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Folk Music On PBS

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Don Firth 24 Dec 03 - 02:02 PM
GUEST 23 Dec 03 - 08:53 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 23 Dec 03 - 05:38 PM
Stilly River Sage 22 Dec 03 - 02:14 PM
Stilly River Sage 21 Dec 03 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Ray Bucknell 10 Mar 03 - 10:27 PM
Art Thieme 17 Dec 02 - 12:56 PM
DougR 17 Dec 02 - 01:12 AM
Art Thieme 17 Dec 02 - 12:19 AM
Big Mick 16 Dec 02 - 07:55 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 16 Dec 02 - 06:26 PM
katlaughing 16 Dec 02 - 05:59 PM
Art Thieme 16 Dec 02 - 05:20 PM
Art Thieme 13 Dec 02 - 10:12 PM
Art Thieme 12 Dec 02 - 10:19 PM
GUEST,Tinker 12 Dec 02 - 12:44 PM
Art Thieme 12 Dec 02 - 11:29 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 02 - 10:33 AM
catspaw49 11 Dec 02 - 09:44 PM
jimmyt 11 Dec 02 - 08:17 PM
Don Firth 11 Dec 02 - 06:26 PM
Don Firth 11 Dec 02 - 06:16 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 02 - 06:14 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 04:36 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 02 - 04:18 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 04:12 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 02 - 04:04 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 03:50 PM
denise:^) 11 Dec 02 - 03:36 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 03:18 PM
jimmyt 11 Dec 02 - 02:56 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 02:48 PM
Don Firth 11 Dec 02 - 02:25 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 02:10 PM
GUEST 11 Dec 02 - 02:05 PM
denise:^) 11 Dec 02 - 02:01 PM
Ron Olesko 11 Dec 02 - 01:39 PM
denise:^) 11 Dec 02 - 01:33 PM
X 11 Dec 02 - 11:37 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 02 - 10:45 AM
X 11 Dec 02 - 02:37 AM
GUEST,Guest 10 Dec 02 - 10:42 PM
Ron Olesko 10 Dec 02 - 05:23 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 02 - 05:00 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 02 - 12:01 PM
jimmyt 10 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM
Ron Olesko 10 Dec 02 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Guest 10 Dec 02 - 01:07 AM
GUEST,Logion 10 Dec 02 - 12:44 AM
Stilly River Sage 06 Dec 02 - 11:57 PM
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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Dec 03 - 02:02 PM

Beaver Cleaver? Sounds a bit cynical, there, GUEST.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 08:53 PM

Let me see, now.......I want to produce a show that will make bucks for PBS. So, I want to target an audience that has money. The people who were listening to '60's music are in their 60' (for the most part) now. They've gone out and made their money and are comfortably retiring and have enough time to watch a little television. So........Wait! I got it! I'll do a special featuring the people who had some commercial success selling records to this same audience! It will bring back great memories for the geezer crowd and will pry open their wallets at the same time. I won't let them sing any new stuff. They will just sing their tried and true oldies.   Damn, I'm cleaver!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 23 Dec 03 - 05:38 PM

Apparently they DID do a second show:

This Land is Your Land - The Folk Rock Years


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 22 Dec 03 - 02:14 PM

So my typing skills stink. That was KERA-FM, though the link was correct.

The holiday "Blockbuster" program was only available live, there isn't a recorded version of it (his weekday programs are available on demand, which is why I'm sending this note). He did record a two-hour holiday music program last week that was going out over PRI (Public Radio International) for those who want to look for it.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 21 Dec 03 - 04:35 PM

I'm reviving this thread because it is more or less on the subject I want to post. The Glen Mitchell Christmas Blockbuster (DERA-FM, Dallas, Texas) is on all day today until Midnight (Central Time) and can be listened to via the internet.

He plays a huge variety of stuff, folk, classical, blues, rock, country, lots of trivia, interviews, stories. He already played one of my favorites, the John Henry Faulk story that was first broadcast years ago on Morning Edition.

http://www.kera.org/radio/holidays2003/

SRS


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Ray Bucknell
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 10:27 PM

Well, now it's time for the next quarterly Pledge Drive, so PBS has been airing This Land Is Your Land again (at least in the New York/Long Island area). I saw the show the first time around but hadn't seen this thread before. I've now read through the entire thread and must say that the program was generally disappointing to me as well, though perhaps not for all the same reasons that some of the other participants have mentioned.   I was a small child during the "folk scare" and the more commercial acts of the time were my introduction to the genre.   My biggest complaint about the program was not the song selection - although I agree wholeheartedly that the producer hadn't got a clue as to what might remotely qualify as "folk" music. I expected to hear those hackneyed songs because those were the songs that the groups appearing on the show had been best known for singing. My problem was the overall lack of quality in the performances. I did enjoy the Smothers, Limeliters and Judy Collins. Some of the rest of them were actually painful to watch.

