THE FUTURE OF ARTS FUNDING:
IS IT GONE IN AMERICA?
With quotes from Thomas Friedman, Larry Summers, Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Maher, Goldman Sachs, Jay Carney, Bruce Bartlett, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Abraham Lincoln, David Ignatius, Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, Jon Stewart, Bob Schieffer, Fareed Zakariah, George W. Bush, Robert Reich, and Ezra Klein.
In a call to action for artists, the editor debunks the current fight over the Debt Limit and digs into the future of public-sector support for accessible arts and arts education. He assess whether there will be any ability to find support for the arts again, given current politics, and what we can do to change things in our favor. It's an in-depth piece, with plenty of context, history and perspective.
You can't compartmentalize everything. A publication about acoustic music and musicians, one that exists to celebrate live performances and advocate for the arts and arts education, can't ignore something that may spell the end to what little public funding remains for presenting and accessing the arts in our society.
Capital flows to markets that present the lowest risk or the highest return. The former gets the lowest interest rates, the latter, because it entails escalating risks, pays the most to get money. It's basic economics and it's why political dithering over the Debt Limit is like a kid playing with dynamite. For the first time in our history, and strictly because of politics, the U.S. is about to go from the top of the first category to somewhere in the second, and it'll cost us far more than we can afford. That's not all.
...is where Melody's at the wheel with Harmony beside her
and rhythm never rides alone.
It's blues and bluegrass and songs of the sea,
Pickin' and grinnin' and do-re-mi.
It's songs of the cowboys, the mountains and plains,
Of border rancheras and the wind and the rain.
It's Cajun and Celtic and Quebecois,
From fais-do-do to fa-so-la-ti-da.
It's nights on the desert beneath a carpet of stars,
If you've already found the print edition version, you should keep reading: that one was MUCH abbreviated, and you'll find substantially MORE here. And, you'll find the web links here for summer music festivals and other events, as promised in the print edition.
Much of summer's music is free and world-class. You can experience more live acoustic music in Southern California, by orders of magnitude, than in Austin or Nashville or anyplace else. That's true year-'round, and proven in FolkWorks' calendar and each week in the Acoustic Americana Music Guide's extensive write-ups.
If you're surprised to learn there's THAT MUCH live acoustic music, it's because mainstream media, the LA Times and LA Weekly, consciously ignore performances in over 500 acoustic music-friendly venues here. (Count 'em; web address at the end.)
AND WOODY'S GUITAR
We often look forward here, discussing the most promising up-and-coming musicians or what's yet to come from established and accomplished favorites. Often, we look at opportunities for folk-Americana artists to be heard, and where music lovers can hear them and make the influence of their preferences known. But sometimes we need to look back.
We shouldn't wait for someone to die before we decide they influenced us, but too often, we do. A happy exception was the celebration of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday, observed with, quite possibly, the concert of the decade at Madison Square Garden, plus two intimate afternoon concerts in L.A. and simultaneous events worldwide. A petition to nominate Pete for the Nobel Peace Prize was circulated globally that day, and the campaign continues.
The Spring Festival Circuit
For recurring annual festivals, things didn't slow down this spring, despite the economy and high unemployment. Southern California is home to more acoustic music performances on a weekly basis than anyplace else in America, and it's home to more music festivals that are folk-Americana and acoustic-friendly than anywhere else.
Those facts are amply demonstrated in the FolkWorks calendar, the Alive and Picking calendar, the calendar at Americana Roots L.A., and each week, in the extensive write-ups in the Acoustic Americana Music Guide.
Sure, Austin wins the prize for more music within walking distance of downtown than anywhere else. Memphis has a whole street of music clubs. But we have a lot more live acoustic music here, at concerts and club gigs and coffeehouses - and at festivals. It's just that our city and region require wheels to do anything. This spring, before Big Oil's greed again began to shackle a still struggling economy, it was time to sample as many festivals as we could.
Trips to the South By Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival, Northwest Folklife, the Kerrville Folk Festival, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival will wait for other years. Here in Southern California, the spring festival season started early and ran at full volume all the way into summer.
THE CYBER ACOUSTIC FUTURE (IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK)
You often hear of some coming revolution-or-other that never arrives, or never quite achieves the promise we expected when the possibilities first excited us. More often, tomorrow's promise becomes today's damned nuisance that occupies more of our time, not less, with ponderous tasks in the cyber realm. But something is coming, in terms of giving all of access to the music we want to hear, and it could redeem the whole quagmire of cyber-bondage. We're going to take a few moments in an effort to make this make sense, so please allow the indulgences necessary to that.
WILL A BORN AGAIN AMERICAN STAND BY ME?
In retrospect, it was inevitable. The Internet is now giving us participatory music projects, spontaneous and anonymous collaborations with improvisational solos, surprise featured instrumentalists, and multipart and even alternative lyrics. Cyberspace has come face-to-face with an essential tradition of the folk process.
It's useful to recall a popular definition of the folk genre - the one that says it's the music of the people, the music that people choose to make themselves. Technology now enables expansion of that concept beyond the washtub bass, or sitting-in with your harmonica, or the front porch jam session. Structured avenues are opening for global participation that encourages musicians to perform parts of a shared song.