Song of the Day Revisited: Fairport Convention ... Crazy Man Michael
Song of the Day Revisited: Nic Jones ... Little Pot Stove

Song of the Day Revisited: Touchstone ... Jack Haggerty

One of the great spin-offs from the Bothy Band was Touchstone, a sparkling Irish-American fusion that included the distinctive voices of Triona Ni Dhomnaill, in her first post-Bothy venture, and Claudia Langille, a fine tenor banjo player from Vermont. I am delighted to give their exceptional version of Jack Haggerty another outing, in the Song of the Day Revisited series.

This is how I introduced it in the original Song of the Day series. The performance gives me as much pleasure now as it did when I first heard them sing and play it.

In truth, this song has never left my head since I heard it on the Touchstone album The New Land.

Even if it had slipped my mind after a week or so, it would then have been replanted, never to be uprooted, by the impact Touchstone made on me the only time I saw them live.

This is what I wrote here three years ago about the band and the song:

I have been lucky enough to attend some outstanding gigs, as you may have read here when I included Fairport Convention's Cropredy recreation of the Liege and Lief album. Another that springs to mind whenever I reflect on live performaces was Touchstone playing a club in Bristol in the early to mid-1980s (a club I recall as being in or just off The Centre, and having an old telephone kiosk plonked in the middle.

You can either watch the interesting graphic (unrelated to the band) or, if you were there the same night in Bristol, close your eyes and still see Claudine Langille sitting on a table, swinging her legs to and fro as she plays banjo and joins Triona Ni Domhnaill in the best version of Jack Haggerty I've ever heard.....

The YouTube clip was posted by one sophiecabra in 2007 and had been seen about 2,600 times by the summer of 2011 (still fewer than 4,000 three years later), on my reckoning a hundredth of what it merits. Sophie says the graphic is a "storyboard sequence made for an Intermediate Animation Class at UCF".

Well, it was made for Salut! Live too, and especially for its Song of the Day series. This would be on any Desert Island Discs selection I would make: an Irish/American folk collaboration of the highest quality.

And yes, in my memory, Claudine is still sitting on that table in a Bristol folk club, playing banjo and belting out the song.

* Touchstone You can buy The New Land and all other music featured in Song of the Day at this Salut! Live Amazon link.

Triona Ni Dhomnaill was later a member of Relativity, which combined Bothy siblings, Triona plus her brother Michael - also ex-Bothy Band - and the magnificent Scottish
musicians Phil and Johnny Cunningham. I reviewed their concert on the South Bank in London and mentioned the diminutive Triona being "almost hidden" behind her clavinet. A Daily Telegraph sub-editor was completely unaware of the existence of this instrument - I should just have called it an electric piano - and changed it to clarinet; I can only think my colleague imagined it to be one huge clarinet.


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