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Who Defines 'Folk'????

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catspaw49 28 Mar 03 - 02:46 PM
MMario 28 Mar 03 - 02:51 PM
catspaw49 28 Mar 03 - 02:58 PM
alanabit 28 Mar 03 - 03:28 PM
Ed. 28 Mar 03 - 03:36 PM
Frankham 28 Mar 03 - 03:37 PM
Ed. 28 Mar 03 - 03:38 PM
Wesley S 28 Mar 03 - 03:45 PM
Ed. 28 Mar 03 - 03:50 PM
BuckMulligan 28 Mar 03 - 03:54 PM
catspaw49 28 Mar 03 - 04:03 PM
InOBU 28 Mar 03 - 04:07 PM
InOBU 28 Mar 03 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,Q 28 Mar 03 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,amergin 28 Mar 03 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Les B. 28 Mar 03 - 04:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Mar 03 - 04:31 PM
Little Robyn 28 Mar 03 - 04:34 PM
Don Firth 28 Mar 03 - 04:58 PM
Rick Fielding 28 Mar 03 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Jon 28 Mar 03 - 05:07 PM
Jenny Islander 28 Mar 03 - 05:29 PM
GUEST 28 Mar 03 - 05:34 PM
lamarca 28 Mar 03 - 05:39 PM
greg stephens 28 Mar 03 - 06:00 PM
Frankham 28 Mar 03 - 07:02 PM
BuckMulligan 28 Mar 03 - 08:41 PM
InOBU 28 Mar 03 - 09:20 PM
Cluin 28 Mar 03 - 09:27 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 28 Mar 03 - 10:29 PM
Mr Happy 28 Mar 03 - 10:43 PM
Rick Fielding 28 Mar 03 - 10:50 PM
Art Thieme 28 Mar 03 - 11:03 PM
Chanteyranger 29 Mar 03 - 01:42 AM
Frankham 29 Mar 03 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Russ 29 Mar 03 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Russ 29 Mar 03 - 10:21 AM
catspaw49 29 Mar 03 - 10:50 AM
GUEST 29 Mar 03 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,returnee 29 Mar 03 - 11:05 AM
JennyO 29 Mar 03 - 11:43 AM
Don Firth 29 Mar 03 - 02:36 PM
catspaw49 29 Mar 03 - 02:58 PM
BuckMulligan 29 Mar 03 - 08:20 PM
Frankham 29 Mar 03 - 08:54 PM
BuckMulligan 29 Mar 03 - 09:26 PM
Gurney 30 Mar 03 - 05:02 AM
Sliding Down The Bannister At My Auntie's House 30 Mar 03 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Eliza C 30 Mar 03 - 12:26 PM
paulo 30 Mar 03 - 12:39 PM
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Subject: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 02:46 PM

No, I don't want to get into everyone's definition exactly, but take a moment and read this before you post. We have had similar threads in a way, but this is still a bit different and interesting.

Last night I was watching "Jazz at Lincoln Center" and they were talking about their "Essential Ellington" project. Click Here for Info. Take a minute and read about it.........Okay.....It's a pretty neat project getting jazz into schools......Beethoven, Mozart, and Ellington. The idea being that kids are least introduced to jazz and can put the jazz greats up there with the likes of Mozart.

They picked Duke Ellington as defining jazz in the 20th century and of course I immediately started thinnking that somebody else might have been better. But what they are doing is taking one great who covers it best and all, and setting up a competition around his music. Under that situation and after a good deal of thought I began to realize that the Duke was an inspired choice!

So let's say this same kind of thing is done with Folk Music.....and it ain't a bad idea.....Who defines Folk based on the same criterion as Ellington defining Jazz?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MMario
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 02:51 PM

I think it would depend a great deal on how you define "folk". For some it has to be traditional - for others it has to be a protest song - for still others it needs to be a particular TYPE of protest song (anti-war; anti-establishment)

and for others it has to be in a certain STYLE - no matter the content.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 02:58 PM

And THAT Mario was exactly my problem when I began thinking about it regarding jazz. How about the MJQ or Satchmo or Preservation Hall style? Can you relate Bix to Bird? Lots of styles and evolutions there too. And I began to see why Ellington wasn't so bad an idea for their project!

