Frustrated wannabe pop stars?

Frustrated wannabe pop stars?

I’m was at Celtic Connections there and apart from the excellent Paul Brady/Andy Irvine gig, most of what I saw was pretty depressing.

It seems to me that more and more trad musicians are trying desperately to be trendy both in the style of music and the way they dress. Some of the stuff I heard was just really bad prog pop trad, that’s the only way I can describe it. I wonder why don’t these people just form pop bands instead of trying to make trad trendy.

At least Paul Brady has the decency to distinguish between his trad stuff and his pop stuff, he didn’t play one single pop song at that gig with Andy Irvine. I write pop/rock songs myself so I’ve nothing against good pop music, I just find that a lot of the stuff I’m hearing is neither good pop music or good trad, it’s just trad tunes dressed up in very bad pop music clothes.

Some of the haircuts were even worse, what is going on with trad music. Is the dreaded Pop Idol culture infiltrating it?!!!

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Forgive my ignorance, but the name of the show "Celtic Connections" should have been a dead give-away as to what type of music would be on display. Celtic Connections sounds like one of those discs you might find in the aroma therapy section of Wallmart’s music bin.

Did this event have more traditional music in the past?

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Heya frisbee, you got any of these offending band names we can Google and check out?

…and yes, I agree. A pub here has a band headlining weekends for a few weeks from elsewhere in the States. They have an Irish band name, a fiddler, a guitarist and a keyboard/bodhran player. They do songs like the American Surf Rock classic "Wipeout!", they do a rap song, they do a set or two of trad, they do some rock and roll.

Is this sort of thing what you speak of?

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I meant to say: "Is this the sort of trauma you speak of?"

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You must be getting old, frisbee - you’re beginning to sound like me.
I’m just envious of most peoples’ haircuts as mine is slowly vanishing.
But it’s the whole thing about bands versus individual players in the music… but maybe you mean players as well. Or even just performers rather than players. There are as many excellent players who don’t go in for all the glitz, so I wouldn’t get too depressed. Good players at sessions who just like to play well without trying to impress all the time. Dunno if that makes sense… it does to me….

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I think Frisbee’s Lament (that’s a good title for a reel!) echos what every genre of music has to eventually face as it becomes more mainstream and accessible to the masses. There will always be pop-music encroachment eventually. You can’t keep Michael Coleman’s sound in a sealed container in perpetuity. Music changes. Somewhere there is a hip-hop rapper who still curses the day Vanilla Ice debuted. There’s a metal-head who still thinks Metalica sold out. A Folkie who curses the day Dylan went electric, and a Jazzer who thinks Miles Davis lost his soul in the late 60’s.

Bottom line, there is still plenty of what we here would call real Irish folk music out there. However, we should not be at all surprised to hear the faux-celtic-hybrids that Frisbees talks about, nor should we spend too much time fretting about the inevitability of it.

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But what of the equally frustrated wannabe trad star?!!! Who is musically great but just can’t get the hang of the trad trend for duller colours, baggy aran sweaters and drinking guiness?!!!

In a wonderful conversation with some big trad authorities at the weekend, it was agreed apon that it’s all about searching for your own inner musical voice and constantly trying to make it truer to yourself…

but then what if the true you is a young trendy dude who is mad into pop idol and happens to play reels on the fiddle! Then what do you do!!! How do we know they were frustrated?! they probably didn’t look it on stage!

If we were to properly leave the pop element out of our genre, then weather we like someone or not shouldn’t even come into it. To me, it’s all about what the music of someone else is saying, or trying to say to me. You mightn’t agree with it initially but you’ll be ultimately better for it in the end.

There’s a trend going on in trad also…

m.

