Oct 062009
 

itunesIn the last Folknotes we talked about the popularity of folk music in the early 1960’s. We noted the fact that the British invasion of rock and roll marked the beginning of a decline in this popularity, and cited a recent Pew Research Center survey that didn’t even include folk as a category.

Shortly after we wrote this article Mary Traverse died, and even mainstream media published stories about how Peter, Paul and Mary had been instrumental (as well as vocal) in making folk music more popular, and most articles also referenced the subsequent decline.

Also, at just about this time, I downloaded the most recent version of iTunes, and was surprised to see that on iTunes radio, “Folk” was no longer offered as a category. I was eventually able to find my favorite station, WUMB, listed under college radio, but I got the message: Apple (a very innovative trend-setter) no longer considered folk music to be significant enough to have a place of its own. This is a mixed blessing.  There are a handful of big name folk musicians (Arlo Guthrie comes to mind), many of whom actually came to fame in that bi-gone era, who can command (relatively) high ticket prices and play major venues. But for the most part it’s possible to hear great musicians for a fraction of the cost of a famous rock and roll band, and in more intimate settings.  This is a win for the audience, and it is probably very satisfying for performers, though it is tougher to carve out a livelihood being a folk musician.

Of course, a little bit of fame is a good thing, and so congratulations to local band Annalivia for being featured in this month’s issue of Dirty Linen magazine (click here to read the online version). This band has performed regularly in the Nelson Town Hall to enthusiastic (and growing!) audiences, and in fact we look forward to their return next winter (date TBD). Meanwhile, if you can’t wait, catch them in Peterborough on October 17th. .

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. Heathen Creek: Playing at the FALL BALL in Peterborough. If you don’t want to sit still listening to music just up the street in the Peterborough Townhouse you can attend the annual Fall Ball (also on the 17th)  where you’ll find a stellar line up of callers and musicians including Heathen Creek (left)(read more here).
Or, dance/concert /dance more – how cool might that be!

Last month we also talked about how musical genres are mixing, which means that a true analysis of how popular folk music is becomes problematic.  In the grand scheme of things this doesn’t matter – it is what it is. Nevertheless, there are monetary factors, both to making a living, and to producing events, so perceived value is relevant. At the end of the day, people are willing to pay more for experiences which are more satisfying – capitalism meets culture.

Speaking of mixing genres, it’s generally understood that the practice of Morris Dancing, as it has evolved in this country, has evolved (or some might say devolved) from its British origins. __________________________________________________ ________________________________________________
To research this further, our own Jack-In-The-Green Morris men (accompanied by a few members of the Harrisville Women’s Morris) are planning a trip to the Olde Country next spring or early summer (date TBD).  It has even been suggested that they might be presenting the New England Morris styles as “the way it is really done”. Possibly this will have a similar effect that the British invasion of rock and roll had on us – throwing an American tradition back at us as how it really should be. Stay tuned to this web site for information about various fundraising activities for the trip (as well as fun raising, which is sure to be a component).

The North American “preservation” of Scottish musical tradition is an interesting phenomenon. Musicologists will take you into more detail, but the fundamental concept is that the Scottish musical traditions which came over with settlers in Canada (notably Nova Scotia) and in the remote areas of the southern Appalachians remained more intact than those that stayed at home.  These days the most dynamic performers seem to be riding the balance between representing their Celtic heritage and playing in a forward-looking style. An excellent example of this is Troy MacGillvray, who will be performing in the Nelson Town Hall on October 25th. If you’ve heard Troy, we suspect you’ll be back to hear him again. And if you haven’t, we are quite pleased to present this opportunity for you to come out to a wonderful evening of high energy fiddle, piano, step-dancing, and more.