Wow...everybody's dukes are up!

Jim, I understand that a great deal of your life's work has focused on Ewan
MacColl and he is indeed a very important figure in the folk revival,
however, in the last few posts there have been some huge jumps in logic by a
few people in this ongoing conversation, you included.  For one, there's
lots of talk about the folk revival and then reference linking that time
period to the present, thereby situating ourselves within this 'revival'--if
anything we are in a revival but one wholly different from that of the mid
20th century.  Also, comparisons have been made between the Irish and
British (Scottish or English or both lads?) traditions as if they were the
same tradition, which they are not though there are some similarities and
shared repertoire.  Finally, and likely inadvertently, comparisons between
Seosamh Ó hÉanái and Ewan MacColl have been made.  The fact stands that
these two singers were different types of singers and entered the folk
revival from two very different paths showing the diversity of
singers/musicians encompassed by the folk revival.  

In general your description of the Critics Group shows it was indeed a great
opportunity for singers within the folk revival to improve their abilities
as performers.  Ewan's background in theatre--an obvious foundation whereon
he built the Critics Group is undisputed.  My opinion is this:  the group's
dynamic does not seem applicable to the Irish tradition because style is
still a huge factor in the way that a singer in Ireland (or outside of
Ireland) approaches a song, though, as was stated by Virginia, there is
obvious homogenization in the younger generations.  Ireland has maintained
its regional styles of singing much longer than it has its musical styles
and within those regional styles there still falls factors such as language,
repertoire, family legacy, song-types, etc. which further distinguish the
singer.  In short, one's way of singing, (their voice-quality, stage
presence (not a long-standing factor in traditional singing mind you), etc.)
is likely shaped by these factors.  For a group to be critical of one's
unique voice seems rather counterproductive and possibly homogenizing in
itself if the singer follows the suggestions of the group.  And how could
the group place their own conceptions or misconceptions of singing above the
singer who has come from a very real and substantial tradition?  

The questions that form in my mind are these:  Are you participating within
a tradition or are you substituting this participation by attending a
gathering (singing circle) whereby you can perform what you've learned from
recordings or wokshops.  Are you actively engaged in a singing tradition or
have you allowed yourself to become an armchair singer or even still a folk
singer?  Armchairism (look I made a new word!) occurs in many disciplines
but remains my deciding factor of one's commitment to a tradition regardless
of location, age, ethnicity, nationality, etc.

Dhá phingin ó ghabht!