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September 2008

Baby blogging blues

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The picture has nothing to do with music. It just helps to explain why new postings have been absent from Salut! Live since the healthy burst of interest generated by the Eliza Carthy competiton and YouTube indulgences.

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Reviews of Chris Foster's CD, and Maddy Prior's, and an even more belated look at Sharon Shannon's most recent compilation, plus whatever else has been building up in the intray, will appear in due course.Maddy


But I have been back in the UK, becoming a grandfather, watching football, seeing friends and so on. Which rather gets in the way of the upkeep of every corner of Salut!'s website world.

If you have strayed here expecting any of the above, or at least something new, please bear with me. Updates will occur within the next 10 days. If you are here for the first time, all I can say is that there really is a great deal of material to be catching up on.

Use the links in the sidebars. Navigate the site by using the search function or delving into the archives. If you like or dislike anything you find, or have suggestions that might make the site better, you can even leave a comment. That, however, might be one step too far for Salut! Live to hope for!

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Irish music at its best? (4)

This is the fourth part of Salut! Live's series of selected Irish music, and the second collection of YouTube clips featuring my own favourite female performers from Ireland north and south. Please feel free to suggest clips you feel I ought to have included, or to applaud or criticise my choices. The first six YouTube clips in this exercise appeared in the Salut! Live posting "Irish music at its best? (3)". As mentioned in that item, clicking on to each clip also opens a gateway to much more by the same artists. Explore and enjoy...
Mary Black's lovely version of Raglan Road nearly made it into the list, until I saw - and found myself endorsing - comments at YouTube suggesting that no one could touch the late Luke Kelly's interpretation. But room had to be found for Mary's exquisite vocal charms, and I have always liked her singing of The Thorn Upon The Rose. One "jonhedge" at YouTube added this interesting anecdote: " This is Julie Matthews song, I know because I was 1 of 4 people at her house when she played it for the first time, & She told us M B had taken an option on it, The Best Version of it is by Pat Shaw on the Lies & Alibis Album (Fat Cat Records FATCD001)Pat & Julie were a Duo at the time. Mary black is Brilliant though."

Cara Dillon is not to everyone's taste. Once I had grown to appreciate her voice - which didn't happen in a flash - I came to regard her as an accomplished and highly appealing singer, and The Lark in the Clean Air provides a fine platform for her strengths....

Continue reading "Irish music at its best? (4)" »


Irish music at its best? (3)

Don't forget, the headline is a question, not a statement. All I have done, in this labour of love, is to trawl YouTube for some clips of the female Irish singers/musicians whose music - and, in a couple of cases, friendship - has been important to me over the years. I say that's all I have done, but it has taken a long time; what a good job Friday is the Muslim world's Sunday equivalent, giving me day-off time in the UAE to devote to the exercise. What we end up with is a dozen of the best, which I have spit into two parts, the second of which will appear here by tomorrow morning (Sunday). Where possible, I have deliberately avoided over-familiar songs in favour of something a little different. There are people, or versions of songs, I simply couldn't locate, so I can hardly claim to have eliminated familiarity altogether. Never trust an old hack with new technology. But see what you think, and if anyone knows any of the individuals who placed the clips at YouTube, let them/me know - I'd like them to know they're in appropriate hands, and me to know that they approve.

The wonderful Cathy Jordan of Dervish kicks off the list....... I remember once dashing across London from having seen Altan at the Fleadh to catch Dervish at the Waterman's arts centre in Brentford. A luxury of riches....




One of the best gigs I ever attended was Touchstone playing a club in Bristol in the early to mid-1980s (a club I recall as being in or just off The Centre, and having an old telephone kiosk plonked in the middle. You can either watch the interesting graphic (unrelated to the band) or, if you were there the same night in Bristol, close your eyes and still see Claudine Langille sitting on a table, swinging her legs to and fro as she plays banjo and joins Triona Ni Domhnaill in the best version of Jack Haggerty I've ever heard.....

Speaking of Altan, as I was a second ago, this list would not be complete without Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh. Tá mo Chleamhnas Déanta is taken from a 13-year-old BBC recording. I will never forget my many warm encounters with Mairéad, and of course the late, hugely missed Frankie Kennedy, in the UK and Ireland....

Continue reading "Irish music at its best? (3)" »


Eliza Carthy's prized fans

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At one point, I feared it might turn into one of those newspaper bingo scandals, if anyone remembers them, when thousands of people who had all won because of some competition cock-up would descend on Fleet Street to claim their dosh.

