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the more or less complete output, now in chronological order
so, when it refes to infomation 'below', it actually means 'above'!

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September 1997

MT with Sound!!

Yes - wonderful news on the magazine front.  Through a combination of helpful advice and pure good luck, I have found a way to include good quality sound clips within our Articles and Reviews - well, at least the new ones to begin with.  Far more to the point, we can do it without undue expense - certainly nothing like the £1000 or more that it initially seemed that we'd need to pay.

Readers who want to be able to hear the sound clips must have a computer with a sound card and speakers, obviously - but beyond that, all you need to do is to install the FREE Real Audio Player (make sure you're using version 3), available from several magazine cover discs these days - for Mac's too, or it can be downloaded from:


Then, when you see a button like this s_clip.jpg - 3.0 K just click on it.  Your browser will run up the Real Audio player and play you a sound clip.  You can play it again as many times as you want, and adjust the volume too.  This clip is of a group of Sardinian 'á tenores' singers from that Chant du Monde CD (LDX 274760) I'm always going on about - hope you like it.

Sadly, there was a down-side.  Even the Real Audio sound files are pretty large and it was obvious that before long my AOL web site would be full up.  We really needed to get ourselves a proper site of our own, with plenty of space, a dedicated phone line, maybe our own domain name ...

You may have heard that we tried all the obvious sources of funding, but without success.  Either we are not considered to work in the appropriate 'local' area, or we don't want enough money!  So - we were reduced to asking everybody we could think of with a serious interest in traditional music whether they could come up with a donation, however small, to help with the good work.  Astonishingly, almost £1000 materialised within a month!

Then, the good people at U-Net Ltd agreed to provide us with a 30Mb site for the price of a 5Mb one and, in September, the prescribed nine months after MT's inception, this new site at mustrad.org.uk was born.

I would personally like to thank those 'Friends of Musical Traditions' who have already made generous donations.

Rod Stradling - January 1998

We must appologise to readers that the new CD release - advertised a being available "early in the New Year" - has taken so long to appear.  Everything was ready to roll in February, and then Paul Marsh's CD Writer broke down and has taken ages to get repaired.  It was replaced by a new one ... which failed after being used twice!  He's now trying to get his money back, to buy a different make.

However, substitute "in the first half of the New Year", and ...

Bob Hart - A Broadside - Double CD should be on sale in May

Regular readers will know that, since its earliest days, MT has been producing cassettes of important music which was not commercially available in the UK.  All of these are now available again and, in addition, we are very pleased to announce that we have now started production of a new series in CD format.

New technology now allows a small organisation like ours to create CDs - one at a time! - via computer, and opens up a whole new vista of potential releases of field recordings, or of re-issues of 78rpm material, for which the size of the market would have made such enterprises impossible only a year or so ago.

Our first release is a double CD of Suffolk singer Bob Hart - of whom the great Cyril Poacher once said:

... he's the best singer I've ever heard, myself - and I reckon I can sing - but I'd give him preference to me, yes I would.  I reckon he can sing because it ... it come and he don't raise a hair, it just come like that.  He's the best singer I ever heard yet ... I mean it.
and of whom Ginette Dunn commented:
... the nature of Bob's performance, which scarcely utilises any dramatic gesturing or facially expressive devices, but relies on his singing the song in a highly melodic, rhythmic and straightforward manner ... Bob's musicianship is demonstrated: he has perfect breath control, vivacious rhythm and a fluent handling of the narrative.  The audience is enthusiastic and it is clear that, because of his formal control over and identification with the song, he does not need extra-vocal devices.

This production is conceived with the intention of bringing music which would probably never achieve a commercial publication to the small audience which values it.  Collectors with recordings of this sort, who would like to see them published in this way, are welcome to contact the magazine to discuss the possibilities.

Work on a possible MT CD 303 is already in progress.


To purchase a copy of the Bob Hart CDs, please send a cheque, payable to Musical Traditions, for £15.00 to me at the address below, stating the address to which they should be mailed.

Rod Stradling

The 1998 Free Reed Festival

So, what's this all about then?

Take a theme - say, free reed instruments.  Contact everyone you know with a music based website, asking for the filenames of everything they have to do with free reeds.  Make a list of a few of the most interesting looking ones and set up links to them.  Send the webmasters a logo and ask them to put it on each of their selected pages, linked back to you.  Suggest that they might like to create a page on their site linking all their free reed pages.  Decide on a starting date for the festival, and advertise it.  Away you go!

