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Folk Music Is for intellectuals

Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 08:10 AM
sian, west wales 16 Jun 06 - 08:32 AM
jacqui.c 16 Jun 06 - 08:35 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 08:36 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 08:49 AM
Paul Burke 16 Jun 06 - 08:57 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 09:02 AM
Leadfingers 16 Jun 06 - 09:03 AM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 09:11 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:13 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM
jacqui.c 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM
Midchuck 16 Jun 06 - 09:16 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 09:22 AM
Barbara Shaw 16 Jun 06 - 09:27 AM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 09:29 AM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 09:32 AM
Amos 16 Jun 06 - 09:40 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:41 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 09:50 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:53 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 09:59 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:00 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:12 AM
Ernest 16 Jun 06 - 10:13 AM
GLoux 16 Jun 06 - 10:17 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:19 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 10:33 AM
IanC 16 Jun 06 - 10:34 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 10:36 AM
Tim theTwangler 16 Jun 06 - 10:40 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 10:45 AM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 10:48 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Jun 06 - 11:00 AM
Azizi 16 Jun 06 - 11:02 AM
Ebbie 16 Jun 06 - 11:33 AM
GrassStains 16 Jun 06 - 11:41 AM
GLoux 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM
The Villan 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 11:59 AM
GrassStains 16 Jun 06 - 12:07 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Jun 06 - 12:15 PM
GUEST 16 Jun 06 - 12:30 PM
GLoux 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM
Amos 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM
Barbara Shaw 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Val 16 Jun 06 - 12:37 PM
Barbara Shaw 16 Jun 06 - 12:48 PM
Little Hawk 16 Jun 06 - 12:53 PM
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Subject: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:10 AM

Back in the 70's and 80's I was running a monthly folk concert series. Every once in awhile I'd book a bluegrass band and I noticed that my regular audience stayed away in droves and a completely different audience came. I wouldn't see the bluegrass group again until I booked another bluegrass band. Very few of them ever came to a folk concert (and the opposite was true, too.) My folk audience had very little interest in bluegrass.

One night at my rare bluegrass concert, I talked about that with the audience and asked if they'd stop by as they were leaving and tell me why they never came to the folk concerts. They made two revealing observations:

1. They didn't want to come to hear someone sitting on a stool playing guitar and singing protest music all night.
2. Folk music is for intellectuals (or at least people who have a college education) and bluegrass was for common people. Or put another way, folk music was Public Television, bluegrass was Hee Haw! (a popular country/bluegrass/ corny comedy tv show at the time.)

I thought the first comment was way off, mostly reflecting the 60's when so much folk music was anti-war or civil rights music.

The second comment was very revealing, and with a lot of truth.. at least in the U.S. To a great extent, the folk revival came out of colleges in the 60's. It sure didn't come from small town, working class "folks." Bluegrass is much more (excuse me) grass roots music. Not that there aren't a lot of college educated bluegrass musicians (or fans.) You're just not likely to run into a lot of folks at bluegrass festivals who listen to NPR (National Public Radio) or Masterpiece Theater. They get their Jeans from Walmart, not L.L. Bean.

Like all generalities there are exceptions, but I thought the comment about folk music being for educated people was pretty much on target. Nothing wrong with it... just a fair observation, I think.

The situation may be totally different in England, but that's the way I see it here.

Any thoughts?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: sian, west wales
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:32 AM

Darn it, Jerry. You keep setting up threads that make me THINK til m' brain hurts.

"Folk" or "trad" music certainly seems to split up into 'followings'. Welsh folk songs have been rather hijacked by the middle class and turned, for the most part,into Art songs. (Unfortunately, not of the Art Thieme variety.) And often only dusted off for big competitive festivals. Then there's the 1970s 'camp' that updated some songs and set them side by side with protest songs and gave them a more 'rock' style. OK. And then there's a 'camp' today that are very accoustic and want to find a more traditonal style ... although that road is fraught with problems too. And then all of the above tend to be considered 'nationalists' - using folk music to promote a specific pro-Wales message, whether they are or not. (In actual fact, using trad music to establish or underpin a national image is a pretty common thing.)

And while all this is bubbling along, lo and behold the blue collar workers are listening to C&W and Sinatra.

Maybe trad/folk attracts people who are interested in figuring out how their communities 'tick', and the fact that it's music comes farther down the rationale scale? And these tend to be perceived as 'intellectual'?

sian


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jacqui.c
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:35 AM

Strange thing Jerry - I've had the same thought.

Just looking at the Mudcat crew I would guess that that theory would hold up pretty well. Simply from the quality of the posts to any thread it is clear that there are a lot of bright people using this site. I've found the same, on the whole, at folk sessions in both the USA and the UK. There seem to be a preponderance of college educated folk in both countries and others who may not have gone to college but would certainly have made it through, given the opportunity. I've also been to Bluegrass sessions and festivals and would agree that the general audience is different.

Maybe it's because there is more history behind a lot of the music and that there is a need, certainly for me, to actually listen to and understand the words of a song, rather than get totally into the rythmn of the tune. Anyway, that's just my opinion, for what it's worth.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:36 AM

Well, I think your depiction of what bluegrass audiences were like back in the day is pretty accurate, but I wouldn't say it is at all accurate about today's bluegrass audiences. I also wouldn't typify the bluegrass audience as 'Hee Haw'. Opry, yes. 'Hee Haw' was just an anomaly, IMO. More 'Green Acres' and 'Beverly Hillbillies' sneering condescension towards rural life and culture than anything else. I have the same complaint about Garrison Keillor, though to a much lesser extent than I do 'Hee Haw'.

