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Folk Music On PBS

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Barney the Fifer 03 Dec 02 - 11:05 AM
Rick Fielding 03 Dec 02 - 11:28 AM
Genie 03 Dec 02 - 11:32 AM
Ron Olesko 03 Dec 02 - 11:39 AM
GUEST 03 Dec 02 - 01:18 PM
johnross 03 Dec 02 - 01:18 PM
GUEST 03 Dec 02 - 01:31 PM
pattyClink 03 Dec 02 - 01:56 PM
jimmyt 03 Dec 02 - 02:17 PM
Ebbie 03 Dec 02 - 02:28 PM
jimmyt 03 Dec 02 - 02:31 PM
BuckMulligan 03 Dec 02 - 02:34 PM
GUEST 03 Dec 02 - 03:40 PM
Don Firth 03 Dec 02 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Guest 03 Dec 02 - 04:08 PM
jimmyt 03 Dec 02 - 04:10 PM
Ron Olesko 03 Dec 02 - 04:11 PM
GUEST 03 Dec 02 - 06:05 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Dec 02 - 07:27 PM
jimmyt 03 Dec 02 - 08:49 PM
BH 03 Dec 02 - 09:01 PM
johnross 03 Dec 02 - 09:42 PM
jimmyt 03 Dec 02 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Argenine 03 Dec 02 - 10:23 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 03 Dec 02 - 11:16 PM
Stilly River Sage 03 Dec 02 - 11:32 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 03 Dec 02 - 11:35 PM
GutBucketeer 03 Dec 02 - 11:52 PM
Rick Fielding 04 Dec 02 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Allan Terego 04 Dec 02 - 12:37 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 02:38 AM
GUEST,JudyR 04 Dec 02 - 03:52 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Dec 02 - 08:10 AM
Ron Olesko 04 Dec 02 - 09:57 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 10:01 AM
JedMarum 04 Dec 02 - 10:04 AM
Amos 04 Dec 02 - 10:15 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 10:21 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Dec 02 - 10:32 AM
JedMarum 04 Dec 02 - 10:35 AM
Amos 04 Dec 02 - 10:59 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 11:00 AM
Ron Olesko 04 Dec 02 - 11:08 AM
Amos 04 Dec 02 - 11:08 AM
JedMarum 04 Dec 02 - 11:16 AM
jimmyt 04 Dec 02 - 11:44 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 11:57 AM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 12:01 PM
jimmyt 04 Dec 02 - 12:02 PM
GUEST 04 Dec 02 - 12:13 PM
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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Barney the Fifer
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:05 AM

Ron Olesko,

What I said was that these groups didn't APPEAR to have learned a new song in 35-40 years. That's the impression you got from watching the show.

And I guess that Generic folk song that the Limeliters did might have been new. But it was a trite piece of fluff that was more denigration than wit.

I also said that I know that some of the artists, like Judy Collins and Rogere McGuinn, have progressed. You just couldn't tell from the show. And you can't blame it all on the producers. These artists all agreed to the concept and did shill bits on the show and inserts for the pledge breaks.

As to Glen Yarborough, he was either lip-synching or singing along to a pre-recorded orchestra and choir. He was alone on the stage but you could hear the orchestra and choir. It sounded exactly, I mean exactly, like his recording from 35+ years ago.


One thing that bugs me about PBS is that they regularly trot out folk music specials for their fundraising weeks. But its rare to find folk music there the rest of the year.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:28 AM

On the other hand....Picture this friends:

PBS FOLK MUSIC CONCERT, FEATURING:

Doc Watson
John Herald
Tony Trischka
Hazel Dickens
Cathy and Marcy
Jean Ritchie
Tom Paxton
Bill Staines
Jay Unger

Damn, what a show! Now wouldn't you stay home to watch THAT?

Now...Pan to a 1000 folks (of a certain age) in the audience.....follow their lips as they sing along to "Nottamun Town", "The Lone Pilgrim...."....Oops, they don't appear to know the words.....Hmmmmmmm, looks like they've never heard of any of these folk performers either.

Net result? 67.35 collected in pledges! Dubya would be thrilled.

Aww what the heck, let 'em have what's left of The Kingston Trio.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Genie
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:32 AM

(Tried to post this last night but gave up 'cause I couldn't get back on to the 'cat.)

Rick, "If only the brothers had mentioned their fight to get Pete and "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" on the tube.....and even if....."my heart be still"...Roger
McGuinn had sung it on this program. Just imagine, a song that was completely relevant in the sixties AND currently."
Yeah, Rick, just imagine!   I'd have called in a pledge for THAT show!

Duane D, not only did they have the "audacity" to call rock numbers "folk," but they had the Bros. Four doing "Try To Remember" (from "The Fantasticks!") as
a "folk song," too.

Ballyholme, if you mean that old recordings of some of the great dead guys (and gals) would have more 'life' than the music of some still-extant folks, I'm with
you! I mentioned Ochs and Van Ronk because they were the only ones you cited that I was certain were deceased. (By "Hurt," I'm guessing you mean
Mississippi John. And at the moment I'm not connecting the name "Proffit" with anyone but a member of our local school board. [Could be the beer, or
maybe the Alzheimer's. Who knows?])

And, SINSULL, I LOVED the Doo-Wop retrospectives! Most of those folks still sound great (even if they are fat and bald)!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:39 AM

Barney,

Yes "Generic Folk Song" was fluff, but that isn't the only "new" song they've done. I was pointing out that the blame belongs on the producer, not the group.   