That's what RootsWorld editor, Cliff Furnald, did - and MT was one of the sites he asked to participate.  We were very pleased to co-operate, realising that a lot of our new visitors would have never come across us, or the music we love, before, and that some of them would like what they found.

Cliff says that the response has been most encouraging - even some radio stations want to participate!  fricon.GIF - 6.7 KHe also realises that, if this first one is a success, there is no reason why we shouldn't have a fiddle (or anything else) festival next.  The possibilities are almost endless - and very exciting.

So, when you come across one of these logos elsewhere on the site (with a blue border), it will give you access to the rest of the Festival, and the rest of the world.  Who knows what you might find - Chinese sheng music?  South African concertina bands? Finnish classical accordion music?  Japanese punks using melodeons?

play Sound ClipJust a brief interjection here, before getting on with the main business.  I strongly urge every reader to have a look at the Paddy Canny review in out Latest Batch.  What a player!  I have never heard a fiddler like him - judge for yourself from this sound clip.

And now - back to the editorial .............


I was a little stung by a complaint about the 'crude, dull' logo we've been using for the last 15 months, and decided to take action.  Having tidied up the monochrome version we use on the main pages, I was shamed by the classy look of some of the ones used by other participants in the Free Reed Festival, and decided to have a re-think.

The result prompted a new look and colour-scheme for the pages concerned.  MT's new 'corporate image' is being used on most of the Festival pages - and I am gradually changing the rest of the site now, having received nothing but congratulatory e-mails from readers.  Thanks very much - it's nice to know you're there!

If Radio 4 can do it, so can we!  But there will be no 'dumbing down', I promise you.



It looks as if MT is about to get it's first paid adverts in the near future.  So as to ensure that you don't get confused about what is magazine material and what is advert, they will all be enclosed within coloured lines and with the Advertisement heading, like this:


Drongo Records - The World's foremost label for Ethno Celtic Trance, New Age and Jungle - Meaningless hype ....... blah, blah, blah ....... Flashing animated GIF Logo ....... blah, blah, blah ....... more meaningless hype ....... blah, blah, blah .......


Well, we hope that not many of them will be like this - but that will be the format.  The new computer with CD Writer has to be paid for somehow ...

MT to publish book!

When I wrote in our About page that the new virtual-format MT would be able to publish "Articles, pamphlets, work-in-progress, even whole books ..."  I wasn't expecting the last of these ideas to come to fruition in the immediate future.  But I was wrong!

Our most recent Article, on Topic Records and the WMA is, in fact, but one chapter of Dr Mike Brocken's PhD thesis on 'The British Folk Revival' seen as part of the wider popular music genre.  The whole work is likely to be published in commercial book form later this year or next, but he has given us permission to publish it here, first, in its original form.  I realise that a few of our readers will feel that there is, perhaps, little more that they wish to know about 'Folk Music' or popular music, and that MT's remit should be restricted to traditional forms.

Nonetheless, I believe that Mike's encyclopaedic work contains a great deal that should be of interest to all of us - any intelligent and well-written work dealing with something which so informs the culture of which we are part (like it or not) must be of interest and value.  I also think that - while I don't agree with all of them - his insights into the sociological and philological aspects of the wider world of music are both fascinating and thought provoking.

We are publishing the ten chapters, foreword and bibliography (including a complete Topic Discography in another month or two), as a complete work - and you can find it in a separate Index via the Articles page.  I'm sure that most of you will find it very worthwhile reading - I hope so, 'cause it didn't half make my fingers ache - 150,000 words!

play Sound ClipJust a brief interjection here, before getting on with the main business.  I strongly urge every reader to have a look at the Paddy Canny review in out Latest Batch.  What a player!  I have never heard a fiddler like him - judge for yourself from this sound clip.

And now - back to the editorial .............

Despite all our trials and tribulations ...

Bob Hart - A Broadside - Double CD is now on sale!

Regular readers will know that, since its earliest days, MT has been producing cassettes of important music which was not commercially available in the UK.  play Sound ClipAll of these are now available again and, in addition, we are very pleased to announce that we have now started production of a new series in CD format.  I've scattered a few Bob Hart sound clips around to give you a taste of both the performance and sound quality

New technology now allows a small organisation like ours to create CDs - one at a time! - via computer, play Sound Clipand opens up a whole new vista of potential releases of field recordings, or of re-issues of 78rpm material, for which the size of the market would have made such enterprises impossible only a year or so ago.

