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Has The Folk Community Changed?

Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 08:55 AM
manitas_at_work 01 Feb 05 - 08:59 AM
The DeanMeister 01 Feb 05 - 09:10 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 09:15 AM
Jim Tailor 01 Feb 05 - 09:20 AM
Jim Tailor 01 Feb 05 - 09:21 AM
Barbara Shaw 01 Feb 05 - 09:22 AM
Amos 01 Feb 05 - 09:37 AM
just john 01 Feb 05 - 09:52 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 09:59 AM
just john 01 Feb 05 - 10:04 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Feb 05 - 10:07 AM
artbrooks 01 Feb 05 - 10:15 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 10:23 AM
The DeanMeister 01 Feb 05 - 10:37 AM
just john 01 Feb 05 - 10:38 AM
just john 01 Feb 05 - 10:42 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 10:42 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Feb 05 - 10:45 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 10:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Feb 05 - 11:04 AM
Uncle_DaveO 01 Feb 05 - 11:06 AM
Alonzo M. Zilch (inactive) 01 Feb 05 - 11:13 AM
chris nightbird childs 01 Feb 05 - 11:54 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Feb 05 - 12:48 PM
Wesley S 01 Feb 05 - 01:39 PM
GUEST 01 Feb 05 - 02:02 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 01 Feb 05 - 02:14 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 03:28 PM
KathWestra 01 Feb 05 - 04:44 PM
Stewart 01 Feb 05 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 01 Feb 05 - 05:13 PM
Ned Ludd 01 Feb 05 - 06:47 PM
Barbara Shaw 01 Feb 05 - 07:58 PM
jaze 01 Feb 05 - 08:05 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 Feb 05 - 08:21 PM
robinia 01 Feb 05 - 09:05 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 01 Feb 05 - 10:05 PM
Once Famous 01 Feb 05 - 10:15 PM
Auggie 01 Feb 05 - 10:35 PM
Gypsy 01 Feb 05 - 10:39 PM
number 6 01 Feb 05 - 11:42 PM
Kaleea 01 Feb 05 - 11:56 PM
Ferrara 02 Feb 05 - 12:12 AM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Feb 05 - 02:59 PM
PoppaGator 02 Feb 05 - 03:15 PM
TheBigPinkLad 02 Feb 05 - 04:24 PM
Wolfgang 03 Feb 05 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 06 Feb 05 - 03:51 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Feb 05 - 04:20 PM
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Subject: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 08:55 AM

I started a conversation with Jim Tailor on another thread and thought it was worth one of it's own.

My comment was that when I first became involved with folk music in the late 50's and early 60's, one of the things that attracted me to it was how openly people were welcomed. Or at least, that was my perception. I've always thought of the folk community as welcoming, without a lot of prejudice (think broader than racial) or judgmentalism.

Looking back at the folk community in the early 60's in Greenwich Village, I was welcomed into the circle with no consideration of whether or not I was a Christian. I don't even remember ever discussing religion when I spent so many nights hanging out in coffee houses. I was also "straight" in a mostly "bent" community. I wasn't in to drugs as quite a few people were. That wasn't a barrier. I never felt that people thought there was something wrong with me, and I didn't reject anyone because they used drugs. It was pretty much a "live and let live" community. It was the music that brought us together.

Jim sees the folk community bound together by protest music, and that's his experience. There certainly were groups within the folk community that were more left-leaning in their philosophy, but up until Dylan and company, protest songs were only a small part of the music sung in coffee houses. Even at the peak of protest music when I was writing anti-war songs and singing at rallies, the bulk of the songs being sung in coffee houses were still a mix of traditional music, and new songs on many subjects in addition to protest. For every Masters Of War, there were five Puff The Magic Dragons, or Tom Dooleys.

I made a lot of friends in those days, some of which I still keep in touch with. I was as comfortable with Tom Paxton as I was with Dave Van Ronk, and they were great friends, even though their ideologies were very different.

When I've gone down to Washington, D.C. and sung with friends from FSGW, I still find that same warm acceptance. We don't sit around and take potshots at each other about religion or politics, and I feel as welcome there as I did when I walked into the Gaslight Cafe on McDougal Street in the Village, back in 1960. A total stranger, welcomed in.

And then, I look at Mudcat. And I wonder, has the folk community changed that much, or is Mudcat just a cyber-distortion? In the BS threads, politics and religion make up a major portion of the topics and the threads are filled with insults and attacks. There doesn't seem to be much room for differences of opinion in here. Or at least, not much of that "live and let live" attitude, where people find a common bond in the music. I think it's different with our British friends, too. They don't seem as pre-occupied with politics (Fer shure.)

I wonder.. is all this animosity that is interchanged in here because this is a cyber community? Or has the folk music community atrophied that much? I know so many Catters who say they don't stop in here as much any more because they are sick of all the in-fighting. How can a group like the Washington Folk Song Society, or at any folk festival be so warm and inviting, and yet Mudcat have such a hard edge to it?

I'd really like to hear your perspective on this.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 08:59 AM

Mudcat is just an extension of Usenet which is often the equivalent of the graffitti in a toilet cubicle. It could be a lot worse.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: The DeanMeister
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:10 AM

I'm glad you kept us out of this one, Jerry. I like to sing a song, play a guitar. I don't do religion or politics.

