Phil Cerny - Traditional Folk Music of North America and the British Isles
What is folk music? Why is it relevant and meaningful?


Folk music is what people sing that reflects the underlying meaning of events and changes in their daily lives.  While it is valuable as entertainment, for me it has a deeper significance too. It represents the core of human experience, for better or worse, but with hope at its heart.

Traditional folk music has been around forever. It chronicles historical and social changes, personal upheaval and joy, stories and myths.  It's not just about "what went wrong with my last relationship" or what sells commercially, but about the profound undercurrents of the human condition -- love, death, work, and images of right and wrong.

Some contemporary music strikes this kind of chord and will become "traditional" as it becomes second nature, but we cannot all be Bob Dylan ...

I play an eclectic mix of traditional music -- from Britain to America, from ballads (songs with stories) to blues and country, from rural to industrial societies, from the local to the global -- as well as a few of my favourite contemporary songs.

My CD Atlantic Passages, recorded in 2004, is typical, although in live performances (and on my next CD, currently recording) the selection of material has moved on, including both newly learned songs and the revival of older ones I've been doing since the 1960s.

I have lived in York, England, on and off since 1970. Now that I have formally "retired" from an academic career, I intend to devote more time to my music. I will continue to perform as a "floor singer" and occasional MC at the Black Swan Folk Club, located in a 15th Century pub in York, on Thursday nights -- see http://www.blackswanfolkclub.org.uk/. Directions below.

I am a member of a new 5-piece folk band called Ramshackle, based at the Black Swan but doing other gigs too. You can see a photo of the band on

I recently ordered a new supply of Atlantic Passages and will be happy to send out copies for only UK £4, US $6 or Euro5 to cover postage and (for UK folk) a bit left over to donate to Black Swan Folk Club funds.

I am available for bookings. See contact details on the next page.



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