    Tinker, you asked why they didn't have the Chad Mitchell Trio, a group whose members are indeed still alive and who McGuinn played behind for a couple of years, on the show.   Rumor has it that the CMT were indeed supposed to be involved in the program, but balked when little Mr. Twentysomething Producer insisted that they sing only their three "best selling hits" (which would include the John Birch Society, a song the Trio doesn't sing anymore because it's too dated).   The fact that they did not appear on the show leads me to believe that the artists were not given any creative control whatsoever and refusal to comply with the producer resulted in banishment. It's a shame the CMT weren't there; at least they would have given a credible performance of what many of you call "folk lite." I still cringe when I recall that guy whistling off-key during Michael Row the Boat Ashore.

    Another problem I had has also been mentioned in passing; many of those appearing on stage were never introduced or acknowledged. I would have liked to know who they were, seeing as I managed to sit through the entire program.   The worst had to be when the producer is sitting there touting the $250 box of CDs and all the "great folk music" in it, when anyone can see it's mostly rock material and, what's worse, Tom and Dick Smothers are sitting right there going along with all the BS!!! (Oops, I forgot. They'd have been banished too had they dared to disagree. Almost like what happened to them at CBS about 30 years ago. Guess they learned their lesson!).

    I doubt PBS made enough in pledges from this show to warrant producing the second one they were talking about, but if they should try another it might be wise to book artists who can still give a decent performance and allow them to chose material they are comfortable performing.   Perhaps a little artistic freedom would get them a better crop of artists.   And I bet Tom Paxton would do the show if the Chad Mitchell Trio were there. Nobody covered his songs better than they did!

                                        Ray


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 12:56 PM

Doug, while you thought these folks were good years ago, back in the sixties I thought these people were terribly bad ! To me, it seemed they were decent entertainers who were all taking the tradition and not extending it but were milking it for all the dollars they could get while bastardizing it and glitzing it up with a star system that smacked of capitalistic how biz in it's most blatant and negative forms. On this program, here and now, they had their musical chops very well pacticed from all of those years of concert touring. The musical riffs had been standardized and turned into cliches we had heard over and over through the years. Add the actual scores of years to the mix, and you can easily account for the nostalgia I dredged up. "Tambourine Man" is a great song. Put McGuinn's clanging and distorted Rickenbacher 12-string intro in front of it and you have all that was terrible with the 1960s folk rock of the era. The same sound, enhanced a bit by the passing of the years of my life, had become nostalgic to me now.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: DougR
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 01:12 AM

I saw the show on TV last night in Dallas. Just my opinion, but I thought it was pretty bad. Most of those folks who I thought were pretty great in the 60's are well past their prime. I can understand for nostalgia's sake why some found it interesting and fun though.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 12:19 AM

People,

I was trying to say that, now that I've seen the show, I see both sides of my own polemic. Roger McGuinn learned from Frank Hamilton at the Old Town School of Folk Music and was in the trio with John Carbo & Louie McDonald at the Sunday Gate Of Horn hoots when I first heard him. I felt all that nostalgia while watching the show probably because I was there then. Kat, McGuire added appropriate updated messages to his old song kind of, and I thought that interesting.

I think you know that, even though the program provoked a pleasant nostalgic response from me, I'll not ever mistake it for real folk music. Those mesmerizing times still were seminal for me. So was seeing neon lights reflected on the night wet streets of Chicago after a Kerouac poetry reading or an Odetta concert or a Frank Hamilton set at Navy Pier or even a joint lecture by James T. Farrell and Nelson Algren; --- then going home hand in hand with someone just met two or three drinks before. The sounds on this program brought back Norm Pellegrini and Ray Nordstrand's old Midnight Special radio shows on WFMT when this folk "pap" (as I called it) was regularly mixed with actual ballads and lore. And it did surprise me that the old pap stuff could seem some better for having become old. Might just be an anomaly in the space-time continuum. As such is was the soundtrack of my youth. When both sides of this coin/paradox showed valuable aspects---it simply surprised the hell out of me. Could be I'm more open to the diversity of our music than I had thought ----- or wanted to admit.

Love,

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Big Mick
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 07:55 PM

Art is one class act.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 06:26 PM

Art,

In a way, everyone associated with performing folk music is in show business in one way or another. As soon as you start playing for the public professionally, you are in show business.

Show business is a tricky and fickle thing because it is about catering to a marketable taste. Pete Seeger is one of the greatest show business personalities that ever hit the stage but he would probably abhor my saying so. I admire him for this gift. His ability to communicate is phenomenal regardless of whether he was accepted by the media or not.

The point is, it's a matter of taste. Some like Elvis or Pete or both. But there is such a thing as a cultivated taste. Many other factors come in to play such as one's upbringing and values.