So again, lots of styles and traditions...........Who defines Folk the way Elligton defines Jazz?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: alanabit
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:28 PM

We may get different ideas from the US and Brits. (This is not an unusual phenomenon). Probably most Brits would see Martin Carthy as a pivotal figure - maybe Ewan McColl would be there too. When I think of someone who embodies US folk music, I always think of Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie. I will admit to bias though. Guthrie was essentially a busker - probably a prodigiously talented one - and that sums up the spirit of folk music to me. It is universal, travels well and can be performed simply in any community. No doubt plenty of Catters can improve on this rash assertion!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:36 PM

I don't know why, but as humans we seem to have a need to categorise things.

It doesn't matter if the categorisation works or not, we seem to be drawn to do it.

There is no answer to: who defines Folk the way Ellington defines Jazz?

The only thing that I've learned from the endless "What is Folk?" threads is that it differs very much depending on your cultural background.

As such, the answer to your question will be 'it depends'

For what it's worth, I'd say Martin Carthy.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:37 PM

Spaw,

It's a slippery slope. Ellington was a composer and a bandleader. To say he defines jazz in the 20th century doesn't quite make it because you have to ignore Louis (very important in the evolution of jazz either in combos or in big bands) and Bird and Monk who defined be-bop. This is Wynton's bias which may get him some grant money. Duke certainly contributed to 20th Century music in general but to say he defines jazz is not right. It would be more appropriate to call him a leading 20th Century composer.

To try to define folk in this way really creates a can of worms if you are trying to reach a large audience. It would have more problems than the Ken Burns "Jazz" flick had with all the musicians who didn't like it because it missed so much contemporary.

Try to do with with "folk" and you'll have all kinds of folks breathing down your neck. About ten years ago, the U.S. Senate had a bill before them to make Square Dance the national dance of the US. The Folk Arts Division of the Lib. of Congress thought this was a bad idea and finally I think it was tossed out.
You run into the same problems here. The last ten years or so, musicians in the folk field have resisted narrowing the definition that the academicians and folklorists had created and I think that this might be a good thing. It's confusing on one hand because when you ask the unitiated what they think is "folk" you'll get some surprising answers, many conflicting.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:38 PM

alanabit,

You type faster that me! I think that we're pretty much saying the same thing, though.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Wesley S
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:45 PM

Pete Seeger comes to mind - an all-round musician, well versed in all styles, works well solo or in a group. He's the first one that pops into my mind. What do you think ?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:50 PM

Wesley,

If you're from the USA, it's probably a good choice.

If you're from England, Martin Carthy would make sense.

If you're from somewhere else, it would doubtlessly be different.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:54 PM

Perhaps "defines" in this context should be looked at less in a musical sense and more in a "culturally iconic" sense? I" suspect it's inevitable that it will be geography/culture-specific, i.e. the same name won't work in the US as works in the UK or Ireland. For that matter the same name probably won't work in England as in Scotland or Wales or Ulster. In this "iconic" sense (and for the US contingent) I'd have to nominate Pete Seeger, less because his music is so definitive, but because for so many people he himself is definitive of the "spirit" of what so many of us think of as "folk" - tradition-based, mostly acoustic stuff not sung by a 'orse.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:03 PM

I agree with you Frank. Both of us were around during the Ken Burns Jazz debate here and long as it was, it had big problems (like 10 seconds on Ben Webster). And I also agree that Ellington doesn't "define" jazz and Marsalis probably did have some personal/grant motives.....that's not a rap on him as a musician because he certainly is one helluva' musician. But to get that money from Lincoln and the government, it took something like they did there. A competition based around someone. I might have chosen something instead of one person myself.

