FolkWorld Issue 34 11/2007; Article by Eelco Schilder

A Decade of Folk A Decade of Folk

A Decade of Folk

Dutch Folk

In the last few years I wrote several articles on the history of Dutch folk music. I was surprised that people from all over the world contacted me with all kind of questions. Some of the most frequently asked questions were: where can we buy this music and which records/cd’s would you recommend? So, especially for this anniversary edition of FolkWorld, I have written a crash course ‘Dutch folk’.

Unfortunately, not much has been released on cd yet; so if you want to listen to some of the best recordings, you will have to get hold of a record-player and track down this rare Dutch music via record fairs or the internet.
Jaap Kunst

Jaap Kunst

The series "Traditional Music in The Netherlands" tries to provide an overview of Dutch traditional music from both the past and the present, presenting musicians or groups who represent some of the most important trends or movements in Dutch folk music.

This article is far from complete; it is just an attempt to provide people who are interested with some (more) information about Dutch folk music.

Folkways in the 1950’s

The first person to record Dutch folk songs on lp was Jantina Noorman. In FW#31 you can read how she accidentally recorded some songs she remembered from her childhood for the Folkways label in 1955. These were her only recordings of folk songs, as she was much more interested in early music and was very famous as the lead singer of Musica Reservata

A year later, in 1956, it was Jaap Kunst who recorded several songs and tunes which he had collected himself. During a stay at the island of Terschelling in the northernmost part of the Netherlands, he got fascinated by the local music. That was the moment he decided to start collecting folk music and he has also published several anthologies on both Dutch and Indonesian traditional music.

The recordings, published by Folkways as well, were made only four years before his death in 1960. His collection was entrusted to the University of Amsterdam and he has finally received the recognition he deserves as the first Musicologist of the Netherlands. The last Folkways record with Dutch music dates from 1963 and contains a collection of field recordings by Mrs Will D Scheepers.

De Waag in the 1960’s

Actually this chapter should have started two decades earlier, with Cobi Schreijer. Just before World War II, she was one of the Novelty Sisters, a Dutch ‘clone’ of the Andrew Sisters. During the war the group was not allowed to perform and Schreijer found a book with old medieval songs which she loved a lot. After the war the group attempted a come-back, but soon broke up.
Cobi Schreijer

Cobi Schreijer

From that moment Schreijer concentrated on traditional songs, but she did not become the grand dame of Dutch folk until the early sixties.

She was also the founder of De Waag, the first Dutch folk club in Haarlem. One of the first artists to perform there was Pete Seeger. He was so enthusiastic about the beautiful club that he recommended it to many of his colleagues. Paul Simon, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs are just a few of the names who played there. It was also the first step to fame for Dutch folk, protest singers and singer-songwriters like Boudewijn de Groot. Besides running the club, she recorded many ep’s and lp’s; both solo and with artists like Alex Campbell. Her first real solo lp Vanwaar komt ons de koele wijn dates from 1967 and is now considered to be the start of the Dutch folk revival. Inspired by this album Peter Koene recorded his lp Komt vrienden hoort een lied (FW#24).

After Schreijer started her club, soon other folk clubs could be found all over the country. The FCU, Folk club Utrecht, is one of the clubs people still remember nowadays. It was the club were musicians played who later would be part of the big folk revival in the seventies. Artists like Kees van der Poel (later the founder of Wolverlei) and Rob Smaling with Pitchwheel, which is actually a pre-Wargaren group. In FW#27 you can read about the FCU and the influence it had on the Dutch folk movement. The FCU recorded one lp with some of the performing artists. This lp is now known as the first private label, Dutch folk lp.
Rob Smaling in wargaren

Rob Smaling (Wargaren)

The Golden Era of Folk

In the early seventies things started moving very fast. In the tradition of Fairport Convention, The Pentangle and Steeleye Span the first attempts were made in establishing a Dutch folk rock scene. In this period not the solo singers, but the groups took over. The best-known name from the seventies is probably Fungus. At first they sang in English, but soon they became the first band to turn Dutch traditional songs into folk rock songs.

In FW#15 Sido Martens tells about the rise and fall of Fungus and about another contemporary band: Farmers Union. Like Fungus, this band was founded in 1972, but it focussed on English folk rock. This band was mainly significant because its members also turned up in bands like Irolt, Fungus and the progressive group Pugh’s Place. Furthermore, it was one of the first bands of the solo artists Sido Martens and Pete Cox.

The seventies folk bands can be divided into several subgroups:

1. Groups that focus on English folk. Some stay close to an acoustic sound like Opo and Interlude (both clearly influenced by Pentangle), Crackerhash (Scottish music) and King’s Galliard (Irish music), while others focus on English folk rock like Deirdre, Booze Hoister band, Sycamore and Farmers Union.