One of the best & most interesting things about bluegrass today for me is how it cuts across class lines. The audience for bluegrass has a lot of people in it I find pretty interesting.

You know, a Dan Fogelberg meets Doc Watson sort of effect.

While many college educated or intellectually leaning players are now involved in bluegrass, their involvement hasn't been as revivalists. They jumped in to a river of living, thriving music traditions. Which really did set them apart from the college folk revivalists.

It also makes the bluegrass audience much more authentic and genuine in my experience. One thing that has always bothered me about the Anglo American folk scene is it's pretentiousness and preciousness about itself.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:49 AM

And I would add, in my experience with folk music types, among the American and British musicians and audiences, nationalist identification does have a lot to do with their attraction to their own culture's roots music, even though the vast majority of folkies will vehemently deny they are attracted to the music for those reasons.

Same sort of a denial syndrome you see with love/hate dynamics in personal relationships, actually!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Paul Burke
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 08:57 AM

What's wrong with being an intellectual? I'd like to bet that in the UK at least, the carriers of traditional music when it was a living demotic culture were generally more intelligent, more inquisitive, better educated (not necessarily formally), and generally more thinking than the general population.

GUEST sounds like our old friend trying to be naughty again. I suppose I'm into English song because I'm an English nationalist, Irish flute because I'm Irish, Swedish fiddling because I'm nordic, and Klezmer because I love my mother.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:02 AM

Yes, North American folk music was always pretty much for white, middle-class intellectuals, the collegiate crowd...while bluegrass mostly was for a different, less intellectually inclined crowd. Folk music was music to make you think, and it was driven by the lyrical content. Bluegrass was music to make you tap your feet to, and the lyrics hardly mattered.

And that explains why I loved folk music and was thoroughly bored by
bluegrass (and the Blues, generally, for that matter).

I love lyrics that make me think about all kinds of stuff in depth. That also explains why I like Bob Dylan so much.

This is the thing that people who don't like folk music just don't get, because they DON'T listen to music in order to think about things.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:03 AM

As Sian said , Jerry , you've done it again !
And THERE is the major difference - People who get into Folk in all its many ramifications tend to be the people who THINK about things , rather than just the surface emanations !!
With regard to Bluegrass as opposed to folk , The Bluegrassers are looking for something with a bit more going for it than the Tuneless Rock or totally bland country , but dont feel the need to look too deeply into the background of the music .


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:11 AM

As far as I have observed Jerry`s observations would not fit the situation in Ireland, where most people - from all parts of society - like their folk music (but I`ve met a few who don`t like their revolutionary songs). Jerry`s observations seem to be true for North America and most of western Europe, though.

Maybe the reason is not the difference in education, but the tendency of folk music (in the sense we are discussing now) to try to influence people. As Jerry pointed out, people still think folk-singers are mainly protest-singers. And many of the big names were (and still are?).

This is ok if you share the political viewpoint of the singer. If you don`t this can become quite annoying. Most people don´t like to be lectured/indoctrinated. The message can be: I am enlightened, and if you don`t agree with me, you are (intellectually or morally) inferior.
Not the best marketing move.

(This raises a question: Jerry, I know you are involved with gospel music - are there many atheists coming to gospel concerts?).

The message of Bluegrass/Country is: we are common people like you. don`t feel inferior*. Plus a lot of the repertoire is orginally folk.
Sounds like a better marketing strategy.

Good thread again, Jerry: keeps me thinking too.

Regards
Ernest

*Please note: I don`t think this is true. It is marketing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:13 AM

I didn't say that folk afficionados were just a bunch of cultural nationalists wearing musician disguises!

I said they are attracted to roots music of their own cultures for the same reasons cultural nationalists are attracted to musical and non-musical cultural traditions. It gives them a sense of identity they want.

I don't believe there is anything inherently evil in cultural nationalism. It only becomes problematical when used as a means of putting another culture/nation down, or manipulating it in political and militaristic terms.

I have no problem whatsoever with people identifying themselves, or inventing themselves, or whatever you want to call it, by their culture or nationality. And that includes music identities.

We don't have to adopt our own culture's music traditions. But many people want to, and I have no problem with that.

Nor would I call them Nazis for doing so (to hurry up and invoke the nasty N-word for nationalism and get it out of the way of an otherwise good conversation!).

There is nothing wrong with intellectuals either. We are talking about audience perceptions, not individual musicians.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM

I'd add another dimension to the conversation. Bluegrass got Da Beat, Folk music don't. Bluegrass music is to dance to, folk singers playing guitar and sitting on a stool are to listen to.

Yes, all these statements are oversimplifications, but I think with a strong element of truth.

Bluegrass has energy; most folk music is more about story telling and is more laid back. I happen to like music with energy and a strong beat (I don't like bluegrass much because I feel that most of it is so strictly homogenized that it doesn't have a lot more content than disco or polkas ... like bluegrass, all three are more "get up and get out on the floor" music. Rock and roll is music to move to, like bluegrass. Folk music is to sway to, and go Ahhhhhh.. appreciatively when the song ends.

I love folk music, and I love ballads but I must admit that if I hear too many thoughtful, sensitive or respectful songs in a row, I need a fix of Little Richard or Dire Straits.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: jacqui.c
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:15 AM

Too true LH.

I think that Guest is wrong. In my case, anyway. I am English and now live in the States. Living here I have developed, alongside my liking for UK folk music, a real interest in American folk music, which has been drawn from the many cultures that make up the USA.

When you listen to the likes of Utah Phillips putting relatively modern history into song or Gordon Bok or Dave Mallet telling of the working lives of the people they know you have to listen to the words and that gives you more of an understanding of the country.

