FolkWorld Issue 34 11/2007

News & Gossip

++ Tommy Makem ++ 'Peerie' Willie Johnson ++ Giuseppe Leopizzi ++ Kristen Noguès ++ Tom Munnelly ++ Arlo Guthrie ++ Danish Roots ++ Swedish Music Museum ++ Hill of Tara ++ Gypsy Caravan ++ World Music Association of Serbia ++

Tommy Makem

So the great Tommy Makem is dead. How I really LOVED that man. That truly glorious baritone voice, and the compelling banjo. The fine songwriter. "Four Green Fields" was - and remains - a masterpiece. (Even if I personally do NOT necessarily buy the politics!) Loved him so much that in 1996, I sought out (and dined in) his restaurant in Manhattan. Would have paid Guide Michelin prices just for the honour, but in truth it was remarkably inexpensive and really fine value. Interested to learn from this obituary that he was a teetotaller. (As apart from the odd glass of Jever Pilsener and glass of Federico Paternina Gran Reserva Rioja, so am I.) But his early years of smoking finally caught up with him and he died of lung cancer (as did his wife). Methinks the same end probably awaits me. My heavy smoking from 18 to 33 has put a time bomb inside me. Yet, I defiantly remain against Nanny State rules on smoking: rules that much of Europe have adopted.

Kindest, Dai Woosnam.

Tommy Makem (1932-2007)
Ireland/USA. Celebrated traditional Irish music icon Tommy Makem has died of lung cancer in Dover, New Hampshire, on 1st August 2007. Tommy Makem, who played the five string banjo and tin whistle and sang in a deep baritone, was born and raised in the town of Keady, County Armagh, in Northern Ireland, on 4th November 1932. His mother, Sarah Makem, had also been a successful traditional singer, as well as being an important source of traditional Irish music. She was visited and recorded by Diane Guggenheim Hamilton and Jean Ritchie and many more. Irish Stamp Clancys Her song "As I Roved Out" had been used by BBC radio in the 1950's as the title and signature tune of their folk music programme. Tommy Makem emigrated to the United States in 1955. During the 1960's, he gained world-wide fame teaming up with with the Clancy Brothers, performing sell-out concerts in Carnegie Hall and making television appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. Folk singer Danny Doyle once said:

There is not an Irish ballad singer alive today that does not owe the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem an enormous debt. The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem didn't simply open doors for all of us, they kicked them down!
Tommy Makem left the group in 1969 to pursue a solo career. He joined Liam Clancy in 1975 to perform as Makem & Clancy and went solo again in 1988. Tommy also has been a prolific songwriter. Many of his songs became standards in the repertoire, notably "Four Green Fields" and "The Winds Are Singing Freedom".

'Peerie' Willie Johnson (1920-2007)
Shetland Islands/Scotland. On 22 May 2007, Shetland lost a musical legend with 'Peerie' Willie Johnson who died of emphysema at the age of 86 in the Shetland's capital Lerwick.
Peerie Willie Johnson
Tom Anderson & 'Peerie' Willie Johnson

Willie once saw an advert for a music book 'Every Known Guitar Chord': I waited weeks for it to arrive, and when it did I wis hellish disappointed. I already kent dem a'. But I did notice the guy who wrat the book had missed a few, so I added dem in at da back o the book and sent it back tae him again.
William Henry Johnson was born on 10th December 1920. Sickly as a child and short of stature, he was nicknamed 'Peerie' which means little in the Scots language. During his childhood illness he developed a love of jazz and western swing while listening to American radio. He heard jazz guitarists Eddie Lang and Django Reinhardt and he began to play guitar and apply what he heard to traditional Shetland music. In 1936, Peerie joined the influential Shetland fiddler Tom Anderson (1910-91) and the Islesburgh Dance Band. He remembered once:

