Mike Heron (*27 December 1942, Edinburgh, Scotland). In 1965, James Michael Heron successfully auditioned to join a new trio, The Incredible String Band, with Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer in Edinburgh. They soon began pioneering an eclectic "world music" approach. Heron later said: "It was an exploring era in the Sixties and people were rebelling from the boring pop stuff into folk and blues and world music. You couldn't sit down and listen to Buddy Holly and pass the joint around. So we tried to make the kind of music we felt was missing from our lives, that fitted with the hippy lifestyle." The ISB produced over 10 albums including the Grammy nominated "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter". In 1969 they were the only Scottish band to appear at Woodstock.
The ISB broke up in 1974. Heron released a number of solo recordings, mostly more rock-oriented. 1971's "Smiling Men with Bad Reputations" blended rock, folk and world music and featured musicians such as Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, John Cale, Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Elton John, Jimmy Page and Steve Winwood. In 1979, Heron withdrew from performing for several years to re-emerge in the 1990s. Since 1999 he performed occasionally with a reformed version of the Incredible String Band. More recently he has been performing with his daughter, singer/songwriter Georgia Seddon.
Ric Sanders (*8 December 1952, Birmingham, England.). Richard Sanders is an English fiddler who has played in miscellaneous jazz and folk rock groups. Over the years he has worked with artists such as The Strawbs, Jethro Tull, Robert Plant, Roy Harper, Pentangle, June Tabor, Martin Simpson, Gerry Rafferty, Loudon Wainwright III, ... In 1985 Sanders joined Fairport Convention. Since 2002 he has also been working regularly with his own Ric Sanders Group, featuring Vo Fletcher and Mike Gregory and performing a wide repertoire of jazz and swing.
Billy Connolly (*24 November 1942, Glasgow, Scotland, UK). William "Billy" Connolly, Jr., is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname 'The Big Yin' ('The Big One').
In the late 1960s he gave up his job as a boilermaker in the Glasgow shipyards to pursue a career as a folk singer in the folk-pop duo called The Humblebums (with Tam Harvey and Gerry Rafferty, respectively) and subsequently as a soloist. Connolly's contributions were primarily straightforward pop-folk with quirky and whimsical lyrics. His live performances featured folk songs with humorous introductions that became increasingly long in duration.
In the early 1970s, he made the transition from folk-singer with a comedic persona to full-fledged comedian.
Connolly is also an actor, and has appeared in several films, e.g. "Mrs. Brown" (1997),
for which he was nominated for a BAFTA award for Best Actor.
Pecker Dunne (1933-2012). Patrick "Pecker" Dunne was born in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, where his father was busking. He was one of the last surviving links to a distinctive traveller culture of touring entertainers. He travelled around Ireland to busk at country fairs and football matches, his father had taught him the fiddle. He later took up the banjo, which became his musical trademark.
From the early 1960s, Pecker Dunne was a regular performer with the Dubliners, who covered his ballad "Sullivan’s John". He also acted alongside Richard Harris and Stephen Rea in the 1996 feature film "Trojan Eddie". Pecker also published an idiosyncratic but enjoyable autobiography, "Parley-Poet and Chanter," which showcased his storytelling. He passed away on 19 December 2012.
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012). India's best known sitar player passed away on 11th December 2012 in California. Ravi Shankar had been born in Varanasi to a Bengali Brahmin family and spent his youth touring Europe and India with the dance group of his brother Uday. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under court musician Allauddin Khan.
In 1956, he began to tour Europe and the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and guitarist George Harrison. He received three Grammy Awards and continued to perform in the 2000s, sometimes with his younger daughter Anoushka.
Ian Campbell (1933-2012). Campbell was born in Aberdeen, his parents were singers who specialised in the songs of north-east Scotland. In 1946, the family moved to Birmingham, where Ian and his younger sister Lorna formed the Clarion Skiffle Group, later renamed to The Ian Campbell Folk Group.
They performed a mixture of British traditional folk music and new material, including compositions by Campbell, and became one of the most respected, popular and influential folk groups of the 1960s British folk revival. In 1965, their version of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" reached No. 42 in the UK Singles Chart. The line-up changed over the years, including fiddler Dave Swarbrick and bass player Dave Pegg.
Campbell was one of the singers chosen by Ewan MacColl to appear in the pioneering series of documentaries with songs, the Radio Ballads. After the Ian Campbell Folk Group split in 1978, Campbell did a degree in theatre studies, after which he worked as a television producer and presenter. In 2012, Campbell received the 'Good Tradition' Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for his outstanding contribution to folk music over five decades. He died later that year, on 24 November 2012, from cancer.
