what is folk music

So…I’m a folk singer.  Which begs the age old question…

What IS folk music?


The word is everywhere in the music world.  I use it frequently to describe what I do.  And I’ve heard it used to describe Show of Hands, Mumford and Sons, Bellowhead, Bombay Bicycle Club (!), The Waterboys, Martin Carthy, James Blunt, Liam Clancy and Pete Seeger amongst thousands of others, who may have very little in common.

From the traditional music of the Balkans to the Dylan-wannabe singer-songwriter, the label “folk” is, if not the preferred term, the most used one.  This causes a marketing dilemma for all who come under this all embracing umbrella of a description.  Playing polkas on hurdygurdies isn’t necessarily going to endear you to Joni Mitchell’s audience.  At the moment, if it uses acoustic instruments – it’s folk.  That seems to be the only connecting element.  No wonder folk clubs are struggling some places to promote themselves.  Try asking Spotify for folk music – it’s all bundled in under Americana or lost in the world of pop.

What I propose we need is to make new categories that divide the “genre” into more fitting “genres”.  Then we can give them names so that anyone looking for Scottish reels isn’t going to be inundated with Neil Young songs.  Then we can try and persuade record companies, streaming services, booking agents and PR companies to start using them to target audiences better and promote all aspects of the “genre” better.  Here’s some ideas:

1) Ethnic traditional music split into song based and tune/dance based music, and further spilt into region of origin.  Eg. Swedish Trad Instrumental etc.

2) Singer songwriter.  Split into pop based acoustic pop, Americana and traditional story based original songs.

3) Rock music using traditional music as a base.  eg Fairport Convention, Wolfstone etc.

4) Traditional music in a contemporary setting.  So…more Eliza Carthy than Waterson Carthy…

5) Rock music with traditional instruments. There’s nothing “folk” about the songs of The Great Malarkey, but their instrumentation flings them into our midst (and bloomin fab they are too!)

Many many artists will still fall outside of these boxes (me for a start!) but it may prevent us from being lost in the world music or country section of the record shop (online or otherwise).  I’ll leave others to come up with the catchy names, and there is space in the comments section to let me know what you think of the idea and what I’ve missed out.


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Top 10 Beatles songs

Tuesday’s top ten.  The band that created the most songs that deserve to go into any top ten…here are…(according to me)

the top 10 Beatles songs:

10: Here there and everywhere

9: Hide your love away

8: All you need is love

7: For no-one

6: And I love her

5: While my guitar gently weeps

4: Hey Jude

3: Let it be

2: Something

1: Yesterday


blogging on

So, having realised that I don’t use my news feed here (all the news pops up in the twitter feed to the right anyway), I’m going to use this space to dive into the world of blogging and see how it goes…in the first instance, it will be mostly blogs about music.  Particularly Folk music, Folk Rock, Rock, Indie and Progressive rock.  My hope is to turn this into a forum for exploration and discussion of new music and great stuff you or I may not have heard. To vary it a bit, I’m going to do a different theme each day of the week…though as I’m a novice blogger, I expect I’ll change system and style as I learn!  Here’s the plan so far:

Monday: New music.  Stuff I’ve discovered over the past week that I think is cool.  Not necessarily new music, but new to me.

Tuesday: Random top 10’s for discussion.

Wednesday:  Folk music related stuff.

Thursday: Reviews

Friday: Anything I bloody well feel like – it’s Friday after all.

Weekends you get off!

So there you go.  Enjoy, and come back every day/week and post lots of comments.  New music for this Monday: Lulu and the Lampshades and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.

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Here we go folks…the new website!  Hope you enjoy, and hope you can find what you’re looking for…  Otherwise drop me a line.  See you somewhere soon…love and fish, MD

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