I had to keep it very basic at first with Tom. Nothing fancy, because he wanted it that way. In any case, you can't put a lot of thirteenths and flattened fifths into Shetland reels - it takes away from it, in my opinion. But later on, especially when we went to America, I started doing a lot of flattened-fifth things, and Tom came round eventually.
Apart from his fruitful collaboration with Tom Anderson, Peerie played and toured with Shetland fiddler Willie Hunter, and he was a favourite accompanist of Aly Bain. In 2005 he was one of the original inductees into the 'Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame'. The Shetland Arts Trust launched the 'Peerie Willie Guitar Festival' as an annual event.
In 1958 Willie, together with fiddler Willie Hunter, recorded an album for the BBC in Abbey Road Studios. The second half of the album is much better than the first, Willie observes. Why is that? Well du sees during the recording interval they sent out for wis a bottle o whiskey.
Peerie never released a solo album but he appeared on several anthologies, and recordings by the Boys of the Lough, Cathal McConnell and Aly Bain. An archival album of Peerie as a soloist is reportedly being prepared by Greentrax Recordings. Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor recalls him like this:
I don't think I've ever met another musician who was so full of music. It's almost as if he was more than a musician. Every atom in his body was music, and his enthusiasm was quite amazing. If he was in the Lounge [his local bar] and someone started to play, he just picked up whatever instrument was there, whatever just came to hand, he was just so natural.

Giuseppe Leopizzi died
Aes Dana "Frontiera"
Palermo, Italy. Giuseppe Leopizzi, the bandleader of Aes Dana, died on 1st June. He had been suffering from acute leukemia. Giuseppe Leopizzi was best known as the guitar player and band-leader of the Sicilian Ban Aes Dana, whose name means People of Art in Gaelic. He formed the group in 1982 in Palermo. It was the first Celtic-oriented Italian group invited to play in Ireland (at the O'Carolan Harp Festival in 1985). Aes Dana's last album "Frontiera" (2003) featured Irish musicians Paddy Keenan (uilleann pipes) and Mairtin O'Connor (accordion), a continuous and fascinating oscillation between Ireland and the Mediterranean, according to the review in Irish Music Magazine. The title track, composed by Giuseppe, won the 1st prize at the 2002 Florida Songwriting Competition and was awarded the John Lennon Songwriting Contest prize in the world music category.

Kristen Noguès (1952-2007)
Britanny/France. On 4th of July 2007, the Breton harp player Kristen Noguès passed away in Brest at the age of 55 after a serious and enduring illness. Kristen was born in Versailles in 1952 with a Breton background. At an early age she started playing harp and was taught by Denise Megevand who had also been the tutor of world famous Breton harper Alan Stivell. Back in Britanny, Kristen learned the traditional question-and-answer-songs (kan ha diskan) and the traditional Breton laments (gwerzioù). However, instead of performing traditional Breton music, Kirsten was rather interested in more ambient and contemporary sounds. In 1990 she recorded her most beloved album "Kernelec", featuring jazz guitarist and husband Jaques Pellen.

Tom Munnelly (1944-2007)
Ireland. Folk song collector Tom Munnelly died on 30th August 2007 in his adopted home in Miltown Malbay, County Clare after a long illness. A native of Dublin, Tom Munnelly assembled the largest collection of folk songs ever gathered in Ireland by one person. He was co-founder of The Folk Music Society of Ireland and the Clare Festival of Traditional Singing, and chairman of the Willie Clancy School and the Irish Traditional Music Archive.