2. Groups that focus on Dutch traditional material that is played in the acoustic style. The first two groups working in this vein are Wargaren, already mentioned above, and Tail Toddle.


Both bands recorded lp’s around the same period in 1975/76. However, the most famous and influential group is probably Wolverlei. Many people consider their two lp’s to be landmark albums in the history of Dutch music. Perelaar and Folkcorn were rather well-known names as well and Sistrum and Get Paraat also have to be mentioned, although these groups were less renowned.

3. Local groups: each region in the Netherlands had their own local folk heroes. A few examples are folk singers like Gerard van Maasakkers and Ad de Laat, who were extremely popular in Brabant. Furthermore, Harrie Franken from Ut Muziek has to be mentioned as he collected a great deal of songs throughout the years and published them in several books. In FW#28 you can read more about his important work. With Ut Muziek he recorded three lp’s containing some of these collected songs.

Thinking back, Mie Kate, Moek and Brabants Kwartierke are a few other names that come to mind. As does Dommelvolk, a band that occasionally gives reunion concerts and still has a legendary status in the southern part of the Netherlands. In FW#25 more information about Dommelvolk and the aforesaid Folkcorn can be found.

In Friesland the interest in folk music was stimulated by the emancipation of the Frisian language. Irolt played an important part in this, because they recorded their lp’s in Frisian instead of in Dutch.

In Groningen it was Törf who recorded in the local dialect. Törf is the only group founded in the seventies that is still successful nowadays. In FW#26 front man Henk Scholte tells about the band’s past and present.



4. Groups that focus on Dutch traditional material in the folk-rock style. After Fungus, many groups also started mixing traditional songs and dances with rock/progressive or light psychedelic influences. One of my personal favourites is the band Chimera, who recorded two lp’s. The first one, Des Duivels Oorkussen, has a more acoustic approach with light psychedelic touches. Their second lp Obstakels is pure folk-rock with beating drums and roaring violins. Furthermore, Irolt recorded the lp Kattekwae, which is more rock orientated than their other lp’s and, after Wargaren, Rob Smaling was part of the band Deining who also recorded one lp.

The Last Two Decades

Besides the subgroups mentioned before, many progressive / rock singers and singer-songwriters have used folk influences or instruments in their music. After 1982 most folk groups had disappeared.
Henk Scholte, photo by Jur Bosboom

Henk Scholte (Törf)

In FW#23 Jos Koning, a member of several Dutch folk bands in those days, gives his opinion about why it all ended so suddenly. Törf, Folkcorn and Perelaar are still active, but on a much smaller scale. Gerard van Maasakkers has tried his hand at Dutch pop music, but without any success. Kat ynt seil and Pekel are some of the few new groups that have tried and still exist.

Not until the end of the nineties did the interest in traditional music more or less return. Törf recorded their landmark cd Beukema and has been recording fantastic roots music ever since. Folkcorn has recorded new cd’s and Gerard van Maasakkers is no longer a local hero, but a nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter. Guy Roelofs has started Tjane; in FW#22 you can find more information about his projects. Furthermore, several young musicians have started new folk groups for the first time in many years. Of these new groups We nun Henk is probably the best-known (FW#29).

However, notwithstanding all its various shapes and sizes, unfortunately there is little interest in traditional music. I think it’s typical that it was not a Dutch label, but the American Folkways label, that released the first lp with Dutch folksongs. Up till now the Dutch have been more interested in music from other countries than in their own musical heritage. Törf, for example, has more gigs abroad than in the Netherlands. All this explains why hardly any of the old lp’s are available on cd and it is a pity because there is so much to discover.

We nun Henk, photo: Walkin' T:-)m

We nun Henk

Selective Discography of Dutch Folk LP's

As I wrote before, most recordings are available on lp only. So you have to search for them. Here a small list of recommended records with their actual rareness. But of course you could be lucky and find it for only a few euro’s in a second hand shop or flea market. Between the () you find the name of the label. This list is far from complete, just to give you some names to search for.

* Common lp
** Not a very rare record, available in most serious second hand shops and recordfairs.
*** Will take some time to search, but with a bit of luck you find one within a few weeks.
**** Hard to find, should be able to find on the bigger record fairs and the more specialised shops only.
***** Very hard to find, it might take you a while. Watch the internet and hope you get lucky.
****** Almost impossible to find, everybody is searching for this lp and only a few will find it.


The folkways recordings are for sale at the Smithsonian webpage: The folkways lp’s would get *** stars each.