Over the years the Limeliters have added songs from Phil Ochs, Harry Chapin, Stan Rogers, Bill Staines as well as originals from Red Grammer when he was with the group. I also would not fault them for singing old songs. Most folk songs are "old". I truly enjoyed their most recent CD.

Yes, the blame is on the producer - not the artists. The image the PRODUCER gave us was slanted. The special was not very well produced. I don't want to judge ANY of the performers based on that broadcast.   Yes, the performers agreed to do the show but it is extremely doubtful that any of them had any sort of editorial control. PBS and the producer would not agree to that. The concept and the pitching was fine, the execution was not. I would love to peak at all the material that did not make the broadcast. I bet we would have a slightly different opinion.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 01:18 PM

Well, I tuned in to Judy singing "Both Sides Now" and she sounded ab fab--truly, I was astounded at how good she sounded. The one and only time I saw her perform was at her infamous (well, to some of us with memories going back that far) Chicago gig, where the Marines in the front row got up and walked out when she started talking about the trial of the Chicago Seven. Her voice is as crystalline as it ever was, and she still has an amazing amount of her upper range. I don't know how old she is, but I know she is definitely old enough to have lost the upper range--she is a very lucky singer.

But my God, that program was awful--painfully so. I wasn't so embarrassed for Collins, McGuinn, and the Smothers Brothers, they all did fine. Apparently they were the only performers who are currently still enjoying professional music careers. As to the cynicism charge, well...what I found so painful was that PBS asked people who clearly shouldn't be performing in such a public way, to appear on this program. I was embarrassed for the others.

Now, as to this claim that this is how the boomer generation was exposed to folk music, I would have to strongly disagree with that statement. I'm not sure what the hell that music ever was, but it wasn't folk music. I got my television exposure to folk music watching very different music acts than the people on this program. From TV Gospel Hour, to Shindig (artists like Sam Cooke, Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Byrds, Kingsmen, Lovin Spoonful, a ton of soul & R & B acts like Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, etc.)

I also was introduced to folk music through tv programming for what was once called "music variety shows" which featured country music acts--from jugband to old time to bluegrass to hillbilly to rockabilly, from Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey and the Sons of the Pioneers, to Porter Waggoner Show to The Johnny Cash Show, Smothers Brothers, The Glen Campbell Show, to K-Tel commercials, etc.

But the "Folk Scare" artists of my youth, with the exception of Judy Collins, Roger McGuinn, Peter Paul & Mary, and the Smothers Brothers, weren't the people on the program in question. I don't really know who those dweebs were, as they were never really on my or my siblings radar musically when we were growing up, except that when "Tom Dooley" came on the radio, we'd turn it down or off.

The American "Folk Scare" artists of my youth were more likely to be seen on the rock/pop musical variety shows on tv. They include artists like Odetta, Seeger, Guthries, Ochs, Baez, Judy Henske, Barbara Dane, Fred Neil, the Farinas, Carolyn Hester, Dylan, Buffy St. Marie, New Lost City Ramblers, Koerner Ray & Glover, Tom Rush, etc.

Then, through the "folk rock" scene, I became familiar with British and Irish music--Bothy Band, Planxty, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, Sandy Denny, etc.

So, how I came into folk music as an American teenager is actually pretty damn complex, as the music came from so many sources--tv & radio, but also movies, live performances & concerts, through direct exposure to black gospel music, white church music, "ethnic" music (as we called the music we sang to at home and danced to at weddings and funerals) like polka music, swing, etc. Folk music, as I define it, came to me in my youth from all around me, really. But maybe I see it that way because I've never put up walls around the music I love that I know either was the roots of certain types of music, or a shoot that sprang from the root.

I just know that the majority of acts on that program didn't reflect "folk music" to me at all. Rather, it seemed to be that upper middle class, white college music of the late 50s and early 60s that got a lot of airplay on MOR stations. It ain't what I was listening to late at night in the dark that came out of Little Rock, I can tell you that!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: johnross
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 01:18 PM

My earlier comment ("feh") notwithstanding, it's not the Mudcat audience that was the target for that PBS clambake.

In the same way that the fans of Ornette Coleman and the fans of Kenny G both consider themselves fans of "Jazz" but have little in common, those of us who have been part of the folk revival over the last 40 years (see the last 50 posts in this topic) have a very different idea of "folk music" from those who still love the Kingston Trio/Limelighters/Brothers Four. And neither group shares their taste with the people who moved toward folk-rock in the mid-sixties.

But much as we might dislike the idea, the commercial folk-scare fans have just as much right to see their favorites as we do. And I suspect that there's more opportunity for us to see and hear what we call folk musc--at festivals, on college and public radio, and at folk clubs--than there is for the fans of the New Christy Minstrels.

So let those people enjoy themselves. It's not hurting us--in fact, if they play the occasional song written by a "real" folk singer-songwriter like a Tom Paxton or a Utah Philips, they're subsidizing us.

We don't own the exclusive right to the words "Folk Music". And we're not the ones that the PBS nostalgia factory was trying to reach with this particular program.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 01:31 PM

johnross said:

"We don't own the exclusive right to the words "Folk Music". And we're not the ones that the PBS nostalgia factory was trying to reach with this particular program."

