
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 03:37 AM

They seem to have a BIG problem in the UK too. I watched the Billy Connolly program on TV last night as he toured Ireland - perhaps niaively believing there might be some Irish music in the background at least - but alas no! .... and what of our Royal Leader's jubilee celebrations at Buck House? She has pop bands, she has a steel band, she had Indian dancers booked .... Is there any celebration of English culture other than Posh Spice? .... I think not. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and hope the media undergo a sea change.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 03:48 AM

... and much Amercan music has its roots outside the USA! Maybe the Queen could call rock "British roots music" on the same basis?

I saw birts of the first Billy Connolly prog. I was intrigued to see that when he was jamming with Irish musicians, he switched seamlessly between frailing his banjo without a thumbpick and four-finger picking with a thumbpick; I always have to stop to put mine on or take it off!

WD, arent't there a few stars missing of that flag? I'm no expert, but I seem to remember there were thirteen original states ("By the Thirteen Original States!"), and there only twelve ...

Steve "Picky" Parkes


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 05:21 AM

Wincing Devil.
I was also surprised by the flag, I thought there were too many stripes, but checked and you're right on that, but there should be 15 stars.
On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."
Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
Being Welsh, I had to check first, but found the info Here


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Wincing Devil
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 07:30 AM

I also had them staggered wrong!

OOPS!

Now if TPTB woukld only re-allow <TABLE> tags!

Now There's 15 Stars and 15 Bars

Mow as to the naming conventions, I have always said, I may not know much more about music other that I know what I like! WD


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 08:08 AM

Rather drastic thread drift here, in which I'm joining - but so what.

But what about the stars themselves in that flag - shouldn't they have pointy bits on them? Though I note that there don't seem to have been any specification laid down about the shape of the stars so far. No doubt this will be coming - especially in the light of stuff like this:

"...the values the USA is fighting terror to defend. None is more sovereign than freedom of speech, so it's good to learn that US law enforcement officers are working so hard to uphold it. ... Triumphs include a Pentagon investigator's visit to New York's Chashama gallery over a poster advertising the "corporate flag", a Stars and Stripes parody with the 50 stars replaced by corporate logos.."From a diary item in The Guardian today.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 08:08 AM

But to get back to the thread topic - logically the use of the term "Roots" for "Folk" should give rise to a distinction between "Roots Music", which would be the traditional stuff, and "Rooted Music" which would be the music derived from it. That kind of distinction has been blurred in the use of Folk to describe both leading to a situation in which is often taken to actually exclude traditional music.

One example of where this happened has been in church services, where the hymns and the music that had become traditional were discarded in favour of new and unfamiliar songs. But instead of this being decried as modernisation, the new music and songs were described as "folk", presumably on the ground that guitars were used.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 08:49 AM

And it doesn't enhance Folk's image, does it?


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: BanjoRay
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 08:51 AM

We shouldn't stop calling it folk music just because the majority of plonkers don't know what the word means. Roots music implies to me some archaeological remains that have been dug up and put in a museum. Folk music is music played and sung by the folks rather than forced on us by the music meedja, as a means of extracting our money.

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: jeffp
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 08:52 AM

Maybe the old stuff could be described as "Folk" and the new as "Folked-up"


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 09:35 AM

Folk, roots, trad, singer-songwriter.... why are we worrying so much about labels? All this over-analyzing just detracts from the music itself. Being old-school I will call it folk which to me is all-inclusive. I don't know why people are afraid of the "f" word but that isn't the important thing. Isn't it a kick that people are listening to the O Brother soundtrack who really could care less what it is called?

Ron


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 09:36 AM

don't know where to start here, don't care about the flag thing, but FOLK MUSIC, that is a different story.

FOlk Music is NOT singer songwriter crap, though they have to some degree co-opted the term.

Folk music is roots music in relation to singer songwriter crap, and also rock and roll, and blues. (though blues afficianados will probably not acknowledge any debt or relationship to folk) Country blues, delta blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, country western, skiffle, all can be taken back to folk music in some way, in my opinion, but I won't track it all out for you here.

'O Brother Where Art Thou' is both a horrid, stupid, insulting, ridiculous, abomination of a film, totally worthless, not funny, and offensive, & the soundtrack is not much better, but it is certainly NOT folk music, nor roots music. It is countried-up, marketable music. Why not have used the original period recordings of 'Man of Constant Sorrow', and the like? Because you can sell more cds and videos using current country stars, that's why. God bless Ralph Stanley, and 'O Death' is a powerful song, but the use of it in this film is almost as egregiously offensive as the use of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Qawwali music was in 'Natural Born Killers'. There should be a special circle of hell reserved for the suits and the idea people that came up with both concepts. (Except there sadly is no hell, forgot. I think the most powerful curse you can say to someone is 'May what you believe in be real.') Save your money on the 'O Brother' cd, and find the orignal sources that they parodied and sullied. Bill


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 09:52 AM

Well I wouldnt be quite as vituperative as Bill Kennedy on the subject of the O Brother CD, but I listened to it with excitement because I'd been given it by someone who was raving about a film usin REAL folk music. And I listened carefully, and ended up thinking, well I supposethe obvious English word to describe it is "wet" (I don't know if that word existy in American). And folk music(or traditional music ifyou prefer the term) can be a lot of things, it can be good or bad but it's never wet.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 10:06 AM

Went off there a bit, and I could go off some more, now that I'm thinking about the film, but I don't want to leave the impression that I think this music is 'bad'. Some of it is good, but not 'authentic'. The Ralph Stanley performance is great, and 'authentic', but is used in an offensive way to me. There are still lynchings going on in this country, and they are not amusing. No black performer ever appeared on the same stage with whites, playing to a white audience, with public officials in attendance or otherwise. Homer is a true poet who should not be trifled with. Parody him brilliantly if you must, borrow from him wholesale for your work if it helps, pay homage to him if you can, but don't pass off this crap as having anything to do with Homer or his Epics. Oops, I've gone off again, sorry, try to restrain myself. Bill


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 10:09 AM

O Brother must be folk music because lots of folks are listening to it!

