There is a debate going on in the UK that has been going on for decades , it is called “What is Folk”?
So don’t expect an easy answer here but what is quite interesting is why this debate is taking place at all.
Someone has caused a stir by declaring that folk needs to be revived by artists like The Spinners or The Dubliners who achieved international recognition for the genre in the 1960’s. Others suggest that would be a disaster as these bands whilst popular would do no favours to the image our current artists are looking to achieve. Looking at history, Folk has always been termed music of the people, developed from the ancient traditions of home and local entertainment and although classed as a genre in its own right covers a whole range of styles and moods.
So, having established “Anything goes” lets have a look at whether folk needs reviving at all?
I would suggest not. I don’t think I have ever seen such a prolific, diverse and talented output of music from artists of all ages as there is today. To add to that we have the big success stories like Ed Sheeran, Passenger, Turin Brakes and the many other artists who find themselves reaching the dizzy heights of international recognition.
Although not many in the “Folk” world mentioned it I believe that when Ed Sheeran brought on a Ceile band during his headline act at Glastonbury that was very significant endorsement for modern Folk. If there is anything wrong in the Folk world it is the lack of opportunity for artists to play live in front of an appreciative audience.
There are simply not enough people willing to leave their armchairs and go out to the many venues and clubs that put on live music. Those that do are treated to great performances by very talented people but there is simply not big enough audiences for promoters to guarantee an event will be well attended. That in turn has led to a proliferation of “Low risk” ventures such as pub and open mic nights where artists, if paid at all gain very little reward.
This is the issue I believe we should be looking at very carefully with a view to identifying what would capture peoples imagination enough to get them out to venues.