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Songbooks: Review: The Folk Handbook

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GUEST,Shimrod 20 Aug 07 - 09:13 AM
Marje 20 Aug 07 - 09:45 AM
the button 20 Aug 07 - 09:56 AM
The Borchester Echo 20 Aug 07 - 10:02 AM
DMcG 20 Aug 07 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,Ed 20 Aug 07 - 11:13 AM
redsnapper 20 Aug 07 - 12:00 PM
Tootler 20 Aug 07 - 06:08 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 20 Aug 07 - 06:44 PM
Desert Dancer 20 Aug 07 - 06:47 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 07 - 09:32 PM
Tootler 21 Aug 07 - 06:05 AM
s&r 23 Aug 07 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Aug 07 - 07:24 AM
The Borchester Echo 23 Aug 07 - 07:36 AM
TheSnail 23 Aug 07 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Aug 07 - 11:10 AM
GUEST, Sminky 23 Aug 07 - 11:38 AM
TheSnail 23 Aug 07 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Aug 07 - 02:26 PM
TheSnail 23 Aug 07 - 03:29 PM
Joe Offer 23 Aug 07 - 05:23 PM
The Borchester Echo 23 Aug 07 - 05:56 PM
TheSnail 23 Aug 07 - 06:09 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 23 Aug 07 - 06:12 PM
Joe Offer 23 Aug 07 - 06:12 PM
Dave Earl 23 Aug 07 - 06:20 PM
Les in Chorlton 24 Aug 07 - 03:43 AM
The Borchester Echo 24 Aug 07 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 24 Aug 07 - 07:18 AM
The Sandman 24 Aug 07 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 24 Aug 07 - 10:05 AM
The Borchester Echo 24 Aug 07 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 24 Aug 07 - 02:16 PM
Joe Offer 24 Aug 07 - 02:29 PM
The Borchester Echo 24 Aug 07 - 02:33 PM
Tootler 24 Aug 07 - 06:43 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Aug 07 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Aug 07 - 06:34 AM
The Borchester Echo 25 Aug 07 - 07:59 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Aug 07 - 08:34 AM
The Borchester Echo 25 Aug 07 - 09:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Aug 07 - 10:11 AM
The Sandman 25 Aug 07 - 11:14 AM
The Borchester Echo 25 Aug 07 - 12:10 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Aug 07 - 01:11 PM
The Sandman 25 Aug 07 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Aug 07 - 03:40 PM
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The Borchester Echo 25 Aug 07 - 04:03 PM
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Subject: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 09:13 AM

Strictly speaking this is a review of a review (sorry!).

In yesterday's 'Independent on Sunday' newspaper there was a perceptive review, by Charlotte Greig, of a new book called 'The Folk Handbook' ed. John Morrish, pub. Backbeat.

This is, apparently, a collection of English folk songs - so the title sounds like a rather witless publisher's title to me.

To quote from Ms Greig's review:

"The odd thing about English folk song is that very few people in England seem to know anything about it. Otherwise cultured, literary people seem to have no idea that we possess an extraordinary rich canon of popular song ... It's a lyric tradition that more than compares to ... Chaucer, Shakespeare and the Romantics, but for some reason - whether through snobbery, ignorance, or the peculiarly British disease of self-deprecation - this valuable national treasure has been systematically trivialised and ridiculed over the years, to such an extent that today it remains virtually unknown."

I totally agree with that quote but would go further and suggest that the attitudes described above extend to some of the people who claim to be folk music enthusiasts. I've just been to a 'Folk Event' in southern England - in one of the counties which, a century or so ago, turned out to be a veritable 'treasure-house' of traditional song. Nevertheless, at this particular event very, very few people seemed to know anything about it - or to care. Even worse I seemed to detect, among certain factions of attendees, an antipathy, or even outright hostility, towards traditional song. This is a very sad state of affairs - but I'm not sure what can be done about it.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Marje
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 09:45 AM

You've saved me the trouble of starting this thread - I was just about to say I'd seen the review and ask whether anyone here had got hold of the book and CD to pass an opinion. The review is mostly a defence of English song and an explanation of why it's important and worth hearing, but I don't need convincing of this - what I want to know is whether the book and CD are worth buying.