But the bottom line is that everyone is entitled to their opinion as to what they think is good or bad and it's OK not to like something for personal reasons. My view is that there's something pretty good in everything that surfaces professionally whether I like it or not.
But I'm also entitled not to like it for X reasons. Art, you don't have to apologize to anyone.

I don't care that much for Jimi Hendrix but I would have to be a fool to say that he wasn't incredibly great at what he did. But I can say also in the same breath that I found his music somewhat monotonous. But that's me. I find a Woody Guthrie song fascinating and there are those who would be bored to tears with it.

So, Art, you get to be as opinionated as anyone else on Mudcat without having to apologize. Keep it coming.

BTW it should be mentioned that Tom Dooley was popularized by the member of the Folksay Trio, Bob Carey, with Roger Sprung and Erik Darling. Bob was the one that came up with the little hiccup in "hang down your head Tom (hiccup) Dooley which was the hook that propelled the KT's version to fame and fortune. I think that hiccup sold more records than Frank Profitt could've imagined it doing.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 05:59 PM

We watched a little bit of it. A lot of what they were calling folk, I would consider more pop(ular). I have to say I couldn't stand the rendition of Eve of Destruction..it seemed to take away all of the power and oomph of the song as I remember it. I also have a hard time considering, was it the Byrds, who were included as folk singers? I still love their music, though.**bg** The best bit, IMO, was the end with Tommy and Dick Smothers doing their madrigal music routine. I still have that tune in my head. And, Judy Collins singing Amazing Grace wow, what a voice, still!


Art, this whole crew is an opinionated lot, if we weren't it'd be very boring around here!

kat


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 05:20 PM

PLEASE disregard EVERYTHING I have posted to this thread up to this post. I was dumb, opinionated, off the mark and any other denigrading term you might care to choose to describe me and my silly, unwaranted opinions.

I WAS WRONG !!!!!


I just now, finally, watched a video of the show. It was just fine. It was great to see that all those musicians and singers have survived and are still playing the music. The picking was just great. McGuinn and McGuire (or however you spell it) sounded as good as ever. I loved the updated words for "EVE OF DESTRUCTION". The harmonies of the Limelighters never sounded better to my ears---much better than I had remembered. It was just a kick and a half to see Glenn back with Alex Hasselev. And hearing them do Bob Gibson's "I Come For To Sing" reminded me how very many songs Gibson gave to the revival of the 50s and the 60s. His arrangements and his songs run all through the records of not only the Limelighters, but the Chad Mitchell Trio, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, the Kingston Trio, the New Wine Singers, and so many more.

Yeah, some of this was mediocre. The editing could've been done a lot better----and I do wish they had broadcast the entire show instead of destoying the group's sets. So many of the "sidemen and sidewomen" on the show should've been noted and given credit for their role in things way back in those times that were. Many were legendary in their own right. Jim McGuinn noted the presence of Mike Settle in his band. Mike Settle was a good songwriter, musician and singer who wrote good song called "Settle Down" back then. At least his name was mentioned.........I remember watching him for a few nights at a strange coffeehouse on Rush Street in Chicago called THE FICKLE PICKLE. It was at that club that I first realized the music world was changing forever when a dynamite waitress walked past me and announced loudly for all to hear, "BOY, WOULD I LIKE TO BALL A BEATLE !!"

Alas, Middle Earth was no more. Bilbo was in the Grey Havens. And Jim Kirk was dead.

I'M SORRY for being such an opinionated a-hole. As I said, "I was wrong." It was simply fun to wallow in the nostalgia that was this little program.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 10:12 PM

But I'm right.

Art ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 10:19 PM

Aye, Brian, I bow to your fine logic. And it's great to hear from you----even if we are doing some blatant thread creeping. Glad to know you're lurking out there and got to see me blowing my cool in public here---like I do every so often.
Someone who was through here not long ago was on their way to do a show at your place. Either that or they had just done one. So much for my memory. -------- I do know you're right on this pretty much. But still, if I didn't live up to being the curmudgeon you all expect me to be, well, I'd not be able to live with myself.

Love to Ms Molly, and to all.

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Tinker
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 12:44 PM

Hey, Art, it's the Tinker from Molly's Place, where you played many a year ago (as well as with us at WFMT). Yes, pap is still pap, but until we all agree on a definition for pap, we're back to matters of taste. Every performer has people who hate their music; they're just not as vocal as the ones who like it.

It's like when my brother used to brag about the people who came up to him after Mass and complimented his sermon. I told him there were just as many people in the parking lot, grumbling about it.

But gang, if PBS was going to disinter the Highwaymen, who are so out of the picture that another group successfully stole their name (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, et al.), couldn't they have re-assembled an extremely popular group from the Scare days whose member are all still alive? The Chad Mitchell Trio, I mean, whose original guitarist was none other than Roger (Jim) McGuinn.