As Groucho Marx once said, if you analyze humor it ain't funny!

I actually enjoyed the O'Brother movie and found it very funny. Of course it isn't meant to be taken seriously!! "Save your money" and "find the original sources".... please! Hopefully people will be intrigued by the music to search out the source. Why save the music just for classrooms - let people enjoy it for what it is meant to be -sung! I am shocked that people take exception to having these songs performed again. These aren't museum pieces - they are meant to be kept alive. One person's parody is another person's joyful interpretation.

I really get a kick out of people looking for "real" folk music. It is probably on a shelf next to the Holy Grail.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 10:21 AM

I don't think that there's anything wrong with the term, (and I loved Oh Brother, thought it was funny and thought that they did a great job in keeping a feel for rural music and yet making it accessible enough that non-purists could enjoy it.) I think the IMAGE is the problem. When I ran a folk concert series, I'd get a completely different audience when I'd book a bluegrass band. I asked the bluegrass audience as they were leaving, why they never came to folk music concerts. Their answers were very telling. They said that folk music is someone sitting in a chair, playing guitar and complaining about something. They perceived folk music as protest music. A leftover image from the sixties when folk music was often seen as a tool for social change, and "angry" sold records. The protest song focus in the sixties kinda threw folk music out of perspective, just as the inward-reflecting music of singer songwriters has given them the label of all being whiners (I hear an ENORMOUS amount of whining on Mudcat...) Folk music isn't protest music. Singer songwriters actually write humorous songs... John Prine and John Gorka being good examples.

The whole "roots music" label is a corporate term, trying to lure people into getting "in touch" with their roots. Another corporate term over here is "Americana." That is basically acoustic songwriters, as far as I can see, and another music store category to file stuff under when they don't know where to put it.

The one element of folk music that seems to get short shrift is fun. Protest songs may help draw people together with a common purpose, and have their use. But they also can separate people, rather than bring them together. Introspective acoustic songwriters (rather than label all songwriters as navel-gazing) often are too lost in their own importance to connect with others. And, they sure ain't fun. Historians have never been known to be a barrel of laughs, either. First and foremost, folk music was entertaining. If people could just relax, stop worrying about labels, stop trying to protect the purity of a moment in time, and just have a good time singing and playing, they'd draw a lot more people to folk music. Everyone (almost) likes to have a good time. If folk music was perceived as good-time music, it wouldn't be in the back corner of the music stores.

Just my biased opinion.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 10:34 AM

Ron Olesko: what are you talking about exactly? Has anybody in this thread "taken exception to having these songs performed again". Have you drifted in from another argument? I'm sure evryone contributing here loves singing old sings, loves it to bits. Some people may have criticised some individual performances of old songs, but that's a little different isn't it?


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: reggie miles
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 10:48 AM

There's a popular, or somewhat so, song that touts folk music as boring (in a comical way). I was labeled as adult contemporary by one dj.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 10:49 AM

No Greg, if you read Guest:Bill Kennedy's opinions about the soundtrack of "O Brother" you will see what I am responding to. Yes, the tone of a number of these threads appear to be a disagreement that these songs are "parodied and sullied". Naturally I don't expect everyone to love the sountrack, but I think people are missing the point of what it is supposed to be. It wasn't meant to be an historic document.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:03 AM

Well,Ron, Ive reread his posting and I cant see anything that says people arent allowed to sing old songs. He just says he thinks those particular versions are a load of crap.In as many offensive ways as he can think of ! I agree the guy seems to have got out of bed the wrong side, but he's entitled not to like them isn't he? I see no conceivable bit in his posting thatimplies he doesnt think people should be allowed to sing old songs. Attack people for what they say, not what they didnt say.Blimey, why I am defending him, he can do that himself. Bit of a grumpbag,isnt he?


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:08 AM

Ron et al, I think you may have been thrown off by the way I phrased my argument. I never said, nor meant to say these songs shouldn't be sung, or shouldn't be sung in a different way, or any of those things. Folk music, BY DEFINITION, is not static, it is the continued enjoyment of and performance of folk songs. What I object to is that this film in its essenc and in its hype by studio and critic portrays these performances as 'the real thing', as 'real American roots'. I also think perormers who are still around should be given an opportunity to perform thier own songs, and get some larger exposure for them, but that is a minor point. 'Paper Moon' was a pretty fair movie, not great, but the soundtrack was great, vintage recordings. Woody Allen has done some great, funny movies using real recordings, Dennis Potter, who was a genius, did it best in his films, and even the American remake of 'Pennies from Heaven' was great, especially as to its use of music, some period, some 'done up' for the film. many people got turned on th Scott Joplin and his music from 'The Sting' soundtrack, which was a weak approximation of his style. A good thing seems to me. As to humor, John Hartford wrote some very funny songs in an old time traditional style, they will probably live on, where as the clever cutesy too contemporar stuff of Christine Lavin and the like, even John Prine, etc. will not be remembered or performed. and finally, O brother must be 'pop' because it is so popular. It is not folk, it is not old time, it is not bluegrass, both of which are rooted in folk. It is contemporary adult, perhaps, which is not folk.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:13 AM

Greg,

I apologize if my posting wasn't clear and if my take on his statment was different than your take. As I said, he is certainly allowed his opinion - and I do respect it.

My issue was with his post and a few others where it seems that the knock on O Brother (and folk music) is based on what should and shouldn't considered "Roots" or "Folk" music. I took exception to Bill's "parodied and sullied" remark and telling people to save their money. Yes, that is his opinion. Mine is different.

I was also trying to add a point that we ALL get hung up on labels. I've done it too. What ends up happening is people miss the fun aspect of the music. Jerry's note hit it on the nose.

This is actually a healthy discussion. Don't take it personally!