Over here we like our music. Oh, and an occasional bit of eccentric banter. I personally don't read the endless threads about U.S. politics, religious preferences, or civil rights.

My friends are are nice bunch of people who don't seek to impress their intellectualism on others, though some of them are by far the most intelligent people on this forum.

Overall, this forum has become a place where "The Greatest Country On Earth" seems to make itself less inviting every day.

Long live Yorkshire, in my opinion.

Discuss.

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:15 AM

I think that you're right, Pete. For whatever reason, it seems like the Brits can just get together and have a good time and in general, don't get into such heated discussions in here. At least on politics. But, some of the angriest, most outspoken people on religion are from over your way. And, they may well have a right to be angry.

That said, it's hard for me to imagine my friends Leadfingers, ColK, Sussex Carole, C-flat, Bert and the rest getting sucked into the nastier threads here. And for those I've met, they're even more enjoyable in person..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:20 AM

I think this is about two different things:

"The folk community" -- what I was addressing in the discussion to which Jerry refers is that much of folk has always been (it's most significant elelmetn for the past 50 years) protest/labor, and as such has to have a "wall to lean against". It is naturally bent toward demonizing "the man", "the masters of war". As such, it is prejudicial by nature, and closed by shared ideal.

But "The Mudcat Community" --

brilliant analyst of human nature that I am, I offer...

It seems that there are two drives that must be satisfactorily....er...satisfied in order for us humans to be relatively content.

Security
Significance

If we feel either is threatened, we are likely to act. If we cannot regain our contentment by culturally acceptable means, we are most likely to try too recapture significance and security by abnormal/insane behavior...

Addictions
Eating disorders
Violence
Suicide

This behavior is only exacerbated by larger numbers of other humans who we (perhaps mistakenly, perhaps truly) see as threats to our significance or security --

take the mudcat for example.....

When it was a smaller, less populace place (as was the whole internet bulletin board atmosphere/community), there was much less incivility. But soon it grew, and those who were once secure in their role here as forum humorist, or folk trivia maven, or obscure lyrics master, or instrumental master, were rapidly becoming much smaller fish in a much larger pond.

Most accepted their roles being supplanted (with the great influx of new "experts") with the realistic view that understood, in perspective, how relatively insignificant participation on an internet forum is. They still chose to participate where they could -- or they left to live their already significance-satisfied lives.

But at the same time, the internet started to become a haven for those who had difficulty with significance/security issues in the real world. Suddenly, it seemed, they had a place to come and meet the minimum daily requirement for human fellowship (perhaps for the first time in their lives). Finally a place to come where you could be judged on the (more egalitarian) basis of what you knew, and how well you could express it -- NOT (finally) on what you looked like. Fat, bald, ugly, flatulent people with hair in all the wrong places had equal access to this world of communication.

But the increased traffic caused these ill-equipped (and even the not so ill-equiped) to have to deal with the significance/security issues in their lives -- and these people had already failed in the 3-D world. Hence, they had just closed another of the increasingly few avenues open to them for contentment.

Thus, the internet equivalent of violence is born -- Trolling and Flaming.

And thus, it is almost impossible to post a topic on this forum and not be showered with negative, contrarian responses. In order to feel more significant, one's posts must stand out from the rest. One can achieve this by:

1. Writing in a style superlative (like PeterT, Amos, JenEllen)
2. Truly being expert (like Frankham, Fielding, Mooh, Deckman,)
3. Having a reputation that exceeds the forum -- but is tied to its reason for existance (like Frankham, kytrad, Art Thieme,)
4. Being truly witty (like Catspaw or bee-dubya-ell)
5 Being positive, warm, caring posters (like mudlark, Mary from KY, Mark Clark)

The above are all positive ways to "be noticed" on a crowded forum street -- but they are either much harder, or require talent not achieved by most. So most people here choose to stand out the easy way -- go negative. -- works (almost) every time.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:21 AM

damn code.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:22 AM

It's not just here in this cyber-community, unfortunately. I recently became embroiled in a terrible firestorm which I thought was about folk music but which others thought was about religion. My instinct is to stay and attempt to build some understanding, but I have to confess it's wearing me down, and I'm greatly troubled by the name-calling and the attitudes that have been exposed.

Having lived through the 60's when we thought (perhaps erroneously) that the world was slowly becoming a better place, I'm now feeling that the world is getting a little less tolerant and less open-minded and more flammable every day. Communication, real communication with an open mind, is growing less commonplace as we get more communication tools with which to work.

My personal folk community has certainly changed.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Amos
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:37 AM

Jerry:

The Mudcat was much different only a short time ago. The tenor of its dialogues has been dragged downward by a small handful of specialists whose primary art is upsetting others. Gargoyle was one. Everyone knows who the others have been.

There's another factor that has dragged the tone down, a sort of dedicated irrelvance, a campaign for non-communication, sometimes disguised as a different sense of humor but actually designed to disperse and fracture communications. It uses banality and disassociated fragments as ammunition against ordinary dialogue.

