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Folk Singer v Entertainer

Mr Happy 21 Jan 12 - 10:38 AM
RTim 21 Jan 12 - 11:10 AM
Morris-ey 21 Jan 12 - 11:34 AM
Elmore 21 Jan 12 - 11:43 AM
Leadfingers 21 Jan 12 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,kendall 21 Jan 12 - 12:28 PM
Joe Offer 22 Jan 12 - 01:47 AM
GUEST,SirCoughsalot 22 Jan 12 - 01:54 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Jan 12 - 03:47 AM
Seamus Kennedy 22 Jan 12 - 06:26 AM
GUEST,matt milton 22 Jan 12 - 06:30 AM
Bert 22 Jan 12 - 06:39 AM
banjoman 22 Jan 12 - 06:41 AM
Howard Jones 22 Jan 12 - 07:48 AM
Vic Smith 22 Jan 12 - 08:04 AM
Johnny J 22 Jan 12 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 22 Jan 12 - 08:10 AM
Bert 22 Jan 12 - 08:14 AM
Tigger the Tiger 22 Jan 12 - 08:37 AM
Leadfingers 22 Jan 12 - 11:00 AM
Howard Jones 22 Jan 12 - 11:29 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jan 12 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,SirCoughsalot 22 Jan 12 - 12:38 PM
stallion 22 Jan 12 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 22 Jan 12 - 01:47 PM
kendall 22 Jan 12 - 02:18 PM
Paul Burke 22 Jan 12 - 03:42 PM
Spleen Cringe 23 Jan 12 - 04:48 AM
Tigger the Tiger 23 Jan 12 - 06:26 AM
theleveller 23 Jan 12 - 07:00 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 23 Jan 12 - 08:03 AM
DMcG 23 Jan 12 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 23 Jan 12 - 08:20 AM
Lighter 23 Jan 12 - 09:55 AM
John P 23 Jan 12 - 10:37 AM
Lighter 23 Jan 12 - 01:16 PM
JedMarum 23 Jan 12 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 23 Jan 12 - 02:20 PM
John P 23 Jan 12 - 02:45 PM
Jeri 23 Jan 12 - 03:39 PM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jan 12 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,999 23 Jan 12 - 03:55 PM
Lighter 23 Jan 12 - 03:58 PM
Elmore 23 Jan 12 - 04:20 PM
Joe_F 23 Jan 12 - 06:09 PM
stallion 23 Jan 12 - 07:30 PM
Seamus Kennedy 23 Jan 12 - 09:04 PM
DebC 23 Jan 12 - 09:48 PM
Seamus Kennedy 24 Jan 12 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,SteveT 24 Jan 12 - 05:15 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Mr Happy
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 10:38 AM

IMO [but prepared to be persuaded otherwise] folk musicians/singers are people who perform the music purely for personal pleasure & are not usually paid for their endeavours.

What think you?

Discuss


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: RTim
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 11:10 AM

I think that what ever you do must be Entertaining.
Even, if like me, you are an unaccompanied singer, your set should contain a variety of songs, with appropriate patter, to show what you can do. This set will include some serious songs as well to counter balance the overall affect.
It is also "entertaining" just to sing well and be in tune, but it does also depend upon the audience you are singing for.
I equate it to selecting tracks for a CD, etc.. They should always be in balance, with not a bunch of similar songs together.
That is what sometimes annoys me - you spend hours deciding what order to put tracks on a CD - and then the buyer plays it in "random" mode. Aghhhhhh!!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Morris-ey
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 11:34 AM

I suspect many folk performers do it for the pleasure it brings to them personally (I have heard many who provide no pleasure for the audience); There are those who are gifted performers who want nothing more than to be appreciated in their locale; there are others who manage to make a living from it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Elmore
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 11:43 AM

Our folk music club thought folk singers should be paid next to nothing. That's why I was unable to book Michael Cooney, Utah Phillips and Hedy West among others. Fortunately, some excellent folk singers were willing to work cheap. This was 25 years ago. Nobody who has spent years in perfecting their talents works without recompense there days, nor should they.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 12:19 PM

I thought the Folk / Entertainer dichotomy had been done away with last century !!