And how can Glenn Yarborough "reunite" with people he never performed with? And why do the Limeliters consistently avoid mentioning Ernie Sheldon, the guy who really did replace Yarborough? One wonders.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 11:29 AM

Pap be pap whatever anybody says. 'Twas pap then and is still that now. Ten million people might do and like dumb stuff, but that does not make it better than it is/was. Does it pass the pap test? That is the question.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 02 - 10:33 AM

So who caught the Bravo special on the political controversies surrounding the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour? I thought that was a pretty good show, and it was very interesting to hear the perspectives of Tom & Dick themselves.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 09:44 PM

I am enjoying the comments here from all as usual. The thread is a whole lot better than the show of course.

I had decided to take a pass on the show as I knew what it would be from reading about the lineup. So Sunday night I'm at Connie's and her boys were really excited that it would be on when Uncle Pat was there because they knew I wanted to see it...........oy........so I sat through it and discussed with them the differences in folk/trad and the sanitized folk we were watching. And fortunately also in my van was my set of Frank Proffitt tapes so during dinner we played those.......Made for an interesting evening and perhaps they learned a bit.

BTW, I did enjoy Tommy and Dick but I always did.....they alays had a cute act for the most part.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 08:17 PM

Don, I stand corrected. I am relatively a newcomer to folk music, and I learn a lot by reading from folke like you , Ron Olesco, Jerry Rasmussen, Rick Fielding, etc. as well as catching hell from others like guest. I appreciate your information as well as correction. It is nice to learn from folks who have "been there" from the beginning...I guess that is oral tradition, huh?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 06:26 PM

GUEST, excellent website! I discovered this a couple of months ago. Good stuff. Here's a LINK.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 06:16 PM

Jimmyt, coffeehouses were probably the most stable venues for folk music in the late Fifties and early Sixties, but I don't agree that the pop-folk groups had all that much to do with coffeehouses or many other venues. I had heard of coffeehouses in the Bay Area in the early Fifties. Rolf Cahn started a place called "The Blind Lemon" in Berkeley early on, where he sang, along with Barbara Dane, Jo Mapes, and others. There was "The Place," "The Brighton Express," and a couple of other places in San Francisco. This was well before the Kingston Trio got started. And there were places in Boston and Greenwich Village which had been operating long before that. People like Ed McCurdy, whom I first heard of in 1954, were singing in various clubs and coffeehouses around New York. The places were already there, a small number of very good singers were already there, and the audiences were already there. It was different from the usual fare, and audiences were really hungry for this sort of thing.

In Seattle, the first coffeehouse was the "Café Encore," opened by a guy from New York who had come to Seattle to open an antique store, but when he found there were no coffeehouses here, he started one. Several singers, including me, who's interest had been initiated by Burl Ives, Susan Reed, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and the Weavers; (all pre-Kingston Trio), dropped in and sang there. The Café Encore was so successful that Bob Clark, who owned the Guild 45th Theater (specializing in foreign films), wanted a piece of the action and opened the second coffeehouse in Seattle: "The Place Next Door." That was probably the biggest and nicest coffeehouse in town. On weekends, people lined up around the block to get in.

Pop-folk groups had little or nothing to do with this. The coffeehouse / folk singer connection had been established for at least a decade by the time the Kingston Trio had its first big hit in 1958. What they did was hop on their surfboards and ride a wave that was already cresting. With Tom Dooley as a hit song, suddenly folk music was big money. Hit Parade. Radio. Juke boxes. Television. ABC Hootenanny. New coffeehouses everywhere. New folk trios 'til hell won't have it, all learning from each other's records or writing their own "folk songs." Like most popular fads, it flared like a meteor and faded out. The afterglow still exists (witness this thread). But the main stream of folk music was there long before, perturbed a bit in the Sixties by something akin to Greshams Law. But that main stream, if it's healthy, which I think it is, will keep right on going.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 06:14 PM

I just remembered this--Maryl Neff's great 1996 study of American folk music. This page of her great site treats the very subject of the 'This Land' program:

http://www.coe.ufl.edu/courses/EdTech/Vault/Folk/revival.htm

You Tom Dooley fans should definitely give this one a read!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 04:36 PM

I would bet that they did the market research and the "This Land" special came out as the better choice FOR PLEDGES. I'm not saying they are right, but they could very well be.

Also, if my fading memory serves me right, American Roots has been making the rounds of PBS for over a year now and "This Land" is new. Repeat broadcasts are not going to pull as high of a number as a new show.

If you or I had our choice we probably would go with American Roots, but that doesn't mean we are in the majority.

Look at the bright side, at least your PBS station knows enough to put on a quality program like American Roots. I would be glad that it is on without all the pitches - you get to watch it uninterrupted.

