Salut! Commentary

The Swarb tribute tour featuring the Jason Wilson Band, Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick and another Swarbrick

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A British folk-rock fiddler exemplaire, I called Dave Swarbrick when he died on June 23 2016.

He had left family and friends in no doubt that he wanted no funeral when his time came, and none was held. But he did like the idea of a last session with some of his many friends among fellow-musicians.

To his widow, Jill Swarbrick-Banks, this could be interpreted as his blessing for the round of concerts that is about to begin, what Jill calls "a touring tribute of minstrel friends that have come together to celebrate the great Swarb and his music".

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Signposts for admirers of Bert Jansch, Martin Simpson, John Renbourn and the Unthanks

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Click here to check Bert Jansch's music at Amazon

Just as I indulged in a spot of self-deprecation, mocking Salut! Live's improving but still modest readership figures, the unexpected happened.

Andrew Curry's guest contribution to the Cover Story series, an informed comparison of three versions of Jackson C Frank's 1960s contemporary folk classic Blues Run the Game, has attracted more readers that any item I can detect since a four-part interview with Rachel Unthank all of nine years ago.

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Johnny Hallyday: allumez le feu/ light the fire

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Buy this book at the Salut! Live Amazon link here
This has just appeared at another of my sites, Salut!. It is the promised Robb Johnson follow-up to his 2007 epic on Johnny Hallyday, reproduced here after news broke of Johnny's death at 74.

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fRoots: saving graces

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Here's a confession. Yesterday, I received a slightly unexpected £50 payment for advertising at the site I run for supporters of, mention the name sparingly, Sunderland AFC. It was one of those necessary evils, a dropped link to a betting site. Helps pay the bills - the site server thumped me for a £200 renewal only the other week - and also enables me, in the absence of a sponsor, to offer prizes in the regular Guess the Score competition.

But the £50 didn't on this occasion go towards the upkeep or the site or a mug/print/book for a winning entrant (which usually means someone who first thinks of the score by which Sunderland go on to lose).

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fRoots at crossroads: as Ian Anderson bows out, opportunity knocks for a 'philanthropic millionaire'


I have met Ian Anderson**, the editor of fRoots, on only a handful of occasions but spoken to or corresponded with him on many more. When I wrote about folk music for The Daily Telegraph, he called my work "right column, wrong newspaper", a handle I greatly appreciated. When all that came to end, he continued to be a willing interviewee on a couple of occasions when I needed someone like him to comment for pieces I was writing for other publications - and even published a little piece I offered him.

"Someone like him" indeed. Ian is a one-off and no one I can think of could have kept that magazine going so outstandingly and for so long. Unlike one or two of those commenting on his wish to retire, I do not have every copy of the magazine (not a great excuse but living abroad much of the time has got in the way of better intentions). I do, however, have piles of back issues on my shelves in France and remain a loyal if, in recent years, more intermittent admirer of the magazine and its work.

Now that Ian has decided it is time to move on, I shall let him explain, shamelessly lifting his Facebook announcement but not without repeating, along with a few other short tributes, what I said there: "A glowing example to all of us who have ever tried to use media to raise awareness of very special music. A huge collective thank you is due, Ian."

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Dipping into the Past: the Irish Troubles and music

October 2017 update (a further update appears below as a footnote) ...: I believe Salut! Live's archive deserves a wider audience, not for any merit in the writing but because it brings great music to those who stray into these pages. That is why I occasionally reproduce items from the past, as now with some reflections from 2007 on musical by-products of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Brexit, the Irish border questions and and continuing problems that arise when two political parties with utterly opposing philosophies share power (power-sharing is currently suspended and there is a risk of direct rule from Westminster being imposed), may not make a return to violence on the scale of the Troubles likely. But they leave some of us less optimistic than when this article first appeared 10 years ago. Otherwise, I stand by all that I wrote then - and you'll find I have added clips of the songs mentioned ...

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