Dipping into the past

Cover Story (35): Jack Haggerty - Touchstone, Tony Furtado or Celtic Mayhem

Author: Colin Randall

Just for fun and also because I never tire of hearing Jack Haggerty, I thought I'd combine nostalgia (Dipping into the Past via Salut! Live's extensive archive) and our regular look at different treatments of the same songs (Cover Story). Jack Haggerty, also known as Jack Hackety, is the first-person lament of a heartbroken raftsman on the Flat Rover in Michigan over the loss of the life of his life, the blacksmith's daughter Anna.


She cruelly announces she is to marry another ("to her mother, Jane Tucker, I lay all the blame," wails our hero. "For she caused her to leave me and slandered my name..." ).

The song dates form the 1860s and was written by one Dan McGinnis whose trades did include working the rafts. There are a number of versions out there and any competent singer or band should be able to give the song a decent shot. More of that later; one, for me, stands head and shoulders above all others. And that is where the nostalgia comes into the tale. What follows is based on what first appeared in one of the Salut! Live "Song of the Day" variants. *****

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Dipping into the Past: John Mayall's part in my journey from blues to folk

John Mayall - 1

November 2017 update: a former colleague, Bill Stock, wrote this at Facebook the day, prompting me to trawl through the Salut! Live archives and reproduce - from 10 years ago - the little piece that follows ...

"Met my all-time UK blues hero, the legendary John Mayall, at his gig in Southend tonight. Bought a couple of signed CDs before the show (see next photo) and told John I first saw him at Bishop’s Stortford, Herts in the late 60s.

What an amazing gig. After playing non-stop for nearly two hours he and his fab band were given a well-deserved standing ovation by fans. Bear in mind that Mr Mayall was called up for National Service, served in Korea and has been playing the Blues since the Fifties, he sounded as fresh and sprightly as ever. His multi-skilling abilities amazed me. On some numbers he played Roland or Hammond keyboards with his right hand, played a harmonica held again a microphone in his left hand while singing a few verses in between. He also played superb rhythm and lead guitars. No wonder he was made OBE for services to music. And at the end of the show John and the whole band met fans in the foyer to sign more CDs and programmes and pose for more photos. Brilliant."

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Dipping into the Past: Eddi Reader and Burns, bawdiness and romance


November 2017 update: as I browse the extensive Salut! Live archive for gems from the past to share with a (slightly) expanding audience, live reviews are not obvious choices. I make an exception for Eddi Reader and this corker of a review, by my great friend Pete Sixsmith, of the night he saw her in Durham. Eddi is one of many outstanding artists who were initally and inexcusably omitted from my recent spot of fun with Best Females Singers.

Eddi herself tweeted various names to me: Annie Briggs, Sandy Denny, "the lassies Unthank", Liz Fraser, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Siobhan Miller, Amy Winehouse. "Joanna Carlin, also known as Melanie Harold, my personal folk hero", Rachel Sermanni, Bonnie Raitt, Judee Sill and Linda Ronstadt ("Stone Poneys era"). Sandy Denny and one of "the lassies Unthank", Rachel, did head my two main lists and I have also found room for Amy Winehouse (and, belatedly, Eddi). When I told Eddi I had fond memories of her appearance at the Union Chapel in North London - "one of the best gigs I have ever attended" - some years ago, her reply was a classic: "I'm better now."

So here, from Easter 2011, is Pete Sixsmith's review. It passes the test of time with flying colours ...

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Potted Sharon Shannon


The last part of Salut! Live's interview with Sharon Shannon- conducted eight years ago -was necessarily brief. See the main interview and the reason for republishing it here.

We were almost at the of our conversation. 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, plus a review of the Saints and Scoundrelsalbum ...

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Dipping into the Past: Sharon Shannon - the Salut! Live interview


Please forgive Salut! Live for yet another dip into the past. I am working on a new article in which Sharon Shannon features prominently so it seems a good moment to begin by reintroducing readers to a giant of traditional music. Shannon is a woman whose technical authority is matched, surpassed even, by her extraordinary inventiveness and thirst for experiment, but who remains steadfast in regarding Irish music as always the essence of her art. I can think of few figure in music who, when their various contributions are totted up, have given more pleasure. I will add a clip, from about the same period of this interview that show what she brings out of others ...

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Dipping into the Past: the beauty and power of English folk yields a personal top 10

Bellowhead Image of Bellowhead by Candy Schwartz, Boston USA

OCTOBER 2017 Update: this eloquently presented list of one man's favourite 10 pieces from the vast reserves of English folk music deserves another airing. I still disagree with him about Steeleye Span. The article first appeared here in the second half of 2013 and I am adding a couple of clips ...

Another guest writer, another fellow Sunderland supporter. No apologies there. Guest contributors are always welcome, even if they support Newcastle United but have something interesting to say about the music covered here. Andrew Curry, who first posted this at his own site Around the Edges - https://aroundtheedges.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/a-dozen-great-english-folk-records/ - knows I disagree with him about Steeleye (read on) but have no quarrels with his choices, some of which would be in a similar list of my own ...

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