Someone mentioned bait and switch earlier. That is a tough call because PBS is "event" driven as opposed to "series". Sure there are series like Nova that are the meat and potatoes for PBS, but they DO fund-raising.   The specials are events they put on to tweak viewers - having viewers tune in that might not do so. They aren't shutting out the regulars, merely trying to widen their audience.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 04:18 PM

I agree with what you are saying Ron, that we weren't the target audience. I'm saying that for my particular PBS affiliate (TPT), they will start running American Roots this Saturday--the day after the pledge drive ends. So since TPT obviously could afforded to have run it locally (instead of just taking the PBS feeds), and considering that there is a strong and vibrant folk music community here in Minnesota, wouldn't they have been better served using the 'American Roots' special instead of this schlocky piece?

They make their own deals, of course, but what I'm wondering is if anyone has even bothered to do the market research of which program was more likely to pull in viewers who pledge.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 04:12 PM

We may not like the quality of the program, but obviously there are people who liked it enough to pledge.   It may not have inspired any Mudcatters to donate, but obviously we aren't the audience they were aiming for.

Yes, it could be a question of which program was more affordable to run. Remember that most of these productions are made by independent producers who sell the programs to PBS.   Each makes their own deals.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 04:04 PM

Well, come on now. Some here have said they enjoyed a song here or a song there on this program. But pretty much every poster who saw it said the program was pretty appallingly bad, and that it seemed at the very least, exploitative of some of the former (to some people) "greats" like the KT. This sort of PBS nostalgia programming is not what will make anyone I know pledge money, if this is what it is supposed to be about. QUALITY PROGRAMMING is supposed to make us want to donate. If they give us this sort of schlock for programming week, well...

So here is my question. My local affiliate showed 'This Land is Your Land' three or four times during pledge week. Now, maybe huge numbers of PBS viewers pledged money during the program, but does anyone suppose they might have gotten more pledges had they shown the 4 part "American Roots Music" series instead. It can't be a question of which program was more affordable to run I don't think, because my local affiliate will start rerunning "Aemrican Roots Music' this Saturday, for the next four Saturday nights.

Interesting question, which "folk" music program would actually draw more in the way of pledges and viewers.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 03:50 PM

You are right Denise, there are always those who know it better. Considering that Francis Child collected dozens of versions of many of these songs, it amazes me that there are still people who can only hear ONE version. This is a living tradition, accept what you like!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: denise:^)
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 03:36 PM

I agree, Ron--I don't think it's negative that we have the opportunity to support the kind of programming WE prefer on the public television and radio stations--I'm glad that there's *someone* out there, willing to listen to us and try to give us what we want! Or, at least, something better than the norm... (but I really can't take Wayne Dyer...;^) I agree, too, that the 'specials' should maybe be a little more spread out, so that they don't ALWAYS mean "Pledge Drive Time is Here Again."

As far as being told you're singing a folk song the "wrong" way--I wasn't even BORN in 1960, but I've been told that plenty-o-times!
No matter where you are, no matter what you're doing, there's going to be someone who knows "better than you" how it should be done! I've had that at school (I'm a teacher), at church, and, yes, at our local folk club--whether I'm singing or organizing an event, there's always someone who knows "better" words, or "the original" version,or saw it done a much better way at___________. The Kingston Trio didn't invent that--I think it's called "human nature..."

denise:^)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 03:18 PM

Well put Jimmyt.   There seems to be a lot of "folkier than thou" threads going on here lately.   

The bumpersticker you saw celebrates more than just sexual preference and gender - it also celebrates race, religion and thought. Music should be the same. Folk music has always celebrated diversity.

You don't have to like everything and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but let others enjoy what they choose.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:56 PM

Excellent points you make, Don, however, a larger problem would have been if there had been no venues for your folk music in the 60's which is a strong possibility without the influence of the Popfolk groups helping create a larger albiet watered down folk audience. Don't you agree? I guess the whole point I am trying to make is that we should be sharing the good points of all the folk influences , not nitpicking on whether Peter, Paul and Mary were better musicians than Tom Paxton. I saw a bumpersticker recently that said Celebrate Diversity, attatched to the slogan was a rainbow, so I guess the point being about gays and non-gays sharing the same planet and finding common ground. It seems to be appropriate to the context of this thread also.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:48 PM

Don - Contrary to the popular rumor, the Kingston Trio did NOT learn Tom Dooley from Frank Proffit. Their version was picked up (almost verbatim) from a recording made by Roger Sprung and Erik Darling in the early 50's. My understanding is that Sprung and Darling picked it up from the Warner collection, and they picked it up from Proffitt.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:25 PM

On the PBS pledge break issue, it strikes me as a bit less that honest that instead of playing regular programming (what they normally offer), they put on a lot of specials (not what they normally offer) during pledge weeks. And recently, they've been putting on a bunch of shows made especially for pledge breaks. I normally watch Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery and Nova and Frontline and Bill Moyers' Now and various music programs and I follow a couple of Britcoms. Then along comes a pledge break, disrupting my usual viewing schedule, and offering me such things as Wayne Dyer telling me how to be successful, or Caroline Myss giving me warmed-over Christian Science, or various weird permutations on the initially good Three Tenors. Isn't that what they call "bait-and-switch?"