But as I thought about it, Ellington, while not everyone's choice perhaps, does encompass an awful lot of Jazz. The idea behind the project was to get kids into something else in the schools and it seems to be working for them.

So if someone came to you (Frank or anyone else) with the money to do this same thing with Folk........Who might it be? Yeah, I know....We'd all suggest a different approach.......But the only way you get the dough is to do it.........Okay, I'm just trying to be demanding here(:<))

And thinking of you Frank.....Ya' know I might well pick "The Weavers" for something like this. Lots of music from a variety of folk traditions, etc. Maybe they don't exactly "define" Folk anymore than Ellinton defines jazz, but under the same criteria and for a similar project, I don't think they'd be a bad choice at all.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: InOBU
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:07 PM

Me.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: InOBU
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:10 PM

PS and if you have any doupt, you can PM me to order any of the two Sorcha Dorcha CDs, and pre order #3... on the way
Cheers
and
Booooooyyyyyininining
(the sound of the plugomatic going off...)
Larry


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:13 PM

Both the Weavers and Pete Seegar took from all sources, and added to that songs about current conditions in America. Either one would be a good basis to build on.

I don't think either Seegar or the Weavers gave a rat's ass about the definition of folk, which is to the good.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,amergin
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:16 PM

roflmao, lor...youre a number...lol

i would say definately pete seeger and woody guthrie...those two alone have greatly influenced american folk music...and music elsewhere in the world...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:26 PM

Catspaw - I thought the answer would be obvious --
The Dixie Chicks ! They're in demand by the North Carolina Legislature already ! :)

Actually, I don't think you'll ever get agreement, although the suggestion of the Weavers had some pretty valid arguments.

What struck me as I read the referenced blurb was that it would just be nice to have folk taught in high schools, like jazz band is now, let alone having a national competition!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:31 PM

Jazz is essentially a local American music; folk on the other hand is a collection of local musics from all over the world, so it's just impossible to have an analogous defining individual.

For America Pete Seeger seems a good choice, because he links in to so many other things over such a large chunk of the century, including the Weavers course, but also including Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Steel Band music...

For England very likely Martin Carthy, or better the whole family. For Ireland it's hard, but perhaps Christy Moore, though it really should be Sean O Riada.

And so on and so forth.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Little Robyn
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:34 PM

For America - Pete Seeger
For England - Martin Carthy
For New Zealand - probably Phil Garland
For Australia - does Eric Bogle count?
For Canada - Stan Rogers
Where else, who else?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:58 PM

Spaw, this is a hairy one. Ought to lead to some pretty interesting discussions, though. The expression, "putting the cat among the pigeons" comes to mind.

I tend to agree with Frank, but lemme think about this. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:04 PM

Bugger off INOBU, you IRISH-ROMA-NATIVE-GAWD KNOWS WHAT ELSE troublemaker!

I do.

And I really mean that.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:07 PM

Aw come on INOBU and Rick.

One was of looking at it says the truth of the matter is that we all do.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jenny Islander
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:29 PM

I was thinking about what my American Lit teacher said about Ernest Hemingway. He argued that Hemingway had such a powerful effect that anybody who writes short stories or novels in English either tries to write like him (possbily badly) or tries not to write like him (ditto) _even if they have hardly heard of him and never read his work._ In the fantasy genre, J.R.R. Tolkien has the same legacy. I gather that Bukowski did the same in free verse from some people's point of view. So is there somebody, possibly fallen into obscurity, who has influenced all or most modern English folksingers to that extent?

J.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:34 PM

jenny....his name is bob dylan....


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: lamarca
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:39 PM

Interesting question, Spaw. I think of Jazz as easier somehow, because it's so very much more recent than "Folk". Sure, I know that jazz has its origins back in traditional music styles, but what most people think of as "Jazz" is a 20th century musical form that went through an incredible flowering and evolution in a relatively short period of time. Ellington is a reasonable choice (but not the only one) because his influence extends through much of this time period.

