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A Folkie Gets Riled

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In his introduction to your coverage of the Richmond Folk Festival (Cover Story, Oct. 7), Don Harrison shows himself to be either too old or not old enough in saying that folk used to be a bad word, that it used to “conjure up regrettable images” of ... clichAc ... blah blah ... clichAc. For whom exactly was folk a bad word? For whom was it conjuring up such regrettable clichAcs? Does Woody Guthrie, one of the hippest Americans, ever, with his fascist-killing guitar, conjure up a regrettable image?

What about Hazel Dickens, Leadbelly, Maybelle Carter, Townes Van Zandt and Woody's disciple, Bobby Dylan? Are Richmonders such Ichabods that we don't know that folk music was, and remains today, a socially conscious, and at times radical and even revolutionary art form? Today Billy Bragg, Michelle Shocked, Jay Farrar, Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, Joe Pug and Tom Brosseau carry the banner forward, and I dare say there is little clichAc about what these people are doing.

Just as Mr. Harrison's clichAcd formulation assumes the reader is ignorant, it also allows Style to present itself as an authority on the topic. This assumption of what is obviously a false authority is a common affliction among media outlets generally, and Style in particular. I would have rather you included a pullout section containing a full schedule and a small map. You know, information that is actually useful.

Greg Hershey
Richmond

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