This, possibly, is why folkies tend to have more interest in the folk music of their own countries - if you can't understand what is being sung because you don't speak the language you're back to just listening to the tune and maybe we want more than that.

By the way, I do agree that some folkies can be rather precious and pretentious but maybe Guest has been moving in the wrong circles. Come to the Getaway, Old Songs or to many of the UK festivals and get involved in the open sessions - that's where you will generally find the people who ENJOY their music and aloow it to continue as a living thing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Midchuck
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:16 AM

The odd thing is, bluegrass existed since 1946, but it almost died in the late 50s and early 60s, due to the popularity of rockabilly. It was the city folkies that saved it, by giving it a different name - before that it was just a particular form within country music, which made it untouchable by educated city people - and bringing BG performers to the folk festivals and to concerts in the city.

One could go so far as to say the bluegrass as a genre was saved by Joan Baez's decision to put the Greenbriar Boys on two cuts on her second Vanguard album. That's probably what first turned me on to it, anyhow.

Of course, I was a freak - upper middle class upbringing and education, but loved country music from childhood until it died around 1985.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:22 AM

Hey, Ernest:

People respond to the beat and a good chorus for many tupes of music. Not everyone who sings sea chanties has worked on a ship. Or even rowed a boat. I've done gospel workshops at Folk Festivals where I was the only performer who believed in God. I've sat next to Jews in Gospel workshops, as well as Atheists. They like the music. My group was even asked to sing at a jewish memorial service for a woman who was Jewish but loved black gospel.

Several years ago, our tenor couldn't make a performance we were doing at a folk festival and we asked Sandy Paton to fill in on a song. We all had such a good time that he ended up singing tenor harmony with us for the full 50 minute concert.. singing many songs he'd never heard before. Sandy was an Atheist, last time that I checked.

Just don't ask me to sing any Republican songs.. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:27 AM

The generalities may have been true for your audiences back in the 70's and 80's, but it doesn't apply today. Have you been to any number of bluegrass festivals lately? Check out the Thomas Point Beach bluegrass festival in Brunswick, ME over Labor Day weekend, and you'll see a healthy mix of Bowdoin college types along with some good ole boys from the back hills and a large number of Boston area urban professionals. And then there are people like myself --lots of them.

I don't see anything especially intellectual about sea chanteys, and some purportedly intellectual singer-songwriters bore former English majors like myself. Old-timey is certainly folk, but there's very little intellect required for Cluck Old Hen or Boil Them Cabbage Down. And some country music fans love the music especially because of the lyrical content.

People sometimes gravitate to what they're used to, what they've been exposed to, regardless of intellectual content. Since I straddle many fences musically (especially bluegrass, classical and folk) I see vast differences in the audiences. Of all the festivals I go to, folk festivals seem to have the most homogeneous audience in terms of appearance, politics, education level. None of which necessarily define intellect.

Interesting intellectual challenge, this thread, Jerry!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:29 AM

Thanks for answering my question, Jerry! So I won`t use the gospel/atheist argument... ;0)

Maybe it was a bad example anyway: Religion often also demands a certain degree of education, and our modern societies are more tolerant towards other peoples beliefs.

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:32 AM

Little Hawk,
do I understanding you correctly {and most others on this thread} to say that the only music that makes people think and the only music where lyrics matter is music that is peformed and produced by White people?

Personally, I can tap my feet and think at the same time. And I gather that I'm not "into" the same type of folk music you are into.

Which brings me to my point that ,imo, your definition of North American folk music as music composed and performed by White North Americans is much too limited.

But what else is new?...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:40 AM

Well, Azizi, Little Hawk, in addition to actually being white, is also a Canadian, so he is doubly blessed with short-sight. Although, to be fair, he did say "FOR white North Americans....". But I think that is a case of confusing your own market niche with the whole damn world. Way too limited.


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:41 AM

Barbara said "Of all the festivals I go to, folk festivals seem to have the most homogeneous audience in terms of appearance, politics, education level."

That is my perception too.

I also agree with you Jerry, that danceability also is a main draw and distinction between audiences.

But that doesn't mean bluegrass and country music fans aren't just as appreciative of story songs/ballads. Quite the contrary, in my experience.

I believe that artists like the Dixie Chicks are a good example of how contemporary musicians are taking advantage of what Art refers to as "the blur".

My entry to bluegrass and country music was not through the folk scene. It was through the dead bluegrass scene, whose demise has been greatly exaggerated by folk revivalists.

I've always been a whole lot more Flatt & Scruggs than that other guy anyway. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:50 AM

Hi, Barbara: Glad you joined in. First of all, I should add that I enjoy Shoregrass very much, mostly I guess because they don't sound formulaic and do an interesting mix of bluegrass, folk and whatever else sounds good to them. Technically, I guess Shoregrass IS a bluegrass band but like some more recent bands, they are far more adventurous.

And Azizi: I don't think Little Hawk was saying things in as limited a way as you heard him. For me, blues (other than the variants on OOh Weee, my baby left me and I'm feeling so bad) not only has rhythm (which I seem to need, like calcium) but it is often thought provoking (but not what people generally mean by "intellectual" which is thought of more as formally educated.) There's a beautiful lyricism in some blues that has always attracted me:

"I got the blues before sunrise
Tears standing in my eyes
It's such a miserable old feeling
A feeling I do despise"

I do feel that music is made for many reasons. Music to dance to usually has simpler, more repetitive, catchy (Or infuriatingly irritating) lines. How many times can you sing "That's the way I like it, Uh-huh!" before going insane? But the music is to dance to, not to reflect upon. Now maybe a folk singer could take that line (or someone like me) and reflect endlessly on the innate selfishness of the line, examining my own conscience and vowing to write a song that keeps repeating "That's the way you like it, Way Cool!"

