Mudcat Café message #3667798 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #155773   Message #3667798
Posted By: GUEST,Reynard
10-Oct-14 - 09:00 AM
Thread Name: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
Dear Anon,

I was very interested to read your post as it chimes with some of my own experiences. I'm now in my 30s and only really got into Trad folk in my late 20s. I have found this to be fairly rare, with most other younger people who are interested in the music seeming to have been raised around it. I agree that it seems it seems unusual to see anyone at a folk festival between the ages of 20-40 who is there purely as a punter (young families being one possible exception); they are generally either performers, part of a dance team or working in some capacity.

I should say that in general I have found the community around folk music to be welcoming, with most older folkies being very pleased to see anyone younger taking an interest in traditional music.

On that note I would urge people to keep an open mind about mixing with "folk" singer-songwriters playing self-penned stuff, (or someone playing a version of a song they learnt from "Leige and Leif"). They probably don't know much about traditional music but if they are exposed to it and welcomed they are much more likely to take an interest and continue exploring traditional songs. I personally know of several people who have become very interested in traditional song through this route. Basically people should try to remember that it was all new to them once!

I have had some similar experiences to you (mainly at festivals) where some of the singarounds and sessions can sometimes feel rather cliquey, and not particularly welcoming. I think to some extent this is just an inevitable result of the same group of friends attending for 30 years, and being quite happy with things remaining the same year after year. I don't believe most of the people involved are deliberately rude, but perhaps could make a bit more of an effort to welcome incomers. I do think festivals could do more to work with the fringe to let people know what's going on and encourage more explicitly inclusive events.

However, I have at times suspected there to be a bit of grumpy resentment towards younger people from a minority of the older festival goers, and some of the comments on this thread certainly confirm that suspicion.

I have to admit that I have also come away from festivals feeling a bit depressed before, but I've never been completely put off because I love the music, and the history behind it- and that's surely too good to abandon just because some people were unfriendly. So "Anon" I hope your experiences won't put you off. As others have said, there is good and bad in any genre I think you have to choose the aspects of Folk you enjoy and leave those you don't.

Finally- I hope this isn't too personal a note, and I don't know your circumstances (I may be barking up the wrong tree) but I think it helps if you can find friends closer to your own age who share your interest and would be willing to attend with you. I think it's only natural to want to socialise with people around your own age with the same cultural reference points outside the narrow trad folk world; otherwise it can get a bit intense! I know it can be difficult to meet people who share what is very much a minority of a minority interest in our age group. I live in London, which perhaps makes things a bit easier.

Good luck to you and maybe our paths will cross one day.