The reviewer says it's aimed mainly at schools and libraries, but seems to base this opinion on the fact that it's in a ring-binder, which sounds a useful format for individuals too. Indeed, if he really means a ring-binder rather than spiral-bound, that's got an obvious flaw for libraries and schools, as pages will go missing.

Anyone seen it or even got a list of the songs?

Marje


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: the button
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 09:56 AM

I've seen it, and it's definitely spiral-bound rather than ring bound. Didn't buy it cos it was a bit pricey, so couldn't tell you what's inside. It's a joint venture with the EFDSS, though, so it's no doubt quality stuff.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 10:02 AM

Ah, Shimrod. I'd never have guessed ;-)

Actually, this 90-song publication is an EFDSS co-production and is very well done - as an entry-level songbook.

It is nevertheless true that English trad has been trivialised and ridiculed, certainly by the mainstream education system, throughout the last two generations, as well as being culturally vandalised by the equally mainstream musbiz.

However, what has been misrepresented can be redeemed. So much work has been put in by English musicians in schools and among people working close to their landscapes who still have a sense of place. Traditions are being respected but conventions broken. English music is still there and growing apace as people are adding to and broadening it. England is joining 'the world'.

So I shouldn't worry too much. Events will happen which some choose to call 'f*lk'. If they mean mostly MOR snigger-snoggers and new-agey tripe, so what? What's good (if anything) will survive and the rest will fall by the wayside. Just as has always happened.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: DMcG
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 11:13 AM

I was given a copy of this as a present, and would agree with Diane. The selection of songs doesn't contain anything very surprising, but it is exemplary in terms of the documentation the source of the songs and so on. A lot of thought has gone into the physical aspects of how the book is used. For example, the music has a large print, making it easy to read at a distance; where a song spreads over two pages, they are almost always both visible at the same time (more often than I think think, chance would have given); the spiral binding is large enough to always allow the book to lie flat without difficulty and so on.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 11:13 AM

More information, including a list of songs and midi files, at www.folkhandbook.com. Amazon are selling it for £12.97.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: redsnapper
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 12:00 PM

A creditable effort it seems.

RS


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:08 PM

Link to the actual review

An interesting review which makes some excellent and valuable points.

Having looked at the website, I reckon this could be as good a introduction to English Traditional song as the Penguin book, if not better because of the background information provided to the songs. Certainly I think it will go on my wish list for Christmas.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:44 PM

Slightly off-topic, I know, but I really enjoyed Charlotte Greig's last album, 'Quite Silent' - which was a collection of traditional songs in her own hypnotic style. She was good live, too. As far as I'm aware she operates largely outside of the 'official' folk scene.

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:47 PM

Tootler, you may have missed that "the Penguin book" was revised with the addition of lots of background info... 'Catter Malcolm Douglas was the editor... see this thread.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 09:32 PM

Amazon has The Folk Handbook for sale in the U.S. for just under twenty bucks.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 06:05 AM

Tootler, you may have missed that "the Penguin book" was revised with the addition of lots of background info

I did. My copy is an old one which I found in a second hand book shop some years back. The thread you linked to dates from before I joined Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: s&r
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 06:58 AM

Folk handbook arrived today - first impression are good - spiral binding is protected by a substantial card cover. Nice to see Kate and Martin used as cover illustrations.

My only quibble is that it's a strange square format that doesn't sit well on the bookshelves

Stu


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 07:24 AM

I see that no-one has addressed my point about antipathy/hostility towards English Trad. song from within the English (so-called) 'Folk Music community' itself.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 07:36 AM

Thought I did.
20 August 10.02:

. . . Events will happen which some choose to call 'f*lk'. If they mean mostly MOR snigger-snoggers and new-agey tripe, so what? What's good (if anything) will survive and the rest will fall by the wayside. Just as has always happened.

