One thing I am finding increasingly difficult is knowing exactly what constitutes folk music.
I find this with most musical genres as these days so many things cross over, how do you actually say "Yes this is folk" or no "this is defiantly not". Its really hard when things sit in this kind of grey area.
The trouble with music is it is not clear cut, it actually more like a spectrum with lots of overlapping it makes things more complicated.
On my old folk show I would play things which people would then e-mail me claiming that it is not folk but indie music I just played. Well what? What is 'indie'? How do you know.
Folk, world roots, traditional, acoustic, country, Celtic. Even rock and indie. It all overlaps to such an extent that anyone claiming to be an 'expert' in folk must be lying because frankly it is impossible! I know I've tried. Through my different review publications I see this problem approached different ways.
Bright Young Folk has a very specific remit where it has to be traditional English music that can be considered 'root' music. Fatea magazine on the other hand allows the cross over into Jazz, Country, Irish and American folk. Is this a bad thing? No probably not. It just makes it complicated and impossible for anyone to know what they are doing.
Sure when trying to become an expert you'll get to know the big names, but so will everyone else. With the number of artists really going for it it is impossible to recognise every band. This is why I get really fustrated when someone says to me "Oh, your into folk? Well you must know x" and I stare at them blankly. They then reply with "So you don't really know anything about folk do you?".
This annoys me, simply because it is impossible.
You'd of course think that there must be a limited number of artists so of course you can get to know them all. This is true but the number of folk artists is so high that it may as well be infinite.
I spend a lot of money collecting folk music and this is not even to mention the amount I get for free from reviews and I've only scratched the surface. Unless your a billionaire you just can't do it..
How Cecil Sharp managed to collect as well as he did I'll never know!
I'm interested to see what EFDSS and North West Folk (two publications I am now getting involved with, hurray for shameless self promotion!) do to define what they consider folk.