No one will ever convince me that Bob and Ron Copper's ancestors were establishing a Semi Religious art form when they were singing in the Village Pub in Rottindean ! They were being ENTERTAINMENT .

And getting paid for it , even if it was only a few beers !


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 12:28 PM

My main focus was to share the music I love with audiences. In other words, to entertain them.
At the same time, if I'm hired to perform in Scotland, California, Texas etc. I have to get paid.
When I did my tour of Scotland in 1990 I did the whole thing, 7 gigs for $600.00, the price of the plane ticket.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 01:47 AM

I would certainly hope that every singer would be an entertainer - and when we sing together, we should all be entertaining each other.

Leadfingers gave a perfect example - Bob and Ron Copper. I wish I could have seen them in person, but that's not to be. But I sure enjoy the heck out of their recordings.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 01:54 AM

A folksinger is anyone who sings folk songs. Some folksingers are entertainers.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 03:47 AM

The problem, I suspect, is with the weird term "folk singer." Whether one sings non-professionally, for pay, for entertainment, or for other purposes...these are all variables among singers that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the type or quality of material they perform.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 06:26 AM

I'm not qualified to comment on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 06:30 AM

What people find entertaining goes a lot further than "varied sets", cracking jokes, a rapport with the audience etc etc.

I'm more likely to be entertained by a singer who exclusively performs long murder ballads with little variance in tone or instrumentation, no "patter" whatsoever, than the former example.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Bert
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 06:39 AM

...people who perform the music purely for personal pleasure & are not usually paid for their endeavours...

That is often true, but it is completely irrelevant and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are folk singers AND entertainers.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: banjoman
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 06:41 AM

If you don't consider yourself as an entertainer then you have no business asking people to pay to come and see/hear you. There are some "Folk Singers" who give me the impression that I should feel priviledged to pay to see them. ( I wont name names here) and others who its great to be in the company of, and not just for their music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 07:48 AM

"If you don't consider yourself as an entertainer then you have no business asking people to pay to come and see/hear you."

Or not pay, for that matter. Whether you are standing on a stage in front of a paying audience, or just singing or playing in the pub for whoever is there you should be aiming to entertain your audience. To do otherwise is just self-indulgence.

To imply that folk music is somehow too precious to be sullied with commerce demeans both the music and musicians. The idea that traditional musicians didn't sing or play for reward is nonsense - many of them were paid, in beer or in cash.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 08:04 AM

Joe Offer wrote:-
"Bob and Ron Copper. I wish I could have seen them in person,"


How lucky was I, therefore, to have seen them on so many, many occasions - to be the compere for years at their Coppersongs Folk Club, to book them so often at our own club in Lewes, to have them just turn up to give us a few songs as floor singers.

Were they Folk singers? Yes, very much so.
Were they Entertainers? Yes, very much so.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 08:06 AM

I'll ignore the fact that this thread says "folk SINGER" but I daresay this is to be expected on a site such as this.

However, whether we are referring to "singer", "musician" or whatever, I'd like to make a few points.

There seems to an obsession with "performance" these days and everybody seems to want or are "encouraged", "manouvred" into wanting to sing or play in front of people or for people.

R Tim says " your set should contain a variety of songs, with appropriate patter, to show what you can do."

"TO SHOW WHAT YOU CAN DO..."!

Why do we need to *show* what we can do if we just wish to sing or play music for our own pleasure or enjoyment either at home or with family and/or friends?
"Entertainment" is a different beast altogether if we choose to go down that road. Most of us do find ourselves in situations where we "entertain" to greater or lesser extent if but it isn't an essential requirement for being a singer or musician.

Many of us play or sing to relax and, maybe, even in work situations. This was very common in the past and many of best traditional songs were originally "working songs", eg at the loom, on the farms, at sea, etc.
Instrumental music was often functional too. Could you describe a piper(s) leading an army to battle as "entertainment"?


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 08:10 AM

It's mainly a matter of who the audience is. In an Irish session, for example, the audience is mainly the other musicians- perhaps even a subset of them. In an English folk singaround, the audience is the other singers. If other people are present, they are usually there by choice, and know the musical framework. Unless it's one of those awful pubs where there's no separate space and the general punters resent the folkies because they'd rather watch Sky or play the jukebox/ fruit machine.