Ron


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:18 AM

I dont Ron I dont! But I do think a lot of the singing on the sound track is wet!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:26 AM

Holy cow! and I thought Peter T. and I were the only Mudcatters who hated the movie. I KNOW that I'm an anal-retentive stickler for authenticity (which CAN be entertaining if done right!), but I simply found the film really badly edited. I often found that the way the music was "dropped" into certain scenes was simply distracting. The "integrated" aspects may look good in a period piece of this nature, but like Bill states, it simply didn't happen...especially with the Law and the clergy in attendance.

But anyone who'd make a film with MY criteria in mind, would have to be nuts! Ha ha!

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:37 AM

and I really only jumped in because I'm just a little tired of hearing all the hype about this film go unchallenged. obviously it's a popular film, that doesn't make it a good film, or necessarily do good things for the music we all enjoy; & that doesn't mean you aren't allowed to enjoy it or the music in it, or that because I said so you have to think about the context of the film and its setting, etc. You can just enjoy it if you like. I didn't. I was offended and disturbed. But as I said some of the music in it is good music (to my ear) some of it is not (Everything but the Baby, eg.) But to everyone out there listeneing to the studios, & critics, and ad men, and marketers planning the next version of o brother (make one popular film & worse rip-offs will folllow) there is a large world of folk music, roots music, blues music, bluegrass music, etc. out there that you might find actually more satisfying and nourishing, and there is a History to these songs, and thier recordings that you might pursue. Now another bit of history has been added, not the most fitting setting for the appreciation of Ralph Stanley and 'O Death' that I can think of , but now part of the history. But in this ('so NOT a grumpbag you wouldn't believe how funny that was to me when I read it, though I will speak my mind and am not afraid to have an opinion!') person's view not the High Water mark for the music in any way, just a blip of crossover into popular culture, which may now be the true folk by some definition. wish there was a non-virtual pub we could all retire to to discuss further over a few pints of the good stuff, until we all started singing our favorite songs!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:38 AM

Greg,

Could you explain "wet"? First I've heard that term and you made me curious!

Ron


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: MMario
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:42 AM

I'm curious about it as well.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:47 AM

Hmmm

(Pulls on his waterproofs and wades right on in)...

I liked the film O Brother.
I liked the music too.

I have to admit that like Ron Olesko, I thought that Bill Kennedy was having a pop at the re-interpretation of these songs, just because they were not the original versions, which were evidently in his opinion better.

I am intrigued by Bill's futher explanation that it must be pop music because it's popular. Ermmm - how can one define what kind of music something is, in terms of the number of people who listen to it?

By similar logic, I could be entitled to assert that a Chieftains recording is not Irish music because many more non-Irish than Irish people listen to it. Now, that's not what Bill says, but look where you can get to by making up your own rules for classification on the basis of your own prejudices.

I agree that the film's music is portrayed as "real" and "roots" - but if we look at those statements in context, - it's clear that compared to the vast majority of recycled flavourless pap that emanates from the recording industry, this stuff is pretty close to the Real Thing. Not quite there, but getting there...

What else? Ummm, I don't think that the Odyssey theme was particularly well handled in the film , to be honest. At least, I'd have been happier if they hadn't made such a big deal about it. The film had some ,a few, not very direct or imaginative references to the Odyssey. It'd have been much better if they had left it up to the audience to detect the hints for themselves, rather than having it hyped up as it was...

However... that aside, some of the stuff that interests me about it was the political stuff. The sleazy, but wily old incumbent (Clinton??) is seen as astute enough to flex, while the family-values, squeaky clean candidate(your guess is as good as mine) is unmasked as the KKK leader.....

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:01 PM

It worried me using it which is why I qualified it, as I realised as I typed the word "wet" thatit probably isnt American usage.(A lot of problems arise in Mudcat discussions because of linguistic styles, Americans often find British /Irish use of humour incredibly offensive when nobody was being nasty at all, for example!). Anywy, I digress. The meaning of WET. I cant define it that easily, I'll give you a few examples of usage with American content which Ihope will explain it.PeterPaul and Mary singing Blowing in the Wind is wet, Bob Dylan singing it is not.Ned Flanders is wet, Homer Simpson is not.Jimmy Carter was wet, Nixon wasnt.Jimmy Rogers(The English Country Gardens one) was wet,Jimmy Rogers(Blue Yodels wasnt).Smoking behind the bikesheds is not wet, collecting pressed flowers is. Singing "Rock of Ages" is not wet, singing in churches with guitars is wet(unless you're black, in which case it may not be). Piano accordions are wet(Clifton Chenier excepted), button accordions are not.Cuthbert is a wet name, Jack is not.Celtic is wet, Irish,Scottish, Welsh and Cornish are not.Crystals are wet, Tai Chi is not(that's borderline) Well, that should do. Wet and not wet are emphatically not the same as good and bad.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:01 PM

Bill,

I like your idea about retiring to a pub - but could the music we sing be considered "roots" or would it be a proper setting to sing an Appalachian ballad?

I do agree with you that there are more satisfying and nourishing recordings out there - but there is nothing wrong with a tasty appetizer before the main course. I always feel that anything that catches peoples interest and HOPEFULLY gives them a reason to explore further is a good thing. Riverdance was chewing gum as a production - but some people were drawn to re-explore or explore for the first time the "roots" music that led up to that production.

While it is only my opinion, I don't like to knock something for what it isn't. The media and ad agencies may have put a label on O Brother, but I don't think the Coen brothers had any intention on making a movie that would promote folk music. They used it for a soundtrack to help tell their story, nothing more. For various reasons people became hooked, and if it means someone buys a Ralph Stanley CD to hear more that is an unexpected benefit, but certainly not the producers goal.

We have drifted from the topic - which is what is wrong with using the term "folk" music. I use the "f" word whenever I can.

