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"Folk music for people who don't like folk music."
September 10, 2009 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes called The Barnsley Nightingale, British folk singer Kate Rusby was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1999, and has won four BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Her cover of The Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society" is the theme song for the TV show "Jam & Jerusalem." The Daily Telegraph called her "England's answer to Dolly Parton. Not in terms of the wigs and the sequins, but in her quaveringly sincere ability to tell a simple, downhome story in a song and make your heart ache for it." BBC says she performs "folk music for people who don't like folk music."

Selected Kate Rusby videos, to soothe and delight:

  • Sir Eglamore
  • Who Will Sing Me Lullabies
  • Underneath the Stars
  • Fare Thee Well
  • Let Me Be
  • Mary Blaize

    ALso, Last.fm's Rusby radio page.
  • posted by jbickers (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

     
    also, she is gorgeous
    posted by jbickers at 9:00 AM on September 10, 2009


    A lot British Folk Music is great and undeservedly ignored. Kate Rusby is definitely up there amongst the best of it, and I've been a voracious consumer of all that she puts out ever since I first heard her singing Collier Recruit on the Sharpe Soundtrack CD.

    ...

    What?

    ...

    ...

    Yeah, that's right - I own the Sharpe Soundtrack CD.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Stop laughing at me.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Fuck you all.
    posted by garius at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


    This CD (Amazon link) by Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts has been a long time favorite. Rusby is indeed a delight. Thanks for the links, though the Parton comparison seems a might of a reach.
    posted by cccorlew at 9:21 AM on September 10, 2009


    BBC says she performs "folk music for people who don't like folk music."

    I understand this is meant as a compliment, but I find it incredibly grating when an art form is denigrated in the course of marketing a particular artist. ("She's not like the rest of her shitty genre. You won't have to reappraise any of your aesthetic sensibilities if you like her.") Usually happens with musical theatre, but I guess it's broadly applicable.
    posted by Epenthesis at 9:26 AM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


    More here on Kate's family musical background and, with her parents helping, how she set up Pure Records along with fellow folk singer Kathryn Roberts. If I remember, they started it up at home, sorting out recording, CD duplication, taking orders and mailing out CD's from a huge pile in the spare bedroom.
    posted by dowcrag at 9:38 AM on September 10, 2009


    I understand this is meant as a compliment, but I find it incredibly grating when an art form is denigrated in the course of marketing a particular artist. ("She's not like the rest of her shitty genre. You won't have to reappraise any of your aesthetic sensibilities if you like her.") Usually happens with musical theatre, but I guess it's broadly applicable.

    Sadly it is.

    I loves me some Folk, but to get the Missus to let me listen to it when she's in the room I have to tell her its "Light Rock."

    Every now and again she'll start to get suspicious that she might be listening to Folk, but when that happens I quickly shove on some Mark Knopfler to throw her off the scent. Sailing To Philadelphia used to be my emergency track. Lately though its been Border Reiver.

    "Erm... honey... this is Folk isn't it?"

    "No sweetie, this is Rock. Take that last one for example - that last was Mark Knopfler - you know, from Dire Straits!"

    Now if my otherwise brilliantly intelligent, broadminded and not-exactly-hip wife (she was a Chorister when she was at Oxford and still sings along, hymn book in hand, to Sunday Half Hour) thinks that a genre must be automatically avoided without question, then something is wrong.
    posted by garius at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


    I adore Kate Rusby. She is officially on the list of "Women My Wife Knows I Would Leave Her For Given Half A Chance" along with Isabella Rossellini, Emma Thompson, and the 1980s version of Kathleen Turner.

    (in return, my wife's list includes Harold Ramis, David Morse, and any man with a Scottish accent)

    Oh, and I like her music, too. :-)
    posted by briank at 9:59 AM on September 10, 2009


    "She's not like the rest of her shitty genre."

    Is that what was being said? Typically, I'm not a fan of Jazz music, but I still have enormous respect for jazz musicians, and there are certainly a few Jazz artists whose music I love.

    The way I read it is, "even if you think you don't like Folk music, try this chick. You may like it" Maybe you'll even gain a better understanding of the whole genre and find more artists you like.
    posted by hannahelastic at 10:27 AM on September 10, 2009


    BBC says she performs "folk music for people who don't like folk music."

    I understand this is meant as a compliment, but I find it incredibly grating when an art form is denigrated in the course of marketing a particular artist.


    I don't think it's necessarily a knock on folk. You can have "jazz for people who don't like jazz" or "speed metal for people who don't like speed metal" or whatever. Genres have specific traits, and some people don't like the majority of works in a given genre because of some of those traits, and it's worth pointing out situations where a work might have traits that would appeal to people outside of the normal fanbase of their genre.