Our first release is a double CD of Suffolk singer Bob Hart - of whom the great Cyril Poacher once said:

... he's the best singer I've ever heard, myself - and I reckon I can sing - but I'd give him preference to me, yes I would.  I reckon he can sing because it ... it come and he don't raise a hair, it just come like that.  He's the best singer I ever heard yet ... I mean it.
play Sound Clip and of whom Ginette Dunn commented:
... the nature of Bob's performance, which scarcely utilises any dramatic gesturing or facially expressive devices, but relies on his singing the song in a highly melodic, rhythmic and straightforward manner ... Bob's musicianship is demonstrated: he has perfect breath control, vivacious rhythm and a fluent handling of the narrative.  The audience is enthusiastic and it is clear that, because of his formal control over and identification with the song, he does not need extra-vocal devices.
The Track Listing is as follows:

CD number 301CD number 302
Come All You Young Fellows (Australia)What a Funny Little Place to Have One
ComradesBold General Wolfe
His Day's Work was DoneI'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
All Jolly Fellows that Follow the PloughCod Banging-O
A Miner's Dream of HomeSeventeen Come Sunday
On the Banks of Allen WaterSilver Threads Among the Gold
As I Strolled out to AylesburyParadise Street (Blow the Man Down)
Tom BowlingWhite Wings
Barbara AllenA Young Sailor Cut Down in His Prime
The Song of the ThrushMy Little Grey Home in the West
A BroadsideThe Female Cabinboy
One Touch of NatureWhy Shouldn't we Sing
The MermaidThe Scarlet and the Blue
Banks of the Sweet PrimrosesYou Taught me How to Love You
Bonny Mary of ArgyllThe Drum Went Bang (Flanagan's Band)
John BarleycornThe Foggy Dew
City of Laughter, City of TearsWon't you Buy my Pretty Flowers
Michael Larney-OBreak the News to Mother
The Bold Princess RoyalThe Dark Eyed Sailor
The Gypsy's WarningThe Hymns My Mother Used to Sing
Jolly Jack the Sailor LadWhile Shepherds Watched
Just Before the Battle, MotherUnderneath Her Apron
The Farmer's Servant (Rap-a-Tap-Tap)Let the Rest of the World Go By

The records contain a compilation of the tapes made by Bill Leader, play Sound Clipplay Sound Clipand by Danny and myself, back in 1969.  Full details can be found in a fairly complete version of the booklet text, published as an article in these pages.  A full review will be published as soon as it's available.

The double CD - MT CD 301-2 - Bob Hart - A Broadside - is presently available at a special launch price (see 'Sales' below).  Details of this and other MT releases can be found in the Products page.

A 10% Royalty on sales will be paid to the Hart family, and profits will help to finance the magazine and fund further CD publications.


To purchase a copy of the Bob Hart CDs, please send a cheque, payable to Musical Traditions, play Sound Clipfor £15.00 to me at the address below, stating the address to which it should be mailed.
Overseas P&P: Europe add £1.00, USA & Canada add £1.50, Rest of World add £2.00.  Payment in Foreign Currency add £1.00.

Please don't be concerned if it doesn't arrive for a week or so - I really do have to make them one at a time, and it's a two hour job!

This production is conceived with the intention of bringing music which would probably never achieve a commercial publication to the small audience which values it.  Collectors with recordings of this sort, who would like to see them published in this way, are welcome to contact the magazine to discuss the possibilities.

Work on a possible MT CD 303 is already in progress.

July 1998

An appreciated endorsement

That widely respected collector, field worker, folklorist, recording engineer, photographer ... Mike Yates, has just bought a copy of our first double CD: Bob Hart - A Broadside.

His completely unsolicited comment ... "A nice set of CDs.  I really like them."

A larger web site

We have now reached our 12,000th reader, and the end of our first year with our current Internet Service Provider, U-Net Ltd, who have kindly given us a 25Mb site for the price of a 5Mb one.  They are happy to continue this sponsorship in the future, but are not able to offer us a bigger site except at their commercial rate - potentially costing us a further £600 per year!

Unfortunately, since MT is now 24.3Mb in size, a bigger site is needed!  I'd rather not start taking things off the site until it becomes absolutely necessary - and any decisions about what to remove would be fraught with aesthetic, not to say ethical, difficulties.  Furthermore, most of the space is being taken up by sound files, and since I firmly believe that the opportunity of listening to some of the music being discussed is one of the greatest services we offer our readers, I would be loath to remove any of them.

A way round the problem exists: certain ISPs offer personal accounts with unlimited webspace for around £120 per year.  Unfortunately, they are not able to offer domain name hosting on such sites, causing us untold problems with regular 'housekeeping' tasks.  There are usually 'traffic restrictions' on these sites and it's also possible that they might be less reliable, and/or slower, than our current arrangement.