Then. of course, there's the 'good-enough-for-folk', 'let's dumb-it-down' gang whose mantra seems to be the newcomers will be scared off if they don't serve up MOR tripe.

No they won't.
If they don't come again it's probably because they were expecting trad music and not . . . MOR tripe . . .


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 08:01 AM

Shimrod

I see that no-one has addressed my point about antipathy/hostility towards English Trad. song from within the English (so-called) 'Folk Music community' itself.

Possibly because you're original point was a bit vague and unfocused. If no-one else has shared your experience we can't really comment on it. What was this 'Folk Event'?


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 11:10 AM

Dear TheSnail,

I'm not going to be crass enough to name this event because (a) I see no point in upsetting the organisers unecessarily and (b) because I was invited to the event by people for whom I have great respect and liking - and I don't want to upset them in particular.

The only thing that I can say is that there were quite a few musicians and dancers involved and I have noticed before that certain factions among these often exhibit antipathy/hostility to songs and singers (and, no, I am not tarring ALL musicians and dancers with this brush). In this particular case antipathy to singing was expressed in writing (the writer opined that the miserly amount of time devoted to singing was wasted and should have been devoted to dancing). I was also struck by how few of the songs that were sung were actually folk songs - recently composed non-folk songs and children's ditties seemed to predominate.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 11:38 AM

......and the hostility?


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 11:44 AM

So it was primarily a music/dance event. Don't blame it for not being something it never set out to be. I've been to song biased events that have looked on instrumental music as an unwanted intrusion. Choose the events you want.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 02:26 PM

"So it was primarily a music/dance event."

Traditional song was emphasised in the publicity.

"...and the hostility?"

How about a singaround organiser who appeared to have no interest in trad. song and often managed to miss out anyone who was likely to sing one.

The thing is, though, I don't particularly want to emphasise this specific event. The attitudes displayed were, I felt, a particularly glaring example of attitudes which I have been detecting in the English Folk Club movement for some years.

Sadly, I've not had the opportunity to attend a Scottish or Irish club - but I bet that they don't display the same contempt for their trad. song as we do!


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:29 PM

The attitudes displayed were, I felt, a particularly glaring example of attitudes which I have been detecting in the English Folk Club movement for some years.

Without specific examples, it's a bit hard to comment.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:23 PM

Well, I was tempted to start a new thread about antipathy/hostility towards English Trad. song, and ask that this thread be limited to discussion of The Folk Handbook, but I see that Shimrod mentioned that antipathy in the very first post.

My first-hand experience of English folk music was just three weeks - a week at Whitby Folk Week and two weeks in Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, and London. My gracious Mudcat hosts made sure I had music every night, so I think it was a pretty good opportunity to observe the health of English folk music. It seemed pretty healthy to me - very similar to the American folk music community in many ways, except that it seems to be easier for traditional musicians to make a living in the UK.

In the U.S., most "folk" music festivals feature commercial acts that do country, bluegrass, and singer-songwriter music. If you're lucky, you might get to hear an old-time performer or two. You're not likely to hear traditional-style musicians unless you go to the non-commercial festivals sponsored by the folk music clubs in San Francisco and Washington. The Philadelphia Folk Festival seems to be all commercial stuff, so I haven't bothered attending it. Same with the Strawberry Festival in California. But Whitby Folk Week had a full measure of traditional music, and it seemed to be in reasonable fiscal health. Yes, I know about some of the problems and personalities involved, but it still ends up being a wonderful festival with lots of good, traditional music.

For me, the high point of Whitby Folk Week was the chance to hear Cyril Tawney before he died. Now, I suppose you could jump all over me and scream that Cyril rarely sang a song he didn't write - but I think that Cyril fit very well into the "traditional" category. He knew his traditional music very well, and the songs he wrote fit well into a traditional context.