A third factor is the macrocosm in the United States, which is itself going through quite a divisive period; we have been significantly jerked around by terrorists, Republicans, PR jocks, spinmasters, and criminal financiers and executives and managers in almost every sphere of life, to the point where just ordinary living seems twice as hard as it needs to be.

So this is a passage, I guess, and what I greatly appreciate is the Oil on Troubled Waters feeling that you and those like you bring to the table here. It makes a difference.

But even so, I wish Spaw would post more.


A


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: just john
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:52 AM

> A third factor is the macrocosm in the United States ...

Shouldn't the divisiveness you mention be something that folk songwriters address? (Yeah, this is branching out somewhat from the thread topic, but if we heal the society, the Mudcat will surely follow.)

Right now, I'm mostly in a position of a-pox-on-both-your-houses regarding both major parties, which is great for making punchlines, but no so much so for making a liveable world.

So isn't reconciliation part of the folk music community's job?


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:59 AM

I would wish that reconciliation is the folk community's job, but I see more divisiveness in here than I do in personal contacts with the folk community (which I still find warm and welcoming.) The people who get their kicks by disrupting any attempt at conversation in here with obscenities and attacks would not be welcome, or would have to function radically different in a real-life community.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: just john
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:04 AM

To be fair, some of the fun things about this online place also wouldn't be welcome face-to-face. F'rinstance: A months-long free-association thread of song lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:07 AM

I think the question you pose does not have a yes or no answer.

The folk community that you speak of Jerry helped create change.   I truly believe that the groundwork that was started in those coffehouses several decades ago contributed to an open communication that has become part of our society.   The media no longer keeps "secrets", in fact it is always looking for dirt. Whereas in the early 1960's a presidential affair may have been kept secret, it would be out in the open today.

People talk about issues. People argue. I am sure there were discussions before these events occured, but I do believe that people are more open to share their feelings about issues.   In addition, we have forums that were created by the internet.   Some may call this "graffiti in a toilet", but it is what it is.

I find it not just on Mudcat, but in all facets of life.

I'm not happy with the rudeness that some people show online. Often it clouds what could be a very interesting counterpoint. None of us will change that.   We need to develop thicker skins, not take things personally, and continue to share our opinions.   We also need to be realize that if we are going to post an opinion, someone will probably have a different one.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: artbrooks
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:15 AM

Jerry, I certainly see your point, but as Amos said earlier and others (including myself) have said in other discussions, there is a very small number of people here...probably ten or less...who see their place in life as sewing the seeds of anger and hate. There are many other regular posters, above the line and below, who do not participate in this at all, and others who try their best to keep things calm. Mudcat, on the whole, actually benefits from a variety of different opinions, and the vast majority (based upon a totally unscientific nonsurvey) stays above the BS line and limits their participation to music...because that's our real reason for being here.

So, has the folk community changed? Well, yeah...I have a lot less hair than I had in the mid-60s...or perhaps that's hair in fewer places...and we have all matured and our opinions have changed with the times. But the community is still alive and kicking, and it is changing more all the time to fit into the "virtual world". Hang in there, buddy.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:23 AM

Differences of opinion are fine, Ron. That's why I start threads. I really am interested in seeing how other Catters perceive issues. I'll have to think about whether the media is less likely to keep "secrets" these days. I think that on the issues that count, the media is far less open and fair-minded than it was in the 60's. All of this is perception of course, and I may be way off. Maybe it's just that our country seems much more fractured now than it was. Remember how united our country was during the Vietnam War? :-) The more generalizations I try to make the dumber I get.

The media does publish more of the private lives of politicians and public figures now than they did, I think.

That still doesn't give me any insight into whether the folk community has changed noticeably, or it's just the characteristic of the internet that makes conversations so fractious.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: The DeanMeister
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:37 AM

Ok, now I'm curious. Define "Folk Community"? Personally I thought we were a bunch of people who shared a common interest in traditional music. It's not a religion, guys.

I believe you're talking about society as a whole, and yes, it's constantly changing. Does that warrant another 150 post thread of drivel? Nope. I'll just grab my guitar on the way out....


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: just john
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:38 AM

Thinking about the online thing a bit more ... It might not quite count as rudeness, but one thing that's a feature of the Mudcat's non-BS messages is that nobody seems to have come up with a non-abrasive way of conveying the message, "That's been asked here a million times before!" And you can't blame that on politics.


Jerry Rasmussen: Finding out whether the folk commuity has changed over the years -- and assuming it has, HOW it has -- sounds like a dandy project for some writer or film maker to tackle. Me, I'm such a different person from when I heard my first Frank Warner (I was three years old in '59) that I have no objectivity.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: just john
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:42 AM

The DeanMeister: You never went through the swearing-in? Okay, place your left hand on your guitar and raise your right hand:

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

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

...
(by Tom Lehrer)


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:42 AM

J.J. Who does have any objectivity? Not me..

Jerry

Just driveling along..


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:45 AM

Jerry, I don't think our country was "united" during the Vietnam War. This is a country that elected Nixon president during the height of the protests. Not sure if that would qualify as "united".