I generally find open mike and "acoustic" sessions unsatisfying for that reason: the punters are there to be entertained on their own terms. In other words, they want blues, country, pop nostalgia and easy listening. They don't want traditional stuff, it doesn't sound like the radio and they aren't familiar with it. All credit to those musicians who are happy to do that stuff, but don't ask me along.

If your main aim is to please the punters, don't do folk. You might slip a bit of Richard Thomson past them, because it sounds more like the stuff they want. But they'd have chucked Margaret Barry or Willie Clancy out.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Bert
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 08:14 AM

And don't forget that Folk Singers and Entertainers can also be Educators.

I often try to sing songs that the audience may not have heard before and try to give a little history of a song if it is appropriate.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 08:37 AM

Remember in the sixties we had significant protest songs to move an audience;that was part of the education. Although I saw many professionals in the sixties and knew some,the best I ever saw was a fellow named Rick Curtis in Fort Wayne Indiana. He was a very bouncy,enthusiastic performer who played fantastic guitar.Like Seeger at his best. He could play Living in the country and do the whistling. The sheer joy of his love for the songs and the instrument came across. Exceptional.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 11:00 AM

Fortunately we are well past the point where a "Folk Singer" might get two songs in a half hour set and a whole string of (Often) bad jokes

These days , MOST audiences expect information about the songs and tunes they are going to hear , and appreciate it if the information is NOT Dry facts learned by rote , but does appear in an entertaining form .

Hence , a 'Good' Folk singer will also be an entertainer ! Nuf Said .


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 11:29 AM

Nothing wrong with singing just for your own pleasure. However if you're going to sing in public, whether in a formal performance or a more casual setting, then you should put a bit of work into it, in order to put in a decent performance.

The implication contained in the OP was that "proper" folksingers aren't entertainers. "Entertainment" doesn't necesarily mean cracking jokes or "giving the punters what they want", it's about giving a performance which others will want to listen to. That's what folksingers should aim to do.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 12:31 PM

'I'm more likely to be entertained by a singer who exclusively performs long murder ballads with little variance in tone or instrumentation'

Matt - that's plain weird! You ARE joking......? (I hope for your own sake.)


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 12:38 PM

Matt Milton - I suppose we all have different tastes, but I think you'll find you're in the minority. That sounds really boring to me.

I think if a singer or musician wants to play or sing for his own pleasure and that's all, with no entertaining on his mind, that is all well and good. But he should stay home.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: stallion
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 01:38 PM

There is a big difference between enjoying oneself singing the songs and entertaining. For me it's like sitting around a table in the pub with your mates and enjoying the Craic when you are heavily involved or sitting on the bar stool peering into your drink and not particularly wanting company. Some people sit on their bar stool and think it is entertaining, well it is for them, but the trick is to make the audience feel part of the Craic like the gig is one big table in the pub.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 01:47 PM

I used to play music in West Cork, they used to pay me! One night in Annie May's in Skibbereen I played Leo Rowsome's lovely, quirky version of 'St Patrick's Day'. A local uillean piper called Hugh Quinn (I'd heard of him but had never met him) came up & said I was playing it wrong. I told him its origin, a 78 record by the 'King of the Pipers',but he didnt accept this & went back to his seat saying 'ah but you're not a traditional musician, you're an entertainer'. On rflection, what a lovely compliment- thats one of the best compliments I've ever had- thanks again, Hugh, I'll always treasure those few words


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: kendall
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 02:18 PM

Seamus Kennedy not qualified to offer an opinion here? SNORT!


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Paul Burke
Date: 22 Jan 12 - 03:42 PM

To me, the word "entertainer" brings to mind the legendary Saturday night at the Glasgow Empire- a boozed up hypercritical audience who know exactly what they want, and are pretty sure you're not providing it. Whereas a folk session is a sort of conspiracy between players, singers and listeners to pretend that the shite they are doing is the bees' feckin' knees. And I believe set 'B' have a more fruitful time of it than the other lot.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 04:48 AM

"If you don't consider yourself as an entertainer then you have no business asking people to pay to come and see/hear you"

Disagree totally. Some of the best gigs I've ever seen are by people who have made no attempts to build a rapport with the audience and have not pandered to what they think an imaginary average audience member might want. These gigs were of course entertaining insofar as they were brilliant, but not in the sense that the word is usually used and not self-consciously so. If you just give people what you think they want you never give them anything new. Music then ossifies and stagnates.