Martin Fay (1938-2012). "I had no interest whatsoever in a future career in Irish music. I wouldn't have known it from Arabian music. Classical music was my forte. I wanted to be a soloist in Carnegie Hall." As a boy, Martin Fay took up the classical violin inspired by Yehudi Menuhin's playing in a film dramatisation of the life of Paganini. After leaving school Fay played in Dublin's Abbey theatre orchestra in the evenings. Its musical director, Seán Ó Riada, soon established a chamber orchestra playing arrangements of traditional Irish music, Ceoltóirí Cualann, featuring Fay and uilleann piper Paddy Moloney.
In 1962 Fay became one of the founding members of The Chieftains alongside Moloney, utilizing a similar approach to arranging Irish tunes. Fay recorded more than 30 albums with The Chieftains (including the music for the Oscar-winning score of Stanley Kubrick's film "Barry Lyndon"), before he withdrew from touring in 2001. He died in Cabra, Dublin on 14 November 2012 being ill for some time.
Derek Hoy (1954-2012). Sadly, Edinburgh fiddler Derek Hoy died on 10th November 2012 from the same condition, a brain tumour, that claimed his friend and fellow Jock Tamson's Bairn's fiddler Iain Hardie a month before. After Jock Tamson's Bairns went their separate ways, Derek collaborated with writer Billy Kay in his stage shows about the Scots tongue and the live theatre show "Fergusson's Auld Reekie," and performed with his daughter Sarah, a fiddler too, and Bella McNab's Dance Band. Derek was also instrumental in the development of the online archive www.raretunes.org.
Michael Marra (1952-2012). The singer-songwriter, popularly known as the Bard of Dundee, died on 23th October 2012 following a long battle with throat cancer. Michael Marra formed his first band in 1971, Hen's Teeth, with fellow Scottish songwriter Dougie MacLean. Best known as a solo performer, his songwriting was rooted in Scottish life, in particular his native Dundee, his musical style was influenced by Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, and his preferred accompaniment the piano. In 2007 Michael released the album "Quintet," comprising songs about the musicians Peerie Willie Johnson, Peter McGlone, Thomas Fraser, Martin Carthy and Dr. John.
Ian Hardie (1952-2012). With great sadness, Greentrax had to announce the death of fiddler Ian Hardie from a brain tumour on 16th October 2012 at his home in Nairn. Born in Edinburgh, Ian Hardie had been a founder member of the influential Scots folk band Jock Tamson's Bairns and deeply involved in the Scottish folk revival since the the 1970s. Ian had also been well-known as a composer with four solo albums and three tune books.
Ian Hardie fell ill in 2011 but was still able to record on the latest Occasionals album.
As part of the Greentrax 25th Anniversary celebrations the label re-released Ian’s first solo album on CD,
incidentally this was the very first album released by Greentrax Recordings in 1986.
Topic Records' Digital Archive Project
A couple of years ago, Topic Records began to make out-of-print albums from their archive available for digital download. To date, 84 of these albums are available to download, complete with newly-designed digital booklets.
Topic Records has always had the underlying philosophy of making traditional-based music as widely available as possible. The ambition is now to make as much of the vast historical catalogue available using digital distribution.
Digital delivery all too often divorces the audio recording from the original artwork, documentation and sleeve-notes.
What makes this project distinctive is that Topic Records plan to restore and include all of the information
that accompanied the original releases. Where possible they will add extra ephemera and photographs.
Jake Wilson: Antarctica Performance
100 years ago, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his polar party all died on their return journey from the South Pole. To mark the centenary, singer-songwriter Jake Wilson has composed “All’s Well”, a cycle of songs written from the point of view of these five extraordinary men: Edgar Evans, Lawrence Oates, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, and Captain Scott himself.
Wilson is now organising to travel to Antarctica to perform the songs in Scott’s original expedition hut at Cape Evans. He has secured permission to play in the Hut from the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, has persuaded a commercial cruise to take him and a cameraman-friend who will document the journey, and is on the verge of buying an extraordinary graphite guitar that will survive the extreme conditions he’ll be facing …
Jake Wilson is a folk-rock guitarist and songwriter in the Richard Thompson mould. As well as performing his own material, Jake currently plays with ex-Fairport Convention folk fiddle legend, Dave Swarbrick.
Michelle Shocked: Sheet Music Campaign
Singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked and painter David Willardson created a mixed-media art project, Indelible Women, which includes 10 striking portraits and songs of perhaps the most iconic females from the previous century, including Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Ella Fitzgerald, Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Georgia O'Keefe, Billie Holiday, Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank, and Michelle Shocked, herself.