To answer your question, I do think everything has and SHOULD change. Peoples actions are defined by the times they lived in. I'm sure someone who lived in Victorian times was shocked at the way people conducted theselves during the Jazz age.   Communities have to change to survive, and the folk community is no different.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:51 AM

Guess you didn't notice the little smiley icon I put after my comment about how united the country was during the Vietnam War, Ron. :-) There have been very few times in the history of this country where we were more divided than we were during the Vietnam War... probably not since the Civil War.

I do feel that there is a lot more anxiety in the world than there was even five years ago. Maybe that is reflected in changes I see happening in Mudcat.

I don't have any answers. Just questions...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 11:04 AM

I rather think when he wrote "united" there Jerry was consciusly using the ironic mode, Ron.

As for Jerry's speculation whether its change in the way peopple are, or the medium we're using, I'm pretty certain the major factor is the medium, which allows people who are that way inclined to trail their coat around without any danger, in a way they wouldn't have the nerve to do in real life.

But there is maybe one other factor - which also reflects the medium.

Looking from over here it seems that in the big world there has been an informal understanding in the States over the years that there are two social contexts in which the same kind of music belongs; there is "country", which has right wing-associations, and there is "folk" which has left-wing associations. It's essentially the same music, or at least there is an enormous overlap (leaving aside the kind of "country" that is an embarrassment to everyone)- but the enthusiasts keep apart, so there aren't fights about politics anyway. But here on the Mudcat we bring together people from both worlds, and sometimes they fight like scalded cats.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 11:06 AM

I think we have to consider the UP and the DOWN "communities separately.

Frankly, I don't see very much rancor and divisiveness "upstairs", but "downstairs", BOY!

Even though there is obviously an overlap of personnel in the two sections, I think the two are two different balls of wax. I'm not at all sure that "downstairs" qualifies as "folk community", even though many of the participants appear upstairs, where "folk" is the order of the day. Frankly, I rather doubt that most of that small troll/obstructionist/rabblerouser group even looks in upstairs.

Also, putting aside the silly/stupid threads (which are sometimes fun, I'll grant you) and the purely meanspirited ones, and even the acceptable threads which get "captured" by the trolls, there are occasional thoughtful threads downstairs, which I for one enjoy hugely.

In sum, I think the opening post was asking a thoughtful question about the wrong or maybe nonexistent problem, as regards Mudcat.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Alonzo M. Zilch (inactive)
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 11:13 AM

Jerry,

I think the flaw in your opening question is trying to equate an Internet forum like Mudcat with the "folk community" that we knew decades ago.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 11:54 AM

A debatable online Folk forum is better than a dead live scene, in reality...


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 12:48 PM

I don't think the blame for bad temper and bad manners rests on the topics discussed, but on a minority who think that discussions have to be conducted in a bad-tempered and ill-mannered way. And that attitude does from time to time show itself in the music threads.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 01:39 PM

There is something about being alone in your room with just your computer that makes people act out in the same way that people develop road rage in their cars. We are seperated from other human beings and that enables us do and say things that none of us would ever consider if we were face to face. And I think that would be true of even some of the worst of us here.
And lets face it. A cyber community like the Mudcat will often attract people that are not out living a real life. And the only way they can insure that they attract attention to themselves is to act out like a two year old. Better bad attention than no attention at all.
I think it would be a mistake to compare the Mudcat to the real world folk community.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 02:02 PM

Jerry, I think it's just that our national community has changed and Mudcat reflects it. Like it or not, the great and mighty tolerance of classical liberalism has morphed into narrow political correctness and insistence on classification of people into aggrieved, entitled, and protected classes. The high ground of well-meaning conservatism has also been captured, now it is just Malthusian celebration of wealth and the corporation above the individual and angry rejection of liberal social engineering.

People for some reason keep migrating into one of these two might-as-well-be-armed camps. And the folkies preach to their own choir of activists, bolder and crankier since no one else is listening. And the bluegrassers keep convincing themselves that everything from around here must be good and everything foreign must be bad, and them lefties must be pagans.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 02:14 PM

All of us, at times, get responses that seem insulting, or unfair, and, as a relatively new member, having had a few myself, I have been finding out something quite unexpected.

Gentle, civilised replies don't tend to make me examine my own hard held opinions very closely, but the occasional smack in the mouth (metaphorically) has knocked some of the rough edges off, and altered some of my perceptions of issues. Not an entirely bad thing on the whole.

I feel that, if I can't take the odd knock, I shouldn't have joined.

Flamers and trolls I can live without, but I really don't mind the occasioal well thought out put down at all. Perhaps it ain't as bad here as you think?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 03:28 PM

If I thought it was real bad here, I wouldn't be here. I enjoy Mudcat 95% of the time, and the trolls, flamers and comically mean-spirited don't really get to me. There have been occasions when a good thread has been irreparably h-jacked, but even that is rare. This is not about complaining... just asking people their thoughts on how the folk community has changed over the years... or has it? As I said early on, walking in to a room of D.C.ers feels just like it did walking into a coffee house in 1962. On that level, I don't see any change at all... other than the obvious one that in the 60's, most of the folkies were young, and now most of them are that much older. But, as far as a "real-life" experience, I personally don't see any sea-change in the folk community.

