Excuse the rambling introduction, but it was Gil Scott-Heron that got me thinking about all this and why I play what I play, so I’ll kick off with a bit of philosophising before hitting the ground running.
Despite the confusion caused by the use of musical genre, people still want defintions. They still ask “what do you call that?” They seem to have lost the ability to take an independent decision on whether the music stands on its own merits. The genre it falls into is often given more importance than the actual work of the artist and acts like a fog cloaking the essence of performance. It’s almost like wearing a particular fashion label in the false belief that it defines you.
I’m not advocating we loose our individuality, as that comes from within rather than from some high street get rich quick retail chain. With that in mind I got to thinking about the music played on Folk Radio UK. Whilst I called it Folk Radio UK, some have come to expect something that they consider set in stone. Folk is many things, just as rap is many things. I mix genres on this station with no recipe book, I just play what I enjoy, I follow no Top music charts and neither do I try and beckon a type of person/s or pander to taste. So whilst some may be surprised to have a musicain, poet by the name of Gils Scott-Heron on our Frukie stream. I find his latest work I’m New Here to be a natural album to slot in amongst the likes of Vic Chesnutt, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Arborea and an incredible breadth of other greats.
Folk is also about representing progression and experimentation. People don’t own it and they certainly can’t police it, although many do try. A community of people and artists is what bonds and defines it today, those communities are spread throughout the world and are a mix of ages. The past, although a guide and influence, should never be an anchor. Even fewer can be living a legacy, but I believe this man is.
This is Gil Scott-heron:
I’m New Here
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/byjs5ojsm4.mp3|titles=I’m New Here|artists=Gil Scott-Heron]
BBC Newsnight Feature:
Documentary about Gil Scott-Heron