I never liked disco, or polkas and don't generally enjoy any music that is "danceable" (like bluegrass) because I am a lousy dancer and make a fool of myself if I "get up and get out on the floor." I'd rather people not know how clumsy I am. Folk music is more of a "sit down and listen, and sing along if you want to" music. Barbry Allen doesn't get many people up and out on the floor.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:53 AM

Good points, Azizi.

Perhaps some here forget that bluegrass, as a "blurred genre", was influenced by European American AND African American music traditions, even though the audience and performers are almost exclusively white?

There are also American music genres that are almost exclusively black, too.

I also don't have a problem with that, going either way. Just like I don't have a problem with Irish music largely being by and for Irish folks, English music being by and for English folks, etc.

It seems to me it was the folk revivalists who got people going on all this stuff, because it fulfilled needs in their academic lives, not their musical ones. I still think that is the case with folk music especially.

We don't see near as many musicology degrees with a bluegrass emphasis as we do blues or jazz or folk. Of course, that too will change once a critical mass is reached, and middle class folks who aren't satisfied with the small amount of money a professional bluegrass musician makes, decide to supplement their income by becoming musicology majors!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 09:59 AM

PS I also love a good polka.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:00 AM

And a good church picnic with rockin' accordions, regardless of the 'music genre' they might be playing.

Rockin' accordion polka music goes real good with barbecue.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:12 AM

And I don't care if the accordion players are Polish, Mexican, or Cajun. Everybody can dance and barbecue at church picnics to pretty good effect (and without being religious), in my experience.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ernest
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:13 AM

Maybe it is a mix what attracts people: Especially the generations "trained" by MTV etc. are not used to listen for more than 3 minutes anymore...

And before that tv-shows and vaudeville drew their success by mixing music and comedy

Only hard-core fans can stand an evening of reflective singer songwriter material - or an purely instrumental irish session for that matter.

Oh, and Guest: just as the music mixes, so are the musicians. Lots of music today is more a style than a heritage. Leaving apart the Can-a-white-boy-play-the-blues-question here in Berlin one of my favourite irish-style banjo players is Austrian, one of my favourite irish-style fiddlers is German and one irish-step-dancer Russian.

Best

Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:17 AM

Jerry,

I don't agree with the "education-thing", with regard to folk music, because I know some overly educated fans of bluegrass, however I won't deny folk musics' ties to the college audiences from the days of the "folk scare"...I also don't agree with the reference to bluegrass with dance...you can't dance to bluegrass, although it does have a beat. There is rhythm in bluegrass, but it is too "flat" to be danceable, IMHO.

I don't know why I'm so disagreeable this morning. Maybe I should eat some prunes.

I do agree with your first-hand observation that generally speaking, bluegrass and folk crowds don't mix, although there are some folks who strive to stay right between the two genres...David Bromberg comes to mind.

There are too many gross generalizations in this thread that make me uncomfortable. Here's another: I have a book from 1968 by Milton Okun entitled "Something to Sing About -- The Personal Choices of America's Folk Singers" and of course it is a wonderful book, but it is very interesting who the author considers "Folk Singers"...there are a bunch of African Americans included:

Mississippi John Hurt
Paul Robeson
Muddy Waters
Josh White
Reverend Gary Davis
Jesse Fuller
Mahalia Jackson
Harry Belafonte
Odetta
Malvina Reynolds
Richie Havens

I think with our "2006-rose colored glasses" many of these folks would not be considered folk singers today, but it is interesting that back in the 60s, someone reasonably important did.

I'm not sure what my point is here, but I think the prunes are kicking in...

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:19 AM

Agreed Ernest. The global music marketplace has made it so for quite some time.

Never bothered me a bit if a white boy could play the blues, anymore than if a black boy could play bluegrass.

If you can play it, you can play it.

But that doesn't necessarily mean you feel/experience the music the same way either!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:33 AM

Now Greg, when has music not being danceable ever stopped people from dancing?

Rockabilly is danceable. Or not.

But your point is well taken. A lot of bluegrass music is performed while people are sitting and listening, rather than dancing.

Also, people aren't too keen on discussing the high lonesome and/or harmony sangin' thing here, either. To me, that also is a hallmark of bluegrass.

But I'm not so sure I can state unequivocally that you can't dance to Foggy Mountain Boys!

Also, I find that today's bluegrass afficionados know a lot more about trad folk than today's folkies know about bluegrass.

Why? Well, they draw from the same well. They just use a different methodology? A different bucket to draw the water, so to speak.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: IanC
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:34 AM

Well, I think this is one reason why I'm getting more and more reluctant to call what I do "Folk Music". Most of it's traditional, but what the hell.

For me, folk music is for the people in the bar of the Rose & Crown. Especially the drunks (regulars), as they tend to appreciate it more in the long run.

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:36 AM

No, you don't understand me correctly, Azizi. ;-) I am saying that the folk music of the 60's and since has had mostly a white following, and that it has been a style of music that, more than most other populuar styles of music, attracted people who liked songs that make them think.

I never said that it's the ONLY music that makes people think nor did I say that ONLY white people like music that makes them think!   

Classical music attracts a thinking crowd. Some rock music attracts a thinking audience too...depending on the songwriter. I love Dire Straits, for example, because I find that Mark Knopfler's songs DO give me a lot to think about.

