Other People’s Folk Music

After some discussion, I think we have agreed that most here use ‘folk music’ to mean acoustic music based firmly in the traditions of a time and/or place, and a majority mean English or British music.

Within that apparently narrow field, there is of course a staggeringly large amount of good music. On the other hand, it’s an area that many of us have already explored pretty deeply.

That leaves a wealth of music that some might call folk unexplored. That could mean Billy Bragg and Richard Thompson, but I am thinking more about all the great folk-ish music from further afield. I am sure I am missing out.

What bluegrass should we be trying? What Irish folk are we missing out on? I have heard what amount to passionate protest songs in Ethiopia and traditional songs in Bhutan and Madagascar, but there are more than a hundred countries from which I have never heard any music.

So, after all that, can we have some suggestions for great music that can be thought of ‘other music’s folk music?

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The Count’s favourite album.

Transylvanian Folk Songs

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Els Berros de la Cort is a medieval folk music band from Catalonia:

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Heilung, a pagan folk band from Norway, Denmark and Germany. They’re intriguing, theatrical and otherworldly. Their latest, Drif, is on a streaming service near you.

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This excellent album is by a guy from Tunisia. Qobuz recons it’s folk.
So it must be Tunisian folk.

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This is fun. Bass heavy, but interesting. Their earlier viking albums I’ve just started to explore.

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This is a compilation from a group of albums released by Sony in the 90s. It ranges from bluegrass to newgrass to folk to country. From here you can go exploring.

Also check out Alison Krauss before she started duetting with what’s his name. And Gillian Welch although she composes her own music in a bluegrass style. Chris Thile has experimented with a loot of styles, but his earliest albums are bluegrass/newgrass.

One of the earliest albums in this vein is the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which features many bluegrass performers.

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Not completely on thread but if you want to mine original American folk this is a well recognised source. A three album compilation of music recorded in the 1920s and 1930s. Eighty four tracks of folk, blues and country, it was released in 1952. Available on discogs and also appears to be on Spotify.

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