Arlo Guthrie Getting 60
USA. Arlo Guthrie was born with a guitar in one hand and a harmonica in the other, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York on 10th of July 1947. He is the eldest son of America's most beloved singer/writer/philosopher Woody Guthrie and Marjorie Mazia Guthrie.
Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie "Live in Sydney"
He grew up surrounded by dancers and musicians: Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays (The Weavers), Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, all of whom were significant influences on Arlo's musical career. Guthrie gave his first public performance at age 13.
In New York City he hung out at Gerdes Folk City, The Gaslight and The Bitter End. In Boston's Club 47, and in Philadelphia he made places like The 2nd Fret and The Main Point his home. He witnessed the transition from an earlier generation of ballad singers like Richard Dyer-Bennet and blues-men like Mississippi John Hurt, to a new era of singer-song writers such as Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. He grooved with the beat poets like Allen Ginsburg and Lord Buckley, and picked with players like Bill Monroe and Doc Watson.
Arlo Guthrie's career exploded in 1967 with the release of "Alice's Restaurant". Arlo went on to star in the 1969 Hollywood film version of "Alice's Restaurant", directed by Arthur Penn. With songs like "Alice's Restaurant", too long for radio airplay; "Coming into Los Angeles", banned from many radio stations (but a favorite at the 1969 Woodstock Festival); and the definitive rendition of Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans", Guthrie was no One-Hit-Wonder.
Over the last four decades Guthrie has toured throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia winning a wide, popular following. Arlo is a natural-born storyteller, whose tales and anecdotes figure prominently in his performances. Today Arlo spends nearly ten months of the year on the road, and is frequently accompanied by his son Abe. Abe has shared the stage with his father for over 15 years, playing keyboards and providing additional vocals.
Alongside his thriving performing career, Guthrie launched his own record label Rising Son Records in 1983. Rising Son's latest release is "Arlo Guthrie - Live In Sydney" (2005) recorded in June 2004 while on tour in Australia. "Live In Sydney" is a two CD package - an entire evening with Arlo, Abe and Gordon Titcomb.
Guthrie collaborated with friends, John Nardolillo (musical director), and with George Massenburg to create a recording of Arlo with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. Recorded during the spring of 2006 the live concert will be released on Arlo's 60th birthday, July 10th 2007. The new recording is called "In Times Like These."

danish roots

November 2007
7 - Haugaard&Høirup, Folk Club Züri, Zürich, Switzerland
8 - Haugaard&Høirup, Oberemühle, Dübendorf, Switzerland
9 - Haugaard&Høirup, Pfarrhauskeller, Waldenburg, Switzerland
10 - Haugaard&Høirup, Kellertheater, Langnau, Switzerland
11 - Haugaard&Høirup, Chäslager, Stans, Switzerland
23 - Habbadám, The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, Scotland
27 - Habbadám, Leith Folk Club, Leith, Scotland
Danish Roots
Denmark What is Danish Roots? - Danish Roots ...

... wants to give people around the world the chance to enjoy the beautiful, dynamic and enchanting sounds of Danish folk and roots music.
... is music with Danish roots from musicians with their roots in Danish music traditions.
... is a music export initiative launched in August 2006 by a group of organisations from the Danish music industry.
... assists Danish musicians with international ambitions and potential to establish themselves on the international folk and roots music scene.
... promotes Danish folk and roots music internationally.
... wishes to further strengthen and develop new developments in traditional and contemporary Danish folk and roots music.
As the first year in the life of danish roots is growing in the world and Year Two is kicked into action, two new bands have joined the roster and are ready to conquer the world with their music. Haugaard & Høirup 2002 From July 1 2007 until Juni 30 2008 the following bands will help make Danish folk and roots music grow in the world.
Three of the bands have been selected as spearheads of the project. These represent the elite of Danish folk and roots music. They have already made their music heard on far and wide and will with their unique sound and professionalism open new doors for themselves – Zar 2002 and for Danish folk and roots music in general. These three bands are:
  • Eivør
  • Haugaard & Høirup
  • Instinkt
  • The remaining five bands in danish roots are front-runners of Danish folk and roots music. They too receive special attention and support in their endeavour to bring their music beyond the borders of Denmark. All five have begun promising international careers and hold big promises for the future:
  • Afenginn.
  • Henrik Jansberg
  • Trio Mio
  • Tumult
  • Zar

  • Swedish Music Museum
    Sweden. Are you interested in traditional instruments and music from Scandinavia? Now you can read about and see pictures of a wide range of instruments on the Swedish Music Museums web page: Click on collections and instruments. There you find information and pictures of instruments such as nyckelharpas, psalmodikon, hommels, bag pipes, flutes etc. The Music Museum's instrument collection consists of approximately 5,500 artifacts of varying ages: from brand new to several hundreds of years old. The major part of the collection is of European art music and Scandinavian folk music instruments.