But how would you pick a single individual for Folk and Traditional music in even one country, given that the types of music that people consider "Folk" have been evolving for centuries? In the US, you'd be comparing apples and oranges if you try to decide on one person to represent all of these sub-categories of American "folk" (listing just a few off the top of my head...):
Anglo-American traditional song
African American blues and field hollers
Southern string band music
New England and Southern shape-note and gospel
Western ballads and cowboy songs
Ethnic musics from American immigrant communities, from Scots-Irish to tambouritza to salsa to polka to - well, you get the idea...
Work-life related songs of miners, lumbermen, sailors, etc
Community-based dance and social music like Zydeco, Conjunto, contradance, R&B, banghra, etc
Topical & political songs and broadsides (which have been around since English settlers first came to America and wanted to gripe about things...)
Commercial/traditional forms like bluegrass, Western swing, folk-pop Kingston Trio style, etc
and the dreaded Singer-songwriter Omphaloskeptics...

And, yes, I know that "Jazz" encompasses such divergent forms as Dixieland and Coltrane, but as a geneticist, I can tell you that pedigrees are a heck of a lot easier to trace over a small number of generations than over a long period of time, and that evolution of musical forms is similar to that of creatures, with new hybrids rising from cross-fertilization between different gene pools (except in Kansas, where God created all the types of music we see today on Saturday afternoon...)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 06:00 PM

OK Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong can obviously be called central figures of jazz, so can Charlie Parker or whoever. They made and defined the genre.
You can hardly call Pete Seeger or Martin Carthy or Vaughan Williams or Sean O Riada or whoever defining figures of folk, they took the material, worked with it, made new things out of it, but they weren't OF it. They heard it, fell in love with it, and lived with it. . Wonderful musicians, but they didn't MAKE it. It was there, made by someone else. Not by people you could put individdual names to. Just made by an innumerable number of people working together.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 07:02 PM

I wonder if we are talking about innovation or popular practitioners?
I would have to put Doc Watson in the category of a definitive folk singer as much as I would Pete. Has bluegrass left the folk music category or is it as Alan Lomax said, "folk music with overdrive"? Then Bill Monroe or Earl Scruggs pops up. What about Jean Ritchie?
(Talking American folk music here.) The Kingston Trio had far reaching influence on the "folk scare". What about Burl Ives? Wouldn't he be influential? A case could be made for Woody, Leadbelly and even Josh White, who brought blues to the supper club.

Is Pete Seeger truly representive? He plays ninths and thirteenth chords in Appalachian music. Mike doesn't. He plays southern music like a northerner. Nothing wrong with that but what does that define?
Regional music? He also plays a unique sophisticated style of 5 string banjo which he innovated. No traditional player from the south plays like that. See the problems that this all engenders?

What about African-American folk music? More of the same.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 08:41 PM

As much as me knees begin to wobble at the thought of addressing a post to Frank Hamilton, I'd have to restate what I meant to say above, that the issue (in my opinion, of course) has less to do with musical technology than with cultural recognition - what the media would term "Name value." If you proposed to the American populace at large the notion that "Folk music is what Pete Seeger does, right?" you'd get a lot more nods than with any other name. Not to say his music was folkier than anyone else's (by any definition of "what is folk" which is sliiperier than an oiled eel anyway) just in terms of "dictionary reference." If you look up "American Folk Singer" in the cultural dictionary of the American Mind, you'll probably see a picture of Pete Seeger. Right or wrong, that's where the perception is.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: InOBU
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 09:20 PM

Hi RIck... I'd agree with you, but for the times when I was a kid, and was hanging out in Washington Square park, drinking root beer. there was this raggidy assed guy with funny hair singing Lady of Spain I Adore You... and I said, Bob, ya wonk... ya gotta get some orgional stuff, that lady of spain shite is just blowing in the wind, sing in plain d ballads... ballads in plain d, look, just let me follow you down to see Pete singing with the weavers, I gotta tell him to stop holding up those guys and get off on his own... and damn Bob, your voice really sucks, If I sounded like you, I'd sing through my god damn nose!
Cheers
Larry


