WHERE COUNTRY MEETS FOLK
Country, like blues, is a form of Folk music, and the musical genres share considerable common ground, as well as some major differences.
I will concentrate here on areas where Folk meets Country. Of course, the Folk music that sounds most like Country is American folk rather than, say, British folk music. Having said that, much of traditional US Country was based on the folk songs & tunes brought over to the US by early settlers from the British Isles and Europe.
The Carter Family and their songs formed the basis of what would come to be known as country music, but they are also an important part of American Folk music. I recall the late radio dj Bob Powell recalling that he met a folk music enthusiast who loved The Carter Family, and who said Mother Maybell Carter's guitar playing had influenced her own. What perplexed Bob powell was that she followed this up with saying that she "hates" country music!
Woody Guthrie was another music veteran whose influence straddled both folk and country. Nanci Griffith, when she first burst on the scene, would describe her music as "Folkabilly"- "A liitle bit of Woody Guthrie and a whole lot of loretta Lynn."
Tom Paxton, one of the heroes of the 60's folk revival & whose folk songs often had a bit of a twang to them, these days tours with Nashville songwriters Don Henry and Jon Vezner (Mr Kathy Mattea). They are his backing band and partners in music, their rootsy country songs blending perfectly with his country-invibed folk songs.
Sometimes the two musical genres diverge sharply, but to my ears country will always be closer to folk than, say, Hip Hop, though this may be news to Florida Georgia Line. Artistes like Suzy Bogguss, Gretchen Peters and John Prine- and Kris kristofferson, come to that- could ceertainly hack it in a folk club. Not too sure about Florida Georgia Line, though.
But even some surprising country acts could make a credible stab at Folk. The ultimate country-pop star, Carrie Underwood, for example. Take her outstanding current single, Cry Pretty. Cut out some of the extra instrumentation, and that is a killer folk song! Mind you, I just heard it on Radio 2 & it is a good pop song, too. A good song is a good song!
Folk songs that could cut it as country? My favourite is the old English folk song "Three Drunken Maidens." That's a great drinking song in anyone's books!
Cor Blimey, Guv'nor!