I agree 100%, as you might have guessed reading the post just above johnross' there. But still, I did feel embarrassed for a lot of those performers, as it felt very exploitative watching "the PBS nostalgia factory" aspect of the program. And let's face it, the fans of that music have a lot more money than most of us posting here, so there is a reason why we aren't reacting positively to the program. If you learned about folk music "in college" in the 50s or 60s, you were from an elite, fairly wealthy community. There just weren't that many "folk" (regardless of how you define the word folk)whose families could afford to send their children for an east coast college education in those days.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: pattyClink
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 01:56 PM

Johnross, I see your point, but yes, it actually is 'hurting us'. Most people very rarely hear folk music, it's not on radio stations and it's certainly not on television. So when someone passes this kind of junky production off as This Is/Was Folk Music, it can have a huge effect in having thousands of young people decide they hate folk music, turning off another generation of coulda been folk fans.

What's needed is not more tolerance of this crap, but for somebody qualified to stick a brilliant, well-done concept for a folk special under PBS's nose and dare them to produce it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 02:17 PM

a lot of the last few posts pretty well sum up the situation: THey put this stuff on TV good or bad, and I will agree it was disappointing, for a reason, and that is to appeal to what you folks would probably call the "Vanilla flavored" folk enthusiasts. It is an attempt to target a group of folks that will probably have the resources to make a donation. I am one of those folks, I give to PBS and publec radio every year. I also happen to be a 55 year old white guy who's parents did not have the $ to send me to an east coast school, they were millworkers and I did it with student loans, which by the way I have paid back. I also like lots and lots of other artists that do not fall into the genre of those "commercial " groups that seem to make most of you sick. Someone bought their records, wonder who it was? I just get tired of the generalizations that rich white people have no redeeming social value to your community with the exception of paying high taxes and supporting every program that is available in the arts and social community. I have kept my mouth shut by and large on this site, and tried to listen to others view points, some of which I find valid, others I do not,but I do get tired of the constant references to rich white people being the enemy. Let's try to practice a little " we're all in this together" mentality rather than the stereotyping. SOrry to whine again today, but I just have to get this off my chest.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 02:28 PM

" if you pledged at the $250 level, you would receive the 10 cd boxed set of the selections from the show plus scores of rock hits they had the audacity to call folk music. " Duane D, here in Juneau they set the amount at $350. Either way, I doubt they got many takers.

Rick, WOW! Let's lobby!

PBS FOLK MUSIC CONCERT, FEATURING:

Doc Watson
John Herald
Tony Trischka
Hazel Dickens
Cathy and Marcy
Jean Ritchie
Tom Paxton
Bill Staines
Jay Unger


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 02:31 PM

Ebbie, I think you missed the point Rick was making. Yes, this would be an absolute terrific show, but the audience would consist of us, and few others, and the fundraising would be poor. Complain as we might, but even public TV is income driven, and their is something to Boxoffice appeal.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 02:34 PM

Ah, yes, that's the ticket: less tolerance all around. That's what the "real" folkies of the Scare were after.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 03:40 PM

Oh, I wouldn't say there is no audience for folk music on PBS. The Irish music specials have done very well. Then there is Mississippi River of Song, Austin City Limits, American Roots Music, Los Romeros: The Royal Family Of The Guitar, Accordion Dreams, Amazing Grace with Bill Moyers, Buena Vista Social Club, Joe Hill, Rock Jocks: The FM Revolution, Welcome to the Club: The Women of Rockabilly, and some of the other aforementioned programs that PBS/PBS affiliates have produced, is indicative of there being no audience for folk music on PBS.

Quite the contrary, I'd say. And jimmyt, you were obviously not only very fortunate to be able to educate yourself with student loans, you have, if you are able to afford donations to public broadcasting, are doing fairly well now too. But that doesn't change the fact that in the 2000 census data, only 26% of Americans over age 25 had earned a bachelors degree. Even today, that is still a pretty elite group, to my way of reckoning.

As to this forum being representative of "the folk" people will likely be shocked to find that the educational background of Internet users breaks down about roughly to this (courtesy of Internet Public Policy Network):

Education:

56% of users are college educated, but 26% of all Americans are college educated (E-Marketer);
40% of users are white collar workers (professional/managerial), but white collar workers make up only 18% of the population (E-Marketer);
28% of users have no college education, compared to 52% of the total population (Mediamark);
19% of people with a high school diploma or less have Internet access, (they make up 52% of the population). Meanwhile, 53% of people with a college degree have Internet access (they make up 23% of the population) (Baruch College Louis Harris and Associates, 1998 cited in the Benton Foundation's Losing Ground Bit by Bit).


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 03:52 PM

Well. Hmm. From the perspective of a geezer:—

My interest in folk music developed with early exposure. This exposure started when I was in my early teens (that would have been in the early Forties) with a couple of radio programs and a movie. One was Burl Ives, talking about the history of the Erie Canal, during which he told stories and sang songs. At the same time, a local character, Ivar Haglund had a radio program, telling stories about the early days in the Puget Sound area—and singing songs, accompanying himself on the guitar (The Old Settler's Song, e.g., "Acres of Clams" was his theme song). In the late Forties, I saw a movie starring Susan Reed, about a young girl from the Appalachians dragged off to sing folk songs in a New York night club. Then along came The Weavers. I became actively interested (learning songs and learning to play the guitar) shortly after I started at the University of Washington in fall of 1949. During my sophomore year, I met some folk music enthusiasts: Claire Hess, Walt Robertson, Sandy Paton, Dick Landberg, Bob Crabtree, and a couple of others.