Ron


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:34 PM

Got room for me in your waterproofs, Doug? I enjoyed the film and bought the CD straight away and my 13-year old son was wandering round singing Man of Constant Sorrow for ages afterwards. This debate sums up the reason why 'folk' music has the reputation it has. People assume it's just boring buggers with their fingers in their ears singing about a fishing trawler that doesn't leave the harbour for the first tewnty-three verses and spends the next nineteen sinking!It has to change to stay alive, to make new converts. Yes, John Hartford was very good, but his songs won't 'live on' longer than John Prine's, precisely because Prine is more popular -- i.e. more people have heard of him and buy his records, but also because more people are out there singing more of his songs. If Oh Brother made a few people curious enough to go back and listen to The Stanley Brothers or Jimmie Rodgers then that's a bonus --- but it's just a FILM for God's sake -- light entertainment!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:39 PM

Ron - I agree, I don't think the Coen brothers itended to promote Folk music, actually I think they used the music as a cheap joke, and intended it to be ridiculed like the other Southern, or in thier eyes Hillbilly, institutions and conventions they were satirizing, and are completely surprised by the response to the music, and have now spun it to thier advantage. Riverdance is a good example, and I tried to get at the same thing with my Sting/Scott Joplin example, though with the positive comes the negative, and I fear the coming deluge of bad 'O Brother' clones. I also have nothing but pity for these poor young girls who have been led to believe they must wear red curly wigs and headband attachements to by Irish dancers. I like Dan Tyminski, but I hope He isn't wearing a fake beard & overalls when he performs. Hee Haw is still humorous, but a lot of red-neck jokes are not.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:46 PM

Riverdance, now there's a good example of something that's wet. And bollocks,too, another good old British expression.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Francy
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 12:51 PM

There's nothin wrong with Folk Music; it the folk's that try to change,, rearrange, and redefine it..... I thought the movie was bad and the music was watered down to appeal to a greater audience..... It doesn't seem to work....If you play and love folk music you don't have to explain it, you just listen, love and enjoy......All the so-called singer-songwriters are just growing up and have to be musically weaned from their belly'button approach and that takes time.....So I stick with the tradition and love it...Frank of Toledo


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 01:31 PM

Bill,

I am going to watch O Brother again. I wasn't as offended by the stereotypes and conventions, but I do see your point. There is a fine line between satire and simply making fun of people. There is a point where we have to poke fun at ourselves AND the sterotypes we developed, otherwise there would be no acceptable humor in the world. Did the Coen Brothers harm anyone or perpetuate a hurtful image? I really don't think so.

Sorry to take this conversation off on a tangent, a topic that has already been well discussed here on Mudcat.

You mentioned Scott Joplin above. There was a renaissance in ragtime music when the film The Sting was released a few decades ago. The film was set in the late 1920's or early '30s from my memory - long after ragtime had it's heyday in the U.S. There was no reason to have ragtime as the soundtrack for that feature, yet the music captured the feeling so well. It also enabled Eubie Blake to have a final step in the spotlight shortly before his death.

Granted the subject and style of both films were different. The point is that each film served to introduce a musical style to a new audience. Getting back to the premise of this topic, what we call it isn't as important as the way people enjoy it.

Ron


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 01:59 PM

Myself, I thought O Brother was great fun as a film, and pretty good music too. If we're hung on on labels, as we regularly seem to be, it's folk-based rather than folk. So is the original music which is recreated in the film. And that's not any kind of put-down.

I'd definitely disagree on calling it wet. Mind you, since Thatcher's lot hijacked the term to mean anyone who wasn't a vicious sharp-toothed predatory sociopath that terms been a tricky one to use. It always was a bit susopect, with it's roots in prep schools playgrounds. (Which I believe is another expression that means something different in America.)

In short I'd see some of the comments on this as a clear case of "the best is enemy of the good."


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Papalew
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 02:10 PM

For my money, there is nothing wrong with the term "folk music." Having been a folksinger/songwriter for many years, the object of "folk" in "folksinger simply refers to the songs of the common person. Folk songs reflect the things of our society and the times for which they were written. This continuous attempt to redefine terms is really quite tiresome and spurious. Folk songs refer to all the people of our society and not just the "white folk" as some would incorrectly have us believe. Like the saying goes, "If it aint broke, don't fix it." The term "Folk Music" is NOT broken.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 02:17 PM

One point--The "sound Track" CD of O Brother--was not from the movie's sound track.It's all new recordings. Perhaps the most egregious example was the replacement of the Kossoy Sisters' "I'll Fly Away" with a mucb more commercial one by Kraus and Welch.

Same thing goes for the "sound track" CD of Soncatcher.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 02:56 PM

Dick,

You're mistaken. The soundtrack CD is not all new recordings. There's a field recording of a prisoners group led by James Carter singing "Po' Lazarus" that comes from the Alan Lomax Collection. There's Harry McClintock's 1928 recording of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and there's the Stanley Brothers's recording of "Angel Band" from 1955.

Most of the music used in the movie was recorded specifically for it. "I'll Fly Away" was the only song used in the movie that has a different version on the CD. I'm told that it was because of some sort of licensing problem.

BTW, I'm not sure why you think the Alison Krauss-Gillian Welch version is "more commercial" than the Kossoy Sister version. Both versions are two singers and two instruments. The Kossoys use guitar and banjo, Welch and Krauss use guitar and mandolin. I don't think Erik Darling's banjo playing makes the song any more or less commercial sounding than Mike Compton's mandolin playing. The recording quality is better on the new version.

The whole point of the "O Brother" phenomenon is that it has been such a great success without bending to the commercial contstraints that are normally imposed by the suits in Nashville and Hollywood. So far, it has sold more than 5 million copies, without the benefit of commercial radio play. However, it has had a lot of play on Folk Roots/Folk Branches, so I guess that explains its tremendous success.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 03:08 PM

Bless you Mike.

I just went through this rant elsewhere, bo I'll not do it again. But why do we seem to trash everything that even makes an attempt in the direction of folk/country/roots music that gets commercial time and popularity. So now a lot more people are listening than were before......Some will investigate further, some won't. But at least it's exposure and frankly I fail to find too much wrong with the soundtrack CD.........except for the unpardonable sin of using people who have name recognition (also very talented) doing a fine rendition.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 03:19 PM

One more thing. The Alan Lomax Collection staff tracked down James Carter who is now 80-something and living in a nursing home. He barely remembered making the field recording of "Po' Lazarus" when he was a prisoner in Mississippi in the 1950s. Thanks to "O Brother," he's just got his first royalty check of $20,000. The Lomax Collection is estimating that Carter will eventually earn several hundred thousand dollars from having the song on the CD.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 03:35 PM

Bravo Mike and Spaw! You have both summed up everything that is RIGHT with the O Brother story.