There are two ways to approach creating a thread. One would be:

Mudcat sucks, everyone in here bitches constantly and no one makes the smallest attempt to communicate in words of more than four letters. That works just fine, as many threads start that way.. a very strong statement that everyone can attack or defend, and the person who started the thread usually ends up modifying as the discussion goes along, insisting that they didn't mean it the way people are taking it. I really don't have a problem with that. It's a sure-fire way to get a lively discussion going.

I prefer asking people what they think about something. I'd prefer to get people to talk about how they perceive something, rather than respond by attacking the premise for the thread.

Both ways work, and I've done it both ways.

And then, the thread goes wherever it goes. That suits me fine, too. Most threads have a finite life, and start to wander and wobble after everyone has contributed their opinions.

I guess that in a more social setting, like a folk club or a living room or festival, we get down to business and play music and socialize more casually.

Two entirely different settings, with very different levels of communication.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: KathWestra
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 04:44 PM

As one who recently moved from D.C., I'm delighted that Jerry has had such a positive experience with the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, a group whose board I served on for close to 20 years. I think many Mudcatters who have attended the FSGW Getaway in October have experienced the same warmth and cameraderie and welcome that Jerry praises so highly--and that's really good! But, as someone who has been intimately involved in FSGW from the inside, I would say that some things have changed drastically over those years, and some have not. I think the willingness to welcome and support newcomers--especially people who are as interested, interesting, talented, and fun as Jerry and our Mudcat Getaway attendees--has remained a constant over the years in FSGW. It makes me VERY happy to hear Jerry speak so positively of the welcome he's received.

What has changed drastically over the years is the context in which FSGW operates. When FSGW was created in 1964, and when I got involved in 1976, it was pretty much the only folk music organization in town, and put on the only reliable series of traditional music concerts in the D.C. area (and lectures and films too--we even used to run scholarly book reviews in our newsletter!). Now, FSGW is just one of many dozens of organizers of folk events in D.C. There are huge numbers of venues--bars, coffeehouses, open mics, and formal concerts at places ranging from small church halls to the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap. As an organization, we do not have the same feeling of community, because we are far from unique. That's a good thing for the music overall, but the large number of events and promoting organizations has, I think, diluted the strong sense of shared experience of FSGW's early days.

When I first came to D.C. in 1976, FSGW had much more regular "community" singing than it does now. Yes, it had the "Open Sing," which still goes on every first Friday of the month, but it also had many more open music parties, and the group singing was consistently incredibly good (thanks in no small part to some of the hard-core leaders of the FSGW in those days: Andy Wallace, Helen Schneyer, Jonathan Eberhart, Joe Hickerson, Bruce & Debby Hutton, Craig Johnson, Wally Macnow....the list goes on). Everybody knew the same chorus songs (from memory, not from a book), and we raised the rafters belting them out. Part of that was due to the FSGW being fairly new, and having been started by a close-knit group of friends who shared a common interest. The incredible singing still happens at the Getaway every October, but not so often at other times of the year. Part of that is that FSGW now has about 2,500 members. We don't all know each other. Some of us are dancers, and some singers, and some storytellers, and who "we" are depends on who you ask. Many members just join to get the awesomely useful FSGW newsletter, which has 24-28 pages every month packed with information on every folk-related event we know about--not just those sponsored by FSGW.

If you asked all 2,500 members of FSGW what "folk community" meant, I'd wager they would all give different answers, and have slightly different perspectives on whether things have changed. There are some who adhere to strict "purist snob" definitions of folk music (and even own a tongue-in-cheek t-shirt proclaiming their allegiance), and there are those who believe it's all about protest, and others who believe it's all about singer-songwriters, and, and, and.... The one thing that has NOT changed is that there's still room at the table for them all--and we seem to do a fairly successful job of hiding any of the small-minded backbiting and bickering that inevitably arises in groups of humans from VIP visitors like Jerry so that they'll write nice things about us on Mudcat ;^)

Kathy (long-winded, sorry). Interesting thread, Jerry!


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Stewart
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 04:47 PM

Most of us folkies in the Seattle area seem to get along quite nicely and civil - those at the open mic, song circle, and our Sunday Irish Session at least. But then we are mostly of the same political persuasion. Seattle is, after all, on the left coast, both geographically and politically.

Perhaps it is the anonymity of the internet that brings about unfriendly and uncivil behaviour. It's much better to get together face-to-face in person.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 05:13 PM

Hi all, I'm cross-posting this here from the "Lamorna" thread...

Thanks Snuffy for the Pomona post.

Must say I've learned to tread carefully in traditional-music turf wars. Thus when I suggested the song "Lamorna" on 31 January I was careful to say it was of English music hall origin. I was then, and am now, aware of everything that's been said on the forum concerning its origin, pretty definitively, in the Manchester music hall, with Pomona Gardens, and a possible London stage career as well.

In short, I was aware that "Lamorna" did not originate in Cornwall, and maybe should have been a little more expansive on the point. But I didn't think I needed to; it had all been said already.

But this isn't the first time I've run into "song rage" over whom this song in particular "belongs to." So I want to ask what the problem is. Is there a Manchester contingent feeling cheated of its song? I doubt it.