[Rant On] Purist schmurist!!!   If you slap a label (e.g., "purist") on someone, it makes it a lot easier to put that person's viewpoint down. But that doesn't mean that person's viewpoint is any less valid. A "purist" is someone who wants the real thing, not some watered-down knock-off. [Rant Off]

I enjoyed parts of the "folk" show—in the same way I might enjoy a near-beer if the real stuff isn't available.

But picture this:—

1960. Coffeehouse called "The Place Next Door." Next door to the Guild 45th Theater (classed as an "art" movie house) and owned by the same guy who owns the theater. Capacity maybe a hundred and fifty people. Nice. Clean. Tables with red checked tablecloths, candle on each table, big espresso machine with eagle on the top in the kitchen, a couple dozen different types of coffees and teas, large selection of quality pastries, light snacks (sandwiches, cheese boards) available. No cover charge, but you'll pay whole 85¢ for a cappuccino (it's 1960, remember). At the time, it's one of the few places in Seattle where you can hear folk music. It draws lots of students from the nearby university, and it also draws the after-show crowd. Along with the jeans and sweatshirts, later in the evening one sees an occasional tux or evening gown. Open mike on Sunday evenings. I sing there on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Good gig, good venue. The audience is attentive and it pays fairly well.

A customer requests The Wreck of the Sloop John B. I learned the song from my prized copy of The American Songbag compiled by Carl Sandburg (Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1927) about five years before, so I sing it. After my set, the customer complains that I didn't sung the song right. "What do you mean?" I asked. "You didn't sing it the way the Kingston Trio does it!" he gripes.

This sort of thing happened all the time, and not just to me.

One of the problems with the Great Folk Scare is that although it indeed did increase the fan-base for singers of folk songs and it did inspire many people to join in, the power of the media (mostly records) tended to lock the songs and their manner of performance into a rigid form. I learned Tom Dooley from a Frank Warner record before the Kingston Trio even met and got groused at because I didn't sing the "I stabbed her with my Boy Scout knife" line that the Kingston Trio did. And Judy Flenniken sang a version of the Great Selchie of Sule Skerry that was not the same as the one that Joan Baez recorded, and people used to bitch at her about it, so she eventually dropped the excellent version she sang and learned the Baez version.

Not only was this a royal pain in the ass to the singers who learned their songs from sources other that the pop-folk records flooding that market, but for obvious reasons it stifled the normal folk process. If you were singing for audiences at all, once a song had been recorded by a pop-folk group, you'd better sing it the way they sang it, or people would give you a lot of grief.

That was one of the down-sides of the Great Folk Scare.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:10 PM

Denise, you are 100% correct - we are buying our programs! I don't look at that as a negative however.   Yes, it replaces what the advertister do on TV, but that is the only way the programming can get on the air.

Nothing is free. On cable and DBS you pay a fee, on network TV you watch the sponsors ads and end up buying the product, and on public TV you pledge.

The only free entertainment is what we make ourselves - maybe we do need more of that!

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:05 PM

Here in Minnesota, many of us feel like we can't get rid of Prairie Home Companion, no matter how hard we try.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: denise:^)
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:01 PM

Basically, what it amounts to, is that we're "buying" our programming on the public stations--doing what the advertisers do on network tv.

I realize that sending in a check won't guarantee that WDET (radio) will bring back Prairie Home Companion, but it's a good way to get a vote in--and WDET is still my head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest choice when it comes to radio programming.
Public television lags a bit behind in that respect--there are cable channels I enjoy watching--but it still, as a rule, beats out network programming! (Although I could use a lot less of those 'organic food' gurus, and self-help swamis, of which there seem to be an abundance between 9-11pm!)

denise:^)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 01:39 PM

Denise - you make a great point about PBS and local radio listening to pledges.   I know WLIW increased their Irish programming a few years ago after they (and WNET) did so well with Riverdance during a fund-raiser.

My radio station also reacts to listener pledges - it really is a way of voting. Why present a program that no one will support when another program will have more people that will support it? It doesn't mean going commercial but rather finding another niche market. There are so many groups and types of programs that need outlets, and while the choices have exploded, there are still limits as to finding homes for these shows.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: denise:^)
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 01:33 PM

I only saw a little bit of it--I was out giving dulcimer lessons!--but I think Tommy Smothers said it best: "Where else on TV are you going to hear anything like this?"