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 09:27 PM

Elwood J. Plunkerton
42-A Hacking Cough Crescent
Blowhole, New Brunswick


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 10:29 PM

Oxymoronic definitions can't pidgeonhole the people
And reigious folk can worship not the church house nor the steeple
Folk music lives in all of us, ethnicities abounding
No star defines the sky at night or eternities resounding

So many manies raise the torch, and sing the homegrown passions
With heartfelt honor given to the multitudes; not fashions
So here and clear I now shall say in rooms with raising glasses
Everyone and no one can define the muse of masses.
ttr


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Mr Happy
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 10:43 PM

all the 'names' quoted above are individuals who're also recording artists.

my gut feeling about 'folk' is that its not necessarily to do with 'folk icons' who've had 'big hit' 'folk' records.

when cecil sharp et al were going about 'collecting' vestiges of 'traditional' songs & music in britain, america & all over the place, there weren't really any 'folk icons'- just ordinary joe in the street, in the country, on the farm etc, who may well have liked to sing/perform their 'traditional' popsongs of the day.

as well as attending 'folk' do's, i also sometimes go to just ordinary sinarounds round the piano/organ in pubs.

the kinds of sogs joe pubic likes are the ones EVERYBODY knows- not just the inner circle of exclusive 'folkies'.

increasingly- these populist renditions are forming a big part of the repertoire performed in Mr Happy's weekly do & its very evident by the increasing numbers of participants & audience that in reality- these are the true folk songs, cos there the ones everybody can join in with & enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 10:50 PM

That's very funny Larry (INOBU)!

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 11:03 PM

***********************BIG SMILE***********************

from as far away from this thread as I can stand !!!!!!!!!!!!

Art


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 01:42 AM

There are two ways of answering this question running through my head (it doesn't take long to get from one side of it to the other). On the one hand, I think the truest answer is that no one person defines folk, as by definition it covers so many nationalities, ethnicities, genres and styles, that the essence of folk music makes it an impossible question to answer, as others (like McGrath of Harlow) have pointed out. That in itself is a celebration of folk music.

The other route I take is that of looking at performers, taking all the above points into account. Is there one performer who, in the folk-listening public mind, has been the strongest influence on the most people. Has Woody Guthrie's influence on U.S. folk music been stronger than Martin Carthy's influence on British folk music? Etc.

Given all that, my vote goes to the growing movement for Elwood J. Plunkerton.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:02 AM

Hi Buck,

I'd love to be able to agree with you because Pete is an old friend, a dear man, a great performer, and one ot the most important popularizers of American folk music. A genuine person who I can honestly say is as fine a human being as he is a performing artist and that's saying quite a bit I think.

There are people who have never heard of him. They think the Kingston Trio is folk music.

Of course there are people who have never heard of Duke Ellington, I suppose.

There are many countless representatives of American traditional folk music in the South who haven't heard of him either. But lately, Pete has gotten more press. But there are young rockers who know of Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters and early blues players who don't know of Pete. And does Pete represent them? Is that not a form of folk music? What about old time ballad singing Appalachian style? Pete approximates that but doesn't really do it in the way someone like Almeda Riddle or Texas Gladden did.

It gets complicated but you're certainly right about Pete's influence in the "folk music revival" of the "Sixties" and on. But a true representative of the tradition? That's a tough one.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:12 AM

OK, Spaw, for you I'll go along with the gag although all the reservations voiced in this thread are valid.

I'll go with Doc Watson.

More clearly a member of a living tradition than Seeger. Way better musician and singer. Multi-faceted. Has certainly attained icon status. Appeals to all sorts of musicians from folkies to hard core old time to bluegrass.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:21 AM

Just thought of another possiblity, Mike Seeger.