I was hardly a member of "the elite." My father was a health professional, so we were doing okay, but we were not what anyone could call rich. In the early Fifties, tuition at the U. of W. was $53.00 a quarter for Washington State residents. So going to an eastern, ivy league college had nothing to do with it, at least around here.

For me and many of my contemporaries, the Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, the Limeliters, et al had nothing to do with our avid interest in folk music. By the time they came along, I had heard a lot of Folkways records and field recordings and had dug around in a lot of books. When these "pop-folk" groups came along, we recognized what they did as (to repeat myself) "folk-lite" and tended to regard them as usurpers—kind of phony at best. Compared to what we were used to listening to on records, this bunch was slick and gutless. A lot of the genuine folk songs they sang were subjected to pop arrangements ("filtered and made mild"), and others, such as Green Fields, Scarlet Ribbons, They Call the Wind Mariah, Try to Remember, etc. etc.), good songs though they may have been, were not folk songs at all, even though a lot of people were led to believe they were (I've got a little insight into this; I knew a guy who wrote songs for the New Christy Minstrels).

Granted, many people developed an interest in folk music as a result of the Great Folk Scare. But at the same time, a lot of people got a pretty screwed up idea of what folk music really is. This becomes pretty evident (I should probably go put on my Kevlar underwear before saying this) when you read through a lot of Mudcat threads and compile a list of songs of what a lot of folks here seem to regard as folk songs.

O-o-o-o-oh boy!! I'm in trouble now!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 04:08 PM

Perhaps WE need to collectively urge Ken Burns to produce a documentary film on folk music: Past and Present. There's enough material here for at least a hundred episodes and it still wouldn't be complete.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 04:10 PM

Guest, What the hell does only 26% of Americans over 25 having bachelors degrees have to do with these people being elitist? I commend them for getting off their asses, stopping whining and getting the damn degree.   I suppose the next comment will be that it is entirely socioeconomic. In this day and age in the United States, using the "I didn't have the opportunity to get an education" doesn't cut it. I went back to school when I was 28 with 3 kids, a wife and worked 3 jobs parttime, went to dental school, graduated with $90,000 in student loans that by the time I got them paid off, the pay off was about $250,000, and I did it to better myself and family. YEs, it is paid off, and I didn't hide behind some excuses either. A famious quote, "I know men in the ranks that will stay in the ranks. Ehy? simply because they haven't the ability to ge things done." I know this is major thread creep, I again apologise


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 04:11 PM

Please, not Ken Burns.   Ken burns sucked the life out of baseball and jazz in his documentaries.   Don't let him touch folk music!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 06:05 PM

Please, someone kill Ken Burns and all those associated with their color-by-number docudrama lite.

PBS producers need to do some serious woodshedding time with the BBC documentary folk.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 07:27 PM

Well I for one have nuthin' against "wealthy folk fans". These, my friends, are the folks who literally allow the musicians we DO like (the non-commercial ones) to keep playin' year after year.

Seventy five percent of my gigs are "House Concerts" and I guarantee you that a nice big house, a decent cover charge, a good room to sleep in and a well connected host, make for a much better evening (for the musician at least) than fighting a bar owner for some ridiculously low fee......and wondering if they could turn the TV down.

This has become a very interesting discussion, but if I can just ratify my point a bit.....my objection (as it was for the "Geriatric British Invasion" show) was simply that most of the musicians (not all) seemed horridly dated (because of material) and were REALLY outta shape, chops wise.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 08:49 PM

Thank you, Rick, for that post, It is refreshing to have a bit of reality thrown in the pot from time to time. I also agree that watching this particular show was a bit depressing from a quality standpoint.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: BH
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 09:01 PM

Briefly, all this brings me back to the original thought I presented. Show what you are about PBS---true "folk", Masterpiece Theatre, Lehrer News Hour, Frontline, etc;   Give up on the "crap' for what that you (PBS) think attracts the masses---it doesn't. You (PBS) are a nice broadcaster and should be proud to represent that niche---and give up on second rate presentations to a dying generation of commercial pap loving people.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: johnross
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 09:42 PM

So it seems ass if we have two separate complaints about the PBS special:

1) The performers were all (or almost all) pop-folk acts rather than "real" folksingers.

and 2) They shouldn't call that stuff "Folk Music".

As much as it may be painful for the hardcore folkies to admit it, that early-sixties pop-folk was extremely popular, and an entirely valid genre for a nostalgia show. While dropping a Doc Watson or Tom Paxton into that crowd would have made as much sense as putting the Julliard Quartet into a Lawrence Welk special. It's just not what that audience wants to hear in that context.

So what do you call it? The people they wanted to reach think of that stuff as the "folk music" of their youth. Those people are ignorant cretins by our standards perhaps, but they're ignorant cretins who send money to public TV.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 09:50 PM

You are correct John. I always enjoyed the Overtures to Wagner operas as well as Tchaikovsy's symphonies when I was a music major. "Real musician Purists" scoff at these works as pure drivel. I still like them, as well as the pop folk groups you refer to. When the symphonies come up with their repetoire for the season ticket holders, they better damn well have some Brahms and Beethoven in there for the folks that pay the bills to enjoy. They can throw in some Schonberg to keep the musicians interested, but Beethoven pays the bills.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Argenine
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 10:23 PM

GUEST (" I don't know how old [Judy Collins] is, but I know she is definitely old enough to have lost the upper range--she is a very lucky singer.")