As for the OP - the distinction is surely them between people who want to make a living on some level from playing music and people who do it as a hobby? Neither folk singer nor entertainer come into it.

Matt - I'll have a ticket to that gig too please!


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 06:26 AM

I have always felt that if you love to play your instrument and you sing songs you love,you will be very entertaining. In the sixties,it was very necessary to give a brief explanation of a song;we all had to learn from one another. This was not really an academic study;there were some great performances in the basket houses in the Village. If you ran into a performer backstage or in a bar,you could stop to discuss a song or technique.We learned from one another.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: theleveller
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 07:00 AM

For me, folk clubs went down the pan when they became more venues for comedians than musicians and people like Mike Harding and Jasper Carrot, who spent more time telling jokes than singing, became the sort of acts that pulled in the crowds, to the ultimate detriment of both the clubs and the musically-inclined audiences. If you want a laugh, go to a comedy club; if you want to be miserable, go to a folk club ;)


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 08:03 AM

To Spleen Cringe: but you were entertained. That's my point - if you're not aiming to please your audience - to entertain them - then why perform in public at all, unless it's for entirely selfish reasons? That can be achieved in a number of ways, and as in the cases you've decribed despite a lack of rapport.

It seems to be assumed that "entertainment" means telling jokes, but it's much more than that. People go to the theatre or cinema, or read novels, to experience a wide range of emotions, including fear and sadness - they're still being entertained.

To the leveller: I know what you mean but I think this is exagerrated. There weren't that many comedians on the folk club circuit (the comedy club circuit didn't exist), and despite the jokes music was still an important part of their acts. A club which had Mike Harding on one week might have Martin Carthy or Nic Jones the next - at least, the clubs I went to might. They covered a fairly broad spectrum, which included the comedy but also included more serious stuff.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 08:12 AM

That's my point - if you're not aiming to please your audience - to entertain them - then why perform in public at all, unless it's for entirely selfish reasons

The main club I go to is about 70% singarounds to 30% guest+floor spots. I don't regard myself as a particurally good singer - I don't do the more formal floor spots when we have them, for example - and while I certainly hope that I don't displease the other people, my main motivation is that I regard singing something as a sort of 'fee' for attending, which contributes to the club keeping going. Whether that is 'entirely selfish' I will leave for others to decide.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 08:20 AM

folk musicians/singers are people who perform the music purely for personal pleasure & are not usually paid for their endeavours.

I get more pleasure if I'm getting a decent wedge. Unless it's a session, when that's something else altogether - and you leave the whole performance thing at home. Or when you're in a singaround - or running a singaround - and no one is better than anyone else, even if they think they are. No room for prima donnas, though there are plenty about...

Otherwise, I'm torn really. As a Storyteller you cruise the audience - and they cruise you - the energy is generated by the Shamanic vibe whereby the performer becomes a medium to another level of narrative healing & empowerment. As a Singer I feel the audience should really get over themselves and make some attempt to win you over. In either case you relate to a collective organism & you ride on the vibe of the whole, & it's always great fun, even if they hate you. It's totally democratic too - if three quarters of them hate you, it's the quarter who are most appreciative who you relate to. There's no sense of - oh, God - how do I win these people over? more a matter of it's their loss or pearls before swine. Fortunately, that seldom happens, but you still that old glass-half-empty thing from paternalistic organisers: Oh, half the audience didn't get it at all - as if that's some sort of a problem? As Ken Hyder once said we love you, you don't have to love us. Sometimes I feel folk just plummets to that lowest common denominator shit which I personally feel is best avoided. Life really is too short, you know? Hear no evil.

My favourite gigs are classical gigs; I go to hear music, like seeing Hesperion XXI with the late Montserrat Figueras in the choir of York Minster a few years back. That's my ideal really. Less Hot-pot; more Marmite. Or rock gigs; a few half muttered intros if you're lucky. The music's the thing. Shut up and play your guitar.

I still admire a decent MC though; I've tried MC-ing once and I hated it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 09:55 AM

Folksingers sing to please themselves and others.