Nobody seems to argue over competing variants of other songs going native in other places...say, Streets of Laredo being more or less valid than "The Bad Girl." Would anybody much mind if a version turned up called "Streets of Nogales," or attempt to argue that it has "bugger all" to do with either?

I guess this goes to the heart of what the folk process is about... Help, help, I hope we're not about to slap a lid on creative change, because folks, when you do that, you just left the world of traditional song.

Must say I was surprised by the comeback, and hope we can be a touch more gentle with each other. But maybe that's me. Confrontation suits some folks' style, but I for one would rather endlessly repeat for the benefit of those who don't know than slam a newcomer making a contribution however uninformed.

Pomona? Lamorna? I happen to sing the less original Lamorna version because, all honors to Manchester and Pomona, I like Lamorna better. I don't really think I need a better reason, where two competing versions, each equally traditional, are available.

The DT and Forum were built on the spirit of inquiry and gently helpful interchange...and for the most part that still happens. Those of you interested in the topic may want to sample the Jerry Rasmussen-originated (hi Jerry) "Has the Folk Community Changed" thread. Bob

Bob


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 06:47 PM

Has the folk community changed.... I've been around a while, seen the money making days when the succesful ones had 'sold out' and now when the successful ones 'make a livin' so I think it's changed...had ups and downs. I'm feeling positive at the moment- meeting new people who are interested in what I sing.
As for mudcat, there are a lot of people here I respect, and idiots who don't keep Quiet, but if you're careful you can sort them out.
The net is nice and anonymous and you can't get at the stirrers to sort them out that's all.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 07:58 PM

My only experience with the folk scene in the late 60's was once, when some friends dragged me, the weekend-hippie-rock'n-roll type to a coffeehouse. It was a storefront in downtown Hartford, CT and there were 3 performers, all women, each playing guitar. I remember hearing "Suzanne." The room was dimly lit and had wooden folding chairs and about 20 people in the audience. There were health-food refreshments, juice and herb tea and homemade baked goods. The hairy-legged females in the audience were mostly knitting. The patter on stage was about how much the singer loved her Gibson or Martin, and then they would sing.

Afterwards, one friend tried to teach me a finger-picking pattern, I who had never held a guitar, and sang his own version of "Codeine."

Some things haven't changed much at all, except that now I have my own Martin and play bluegrass with a flat pick.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: jaze
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 08:05 PM

Thanks, KathWestra, I've been wondering for a long time and meaning to ask exactly what FSGW was!


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 08:21 PM

Man... 0ld (but still youthful) friends appearing out of the cyber-woodwork.

Hi, Bob ... lost track of you when some of the Catters were knee high to a duck. What a treat just to see your name, let alone read your voice.

And Kathy:

Any time you get a bunch of humans together, you have conflicts. Happens in a church, a rodeo, a space shuttle (I bet)... just human nature. I've seen FSGW four times over a span of twenty years... twenty years ago (roughly) when my 29 year old son was eight or nine years old and I did a concert, A couple of years after that when I came down and spent a weekend with Ed Trickett and went to the folk festival, and then three years ago with the Gospel Messengers, and a couple of years ago again on my own. Each time was very different, but there was one constant. I felt right at home, every time.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: robinia
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:05 PM

Is some of this maybe a function of how things come out in print, rather than face to face?   I must confess that (as one of the "Lamorna" posters) I wasn't even aware that I was involved in any sort of "turf war" -- but I was interested in how Cornwall latched on the song, and the forum did help... thanks all.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:05 PM

Jerry,

You bet your sweet bippy it has changed!!

As for Mudcat as compared to the old days: You're right on about how civil and great it was then!!!-------------- Mudcat, though, can (for some) be like speeding past in the safety of you car---so some opt to give the finger to people from that safe place. It's not pretty. In fact it's quite ugly. But that's IT--in a nutshell !!   

Art


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Once Famous
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:15 PM

Folkies today are no where like they once were.
The so-called liberals are far different.

So why pine about it?

The world has changed.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Auggie
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:35 PM

Art-
A very mild mannered (tho perhaps not well mannered)friend of mine moved from the cozy confines of northern Wisconsin to Oak Park (Chicago). On his first day driving down the Eisenhower into the city to work he was taken aback at the aggressive driving style of Chicago's rush hour and did indeed flip the bird to a fellow motorist from what he thought was the safety of his car.

He was quickly introduced to reality of life in the city when traffic on the expressway came to a dead stop 10 blocks later and the guy he'd flipped off got out of his car and proceeded to smash both my friends headlights, his outside mirrors and break off both wiper blades in return.

I was never big enough nor strong enough to do that in the real world, but I must confess there are times here at Mudcat when I am sorely tempted to react in a similar fashion to those who flick the Cyber-Bird to the undeserving.

Sorry folks,for the thread drift


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Gypsy
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 10:39 PM

I think that this is a comment on society in general, rather than folkies in particular. As we emphasize ME more, and more, and forget the big picture, we will degenerate. Entropy is the natural order of things. On the other hand, it doesn't mean i have to like it!