Sad, but true--whether it's the folk you like, or the folk you don't, it's about all you're going to see on television! You can support it or not--I, personally, find it annoying that they only try to show "really good" stuff (no matter what your opinion, it's THEIR "Sunday best") when they are asking for money...but I'd rather watch this than ANY sitcom I've seen in the last 10 years, or any "real" cop show, or--well, you get the idea.

If you're complaining here, or coming up with brilliant ideas for future shows, I hope you're writing to your local stations... I know that our local public *radio* station, where I often answer phones during the pledge drive, takes *listener* suggestions seriously--espeically when they come with a donation! (Special form, and everything...)

denise:^)
...who always hates it when folks try to figure out "the way people are" by race, ethnicity, gender, etc.--and who has a last name that usually fools those types into thinking she's 'something' that she's not...and lets them make a fool of themselves for awhile before she clues them in...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: X
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 11:37 AM

I didn't fall asleep during the Dixie Chicks special.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 10:45 AM

Hey there other guest. I think it might be a bit too judgmental to think that only purists might not like KT. I'm not remotely close to the purist end of the spectrum, and I just plain have never liked that sort of music. Not when it was new, and not now that it is nostalgia music.

And I wish the local PBS station would stop frightening the children by playing this special OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

At least last night I had my girls the Dixie Chicks as an alternative!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: X
Date: 11 Dec 02 - 02:37 AM

I fell asleep ZZZzzzz.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 10:42 PM

I read with great interest the posts on this thread.

I am a huge fan of "commercial folk music" as it is referred to in this site, especially the Kingston Trio. I'm only 31 years old. I''ve seen the current group live about 4 times and they put on a decent show.

Now, I'm very familliar with the "us. vs. them" mentality that purists do seem to possess but if you must know, even die-hard KT fans aren't THAT thrilled the show. What was representative of the KT that night was good but not as good as they could be. The three men that make up the Kingston Trio now(and yes, Bob Shane is one of them) are talented people. This show only showed a fraction of their talent.

Now, before some of you purists freak out, I also have other artists that are less commercial in my collection.

As much as the boomers preached love and tolerance for their fellow man, why doesn't it extend to the "commercial folk" sector? If it doesn't than those words are hollow.

One of the coolest things about music whether it be classical, folk, country, bluegrass or Gospel is that it feeds the soul. Celebrate that moment instead of tearing down those that you disagree with.

For the people that suggest writing to PBS to focus on "real folk", I say,"great idea"! If you see something you don't like, change it..and FWIW, I would watch a show with lesser knowns..if only, they could ressurect Sister Rossetta Tharpe...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 05:23 PM

Guest,

There is no need to apologize. I enjoyed SOME of it, and yes I sat through the whole thing. My faults were for what it proclaimed to be - encompassing the best of the folk revival. It was also done on a shoestring budget and could have been so much better.

Your other commments about PBS are well founded. The PBS that I grew up with and found inspiration in has all but vanished. The middle of the road philosophy with PBS effects the type of programs they fund.

Where are the protest singers? They are out there, but are people willing to listen?

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 05:00 PM


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 12:01 PM

Well I enjoyed it and make no apologies.It was better than anything else on tv that night. I enjoyed it for what it was-nostalgic music from my youth.Just listened and watched as I wrote out Christmas cards . Where else but on PBS do you get any shows about music that doesn't include J Lo et al? The "Vision Shared" and "O Brother Where Art Thou" specials never aired on anything but PBS. Maybe if we did support it they would be able to bring better programs. What scares me is that there is a movement afoot around here to stop all funding for public tv and radio.(Master Bush and his ilk dislikes dissenting views,you know). God he scares me. And where are all the damn protest singers anyway?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM

Ron and Guest. I think you summed up the crux of the matter, and I wish I could have put it into words that well. Yes, the show itself was a disappointing show, and it is painfully obvious that the producer had little regard personally for this music, but was wanting to churn out another Do-wop type special.   The other issue is that love them or hate them, these early 60s "commercial " groups had a profound influence on many other folk musicians in hte US as well as helped move the audience in to an appreciation for this whole area of music. I may personally not care for Robert Schumann, but to say it is bad music or even more to deny that Schumann had a big influence on hiss musical art form is pure ignorance. Thank you for the posts.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 09:57 AM

Guest -

You make a valid point, in my estimation.   As I have said here on Mudcat and on my radio program (where I've played many of the groups you mentioned), this is an important link in folk music. Yes it was commercial, yes some of the music was watered down, some of it was cheesy, but there were some gems thrown in there. The Kingston Trio learned "Tom Dooley" from a recording made by Erik Darling, who learned it from the Warner collection, who learned it from Frank Proffitt, who learned it from - the source. Many people will say that the folk process can only be learned in an oral tradition, that once a song is recorded or written down it ceases to be a folk song. I don't buy that, I feel that folk music is communicated in a form that is fitting for the time - in the late 50's and early 60's the artists that you mentioned helped to perpetuate the traditions. It is a living tradition, and while there are elements that I don't personally enjoy, it is something to be respected.

