I’ve been writing reviews and occasional features for LT since 1997. I’m not a musician, a singer or organiser but I hope I can bring the perspective of the bloke who sits peaceably in the folk club audience, joins in the choruses, buys the raffle tickets, and loves the music like crazy. During an eternity as a Whitehall civil servant I gained a good knowledge of the folk scene in London and the south east. Now I’ve moved to Cumbria and am reconnecting with my northern roots. Scotland is just up the road, and I’m planning some border raids.
I love listening to tunes. In my London years, I came to appreciate the southern English style of playing. But I’m better qualified to write about songs. The best ones – whether traditional or modern - display a heightened use of language that bears comparison with poetry and can be equally moving. The early Child ballads are my epitome of pared-down perfection.
I fret about the fragmentation of the folk scene into tribes and generations who don’t talk to each other enough. I fret about club audiences growing old together. I fret about how professionalism and integrity can live happily together in holy wedlock. But musicians, singers and songwriters of all ages and persuasions keep finding ways to stop me fretting too much for too long. They can sometimes deliver passages and phrases of such illuminating beauty as to make worrying seem a waste of time.
Albums for a mountain bothy would include:
Return To Kintail – Alasdair Fraser and Tony McManus
Nic Jones – Ballads and Songs
Martyn Bennett – Grit
Various – A Century of Song (EFDSS compilation of traditional singers)
Karine Polwart – Fairest Floo’er
Martin Hayes – Under The Moon
Various – The Magic of Morris
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