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: number 6
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 11:42 PM

I question if the folk community was so "open" and accepting back in the 60's. Look what happened to Bob Dylan when he played electric at Forest Hills and Newport in '65 for example. He was fervently jeered,rejected and scorned by the folk community. That certainly wasn't a display of openenss. It was total disrespect to one of the greatest folk artists of that era. A rejection of something new, or were they afraid of something new. The instruments were different, but the music and message was the same.

sIx


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Kaleea
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 11:56 PM

Make Music, not war. Play Musical instruments, not politics. Share Music and make friends. Give a kid a Musical instrument, not a gun.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Ferrara
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 12:12 AM

Jerry,

In the 60's you were involved in "the" folk community, from your perspective. Then and now, folk music has/had many faces and aspects and there are/were many sorts of folk communities.

In the 60's I had no experience of "the" folk community; I just natcherly loved folk music, had grown up with it, listened to it and sang it when I found it.

At my college, I found an odd kind of "folk community" -- get this -- at the Sigma Nu frat house. It was a couple of decades later when I realized the reason I loved their parties: they started singing about the time they started their second drink. I loved to sing and had no purist snob tendencies whatever. I spent a lot of time there. Most of the music was basically "folk," but you didn't hear protest songs: it was, "Have Some Madeira, M'Dear," "The Winnipeg Whore," "The Sloop John B," etc etc etc.

Now I've found a very different folk community to enjoy, mostly people from FSGW and their far flung network of friends. And one can participate in the activities of many other, overlapping folk communities just here in the D.C. area. Some of them have little or nothing to do with FSGW, for example the Ships Company who run the Royal Mile Pub shantey sing. The common bond is a type of music, not protest or politics or whatever.

There are other regional groups: e.g. people involved in the rural music tradition, f'r instance the people who gather at the Galax Old Time Fiddlers' convention. And the ethnic folk communities ... many more.

There are inclusive and exclusive subgroups in most of these groups. And, there are arguments and differences and jealousies and divisiveness from time to time, in every group of which I have any knowledge. Some musicians in some communities won't even look at you if you don't meet their musical standards. (When I wrote that I was thinking of certain regional old time musicians I know of. It has Nothing to do with the fact that my husband wore a "Purist Snob" T shirt for years.)

But, all of these communities have one thing in common, that they get together for music. The music is the bond. People at Galax don't ask you about your politics or religion. They listen and hang out with you if they like your music. Otherwise they hang out with somebody else.

Mudcat takes in more people and more kinds of Stuff than any of the above. I just don't think you can call the membership of Mudcat "The Folk Community." It isn't. It's people from a LOT of communities who may have more or less folk music in their lives.

A general interest in folk music isn't the same kind of common bond as an interest in hearing and performing live music together. If everyone in Mudcat got together in one place it would be a lot like our Getaway. For many, the music would become the basis for wonderful long-term friendships. For others, music would form a bond and they would relate wonderfully through the music, but they would not relate well at all in any other way, and would not get together later except to make music.

Some people would be thrilled to find musicians who shared their interests: some would go off and jam, some would form singing sessions, but some would sit in the corners and argue politics. When they got tired of it, though, they could walk away and find some music. You can't do that here.

Not sure if this is leading anywhere or really adding anything, still I guess I'll go ahead & post it....

Guess the point is, I really think it's unjust to look at what happens on Mudcat as if it's happening in "the folk community." Mudcat is just one "folk community," and it's constrained by being all about words. There's no shared (live, experienced) musical memories to form bonds between folks with strongly different opinions.

In my experience when conversation starts deteriorating into argument in a live get-together, someone says, "Oh, this is tedious, let's have some music!" And the ones who are really enjoying the argument go continue it in a corner, and everybody else starts some music.

That's the main difference. There's no way to just go play some music when you're arguing on Mudcat. So arguments get bigger and suck in more people who otherwise would go in the next room and jam.

Rita Ferrara


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 02:59 PM

There's no way to just go play some music when you're arguing on Mudcat.

Well there is - I do it all the time. But it doesn't interrupt the arguing, just removes us from it for a bit.

But once again, there's nothing wrong with a good argument. But there is everything wrong with turning it into a slanging match or a quarrel. That's like kicking over the chessboard - it stops the game entirely.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 03:15 PM

My early interest in folk music (1963-65) coincided with my introduction to the beat/bohemian culture and the left/radical politics that were so common in the folk-music community at that time ~ and so totally absent (or, at least, invisible) elsewhere in society.

I get the impression that today's "folk community," while still including many individuals of that boho/lefty persuasion, is less monolithic and now seems to include folks representing a wider spectrum of cultural and political attitudes. Perhaps it's because society at large now has room for a wider diversity of cultural "types," and us nonconformist kooks have less need to identify with a particular musical subculture.

And that's just in the US; my Mudcat-filtered impression of what's going on the UK is that "politics" is even less of an issue among folkies over there.

If it's true that a wider variety of viewpoints and attitudes are represented now than 30-40 years ago, perhaps it should not be surprising that disagreements arise here, and that a degree of nastiness sometimes raises its ugly head. Nevertheless, I find most of these discussions, both "up" and "down," to be interesting and occasionally enlightening.

