I heard you’d stopped publishing?
Yes, sadly so. There’s a statement about that here and there was a feature in the Guardian.
Were you a Folk or World Music magazine?
Neither, both and beyond.
What sort of music did you cover?
As a simple guide, what fRoots covered was music, however ancient or modern, that had some clear roots in a tradition. Neither the instruments or level of technology employed nor an artist’s nationality were particularly relevant. For example, neither the act of playing an acoustic instrument or singing in a language other than English had a major significance either way.
I’m an acoustic singer songwriter. Would that have been OK then?
Almost certainly not, unless your music was strongly influenced by a tradition. The musik biz categorises anybody with an acoustic guitar who writes their own songs as ‘folk’. Which is fine, call it whatever you like, but fRoots wasn’t necessarily the place for it.
Hey dude, I do Americana? Did you review that?
Probably not. With so much great local roots music to cover from around a world that is fighting back against global cultural imperialism, plus the explosion in vanity-published CDs in the wealthy nations, we simply couldn’t shoehorn it all in. So we
had to take a long hard look at why we should be covering certain aspects of US music (or clones of it) to the exclusion of others, and the conclusion was this:
We continued to feature and review what you could call local, regional or traditional American musics: country blues, Cajun, conjunto, old-time, Appalachian, musics of established immigrant communities. We only included music made by current writers or interpreters if they were clearly rooted in such traditions, but not disproportionately to those from other parts of the world.
How could I have got a track on one of your free fRoots compilation albums or included in your online fRoots Radio show and podcast.
The simple answer is, you couldn’t by hyping, polite persuasion or bribery (well, nobody came up with a sufficiently attractive bribe!) It didn’t make any difference if you were famous or unknown, on a major or small independent, in the UK or anywhere in the world. Tracks for the fRoots compilations and fRoots Radio were picked by ex-fR editor Ian Anderson entirely from personal choice. The best you could do was make a great record!)
fRoots Radio has been replaced by Podwireless, still monthly and produced/ presented by ex-fR Editor Ian Anderson, but now extended to two hours. You can find more details here, including where you can submit CDs for net play.
Why didn’t you group CDs into categories in your reviews pages?
Because many people would then have skipped the stuff they thought they didn’t like. One of our missions in life was to introduce people to more musical possibilities.
Why didn’t you give star ratings to the CDs you reviewed, like proper magazines do?
Because that would have given too much importance to the opinion of one person, and might have meant that readers skipped past reviews that contained intriguing detail.