I would guess that 90% of the Mudcatters (at least those in the U.S.) owe a part of their interest in folk music to those groups. There are many songs that they have sung that I enjoy listening to (and playing on the radio) and I also think that they may have created an interest that drives people to further explore the music. Even if they don't choose to explore, they are hearing something that was and is a bit more interesting and thought provoking than the usual pop mix.

On another level, folk musicians also inspired people to MAKE music instead of just listening. (The inspiration came from ALL of the groups mentioned as well as the Woody Guthries, Dylans, Seegers, Weavers, and many others) Unfortunately there aren't as many people making music today, but the numbers were far greater during their heyday. Music is meant to be participatory, not simply observed.

That said, I still feel the PBS special was a cheap and misleading program. I fault the producers for giving a slanted view of what folk music was and labeling the groups that they presented as the pinnacle of the folk revival. No one program can do that in such a short setting.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 01:07 AM

So---who was out there selling millions of records that were scooped up by the nations high-school and college intellegensia in such "record" numbers that it created a phenonmenon? The Weavers? Terry Gilikson & The Easy Riders? ---Phil Ochs? Ian Tyson? Bobby Dylan? Bob Gibson?

For millions of the boomers, The Kingston Trio, and it's long entourage that followed--The Limelighters, Journeymen, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Modern Folk Quartet, Cumberland Three, Travelers Three, Brothers Four, paved the road, and built the stage a bit higher. David Guard was a innovative banjo-player, arranger and music-researcher. Get beyond the pop-fluff that sold the albums, and listen to lesser-known tracks--really listen. Were they all pristine, venerable folk-music chestnuts? Well, some were. Many weren't. The tuned in and turned on a generation of acoustic musicians with something to say, and by gawd they said it. Bob Shane remains one of the classiest vocalists around, and never deluded himself with visions of being a folk-artiste. How many of the other great folk musicians would have labored in dingy little Village bistros, unknown to but a handful of loyal admirers were it not for the "great folk scare"? Guess who made a major contribution by their music so that was literally the road not taken?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Logion
Date: 10 Dec 02 - 12:44 AM

Just for the record, Bob Shane ALWAYS tours with the Kingston Trio, and up until just a couple of years ago, so did Nick Reynolds (so 2/3s of the originals were active, playing, etc.). Anyone who followed the Trio even casually knew that Bob's voice was the foundational vocal sound anyway. If you go to a Trio website, you'll see they're quite engaged all over the place, and pursue a substantially active year-'round touring schedule, even an Alaskan Cruise in 2001 with the Limeliters. Bob owns the Trio name, and makes it his business to see that the songlists and show reflect the Trio spirit (folk-scare naysayers be damned).

Meanwhile, read any bios (like Dylan's) and countless others and you'll see groups like the Kingston Trio influenced as well as opened the proverbial floodgates to popular accessibility to "folk music," both serious, and ethnic, as well as the Top-40's stuff. While they weren't everyone's cup of tea, they practically single-handedly pulled C.F.Martin and Co. from sinking beneath the radar, not to mention Vega (of Boston) long-necks, an interest in banjo playing ranging from Bluegrass to frailing. I have seen many shows over the years, including ones in the 90's, and the Trio members were far from drunk, disinterested and looking to drug the audience on an opiate of nostalgia. Try being the Kingston Trio and Omitting "Tom Dooley" some time. Like asking Sinatra not to sing "My Way" or somesuch.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 06 Dec 02 - 11:57 PM

Occasional ardent christians called in and promoted religion instead of strictly discussing the song--I can find it an incredibly moving song even without practicing christianity myself. As they discussed "wretch" some interpreted it as a sort of shorthand for "original sin," while others commented that it could refer to the pettyness that can be in all of us if we don't pay attention to how we treat others. I personally thought the latter explanation fit better.

I think I have heard this Moyers special you speak of. On another thread fairly recently (favorite singers, or something like that) I posted a remark about Jesse Norman singing "Amazing Grace" as one of my all-time favorites. I know I heard it on one of the Kennedy Center Honors programs, but I'm pretty sure I also heard at least part of the Moyers special.

I was prepared to dislike the various versions if they weren't my particular favorite (since they didn't play the Norman version--which had tears streaming down Bill Clinton's face when he listened to Norman sing it at Kennedy Center), but in fact, I thought they were all very nice. Different, but nice. The last one you didn't like I found to be a pleasant surprise. They had very good voices, and interesting harmony.

SRS


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