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FolkWords writes about folk music 'roots-to-branches' ... burning issues and smouldering obscure facts, the good points and the bad, the passion and the problems, the pathways and the corners of the folk genre. We voice opinions from the centre, the fringe and the far, dark reaches of folk music. 

A view on reviews ... October 26, 2017
 Reviews should amount to more than a list of comparisons. I know the objective is to give the reader a clear and simple reference to better un... [MORE]

Is ‘roots music’ anything to do with folk? September 29, 2017
If it is, has it dropped into the same confusion of categorisation as folk music? The first contemporary use of the word ‘roots’ in a mu... [MORE]

Pointless classification and proscription of music August 01, 2017
Will the pointless classification and proscription of music never go away? Still I encounter the hidebound, stuck-in-a-rut views that say folk music... [MORE]

Vinyl lasts forever ... July 28, 2017
The endless debate and dire predictions surrounding the 'death of the CD' (following the casstte into oblivion) and the irrepressible rise of the do... [MORE]

England basks in summer heatwave! June 18, 2017
That hackneye headline might be great if you're outside, sitting by a slowly meandering river, absorbed in the gently waving trees or remarking that... [MORE]

Canal festivals and folk festivals - similar beasts June 14, 2017
Basking in the (all too rare) English sunshine I was struck by the similarity between canal festivals and folk festivals. The atmosphere. The stalls... [MORE]

Folk music is such a vague term ... May 30, 2017
“Folk music is such a vague term and hard to explain” - there's a remark to make you sit up and listen. Folk is often described as &lsqu... [MORE]

... arbitarily mixing different strands of folk April 02, 2017
Apparently, and I quote: "FolkWords is arbitarily mixing different strands of folk," and doing that is: "... just one more way to dilute the authent... [MORE]

The death knell of the CD ... March 08, 2017
There I was in a well-known music emporium, while the rest of the family headed severally for DVDs and Games, I wandered around the CD aisles. In th... [MORE]

Thoughts for the dark days of January January 10, 2017
The festivities of the season are a dim memory and all that remains is to take down the decorations (which always look rather tawdry and sad once th... [MORE]

... re-badged, re-packaged, re-labelled, re-recorded December 12, 2016
Most folk know the old rhyme about 'fat geese and putting pennies in an old man's hat', unfortunately, over and above said goose, there’s anot... [MORE]

... how to substitute dross for talent November 25, 2016
Be wary when you click through television channels. You have no idea what you’re going to stumble across. Recently I found myself watching the... [MORE]

Stop bloody chattering ... November 15, 2016
Why do people go to gigs? Why do they pay good money to listen to artists performing? Presumably, to hear their favourite artists play ‘live&r... [MORE]

Debate and dissention October 15, 2016
There is something deeply satisfying when an e-mail or comment delivers pithy discussion, informed opinion or reasoned argument. For certain, there'... [MORE]

Getting your name 'out there' September 21, 2016
Do you contact the media - online, broadcast or published - directly or do you rely on a professional public relations company or consultant to get ... [MORE]

“Why are gigs and festivals so expensive? August 10, 2016
“Why are gigs and festivals so expensive? I thought this was the age of austerity with everyone biting the bullet so why are venues and event ... [MORE]

Rearguard action or leading from the front? June 20, 2016
I’ve just read an interesting article on folk music, folk art and folk lore. There was much to intrigue, admire and consider. However, one att... [MORE]

Songs of sadness, songs of joy May 18, 2016
Why do some people observe that: "Most folk songs long dirges about misery"? Folk songs are not miserable but they are songs that reflect what&rsquo... [MORE]

From the dark edges of the 'galaxy of different' April 24, 2016
It has long been said that ‘new is easy different is difficult’, it's certainly a favourite phrase of mine and I’ve used it here o... [MORE]

Nadsat or Newspeak? March 19, 2016
There is something fundamental missing from much of today’s media. It’s called the English language. That’s because the niggardly,... [MORE]

