Mudcat Café message #1823601 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93889   Message #1823601
Posted By: WFDU - Ron Olesko
31-Aug-06 - 10:58 AM
Thread Name: Philadelphia Folk Festival
Subject: RE: Philadelphia Folk Festival
Good points Russ, and I do agree with you on many of them.

Your previous description of Clifftop describes a wonderful event. I would join you on the picket line if they changed such an event to include electric instruments. I would cry foul if the Mystic Sea Music Festival brought in Bruce Springsteen. I am anxiously looking forward to the Eisteddfod Festial and the superb traditional music that will be shared there.   Events like that should not change their vision.

The Philadelphia FOLK Festival is a different animal. Looking back at programs over the past 45 years, they have always offered a diverse lineup of styles and genres. While people are focusing on Jackson Browne and his 2 hour performance, they are overlooking the rest of the performers over this 3+ day event. While contemporary artists dominated, there was traditional music to be found -folk songs performed by artists like Saul Brody and Jay Smar, the Run of the Mill String Band, and an emphasis on world music - including Tuvan throat singing.   

I do know a number of people who help organize the event, but I am not privy to the internal workings. Your theories may be true.   I do think it is is important because the PFF is not only trying to sustain itself, but it also trying to use money raised at the festival to support various programs - including scholarships, supporting programs that bring music to institutionalised people in the Philadelphia area, and providing seed money for other festivals around the country.

I do agree with you that Jackson Browne is NOT a folksinger if we use the traditional musicologist definition of "folk music". Neither is Stephen Foster, Louis Armstrong, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, etc.

I disagree with you about your concern for "old words".   Words do evolve, which is a folklore study unto itself.

The American Heritage dictionary provides the following definition of folk music:
1. Music originating among the common people of a nation or region and spread about or passed down orally, often with considerable variation.
2. Contemporary music in the style of traditional folk music.

Naturally not everyone will agree with #2, but I sincerely feel that it is important.   The world has changed. Technology and lifestyle changes have altered the way music is spread and passed down. "Oral transmission" is no longer the only way to share a song or story.

We won't solve the age old arguement over "what is folk".   My feeling is that in 2006 people recognize "folk music" as a variety of acoustic music. I don't want to see traditional music get lost in the shuffle, but I also don't think we should ignore powerful music simply because the instrumentation doesn't fit an old job description.