She's at least 60, I'm sure, but beyond being "lucky," she is a throroughly trained singer (and was long before she took to folk music). That makes a big difference in how much of your vocal capability you lose as you age. I've known some opera singers in their nineties that could still sing circles around most of us!

And, yeah, guest, it does seem to me that The Highwaymen and The Brothers Four were kind of "one hit wonders" even in the heyday of the "folk music revival" of the 60s!

And BTW, PBS in my town is airing an Irish folk Christmas show tonight with Maura O'Connell, The Chieftains (I think), U-2, Jean Ritchie (I think), and a few others.

Yeah, Don, you mentioned another show tune that gets passed off as "folk" - They Call The Wind Maria. It's from "Paint Your Wagon."


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:16 PM

Whew!!!!! I just read this whole thread for the first time. and it's hard to sort it out. Don, it's great that you had already heard Folkways and traditional music by the time the Kingston Trio and the Highwaymen arrived. You and another 100,000 people. The rest of us who didn't live in a large, urban environment (like me) had heard Rusty Draper (I bet no one remembers him)Frankie Lane, a little Burl Ives and some ridiculously COMMERCIAL recordings by the Weavers (which I loved, and didn't turn my nose up at because they had strings in the background.) The first "traditional" folk singer I heard was Lonnie Donegan, and while I loved his music and still love it, he sure wasn't traditional in style. No one crinkles their nose that he had electric guitar on his albums, but they sure will if you walk into a folk festival today, with one. Like many kids who grew up in a more rural section of the country, folk music WAS the Kingston Trio, The Cumberland Three and the Tarriers. I came to love folk music and have a thirst for more because of them, just as kids ten years later heard Peter, Paul and Mary and the Highwaymen.

For those who seek the glory days of the sixties, listen to the CD re-issues of McDougal and Bleeker Street. Very little of that stuff holds up any better than the Kingston Trio, to my ears. Bud and Travis? C'mon. Even Fred Neil, who I heard many times, and really enjoyed. I don't think he was any more "folk" than the Kingston Trio. Just a much better guitar player and a fine singer.

Not having seen the program, I can't comment on it. I did hear the Kingston Trio ten or twelve years ago, and what bothered me is that they'd had too much to drink and didn't respect their audience... they knew they just had to start singing Tom Dooley, and they would re-awaken the old memory box, and they could play it as sloppy as Hell. I wasn't irritated that they played their old hits. I was disgusted because they seemed to care so little about the music. Maybe that's how most of the people feel on this thread who watched the program. I might have felt the same way.

As for the Doo Wop shows.... Puhleeeeezzzze, don't the unwashed public realize that Doo Wop is a term that someone made up much later, and it's really rhythm and blues? :-) I personally have enjoyed the series (but never bought the CDs, because I have the originals and enjoy them better.) So what, if they've gotten a little long in the tooth? Geez! When I saw Mississippi John he was kinda hunched over.. not at all like he was when he first recorded in the twenties. I was always kinda hoping that folk music was the one form of music where age was honored. I sure as Hell tried to sound sixty when I was twenty. Now you tell me that folks look funny, when they get older?

I suppose I don't have any problem with any of the opinions expressed here. I probably agree with most of them... even the ones that seem diametrically opposed. I don't look to PBS to give an in-depth look at much of anything... even the Ken Burns shows... they give an overview (I stopped watching the Jazz series, even though in many ways it was wonderful, because they tried to cover too much ground and ended up short-changing too many musicians. But for 90% of America, the Kingston Trio and the Highwaymen WERE folk music. Not Tom Paxton(who is a friend, but 95% of America has never heard of.)
For some, like us, the Kingston Trio and others were a door into a wonderful world of music that has enriched our lives. Why knock the door you came through? Maybe others will come through that same door.. or through REM or Counting Crows, or The Dixie Chicks. One thing I know that grousing all the time doesn't attract much of anyone.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:32 PM

I like Ken Burns. . . ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:35 PM

I think that he's a genius, Stilly. I just wish he wouldn't try to do the history of the universe in ten easy installments..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 03 Dec 02 - 11:52 PM

I didn't see the show in quesion, as it sounded hokey from the get go. However, I did see part of the 4 part series on American Roots Music tonight, and it was fantastic (IMHO). I even found out that Georgia Tom, one of the founders of the Hokum Boys later became the Father of Gospel Music as we know it today. What do ya' know.

They also had a very good show on last night about early jazz.

Could it be that there is a certain bias in depiction on PBS. Anything that was mainstream, or "white bread" seems to be glossed over and sort of presented in a non-serious almost "look how quaint they were" fashion. However, anything that comes from the "oppressed" groups, or a background that has an associated "struggle" is presented as genuine, significant, and important.

JAB


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 12:12 AM

Dammit Jerry, I'm gonna grouse when I feel like it! And by the way, where'd ya get that tie!?

Rick

P.S. Sort of off the topic, but I think it's a tad funny. Our local PBS outlet is WBEN Buffalo New York. About two years ago they started to realize that almost NONE of the American folks in the Buffalo/Erie PA. area were watching: Masterpiece Theatre, or any of their British sitcoms, and precious few were even watching MacNeill/Lehrer News Reports. So they started subtly aiming their fundraising at Toronto where probably the vast majority of their viewers reside. Now it ain't even subtle. They throw in all sorts of bizzare "Canuck happy talk" to make us think that they know Toronto very well. They don't....but we appreciate the effort. I'm afraid that the level of programming has gone wayyyy down though.....far too many repeats. Guess they simply don't have the bucks.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,Allan Terego
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 12:37 AM

I have to ask Ron Olesko what the problem is with Burns' series on baseball. I can understand why a few people were critical about the Jazz series, but I thought he did a decent job with the National game. What was your objection?

