The Roots of Music: The Influence Continues
I will be soon joining with Performing Artists, Presenters, Record Industry, Agents & Managers, Media, Arts Administrators, Folk Societies/Clubs, Folklorists, and radio DJs who will be a part of the FAR-West Conference (International Folk Alliance Region West) www.far-west.org
As always, there are exchanges of emails with suggestions for workshops, panels and showcases months before the Conference. With these suggestions often come some obscure bits of information regarding music, be it business, history or in the art of the music present and past. The arts, whether fine arts or the performing arts, are truly the soul of a culture or nation. Within these histories we find the roots of our soul as a collective culture. Perhaps my passion for music comes in part from my interest in history and culture. The music of North America is very much reflective of each period of our history, regional, national or international in influence. Canada and the United States each have the most diverse culture on Earth. Because of this, the music within the borders of our two countries is more diverse than anywhere else. Nearly all genres of music exist with the borders of Canada and the United States. The music influence of the upcoming conference is truly international. Classical, which is principally of European influence came out of the folk music of the Balkans. Blues and Black Gospel evolved out of the music of African slaves with their field hollers. Jazz morphed from the blues and added some classical touches along the way with Gershwin, Ellington and Basie. Hip Hop owes its roots to the talking blues of Woody Guthrie, Rambling Jack Elliot, spoken word, folk poetry slams, Jack Kerouac with his blending Poetry with Jazz, as well as several other folk artist dating back over 50 years. Rock’s roots are in the blues and hillbilly country. Traditional black string bands from the Minstrel Days into the 20’s lent their influence to the Appalachian/European traditional music string bands from which early country gave us Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams. Later Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys added Bluegrass music. The Beatles added touches that were classical in nature. Today’s modern country has added rock to its sound.
All music is related with the genesis coming from original Folk Music from individual unique countries. Today we see young musicians “genre bending” as they borrow freely from the history of the musical forefathers. Never in history has music been so hard to categorize as its continual quest for something new and interesting as well as captivate the listener’s ear, mind and soul. Music is art and as such is always redefining boundaries. Today many young artists are digging back into those traditional roots of folk music as evidenced by the emergence of many young groups such as The Duhks, The Bills, The Wailing Jennies, Crooked Still, Outlaw Social, Elephant Revival and many more. Some are classically trained on their instruments, others have punk rock background but all have been influenced by the roots music of folk. From all of these roots they have developed a hard driving acoustic based sound with tight, exceptional instrumentals and vocals. They are showing the way to the new music and will be influencing the future artists as well. Creativity never sleeps, but it is rare for anything to be truly original. As it is said, “Good poets borrow, great poets steal”. So it is in music. Suddenly folk music is becoming cool again. Vanity Fair has featured a piece on the “Folk Revival” which features photos by Annie Leibovitz of some of the newer folk artists as well as some icons and Arlo Guthrie’s family, a large increase in downloads and CD sales has not gone unnoticed. One of the largest music festivals in the United States is not a rock festival, but a roots, folk and bluegrass festival in San Francisco called Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. An increase in attendance at folk related music festivals has also not gone unnoticed as well as the number of new related music festivals cropping up everywhere. Roots Music Musings by Folkmuse Reuse by permission only.