Irish Folk: The Bluffer’s Guide

By: Ryan Foley

Posted 07/16/2007 - 10:20:16 AM by diemythtruth:
 well thanks for the article. i hope to see more on the trad stuff, Planxty deserve an article all by themselves as do the Chieftans of course. but i suppose this goes back to your definition of "irish folk" a la the Dubliners vs. whatever i'm talking about. everyone laughs at horslips but i love them, "happy to meet, sorry to part" would be a fantastic find for someone who likes fairport convention or modern stuff such as six organs or wooden wand's "xiao".
Posted 07/16/2007 - 12:01:59 PM by RFoley:
 Planxty, the Chieftains . . . I will be visiting them this week, among others. I think many individuals hear the term "Irish folk" and immediately think its confined to the guitar-based acts that arose or were inspired by those from the '60s (Clancys, Dubliners, Wolfe Tones, etc.), when it can include groups that play airs, jigs, and reels, dabble with more "traditional" instruments, sing in Irish, etc. -- groups that are often labeled as "trad." But anyway, just *what* the genre should be called, it's a neverending argument, really . . .
Posted 07/16/2007 - 01:31:36 PM by bassman08:
 Are the Pogues considered authentic enough for this article? Cause 'Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash' is a sweet album.
Posted 07/16/2007 - 02:17:06 PM by cwperry:
 bassman08: I love The Pogues, but would argue that they are not folk. They borrow from folk traditions, certainly, but are not folk themselves.
Posted 07/16/2007 - 06:58:21 PM by bassman08:
 Well then what are they? I wouldn't really classify them as 'rock' or 'punk' at all...I think they're closest to folk. But if it's not actually folk, then what is it?
Posted 07/17/2007 - 09:11:34 AM by jackfeerick:
 The Pogues were/are a pop band, full stop—and I say that as huge Pogues fan from way back. Acoustic instruments don't make it folk. It's not about the sound; it's about the material you're performing. The joke among folk purists is that if you know who wrote it, it's not really a folk song. While they did occasionally dip into traditional material, The Pogues were, from their inception, primarily a vehicle for Shane MacGowan's songwriting. Hence, not folk.
Posted 07/17/2007 - 03:15:15 PM by bassman08:
 Makes sense. Thanks.
Posted 07/18/2007 - 10:19:02 AM by diemythtruth:
 good work ryan foley, keep it up. might we see some furey brothers in the near future? and might i please suggest "the fox chase", an insane bit of pipe playing that approaches something like free jazz in its furried frenzy??
Posted 07/18/2007 - 12:33:03 PM by cwperry:
 bassman, I answered your question, but you seem to have an answer you're expecting; so, I'll just let you answer it yourself.
Posted 07/19/2007 - 11:50:47 AM by green_needle:
 While the Pogues may not be appropriate for this list with their later focus on pop/world music (and they aren't even Irish), I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss them as "not folk". There is something nicknamed "the folk process" where new songs are written, musicians select and rearrange them and eventually they become part of the traditional canon. Take Brendan Behan's "Auld Triangle" written in the 1950s: it has been covered so many times that it is now a traditional folk song for all intents and purposes. Most of Shane MacGowan's at least early songs are written in a traditional style and many of the popular ones are beginning to go through the same process. I wouldn't be surprised if "Streams of Whiskey" or "The Broad Majestic Shannon" became folk standards. If not, at least they gave the genre a much needed kick in the arse!
Posted 07/20/2007 - 12:47:56 PM by cwperry:
 Green Needle: You are right; The Pogues have frequently participated in the folk process.
Posted 07/20/2007 - 12:48:38 PM by cwperry:
 As explained above, when I say "they borrow from folk traditions." Same thing.
Posted 07/20/2007 - 06:40:21 PM by JimFitz: