You may have come across Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer somewhere in the UK or beyond. They’re one of the hardest working musical acts on the scene today and have been regulars at clubs and festivals all over the country for many years. But Vicki and Jonny’s immersion in the folk world may be slightly surprising when you discover how they started out...
“It’s powerful altogether to see musicianers rooting and plundering in the old (and new) collections like weans with new toys. It is also powerful to hear dacent tunes one doesn’t know, instead of the nearly standardised menu that has gone the rounds too often.” So says Rev Gary Hastings, the renowned flute player from Belfast, in the sleevenotes for Josie Nugent and Brian Stafford’s debut album, The Caves Of Cong.
Colum Sands, from County Down, is well known to most lovers of folk music. A musician, songwriter, radio broadcaster, album producer as well as a collaborative artist and member of the celebrated Sands Family, Colum has many years in the folk music business under his belt.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1942, Lisa Null is a respected singer throughout the US and beyond. Over the years she has developed many links with the folk scene in the UK and she has a special interest in the music and song of Ireland. She co-founded the Green Linnet record label with Patrick Sky in 1973, which went on to become one of the most prolific record labels of its time, specialising in Celtic music.
Pete Seeger was born on 3 May 1919 in a small town about 100 miles north of New York. He was sent to boarding school at the age of 4, then in 1927 his parents divorced - he was 8. Neither really had custody - apart from the odd holiday, Pete was at boarding school for most of his childhood. One of three sons (Pete was the youngest) he refused either piano or voice lessons but it was at this time, whilst still very young, that he made up the story song, Abiyoyo.
Success in the music world means different things to different people, and can be hard to define. But in terms of the outsider looking in, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Tim Edey seems to have success by the bucket load. Having just won himself not one but two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (Musician Of The Year and Best Duo with Brendan Power), and with a list as long as your arm of top notch musicians queuing up to play with him, he appears to have it all.
Allan Taylor has spent his life making music. His immediate career aim on leaving school at 16 was to run a folk club. After a decade honing his craft as a songwriter, singer and guitarist, he made his recording debut with Sometimes which featured members of Fairport Convention, with whom he also toured at the time.
In the first few years of the 20th century, Cecil Sharp thought that he was collecting the last remnants of a song tradition in England. A few years later, during a working visit to America, an opportunistic meeting with an American collector, Olive Campbell, was to lead to the creation of one of the most significant folk songs collections in the world.
Kitchen Songs, Family Ties and other Knots - a conversation with Maggie Boyle
Luke Daniels was one of the first winners of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Musician award back in the days when Folk On Two came from the BBC specialist unit in Birmingham. He was the first of many - very young and an exceptional talent. Luke went on to become a significant ‘Irish’ folk musician, yet was born and raised in Oxfordshire and Reading.
There is no shortage of good music coming out of Ireland these days, and Belfast seems to be producing more than its fair share. The session scene there appears to be alive and well, and the discerning visitor can find good traditional sessions in various bars across the city without having to look too far.