I went down to Folklife this afternoon, despite having decided against it last year, after all that baloney the enforcement nerds at last year’s Seattle Center events put Jason through.

I went partly because (please note, usability engineers) I couldn’t find decent information on the event this year at the NWFolklife web site.

(I think it’s interesting from a usability and marketing perspective that, in this case, less information drove my decision to visit, the opposite behavior that would be generally predicted in response to such a situation. The downloadable PDFs do reproduce the schedules, and in theory they have a search interface – but that’s about all the info that’s available online.)

In particular, I wanted to find out about the annual instrument auction. Without information on the website that I could find easily, I had to go down to Seattle Center to find out. After asking two clueless volunteers, both of whom expressed horror that it might be no more, I located the information in the program.

Guess what? it’s no more, and in the program they have the arrogance, gall, and general bitter stupidity to blame eBay. The exact words are “online auction sales,” but I’m sure you can do the math.

So I don’t know, maybe I had a chip on my shoulder, but after learning that, I wandered around what used to be my favorite thing about living in Seattle, seeing the festival pretty much the way I used to as a teenager: stupid hippies faking Irish and Jamaican accents, playing pale imitations of folk music without conviction, discipline, or energy.

Indeed, the guiding aesthetic appeared to firstly, at all costs, avoid the embarrassing, authoritarian convention known as “song structure”. Secondly, emphasize needless and flashy virtuosity for its’ own sake, partly so that some structure might be provided for the dutiful listeners to insert applause at the appropriate times.

I’m quite sure that these perceptions are colored by my jaded view of the event’s organizers and hosts, and that there are as many interesting and firey performers as in previous incarnations of the festival, but I, it seems, lack the patience to seek them out.

In server rebuild news, I found a perl script to automate adding files to Gallery. Hope that bellerophon can bear up under the weight. The modock site may also be complete, save the guestbook.

3 thoughts on “Well, that, like, sucked

  1. Mike, I’m sorry to hear you had a bad time at the festival. I do know a place/region where a person can find all the folk and bluegrass you could imagine. Have you ever visited Asheville, NC? This area has more music than a person has the time or money to see. The other thing is the number of music festivals in the area. In the spring you there is at least one a week for about two or three months. Merlefest is probably one of the biggest. Give the area a try if your looking for a visit or a change.

  2. Well, it was more like I had a crabby time, actually.

    Which can be fun in its’ own way. For example, I enjoyed being vituperative when I wrote the entry!

    I’m still looking forward to other stuff this summer…

  3. I have always enjoyed Folklife generally, besides performing on the sidewalk myself all four days. I am glad to see more world music being featured in the program as well. It does get a bit world-weary, though, seeing “local African” groups composed mostly of white college students, a thousand-odd “Celtic” bands with a mere handful of folks from Celtic European countries, and numerous Asian and Eastern European dance troupes populated by folks in garish outfits who have never set foot in the places these songs and dances came from. Oh, well; as a street performer, I don’t need to apply to play, can play anytime I please, and get tips for it as well…

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