Paul Brady performs Arthur McBride. Image reproduced from Flickr with kind consent of David Sutherland
MUSIC TO HELP US THROUGH LOCKDOWN
Not even the readers of Salut! Live are wholly on my side. My folk tastes are unusual and I cannot be surprised that few share them. Kate Rusby once told me she was quite pleased this type of music wasn't for everyone (though, logically, it should be).
Now it's time for duos and acoustic bands and I will not, for the purposes of this exercise, restrict my choices to those seen live. I'll add an asterisk to each selection where I have seen them up close and personal, or from row Z in the gods. And I have used a little licence, leaving out some of those mentioned in other categories even though they might fit again.
First duos. And this, 100 per cent, is folk and blues so avert your eyes if not for you...
Andy Irvine, Bellowhead, Bert Jansch, Bitter Withy, Bob Fox, Bothy Band, Brownie McGhee, Dave Swarbrick, Dervish, Dubliners, folk, folk-rock, Graham and Eileen Pratt, High Level Ranters, John Renbourn, John Renbourn, Johnstons, June Tabor, Karine Polwart, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Kate Rusby, Kathryn Roberts, Maddy Prior, Martin Carthy, Paul Brady, Planxty, Sharon Shannon, Show of Hands, Silly Sisters, Sonny Terry, Stu Luckley, Touchstone
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 ...
Bellowhead, English, Fairport Convention, folk music, Imagined Village, Jim Moray, June Tabor, Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson, Nic Jones, roots, Shirley and Collins and Davy Graham, Unthanks, Watersons
June 2017 update: this tribute piece to a great song by an even greater departed heroine of folk and folk-rock, Sandy Denny, first appeared nine years ago when I was living in Abu Dhabi. Some of the versions mentioned in my introduction have disappeared, because the links went dead, but others - Nanci Griffith, Rufus Wainwright, 10,000 Maniacs - have been added. See Comments, too: I never got round to acting on Tom Bliss's request but will try to do so in due course (another nine years?). Meanwhile, my thanks to Ross Anderson for alerting me to a tremendous BBC Soul Music mini-documentary on the song, quoting Sandy, Judy Collins, Rufus, Sandy's biographer Mick Houghton, Simon Nicol and several others. There's a link in the footnote ...
...well, I'd like to know what happened to the time that has elapsed since I agreed to an acquaintance's request to compile for him a cassette - that dates it already - of versions of Sandy Denny's spellbinding Who Knows Where The Time Goes?, his favourite song.
It began with good intentions on my part. As a reviewer of folk albums, I already had several renditions - quite a few different ones recorded by Sandy, come to that - and you can be sure that more have reached me since.
But I never quite got round to it. I am not sure exactly how many years have passed since my undertaking to prepare the tape. But with thanks to YouTube subscribers and apologies to Julian, the husband of one of my wife's then colleagues, here at least is a start.
A search for the song produces the good, the not so good and the downright ugly. I came across some assaults on the ear that were simply so gruesome that it would be unkind to everyone concerned to expose them to Salut! Live's small but probably quite discerning audience.
A frustrating feature of where I live (the UAE) is that when using the internet away from my place of work, I am handicapped by restricted access to certain sites. I have no reason to fear that Salut! Live is other than entirely innocent, likewise my other sites (Salut!, Salut! North and Salut! Sunderland). But I gather from Typepad that there is some problem here concerning - presumably - all the sites it hosts.
The upshot is that I cannot properly view the clips I have located from YouTube, except via a not very practical preview function. I know that Sandy is there two or three times, including a BBC interview in which the song is also heard.
You will also hear Kate Rusby, Mary Black, Judy Collins, Richard Thompson, Eva Cassidy, Nina Simone, the Sullen Kinks, Kate Wolf, John Kirkpatrick, Justin Bond, Lisa Lavery, Chris While
Feel free to commend other versions to me, or to comment on those I present here in an attempt to ease my guilty conscience. And sorry again, Julian, I still haven't got round to making a tape.
An e-mail from the fRoots editor Ian Anderson brings news that Bellowhead have won the album-of-the-year award in the magazine's annual poll - its 25th - of critics and others associated with folk and roots music.
I am delighted for Bellowhead, an outstanding band, and offer them Salut! Live's warm congratulations.
But the choice vindicates my own decision not to take part, for the first time in as many years as I can recall, in this year's judging. The same applied to the BBC 2 folk music awards poll.
My chaotic existence over the past five or six years - moving from Paris to the south of France to London to Abu Dhabi and back again (but without Paris) - has limited my access to as much music as I would like to hear. The supply of review albums has also steadied to a trickle, an understandable consequence of the little amount of reviewing I still do in newspapers as opposed to here (and it's not that much more here).
I have asked both fRoots and the BBC to keep me in mind as a panel member for next year and hope very much to make Salut! Live much more active than it has been. But for 2010, I simply could not have done justice to the judge's role.
So bravo Bellowhead, and to the other winners, as announced last night on BBC Radio 3's World On 3 by Mary Ann Kennedy and Ian:
Album Of 2010: BellowheadHedonism (Navigator)
Compilation/Re-issue: Various Artists: Africa 50 (Stern's/ Discograph)
Best Packaged Album: Natalie MerchantLeave Your Sleep (Nonesuch)
Since I have none of these albums, a gap in my life that I shall now rectify, the correctness of my decision to abstain from the voting was clearly justified.
If the awards entice you into buying any of the selected albums, or any others that have been mentioned here over the past couple of years, consult my Amazon list by scrolling down the right sidebar or go directly to the Bellowhead link by