Be careful when using the ‘alt’ word February 12, 2016
There’s a view that says be careful using the word ‘alt’ to preface your work. The reason being it can prompt one or two knee-jerk... [MORE]

How does anyone take this seriously? February 12, 2016
Apparently, that appalling televised dross called Britain's Got Talent is returning. How does anyone take this seriously? There’s unrelenting ... [MORE]

The death of celebrity? January 13, 2016
The so called ‘cult of celebrity’ slides ever deeper into the seemingly bottomless pit from which, with luck it may eventually reach the... [MORE]

It’s all about reach and connect ... December 18, 2015
Music reaches people. Music connects. When it doesn’t, I ask myself, what’s its purpose? Expression? Communication? Letting off steam? W... [MORE]

When is a band not a band? November 03, 2015
What constitutes a band, the people in it or the name? There's a subject that could form the basis of lengthy and heated discussion. But why? The an... [MORE]

"I haven't heard it but I don't like it" October 20, 2015
Why do venues, in this enlightened age continually confront artists with erroneous assessments of what they believe they’re going to play rath... [MORE]

Folk customs and traditional festivities October 03, 2015
Despite the imminent arrival of the ‘festive season’ we still have Halloween to get through – a time of folk custom and traditiona... [MORE]

'Sounds-like' or 'Cross-between' September 11, 2015
Sometimes we receive emails and letters that approve of what we do, sometimes we receive criticism, all of which is fine and dandy. No problem. Real... [MORE]

Sometimes I just find it hard to understand people September 05, 2015
This morning we receive an email, one of a previous seven, yes seven on the same subject from the same PR advocate (name withheld to protect the ter... [MORE]

Making a mark in music August 29, 2015
Finding your musical feet was at one time a process built on word of mouth and flogging your way round the clubs and open mic spots hoping to spread... [MORE]

Songs of protest and all they mean July 05, 2015
Songs of protest range far and wide across the planet wherever anyone has something to protest against. Every movement of dissent has spawned its ow... [MORE]

Folk was never a terminal case June 04, 2015
Currently, we are experiencing yet another folk revival. I think it’s more accurate to say that it's experiencing a folk resurgance. Folk was ... [MORE]

The Art of the ‘Cover’ … to cover or not to cover? May 12, 2015
Taking a song from another artist and adding it to your set is nothing new, and neither is there anything fundamentally wrong with the practice. The... [MORE]

Resurgence - organic or marketing-driven? May 07, 2015
The continued resurgence of the LP, that dinner-platter sized chunk of black plastic, has moved beyond an oddity used by some artists to promote the... [MORE]

Festivals and Weather May 02, 2015
No matter how old I get nor how long I live in this country, the English never cease to amaze me. And the aspect that amazes me the most is our coll... [MORE]

Using the ‘folk word’ … and using it correctly March 17, 2015
Increasingly, the 'folk word' appears, often inaccurately, in more and more press releases. That may be a selective strategy that adds or subtr... [MORE]

‘Unfortunately you don’t fit our audience profile’ February 14, 2015
It's an issue that consistently reappears - artists refused a gig because ‘unfortunately you don’t fit our audience profile’. That... [MORE]

‘Belonging’ identifies people January 24, 2015
‘Belonging’ identifies people. A team, group, tribe (delete as applicable) has its own stories, rituals and music. There may be a dress ... [MORE]

Does the devil really have all the best tunes? December 03, 2014
Christmas is for many of us one of those magical times when the world takes a little more time to care. A time when caring exclusively for ‘se... [MORE]

Black-face Morris in a storm October 08, 2014
Possibly considered one of England’s least offensive, quaint and most misunderstood cultural pastimes, Morris dancing has stirred up a storm, ... [MORE]

Deliberately modified or accidental mondegreen? October 03, 2014
Folk music thrives through the content of its lyric. The narrative folk style has always told tales and if the human condition can rely on one eleme... [MORE]