So, it has been decided that we will continue with the U-Net account, and will take a second unlimited web space account as well.  The older material will be placed on this new site and readers should notice no difference.  This will have the advantage of keeping our e-mail address the same as at present - and I'll just have to put up with the extra workload.

I hope that readers will alert me if I've messed-up any of the new links so that things don't work as they should, if the downloads are any slower, or if the service is unreliable in any way.

This development will double our basic running costs.  I hope that this can be covered by revenue generated from sales of our CD releases.  Nonetheless, donations from readers will continue to play an important part in financing the magazine - to find out more about becoming a Friend of MT, read on ...

Phoebe Smith CD

Veteran Tapes has just released an important new CD of this seminal English Gypsy singer, and a review can be found in our Latest Batch.

Since this was one of Veteran's new 'sponsored productions', and since we were one of the sponsors, we have 25 copies for sale - at the normal price of £13 inc p&p, and at the special price of £10 for Friends of MT.  Similar concessionary prices are available on the Bob Hart double CD (see below), and will be so for all our future productions.  To find out how to become a Friend, save money, and help to keep the magazine running, have a look at our Friends of MT page.

To purchase a copy of the Phoebe Smith CD, please send a cheque, payable to Musical Traditions, for £13 (or £10 plus a Donation) to me at the address below, stating the address to which it should be mailed.

Overseas P&P: Europe add £1.00, USA & Canada add £1.50, Rest of World add £2.00.  Payment in Foreign Currency add £1.00.

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MT Wins Award!

We're used to the feeling that our efforts here are generally completely unknown in the wider world - both of music and the Internet - so it came as a complete surprise to me to find, upon my return from five weeks away from home 'working', to find an e-mail informing me that the Links2Go organisation had deemed the magazine a 'Key Resource' in its Folk Music section.

Furthermore, it was gratifying to learn that:

The Links2Go Key Resource award is both exclusive and objective.  Fewer than one page in one thousand will ever be selected for inclusion.  Further, unlike most awards that rely on the subjective opinion of 'experts', many of whom have only looked at tens or hundreds of thousands of pages in bestowing their awards, the Links2Go Key Resource award is completely objective and is based on an analysis of millions of web pages.  During the course of our analysis, we identify which links are most representative of each of the thousands of topics in Links2Go, based on how actual page authors, like yourself, index and organize links on their pages.

That did my ego no end of good, as you can imagine!  Seriously - I have no idea of the value or relevance of such an award, but if it finds us new readers or contributors across the world, then it can only be considered a 'good thing'.

Talking of which - we are now getting over 2,000 readers per month: a tenfold increase in just 12 months.

With over 1,500 readers a month now, it would be nice to get a bit more feedback from some of you!  We really would like to know your opinions about what we're doing here and your suggestions about what else we should be exploring.

We have a Letters page - usually one of the most vibrant parts of any conventional 'interest' magazine - but very few readers seem to need to contribute their thoughts to MT.  It would be nice to believe that we're doing everything right and that nobody has any complaints - but that can't be possible.  A good number of our recent Reviews and Articles have been quite thought-provoking, not to say contentious - does nobody have any comments to make?

We really would like to hear from you - and something rather more analytical than the usual "Well done, keep up the good work" e-mails we regularly receive.  The Internet is above all a democratic, even an anarchic, medium - Contribute!

Melodeon Basics

The Name Accordions business and its website will be closing down at the end of the financial year.  As well as all the commercial information, the site contained a very useful and informative Basics page, with information about melodeon and accordion types ... keys and voicings ... which is best for what type of music ... tips and recommendations, etc.  This has been retained and is available from here and from our Home Page.


Sing, Say or Pay!

Assuming that you enjoyed Part 1 of Keith Summers' review of his collecting work in East Suffolk as much as I did, you'll be very pleased to hear that Part 2 is available now, complete with sound clips from his tape collection.

Part 2, comprising the Tunstall, Snape, Hasketon, Woodbridge & Wickham Market, Little Glemham and Songs from the Eel's Foot Inn chapters includes an updated discography including Veteran and Topic Voice of the People releases..  You can find Parts 1 and 2 of Sing Say or Pay! in our Articles pages - or go directly to its own Index page from here.

Revised FAQ

I've recently amended the Frequently Asked Questions page which contains a lot of useful information about saving time and money when accessing the magazine.  Please have a look at the new 'Bookmarks' and 'Faster Downloads' sections, since our Statistics files indicate that many readers are failing to get pages first time due to using out of date Bookmarks or having their browsers set to not check for new versions of files on the site.