Al


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 02:38 AM

Sigh. I looked for this thread for a couple of days, not having posted on this forum for many, many months, and couldn't find it. Guess you can't write "PBS Folk Music," and hope it'll come up -- too case sensitive. Anyway, by the time I get here, the number of replies are so many, I can't keep track.

Geez. I mean -- yeah, the music is or was hokey, and yeah -- I found myself asking, "Hey, where are the Weavers? Where is Pete Seeger? Where is Joan Baez? Where, even, are Bud and Travis or the Tarriers?" I answered myself (for one thing, I hear Seeger is not in the best of health these days, but not sure. Maybe the others are too big and too busy).

But hell, this was the music that the majority of my generation made the jump from, to "real" folk music. And when I did discover the real stuff, it was a pretty quick jump. But -- as others have said, what a trip for me down memory lane! I was just in college in 1959, and seeing the Kingston Trio, after hearing nothing but Paul Anka and Frankie Avalon on AM radio was -- a revelation!!! Suddenly, there was public radio and all these new sounds! The impact of this commercial folk music, with its democratic edge and a kind of "Ban the Bomb" underpinnings, was incalculable in turning me on to other forms. I was trying to remember where I was when "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," came out, and near as I can trace it, I was just discovering those neat little dark coffee houses and folk dance enclaves that were to be so important in generating this musical movement. Sometime in there, I remember working as a waitress at a corny "Banjo Cafe," where players wore red-and white striped shirts, and thought that was real far-out.

What am I trying to say? Despite my boredom during many of the performances (and noticing that few original members but Hassilev were in those groups), this program had meaning for me. Like someone said earlier, I began to remember when even commercial music had a message, and when most people in America - can you believe it -- were leaned to the left.

Very soon, VERY soon -- I discovered old Child ballads at my university and at the AshGrove, saw Barbara Dane, heard Baez, Dobson, and the girl folksingers, and leapt from there to Jean Ritchie, who I felt was more real -- heard Van Ronk in 1962 (HUGE revelation!) and went on to discover Doc Watson, Robert Johnson, and the black blues singers. And then came the Koerner, Ray and Glover, the jug bands and the other folk music of our generation. Discarded Peter, Paul and Mary REAL quickly (btw, wish I had heard the Smothers Brothers at that time - I thought their "chirp, chirp" act on this show was brilliant! -- but I was too busy living life to watch TV).

And then when David Crosby came over to my house one time in 1964 or '65, with this new guy, Chris Hillman (I lived across the street from the Troubadour and they'd drop by to tune up), and insisted I change the station from Pacifica public radio to -- god good, AM! -- I was in shock. They were playing -- gasp -- folk-rock!

But this all preceded it. Maybe the presentation and idea behind this PBS show was clumsy and produced poorly -- but I am not ashamed to have soaked it up, with all those (yikes!) white-haired old codgers in the audience and on the stage.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST,JudyR
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 03:52 AM

P.S. That was me, posting above. Why did it say I was a guest? I guess you have to sign in every time (how our memory dims when it's been almost a year).


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 08:10 AM

Excellent post, JudyR.

What tie you talking about, Rick? The string tie with the bull horns on it?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 09:57 AM

Allan,

My problems with Burn's baseball are probably minor, but as a fan of the game I was disappointed.   For a series that was supposed to document the 100+ year history of the sport, he chose to be selective in what he presented.   The last 3 decades were covered in one installment and the contemporary issues which have changed the game and the public so much were rushed through.   He did not interview enough baseball players and chose to offer commentary from Billy Cyrstal and other celebrities instead of the people who were alive and participating.   While I live in the NYC area and understand the importance of baseball in the area, you would think that the game was primarily a northeastern pastime from his view.   When he chose to talk about other teams, he was often sloppy. I remember there was a segment talking about the Gas House Gang and a picture of Stan Musial came across the screen. Stan was not playing at that time.   There were other "minor" problems from a fan point of view - footage that did not match the story, inaccurate "facts", etc.   I also thought that from a technical point of view, it was rather sloppy. The same images were repeated constantly.   There are so many photos of Babe Ruth, couldn't he have added a few more?

Baseball, at least when I was young, was a passion - nearly a religion for some.   Burns was almost too reverential in his approach and the documentary, for me, lacked the humor and the excitement that the game evokes.   

With that said, I do think that the story he told about race relations and the sport as a reflection of our history was remarkable. This is a story that in 2002 is often forgotten. It is amazing to see where we've come and how different it was, not very long ago.   If Burns focused the documentary on that aspect alone and not tried to cover so much ground (and failing to do so), the documentary would have been wonderful.

I realize that the documentary was produced for a PBS audience and not an ESPN audience, but my feelings are that Burns tried to bite off more than he could chew.   Jazz was pretty much the same.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:01 AM

Well, I think we are having a problem with the definition of folk music in this thread, just as PBS did with this program. Wild numbers pulled down from heaven (whenever I see the phrase "90% of _______" I tend to stop reading because, as I interpret the use of such numbers, the writer is attempting to demonstrate that everyone agrees with their personal opinion) won't convince me that the music of the WASP mainstream in the late 50s and 60s receiving commercial airplay on MOR radio stations, is the "folk" music most Americans are familiar with, and I'll tell you why. I think many of us have our first encounters with folk music through the music of our ancestors, be it polka music or Tex Mex or strathspreys or klezmer or what have you. The problem with the definition is one of the dominant WASP culture defining the Limelighters and acts like that as "their folk" and by extension "American folk".