When I sing with people in Washington (DC) or San Francisco, I think that most of the music we do is "traditional" - but when I analyze it, I realize that most of the songs we sing are less than 75 years old, and many of the older songs are not rigidly "traditional," either. The only purely traditional sessions are the ballad sessions, and they draw a relatively small number of people. I found the same thing in the UK, at Whitby and at singarounds in London, Yorkshire, and Hertfordshire. People may call themselves "traditional" musicians, but most of the songs they sing are not historical artifacts.

I think that's healthy. Most of us can't handle a steady diet of history. We're eclectic - and I think that eclecticism is an important element of truly traditional music. Yes, we do need to preserve and resurrect the old stuff, but truly traditional music is living music that reflects the life of the community.

I don't think it's true traditional music when it's an audience listening to a performer, even if the performance is a pure diet of historical artifacts. I don't think it's true traditional music if the musicians slavishly adhere to the style of another performer or to their perception of a historical style. I don't think it's traditional if it's a singer-songwriter performing music only he/she can perform, even if that musician uses acoustic instruments. And I don't think it's true traditional music is the only songs allowed are certifiably historic ballads.

In many places in both the UK and the US, I have seen people come together to share music that is important to them, music that involves and provides expression for everyone present even though it might not always require everyone to sing or clap or whatever. Much of this music has a historic context, even though it might be recently composed. Now, that's what I call real traditional music.

"Traditional" music is no longer the predominant style in either the US or the UK, but it still exists in both places, and it's still quite healthy. One thing that can kill it, is restrictions - people who say you can't do this or you can't do that. Another thing that can kill traditional music is pettiness and squabbling and innuendo and bitterness and animosity - and all of those flaws see to run rampant in parts of the UK folk music community - and I've seen it in the US, too. So, lighten up, all you people, and let's just make music and not worry so damn much about what's traditional and what's not.

I suppose it IS sad that music festivals (even in the UK) have become increasingly oriented toward commercial "star" performers, but that seems to be what the admission-paying public wants. If that's what Ma and Pa Cherwinggum want, let them have it. Let's gather in a pub or a living room and make real music, and forget the Chewinggums. But forget all the pettiness, too - you UK folkies seem to spend a hell of a lot more time fighting, than you do making music.

-Joe-

I haven't received my copy of The Folk Handbook yet, so I can't comment on it. The companion Website, http://www.folkhandbook.com/, is terrific.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:56 PM

I said what Joe just did but beat him hands down on the word count.
Though I'm interested to know who were these trad musicians he met in a three-week whizzaround England who were coining it in.
And who said the only true trad is historic ballads?
What about dance music, both ritual and social?
And recently composed music written in the tradition certainly can have a sense of roots, place and community.
And it is extremely important to defend that and to be aware of and to respect the origins of the music we make, and to encourage all our citizens from wherever to have the confidence to add to it.
I'll stop before I turn into a commercial for The Imagined Village.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 06:09 PM

Joe Offer

But forget all the pettiness, too - you UK folkies seem to spend a hell of a lot more time fighting, than you do making music.

That's only on Mudcat Joe, face to face we're fine.

I probably wouldn't bother with this but it looks like a rerun of the "Death of the Folk Clubs" thread. Shimrod is making sweeping (and damaging) statements while producing no evidence at all.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 06:12 PM

Nice post, Joe, almost all of which I agree with (that's two of us stroppy Brits being nice already! What are you trying to do?). Agreeing with Diane's comments, I'd point to a band like Mawkin as an example of someone clearly rooted in tradition, yet moving it forwards, writing new material in keeping with the traditional tunes they do... and nary a ballad in sight.

I'd also say that the worst thing you can do to traditional music isn't to squabble over it or even restrict it. It's to ignore it.

