Prog Rock Sub-genres: Prog Folk


In the wake of the 60's, a Folk revival started on both sides of the Atlantic. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, John Denver, but also the Farina couple Richard and Mimi for the US, Shirley Collins and Ewan McColl for the UK and Hugues Aufray in France. In Quebec, there was the "Chansoniers" phenomenon among which Claude Leveille and Felix Leclerc were the most popular, standing up for itself from the English rule. The English part of Canada also brought up Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen (although he was from Montreal) and Neil Young. As Dylan turned electric with his Highway 61 Revisited album, Folk Rock was born, opening the floodgates for younger artists to turn on the electricity. While Dylan soon abandoned this style to create Country Rock with his next album, his British equivalent Scotsman Donovan stayed true to Folk Rock. In the US, The Byrds were the main promoters of the style by now, culminating with "Eight Miles High". But countless other bands on the west coast, such as Love, Jefferson Airplane (and later its spin-off Hot Tuna), Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and  Pearls Before Swine all started in the folk rock realm. In the UK, following on their countrymen Donovan, many Scotsmen were very influent in exploring new grounds for folk rock: Incredible String Band with their two highly influential albums 5000 Layers Or The Spirit Of The Onion and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter and The Pentangle and its fusion of folk, blues and jazz style were very instrumental in developing the style to the same extent as Fairport Convention and Strawbs who by that time were still more conventional US west-coast folk rock. The single artistes in folk rock, became known as Folk Troubadours, were also numerous and often presented a more progressive side of folk: Al Stewart, Nick Drake, Tyranosaurus Rex (actually a duo of Steven Took and Marc Bolan), John Martyn etc. However, the real angular album that would lead to further change of Folk Rock was Fairport Convention's Liege & Lief album, that proved to be highly influential for another generation of groups: this album concentrated into electrifying seminal English traditional folk and retained that quaint Englishness taste. By this time, most connoisseur were talking of Acid Folk, Psych Folk, and Progressive Folk, all having limited differences and no particularly drawn-out limits or boundaries, but all relying on experimental or groundbreaking adventures and good musicianship, but not necessarily of an acoustic nature. 


Groups like The Third Ear Band and Quintessence relied on eastern Indian music influences and sometimes, medieval tones. Other groups like the weird Comus, The Trees, Spirogyra, Forest, Jan Dukes De Grey, but also Magna Carta, Tit Na Nog were out to break new ground, but with less commercial success as their predecessors. By 1972, all of the glorious precursor bands were selling fewer records and had problems renewing themselves and a newer generation of groups was relying in a more Celtic jigs or really traditional sounds, such as Amazing Blondel, Albion Dance Band and Spriguns Of Tolgus. Jethro Tull had definitive folk roots right from the start. Ian Anderson (another Scots) was very keen in acoustical traditional songs. Some Folk Troubadours such as Tim Buckley and John Martyn started turning records more and more axed towards fusing jazz and folk (a bit in what The Pentangle were doing), others became more and more electric and they started to be referred to as Singer Songwriters especially those with country rock influences.

Spirogyra-Captain's log (St. Radigunds, 1971 UK)

Comus-The bite (First Utterance, 1971 UK)


Strawbs-Heavy disguise (Grave New World, 1972 UK)


Jethro Tull-Hunting girl (Songs From The Wood, 1977 UK)


Jethro Tull-Heavy horses (Heavy Horses, 1978 UK)


In Germany, Hoelderlin, Emtidi, Ougenweide were exploring German folk, while Kalacakra, Siloah and Embryo were indulging with Indian music. In South America, most notably in Chile, Los Jaivas (very bent upon Andean Indian music) and Congreso (more Spanish-Latino folklore) were using folk in their rock. In Quebec, the progressive movement exploded with the cultural identity and the "Chansoniers" tradition and this was carried out with Les Seguin, Harmonium and many more. In France, many groups were out for folk rock such as Tangerine, and Asgard. In Spain, Flamenco playing a dominant role as well as Basque folk, Triana, Itoiz and Haizea were the head of the movement. There is also a very important medieval music influences dimension in some groups as the term Medieval Folk was also mentioned for a while, but apparently dropped by musicologists. Among the UK groups are obviously Gryphon, Gentle Giant and Third Ear Band, in France: Malicorne and Ripaille and in Scandinavia: Algarnas Tradgard and Folque.

Gryphon-Dubbel Dutch (Midnight Mushrumps, 1974 UK)

Gryphon-Opening move (Red Queen To Gryphon Three, 1974 UK)


Source: http://www.progarchives.com/subgenre.asp?style=6