A Punter’s Perspective 14 — Countrified folk or folkified country? (Greg Champion)

Greg Champion
Greg Champion

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#14 Countrified folk or folkified country? (Greg Champion)
First published in Trad and Now magazine, February 2009

When musical chat turns to genres, labels and identification, if someone poses the age old question, ‘Is it folk?’ or the broader chestnut, ‘What is folk?’ I suddenly hear my mother calling.

(For a woman with reduced lung capacity, she can make herself heard well enough from 300kms away when the need arises, God love her.)

They are worthy and valid questions of a kind, with multiple levels and directions of discourse, but to borrow a phrase another family member uses, if someone starts on these topics, I can just feel the backs of my eyes going dry.

It’s fair game (sometimes) if weighty matters are being discussed at a conference or workshop, but when someone decides to get all loquacious after 17 pints of the sponsor’s product at a festival, that indeed is time to throw them their guitar or bodhran or electric spoons and ask can they play that one about the boat/shearers’ strike/ode to Annie, Nancy or Gwinviere.

For all of that, there’s one related topic that I’m continuously interested in: folk versus country. Which is not some sort of fiddle and dobro slap-down in the cage with folding chairs at ten paces, but more of a mild interest on where the line is, or if it exists.

Are there points of intersection, cross-over (and pass your partner down the line) or even symbiosis?

I’m suspecting ‘yeah’ on all three.

But lord knows I’m a punter and do not presume to be capable of long treatises on-topic. Instead, I took the chance at last year’s Maldon Folk Festival to buttonhole a favourite performer, just one of many who move in both worlds of folk and country: Greg Champion, as he made his way through a lunch-time feed of Indian food outside the Guinness Tent. Continue reading

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