Important technical stuff

Some recent changes to the way MT is organised and presented may require readers to do one or two things in order to get the best out of the magazine.  The first is the introduction of Frames.


These are nothing new, and have been supported by both Netscape and Internet Explorer for a couple of years, but I have not used them before in the magazine.  I have decided to use them now better to display certain parts - Reviews, News, Enthusiasms, Topic Discography and Links Indexes, the Voice of the People reviews and certain Articles which contain footnotes.

In the Articles, they enable the text to appear in the top part of the screen while the footnotes appear in the bottom - both parts are scrollable and resizeable.  In the other five categories, they allow you to look at, say, the review of Volume 2, while a click on a link bar at the side of the page will take you directly to Volume 17, or any other, without having to go back to the Index page first.  I hope you will agree, when you try them, that these are worthwhile improvements in ease of use.

However, it is possible that your present browser may not display Frames.  If that is the case, may I suggest that you install version 3 of Netscape or Internet Explorer - both of which are available free from numerous sources.  Version 4s are much bigger and don't provide anything extra - in terms of being able to view MT, that is.  You might also try the Opera browser, available as a 30 day trial - it's very small and fast, but not free - costing around £20, I think.  Better still - and this is inside information - HP are about to release a new FREE browser which will be incredibly small, probably available by the New Year.

Arial Narrow font

There are several places in the magazine where I need to be able to use a narrower typeface (rather than just a smaller one) in order to display a lot of textual information in a small space.  I can instruct your browser to display words, paragraphs or the complete document in any core TrueType font - but only if you have it installed on your computer.  I have implemented this change in a few of the frames indexes, to keep them as narrow as possible, and when the Topic Discography (below) comes on-line it will definitely be a necessary there.  Consequently, to accommodate this change, can I ask readers to install the widely available Arial Narrow font (in Normal, Italic, Bold and Bold Italic faces) please.  If you don't, you'll have some very long pages to scroll through - and when it's used elsewhere in MT, some things may not display properly.

Arial Narrow is available on the Windows 95 disc(s), from many widely available font collections, and the latest version is downloadable free from the Microsoft website: www.microsoft.com/typography.

Topic Discography

When we published Mike Brocken's The English Folk Revival recently, Chapter 13: Topic Records Discography was indicated as 'to be added shortly'.  Obviously, the publication of Voice of the People has held things up a bit, but the Topic Discography is available now - complete with frames-enabled index.

Mike and I hope that every record that is known about, right from TRC1, has been included, complete with full track listings, but there are still a few gaps.  Any reader with further information about any missing items is encouraged to send it to us for inclusion.  This information, plus new releases, will be added to the discography periodically, keeping it premanently up-to-date as far as we can manage it.

Free CDs

Well ... despite my having asked for offers of new Reviews contributors almost constantly for the past year in various parts of MT without any results, the above heading in my last Editorial has brought in numerous responses - thanks to all of you.  Maybe people didn't realise that reviewers get to keep the CDs they review?

Free Fame and Kudos!

And we would be equally pleased to have offers of Articles for inclusion in the magazine - though we're not able to offer anything in the way of reward apart from International recognition of your literary talents ... and, if you'd really like it, a free copy of my Rhythms of the Wold cassette - of which I have a box-full!


25,000 Readers!

Just another number, I suppose - but it does feel like a sort of a milestone.  We have had 25,000 readers of the magazine since moving to the U-Net site some 18 months ago - and those readers have viewed some quarter of a million files.  Before you ask, we have no way of knowing if that's 25 readers who have returned 1,000 times, or 1,000 readers who have returned 25 times.  Whatever the case - it's not bad for a minority interest site like ours.

Far more important is the way in which the numbers are escalating.  When we started, back in September 1997, we got around 75 readers per week.  This number grew fairly steadily over the next year to reach around 400 by Sept '98.  It had got to 500 by the start of this year - but has almost doubled in the last two months!  I have absolutely no idea why - but it's very pleasing.

You won't be surprised to know that most of our visitors are from the UK - some 23% are from UK hosts and 53% from .com, .net and numerical addresses (which could be almost anywhere, though UK and USA are the most likely).  USA: 7%, Ireland: 4% and Australia: 3% are the next most common addresses, but we also have readers in such unlikely places as Jugoslavia, Argentina, Malaysia and Hungary.  A total of 38 different countries featured in last week's statistics - a warm welcome to you all!

Cyril Poacher CD out on MT label?

