Monday, August 01, 2016

"Folk songs from the British Isles and the Appalachians"


We were in rural Virginia. We arrived at the venue which was to be our base for the next 3 days. As we checked in, a poster with the title above caught my attention. 

So that evening I went to see the one-man show, expecting a cultural epiphany.

In a sense it was. But rather than ‘Soldier’s Joy’, ‘Boyne Water’, ‘Knoxville Girl’ and many other songs and tunes which have proven Ulster-Appalachian credentials, we got something a lot less interesting:

'My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean', 'Whiskey in the Jar', even 'What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor', a Stephen Foster song or two. ‘Mull of Kintyre' might also have been in there too. I can’t really remember. I went panning for musical and cultural gold - but found nothing.

It was entertaining, it was well played and sung, the artist had the room eating out of his hand. But there was a bigger, better and more compelling opportunity here which was completely missed. Meaning was sacrificed for entertainment. Or perhaps meaning wasn’t really understood in the first place - not transmitted and not sought for.

(PS - pic above is Bill Monroe. He would have done a much better job).