    In music specifically, there has been a long history of the idea that certain artists and songs could be crossovers that would be popular outside of their genre. It's totally normal for people to dislike the majority of artists in a genre of music, regardless of any objective merits of that genre, and there are definitely cases where people will like a small number of artists from that genre that are different than the rest in some way.
    posted by burnmp3s at 10:27 AM on September 10, 2009


    I love folk music, and I love Kate Rusby. She's also incredibly nice and gracious; I had the chance to meet her a few years ago when she opened for Altan at UCLA. I only wish she didn't mind air travel so much and would play in North America more often.

    Also, one of my absolute favorites of hers which hasn't been mentioned yet is her cover of Iris Dement's "Our Town."
    posted by infinitywaltz at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2009


    Been a big fan of Kate Rusby's for a long time and I have a bunch of her songs in my own repetoire.

    My favourite video doc of her out there is the "My Music" feature done by the BBC. The whole thing is on YouTube and it makes a great hour's worth of viewing. It really talks about how grounded she is in place, how important Barnsley and village life is to her. As a folk musician with similar sentiments about my own place, she's both inspiration and a kind of kin.

    Start here with Part One.
    posted by salishsea at 10:39 AM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


    It's totally normal for people to dislike the majority of artists in a genre of music

    I was so happy to read that because I was feeling guilty. I confess to being a passionate jazz fan with a general aversion to folk and country music, but I do try, I do really. And there are some songs in these genres I really like, and I did sample the clips and appreciate the tremendous talent (and good looks) of Kate Rusby but.... it just doesn't speak to me. I think this allegiance to music genres is quite common in fact, although there are those who claim to have catholic tastes in music. I wonder if anyone has studied the basis of musical likes and dislikes.
    posted by binturong at 11:57 AM on September 10, 2009


    I've been hooked on Kate Rusby ever since "Little Jack Frost" turned up in my Pandora playlist. Thanks for the links!
    posted by xedrik at 12:07 PM on September 10, 2009


    Kate Rusby is definitely the biz.

    I also love Our Town.
    1) Because it's an awesome song.
    2) Because it used to make a friend of mine cry.
    3) I love the way she sings sun.

    "Can't you see the s~uu~n~s sinking fast."
    posted by seanyboy at 12:48 PM on September 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I'd also recommend the film Heartlands (filmclip), not merely because it has Kate's music in it, but it features the most awesome use of a wind turbine as a minor plot device.
    posted by scruss at 12:53 PM on September 10, 2009


    Wow. She grew up in the same town as me. I never knew that.

    Wonder if she went to the same school. If so, we were at school together. (Although she'll have been 3 years below me)
    posted by seanyboy at 12:54 PM on September 10, 2009


    The answer is no. *sigh* Claim to fame over.
    posted by seanyboy at 1:02 PM on September 10, 2009


    > I've been hooked on Kate Rusby ever since "Little Jack Frost" turned up in my Pandora playlist.

    ...ever since Fiona Ritchie played "Let Me Be" on the PBS Thistle & Shamrock radio show. (P.S. got a very soft, mushy spot in heart for Fiona, too.)
    posted by jfuller at 6:57 PM on September 10, 2009


    Also recommended: her version of The Unquiet Grave, and this very nice Show of Hands version of High Germany.
    posted by raygirvan at 7:24 PM on September 10, 2009


    Yes, I have to say, her album Awkward Annie turned up at the public library in Columbia, Maryland, and I was immediately enchanted. She has an iTunes page here in the States, but, for instance, this album with Kathryn Roberts doesn't show up on it, sadly.

    Heya heya, is there anybody in Great Britain reading this who might be able to advise us all on good ways of keeping up with the UK folk scene? I don't mean to suggest that it's a single, unified thing - please don't take offense. There surely must be better ways than cruising iTunes and Amazon.
    posted by newdaddy at 7:34 PM on September 10, 2009


    Heya heya, is there anybody in Great Britain reading this who might be able to advise us all on good ways of keeping up with the UK folk scene?

    Froots mag. You can get some of their content online, the rest in in the paper mag. They have their favourites and blindspots - count how much of each issue is dominated by the Waterson / Carthy clan - but it's a solid publication with lots of reviews.
    posted by outlier at 2:10 AM on September 11, 2009


    Has anyone got a link to the Guide to Morality According to Folk Music (which I am sure I saw first on Metafilter some years ago)?

    e.g. Avoid talking to maidens on grassy banks as no good will come of it.

    KTHXBYE
    posted by asok at 3:56 AM on September 11, 2009


    "I adore Kate Rusby. She is officially on the list of "Women My Wife Knows I Would Leave Her For Given Half A Chance" along with Isabella Rossellini, Emma Thompson, and the 1980s version of Kathleen Turner."

    Hell, she's on the list of "Women I Know My Wife Would Leave Me For Given Half A Chance."

    And my wife is straight.
    posted by edheil at 6:54 AM on September 11, 2009


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