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Hmm, a circular link…. thanks swfl;-) A very interesting subject.I can relate to Frisbee’s lament, but I also have to plead guilty to some extent. There is nothing I like better than sitting in a sesh out in the stix. But as Someone who has dedicated their entire life to music I am obliged to be a commercial artist. Now I certainly play no pop! our fusion relates more to jazz and heavy metal!8-) We are definitely not musak…
So I also am obliged when playing in other countries to ‘compete’ to some extent with the musical norms from MTV and the local culture[ sadly almost synonymous in some places!]
Sure we will also sit down in a bar and have a few tunes but this format may not always be suitable on stage.
Perhaps look at it a different way, rather than pop encroaching on trad, view it as trad encroaching on pop’s territory.
So on stage in front of a large audience We use lights, Amplification, A drum kit, possibly samples, sometimes a synth….. hey you guys are really gonna hate me now8-)
Any how its a laugh too.
But back to the link, The Solas thing did nothing for me, much as I am a fan of their earlier work and of Mr Egan. While Fred Finn & Peter Horan, thats my kind of thing.
I found the solas clip a bit to formulaic for me. Also the dynamics appear a bit squashed, possibly due to the pervasive percussion and the backers.
Fair play to them for going their own way, its just not my way.
For listening I like the pure drop. I would hope that this reflects in my playing but I also like to experiment and forge my own path.
I certainly don’t expect a bunch of purists to appreciate it but at least understand that we have to earn a living and if thats what pays…..
[sits back and waits for the hate mail and incoming fire….8-)

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Now I really feel like an old hack! I first became interested in Folk music during the revival period and voices like Ewan Maccoll and Bob Davenport boomed around the English shores while over the Irish Sea things were going … well you know as well as me.

Anyway, in those days I used to present a regular folk music radio show and I recall the rows that traditionalists had about bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention. Equally came the emergence of things like .. dare I say the words in these hallowed rooms … the electric fiddle and God protect us … amplification! The rows became near total war. Meanwhile Andy Irvine and his pals were encouraging traditionalists to play the bouzouki .. an instrument not exactly noted for having Celtic origins. Oh how we trad fans lamented.

Well the music continued and some of the fads went while others went onto great things. The Folk revival disappeared into the annals of history but the music continued. In fact, if I should dare to admit it, not only did it continue - in some parts it improved.

There will always be musical innovators (God willing) and equally there will be grumpy old men like me saying that these upstarts have lost the plot. the important thing though is that the songs and the tunes are passed onto another generation.

No hate mail from me jig - we all have bills to pay. The important thing I reckon for any musician is that we all look to and preserve our roots. If you can say you do that .. then have a ball

Long may the music continue

D (btw - I haven’t worn an Aran jumper since the 60’s)

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The experiments of the earlier folk revival established one thing, as far as I am concerned anyway:

The ghastliness of the electric fiddle is an eternal, unvarying truth.

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Yeah, and electric guitars eh!

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You went to the wrong gigs, frisbee. I went to hear Zoe Conway, and "Cran" on Friday night. No "frustrated, wannabe popstars" there - just good musicians playing good music IMO. But I know what you mean, and agree with you to some extent. Gigs like that were few and far between over the 3 weeks of "Celtic Connections".
Their "Connections" have become pretty elastic in the past few years. A few people above have said that of course there are plenty of good traditional Irish players about, but the point is that gey few of them who haven’t been booked before were invited to play in Glasgow in 2008.

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The stuff I’m talking about isn’t innovative, it is mostly a pale imitation of stuff that Moving Hearts, Deisal,and others did 10-20 years ago, just with the addition of Pop Idol influenced fashion!

I’m not naming and shaming I just thought that an awful lot of stuff I saw at Celtic Connections was like this. The music and the musicians come across to me as very forced, people trying desperately to be cool.

The fashion argument is secondary to me, I generally don’t care what someone wears or what their haircut is like, but it seems the trendy music and trendy outfits are going hand in hand now. Not only do you have to play trendy trad you have to dress like you’re on Pop Idol or that you’ve just been on Queer Eye For the Straight Guy!