Probably he is not as widely known as Doc Watson. Definitely an icon/deity/legend. Awesome talent. When it comes to American traditional music he does it all and he's great at it.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:50 AM

(:<)) Thanks Russ....and everyone else....for "going along." I knew this was an impossibility of course, but I also saw it as maybe bringing out some interesting thoughts and discussion....and it has.

Lamarca!!! In all of the hundred plus threads that we have had addressing "what is folk," I think I have finally now seen the most concise, clearly stated, reason as to why we cannot ever be in total agreement. I don't think you said anything new exactly, but I also don't recall it ever being so thoroughly stated in so very few words. I think I will bookmark this thread so I can comeback and steal your post occasionally!!!

Thanks folks.......I'm glad we can still pour over a worn out subject with such thoughtful responses and humor.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:51 AM

The question is irrelevant. Just as Duke Ellington, one of the greatest figures in the history of jazz, could not be the "definition" of jazz, there is no person who can be the "definition" of folk.

According to McGrath of Harlow, "Jazz is essentially a local American music." That statement is silly and incorrect. The jazz that Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli were playing in Paris, more than seventy years ago, is not the same local music that King Oliver and the young Louis Armstrong were playing in New Orleans. Nor is the jazz that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were playing on 52nd Street in New York the same local music that Count Basie and Jay McShann were playing in Kansas City.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,returnee
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 11:05 AM

Surely "folk" music is anything (relatively) non-commercial?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: JennyO
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 11:43 AM

There are so many different styles of music that I would consider folk that it would be impossible to define, as some have already said.

I guess I think of it as music of the people, and if it tells a story, and celebrates the things that make human beings special in a way that I relate to, I would think of it as folk. So where do I draw the line between folk and some country music? It's hard to tell, but I think it has to do with the subject matter. A friend of mine describes some of the music he says is not folk as "oo--ee, reach out and touch me baby kind of music".

All I know is that the music I listened to tonight at a local folk club was definitely folk. That was what I was feeling as I listened to James Fagan and Nancy Kerr singing "Joe Hill" and John Warner's song "Anderson's Coast", as the author sat and listened, and I tried to imagine what a great feeling it must be to hear one's own song being sung. That was a brilliant night, and this might sound silly, but I could feel love in the room.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 02:36 PM

Okay, I've been thinkin'. But I still haven't been able to come up with who I would regard as the quintessential folk singer—the folk singer who would truly represent what folk music is all about. But to flex my mental muscles with an exercise to warm myself up to the task, I decided to try something which is, perhaps, simpler.

Although I am relatively svelte, I love to eat. So I've been thinking about food. What, I asked myself, would be the quintessential meal? That which truly represents the ultimate food, representative of all food.

There is hardly a meal more representative of American cuisine than roast beef, mashed potatoes, and canned peas, followed by apple pie with ice cream for dessert. But then, being a Pacific Northwester, I am especially fond of that ultimate in our regional cuisine, salmon broiled over an alder fire. But I'm also very fond of New England clam chowder. Roast turkey? Actually, I think my favorite part of the turkey is the sandwich. If Benjamin Franklin had had his way, the national bird would have been the wild turkey. I've never had pemmican. Nor blubber. When I was in Kansas a few years ago, one morning in a restaurant, while having a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hash browns, I saw a man eating something I didn't recognize. I asked. It was biscuits and gravy. Chili; I love it! Or good ol' Texas barbecue. Chitlin's? Never had 'em, but I did have a serving of grits once. Jambalaya, crawfish pie, and filé gumbo? Boston baked beans and brown bread, maybe. Tacos? Coney Island red hots? How about a Big Mac with fries and a Coke?

No, no, no! I'm being far too parochial here! How about bubble and squeak? Fish and chips? The celebratory haggis. The Irish potato (actually one of about forty tubers originally from South America) was inextricably linked with Irish history in the mid-nineteenth century. Speaking of potatoes, just across the North Sea is lutefisk with boiled potatoes. Pickled herring. Go through the Chunnel and you could treat yourself to, say, escargot. Paella. Borscht. Vienna sausage actually in Vienna. Melitzanes Papoutsakia. Kazan dibi. Khatta meetha paneer. Satay. How about lox and bagels?