It's not talent it's marketing – deadly to music and damaging to people September 16, 2014
From time to time I’ve been known to rant about televised talent shows, specifically those to do with music. Well here’s another outing,... [MORE]

Album reviews – a personal view August 08, 2014
“In summary, pleasant enough to listen to - not distinct or different, similar to many and something I’ve heard a million times before.&... [MORE]

We are talking about life-giving diversity June 18, 2014
Folk music is something entirely malleable and ductile. And so it should be. Morphing and mutating, adapting to place and practice as either dictate... [MORE]

Try this one for size ... May 03, 2014
OK this is how it goes. I’d like you to leave your comfortable house, pack your tent, camping stove, water carrier and some sustenance (mostly... [MORE]

Tribute or intellectual property rip off? April 28, 2014
‘They’re only a tribute band, nothing original there. They ought to write some new stuff and not rip off someone else’s music&rsqu... [MORE]

How I despise televised talent shows March 01, 2014
Hate is a strong and fearful word. It conjures up demons that offer nothing and take everything. It has connotations that should make humans shudder... [MORE]

A strange and magical experience January 13, 2014
The creative process is a strange and magical experience. Filled in equal amounts with pleasure and fulfilment or bitterness and regret. The outcome... [MORE]

'Folk for the festive season' December 15, 2013
There’s a strange power at work across the festive season. It’s a force that seems to drive folk music to the fore, about which I am mer... [MORE]

‘Folk music is aimed at old people’ - Part 2 October 07, 2013
‘Folk music is aimed at old people’ … and I thought that view was steadily vanishing. How wrong can you be? Only last Saturday ni... [MORE]

‘Now We Are Six’ – with apologies to A.A Milne September 10, 2013
As of 10th September 2013 FolkWords is six years old. Not long in the cosmic scheme of life but for us it’s a celebration. After all, nobody e... [MORE]

It all comes around again ... August 13, 2013
Much like inevitability of sunrise and sunset, it does all comes round again. And at the tail end of yet another unbelievable Cropredy weekend the c... [MORE]

Not another ‘history of folk music’ – more a look at the British folk melting pot August 06, 2013
Defined by almost everyone from here to eternity, any assessment of folk music usually boils down to ‘music transmitted by mouth, music of the... [MORE]

‘… a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ May 20, 2013
Or more precisely, what’s in a name? We’ve trotted this one round the paddock on a previous occasion but as we’re on the receivin... [MORE]

Fantasy headline – or not? “Archaeologists uncover remains of the last pub in England.” April 05, 2013
Is that an undesirable imagining from an expected dystopian future? Perhaps it’s nothing more than an extract from some dark-world science fic... [MORE]

"Why do we do what we do?" February 15, 2013
Is there an answer to that one? Is it buried so deep that we no longer remember? Is this line of thought heading into the shadows of Descartes or do... [MORE]

‘Breaking through’ in music is harder than breaking into a banker’s bonus January 18, 2013
That’s possibly true, although the morphing of methods in the music industry has modified that statement somewhat. Aside from being good at yo... [MORE]

The trouble with folk music is folk will insist on playing it November 23, 2012
“The trouble with folk music is folk will insist on playing it. There's always some poor folky-yokel in a country pub wailing away at so-calle... [MORE]

TLAs and FLAs - but is what I hear what you really mean? September 05, 2012
The English language has pretty flexible rules and this flexibility steadily increases. It is both malleable and ductile, attributes that aid commun... [MORE]

Traditionally folk music is boring July 24, 2012
Now that’s going to lob a feline among the columbidae. I can almost hear legions of ‘Piers the Ploughman Affiliates’ beating their... [MORE]

How do independent musicians and bands make their mark? July 06, 2012
The speed and pervasiveness of today's communication is truly staggering. News of any kind ‘hits the streets’ within seconds and it only... [MORE]

Songs of oppression and injustice ... May 04, 2012
Themes that endure in folk music are sometimes those born out of adversity, struggle and more frequently those born out of oppression. The inspirati... [MORE]

