Unfashionable Folk 2

July 30, 2009

Crofty makes some good points in his blog about my post on Unfashionable Folk

One thing that got me thinking was when he traced back his own musical heritage.  At first, I thought, as Crofty did, that I am not like the Copper Family- a member of some folk music family going back through the generations.  But then it occurred to me, neither were the Copper Family.  Rather, they were members of a farming family who also liked to sing and play down the pub (albeit to a very high standard).

And that’s what most of us are.  People with day jobs who like to sing and play.

So what’s my musical heritage?  Well, my father is a talented Jazz Pianist, so I grew up listening to Jazz and Swing music, but that’s hardly in danger of dying out (nor is it really a North Eastern thing). But that’s not all I heard as a child…

My father also used to play clubs as part of a dance band.   I used to go with my grandparents to the last of the Tea Dances (in fact I can still do the Saunter Together and the Katherine Waltz (or Waltz Katrine as it is known up North))  So there is a bunch of songs that is fading from my memory, and I suppose they are part of my heritage.

So, the next time I sit down to play with Crofty, we could continue to work on our arrangement of the Princess Royal for Accordion and Guitar, or we could have a go at the Valeta and all those other old songs that neither of us really like, but will be forgotten unless people like us do something about them.  Or perhaps they’re not worth saving after all…

Folk Music

March 3, 2009

I went to a folk music concert this weekend. This may put you in mind of bearded men playing fiddles and guitars, or women in long skirts singing old ballads, but this concert was neither of these things.

The concert took place in a village hall in Stainton, Teesside. It had been put together by the locals, and it began with one or two of them standing up and giving short recitals. One man sang a song, a second performed two tunes on the trumpet. After that it was time for the main act: Pearl Fawcett on the Accordion. Half time involved some of the locals bringing around trays of tea and biscuits. The second half took the form of the first, with some short recitals followed by more displays of Accordion virtuosity. I’m sure that to some readers, this may sound like musical hell…

Why mention this? Well, I’m a folk music fan. Recently I’ve seen Kate Rusby, Spiers and Boden, Bellowhead and Show of Hands, to name but a few. All authentic British folk musicians delivering authentic British folk music. But if folk music is supposed to be the music of the people, then surely the Stainton Accordion concert is about authentic as it gets?

I’d like to have finished by quoting Joni Mitchell, and saying how Pearl played real good for free, but she charged £5 for a ticket.   Sometimes Real Life has to transcend Art.