Since our publication, last July, of the Bob Hart double CD (see MT Products) I've been looking around for what would make MTCD 303.  While there are several other CD projects in the planning stage at present, they all depend on the co-operation and activity of various collaborators, so I don’t know exactly what their future holds.  But I have decided that my next project is going to be a record of one of my favourite Suffolk singers, Cyril Poacher.

At present, I'm hunting out the tapes that various people have made of him over the years and I have been quite lucky in tracking down several sources - and some 35 songs.  One thing which is emerging is that pretty well all of them were made in the decade 1965 to '75.  What I'm looking for now is some earlier recordings - he began singing in Blaxhall Ship in 1929, aged 19, and my hope is that someone out there (aside from Peter Kennedy) recorded him as a younger man.

If anyone knows of any such recordings, or has anecdotes, quotes, information of any kind on the man and his music ... I'd be extremely pleased to hear about them - my address and phone number are at the foot of this page.  I need your help to make this record as full a portrait of Cyril as the Bob Hart set was of him.

Another year flashes by ...

Christmas Eve is fast approaching and with it the second anniversary of MT's first publication as an Internet magazine.

So much has happened in the last 12 months that I found it hard to believe when checking over the details.  At this time last year MT was around 12Mb in size and we had just moved to our new U-Net site - it is now 35Mb, and spread over two sites.

The magazine now offers readers:

For 1999 we have a good number of new articles promised, a total of seven new CD projects in negotiation, and all the regular reviews, news, letters and comment as usual.  We will be publishing an interview with Reg Hall and Tony Engle on the Voice of the People CD series, and a new Page of readers' recommendations for sources of inexpensive or unusual records.  We will continue to do all in our limited power to make MT as current, accurate, informed - and interesting - as possible.

I would finally remind you all that we are constantly looking for new contributors of reviews, articles, etc.  If you've just bought an interesting new record which we've not reviewed (we may not even know of its existence), why not write a review of it for us?  (You'll need to send Rod the CD if you want pictures and sound clips included - he will return it promptly).

With our very best wishes for a happy holiday and peace, health - even wealth - in the last year of the millennium ............

Rod and Keith - December 1998

Well, despite one of the most horrible bouts of 'flu I can ever imagine, we seem to have struggled though into the final year of the 20th Century and the good news is that the introduction of Frames and the narrow font seems not to have caused too many problems for our readers, and that only a handful of people each week are still trying to find files on the U-Net site which were moved to the Prestel one back in September.

On a similar point - readers should note that the Topic Discography has been moved to the 'discos' directory: please amend your bookmarks.

Free CDs

The not-so-good news is that we still haven't had any offers of new Reviews contributors.  Doesn't the idea of free CDs, just for having to say why you like or dislike them, appeal to any of you out there?

When we meet you about the place, you bend our ears mercilessly about this or that wonderful singer, musician or record you've just heard, or how it was dismissed in a few lines in Folk Roots by someone who obviously knew nothing about the music.  Why not write it all down and save yourself £12 to £15 in the process?

Remember, there are still about 80 of the Lomax Collection CDs to be issued in the next two or three years - start writing reviews for us and you could be the first one on your block with one of the 'Deep River of Song', 'Folk Songs of England, Scotland, and Ireland' or 'Caribbean Voyage' issues - free!


I've just discovered that we've been guilty of misleading readers with a couple of bits of false information published in the recent past.

Firstly - the Silex Air Mail series of records, mentioned in the Cheapes page and the Traditional discography are, in fact, nothing to do with the Silex label.  They are published by Air Mail Music, a division of Playasound, and their range of 25 budget priced releases are distributed by Harmonia Mundi in the UK and Auvidis in Europe.

This information came to me as a result of having finally broken through the curtain of silence surrounding Harmonia Mundi Distribution.  Among other things, I learned that UK readers can get any of the output from the 40+ labels they distribute, via mail order from Dominic Reeves at:

harmonia mundi direct, 19-21 Nile Street, London N1 7LL, UK.
  Tel: 0171 253 0865.  E-mail: dreeves@harmoniamundi.com

And - contrary to what I was informed by one of our readers, they do distribute Silex.

And lastly - the Session in Stroud mentioned in our Sessions page, is to be on Monday, not Thursday, evenings.

Topic Interview

Despite Topic's reluctance to talk about the Voice of the People series in advance of publication, Tony Engle called me a couple of months ago and asked if we'd be interested in an interview with Reg Hall and himself to discuss some of the comments MT reviewers had made on the subject.  An edited transcript of that interview can now be found in our Articles pages.

Carnevale Dancers at Sidmouth?

I'm sorry to have to pass on the sad news that the carnevale dancers of Ponte Caffaro will not be able to attend the Sidmouth Festival this year - as advertised in my Ponte Caffaro Revisited article, last year.