American folk music is incredibly diverse, and much of it has nothing to do with Child ballads and Appalachia. Or with 50s and 60s WASPs disconnected from the musical roots of their ancestors, and those attempting to assimilate into that dominant WASP culture, who also contracted the WASP ancestral amnesia of the day to fit in with the dominant culture.

For many of us living in urban areas, we were also exposed to the music of other cultures through friends, co-workers, school and community events, as well as on local radio stations and local TV programs (especially if you watched/listened to the Sunday morning church programs) which played much different music than the nationally WASP oriented MOR radio stations.

I suppose I'll get slammed for using the term WASP as quaintly inaccurate. But no one has come up with a better term to describe this "most Americans" cultural standard that many white Americans believe reflects an actual reality that doesn't even exist and never has. The majority of white folks in this country ain't WASPs. So I'll continue to use the term, because it is damn accurate.

Anyway, jimmyt, it isn't about the music being for rich white folks at all. In fact, if you read my post above again, you will see that I said "white middle class". Kingston Trio was the white middle class WASP and WASP wannabe form of commercial, MOR "folk" music, not the folk music of American folk. PBS has done much more inclusive and accurate portrayals of American folk music's diversity, in specials like Mississippi River of Song and American Roots Music. So we know that the crap "folk" special truly is nothing more than nostalgia music for WASPs and WASP wannabes wishing to applaud their youthful college memories. That is what this whole fundraising series, not just the This Land is Your Land program, has been about. To get PBS donors to throw money while applauding their personal memories. On my PBS outlet this week, they are running all these god awful music nostalgia shows (it was the Frankie Avalon and Peggy March set last night) during primetime for fundraising week.

It seems those of us who watch the more accurate, inclusive folk music specials on PBS don't donate much. Which is the whole problem with the way we don't fund public interest programming in this country in the way other countries do. Folk music of all stripes and ethnicities needs air time on PBS more now than ever, because of the six media conglomerates lock on the airwaves. There aren't any TV outlets that give us this programming. None. Zero, zip, zilch. PBS is it. So they truly are doing a great disservice to great folk and ethnic music traditions of this country by declaring this shit "folk" music when it ain't.

So yeah, I guess I'm dragging the conversation to the "what is folk" gutter, even though I don't want to. I just get so sick and tired of the nostalgic-WASPs-disconnected-from-their-ancestral-roots "folk" defining what folk music is going to be for those of us who actually grew up living in the center of our own ethnic cultures, or on the periphery of other ethnic cultures who were our neighbors, school mates, church congregations, etc. Mighty tired of the WASP folk standard.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:04 AM

I couldn't watch. They originally booked The Brothers Four, the Smothers Brothers and the Beef Brothers - but when they cancelled the Beef Brothers (over a union contract issue) I decided I just couldn't watch!

;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Amos
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:15 AM

Hey, just wait until PBS puts on the Mudcat CDs!! It's happenin' any day now, my contacts tell me!! Well, sure, they're out-of-body contacts, but still, that's what they tell me!!

Ordered your copies yet? Beats the Brothers Four ALL hollow!!


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:21 AM

Oh and one other thing about these nostalgia shows PBS is currently running. As I understand it, people pledged some minimum amount of money to buy their way into a seat in the audience of these programs. Which is fine, I suppose, considering the money will likely end up going to produce more of this same crap for future fundraising weeks.

Way to drive younger and niche audiences away, PBS!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:32 AM

Dag-nab it! I think that it's time that us WASPS Unite. Who says we ain't folks? What should I be most embarassed about? Being white? I didn't realize I could have requested another color. Anglo Saxon?
Can I be Danish-Saxon, or Anglo-Danish? Protestant? Well excuuuuuuuse me. Even white bread Americans are folks. Sure 'nuff.

Funny, but the airwaves where I grew up weren't filled with Tex-Mex music or Klezmer music. There was enough polka coming out of our old Zenith to choke a horse, not just punch one. Being WASP, it didn't occur to me that Whoopee John Wilfahrt or Louis Bashell And His Silk Umbrellas was folk musicians. How was I to know... they didn't wear
red and white striped shirts. They were about as folk as Lawrence Welk.

Enjoy the day... it's not worth getting that upset about, Guest..

Jerry (a resident)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:35 AM

... just kidding about the Beef Brothers!

But I must say I saw Judy singing Both Sides Now and she sounded great. Like GUEST said above, I too was astounded at how good she sounded; even better then when she was younger, if that's possible. What a magnificent voice, so effortlessly and beautifully used!

BUT ,I have to admit that, I could not stand watching much of it. I only caught the Judy Collins thing in passing, and stayed with it - but I just couldn't stand the hokey, crap formulaic approach that PBS put into this lame line up. Absolute Crap! And I don't mean to flush all the performers out with this comment. Certainly there were a few good ones - But much of this stuff was sh*t music 30 years ago, or at best medicore. It hasn't gained any quality with the passage of time! PBS should know better, damnit!! And Barry McGuire singing Eve of Destruction??? Give me a break!! What sort of IDIOT scheduled that???

