FolkWorld Issue 41 03/2010

by Sean Laffey

Here's a modern irony, turn on the TV and the chances of seeing the same programmes over and over are in the order of two to one, you know how it is, Crime Scene investigates, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago ... Clonakilty ... Then there's the cooking programmes, all very nice but we watch them sitting on our sofas eating pizza out of a cardboard box.

Grada What about the karaoke talent shows? You know the endless search for that next big star. OK the auditions are fun, the over ambitious lack of talent has a banana skin humour about it, but once that round is over it all becomes tediously predictable. Stop to think for a minute, can you name any one of it? Perhaps it's because TV is now filled with amateur night, every night, that genuine talent rarely gets a foot in the door.

The formula is the problem, in order to keep the biggest audience possible you have to cater for every taste, wring every teardrop from the heart wrenching back story and be one step ahead of tabloids in tackiness. What you get is square peg talent forced into round holes. I want my singers to be unique, it's an art form for heavens sake, imagine if that happened 40 years ago. Let's have a Bob Newhart moment ... "OK Mr Dylan, we think you might have some potential, but cut the hair, shave the chin, drop the harmonica, get a better guitar player, we aren't sure about those vague lyrics either, so next week we'll have you back singing songs from Guys and Dolls and will you please work on the dance steps?"

Folk and trad of course is different, yes there are competitions, but it's a given that they do not lead on to fame and fortune. Your win is reward enough, if you have ambitions to turn that success into a professional career, it is only your talent and perseverance that will do it for you. Folk clubs are different too, the best ones are "hush hush" there's a certain caché in being underground, being known through word of mouth and isn't it great when the audiences come to listen?

With all that going on, who'd want a TV? Get a banjo, or borrow a fiddle, buy a tin whistle tutor. Wind up those jigs and reels, it's trad, it's trendy and there are no batteries required, no license fee, sure it's recession proof entertainment for life.

Here's to 2010 and music that will surprise us all. Slán, Sean Laffey

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 03/2010

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