Nope. Can't do it. One food which represents the essence of all foods? Considering just the issue of the immense variety, not even getting into matters of subjectivity, I have doubts that one could come up with one that would be truly representative of all. Certainly not one that would meet with universal agreement.

Now—back to something really tough: the ultimate, representative folk singer. . . .

Well, now . . . uh . . . lemme see. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 02:58 PM

LMAO......Beautiful Don!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 08:20 PM

Frankham - all excellent points, and indisputable; but all equally applicable to anyone we could name. Though I'd be tempted to wager (maybe 2 bucks) that anyone who's heard of the KT has also heard of Pete Seeger. But your point is well taken and agreed. Once again though, my argument is not so much that he is a "representative" of the tradition as "iconic" - which obviously is culture-specific. Eminem's fans, no doubt, would have trouble responding with more than "duh?" to any of the names we might propose.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 08:54 PM

Buck, you're probably right about Pete being known by fans of the KT.
I wonder if that guy who found Pete's banjo on the roadside knew of the KT since he claims he didn't know Pete. (Probably did).

Anyhow, I guess the point is to have a figurehead that is identifiable so that an educative process like that of Wynton Marsalis with young people can take place. Wynton himself is a spokesperson for jazz although not Louis or Bird although a great musician. He can educate about Ellington admirably.

The process of folk music though it seems to me is so inextricably bound with culture-based music and has a generational lineage. In American music, we have such a mixture of styles that it seems daunting to find a single person that represents the entire spectrum of American folk music but Pete is certainly one of the great performers of the 20th Century in my view. He was a one-man publicity campaign for Woody, Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Dylan (he admired him when no one else did) that you'd have to say that Pete is a kind of spokesperson and ambassador for American folk music. If it were twenty years ago or so, Pete would have been the ideal person to be a Wynton Marsalis figure but the government had reservations about giving him his due (funding) because of his time under the McCarthy era. He has left a legacy of many recordings of folk songs that people wouldn't have heard if not for him. This is true of the KT as well as almost everyone I know of that came up through the Revival. Someday, Pete will be vindicated. "America's tuning fork".

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 09:26 PM

Perfectly put. And besides, who else could "sing a song twice at the same time" so well?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Gurney
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 05:02 AM

Everyone will have their own idea, and for me...

If you want an definitive folkie in the English speaking world, it would have to be someone from Ireland, the land where there was no revival, because it never went away. Everyone else is a revivalist or a presumptive pop-singer who sings in folk-clubs.

I know this opinion won't be popular. I'm not Irish, either.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Sliding Down The Bannister At My Auntie's House
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 05:48 AM

Who defines folk? Usually the people who compile dictionaries!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Eliza C
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 12:26 PM

Gurney,
It isn't strictly true to say that the Irish did not have a revival at all. the music certainly was not as popular or widespread,especially among the young, in the 1950s as it is now,as young Irish people got their fill of rock'n'roll just the same as everyone else did. And like now, there were not too many places to play commercially in Ireland,so most Irish musicians travelled to the folk clubs of England to get work if they did play for a living, which fulelled the revival on both sides of the water as traditional musicians realised they may be able to earn a living from music.
There is a case for saying that Irish music and culture had another revival after the Riverdance phenomenon,even if the Irish themselves were gacking on their cereal along with all music lovers anywhere...
cheers,
x e


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: paulo
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 12:39 PM

The problem with following this thread is the original question.   This states that Ellington has already been defined, by someone, as the voices of jazz!

If you accept this choice, or not, it seems to me that the basis of the choice was that Ellington was a) a well known name assosciated with jazz and b) someone who played traditional stuff and self pened stuff.

On that basis my choices would be:
USA - Pete Seegar
Eng - Ewan McColl
Ire - Christy Moore
Sct - Archie Fisher
Wales - hasn't got one

Paulo


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