What’s in a Name: Part 2

While I do some editing on these posts, they are largely stream of conscious essays in which I write what I think and feel about the issues I deal with being a niche independent musician who is self-managed and self-booked. Recently I’ve been reviewing  my blog posts, and I’ve noticed an undercurrent of frustration and anger, and much of it is something I’ve already discussed: naming the genre of music I play. Back in May I wrote a post titled “A Rose by any other name: Or What’s in a Name?” It’s hot linked so you can read it yourself, but the gist of it was a rant showing my frustration at my largely failed attempt to be considered a folk artist.

As I say in that post, I’ve always wanted to be thought of as a folk musician. Why is that important to me?  At this point I’m asking myself the same question.  I know much of it stems from the ‘facts’ of my musical upbringing where folks like John Prine, Steve Goodman, James Taylor and Jackson Browne have more to do with my picking up and playing the guitar than Leo Kottke, Michael Hedges, or Alex De Grassi ever did.  And I’m almost entirely self-taught. I’ve had less than 10 formal guitar lessons. Those origins are about as folky as you can get. But I’m learning that where I am and what I do now is more important than where I’ve been in the past. I have to act on the former not the latter. Continue reading

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In Music Rules are for Fools

This past spring I was asked by a regional festival to send in an application to perform at the 2015 festival. Generally speaking when an artist is told something like this the booking is a bit like shooting fishing in a barrel. Not guaranteed, but highly likely. Why ask if you don’t like what the artist does?

So today I got notice that they’re very excited that I sent in my application and look forward to my performance, with this one codicil; “because we want to keep the traditional music feel to (unnamed Festival), we insist that at least 50% of the material presented be traditional rather than just recently composed material. I assume that won’t be a problem for you.”  They assumed wrong. I was incredibly offended by this. Either you like what I do or you don’t and you can book me or not. But to tell me what I can and can’t play. Well, go fuck yourself.  As far as I’m concerned that’s bullshit, and totally un-American. And it’s also short-sighted. Continue reading