Jackson Browne was always a songwriter for the thinking listener, but is he a folk musician? Not exactly. He has some folky aspects, but he seems just as much rooted in pop/rock as anything else...that California sound. Warren Zevon makes me think. He's basically a rocker. Van Morrison makes me think. What would you call his music? It has some folk overtones, but it also combines rock and jazz. And so it goes...

There are some songs in almost any genre of music you can mention that will attract an audience who like songs that make them think...but that depends on the songwriter.

Al Stewart definitely wrote songs for the thinking listener. That's why I love Al Stewart. He was seen as a "folkie" in the early days, because he started out as one guy playing a guitar and singing original songs, but he ended up doing a very sophisticated style of band and orchestral music with extraordinary lyrical content that could hardly be termed "folk" in the usual sense.

The point is, what do the majority of fans of a music style listen to that music mainly for? How's this for a ballpark guess:

rock - the heavy beat and the party atmosphere
jazz - the "groove" and the instrumental technique
rap - the heavy beat and the "attitude"
blues - the riffs, the beat, and the attitude
classical - the sound and the intricacies and the tradition
opera - same as classical, plus the spectacle
bluegrass - the general groove and the beat
pop - the beat, the emotional content, the tune
country - the cultural sense of belonging (actually THAT applies to ALL the above), the beat, the twang, the emotional content

and then theres....

folk - the LYRICS, the message, the meaning, the sound, the cultural traditions in many cases....but NOT the beat!

And yet...some folksongs can have a great beat.

So, the only really crucial difference I see with folk music is that more than any other general category of music it attracts an audience that is very focused on lyrical content of a more complex and varied nature than is usually found in popular music....and it attracts an audience that is less focused on "the beat" or "the partying" aspect...not that they are incapable of appreciating a good beat when they hear it or a good party when they're in the mood for one.

Does that help?

Amos, I specifically indicated in my first post that I was describing North American folk music, as I know it. And that was all. My impression is, for example, that folk audiences in the UK have a stronger contingent that specifically focuses in on Trad songs...but curiously enough, the UK audience was also more inclined to pay close attention to strong modern lyrical content (such as Dylan) than their North American counterparts. When Dylan hit the British consciousness he just became HUGE over there in a very short period of time, because of his lyrics. The North American audience took a little longer to accept him on a mass basis, I think, although he certainly had a very strong cult following early on.

Also, I basically grew up in New York State, not in Canada. I lived in New York State from 1958-1969, and that period encompassed my entire early experience (the first ten years) of exposure to folk music. How does that render me someone who only sees folk music, as you suggest, from an insular Canadian aspect? To the contrary, it was the folk music happening IN the USA that got my attention. I can't help it that several of the most important early folksingers of the time, performing IN the USA, were Canadian: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian & Sylvia, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell....hey, Canada had good representation for a small power, eh? ;-) But at the same time I was also listening to Dylan, Baez, Ramblin' Jack, the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, Judy Collins...all of whom were American...and I was listening to English or Irish players too.

I am NOT confusing my market niche, as you put it, with the whole world...I'm just talking about the music that I personally liked and listened to at the time. Why would I assume that that was "the whole world"? It was just my part of the world at the time, that's all, and what separated the people who liked "folk music" from the people who didn't, in my experience, was, the people who liked the folk music tended much more to listen to the words.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:40 AM

Oh sh*t all this time I thought I loved folk music and really I only like Bluegrass because I didnt go to colledge and am a common working bloke in the uk.
The least intresting bit about folk music is the long winded explanations about why some one is going to sing a song and why they think some one else wrote it and why we should therefore value it highly.
Music either moves you or it doesnt. It doesnt make the music bad or the listener an intelectual.
IMHO
Ask any one in UK how many folk clubs are overrun with pretentious preachy middle class types who prattle and preach instead of playing
Then ask how many folk clubs would be left if there were no middle class etc etc .......get my drift?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:45 AM

I don't think Bluegrass is much for dancing, but it IS for toe-tapping. In other words, the rythm and beat and the fast picking are crucial to most bluegrass. That's what the bluegrass audience is mainly there to hear, as far as I can see.

What does a bluegrass ace performer aim for in his mind? He wants to pick cleaner and faster than anybody else can.

What does a folk ace performer aim for in his mind? Terrifically meaningful lyrics that say something better than anybody else could have said it...wedded to a good tune, if at all possible.

Those are totally divergent objectives, although they are both certainly worthy objectives in their own right.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM

GLoux - I'm wondering if Milton Okun is African or African American. The last name sounds Nigerian, then again I'm probably thinking of "Ogun" and "Oshun"-Yoruba dieties....

Wikipedia has this entry for Milt Ogun:
"Milt Okun (born 23 December 1923 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American arranger best known as a member of The Belafonte Folk Singers with Harry Belafonte.

Okun also recorded several albums of his own in the 1960s. Has made arrangements for a large number of well known artists like The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Brothers Four and John Denver."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Okun

-snip-

Also, check out these entries for Milt Okun:

Miscellaneous Crew - filmography
(1990s) (1970s) (1960s)

The Indian Runner (1991) (executive: Cherry Lane Film Publishing)
... aka Indian Runner (Japan: English title)


Golden Rendezvous (1977) (music consultant)
... aka Nuclear Terror (USA: TV title)


Gone Are the Days! (1963) (conductor: choral music, "Happy as the is Long" and "Massa's in de Cold Ground") (music adaptor: "Happy as the is Long" and "Massa's in de Cold Ground") (music arranger: choral music, "Happy as the Is Long" and "Massa's in de Cold Ground")
... aka Purlie Victorious
... aka The Man from C.O.T.T.O.N. (USA: reissue title)
The Young One (1960) (music arranger: song "Sinner Man")
... aka Island of Shame (UK)
... aka Joven, La (Mexico)
... aka White Trash (USA)

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0645800/

-snip-

All this to say, if Milt Okun isn't Black, he did alot of work with and about Black people {And I'm not counting the White Trash film}

That may account for his inclusion of Black artists in his folk music book.

I'm just saying...




Also,


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 10:48 AM

Yes, Tim, the vital thing about any music is...does it move you? And that's why I like music from many different genres, not just what is termed "folk music".


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:00 AM

Having done a "folk" music radio show for a few decades and now booking a local coffeehouse, I have tried to get a feel from family, friends, and others who do not attend folk music concerts. There are actually several stereotypes at work.

1. Kumbayah music. Some people view "folk" as something that is sung in church basements and is one step away from being a cult. That is a quote from a co-worker at my "dayjob".   I know that growing up one of the places I heard folk music was at church (yes, I used to attend) where a guitar was brought out and we would sing songs that we were told to sing.

2. Tom Dooley grandparent music. I have relatives that feel this way. This is music that shows up on PBS fundraisers and is played for geriatic audiences that are too tired to sit through those loud doo-wop concerts.

3. Singer-songwhiners. A more recent stereotype. "I don't want to hear people crying into their beer" was an answer given to me by a so-called friend. Instrospective songwhiners have created an image. A sub genere is the SWGWG - single white girl with guitar.

4. History teachers. My daughter felt this way. This is close to Jerry's "intellectuals".   Because folk music is often introduced in schools to help teach subjects, there are many young adults who will turn up their nose when they see the word "folk" if they are looking for some entertainment.

5. Bomb throwing radicals.   A quote from a politically middle-of-the road co-worker. Often folk music is shown on television with images of musicians singing protest songs - often Peter, Paul & Mary doing Blowing in the Wind. The McCarthy era also feeds into this. It has created an image that audiences will be subjected to diatribes meant to incite overthrowing the government.

There are some truths in all of the above. Often the music is presented only to reach out to an older audience or making weak gestures to reach out to others.

The bottom line is - you can't patronize the "non-believers", nor should we perpetuate the stereotypes. The music is what the music is. People will be attracted to it for different reasons.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Azizi
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:02 AM

Hmmm..."Also"???

Pardon me as I leave the discussion for a time and put on some Billie Holliday while I think about what else I meant to say...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:33 AM

Wow. That last, Little Hawk, is perfect. I like bluegrass because of its energy, its clean picking, its harmonies, its mix of instruments- but I don't think I know a single bluegrass song in which I consider the lyrics to be the most important part. (Oh, wait, how about 'The Fields Have Turned Brown'? That's a heartbreaker.)

I tend to agree with GLoux:
"...you can't dance to bluegrass, although it does have a beat. There is rhythm in bluegrass, but it is too "flat" to be danceable, IMHO. GLoux"

It seems to me when members of the audience get up and dance to bluegrass it's more of a hop up and down motion. It ain't purdy!

I like country because it's a down home thing to me, it's what I grew up with. There are- or were - some good songs in it but as a general thing the lyrics of most of them are not earth shaking. I have a musician friend in Juneau- Don Drew - who sings the old country songs (he has a great voice and tremendous control) of pre-1965 and I love them; it's a nostalgia thing. Don, incidentally, is black.

I love 'folk' music because of its nuanced lyrics, the mood it so frequently creates. I listen to folk songs.

Juneau is a linear town- narrow but long. The downtown area, which is where the Capitol and the government buildings are, is considered much more liberal politically than the Mendenhall Valley area less than 10 miles away. These differences are reflected in a number of different ways.

* The Valley has the honky tonk bars (Why isn't 'honky' in this context considered peforative? *G*), the roughhouse boxing and our local version of Hooters. Oh, and the prison.
* Downtown Juneau has the coffe houses, the theatres, the folk music venues, the performance halls.

** This categorization, of course, is grossly over-simplified. Our Friday night music, for instance, draws several people from the valley, one who sings Steve Goodman, John Prine, Shel Silverstein, Jesse Winchester, and others; another who sings Donovan (one member of the group is trying to expose her to Townes Van Zandt in an effort to wean her from Donovan. *G*)

The most striking thing I ever experienced in this town - musically -was some years ago when the local police academy booked Jerry Reed, the country singer.

I went because he was a part of my younger days. What amazed me was that even though it was a full house, I knew only three people in the line there. And one of those was the sound man.

Evidently these were people from the Valley, people I normally didn't run into.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GrassStains
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:41 AM

I'm with Barbara Shaw and Greg on this, though as others have said, it's been interesting to think about. But the subject line and general line of thinking do seem too full of generalizations. Partly I'm thinking of such bluegrass greats as Vassar Clements and Del McCoury and The Country Gentleman: we're WAY past toe-tapping in how these people have reached me. Partly too I am thinking of the other music I am immersed in, Irish traditional music, especially the purely instrumental, unison music known for its rhythmic energy. It seems every bit as atractive to intellectuals as to those who might classify themselves otherwise. I wonder if one useful distinction between folk and bluegrass, however, might be that bluegrass is, first of all, relatively new, and second (and related), more a recording and performance tradition than a back porch stomp, so it may have a more commercial element in it and in that way attract a different crowd??

Interesting, though. Still kinda scratchin' my head.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM

GUEST, I didn't say you couldn't dance to bluegrass. You can dance to tiny voices in your mind if you want to.

I've played for a bunch of square dances and contra dances in various old-time bands over the years, and I've played in bluegrass bands, too. Generally speaking, bluegrass's focus isn't to get people to dance.

