Monday, May 25, 2009

Folk Music Fail

Had an excellent time at the Small World Festival in Kent on Friday and into Saturday morning. Really should have sorted out being able to stay longer but it wasn't to be.

Meanwhile, there was a particularly good vibe there this time around, or at least so it seemed to me, and the three gigs I had with Hadar all went well. Later on I had great fun jamming into the night with various random people, including the rather excellent Undercover Hippie, whose fine full band set earlier on I also caught. Highly recommended. Catch him if you can etc.

However, during the festival I had a conversation with a person, who shall remain entirely unidentified, which has stuck in my head more than anything else. The person was telling me about some tent at the site run by people who also administer an extremely serious folk music archive. Among other things, these people have a project where they go around the country collecting and recording folk songs which have not previously been recorded, which is clearly a great thing to be doing. When they run a tent at festivals, these collected folk songs get performed, and this person was telling me that the other night they were having a problem with two local lads who were hanging around the tent and were failing to be suitably reverent and attentive to the folk music going on.

So someone had the bright idea of asking the lads if they had a song to sing. They did, and they sang it. It turned out to be a local Kentish drinking song which had not been archived and collected before. The folk music collectors all got very excited by this.

"You really wouldn't have expected it from these lads," this person told me. "It wasn't well sung or anything, and they couldn't remember all of it, but it was a genuine folk song that hadn't been collected before. And we all thought they were just a pair of chavs."

I nearly bit my lip off, and I may or may not have mentioned something about exactly what this person thought the 'folk' in 'folk music' was supposed to signify. I forget. It was pretty late by this point and I was pretty much the worse for wear.

Ewan MacColl, of course, is already spinning in his grave for many reasons. We should hook him up to a generator and solve the energy crisis.

Either way, next Small World I get to go to, I'm taking a tent, weather permitting.