We play both types of music: Folk and Traditional.

A small portion of the venue.This weekend I spent a couple wonderful days at my second Northwest Folk Life Festival. Although arguably the finest music ever made was the folk music in the U.S. in the 60's, Folk Life is thankfully much broader than that and covers folk music from around the globe. The experiences were so varied I think it best to record them pictorially, with only occasional verbiage and hovertext to describe the different pics. Unfortunately, my camera doesn't record sound, so don't expect to hear any of the wonderful music.

Tahitian Drummers
Tahitian Dancers. As in Hawaii, keep your eyes on thePeruvian singers.  Interesting how their performance style is to huddle together, backs to the crowd. hands, not the hips- it's the Hurdy-Gurdies.  But no monkey.  Thank God.hands that tell the story.

Korean Drummers

Korean Fan Dancers

Korean Ribbon Dancers
This group was quite interesting. Very beautiful, acapello Christmas carols, but with new words. The signs kind of speak of what the words were. These were equal-opportunity attackers, for Lyndon LaRouche. I left as they sang of how Gore would kill us all because he was a Nazi. I think the tune was "I heard the bells on Christmas Morn".
Quoting a recent statement by VP Cheney.  Except Cheney was more explicit when describing another politician.
Modern folk singer, with a sweet, melodic voice, singing of the love between a mother and child.
High School marimba players- very nice sound.
I got to participate in this, the Tahitian Drum Workshop. We all had Moroccan style drums, and those who were brave enough could go up front and try out the wooden Tahitian drums, with a loud percussive sound. We learned some of the rather complex beats of Tahiti.
A bit of a vaudville act with Irish ballads.

Now here's where I got very confused. It started off with Middle Eastern music, which I was very looking forward to. This group had more of a classical style, like of Um Kalthoum, with music from Turkey, Iran, and Arab countries. But then they had to go and get a belly dancer for all of us to watch. A number of Middle Eastern musicians did that over the course of the weekend. Why do they do this? It's completely inappropriate. Belly dancing occurs within it's natal culture only in front of your spouse, or in all-female parties. Or for tourists. It's hard to find a strict comparison in American culture, but it might be like seeing presentations of a girl's pajama party, for everyone to watch in the audience. That it's done all over for tourists doesn't make it any more appropriate. It just continues the stereotype in the West of the lascivious male Arab with his harem, the exotic Orientalism that Said preached against. I kept on reading about Arab music and dance, and would get excited, thinking I was going to see something authentic, like the debke- and I kept on getting objectifying belly dancing.

Directly thereafter I went to a participatory workshop to learn Pirate Shanties, and think fondly of David. Actually, strictly speaking the pirate age evidently predates the shanty age, so there are no real pirate shanties that were sung by pirates- just anti-pirate songs sung by sailors. So this group changed the words around to make them more pro-pirate. They said they were all about putting the "Arr" back in Warshington. We sang choruses like this one:
And its all for me grog
me jolly, jolly grog.
All for me beer and tobacco
For I spent all my tin on the lassies drinking gin
Far across the Western Ocean I must wander.

(The singalong took place in the Beer Garden.)

And then I rushed off to listen to all white choirs sing Gospel music in praise of Jesus. The one pictured here is called "Sparkling Choir, of Love". Really. This praise music was within the span of an hour and a half, including pirate songs in praise of beer and Middle Eastern music. Now do you understand my grave state of confusion? And yet it didn't end there.

For immediately afterward I was at the didjeridu workshop, where you learn how to play the famed Australian instrument from a couple of guys giving a very good impression of Car Talk. We received our very own black PVC didjeridus (one can be seen in the picture to the left) and learned how to play the instrument. Well, learned only the very beginning of how incredibly hard it is to play. Sure, you can get a sound out of it by making a raspberry (an infant in the audience was particularly good at this). But learning to breath through your nose while exhaling out the mouth at the same time? Forget about it!


Anonymous said…
"...the finest music ever made was the folk music in the U.S. in the 60's"
--enjoyed reading of your latest. The '60's music (Dylan, Joan Biez, Clancy Bros, etc) were inspired by a far earlier group, actually, who traveled the mountains in the South, recording the oldest American music sung and played by those now passed. Gutherie and Allan ___?___ -- compilations are in folk libraries. There's a movie that came out about another, a woman. There's a slew of ol' timers who influenced people like Dylan, incl. jazz, blues, Af American, celtic, and other early American performers. Your Aunt Mary lives in Virginia, and attends many festivals herself, if you want more info. Love, mom

See WVU Libraries
Collection-level inventory of folk music archives (392k)
Berea College - Hutchins Library
The Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives
Folk Music Albums Available on CD
Library of Congress and Rounder Records Folk Music Compact Discs
Lauren said…
very cool.

What a festival!
Mike said…
You're not saying LaRouche is a Libertarian, are you? He's a cultish pseudo-socialist, but runs as a Democrat (for 35ish years). A total loser who brainwashes college kids into scrounging up money to support his lifestyle.

I am a Libertarian, and we don't harass folk. I battle the LaRouchies all the time on my campus.
@bdul muHib said…
Really? I'm so sorry! I'll correct that right away.

(That wasn't a crack on my party, the Socialists, was it?)
Mike said…
No, not at all. He's a poser socialist. I respect true Socialists. Don't agree, but they deserve way more respect than the 2 major parties, since they have a consistent message.

Popular Posts