Finally, can I confess to being a non-musician and non-singer who hates joining in with the actions or the chorus or even clapping along? I go to watch and listen (and dance if it's that kind of music...). I don't expect anyone to have to watch or listen to me having some kind of empowering community experience. Even out of pity. I'd even go as far as to say that there's plenty of traditional music in the UK that was performed and listened to, rather than joined in with. Communal singing sessions are only a part of the tradition, and for me personally, a part I'd strive to avoid like the plague. I'm happy for other people who like that kind of thing, but I hate it when it starts to feel compulsory.

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 06:12 PM

    And who said the only true trad is historic ballads?
Well, actually nobody actually said it - but they stare at me with those piercing glares, and make me really nervous....
And other times, they're knowingly condescending...
And then I wonder what they're saying behind my back because I sang a union song that was only 93 years old (and because I had ot use a sheet of paper to help me remember the lyrics). It's the people who make me feel like I'm not worthy to sing a song in their presence.
Those are the people who give traditional music a bad name. Those are the people who can kill traditional music. You know who they are - the Folk Police.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Dave Earl
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 06:20 PM

Diane said "I'll stop before I turn into a commercial for The Imagined Village."

OK but I will add that The Imagined Village show is coming to the venue where I work in a few weeks time. I have only seen the write-up in the brochure and know nothing more about it.

I hope to be able to see the show and perhaps form an opinion on it after.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 03:43 AM

The Book looks excellent, are their any plans for a a Folk Hand book on Social Dance and its associated music?


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 03:57 AM

EFDSS Publications: online dance book sales


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 07:18 AM

To 'The Snail',

"Without specific examples, it's a bit hard to comment."

I gave you some specific examples - I was not able to be specific about where they actually happened. And if you want more evidence, just pick out a few English folk clubs at random and count how many English Trad. songs you hear in a typical evening.

Oh yes, let me put you on the spot for a change. Do you like English Trad. songs? Would you like to hear more or less of them?

And to Joe Offer,

I'm not trying to ban anything or put restrictions on anyone and I'm definitely not a 'Folk Policeman' (an old and tired jibe which is way past its 'sell-by-date'). I just think that there ought to be a place in English folk clubs and, as Charlotte Grieg says in the review which I quoted above, English cultural life generally, for our amazing and beautiful English folk songs - that's all.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 09:48 AM

Shimrod if you came to one of my gigs in England you would hear many English traditional songs.
I have been singing them in folk clubs for thirty five years,and it dont seem a cday too long.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 10:05 AM

Good for you Capn.!


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 01:29 PM

These Folk Police (if they existed - and of course they don't, I mean, where are they if you want them?) are actually a figment of the kRusby imagination.

If only they did, they could get on with issuing ASBOs to the new-agey, wifty-wafty snigger-snoggers, pseudo-celtic pogue-clones, purveyors of MOR tripe and 'good-enough-for-f*lk' dumbers-down who could be usefully confined to the newly-discovered black hole of 6 billion trillion miles of absolutely nothing.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 02:16 PM

Diane,

If only I possessed your eloquence!!

One small point. Does kRusby have an imagination? I suppose she must have something resembling one in order to be able to replace all those beautiful trad. song tunes with her own wishy-washy effusions ...


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 02:29 PM

Careful, Diane - I may have to send the Acronym Police after you. What was that you said?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 02:33 PM

Ah, don't you have ASBOs in California?
These are Anti-Social Behaviour Orders served on those who kick up an appalling racket and won't turn it off when asked.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Tootler
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 06:43 PM

What a pity this thread, like too many others has degenerated into petty bickering.

My experience of folk clubs in NE England, limited as it is, suggests that there is much traditional material sung, but not exclusively. Most people seem to sing a mixture of traditional songs and more recently composed songs informed by the tradition but by known writers. There are even, heaven forbid, some people who sing their own material.

At the end of the day a good song is a good song, whatever its origins and a good song well sung will usually go down well.