No one is obligated to like the soundtrack or the film. That isn't the point.

Sometimes I feel that some people just prefer to keep the music in a closet so they can enjoy it all alone. That is the opposite of what folk music should be.

Folk and proud of it,

Ron


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: SDShad
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 03:51 PM

Well this discussion most interesting, and has covered a lot of ground in a scant few hours. I don't feel I have much to add to all that, but to observe on one side-issue: I'm utterly baffled at the "but things didn't really happen that way back then" objections to the "O Brother" film. We're talking about the Coen brothers here. They gleefully make knowing, deliberate changes to history and reality in this film, such as having Pappy O'Daniel be governor of Mississippi rather than Texas, having Baby Face Nelson still be alive at the time the movie's set, having Klansmen do a Busby Berkley at a cross-burning, or having a dammed reservoir flood suddenly. They "based" the movie on the Oddyssey the same way "Fargo" was "based on a true story": not at all. They openly admit to never having read the Oddyssey (I think they're lying: they grew up in St. Louis Park, where the schools are quite good).

I mean, come on. These are the guys who made "Bood Simple," "Barton Fink," "Raising Arizona," "The Hudsucker Proxy," and "The Big Lebowski." Anyone who expects reality from a Coen brothers film just ain't been payin' attention, and is missing the point. They're storytellers, not historians.

Chris


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 04:24 PM

Abso-bleedin'-lutely, and you know what? There's no reference on the soundtrack c.d. to folk, bluegrass, country, roots, old-timey or any other 'genre'. It's all just MUSIC!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 05:03 PM

Well, all just keep in mind that Bill Kennedy's opinion is just his opinion--and carries only as much weight as the chair he is sitting in--


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 05:12 PM

It's all "just our opinion".

It doesn't really make any difference whether we prefer to say things like "I think " or "In my opinion" or put in little strings of initials, or say it right out, as if we were stating it as incontrovertible fact. Whatever, it's just us, saying something we believe to be true, and maybe it is, and maybe it isn't, and maybe it's part of the truth

(The only exception to this being trollers, who say things they don't believe, just to annoy people - and they don't count.)


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: radriano
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 05:34 PM

My, what a discussion this is!

I have only one comment and then I'll stand back and be ready to deflect anything thrown at me.

There was a comment make early on about "singer/songwriter crap." It's true that there is a lot of poor singer/songwriter stuff around but some of it is wonderful. Besides every song at some point had an author, no? Let's not write off all singer/songwriters in general. Some of them actually write "folk music."


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 05:52 PM

Comments on "O Brother" aside, I find nothing wrong with the term "folk music." I would agree with Jerry Rasmussen's comments earlier in the thread. It's important that folk performers remember their role is to entertain an audience, not preach at it. What I've found appealing about this music all my life is that it covers all aspects of how we, as people, live. Not just romance, or light subjects, but everything.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: toadfrog
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 06:20 PM

Well, friends, I have heard some singer-songwriter products that I thought were good songs. They are best when they are clever. But good as they some times are, their most salient characteristics - sentimentality, subjectivity, overstatement, and self-pity, are the exact opposite of the traits which attract me to what used to be called "folk music."

I have nothing against singer-songwriters. Or against protest song-writers who think they are saving the world my making up songs, even if nobody much is ever going to sing them. It is just that they have nothing whatsoever to do with me, and if they identify themselves as "folk singers" they repel people who might actually add something.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 06:31 PM

I loved the film, thoroughly enjoyed the CD, and could care less about what it wasn't. It got my son to listening to Nickle Creek, and then to remembering the music he grew up with (Folk, Bluegrass, Country), and asking me for my Dad's guitar - so he could start playing music to my Grand Daughters. Now it just doesn't get any better than that.

I agree with Ron, Jerry, Spaw, Frank of Toledo, and Rick Fielding. And I have a lot in common with the rest -

Later Tators - :-)

Steve


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: catspaw49
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 07:49 PM

Hi Steve...........WOW....Nickel Creek. I swear those kids have really got something going besides talent and desire. I (or Karen) have played their album for all kinds of people and invariably it gets great response. Such a great combination of folk/trad/blues/bluegrass/country/pop that they really defy description except....They be great!!! That's about all the description needed!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 08:39 PM

"It's important that folk performers remember their role is to entertain an audience, not preach at it. What I've found appealing about this music all my life is that it covers all aspects of how we, as people, live. Not just romance, or light subjects, but everything."

Everything includes preaching. And a lot of other things. Music is to help you get through life, hard times as well as good. That involves a whole lot over and above entertainment. If there's a serious subtext to this film, and I think there probably is, that's a key element in it.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Mar 02 - 11:23 PM

Geez, Toadfrog! You must go to open mike nights! What a gross overgeneralization about singer/songwriters. I don't think I ever heard a song by Bill Staines as an example) that was self-pitying. Subjectivity? That's what every one of these posts are... including mine. Sentimental? How about Old Blue? That's enough to reduce a feller to tears. And it's not by a contemporary singer-songwriter. "Singer-songwriters" are like truck drivers, dentists, garbage collectors and Priests. And folksingers who've never written a song. There are some good ones, and some bad ones. I've heard 'em both. I remember hearing a guy singing a song against guns, with a chorus that recommended flushing them down your toilet. I suspect his day job was as a plumber. I don't like the touchy-feely songwriters any more than you do. But, they ain't all there is, and they aren't all self-piitying...