No one will be sadder than me about this, but it seems unlikely that such a visit will take place in the near future, unless significant changes in the attitude and social organisation of the dancers take place.  They feel that it's important that they put on a very good show - and, for them, this means that the majority of their dancers and musicians have to be involved.  Having just returned from my fifth visit, I can tell you at first hand that at the height on the martedi grasso (Shrove Tuesday) celebrations there were more than 60 dancers and 13 musicians participating!

I really don't see how they can possibly organise a week's holiday for all these people at the same time (plus, undoubtedly, numerous friends and relations as well) - or how Sidmouth could possibly accommodate, feed, pay for ... even half this number.

So if you want to see them - and you should - I fear a trip to Brescia is involved.

The Discography of Recorded Traditional Music

This endless project grows apace and is now almost the same size as the Topic discography, but is still in need of lots of input from you good people out there.  I've more or less exhausted my own slender resources (and worn at least half an inch off my typing fingers) and, as with the Topic one, I need your help in both correcting erroneous entries, completing partial ones and expanding the range of this new work.  Initially, I intend to limit entries to those labels whose records are (or have recently been) available in the UK.  Should I live so long, this range may be able to be expanded at a later date, but I would prefer to be able to link to other similar discographies in other parts of the world, as I have with Mark Gregory's Australian songs project.

Useful Addresses:

At the end of the discography is a Useful Addresses section.  This contains names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, websites, etc. for lots of record companies, shops, distributors, magazines,etc.  Together with the information on our Links Page, it should enable readers to find out where to lay hands on many of the records we review - or others you may have heard about but have been unable to trace in 'your friendly local record store'.

I get several e-mails every week for this sort of information, so I hope that this will make you lives a little easier.  Inevitably, much of the information is somewhat UK centred - so if any of our overseas readers would like to send me equivalent stuff for their part of the world, I'd be happy to include it.

A What's New Page

It has occurred to me that MT is so big now that it must be difficult for readers to find what's been added since their last visit - despite my dating everything.  So, for the new year, I've added a new Page, accessible as the first option from the Home Page, which will list everything which has been updated in the last month or so.  I hope that this will make it easier for you to keep up-to-date with the magazine and avoid missing out on important new stuff.  All the rest of the magazine will continue to function in the normal way - this will be an additional service to readers.

Some of you may wish to modify your bookmarks to go directly to 'whatsnew.htm', rather than 'index.htm'.

Welcome to the Summer in the Northern Hemisphere!  Sumer is icumen in, lhude sing cuccu, etc .....  Well, there were a couple of nice days ... now we wait for the thunder storm!

1798 Review

For the second time in as many weeks, I find myself advertising something in the editorial - not my usual practice - but there are a few things which I really feel need special attention drawing to them, in that they go some way to improving the quality of all our lives.  In this instance it's in-house and not in any way commercial.

I strongly urge everyone with the slightest interest in Ireland, its music, its history and the relationship between it and Britain, to carefully read Fred McCormick's review of Frank Harte's latest record - 1798: the First Year of Liberty.  This is not just because it's a very good record - which it is - but because of the review itself.  I've long been an admirer of Fred's writings, but I really believe he's excelled himself in this instance.

Frank's booklet notes are a model - thorough, even-handed, succinct, readable - they describe the events of the 1798 Rebellion and their repercussions better than I have ever seen before.  Fred acknowledges this, but then goes on to look at what happened from a British, then a European perspective.  He explores and explains the songs, showing their absolute relevence today - not just for the Irish, but also for the British ... and for humanity.

Every visitor to this site - whether you believe yourself to be interested in Ireland, History, Politcics, or not - needs to read this piece.  Having done so, I do not believe you will ever feel the same about British / Irish relations - or about the relevence of 'folk songs' - again.

An Aside:

Since having republished MT on the Net over two years ago, readers will be aware that I've striven to make the magazine more international - not in terms of content, since this was always very broad - but in attempting to recruit writers from around the world, reflecting our presence in this most international of media.  My efforts have met with a degree of success - we now have articles and reviews from the US, Italy, Australia, Holland ... and more promised from Canada and Spain.

So - touching on the theme of the above mentioned McCormick review - it's more than a little depressing that, despite my very best efforts, I have been unable to elicit more than a couple of contributions from citizens of the three other nations who share these islands with the English.