Azizi, here's a link to a photo of Milton Okun.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:56 AM

Blimey Tim, I didn't realise that at MRFC there is you and us LOL

I enjoy listening to the background information concerning a song.

Graham Moore wrote a song about father and his son and did it to the Lords prayer, I think. It didn't mean much until he told me about the reasons for writing the song. Did the hairs on the back of my hair rise from then on. Brings tears to my eyes.

Les


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 11:59 AM

First, let me thank Jerry also for starting this thread. I disagree with some but not most of his assumptions about folk and bluegrass.

But I also disagree with others about folk and bluegrass too.

Here is a great example. Carol, I would say that, according to my definitions of folk and bluegrass, bluegrass is older than a lot of what we are talking about as 'folk'!

I don't use the term 'folk' music to apply to anything other than the 60s revival.

Other than that, I use the term 'traditional' music.

Now, just to complicate matters, I would define bluegrass as a new shoot off a traditional music root.

Part of the problem here is where we demarcate the boundaries between traditions and genres.

One way to talk about it is to say that music traditions are culturally defined, and music genres are stylistically defined. But that isn't the only way to talk about it.

We all (should) know that music definitions, labels, and boundaries are pretty fluid these days, and that no one definition, label, or boundary works for all of us all the time.

I also pay attention to how technology and globalization has changed traditions and genres, just like it has changed our perceptions of those traditions and genres.

But I'm ok with that sort of ambiguity, because I just love music! Lots of it, and lots of different sounding music. I don't care if it is archaically old, or brand spanking new. I love both "old" sounding and "new" sounding music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GrassStains
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:07 PM

Guest, I would agree with you. I did not mean 'folk' in the sense you use it--I was thinking 'traditional.' Sorry for the confusion.

Carol


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:15 PM

Hey! What an interesting mix of perspectives... all with their element of truth to them. And I take it back... bluegrass is more sit and listen to music in most contexts, not dance music.

I'm still trying to think as I type.

Certainly a distinction between bluegrass and folk is the emphasis on lyrics versus instrumental prowess.

I really love the Stanley Brothers, although I generally don't enjoy bluegrass much. Maybe I like them for the same reason that I like Shoregrass. I like their harmony singing and their choice of material. Bluegrass harmony in its most traditional form is so stylized and cast in stone that you could probably do a computer program and print out the exact notes for each part, just knowing the melody. It doesn't have to be that way. I also love the singing of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and have several of their albums. And of course, Alison Krause and the Whites.

Dang! (to quote Bobert) I like a fair amount of bluegrass for someone who doesn't like bluegrass...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:30 PM

And Jerry, for bluegrass not being dance music, an awful lot of folks are up and moving around to it a lot at the festivals I go to! But as Ebbie noted, it isn't exactly pleasing to the eye sort of dancing! It isn't a structured sort of dance the way square dancing or polka is, for instance.

The haughty sniffing from some that the players' intention is NOT to make dance music (say in the same way a lot of instrumental Irish trad is dance music), there is a lot of audience movement to the music at bluegrass festivals especially.

But I agree, it is not a dance music tradition. It is a foot stompin' twirlin' in circles, and bobbin' up and down sort of music.

I think that high lonesome sound draws at least some stylistic conventions from shape note, hence it's highly stylized sound. It's either a sound you like or you don't, usually. Though for some it has become an acquired taste.

I like both the bluegrass solo singing and the harmony singing, depending upon the songs and the singers. I like old bluegrass and so-called newgrass. I'm enamored of the bluegrass albums Ricky Skaggs and Dolly Parton made. I don't own them, but I enjoy hearing them and would love to see them perform the songs live.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GLoux
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM

Azizi, there appears to be some sort of problem with my link to the photo of Milton Okun, sorry...if you Google/Image with Milton Okun, you'll see a bunch of images of projects he's worked on over the years, but if you weed through it, you'll see a photo of him as founder of Cherry Lane Music Group. You'll see that he's white.

Jerry, I think the Stanley Brothers did a great job blurring the distinctions between bluegrass, old-time and the brother duet...what could be better? I've often wondered what they would be like if Carter Stanley were still around today.

With regard to your original topic, I guess that people are going to like what they like, and dislike what they dislike.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM

I think there is a certain projection of pure human feeling in good music of any genre. You can take on of the sappiest songs ever written -- "What a Beautiful World". Out it in the hands of a real showman like Satchmo, and it becomes a world-class bit.

Take high technical excellence, on mandolin or banjo, and crafty lyrics, but put them in the hands of people who are merely technicans, and you get technically excellent bluegrass that really doesn't inspire much. But three guys having fun and pouring out the feeling can make even the most ordinary bluegrass tune sound like a humdinger and get people's feet tapping.

This is a subtle distinction, and technique definitely is a necessary component of the art, but without the critical skill in generating connection with the human frequencies, it doesn't pull the freight by itself. When the balance is right you can do "Greensleeves", "Sally Gardens", or "Bile Them Cabbage" or "Wabash" or "Stewball" and people will nod and hum right along for the pleasure of it.

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:36 PM

There is a fair amount of bluegrass that I do NOT like, believe it or not! I can get pretty tired of the old chestnuts pretty quick. Thanks, Jerry, for all the good ShoreGrass remarks! We need more people like you who don't like bluegrass!

Coupla quick comments:

GrassStains said that bluegrass had "more a recording and performance tradition than a back porch stomp, so it may have a more commercial element in it"... This is apparently true of the early days, but today it definitely has more of a "back porch stomp" to it, especially around MY house. One of the reasons it is growing so much in popularity --yes, it is-- is because it is so participative and many people who start out as audience eventually take up an instrument and join in.