Entertainers sing to advance themselves and captivate others.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: John P
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 10:37 AM

I'm wondering if we should substitute "performer" for "entertainer"? That seems to be the basic question, and the conversation keeps veering into trying to define what's entertaining, surely a purely subjective question.

I have to agree with those who have said that there isn't any real dichotomy present between being a folk musician and a performer of folk music. Everyone I know who performs folk music also plays folk music for purely personal entertainment and for a good rousing evening on the back porch with friends. I agree that performing in public requires the performer to perform. Whether or not there is pay involved is beside the question. So is whether or not anyone finds the performance entertaining.

I seem to find a connotation in the OP that playing folk music for fun is somehow more noble than playing folk music for performance and/or for pay. I don't buy it. Certainly the presence or lack of money doesn't have anything to do with it. Anyone who plays folk music in an effort to get rich has a screw loose somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 01:16 PM

The problem isn't about getting paid for performing, it's the observable fact that entertainers sometimes cavalierly modernize a song's lyrics and attitude - sometimes the whole feel of a song - just to pander to an audience's presumed taste and thus further their careers.

Worse, I suppose, for pedant like me, is that they often wind up misrepresenting the past - which is what "traditional song" is largely about.

I don't think that Celtic Woman, for example, actually claim to be performing "traditional music," but a lot of people think they are. Needless to say, CW's production values and performance style - as pleasing as they are by pop standards - have zilch to do with tradition.

One worries (if one is a pedant) that people are led to believe that traditional styles and performer/audience relationships of, say, the eighteenth century, were pretty much what they are now.

Though without the mikes, of course.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: JedMarum
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 02:12 PM

Why is it "Folk Singer v Entertainer?" Why are they presumed to be mutually exclusive? The best entertainers who sing folk music are indeed Folksingers who sing to please themselves and others. They are people who LOVE the music they sing, and that is the main reason they are seen as entertaining.

Seamus Kennedy, Kendall, Big Al from above (and I'm sure others) are good examples of people who've been successful entertainers, worthy of appreciative audiences and performance fees because of their love for the music and the folklore. I have to say "me too." I do this because I love it, NOT because I can make a living at it. And I see no reason to drive a wedge between the two terms; Folk Singer v Entertainer.

I am a folksinger. I love all kinds of music, but folk music is in my blood. It is my preferred style. I make my living at it (quite modestly, I might add) and I know that I have to be entertaining to do that ... I have no problem doing that, because I am entertained by it. I sing and present what I love and what I find entertaining.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 02:20 PM

Worse, I suppose, for pedant like me, is that they often wind up misrepresenting the past - which is what "traditional song" is largely about.

By pedant do you perchance mean 'purist'? Otherwise I heartily disagree. Traditional Song is about invigorating musical creativity in the here & now; each individual is free to do that exactly how they see fit. So-called 'traditional styles' are very much a post-modern orthodoxy derived from successive revivalists thinking they can improve on the old singers. The performer / audience relationship is a constant though. One performs, the other listens.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: John P
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 02:45 PM

the observable fact that entertainers sometimes cavalierly modernize a song's lyrics and attitude - sometimes the whole feel of a song - just to pander to an audience's presumed taste and thus further their careers.

Really? To further their careers? Are you sure they're not just playing music the way they like to play music? If we disallow any modernization, traditional music doesn't really exist, in that any different version from the past may well have been someone's attempt to modernize and make a song more immediately relevant to their audiences. Musicians who want to "further their careers" play pop music.

Worse, I suppose, for pedant like me, is that they often wind up misrepresenting the past - which is what "traditional song" is largely about.

I don't agree that the past is what traditional music is about. I think you may be talking about historical music. The only way to know about what music was like in the past is to engage in academic musicological research -- an activity which, for me, is almost the opposite of traditional music making. The tradition is here and now, and the way people play music here and now is the traditional way of playing (IMO). I agree that people often come up with ways of playing traditional music that is far outside anything most of would refer to as folk music, but anyone who likes what they do and tries to find out more about traditional music won't have any trouble finding different styles. Or, maybe they like the pop synth sound and they've found some cool music they like. So what?