Music and controversy – not necessarily good bedfellows March 11, 2012
Music and controversy – not necessarily good bedfellows but they are often partners in the same sentence. Whether the discussion focuses on st... [MORE]

Making progress, but not necessarily progressive – are we folk or are we rock? January 23, 2012
Bolting random or even precise adjectives to the front of a noun or coupling separate nouns together to create a new hybrid is a popular enough past... [MORE]

The voices, the voices ... it’s the voices December 05, 2011
Some singers bring song to life while others seem to just trot out the words. Some repeat what has gone before or turn out a poor imitation of an or... [MORE]

Some stories and themes remain immutable whatever happens October 28, 2011
And yet another outing for the lyric (Part 2. of an occasional series) When any song makes the tenuous and sometimes perilous journey from the wri... [MORE]

Music, the universal communicator October 07, 2011
If music is a universal communicator that means it transcends language and culture. If folk music is ‘music for folk by folk’ does that ... [MORE]

The question of authenticity September 26, 2011
With folk lyrics there's often a question over authenticity. How close to the original version is today's rendition of a one or two-hundred year old... [MORE]

“Folk is only for old folk” ... a less than tolerant view July 04, 2011
“Folk is only for old folk ... don't you agree?” What a lot of steaming rot! ‘Folk’ is – music for ‘folk&rsquo... [MORE]

Folk artist or folk artisan? May 25, 2011
“Why does everyone think they can just get up and do it?”  Play and sing folk songs, that is ... what else? There are numerous re... [MORE]

“Old grumpy guy having a rant as yet another poorly constructed press release arrives ...” May 23, 2011
An increasing number of artists employ public or press relations agents (PRs) to take care of their public image and promote their music. No problem... [MORE]

... ‘ghost-folk with English pastoral, fantastical, medieval roots April 27, 2011
The continuance of ‘ghost folk’ ‘fantasy folk’ ‘fey folk’ or ‘spirit medieval folk’ (to give it an a... [MORE]

Folk music is neither current nor contemporary March 14, 2011
Apparently folk music is inherently disliked by much of the population – not really news. The main reason for this aversion is that folk i... [MORE]

Delve into online avenues and pathways to discover treasure February 11, 2011
Folk music, like many other genres, has an abundance of artists toiling away in their own little corner of the folk world to produce great music. ... [MORE]

Accents of folk - your own or from somewhere else? January 08, 2011
Popular music (from rap to rock) sings with a mid-Atlantic, quasi-American accent This is possibly engendered by the style of music or perhaps to ... [MORE]

Riding a wave of aural acceptance through the 21st century December 21, 2010
Without doubt the web is the prevailing method of mass communication Considering all forms of broadcast and published media in current use the w... [MORE]

Commercial gain or something to say? November 26, 2010
Is music produced for commercial gain or because it has something to say? The jury remains firmly out on that question. There’s the divide b... [MORE]

Stopping the tradition from remaining current and relevant? November 05, 2010
Does a touch of conservatism exist in English folk to prevent the genre from moving on? And if it exists, does it actively stop the tradition from r... [MORE]

Pointless prejudices remain with us from the cradle September 24, 2010
Something lurking in the depths... Some hoary old chestnuts will not go away. No matter how hard you try to ignore them they keep returning. Some... [MORE]

It’s all in the lyric ... (Part 1.) August 10, 2010
Folk music is music handed down to or between folk that much is certain. People share folk music. People do so because they like the tune or the l... [MORE]

Turning imitation into emulation and slightly sycophantic-tinged mimicry May 10, 2010
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but why does it permeate music to such a degree, why does it persist and what prevents people f... [MORE]

We are heading for a day when the music could well die April 02, 2010
How is it right that outstanding musicians struggle to make a living doing what they are clearly ‘born to do’ while hyper-markete... [MORE]

Reworking tradition or forging a new one? March 05, 2010
The future of folk music lies in more than reworking the tradition, it also lies in taking the tradition into the 21st century and beyond. Of cou... [MORE]

The CD is dead - long live the CD February 11, 2010
Fine, no problem, the CD is dead. However, it's worth recording (pun intended) that this passing is not the first so called ‘musical dea... [MORE]

Horror of horrors folk music is not politically correct! December 14, 2009
Horror of horrors folk music is not politically correct! More precisely, songs such as ‘The Bonny Black Hare’, ‘Gentleman... [MORE]

Searching for songs for Halloween November 11, 2009
There’s an infection from a world-influencing source that spread to our shores long before swine or avian flu. It’s from America ... [MORE]

The timeless appeal inherent in natural sounds November 02, 2009
Something about the antique smell of leather endures, as does that of new-mown grass and freshly baked bread. There's an everlasting appeal in the s... [MORE]

How about a new programme - 'The Niche Factor' October 22, 2009
There is no such thing as niche music. The truth is simple. Music hides in niches. That’s because of the so-called music that pours out of bro... [MORE]

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery ... September 28, 2009
Over a summer of festivals and gigs there’s something that has begun to nag away at my brain with ever increasing insistency. Imitatio... [MORE]

Folk on the rocks July 09, 2009
Folk influencing rock music - whatever next? Interestingly, while it is common folk-knowledge that rock flowed into folk and gave us folk rock, it... [MORE]

Folk music revives and revives June 16, 2009
Ah yes – yet another English folk music revival wanders through the folking world. That’s what we’re living through in case you ha... [MORE]

Reflecting the world or commenting on it? May 31, 2009
Does music reflect life and change due to its influence or does music act as an impetus for change? Ask the writers of 60’s protest songs ... [MORE]

Electric folk – what and why? May 20, 2009
Is that folk that are powered by electricity? Or is it folk music that uses electric instruments? Or is it just a zappy kind of folk? As with al... [MORE]

Questions, questions ... but are there any answers? March 23, 2009
 Since setting out on the FolkWords journey and speaking to hundreds of people along the way, I’ve explored some questions time after t... [MORE]

And then there’s folk-punk ... March 06, 2009
There are doubtless a few people wandering around the planet that still adhere to the precepts of the original punk movement. Not many possib... [MORE]

Medieval folk – something more than dressing up in costume February 24, 2009
The genre of medieval folk – if there’s enough of it around to be called a genre - has been up and down in the folk world and interest... [MORE]

Folk metal – a genre, a fashion or an anachronism? February 20, 2009
So then tell me more about folk metal – is it heavy-metal-with-folk or heavy-folk-with-metal? And does it follow on from or precede medie... [MORE]

Web-folk, network-folk ... and whatever comes out of the interaction January 19, 2009
 With all types of musicians, artists, singers and bands from every musical genre, folk music uses the wonders of the worldwide web to &lsquo... [MORE]

Spelling mistake or art form? December 22, 2008
There is something endearing in the fact that increasingly folk music has few restrictive boundaries but by contrast confusing that it has multipl... [MORE]

Why do so many English singers persist in singing with an American accent all the time? October 08, 2008
American folk music is great, American folk songs are great, especially when they’re sung by Americans. They’re even OK when sung by E... [MORE]

If music says nothing then all it offers is noise – pleasant though that noise may be September 25, 2008
If music speaks all languages then apparently a large amount of it that crashes through the airwaves converses in the language of another planet. ... [MORE]

Who’s going to be the first folk musician to write a song about the credit crunch? September 14, 2008
Now then, now then – as Mr J Savile was wont to say – who’s going to be the first folk musician to write a song about the cr... [MORE]

After all - what's in a name? August 04, 2008
According to many news channels there are those in a certain minority group that want the term ‘chav’ to be outlawed as it is derogatory... [MORE]

Folk to rock to psych to thrash – a journey of experience July 14, 2008
 Over the years, folk artists have added many flavours to folk music and each addition of essence has gained as many fans as haters. The folk t... [MORE]