Michelle Shocked intends to publish only 500 hand-numbered limited-edition copies of one score of sheet music per month, beginning with the composition for Marilyn’s portrait, “I Will be Loved” in February and ending with a complete songbook in December.
There is a new event called Hebridean Tunes: a week long experience in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, with music workshops for pipes, fiddle, guitar, whistle and bodhran, Gaelic language and culture, ceilidh dancing, etc. All in a great location and a small-scale informal atmosphere. Workshops will be conducted by the amazing Angus Nicolson Trio and the students and staff of the BA Applied Music in Benbecula.
21-23 March 2013 Babel Med Music, Marseille (France) ft. Chicha Libre, De Temps Antan, Du Bartas, Elina Duni, Mariem Hassan, Rosapaeda, Taksim Trio, ... www.babelmed.net 12-14 April 2013 Il Fanciullo e il Folklore (Child and Folklore), Sarno (Italy) www.fitp.org 24-26 May 2013 Off The Tracks Spring Festival, Donington Park Farmhouse (Derbyshire, UK) ft. Salsa Celtica, The Paperboys, Merry Hell, Blair Dunlop, ... www.offthetracks.co.uk 26-30 June 2013 Cassovia Folkfest, Košice (Slovakia) www.folkfest.sk
Celtic Note - a brand new Irish music series on Showcase TV Sky Channel 191 / FreeSat 400.
Celtic Note is a brand new 12 part TV series featuring the best of Irish music on Showcase TV, Sky Channel 191 and FreeSat 400. The show will air every Tuesday at 8pm with a repeat showing every Sunday at 5.30pm beginning Tuesday 26th February 2013. The one hour long show will be presented by well known Irish music personalities Sandy Kelly and John McNicholl and directed by renowned TV and film veteran Ian McGarry (RTÉ, BBC, Sport, News, Eurovision, Fair City, Daniel O’Donnell’s Shades of Green, Sandy Kelly & Friends Series). The series will feature top quality concerts and documentary programmes from a range of Irish music stars including The Dubliners, Horslips, Margo, Sharon Shannon and many more.
THE SHOWS - Tuesdays @ 8.30pm & Repeat Show Sundays @ 5pm Prog #01: 26-Feb & 03-Mar Sharon Shannon: Live at Dolans Prog #02: 05-Mar & 10-Mar Robert Mizzel: The Louisiana Man Prog #03: 12-Mar & 17-Mar The Dubliners: Live at Vicar Street Prog #04: 19-Mar & 24-Mar Shawn Cuddy: Live Prog #05: 26-Mar & 31-Mar Sandy Kelly: Voice of Sandy Kelly,Songs of Patsy Cline Prog #06: 02-Apr & 07-Apr Luke Kelly: The Performer Prog #07: 09-Apr & 14-Apr John McNicholl: Live Prog #08: 16-Apr & 21-Apr Paddy Reilly: The Festival of Irish Folk Prog #09: 23-Apr & 28-Apr Horslips: The Road to the O2 Prog #10: 30-Apr & 05-May Margo: A Musical Journey Prog #11: 07-May & 12-May Jim McCann: Jim McCann's Love Songs Prog #12: 14-May & 19-May Johnny McEvoy: The Festival of Irish Folk
Last but not least ...
I cannot remember when I last heard a great song with the English professional soccer game as its subject. I am indebted to my friend Tom Lane, the BBCs “voice of folk music” in Lincolnshire, for again putting this new fine song my way. It is here performed by its writers, Stu Hanna and wife Debbie, under their stage name of Megson. For several years now, the hottest young duo on the British folk scene. It is a hugely uplifting song. Telling ME at least, that HOPE should never be abandoned when it comes to the worst of life's vicissitudes.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Robin Laing a couple of times. What a lovely man he is. And apart from being a fine singer-songwriter, he is a true authority on his native national drink: viz. whisky. And he has written several songs on the subject. This I think, the best. Don't you just LOVE the catchy chorus? And the neat way he rhymes Hebrides with Antipodes? And I adore the line “in the hallowed halls of alcohol, whisky has no peer”.
I was asked recently which artiste's website has impressed me most in recent years. It did not take me long to think. Dick Gaughan's struck me as deeply impressive some 5 years ago when I last went there. In those days it was out on its own. Okay, since then, others have caught up. I have just been back to it to see if it really was as good as I recalled. And it is. Really user-friendly, and so wonderfully detailed in its discography.
David "Dai" Woosnam