Rising Creek Digressions XII – a bucolic blog by Tim Hare
FOLK MUSIC is the loudest and most ferocious whisper in the middle of a hurricane. And with just enough intention it can turn a tropical depression into a fantastical expression, and it can even push and pull the tides while it’s at it. It is a lily in the swamp, or a naked spinning dance through a thorny political rally. It stirs ghosts, flattens gravestones, and constantly calls our ancestors to a standing ovation. The folk musician smokes the day’s sacred leaves for eternity, beating rhythms in tune with the present and past pulse of the populace. Folk is unplugged, unknown and underground, or it is plugged-in, played loud, and waking your neighbor. It is the granite summit of Longs Peak, the core of things, revealed once everything else has been chiseled away by wind, ice, and water. It demands your full attention – this is no background music. Don’t listen to it with headphones sitting on a subway or flying on a fixie, but, instead, memorize each and every word and sing folk music to friends and strangers.
These days we rarely tell stories of the past – thus is the way of our tradition-trampling totalitarian tautology. Instead we gawk and gossip of the gaudy goings-on, or fantasize fantastically about future fears or flights. But take a minute, or a lifetime, to listen to your local storyteller that is the folk musician – the one that mocks and muses, magnifies and mystifies. Autochthonous, ambitious, all-encompassing, folk is the generous gentile genre that gallops and grinds through centuries and across oceans. Folk music has the super-hero ability of time travel, and also the gift of flight. It is infinite, timeless, and placeless. It begs you to lift your petticoats and curtsy, to slap your suspenders and twirl your moustache, or to stare into your whiskey glass and think real hard. In Chile it would coax you into a cueca, and you’d be contemplating the complexity of spurs, handkerchiefs and a pursuant partner dance. In Senegal it would compel you into the middle of a circle of friends to jolt your hips and move in unimaginable ways. It is yours, and mine too, and it will be your child’s, just as it was my great-grandparent’s.
Folk is a flute, dobro, fiddle, bongo, kora, quena, guitar, sitar, lute, and banjo. It has a twang, whine, whistle, drawl, and noticeable colloquial accent. There are folk dances, folk instruments, folklore, folktales, folk-legends, folk-heroes, folk-healers, folk-wizards and Folks Festivals. Folk is, John, Johnny, Gillian, Bob, Sam, Jolie, Arlo, Woodie, Patty, Leonard, Joni, Connor, Ani, Lyle, Alison and the neighbor girl singing in her swing. It can change your life and will always change the world.
This past weekend Lyons has hosted its 22nd annual Folks festival. The Farmette supplied the event with some fresh veggies and cut flowers. My family sent out our most sincere wishes to the universe to provide us with tickets for at least one of the days, having been slow on the draw when the tickets went on sale months ago. This, along with repeated Craigslist searches, and persistent plug to friends this weekend turned out nary a glimmer of hope for us. And so, my family headed to bed Sunday evening, having only heard muffled melodies from across town of the fantastic Folks that have blessed Lyons with their presence the past three days. This is an ode to them, and to the revolutionary, shifting, and soulful qualities of the Folk music genre, the music of the people.