Folk is just another ‘F’ word June 12, 2008
Forget parliamentary debate about performing rights or how many people can sing in a pub before you need more licences than the DVLA, or comments fr... [MORE]

‘Live folk music is dead’ June 11, 2008
Well if it is then there’s a plague of zombies trundling round the UK playing at clubs and festivals, and doing great impressions of being ali... [MORE]

Morris on and on - English folk dance May 28, 2008
A remark heard in a local pub: “It’s impossible to discuss English folk without making some reference to folk dance and if you’re ... [MORE]

More life and less cash – true probably, unfortunate definitely. May 12, 2008
Folk music has always drawn on what musicians see around them. The ‘stuff’ of life is the ‘stuff’ of folk music. Invariably,... [MORE]

Folk in the year 3000..... April 23, 2008
Today’s folk musicians fall into a greater number of writing camps than ever before. The wealth of musical influences that travel, communicati... [MORE]

Folk resurgent and revived - again. And so the wheel goes round. March 21, 2008
Folk resurgent and revived - again. And so the wheel goes round. Seemingly, now we are in the 'oughties' (what a hideous expression) we are experie... [MORE]

Music - victim of fad and fashion March 04, 2008
Music is as much a victim of fad and fashion as almost everything else. Much of it follows the desire to create a minute of fame for no specific rea... [MORE]

...'the sea shanty isn’t folk music' February 07, 2008
“No, no the sea shanty isn’t folk music. It’s a distinct music drawn from the sea. It has little or nothing to do with folk music.... [MORE]

Tradition is good - for without it where would ‘new’ be? January 11, 2008
Despite the best efforts of the media to mock the genre there remains great power and strength in English traditional folk music. Admittedly, Engl... [MORE]

Ethnic, roots or world - or just folk? January 10, 2008
The changing face of music definition with direct reference to the 'roots' and 'world' are definitions that continue to develop - as if we needed an... [MORE]

How hard is music? January 10, 2008
That’s a question worth asking. It’s also worth asking musicians with strong and clear views to contribute some answers. Not necessarily... [MORE]

Song writers and song writing - folk or not December 20, 2007
 Ask a musician what makes them write and you open an interesting debate. The answers are rarely similar and often enlightening. There are th... [MORE]

Consider psych-folk ... November 25, 2007
Arguably (don’t start a paragraph with ‘arguably’ it sets an argumentative tone), there is a need in some circles to classify band... [MORE]

A tribe losing its head? November 01, 2007
Tribalism in music is unavoidable. Today we live in a tribalised society. Instincts that found form with Mods and Rockers, evolved into Hippies, S... [MORE]

“It’s the definitions, it’s the definitions.” October 09, 2007
Somewhat like Victor Hugo’s hunchback driven insane by the bells, the debate about folk music definitions keeps ringing in my ears. And like t... [MORE]

Afraid or too embarrased to speak? September 15, 2007
Is there fear and embarrassment in the English folk tradition? Talking to songwriters, singers and bands to gain their views on where folk is going... [MORE]

"Are folk songs manufactured or do they just happen?" July 05, 2007
Good question. People write songs for many complicated muddy messy reasons. Many folk songs are profound, meaningful, narrative songs, analytical, r... [MORE]

Folk or pop - your choice May 07, 2007
Does traditional music have any 'meaning' or is it as vague as modern pop and is 'pop' nothing more than candyfloss?   The answer is yes - mu... [MORE]

A view from a hill April 03, 2007
Discussion and definition   Ask a hundred people to define folk music and you’re likely to get an even larger number of definitions. De... [MORE]

Finding a place in the heap March 21, 2007
The top people performing in the wider arena ‘folk music’ are the tip of an iceberg – beneath the surface is a morass of bands and... [MORE]

‘Cool folk’ – looking for the ‘cool-factor’ in folk March 06, 2007
“Let’s face it folk music isn't cool.” Despite the temptation to shrug off that remark I decided to consider the possibility tha... [MORE]