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September 2007

Gone a little quiet

Many thanks to all those who have come this way for the first time in recent days.

Sod's law has been observed and the sharp increase in traffic coincides with a lull in postings caused by my move from France to London, in turn to be followed by a move to the Middle East.

Please bear with me. There is actually quite a lot to read on the site, most of it relatively timeless, so I hope newcomers will find at least something to interest them. Normal sevrice will be restored once I have got cartons unpacked, football games watched and internet access sorted.

Liege and lief ends an era

As readers of my other sites - Salut! and Salut! Sunderland - already know, I am about to leave France after more than three years and, following a brief return to the UK, head off to a new job in the Middle East.

Somehow, and don't ask me too closely about the how syllable of that word, I intend to keep all three sites alive.

But the new adventure provides a natural opportunity for me to bring a modest era of folk music journalism to an end.

My review in today's Daily Telegraph of Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief Deluxe Edition, digitally remastered from the original 40-year-old recording accompanied, is the last I propose to write for that newspaper.Liegeandlief

There was to have been one more review, Banda Celtamericana. This is a respectable fusion of Chilean panpipes and Irish music and I would have given it a positive enough write-up despite the ghastly title.

But read my Liege and Lief review here and you will see why, after hearing the wonders of Sandy Denny and the band made more wonderful still by state-of-the-art technology, I felt it would be an anti-climax to sign off with anything else.

I have enjoyed being the Telegraph's folk critic for around 20 years. It has given me great access to the music I love and the people who make it, throughout the British Isles, in Brittany and Nova Scotia. It has also brought me pile after pile of CDs.

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Treasure chest

Patrickstreet2Patrick Street: Picture: Folk Images

When you review music for any length of time, it is easy to accumulate an astonishing library of albums, singles, EPs, videos, DVDs, books and the rest.

It is also, in my case at least, the simplest thing to overlook music you would actually enjoy very much, or to forget records once they have been reviewed and the need - as opposed to desire - to listen to them passes.

I recently started a thread at the Mudcat folk site on music you've forgotten you had.

It hasn't attracted many responses, partly because it was inspired by a much better and more visited thread asking people what they listened to last night. "Last night" could, in practice, be any last night, of course.

But read on if the subject - my subject - interests you and see if some of the records I list strike a chord. I came across them while messing around in the garage, allegedly preparing for a big move. They were among the hundreds and hundreds of CDs stored there. I have several more boxes filled with CDs back at home in the UK.

Modern creature that I am, I have begun to transfer the music to my iPod. But I should admit that some of the things I am unearthing are so recent that I have no excuse for having overlooked them in the first place.

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The year so far (3)

If you are familiar with Salut! Live, you will know that I occasionally bring readers up to date on albums I have reviewed for the Daily Telegraph. This is the third such posting on releases in 2007 so far.

One of the true finds of my year has been the Outside Track, a multi-national young band whose members share a passion for Irish music and met while studying at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick.

An interview with Norah Rendell, seen on the left in the photograph, the band's Vancouver-born singer and whistle player, will appear here soon.

For now, see extracts of what I had to say about the Outside Track, Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, Wolfstone, the Tannahill Weavers, Steve Knightley, Simon Mayor and the Mandolinquents, Gráda, Martin Simpson, Maggie Holland, Jenna, Chris and Kellie While, Sharon Shannon, Linda Thompson and the Imagined Village.

Wherever possible, featured albums will be available at low prices on my record shelf down the right hand column.

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Conversations with Kate Rusby (3)

In her own words, Kate Rusby is a nattery sort of lass. The previous two postings at Salut! Live perhaps prove she has got herself bang to rights with that phrase.

I hope you agree with me that her answers to my questions offered a warm and revealing insight into the life of a woman who has done so much to make folk music entertaining without ever threatening to diminish its integrity.

But amid all that natteriness - a word she used, the first time we ever met, to sum up what she loved about her fellow Tykes - it is still possible to pin Kate down to short and sweet answers.

Read on and you will learn a little more about her from a quickfire Q&A session that I decided to bolt on - a bonus track, as it were - to my article for her own website (it was not yet live there, but is now; follow this link and you may read Kate Rusby on the "rare diamond" that is folk).

Let's call it here, as I did for her site, Potted Kate.........

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Conversations with Kate Rusby (2)

AwkwardKate's new CD: sleeve design by Adam Savage

In the second part of Salut! Live's interview with Kate Rusby, we hear about collaborations with other artists, and in particular her thoughts on Ronan Keating, from eager approval of his derrière - this is a site based in France, after all - to total nonchalance when reminded of the occasional sniping their partnership provoked.

Kate also updates us on her fear of flying, the music she is currently listening to and the challenge of facing record production without the guiding hand of John McCusker.

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