If you want to suggest that I’m just a craggy old curmudgen and that I’m just like the people who gave out about Fairport Convention and Andy Irvine’s Bouzouki in the 70’s then you’re missing the point. Andy’s playing was a definite innovation to the music which has not dated, people still play like that 30 years later and it sounds like it’s a style of playing that’s been around for centuries. Fairport Convention on the other hand sound very definitely rooted in the 70’s, they’ve become dated because they added elements of 70’s prog rock, just like Moving Hearts have dated because of their 80’s keyboards and sax. But at least these groups did something new musically in their time.

The trouble with the stuff I’m seeing/hearing now is that it isn’t even innovative for it’s time, it already sounds dated to me. There’s nothing new about it other than a greater sense of pop idol image.

I’m all for innovation and the like so long as it’s honest and has integrity. I just find a lot of this stuff to be as fake and as superficial as Simon Cowell, yet nowhere near as entertaining!

Anyway I’m going back to my drum machine to programme some funky beats over which I’ll lay down some phat synth pads, three electric guitar parts using my latest effects pedals, oh and then I might put a tune over it…..

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Have any of you guys complaining about electric fiddles heard a Swordfish ?
Don’t think so.
But bad amplification can ruion the sound of anything.

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I just keep thinking of Dervish on eurovision ….. I rest my case .

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Sad thing about Dervish is before the Eurovision they were one of the few modern trad bands I liked, once Seamie O’Dowd left them they seemed to loose it.

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I wonder if Cathy was behind this ……….

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Dervish were patsys.

I felt sorry for them - the girl was obviously quite nervous - but thought they made a pretty honourable effort with the dog’s breakfast they’d been given.

I meant to vote for them but hit the wrong button and voted for Croatia instead.

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I’m not sure which gigs frisbee is referring to, either. I suppose there may have been overly electrified, pop music bands, but I did not hear them at any concert we attended or in the Festival Club. We were at the Cran gig with Kenny and they were brilliant, of course. At the Festival Club we saw performances like Tony McManus and Bruce Molsky playing solo guitar and fiddle, respectively. Some friends of mine from Glasgow who play uilleann pipes and button box also played the Festival Club, although I wasn’t there that particular night.

There were also assorted duos and small groups of three or four Scottish musicians. Much more Scottish music than Irish music, but it’s Glasgow. Nevertheless, most of it was very accoustic, nothing for purists to complain about.

We also saw bigger bands like Daimh, Session A9, the Treacherous Orchestra (I think I have the name right), etc. I guess trad being played by a big group like that is something you either like or you don’t, fair enough, but those groups are not at all attempting to be the trad version of pop idol. Their musical integrity and grounding in the tradition is undeniable.

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In the end — the "cream" will rise. Isn’t that why the Irish music "renaissance" was able to happen in the 1970’s — because there are enough "ears out there listening" which will be captured by something that has the underpinnings of timeless beauty in it?

IMO, only the very best of the "fringe" expressions of the music will amount to anything.

We really need a few "fringe rogues" playing "at the edges" — don’t we? Otherwise, we would never have ANY change or evolution at all.

I really fell in love with The Shannon, McGoldrick, Gavin recording. I’d hate to have been deprived of Sharon Shannon. I don’t, perhaps, deeply appreciate every single thing she comes out with —- but I’m really glad she is who she is. However, I can’t say that for all the "groups" who are "pushing the envelope." I’m sure most of them will fade away.

Perhaps "oddly," I really grew to enjoy Riverdance or many parts of it. There are a few pieces of music in it that I love. And I also truly enjoyed Dancing on Dangerous Ground. I hated Lord of the Dance with an active hatred — but then —- what the heck — it may have been someone’s true "cup of tea." But in general, I love to watch Irish step-dancing and that’s what Riverdance was principally about???? Okay — so it wasn’t "PURE." Well, we don’t have to watch it if we don’t want to — that’s our freedom.

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re: the "pop idol influenced fashion"
clothing and music are a completely unrelated topic.. whether or not the band onstage are playing "trendy trad" has nothing to do with whether they are dressed fashionably. did the Clancy brothers’s Aran jumpers have anything to do with their music? i love the pure trad, but i won’t lie and say i’m not an innovator in my performance either. having said that, i definitely wouldn’t claim that i’m a fashionable dresser!