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July 2007

June 2007

Win tickets for Fairport at Cropredy

The Guinness was flowing in a Belfast bar, and the arts editor of a British national broadsheet - we had broadsheets then, though an Ulster pal of mine had already begun to call them broadloids - demanded to know who or what I, as the Telegraph's folk critic, thought was at the cutting edge of the music.

Fairport1lPicture: Folk Music Images

Since he had already told me that he considered me far too old for the role, and that the DT should be looking around for a yoof replacement, my reply might have been calculated to humour him. "Fairport Convention," I said.

But it wasn't a wind-up, at least not on my part. I believed then, and believe still, that no one has produced more inspired, exciting folk-rock than Fairport. By which, of course, I mean early Fairport, the band as it was when twice fronted by the incomparable Sandy Denny.

This is not to say that I dismiss what the band has done without her. In fact, I have remained a firm admirer and will shortly be posting here an interview conducted with Simon Nicol on 40 years of Fairport. But the simple truth, so far as I am concerned, is that Fairport of the era- eras - to which I refer reached extraordinary heights of artistic achievement and sheer entertainment value that will always be hard to emulate.

So I now propose to offer two free tickets for the annual Fairport festival at Cropredy, an English Civil War battlefield site near Banbury from Aug 9-11. The Friday night (Aug 10) promises, in particular, to be special, as it will be given over to a reproduction of the trailblazing Liege and Lief album by almost the original band (Chris While taking poor Sandy's place as lead vocalist).

I have set an offbeat Fairport-related question which you will on the continuation page but the answer to which, I think you will NOT find on Google. Answers should be sent not as comments on this posting but by e-mail , here or by using the e-mail link at the top of this page.

The winner will be drawn from correct answers received by June 30.

Read on for the question........

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What's for desert, Christy?

It used to be considered evidence of acquired respectability, since only the great and the good were supposed to be invited. Then the BBC started scouting around for any old riff-raff, provided they'd made a bob or two, to come on air and choose the records, favourite book and luxury they'd take to their Desert Island.

But thank goodness they've gone back to the old standards. This coming Sunday's guest on Desert Island Discs will be our old friend Christy Moore.

Well, he's certainly my old friend and I am grateful to Phil Myers, at the forum, for giving me a few days to work out how to hear the show from France - yes, I know these things are really quite easy but unless it's for football, when mountains are moved in a flash, I sometimes struggle with the technology.

I wonder whether Christy will choose anything by his old mate from early days slogging around the English folk clubs, the late and much lamented Tony Capstick.

The reason I ask is that news of the broadcast takes me back to one of my earlier encounters with Christy, and my only one with Tony.

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The year so far (2)

Looking back over the past few months, I can say that 2007 has already produced some cracking albums, as I am sure Julie Fowlis (pictured) would agree.

Here is the second part of my compilation of the reviews, written by me, that appear most Saturdays in the Daily Telegraph.

And much good is still to come. While I certainly receive the odd album that only the artist's mother could love, most of my current listening - especially new CDs from Steve Knightley, Martin Simpson and Simon Mayor's Mandolinquents - is bringing a good deal of pleasure.

So do not stray too far - this is becoming, I hope, a fine place to be!

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The year so far (1)

As well as being likely - as things stand - to win three CDs*, Smiley raises the question of what I should be recommending to people who stray into this site more out of curiosity than because they already enjoy the kind of music I champion.

Well, since I am still struggling a little with the details needed for my decade/century so far idea, it may be useful to list each of the CDs I have reviewed to date during 2007.

I do not expect everyone to agree with my opinions, and that is as it should be. It's good to be fan who happens to have a platform or two, but I am at heart no more than that, whatever knowledge and experience I am able to bring to my reviewing.

By a convenient coincidence, the year started with one important bit of left-over business: declaring my choice of Folk Album for 2006.

Read on to discover what I liked so much about Music From a Small Island, by Simon Mayor with Hilary James (pictured above...........

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Soirée celtique

CelteWhoever said Riverdance was a perfectly good novelty act, ideal for the judging interlude in the Eurovision Song Contest but no more, clearly had no head for marketing.

Salut! Live has mixed feelings about the phenomenon inspired by that short but impressive bit of TV padding. Only an appalling snob would dismiss a spectacle that has given so much pleasure to an audience numbered, if television is included, in billions. Celtd
The international success of the show has given valuable employment to hundreds of people who have natural talent but have also taken the trouble to learn how to dance, sing and play musical instruments and there has been terrific exposure for Irish culture. Riverdance also achieved something relatively rare in Ulster, crossing the political/religious divide to enthuse young Protestants as well as Catholics (the BBC Radio Ulster presenter Wendy Austin's children were an example of this, as she confirmed to me in an interview a few years ago).

Of course, the dance steps have strayed far beyond what a purist would admire and yes, I am among those who felt a lot of artistic contortions had to be performed, a lot of unrelated sequences and themes bolted on in order to turn that interlude into a full-length show.
At Cavalaire on the French Mediterranean coast on Saturday evening, I caught one of the indirect descendants of Riverdance. The Celtic Legends touring ensemble was in town.

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Compete at Salut!

When I run competitions at Salut! or Salut! Sunderland, I have to worry about persuading publishers to part with books as prizes to be offered by what they may well consider to be a tinpot little blog.

Here at Salut! Live, I can be bolder, since I have lost count of the number of times I have been sent a copy of the same CD by not only the artist's record company but also the agent or publicist.

I will therefore pull together a quite arbitrary selection of three CDs and promise, here and now, to award them to the reader of this site who comes up with the best suggestion for what Salut! Live should aim to do/cover if it has any raison d'être beyond just another hobby for me.

No need at this stage to provide an address. But this is the posting where contributions should be made, as comments. If I get several, and they are incisive or interesting or funny enough, I may well award second and third prizes of two CDs and one. And if I get none at all, I may or may not take the hint.

Oh, and if you like Box Fox, he's the subject of an interview - admittedly football-inspired but with a lot of background to his development as an absolute star of English folk - over at Salut! Sunderland.