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October 2008

Folk music to ease the fear of flying

Alanstivell2s Whenever I interview Kate Rusby, her fear of flying crops up sooner or later. I am not well placed to offer reassurance.

My earliest flights were the stuff of nightmares: rickety little plane from Blackpool (I think) to the Isle of Man, short hops over to France with airlines about to go under.

Even in my mid-20s, I needed an American to get me through a simple flight from Belfast to London. I'd spent a fortnight avoiding being shot, bombed or beaten up and was now trembling about a routine journey by air.

"I think we're going to make it," he said as we completed takeoff and stiff drinks were served. That was long ago. I have no formula to offer Kate. Practice has simply made, if not perfect, acceptable.

And if I no longer truly fear each flight, I still adopt a form of gallows humour and treat it as if it is going to be my last.

It's not really serious, just a slightly morbid game I play, and it passes time. I work out what music I'd like to have heard for the last time just in case. Don't mock my choice - it's taken from whatever I had on the iPod......

My list for last night's trip back to the UAE from Jordan is as follows:

* Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.......Fareweel Regality

* Joan Baez.......A hard rain's gonna fall

* The Dubliners
.....Bonnie Shoals of Herring (Luke Kelly singing)

* Cara Dillon
......There Were Roses

* Alain Stivell (pictured courtesy of Roger Liptrop and his indispensable Folk Images site) ......Brian Boru

* Fairport Convention (with Sandy)
.......Farewell Farewell/The Deserter

* Graham and Eileen Pratt
...The Last Road

* Steeleye Span....Long Lankin/Blackleg Miner

* Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.......Fareweel Regality (such a great song, so brilliantly done, worth at least one more hearing)

Show of Hands at your service


Show of Hands are touring some of England’s architectural treasures. That is the good news. The bad, for admirers of this duo - actually a trio these days given the welcome inclusion of Miranda Sykes - is that some dates are already sold out.

The 14-date Spires and Beams tour began last night, Oct 22, in Cropredy, not far from the field where I saw them perform so well at the 2007 Fairport Convention festival, and runs to Nov 9.

A young singer songwriter Ruarri Joseph, from Cornwall, provides support. Show of Hands have their detractors, as a recent thread at Mudcat proved.were I in England, I'd consider the cost of a ticket well spent if they did no more than Cousin Jack, Country Life, Roots, the White (or is it blue for them?) Cockade and one or two others, songs that would istinguish any repertoire. The remaining dates are:

Thurs Oct 23 BECKENHAM, St George’s 020 8663 6996

Fri 24 FOLKESTONE, Tower Theatre 01303 223925

Sat 25 EASTBOURNE, All Saints Church 01323 841414

Sun 26 LONDON, Union Chapel 020 7605 5255

Wed 29 MARLBOROUGH, St Mary’s Church 01672 512465

Thu 30 CAMBRIDGE, Emmanuel UR Church 01638 603986

Fri 31 WINGFIELD, St Andrew’s Church 01379 384080 Sat Nov 1 ELY Cathedral 01353 740999 SOLD OUT

Tues 04 DARTINGTON Great Hall 01803 847070 SOLD OUT

Thurs 06 BANBURY, St Mary’s Church 01295 275385

Fri 7 EXETER Cathedral 01392 493493

Sat 8 ST DONAT’S Arts Centre 01446 799100

Sun 9 HEREFORD, All Saints Church 01432 761914

Maddy Prior competition: and the winners are...

Pretty much everyone who entered, or they would be if I had enough prizes to go round.

Each memory or anecdote brought back my own recollections of seeing Maddy Prior when she toured with Tim Hart as a duo, the thrill of hearing Steeleye Span for the first time (while browsing in the record shop at Cecil Sharp House of all places), interviewing Maddy, following each development in her career......

I have a delicious reminiscense of my own, only part of which I can divulge.

Continue reading "Maddy Prior competition: and the winners are..." »

The Grehan Sisters: a short rediscovery

JUNE 2017 UPDATE: just replaced the dead link with one that still works!

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.

Continue reading "The Grehan Sisters: a short rediscovery" »

Chris Foster: hot stuff from Iceland to the desert

Picture: Tyler Cartner
Chris Foster Outsiders (Green Man Productions)

If Maddy Prior's new album took me back to an encounter on the fringes of a folk club, Chris Foster succeeds in dragging me inside - even if his CD is called Outsiders.

It is as if he has been asked to sit down and compile the running order of the quintessential set for a solo folk performer of the thoughtful rather than showman kind. Anger, defiance, humour, love, social'll find all of that and more.

Continue reading "Chris Foster: hot stuff from Iceland to the desert" »

Maddy Prior: in delightfully rude voice


Salut! Live announces the return of something like a proper service..... reviews are important to a site like this, but remember always that the writer claims to be no more than a fan with a platform. First up is Maddy Prior. Coming soon: Chris Foster ....and something special, though not a review, relating to Sandy Denny...

And if you've strayed in here as a result of reading about the competition at Mudcat or Talkawhile, be assured that a comment posted here will count as an entry. For my non-Mudcat/Talkawhile readers, all you need to do is let me have your best, warmest, wittiest Maddy or Steeleye Span anecdote, reminiscence, thought (some great ones already appear at Mudcat, and another can be found here, in the comments). The three I judge to be the best will receive copies of Maddy's albums signed by her....


Maddy Prior* Seven For Old England (Park Records)

The folk club was not due to open for an hour or more. It was so early that I could not imagine anyone else being there before me.

As I wandered, pint in hand, into the small downstairs room of the Golden Cock in Darlington, a young woman was sitting there reading a book. She had a right to be feeling quite cross, but showed no trace of anger. Maddy Prior had been exiled to the snug because the main bar was still, in those far-off days, the preserve of men.

Continue reading "Maddy Prior: in delightfully rude voice" »