Oh, one other thing: I disagree with those who have been contending that all the recent political disagreement and nastiness can be blamed on our American members. That's a large part of it, to be sure, but I seem to recall significant numbers of messages from British individuals not only denouncing US administration policies, but also (quite unfairly) impugning all us "Yanks" for our supposed complicity.


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 04:24 PM

Oh, one other thing: I disagree with those who have been contending that all the recent political disagreement and nastiness can be blamed on our American members. That's a large part of it, to be sure, but I seem to recall significant numbers of messages from British individuals not only denouncing US administration policies, but also (quite unfairly) impugning all us "Yanks" for our supposed complicity.

It's hard to resist, hey PoppaGator? ;o) It's sort of like, 'who will cast the first stone' in reverse: who can keep their hands in their pockets?


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 03 Feb 05 - 11:03 AM

There's no way to just go play some music when you're arguing on Mudcat.

I think that's one of the main reasons. When I was playing in a band, we sometimes discussed politics/sport before starting. One day it happened that I complained about an article in the local newspaper and said it was one of the worst articles I had read for a long time. One of my co-musician said he had written that article. I blushed for I really had forgotten for the moment where he worked asnd had not looked at the name of the author.

It was a bit of an embarrassing moment but we said come on, let's play together and all was well. So what lacks here is the playing together between or even instead of discussions.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 06 Feb 05 - 03:51 PM

Friends, Roamers, Countrymen, Citywomen et al,

It's time this was said, on the positive side.

Yes, the folk community HAS changed. And one of the most positive ways it's changed is Digitrad. We need to think over some of the great things that should be said about this crossroads of the human spirit-cum-music obsession.

Looking back over a lifetime of 67 years, with all kinds of immersion in folkie and oldtime, hootenanny, singaround, outing club wingdings and trail music, campfire singing at Jenny Lake in the shadows of the Tetons and up and down the country from Mexico City to Glacier Park, folk song organizations, club dates, college concerts, and random events involving music including backstage jams, parking lot jams, folk festivals, annoying the neighbors, and so on...

Till Digitrad we never had this place to pool thoughts as well as songs. I came to Digitrad totally by accident--a completely un-clued-in officemate who knew I liked folk music stumbled over it (in '96 was it?) and rather dubiously mentioned it to me--to find, by and large, a community very much in the image of something I'd always dreamed of. Like-minded individuals, more than averagely kind, considerate, intelligent and helpful. Not to mention the world's finest archive of traditional music, plus a great many other kinds of songs, pop, vaudeville, silly and profound, that I love too. Once in a while a harsh word? I'd say that's still a great batting average.

Oh give me a night
On the mudcat website
Where good steers and good scholarship play
Where seldom is found
Any lack of good sound
I rely on it more every day.

Home on Digitrad,
Where the songs list from Z back to A,
Where often is heard
A new musical word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Think, folks, think. This site is probably the best bulletin board in the whole wide world. It certainly is the best and most accessible archive of songs. I've made friends here (I hope I haven't managed to alienate you all yet), found scholarly help, zany fun, and I get to talk to like-minded individuals about every crazy musical thing that crosses my mind. I never felt half so well situated or well informed. And I sometimes get lucky enough to be able to help other people with a song they're looking for, as so many of you have helped me.

All hail to Digitrad! We just don't know how lucky we are. Okay fine, there are some harsh interchanges. But half the time I think they're not even meant that way, sometimes we just sound brusque and don't know it. There is a world of good heart and soul here.

And just imagine if we didn't have this resource. Seriously. Imagine for a moment that Digitrad doesn't exist. And feel the sense of loss.

Bottom line: this is a dream community. Dream on.

Kudos to our Digitradders. Long may they wave.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Has The Folk Community Changed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Feb 05 - 04:20 PM

Been away from this a couple of days and have thoroughly enjoyed all the recent imput. I think you really clarified if, Ferrara. The folk community has never been monolithic. The 60's community I was involved in to some extent was very localized in a ten or twelve block area, and everybody got to know everyone else, at least on a superficial level. One of the things that tied that disparate together was the promise of "making it." That may be an odd recognition for a community that prided itself on being independent of the materialistic and warlike culture of the time. But, there was a whiff of commercial potential in the air, when Ken Goldstein was romaing the Village and people were getting signed all over the place to very un-lucrative record contracts. As a friend of mine said to me once, "I don't know why no one has recorded you, there are people a lot worse than you who have been recorded." Mostly, people were excited when someone else would get signed to do a record, and those were heady times. When folk music started losing it's commercial appeal, it didn't take longe for the Village to start declining. Much of that community was fed on the vision of sugar plums and recording contracts dancing in everyone's heads. Not that that was all bad. There really was an enthusiasm and sense of community in that small area of a few blocks. It turned out to be pretty short-lived, but it was wonderful while it lasted.

When I go to a folk festival, the circles within a circle are obvious. Especially after hours. But even then, I still feel a general welcome from most people (except for the snobs.) I am at best a primitive fiddler, and one time was playing Forked Deer in D. That was the only key I could figure it out in. Someone came over to me and sneared and said, "NO ONE plays Forked Deer in D!"   And I answweredm, "Someone does now..."

I do think the missing ingredient in here is that we don't have a chance to play together.

Jerry


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