If that's new-agey, wifty-wafty snigger-snoggers, pseudo-celtic pogue-clones, purveyors of MOR tripe and 'good-enough-for-f*lk' dumbers-down material well so be it.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 07:28 PM

well i think we can all agree the snigger snoggers need dealing with.

if you see a snigger snogger smaller than you - its your duty to punch him/her. Inform them of the error of their ways - and brook no insolence.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 06:34 AM

Tootler,

I insist that this is NOT petty bickering. Charlotte Greig made a very important point in her 'Independent on Sunday' review about the status of English Traditional song in English cultural life. My point is that powerful factions within the English Folk Revival/Folk Club Movement (call it what you will) have, at worst, the same contempt for it and at best the same ignorance of it. I think that these attitudes are completely unacceptable.

And to 'The Snail',

You may recall that a few posts back I put you on the spot and asked you a couple of simple questions:

(i) Do you like English Trad. songs?
(ii) Would you like to hear more or less of them?

To date I haven't seen you post any answers to these questions - come on, play the game - let's hear what you really think!


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 07:59 AM

Indeed, yes, Shimrod raises a perfectly legitimate issue culled from a review by a fairly mainstream name. This is far from 'bickering'; what is to be marvelled at is that Charlotte Greig was moved to comment on this strange and very English phenonomen at all.

That the average English 'persons in street' have been alienated from their cultural heritage and, further, positively encouraged to mock and ridicule it is an incontrovertible fact. So hurrah that someone clearly outside 'our musical world' can see it. This is a lot more than many who declare themselves within it can do.

Chris Wood has been saying it for years and it is the very foundation upon which the English Acoustic Collective was founded. Scottish and Irish trad are doing quite nicely, thank you, albeit boosted by a faintly distasteful tartan- and shamrock-clad commercially-orientated tourist industry.

The AEC's view is that a couple of generations of neglect in our education system can, and indeed is being, overcome. If a generation can be taught to disrespect and diown its cultural inheritance than their children can be taught to value it and, eventually, to add to it.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 08:34 AM

well I might have a bit more respect for the proponents of this point of view if they weren't the very people who had spent the last few years dismantling the format of English songs to give them a more ethnic (to the majority of English people) completely inaccessible sound.

I think we're talking dogmatic traddy bores.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 09:37 AM

WLD and Joe Offer seem to have gone off at a tangent about 'dogmatic traddy bores' but I don't think that's what anyone else is on about.

The topic is a well-produced, though quite expensive, collection of English songs and the OP wanted to know why every citizen wasn't rushing to lay hands on it. This is mostly because they don't know about it, and care less, for a variety of reasons.

Though what WLD is getting at with his remarks about 'more ethnic' and completely inaccessible' sounding English song baffles me entirely. England has always been a multicultural society and the EAC ethos, as I understand it, is that by understanding the richness of our own cultural heritage, we are better placed to appreciate the inheritance of others. If we take our place in the line of human endeavour that brought us to where we are, we will recognise more readily that of others, as anyone who has experienced musicians working with those of different cultures will know.

The making and composing of our own local musics is the most eloquent counterblast to the mainstream. Some will want to sing the old songs, others to compose new and some do both. Whichever you do is your story and you shouldn't believe for a minute that your music-making is not valid and that your story is not worth the telling. And it will help drown out the MOR mainstream tripe and stem the marketing onslaught.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 10:11 AM

all I can say is, it wouldn't baffle you if you listened to more non folk English people's reaction to ethnic style English folk music.. Ireland's got it right, you wouldn't be surprised if Daniel O'Donnel did a single with the Chieftains.

whereas every populariser in England from bert jansch to The spinners and now this Rusby woman, get it in the neck from the 'this is not folk music' brigade. i mean you wouldn't want them living next door to you, but live and let live....