Go for the nostalgia, go for the most bang for the buck, go for the lowest common denomonator - and give those old farts a chance to get teary eyed and glowing over the 'better times when they were young' sort of thing, and maybe they'll dig deep into their pocket and send PBS money. Maybe they'll talk about PBS's brave new approach to using TV for important work like telling the world about Folk Music. Well, PBS; don't do us any favors! This show was dreadful!

This sort of emotional play makes me angry (does it show??). We all know there was good folk music around in that era, as well as the schlock that was passed off as folk. Why the hell couldn't they have put some of that on? Why the hell didn't they call on their friend Ken Burns?? I am sure he'd have done a thousand times better.

And by the way, Ken Burns did more for folk music by accident then this show did on purpose. His marvelous choice of music for his various series has brought some beautiful music, beautifully performed to the forefront of public consciousness. He didn't even have to preach!

Now - before I reread this, to eliminate as many typos as I can find, and click enter, I need to say; I know there were a few gems among the list of songs and entertainers. I've already mentioned Judy Collins, I always loved the Smothers Brothers, I am sure Roger McGuinn did fine - so even though I am angry at PBS's perversion, I know there may have been some quality moments.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Amos
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 10:59 AM

Jed MArum suggest Go for the nostalgia, go for the most bang for the buck.

Mudcat Sampler CDs are DEFINITELY the indicated path!!


A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 11:00 AM

Jerry, the issue isn't whiteness or Protestantism, but it is the assumption that WASPness constitutes "the norm". The issue IS ethnicity and in ethnic music traditions, religion and religious music.

In fact, there is a serious problem with WASP/British music being considered the norm, because it often locks out the brilliant music traditions of many other cultures, and forces the young people of US to assimilate into the dominant WASP culture, rather than remaining with at least one steady foot in their own music cultures.

I'm not badmouthing the music or the culture of WASPs. I am complaining about it's dominance over the other ethnic and cultural music traditions, though. Therein lies the difference. I apologize for not making that clearer, as it isn't my intention to offend people by racializing the discussion. These are facts I believe to be salient in regards to PBS programming of folk music. It is one thing for the individual donors, and another thing entirely for the corporate and foundation funders who demand at least some recognition of the ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity of the US audience that needs to be served by PBS' public interest broadcasting.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 11:08 AM

Jed,

I agree with you about Burn's choice of music.   I do find it mildly amusing that people now associate the Civil War with that "great old tune" - Ashokan Farewell which was written about 20 years ago to commemorate a summper camp!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: Amos
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 11:08 AM

NPR is widely diverse in their programming -- they air segments devoted to artists from every stripe and hue. At least, that's been my experience.

A


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: JedMarum
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 11:16 AM

Yes Ron - I always get a kick out of people's response when they find out that Ashokan Farewell is NOT an old song. I too wondered the first time I heard it, if it wasn't an old song ...

Yes, Amos - you're correct. But even if they have to explore the boundaries of their market, I think they crossed the line into real schlock with this one!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 11:44 AM

Guest. It seems that Norm is what is or seems Normal to you, or me or whomever. Sorry, but the masses out there tend to fall in a middle American group that eat at Mcdonalds, eat roast beef, and fried chicken, maybe have pancakes and eggs for breakfast. WHY? Because that is their norm. It is not a reflection on their being shallow, it is just what they do. They also tend to eat a lot of Italian and Mexican food, more and more in the last 3 decades than before. Is it "real Mexican or Italian? Hell no! It is Americanized, but it is what the masses want to eat, and if you are smart and open a resturant in America you won't get too "Authentic" if you want to sell food. Same goes with music. I enjoy travelling to other countries and experiencing their cultures as much as possible, but I have to admit, I am always happy to come home to things here that are comfortable to eat, listen to and experience. Is that shallow? Waspish? (by the way, I think that term is just as offensive as any other racial epithet, but if you insist on stereotyping,) I guess it is, but it seems that whereever people find themselves, that is the norm. If you tried to force your music and food of ontos someone in Tibet, they would probably not find it their "norm" Why can't we celebrate our differences in music, politics, religion, food, etc as part of someone else's culture without passing judgement?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 11:57 AM

I take it back, jimmyt. I am happy to offend with the term WASP.

It seems you are the one passing judgment on the rest of America's folk music traditions, not us passing judgment on you, for insisting not only that the Kingston Trio is folk, but that it is the Folk Music of This Great White McDonald's Beef Eating Nation.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 12:01 PM

In fact, now that I think about it, all these crap music nostalgia shows for PBS' fundraising music week seems to be target marketing that same wholesome, homogenously enriched Great White McDonald's Beef Eating on White Bread Nation demographic, doesn't it? The message they are sending is, whether you love the Four Freshman or Frankie Avalon, send in those pledges, WASP FOLKS! Jaysus, the age and race demographic at PBS is getting narrower and narrower, isn't it? How frightening.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: jimmyt
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 12:02 PM

I also like your music, Guest. Maybe broadmindedness is caused from eating an occasional Big Mac. I guess I'll put a Kingston Trio CD on im my SUV as I drive home to the suburbs. Hey, have a nice day!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music On PBS
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 02 - 12:13 PM

You have a nice day too, jimmyt! And just so's you'll feel safe, I'll stay put here in my inner city ghetto neighborhood, listening to and pickin' and squeezin' and sangin' with my neighbors of all musical stripes, while you feast in cultural isolation in the WASP wasteland of Starbucks, the mall, and white bread and burger cultural wasteland in the 'burbs!


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