Salut! History

Men of the North: Johnny Handle and a classic song from Ed Pickford

Every so often, the e-mail account opens to a message from Ed Pickford, known as a songwriter of the highest order to anyone of my generation from the North East who liked folk music.

He sang solo, and way back with the Northern Front, and can be said to have contributed massively to the cultural landscape of the region; he also supports Sunderland AFC, which endears him to me all the more


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Swarb on the road, 14 years after that Daily Telegraph obituary

What you see above is some rare old Fairport Convention footage in which Dave Swarbrick sings the song he chose for Salut! Live's 'Song of the Day' series 18 months ago ...


Two early chances arise to sit back and enjoy the superb music of Dave Swarbrick, the outstanding fiddler renowned for his work with Martin Carthy, his many years as a member of Fairport Convention and his ability to survive a collision that is usually fatal, being featured on the obituaries page of The Daily Telegraph.

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Sandy Denny, Fotheringay and the album that refused to stay buried

Fother1Image: Linda Fitzgerald-Moore
One of the most memorable live experiences I have ever known came at the Cropredy festival in 2007, when the sublime Chris While took Sandy Denny's place in what was otherwise the Fairport Convention line-up that recorded Liege and Lief; nearly four decades on, track by track, they re-created that gloriously influential album. If that event took some of us back to the end of the 1960s, what of the tremendous project, pursued by Jerry Donahue, to ensure that a subsequent step in Sandy's career - the second, abandoned album by Fotheringay - was not lost for ever in record label archives? This article, from The National* (published in Abu Dhabi), tells the story - and, don't forget, for a mainstream readership - of Jerry's determined campaign to salvage a priceless gem of the British folk-rock era....


Thirty years have passed since Sandy Denny, a young woman with the voice of an angel but a taste for hard living, suffered a brain haemorrhage while staying with a friend in London. Just 31, she slipped into a coma and died.

She left a young daughter, large numbers of adoring fans and a fair body of recorded work that was to trickle out in various forms over the next three decades.

To coincide with this year’s anniversary of her death, the BBC produced a radio documentary named in part after her most famous song, Who Knows Where The Time Goes? The project echoed a recent explosion of interest in the singer far in excess of the attention she commanded when alive.

And just when it seemed there could surely be nothing more to say or hear, that every radio and television library, record label archive and attic had been combed for material to satisfy the fascination with her life and work, another Sandy Denny album has surfaced.

The story of Fotheringay’s 2, the follow-up record that took 38 years to complete and release, is an extraordinary one. Who, indeed, knows where the time went?

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The Grehan Sisters: a short rediscovery

Dave Eyre , whose programme Thank Goodness It's Folk broadcasts to Britain's fourth largest city each Friday 10am-noon on Sheffield Live! (93.2 FM), has added a great comment.....


Getting round to announcing the winners of my Maddy Prior competition .........

But here's something to be going on with. This posting started out as an excuse to bring you a film clip from the 1960s, rediscovered in the 1990s, which is described as a sort of uncompleted Irish Spaghetti Western, a musical that fell foul of financial constraints.

Its appearance here was inspired by a rekindled Mudcat thread about the Grehan Sisters.

Fondly remembered from the folk clubs of North-eastern England back in the late 1960s, they were seen singing** (though not, sadly, Cricklewood, which is the song of theirs that streams into the consciousness at any mention of their name) and also offering a burst of the trademark spoon-playing.

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Boys, bylines and missing fivers (2)

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As a useful ps to Salut! Live's recent look at the two songs with the same title - The Boys of the Byline Brigade, on the working lives of journalists, and specifically newspaper reporters - my old friend Geoff Lakeman has duly popped up again with the lyrics to his version.

Still no word from Mickey MacConnell, like Geoff a folksinging journalist, who wrote the original song and was therefore the man who came up with the title. But attempts have been made to make sure he is aware the issue has been discussed, and credit suitably given.

In the case of Geoff's song, which he put to a tune of his own, there are references that require a little explanation to those unfamiliar with Fleet Street. These, with minor editing from this end, is his glossary:

* "The bank in the sky" was the cashier's office on the top floor of the Daily Mirror's Holborn Circus office, to which hacks would turn for the money to get to assignments (or, more likely, the pub). It was eventually closed down because so many people got advances (against expenses) and were too slow in paying them back.

* "The stab in the back" was the Mirror office pub of choice,, actually part of the building, reached by a glass bridge across the road, so nicknamed in honour of the score-settling and office politics that typically influenced conversations over pints of beer and stout.

*"The mink-lined coffin" was how one Robert Maxwell - who later did an even better job of cleaning out the place - described the Mirror because of its profligate spending, when negotiating to buy the paper. He also, famously, said: "The gravy train is about to hit the buffers..." Boy was he right when he ran off with about £800million!

* (and one from Mickey, describing his own song in the notes to his album, Joined up Writing): Boys of the Byline Brigade - a byline in newspaper parlance is when your name appears on a story you have written. This is my genuflection to all of the old time heroes who populated the journalistic days of my youth, and who were badly paid, badly regarded, and who were relegated to working the nightshift - the Doomwatch - at the end of their days.

And now for the lyrics.......

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Boys, bylines and missing fivers (1)

Mickey
Reporters care a great deal about their bylines. This is absurd, since the only people who take notice of them are their mothers, other reporters and people intent on suing them and their publications for some real or imagined slight.

Given that they do care so much, it is perhaps not surprising that a journalist/folkie should have written a song called The Boys of the Byline Brigade.

But it does seem odd - at first glance - that not one but two such characters should have written different songs with the same title.

I am grateful to "Captain Ginger" and Anne Kennedy Truscott for helping to clear up what I initially thought was the simple issue of who had written a single song of that name. Each contribution to the discussion contradicts at least one other, but for the happy reason that - rare in such a dispute - everyone is at least partly right.

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