Perhaps you should try a bit of wifty wafty with few snigger snoggers yourself Diane.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 11:14 AM

I would be very surprised if the Chieftains were to record with Daniel o Donnell [the singer],,W L D What would they record The Unfortunate Cup of Tea
There was another Daniel o Donnell who was a very good fiddle player, sadly he is dead.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 12:10 PM

I once lived almost next door to Bert Jansch who I really don't think regards himself as a 'populariser' (unless you're counting that Xmas carol single he put out once).
Jolly nice chap but not for trying to play along with. Blimey!
Anyway, he's Scottish . . .

As for the Chieftains (who are Irish) it actually wouldn't surprise me if they recorded with Mr O'Donnell (who is also Irish).
Mr Moloney seems to have an ambition to play with every clapped out MOR crooner on the planet and has even recorded with the bleedin' Corrs.

And the kRusby, well she's done it with Ronan Keating (who's also Irish).
When those Irish turn their minds to vomit-inducing MOR tat there's no room for half measures.

It's what 'non-folk English' have been bludgeoned into thinking about English trad that concerns me.
And it's why musicians like the aforementioned Chris Wood (to name but one so as not to be invidious and miss someone important off a list) with his composing, arranging, interpretations and tireless teaching) holds the key to turning round the tanker (as it were).


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 01:11 PM

Seriously though Diane - you're a fiddle player, didn't you say?

surely that's the whole point of playing a fiddle or a guitar - you play along with whatevers going on, whatever the temperature of the water is - and its folk music.

Any port in a storm, any wifty wafty snigger snogger on the microphone. And if its not folk music before you start, you bloody well turn it into folk music. Folk music is an ever expanding empire and the hits of Daniel O'Donnel is our last territorial demand.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 01:42 PM

Daniel o Donnell,is as Diane says,a clapped out crooner,the result of the mish mash of Paddy Moloney[the best of the little pipers]and Daniel o Donnell,would really be an Unfortunate Cup of Tea.. ButFOLK MUSIC no,just Boloney.


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 03:40 PM

"well I might have a bit more respect for the proponents of this point of view if they weren't the very people who had spent the last few years dismantling the format of English songs to give them a more ethnic (to the majority of English people) completely inaccessible sound."

Far be it from me to agree wth WLD but I think that there's more than a grain of truth in what he says here. The peculiar nasal, 'pseudo-ethnic' style of many English folk club singers is, I have to admit, deeply off-putting - but I think that it goes deeper than that. I also think that there have been/still are powerful forces within the English Folk World who have been desperate to abandon 'The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs' as soon as possible and produce some sort of folk flavoured 'rock fusion' thingamajig (mainly because rock music is as far as their limited imaginations extend) OR to produce endless 'relevant' folk-type pastiches about how awful it is to be a miner/unemployed miner or fisherman/unemployed fisherman OR to abandon sense and dignity all together and to sing infantile kiddie songs with actions.

I think that it might be quite nice to get back to our roots (oh my God - did I really use that phrase!!) and sing some real folk songs for a change (puhlease - pretty puhlease!!!).


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 03:54 PM

people were quite rightly snotty about BBC's singing together programmes for schools. the plummy middle class tones etc - peolple say it acqainted them with folksong - but I think it maybe did for the grammar school kids - alot of kids it must have turned right off.

what we have here is a dichotony. Grammar School teacher singers who want to drone on their favourite poem and the bright kids will pick it up, and the others better watch out or they'll be in trouble.

What we need is a comprehensive approach!


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Subject: RE: Review: The Folk Handbook
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Aug 07 - 04:03 PM

Omigod, Shimrod.
I don't claim to have any knowledge of these 'pseudo-ethnic' club singers because I keep well out of their way.
But what you are describing equates exactly with Smoothops and their MkII Radio Ballads.
Yes, good that they tried. They turned out far better than anything else they've laid their mits on.
But still a bit crap.
It is awful to be an unemployed fisherman (or anything) and there are excellent songwriters such as Barry Dransfield, John Tams and Jim Eldon who have written wonderful songs on these lines.
Yes, back to roots and sing about what we know about.
And encourage others who can to do the same.
It's called the living tradition.


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