Bluegrass is generally not dance music, although a lot of the faster stuff --there are LOTS of slower songs, by the way-- is toe-tapping. It is rhythmic, however, with much less room for creative fluctuations and interpretations of tempo such as found in classical and some folk. There's no conductor to keep everyone together, and there are multiple musicians in a band or jam who need to hang together, after all.

(I'll be back...)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:37 PM

Something that seems to have been almost touched upon in this discussion but not quite explicitly brought up for consideration (unless I missed something in this read-through):

Could MARKETING be one factor that defines an audience?

Bluegrass is a style that is easily sold to radio stations, record stores, etc as a sub-genre of Country (is it called American Country over across the pond?). And if the radio stations & record stores don't want to split it out on it's own, it can be lumped with other now-popular Country stars. But the ability to pigeonhole an album is central to The Music Business these days.

So you get a bluegrass-style piece on an album that gets pushed Up The Charts by promoters, and consumers become familiar with the style - so they go to concerts.

"Folk", on the other hand, has not seen the same marketing blitz in the past couple of decades that you've gotten with Country. Perhaps because it's harder to pigeonhole, perhaps because Record Companies didn't want to bother with the potentially controversial subjects from singer-songwriters, perhaps because "toe tapping music" pulls in more Consumer Dollars than historical or "intellectual" Folk, perhaps for some other reasons. For whatever reason you don't have Promoters trying to sell out stadiums to see a Folk singer. (yeah, there are exceptions)

So maybe part of the difference (Folk vs. Bluegrass) is the Folk audience seeks out music that is not so heavily marketed. And some of the Bluegrass audience didn't realize they liked Bluegrass until they heard it on the radio.

Also (and this has been sort of touched on earlier as well) Bluegrass as a style is fairly narrowly defined. Heck, the term was coined specifically to tell audiences that "this band plays music like that other band"! So the audience has in advance a really good idea the sort of music they'll hear. If they like one Bluegrass band, they'll probably like 'em all. With Folk, unless you know the particular performer you might not have any idea whether you'll like the show. It takes a different sort of person to plunk down some of their limited entertainment budget to go see a show that will probably make them think, but otherwise may or may not be a style they're in the mood for.

Val


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:48 PM

Sheeesh... would you all mind just turning off your computer and refraining from posting any more thoughtful and intriguing comments on this thread, so I can GET SOME THINGS DONE?????!!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music Is for intellectuals
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Jun 06 - 12:53 PM

That was a good rundown of a number of the "folk" stereotypes that may come into people's minds when they think of folk music, Ron Olesko. Well said.

Of the ones you mentioned, I favor the last three more...

1. Kumbayah music?   Bores me.

2. Tom Dooley grandparent music? Also bores me.

3. Singer-songwhiners? Yeah! That's the aspect I most relate to in what I term "folk music". It all basically came from Bob Dylan, but before him it came from Woody Guthrie and a few others. To me it was people like: Dylan, Jackson Browne, Baez (in her later career), Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Al Stewart...THAT was the folk music that really turned me on. The songs can be about ANYTHING...certainly not restricted "people crying in their beer".

4. History teachers? Yeah! You betcha. The Trad stuff is great for developing a keener sense of history and culture, and most of the better singer-songwriters have a way of building on that and harkening back to it in various ways, while Al Stewart, for one, has built up a repertoire of historical songs that are pretty amazing.

5. (so-called) "bomb throwing radicals"? Yeah! ;-) Heh! I value the fact that folk musicians have had the imagination and the guts to challenge the ruling forces in society (which are huge financial interests and military industries), that they have traditionally taken the side of the poor, the disenfranchised, the powerless, that they have tirelessly opposed fascism in all its guises...You betcha! It's a vital part of the folk tradition.

Folk music is for the revolution and it is against all tyrannical rule by the privileged few who have 98% of all the money. It is the music that inspired the fight for unions, back in the early days (though unions have mostly become a corrupt power structure since). It is the music of social ferment and the voice that is raised against the Big Bosses and oppressors of the common man, whoever or wherever they may be.

Azizi - I might mention that although the folk audience was primarily middle class white people, it was that very middle class white contingent who fought passionately for integration and the establishment of racial equality in the late 50's and the 60's when the crucial battles in that fight were being fought! Joan Baez marched beside Martin Luther King at the early demonstrations and put herself in the line of danger again and again in that regard. So did Judy Collins. So did many others among the white folk musicians. Dylan wrote many of the greatest anthems protesting the terrible treatment of black people and calling for change. He has done so all his life. Without the support of that white middle class contingent (most of them from the northern "liberal" states that tend to vote Democratic in most elections), without the support of those same middle class white people who loved folk music, blacks in the Deep South would have been pretty much on their own.

If this is not remembered and appreciated anymore, then it's a damned shame.

The Folk Movement in the late 50's and the 60's had 2 great passionate political causes to fight for. One was to end the War in Vietnam and bring American soldiers home. The other was to end segregation and see that black people had dignity and equality with white people in America. That WAS the folk movement.

There were also numerous black musicians who were part of folk music at the time, and beloved to the folk audience. Among them: Odetta, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee, and Taj Mahal, for example. They were playing to a primarily white middle class audience, and that was no problem for anybody, it was just the way it was at the time. The majority of the black music audience, as far as I know, was focused on other styles of music such as Rythm and Blues, Doo-Wop, early Motown, and that sort of thing.

Harry Belafonte's Calypso sound was certainly well liked by much of the white folk audience too, and he always had good connections with the folk musicians and the liberal poltical causes associated with that community.


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