    Hill of Tara
    Ireland. Hothouse Flowers frontman Liam O Maonlai released a song to rally campaigners opposed to the controversial M3 motorway route around the Hill of Tara. The song was written by Steve Cooney.
    Listen to 'Hill of Tara' at:

    Money-Mad-Mile (Tara Road)     By Steve Cooney

    (I was told officially, when I went for tea at the Tara Tea Rooms grand
    There was a major excavation, beyond my expectation, so I went with my cap in my hand...
    And when I got to that Sacred spot, well, I could only admire the view
    High above that money-mad-mile under the Tara sky so blue...)

    When the earth sheds it’s skin, the energy within is unstoppable creative force
    And if you’re driving a machine through the Tara-Skryne your race has run its course
    We’re singin’ up the land, not afraid to take a stand to let Creation shine through
    High above that money-mad-mile under the Tara sky so blue...

    We’ve all been awoken, the Word has been spoken ‘Stop the work on the Money-Mad-Mile’
    And people get ready, keep the Spirit steady, we gotta raise the roof up for a while
    It’s the Spirit of the Land or the Plan of the Damned, and it’s a hell of a thing to do
    But we’re gonna fly high above that money-mad-mile under the Tara sky so blue...

    Do you hear the sound through the holy ground where the ancient Fianna sleep?
    In their gravelly beds, the Spirits of the dead and the Lia Fáil weep
    And wherever we rest, in this world or the next, we will have learnt a thing or two
    High above that money-mad-mile under the Tara sky so blue!

    The cynical-clinical clones of construction seem to think that we’re some kind of clowns
    So we’ve got to pull together through this stormy weather to make those money-mad-men back down
    And if they take us all away, we’ll have to watch and pray over this wreck of the Ship Of Fools
    High above that money-mad-mile, under the Tara sky so blue...

    There’s a solution to this cultural pollution that’s goin’ on in Gabhra green
    Take the route to the West, the short road is best, no Toll through the Tara-Skryne
    Born wild and free, people like me are not gonna see this road go through
    And soon we’ll being flying high above that money-mad-mile under the Tara sky so blue...

    There’s no need to panic, we’re a natural organic dynamic, rekindling the ancient fire
    So politicians rethink, step back from the brink, and listen to the dawn choir
    These are timeless rights, so we’ll sit here through the nights and we will fight for what is true
    High above that money-mad-mile under the Tara sky so blue!

    The Buena Vista Social Club for Gypsy music. It captures the spirit of an amazing musical culture and the heart of the musicians and singers who express it. (Cinem. Int. Agency)
    Icon Movie Gypsy Caravan
    This rich feature documentary about the musical world of the Roma celebrates the luscious music of top international Gypsy performers and interweaves stirring real life tales of their home life and social background. Directed by Jasmine Dellal and shot by documentary icon Albert Maysles, the film takes place on location in Spain, Macedonia, Romania and India, as well as in Europe and in the USA during the Gypsy Caravan concert tour created by World Music Institute. Starring musicians from Fanfare Ciocarlia, Taraf de Haidouks, Maharaja, Antonio El Pipa & Esma Redzepova.

    World Music Association of Serbia
    Serbia. A group of festival enthusiasts had decided to found the World Music Association of Serbia (WMAS) as a non-governmental and non-profit making organization in 2001. The main duty of WMAS is the affirmation of the national World Music culture, education of the society and co-operation with organizations and individuals throughout the world.

    Visit the WMAS website:
    In order to achieve their aims, the activists of WMAS were starting a series of campaigns:

    More News in the German Issue!

    To News of Issue 33    To News of Issue 35

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    © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2007

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