Cobi Schreijer: Van waar komt ons de koele wijne **
Peter Koene: Komt vrienden hoort een lied (onyx label) ***
FCU: Folk club Utrecht ****


Groups that focus on English folk:
Booze hoister folk band: Same (crossroad) *****
Booze hoister band: Tavern tales (Peace pie) ****
Crackerhash: Elfin knight (Universe) **
Crackerhash: Napoleon crossing the Rhine (Universe) **
Crackerhash: Don’t forget your old shipmate (Universe) **
Deirdre: Same (Philips) ****
Farmers union: reunion (Universe) ****
Fungus: Mushrooms (Negram) **
Haggis: Live (Universe) *****
Interlude: same (private) ****
Interlude: Dunsky castle (Private) ****
King’s galliard: Boerenplof (pan) **
King’s galliard: Morning dew (Dolphin) **
Opo: fallin asleep just like papa (Stoof ) ****
Opo: 2 (Stoof) ****
Pegasus: Same (Universe) ****
Sycamore: whats in a song (Stoof) *****
Sycamore: One night with Venus, a lifetime with mercury (stoof) ****


Groups that focus on Dutch traditional material:
Dageraad: Koekoek (Crossroad) ****
Fluitekruid: Same (Stoof) ***
Folkcorn: Welkom gesellen (stoof) **
Folkcorn: Goedenavond speelman (stoof) **
Folkcorn: al vol (Stoof) ***
Get paraat: same (Stoof) **
Get paraat: ummer get (Stoof) ***
Knerp: Twee violen en een bas (Hakketoon) **
Knerp: Same (Private) ***
Luiaerdsgild: Dubbelzout (Crossroad) ***
Mangrove: als de wind waait (stoof) ****
Palace flophouse: Bontebrug (Universe) **
Perelaar: Same (Pan) **
Perelaar: Ridder in het riet (Stoof) **
Perelaar: Dat wie het wil horen ziet (Stoof) **
Perelaar: Zijsprong (Hakketoon) **
Sistrum: Rinkeltuig (Stoof) ***
Sistrum: eenzame reis (Private) ****
Tail toddle: Ter leerling ende vermaak (stoof) **
Voorheen turf: De turfmachine (Stoof) ***
Wargaren: Met stille trom (Universe) ***
Wolverlei: Same (Stoof) **
Wolverlei: wind tegen (Universe) **
Guy Roelofs, photo by The Mollis

Guy Roelofs

Local Groups:
Brabants kwartierke: als vruger (Private) ***
Dommelvolk: Ptazzie (Universe) **
Dommelvolk: 100 (Stoof / st anna) **
Dommelvolk: van mijn kempenland ( Telstar) **
Gerard van Maasakkers: Komt er mer in (Stoof) *
Gerard van Maasakkers: Onderwege (Stoof) *
Gerard van Maasakkers: Vur de wind (Stoof) *
Henk en sietske Bloemhoff: Singeliers ( Universe) ***
Henk en sietske bloemhoff: in twielochten (Universe) ***
Irolt: Gudrun sege (Philips / universe) **
Irolt: Kattekwae (Philips / Universe) **
Irolt: de smid fan earnewald (Philips / universe) **
Irolt: Buterstjerne (Philips / universe) ***
Irolt: Spylman (Universe) ***
Koeraash: va bokkeriejesh bis shtadsluj (Stoof) ***
Mie katoen: Same (Crossroad) **
Mie Katoen: en ons moeder hi gezeejd (Crossroad) **
Moek: same (Peace pie) **
Torf: T wordt aans (Universe) **
Torf: Kovvi kloar (Universe) **
Ut muziek: Verhalende liederen (Xilovox) **
Ut muziek: kerts en nieuwjaarsliederen (Xilovox) **
Ut muziek: Feestliederen (Xilovox) **
Wannes raps: Brabantse folk (Stoof) ***
Wannes raps: Hou vast (Crossroad) ****

Groups that focus on Dutch traditional material in folk rock or progressive style:
1e hollandse dansband: Springtij (Hakketoon) ***
Chimera: Des duivels oorkussen (Stoof) ****
Chimera: Obstakels (Stoof) ****
Deining: Same (Crossroad) *****
Fungus: Same (Negram) *
Fungus: Lief ende leid (Negram) *
Fungus: Van de kiel naar vlaring (Negram) *
Fungus: De kaarten zijn geschud (Universe) **

Eelco Schilder is living in Malden, Netherlands. He is a member of the FolkWorld editorial board, had been editor in chief of the Dutch folk magazine New Folk Sounds, and just started a monthly radioshow on Dutch national radio.

Photo Credits: (1) Jaap Kunst, (2) Cobi Schreijer, (3) Wargaren, (4) Wolverlei, (5) Irolt, (8) Folkcorn (unknown, provided by Eelco Schilder); (6) Henk Scholte (by Jur Bosboom); (7) We nun Henk (by Walkin' Tom); (9) Guy Roelofs (by The Mollis).

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