Honest...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 03:34 AM

Persdonally, I've always had trouble accepting that Cinema is an art form! With a (realtively very) small number of exceptions, a movie is not literature, it's entertainment. Noting wrong with entertainmnt, and not to say e. can't be Art, but you take my point, I'm sure. I enjoyed the film and the songs, but I wasn't under any illusions that it was a true and accurate picture of life in (wherever it was) in the (whenever it was); anyway, I'm not an American, so I have an excuse.

I've always been very aware of my roots, thanks to my family; and as I get older I appreciate my roots all the more.

Steve


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Pied Piper
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 10:03 AM

I've not seen the film but I have heard some of the music and sound OK to me.I agree with the point made previously that a small percentage of people involved in "folk music" seem to think it belongs to them and would rather it stayed as an endagered spieces so they can feel superior about preserving it.People with this attitude seemed to take over the folk club seen here in the UK in the late seventies to such an extent that most people I know would rather have there finger nails pulled out than go to one.This is a pity as the situation is much better now, clubs being much more eclectic relaxed and informal.I'm afraid The term "folk music" does have negative associations for most non-folkies, certainly over this side of the pond. My own musical interests cover a lot of forms from many of the worlds traditions, and access to to these resources has never been easier.Musical traditions are never static and all this crossfertalization has, and will throw up some strong passionate forms to enrich the lives of all 6,000 million of us.Modern human biengs have been makeing music for tens of thousands of years before I was born, and will be making it when I'm dust, the thing is to be part of the process and pass on as much to the next generation as you can. All the best PP


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,in the Mudcat Observatory Tower
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 10:36 AM

Read what he writes elsewhere at Mudcat, then read between the lines of Dick Greenhaus' post. There are three possible conclusions:

1) The "O Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack is not available through Camsco;

2) Dick Greenhaus somehow holds the soundtrack musicians of "O Brother, Where Art Thou" accountable for Bob Dylan going electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival;

3) some combination of 1) and 2).


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 11:05 AM

I'm LOL, great observations.

Same thing goes for the "sound track" CD of Soncatcher.

I assume that dick greenhaus is actually referring to the "Songcatcher" CD. If that's the case, he should read the CD cover. Nowhere does it claim to be a "soundtrack." It states, "music from and inspired by the motion picture."

dick greenhaus wants to blame the CD for not being what it doesn't claim to be.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 01:58 PM

Re me and Dylan-- I never cared whether or not he went elctric. I don't begrudge him his success. I like some songs he's written. I dislike is singing. I detest the hokie Okie accent.

I've sold several copies of the "Songcatcher" CD to people who were under the impression it was a real soundrack CD. They were also disappointed.

I a[pologize for any errors I've made concerning the O Brother CD; I've been particularly sensitive to the "I'll Fly Away" track because I've had over 50 requests for the Kossoy Sisters CD, and Rykodisk has pulled it off the market reportedly at the behest of the movie producers. I still think that a "soundtrack" album should be taken from the soundtrack.

I liked the music in O Brother; didn't care much for the film. I loved the music in Songcatcher, admired the scenery and the acting, and hated the story line.

CAMSCO does sell the O Brother CD. It also sells Dylan CDs, as well as a host of other CDs by performers I don't personally care for.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 02:09 PM

Wet = lacking oomph, insipid, not visceral.

Folk music = not commercially viable (when it is, it gets called something else).


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Fortunato
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 02:20 PM

I use the term Roots music in my blurbs and discussions to describe the early sources for songs in two genres, Old Time Country and Rock N' Roll. Here in DC the term Roots Music came up and gained in usage because we have audiences here (young and old) that appreciate knowing that The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Emmett Miller, etc. and their music, vocal styles, etc. are the 'roots of Country music and Bluegrass. It first surfaced when Billy Hancock and Tex Rubinowitz began to seek and perform the Jump Blues classics of the 40's, like Cadilac Boogie and Goodrockin' at Midnight by people like Clarence Gatemouth Brown, side by side with Gene Vincent's Race with the Devil. It's an education factor that people never fail to question. If I said "Folk music" they have a pre-conceived notion, the same with Bluegrass and Blues and so on. I use 'Rootst to move people beyond to where the musical lines blurr and intersect. There' nothing wrong with Folk Music as a term, but if you want to take folks a little further...Cheers, Chance.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 02:27 PM

I quite like the expression "roots and shoots" to mean the traditional stuff, and the new stuff growing out of the tradition.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: John Routledge
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 02:42 PM

Is this an element of what is wrong with folk music:

The Revival now seems to comprise Chorus songs, funny songs and parodies; together with the flattening of the tunes of the more difficult ballads to mke them easier to sing.

Things are of course less demanding this way.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: DaveJ
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 02:45 PM

Dick Greenhaus said,

"I've had over 50 requests for the Kossoy Sisters CD, and Rykodisk has pulled it off the market reportedly at the behest of the movie producers. I still think that a "soundtrack" album should be taken from the soundtrack. "
No wonder I never got my copy. I placed the order on line after somebody had posted the link here but I never saw another thing about it. Jeez, you would think someone would have sent me something.

Re: The side track of the flag issue that crept in here: All I can think about is the words to John Prine's song,"Your flag decal won't get you in to heaven anymore..." Obviously John Prine is a lefty pinko 'folk' musician... Or is he a "singer song writer?"

DaveJ


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 03:28 PM

I a[pologize for any errors I've made concerning the O Brother CD; I've been particularly sensitive to the "I'll Fly Away" track because I've had over 50 requests for the Kossoy Sisters CD, and Rykodisk has pulled it off the market reportedly at the behest of the movie producers.

That's odd, Amazon.com and Rykodisc.com are selling the Kossoy Sisters CD for $11.98.

It's currently a featured CD at Rykodisc.com where they're specifically hyping the fact that "I'll Fly Away" is used in "O Brother, Where Art Thou".

Cdnow.com is selling it for $11.49.