In the midst of a bit of chaos in Abu Dhabi (banks suddenly told every customer to go to ATM machines to change their pins after a security alert, with predictable results), I realised that there were several correct answers to the question: "What do Eliza Carthy's albums Red Rice and Anglicana have in common apart from having been made by Eliza Carthy and - though the answer I am looking for is topical - appeared on Topic?"

By the time I got back from the queues at the cash machines and added the "topical" clue, more than one entrant had indeed tried the same label answer. As my daughters used to say: "As if!"

But then, others pointed out the musicians who had appeared on both albums, the design work, the photography. And that both were great albums......

The reply I wanted - can I add "of course" to make it look as if everyone should have guessed? - was that both had received Mercury music award nominations. Could hardly have been more topical.

In any event, Salut! Live now has its winners. Thanks to everyone who took part; it was a healthy response and there were nine outright correct answers. For the tenth signed copy of Eliza's Dreams of Breathing Underwater album, I drew at random from answers that were clever or interesting and also correctly identified one common feature. Please be patient; I will pass the addresses to Proper Music, who kindly offered the CDs for such a competition, and the prize albums will reach winners from there.
So the winners are:

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Rachel unthanked in the end

I had to admit to someone who entered the Eliza Carthy competition that I had heard of, but not from, Laura Marling, the "other" folk inclusion in the Mercury music award nominations.

As I wrote here when the shortlist was announced, there was never really a snowball's chance in hell that Rachel Unthank and the Winterset would actually win. With no disrespect to Elbow - to whom I offer Salut! Live's hearty congratulations - the role of the novelty folk act is just that: to provide novelty and a sense that good music is good whatever its genre.

Seth Lakeman, Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy can testify to that (though look at the fascinating revelation which has appeared in Comments since this article was posted: Rachel's band came a very close second, and some judges wanted to announce as much but were overruled)

In any event, the chivalrous knight in me - not that it's there very much - hopes all those people who have devoted so much of 2008 to hectoring and harrumphing about the Unthanks & Winterset will now graciously concede that she/they richly deserved their moments of mainstream exposure.

The interview clip shows what delightfully natural lasses, all the more because they are burdened with a desperately sad football allegiance, Rachel and Becky happen to be.

Continue reading "Rachel unthanked in the end" »


Sign up for an Eliza Carthy competition

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STOP PRESS: I now have nine winners. The tenth has been drawn from a number of other entrants who made interesting but incorrect stabs - in terms of what I wanted (ie something that set the two albums apart) - and any further correct or similarly deserving replies received by a strict deadline of 5pm UK time today Thursday Sept 11). That deadline having now passed, you can always head off to the Bright Young Folk site for a Bellowhead signed CDs competition......for news f my winners, go to this link at Salut! Live

Read on for simple instructions on how to win one of 10 signed copies of Eliza Carthy's album*, Dreams of Breathing Underwater (Topic).

For a short part of my long stint as The Daily Telegraph's folk critic, I would set competitions about people whose gigs I was previewing.

The idea got off to a bad start when I asked readers to name each of the women who had been part of the Irish band De Dannan. There were, I recall, four replies. One came from within the office and two more arrived in identical handwriting on similar postcards. The fourth entry won the prize.

It was an object lesson in running competitions when the object is actually to encourage people to enter. My question, simple enough for the kind of folk drawn to Salut! Live, was too hard for a mainstream readership.

So when Fairport offered me four pairs of tickets for Cropredy, I made sure it was easier. Who was the only founder member of the band who still belonged to it?

Imagine the hoops. You had to buy the Telegraph , like folk or folk-rock, open the arts section, see the listings, read my small contribution, know the answer, want to attend the festival, bother to write in. Yet replies - almost all correctly identifying Simon Nicol - poured in. Well over 100, small when considering the size of the Telegraph circulation - then a million plus on Saturdays - but highly impressive when considering the hoops. I disqualified, while secretly loving, the reply from a chap who expressed amazement that the Telegraph would have as many as four Fairport fans, let alone four pairs of them, among its readers.

I do not expect as many people to write to me at my e-mail address and state correctly what the albums Red Rice and Anglicana have in common apart from having been made by Eliza Carthy and - though the answer I am looking for is topical - appeared on Topic.***

Continue reading "Sign up for an Eliza Carthy competition" »