Sunday, June 5, 2011

You are Braver and Stronger - The Anti-Folk Movement

Mainstream. It is a word I have been hearing a lot of lately. According to the media -- the tempered acceptance of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman as presidential candidates indicates that "mormonism" is now mainstream. The adoption of the ukulele into Top 40 hits like Train's "Soul Sister" indicates that the ukulele is now mainstream. And yet on both accounts, I bristle to the term "mainstream" -- even though in this case I think "mainstream" is intended to denote "acceptance".

Acceptance. I suppose that's a good place to be, but I would still like to believe that I do what I do because it is what I want to do and not because it is acceptable in the eyes of the world. I believe whole-heartedly in freedom of expression. Music, for me, springs forth as a way to express my spirituality. Religion and music, for me, are intertwined. This grass-roots movement of freedom of expression is what fuels anti-folk.

Anti-folk. This is the type of music that circumvents convention and allows for all types of voices and expression and instrumentation as long as it is down to earth and "real". (Isn't "real" the concept that art chases round the world and through the centuries?) As I have been spending some time tabbing out some anti-folk songs, I thought I would share some tabs and videos that fall into that genre.

First off is a song by Madeleine Ava. The Ol' lady band (the Fretted Phillies) are working on this one.

Cheer Up Buttercup

Madeline Ava also wrote this little song we made a video for back when I worked in primary education :)

Another anti-folk song we made with in the Media Literacy Lab is Kimya Dawson's Tree Hugger.

As you can see, the anti-folk movement asserts that everyone can sing and make music. And I like that. I like when social norms don't hold us back from doing and making and creating and finding our own joie-de-vie!

I'm going to leave you with an anti-folk remake of an old folk standard (We'll talk more about melodicas in the blogs to come).


  1. Great job with your blog! I adored those videos, Love ya G-Baby :D

  2. Ohhhhh... so that's what the song we've been learning is supposed to sound like! I didn't realize that I had become a supporter of the anti-folk movement. Well, cool! I have learned so many wonderful things about music since joining you in the Fretted (Frettin'?) Phillies. I loved all the videos and the catchy little songs from the mentoring groups. Oh, and about the melodica, bring it on! It has such a cheerful and carefree sound to it. :)

  3. I have never even heard the term anti-folk! I had to Google it. I still don't really get it! I always learn a lot from reading your blog! I thought anti-folk was people that hate folk music! I'm really not sure if it isn't that, even after reading about it!

  4. Sad to hear you are anti folk. I love folk. Although I prefer to call it as Americana). I understand some folk singers get a little high handed. I am not much into protest tunes. You really don't like the Kingston Trio?

    My thoughts are there is room for all kinds of music and one does not necessarily need to like only one genre of music.

    Saying Uke music was going mainstream was meant to be a complement. It was my way as saying it seemed like more and more folks were appreciating the Uke.

  5. @ Ver and Judy - "Anti" in this sense does not mean "against" it is rather a term that resists the "anti-nephi lehis" They weren't against the Nephites or the Lamanites, they wanted to live without association. The anti-folk movement owes its roots to folk -- we all love folk! But it is a resisting of labeling and convention -- For example can you sing Americana with the zeal of punk? Or are you then being less American? Anti-folk is really a resurgence of folk with an even more accepting and unconventional attitude. I love the Kingston Trio :) I love many kinds of music and accept that not only can the different forms coexist -- they can influence and feed off one another.

  6. Happy to hear you are not against folk. Thanks for the clarification.

  7. oh... I think I miss making those fun videos!