I guess Camsco isn't always the best source for folk music.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 03:33 PM

Here's Rykodisc's page for The Kossoy Sisters CD,


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Mar 02 - 05:44 PM

Rykodisc, CDNow and Amazon are apparently as remiss as CAMSCO in failing to update their pages. I've attempted to purchase the CD from all of them, with no success.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 05:49 AM

The "Roots and shoots" comments remind me of the job interview, psych appraisal.
"If you were an animal, what animal would you like to be ?"
"A Panda"
"Oh, why would you choose a panda ?"
"Because it eats, roots, shoots and leaves"


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Declan
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 06:32 AM

It doesn't matter much what you call it, juist do it ! or should that be a /. A lot of this discussion is about music industry stuff, which most of the time has very little to contribute to the musical content.

Someone up there said people has a duty to 'entertain' - I don't agree, a lot of folk music is not 'entertaining' in a passive, you perform and I'll be entertained sort of way, some of it is meant to be educational, helps to remind people of their roots etc. It is not and should not always have to be about having happy clappy people smiling all the time.

I never understood this thong about singer songwriters - is it the fact that they sing or write songs that bothers people. Problem here is that singer/songwriters have become a genre (whatever that is) and have been dubbed uncool by some of those who seek to tell us 'rootsies' what we should and shouldn't like. I had a funny experience a couple of years ago when someone who had gone to see Hal Ketchum on my recommendation cane and thanked me for it. He said "I thought he was going to be a singer songwriter, but it turned out he was "Country Blues" and I really enjoyed it. So Hal Ketchum isn't a singer/songwriter ?

In the UK the Folk Roots magazine dropped the 'f' word a few years ago and becme fROOTS. Someone writing to the daily newspaper at Sidmouth pointed out that if that festival followed suit it would become the Sidmouth International festival of fArts !

As for OBWAT, I enjoyed it a lot and love the soundtrack. Unfortunately a lot of comedy is parody at some sort of a level. Anyone seen the St Patricks day jokes thread. I enjoyed a lot of them but had heard most before. But I wouldn't take offence at any of it.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 08:07 AM

Declan says "Someone up there said people have a duty to 'entertain' - I don't agree, a lot of folk music is not 'entertaining' in a passive, you perform and I'll be entertained sort of way, some of it is meant to be educational, helps to remind people of their roots etc. It is not and should not always have to be about having happy clappy people smiling all the time."
One of my favourite quotes is a dedication in a book of poetry by Danny Abse
"I hope this seriously entertains"
"Educational" can be boring or entertaining as can all forms of performance and all forms of art. Entertaining does not have to be happy clappy.It can be intellectually challenging AND entertaining.Yes you do have a duty to entertain if you work professionally in the arts, but what entertains some, bores others, or goes completely over their heads.Every artist has to find the audience that is entertainable by what they do. Those that don't find an audience are not entertaining anybody, except probably themselves.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Declan
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 09:49 AM

And what's wrong with entertaining yourself.

Where I come from folk music is not all (yet) professional and not viewed by most as being an 'art', most people who play in sessions for example do so for themselves and each other. If other people enjoy it (and a lot do) its a bonus. Some people may call this a selfish attitude, but it means that you don't have to compromise what you like doing for commercial purposes. This attitude is probably the main reason why I still have the 'day job'.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: harvey andrews
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 10:56 AM

"And what's wrong with entertaining yourself" Well it's a bit like masturbation, best not done in public.
I posted the previous to Declan but it came up as Guest, so I've got my cookie back now
The point I'm trying to get across Declan is that music is a pleasure, and like sex a pleasure best shared. You seem to be putting across the idea that giving pleasure at the highest level is in some way selling out.
This smacks of the attitude I've come across in my musical life that asks "you don't want to be successful do you?", as though being successful at what you enjoy is some kind of crime.
I know many people in many walks of life who have been successful and have not compromised what they do for commercial purposes, and that includes many of the great names in folk music. Martin Carthy(M.B.E.) has been a prime example.
I don't understand this attitude and never will.The more people who enjoy what I enjoy the better. I wish the radio was swamped by it, I wish it was the whole of the Top Ten, I wish it was on television every night! But I fear that would drive the anti-commercialists into sessions of whatever it had replaced.
Joy is what it's about. Joy to the world!!!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Declan
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 11:22 AM

Sorry if you've misunderstood what I'm saying, and I think you have.

I am delighted for the success of people like Martin Carthy and I wish that there were a lot more examples like him. I don't think there are too many. Even in the case of MC, I think many outside the immediate folk world would be asking Martin Who? (I don't mean any offence to the great man by that, I just think its true).

But there are a lot of people who have made enormous contributions to folk music who have never strayed much past their local pub, and these people are also successful, but not in the commercial terms that you are speaking of. Nothing wrong with that either.

What I am trying to say is that if a group of people want to play a particular style of music together, for their own amusement, there's no harm in that. Its how folk music started in the first place, and how its been continuing to happen, even after folk music was no longer all that fashionable after the 60s folk boom. If people want to take that and share it with the rest of the world that's fine too, but often somewhere in the middle of that the music biz takes over - and a lot gets lost in the translation.

Give me a little session in the corner of a pub over a big concert hall any day.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: DaveJ
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 12:00 PM

Similar to Dick Greenhaus, I have had no luck in ordering the Kossoy Sisters CD at Rykodisc. So I tried CD Universe. They are hyping it as if it were a new release due out on 2 Apr. 2003...so I pre-ordered it(;-I) at the following prices:

Quantity Title Config Price Total ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Bowling Green CD $8.39 $8.39 ------------------------------------------------------------ SUB-TOTAL: $8.39 SHIPPING: $2.99 ORDER TOTAL: $11.38

We'll see what happens.

Dave


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 12:07 PM

I think all live entertainers who are actually entertaining interact with their audience: even if it's not explicit, they will respond to the audience's behaviour. If you go to a concert of classical music, say, where you listen (and enjoy), it's not what we'd call entertainment; at least in its colloquial sense.

I'm going to stop now: maybe "what is entertainment?" is much like "what is folk?"!

Steve


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: harvey andrews
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 01:43 PM

yep, I think you're right. The word has been corrupted to mean something other than it should. "Occupy agreeably" is one of my dictionary's definitions, and I would suggest an audience at a classical concert, a folk concert or a session in a pub are all being agreeably occupied by music.