The dreadful pop arrangements of traditional music that I hate as much as anyone are still traditional music -- they are just not played in a folk style.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 03:39 PM

How many threads like this have we had?

If you sing any song and expect people to listen, you'd better try to be at least a little entertaining. I think cheese may be the objectionable thing. I think people sometimes think the song itself will carry an apathetic, off pitch or otherwise sucky rendition... because, after all, they aren't entertainers.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 03:50 PM

Jed I love your work and feel honoured that you should place me in that august company.

I've already had a reply censored in this thread. so I'm not sure, I'm allowed to say this. But this dichotony between entertainer and folksinger is an English phenomenon. I look forward to a time in England when straightforward delivery of folksong - like you do yourself (something that every man in the street can at least understand) is the order of the day - but it is a long long way into the future in England.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,999
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 03:55 PM

"Seamus Kennedy not qualified to offer an opinion here? SNORT!"

I picked up on that one, too, Kendall. My response as I read it was, "Yeah, right." SNORT works better.

The title of the thread makes it seem like Folk Singers and Entertainers are mutually exclusive terms. Whatever one sings, it had better be entertaining for the audience or they likely won't be back.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 03:58 PM

> Whatever one sings, it had better be entertaining for the audience or they likely won't be back.

Exactly.

But most traditional singers wouldn't care.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Elmore
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 04:20 PM

This is beginning to sound like the tiresome debate over what is or is not folk music. It seems that we all have slightly differing, but very personal opinions over what is folk music and what is simply "show biz."I'm pretty sure we agree more than one might think, and that a good deal of this is a matter of semantics.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Joe_F
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 06:09 PM

If that were an event, I'd bet on the entertainer, but cheer for the folksinger.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: stallion
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 07:30 PM

There is a cultural difference twixt The US and Britain. What I noticed is that in the US there is an invisible line of excellence that one has to get past and the whole world loves you if you don't the crowd let you know. Witnessed it in a Greenwich village Bistro where one week a jaz trio played and they emptied the donation jug several times, the following week a pianist played (mediocre) and absolutely no money was put in the jar. In Britain an "Eddie . the Eagle" mentality prevails. I am not sure which I prefer, probably the later because on one level it needs to be inclusive and open to all, on the other hand, oh dear, enough said. Horses for courses. Also in the US there is more emphasis on the scholarship and history of the songs where here people need a little chortle, Vin Garbut packs them in cos he does precisely that. As to whether one or other ends of the spectrum is better only bums on seats will tell and do we really need to differentiate between whose bums are on the seats?


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 09:04 PM

Jed Marum said very concisely what I was attempting to say with my snarky little post earlier. Thanks, Jed, Big AL, Kendall, Bruce and everybody else who can do what they love, and entertain others while doing it.
Stallion, the folks here in the U.S. appreciate a little chortle too.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: DebC
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 09:48 PM

My good buddy Stallion said above:
"Also in the US there is more emphasis
on the scholarship and history of the songs where here people need a little chortle..."

I find the exact OPPOSITE to be true; here in the US, most folks have no clue about the history and scholarship of the songs, yet where ever I go in the UK, the resident audience at any folk club are a helluva lot more knowledgeable than I.

But I got to listen to Kendall and Jacqui on Sunday night and *I* was certainly entertained.

Deb Cowan.


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 12:03 AM

DebC - now there's a lady who can sing folk songs AND entertain!


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Subject: RE: Folk Singer v Entertainer
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 05:15 AM

Obviously the two are not mutually exclusive but perhaps it's about where your priorities and duty lie. Is your first duty to do justice to the song or to entertain the audience? (I'm a singer rather than musician but I expect my argument works with tunes as well.)

I remember once (in a pub, not at a paid gig or even at a folk club singers' night) stopping a song (Francis Tolliver) after one verse. It wasn't because I wasn't entertaining the audience, it was because I shouldn't have started that song there – it wasn't fair to the song, its composer or the people who the song was about.

I'm only an average "floor singer" and certainly no entertainer but I do feel I have a duty to my songs to sing them as well as I can, to keep them alive and pass them on so that, hopefully, someone with real talent will take them away and do the same. That won't happen if the songs and my singing aren't good enough to merit some attention, so I try to choose songs that match the venue/audience – but I do it for the songs and not the audience.


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