Salut! Talks

The Big Interview: Leon Rosselson no longer turning the world upside down


The album may be bought at the Salut! Live Amazon link:

On Leon Rosselson’s most recent album, Where Are The Barricades?, we encounter a cluster of usual suspects, old, older and new: rotten bankers, corporate raiders, uncaring politicians, plundering national heroes (take a bow, Sir Francis Drake) and an Israeli policy towards Gaza that is not the Holocaust but brings shame and disgrace on the descendants of those who suffered in it.

And we also meet Karl Marx, Cockney equivalents of Ken Loach’s Daniel Blake and people who struggle and not always with success to stay alive, most poignantly two children killed by brutes in different uniforms, one in Nazi-occupied Vilnius, the other in Palestine.

But this is not only Rosselson's latest album, full of the clever, challenging wordplay that for many years allowed me to write approvingly of his work for, of all papers, The Daily Telegraph. It is also his last. At 82, he no longer has the energy or, in the face of new technology, will to record any more.

I am delighted to present this interview, conducted by e-mail, with an English master of political song (his own website is at ...

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Potted miaows from Cats on Trees: (1) diversity, strange accents and Sandy Denny

Cats on trees OCTPhoto: Ana Bloom

There are two pieces of good news, in my little campaign to bring the French duo Cats on Treses to wider attention:

* My old acquaintance Eddie Barcan, manager of the Cambridge folk festival and once a fellow-judge of the BBC Young Folk Awards (we chose Tim Van Eyken) promises to
"have a proper listen" when he starts programming next year's event around December

* Nina Goern, one of the two cats on the trees, was intrigued by my mention of Sandy Danny and Fairport Convention and says she will check them out (for starters, I pointed her in the direction of three clips: Who Knows Where The Time Goes?, Fotheringay and Si Tu Dois Partir

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Moussu T: stirring rhythms from the Marseille melting pot


An account* of a leisurely lunch in Marseille followed by a slightly rushed meeting with an intriguing band ...

In the time it took to finish off a plate of spaghetti alle vongole on the Vieux Port, Marseille's famous waterfront location and home to the exotic musical ensemble that is Moussu T, I counted five wedding parties going by in noisy processions of cars.

There were garlands streaming from each vehicle, horns blaring, passengers stretched out through open windows. Each convoy presented a classic French wedding-day scene witnessed in countless towns and cities every Saturday, but each was distinctly multi-racial.

A vibrant point of entry and exit for Europe and the Maghreb, Marseille generally rises above the occasional advances of Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration Front National to show a united front. It is a long way from perfection, as demonstrated in chilly fashion by the rounds of Chicago-style score-settling among underworld factions, but in no city of France do different ethnic groups rub along more harmoniously.

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Potted Sharon Shannon


The last part of Salut! Live's interview with Sharon Shannon was necessarily brief. Others were waiting to speak to her. But it didn't matter since all that remained for our purposes was to pepper her with one-line questions and prompts and collect her one-line replies. Sharon has always been, in public, a woman of relatively few words (that immense, beaming smile more than making up for the vocal reticence), and that suits the tradition Salut! Live quickfire questionnaire. Here is how it went (and a review of
Saints and Scoundrels is still to come) ...

Your most powerful musical memory?

Hearing Tommy Peoples playing the fiddle for the first time

Who are you listening to just now?

The Cartoon Thieves (They appear on two tracks on the album)

If you have time for books and films, any current or all time favourites?

I want to see The Hangover

Best gig?

Too many to single out one

And worst?

Plenty of them too!

Champagne or Guinness?

I don't like either

Describe Ireland after the era of the Celtic Tiger

To be honest, I don't see much of a difference among the people I hang out with

Name your favourite place in the world


What is the best gadget you possess?

My mobile phone

Roy Keane or Niall Quinn?

I don't really follow football. That must make me seem very boring
(Not at all - the question says more about the questioner! - ed)

And finally, what does Sharon Shannon want to be doing 10 years from now?

Relaxing at home

* Sharon photographer - again - by Pete Shaughnessy in Dolans, Dublin (use courtesy of Sharon's representatives)

Sharon Shannon: the Salut! Live interview


Abject apologies, more than before, to Roy Bailey, Debra Cowan and others whose albums should by now have been reviewed here. It will happen when time permits, and I don't mind in the least that the reviews will look on the late side. For now, though, please allow Salut! Live to reintroduce you to a giant of traditional music, a woman whose technical authority is matched, surpassed even, by her extraordinary inventiveness and thirst for experiment, but who remains steadfast in her assessment of Irish music as for ever the essence of her art ...

The telephone rings. Sharon Shannon is fashionably late, but the County Clare brogue is instantly recognisable. And she's in a chatty mood, covering much ground from details of her new album Saints and Scoundrels (Independent Records, out now) to the difficult territory of her long-term partner Leo Healy's sudden death last year.

Come back in a day or so for Potted Sharon, her quickfire answers to Salut! Live's quickfire questions - something of a tradition when this site conducts the big interview - and for a review of the album.

Salut! Live: Hearty congratulations on your Lifetime Achievement award at the Irish Meteors. It is hard to believe the young woman I saw billed as a teenage accordion sensation when she was in Arcady has now put 22 years into the industry.

Yeah, it's great. I am really, really amazed at how well and how long it has all gone. Delighted - and absolutely honoured by the award. I couldn't believe it.

A recent article in the Evening Herald, Dublin starts with the assertion that everyone thinks the world of Sharon Shannon. I certainly haven't come a cross anything other than admiration. Are you aware of the fund of goodwill and does it carry certain responsibilities for you as a performer?

I suppose I have rarely seen anything negative, which is brilliant. So far, so good. It really helps when your work is well received and yes I do appreciate people saying nice things. I find performing really enjoyable anyway, especially if the audience are enjoying themselves. I don't feel obligated or under pressure as a result but that does make it very easy for us. Vice versa: if they aren't having a good time, it won't be an easy gig.

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