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Mar 02 - 02:06 PM

I think if you follow the analogy/pun about playing with yourself too far, performing in front of an audience would start sounding a bit dodgy too.

A lot of the time in folk music the distinction between the performer and the audience isn't that great. A group of friends playing music together in an informal setting can be both at the same time.A band playing music for dancing and a caller would look pretty silly without the people on the floor dancing.(That sometimes happens, and they can look pretty silly.)

Whatever word we use for - and entertainment is one which has been degraded - if you aren't grabbing someone's attention and making them want to hear more, something's badly wrong.

I love the story Steve Knightley (Show of Hands) tells of the time he rang up an insurance agent for cover, and he said he played music, and the man wants to know more, and he explains that he's what might be called a folk singer. And the insurance agent says "Oh that's fine. It's just that you'd have had to pay more for the policy if you'd been an entertainer."


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Declan
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 05:51 AM

I'll settle for that definition of entertainment.

I sometimes find myself in situations when playing in a pub where everyone around is talking loudly and not apparently listening. I think if we were to change what we were playing to some more popular type of material we'd get more attention, but that wouldn't be the type of music we'd want to play. You occasionally meet people who seem to think that you are a juke box. "You call yourself an entertainer and you wont play ...". Or "sing something we all know" - that song hasn't been written yet and the ones who ask you for that usually know less songs than most other people. I don't feel any particular obligation to entertain those people on their terms. In my case they haven't paid in to see me, if they had it might be a different story.

However even when people don't seem to be listening you are probably adding something, even if its only 'atmosphere' - I don't fully understand what that is, but people talk about it a lot. I remember at a party a long time back saying to somebody that I wasn't going to bother playing any more because no one seemed to be listening - he pointed out that when the music stopped the level of conversation died down, so it must have been adding something.

Quite frequently people say things like, I always enjoy you're session because it doesn't interfere with our conversation the same way that some of the other (amplified) singers who come here do. Sometimes I think this is a bit of a backhanded compliment, but I usually take it in the spirit in which its meant. But maybe they'd enjoy it more if they stopped talking and listened for a bit!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: harvey andrews
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 07:04 AM

Oh Declan..you're talking "jukebox". The level of converstaion dropped because they weren't talking over your noise. I had this last week at a special gig in a hotel for a fan who'd been asking me for years. Eventually I gave in but insisted it had to be in a separate room, with a sound system and theatre style seating. he persuaded 60 people to come along (this is a small seaside village in Wales) most of whom had never heard of me.From the moment I started I knew I had three audiences. Those who could concentrate and were on my wavelength, those who were trying hard and beginning to enjoy something different, and those who couldn't concentrate and were fidgity. At the interval a group came and bought cds and said they were enjoying what I was doing but not the seating arrangement. They wanted a cabaret style with tables etc. I suggested this was because they wanted to talk as I sang and they agreed that this is what they always did. For them music of any sort, yours or mine, will always be background and there's nothing we can do about it. They probably have the TV on all day without looking at it. Silence is their enemy, challenge their nightmare.I explained to them that every performer has to control their environment to give of their best and that theatre style seating was my way of control in the case of an audience not knowing what I did. The group stayed in the bar drinking and the rest came back to the room and had a great night.Then one more of the group bought a c.d at the end!There's nowt queerer than folk!!


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: GUEST,Fortunato
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 08:59 AM

As I'm home sick with the flu. I'll jump back in here.

Rick Fielding and Jerry Rasmussen have expressed above two points that bear some attention.

Rick has expressed a preference for "authenticity (which CAN be entertaining if done right!)". I have the same preference (we went to different schools together as children but listened to the same music).

Jerry gave the perfect example of the schism between Bluegrass and Folk, (and Blues) in my opinion. The preconceived notions of each camp block the crossover of fans.

Now the great Folk Performers routinely cross the 'lines' to perform Old Time, Blues, and Bluegrass, (ever listen to Doc Watson?). Some great Bluegrass performers, like the Country Gentlemen and the Stanley Brothers perform Folk music. And who could say much Blues is not Folk?

But the 'Bluegrass Fan' may shy away from Folk music and likewise the "Blues Fan' because they have a vision of Joan Baez singing "We Shall Overcome", or Pete Seeger singing anything.

So if I want to bring an audience with wider demographics to my show, video, CD, movie, what do I do? Do I take 'authenticity' as my touchstone, or do I take 'connections' as my touchstone?

In my opinion the answer is connections. I want to build bridges from where music fans in related genres are to where my music is. Does that mean that authenticity can be dismissed? Absolutely not. But I MAY sacrifice some things to build a bridge.

1) Two examples. When I first saw OBWAT I disliked the repetition of lines by the 'back up singers' in "Man of Constant Sorrow". I was used to the 'traditional' singing of the song. But upon reflection, if that 'Motown' arrangement bridged the gap to a wider audience, and, by so doing, brought new ears to music I love, well, damn, Phil, what's wrong with that?
2)Recently when arranging a Carter Family song I found that I had learned it with the Carter's 'Cut Time', that is they dropped measures. But in order to make it more readibly playable for my wife and others we reinserted the dropped measures. Authentic? No. Does it change the song? Yes. Something gained, something lost, but a bridge was built to perfomance today.

I would make a case, when aiming for a broader, underexposed audience, for Authenticity with careful, intentional modifications that respect the music but may bridge the gap for the audience.

Regards, Chance. (I'll stop here, I have to go blow my nose and spray my throat and whine for a while. (Just kidding Jerry!))


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Subject: RE: What's wrong with 'Folk Music'
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 01:12 PM

Fortunato,

Absolutely nothing wrong with your point, mentioned above. I agree about bridging the audience/performer gap. In my earlier post, primarily agreeing with Jerry, I neglected to define what I meant by "entertain." I didn't want to write something about the length of "War and Peace" to clarify my concept. My aplogies if that led to some confusion.


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