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 never a terminal case. It never needed reviving, artificial resperation was not necessary - folk does what it frequently does and just went quiet for a while. Folk simply waited while rock and roll became stadium and progressive, glam became heavy metal, which became thrash, punk exploded then faded and garage, rap and house had their day. Now folk is back again riding on the crest of wave driven by any number of young rising folk stars.

However, many of the artists enjoying the swell of popularity that folk is enjoying are loathe to admit they are ‘folk’ artists. Some steer rapidly away from folk due to the traditional connotation. Instead, they prefer to refer to their music with less-tainted (but usually hyphenated) names, such as folk-pop, bluegrass-folk, folk-rock, acoustic folk, contemporary folk, country-folk and folkabilly. Add to that the ‘out there’ artists who deliver psych-folk, metal-folk, goth-folk, thrash-folk and progressive folk and you have a unique amalgum universally called ‘folk’.

There may be a case for forging a link between 'going green' and the rise of folk. Why are there more craft fairs? Why the increase in farmers' markets? Why the continued rise of 'living culture and 'folk art' museums - open air or otherwise? Are we trying to reach back to a simpler time or do we long for the simple life? Are we finally putting value on 'real' rather than 'artificial'? And if that's the case is folk going green or turning into organic pop?

There could be nothing more to the green wave than resisting consumerism, searching for roots and in doing so, returning to more organic forms of musical communication. Doubters would contend that the majority of the previously mentioned desires and pastimes are the province of weird-beards and tree-huggers.

The downside of being called simply 'folk' is that you are typecast as old-fashioned, hopelessly sad, unhip, uncool and so forth. So does this view argue that folk music is not current, not modern and not cool? I hope not.

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