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Folk - Jeff Davis

The recent Martin Scorsese-directed documentary about Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, pinpointed what many see as being the death-knell moment for folk music. Folk, everybody knew, was rooted in the past, and faithful to musical instruments of the past. Folk, above all, was acoustic. Dylan decided he needed change, and went electric in the second half of his set at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, in May 1966. During a silence after a 1000-watt ‘Ballad of the Thin Man’, fan Keith Butler shouted ‘Judas!’ Dylan, clearly rattled, shouted back ‘I don’t believe you. You’re a liar.’ He then yelled ‘play fucking loud’ and his band launched into a raucous ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’

Folk music probably would have gone into decline anyway. Times were changing. NOBODY was looking into the past. So, bar a few mini revivals, the genre gradually slid into its current state, where it is largely conducted in small rooms above pubs, or out-of-the-way festival fields, to handfuls of grey-haired aficionados. And now Bruce Springsteen, of all people, is attempting to reverse the decline. In his latest tour, the most influential rock singer in the United States – the man they call The Boss - has gone acoustic, and started singing folk classics. Will this lead to an international folk revival? We doubt it. But it might just make concerts like tonight’s, in which American traditionalist Jeff Davis plays age-old songs above the Royal Oak, into a bit more of a draw. Forget Springsteen, this guy’s been doing this sort of thing for years. DL

Folk’s Not Dead: and Jeff Davis is in town to prove it

Royal Oak, 3 Station St, Lewes
When? 8pm
How Much? £5
Folk at the Oak:
(w) Website