Ethnomusicology article:

In a commendable move to try to narrow the gap between practical music enthusiasts like ourselves and the academic world of ethnomusicology, Dr Jonathan Stock, Chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, has written us an article dealing with the relevence of his work to ours, outlining the similarities and differences he perceives as existing, and suggesting ways in which each may be able to help the other.  There's also a useful list of key texts.

It's simply written without too many jargon words.  Why not have a look?

Copperplate Distribution

I hope the following is construed as useful information rather than advertising.

All over the world these days there are probably as many CDs produced by individual singers and players as there are by record companies - it's just one of the many results of the march of technology ... what Peter Wyper and Patsy Touhey did in the first years of this century almost anyone can do today!  But making the records is not the same as making them available - or certainly not the same as making them available outside one's own locality.  There are some obvious exceptions, but few musicians have found the time, organisation, expertise, necessity ... to set about marketing their products much beyond selling them at gigs.

Into the breach (for Irish musicians, at least), steps Alan O'Leary, an Irishman living in London, who has set up Copperplate Distribution to bring together a selection of such CDs and to make them available as distributed items via specialist record shops, and by Mail Order.

Alan tells me that he plans to be dealing with the following CDs for the moment:

The first of these, Leitrim's Hidden Treasure, arrived a couple of days ago - and the title is certainly no advertiser's hype - it is absolutely fabulous!  A review will be forthcoming in the not too distant future and I look forward to some of the other Copperplate offerings with eager anticipation.

Contact: Copperplate Distribution, 68 Belleville Road, London SW11 6PP.  Tel/Fax 0171 585 0357.  E-mail: alogren@atlas.co.uk  All the CDs are priced 12/99 plus 80p postage.

The Kaiso Newsletters

Ray Funk, a world authority on Calypso and Gospel, has kindly allowed us to publish his calypso newsletter Kaiso within the pages of MT.  This is enthusiasm carried to the extreme - the sort of thing Americans do so well, but which tends to leave us reserved English wondering if it isn't all a bit undignified.  Myself, I'd be happy if some of our readers would display a little more enthusiasm sometimes ... it is often difficult to understand how nearly a thousand people can read MT every week (over 43,000 since we've been on the Net), yet only 16 of them have ever written to the magazine's Letters page!

The Kaiso Newsletters appears here as a frames enabled multi-part article and will be updated as and when further issues are published.  I've asked Ray for a Glossary to help explain some of the more arcane areas of Calypso activity.


Kidson article now with MIDI sound ...

When we published the Frank Kidson article about a month ago, I explained that I had not included all the examples of music staff-notation from the original because they do not display at all clearly on-screen and few are of what might be termed traditional music.  A further consideration was that not all our readers would understand staff-notation.  I have now added MIDI sound clips to all the staff-notation examples.  Everyone should now feel properly catered-for!

New Latest Batch of reviews format:

To save readers from having to download what were becoming two enormous files, and to save me work, cost and site-space, the Latest Batch of Reviews will from now on be presented as a list of links.  New Reviews will be added to the top of the list and older ones will fall off the bottom after about 6 weeks.

I hope you will find this a better method of presentation - if not, please let me know.

Summers gets computer!

The most unlikely news story of the year, possibly of the decade, is that our co-edtor Keith Summers - a man who normally only answers the telephone once a week - has finally given in to the perpetual nagging he's been getting from me and almost all his American friends ... and bought a computer.

He can now see the magazine for himself, without me having to print it out for him, and is amazed by the colour and the sound clips.  What's more - he now has an e-mail address:


... so if you'd like to deluge him with mail for the next week of two, it might make him feel as if he's part of something again.


Followers of BBC Radio 4 may know that the winner of Mastermind 1999 answered a series of questions on 'The Customs and Traditions of Britain' in the Final.  These were set by Doc Rowe (who else?).  The finalist only got asked 12 questions in the programme, but Doc has kindly passed on all 50 he set for us to use in a competition for our readers.

He has even more kindly offered a prize - a signed copy of 'We'll Call Once More Unto Your House', a rare publication on Padstow May Day celebrations (published 1982).  Further details and all the questions are on the Competition page.

Recent Letter

It's very easy to lose touch with reality, isolated in the editorial chair as I am - so I'd be grateful for some feedback from readers on the letter from Nick Jones, just published in our Letters page.  Is it him, or me, who have completely lost the plot here?  Your comments, pro or con, really will be gratefully received.

A 'complete' Traditional recordings discography

Since having published Mike Brocken's mammoth Topic Records Discography in these pages, readers have been asking for something similar for the Leader, Free Reed, Transatlantic, you-name-it labels.  Without fully understanding why, I seem to have started work on this project.  I truly can't raise any enthusiasm for a Complete Folk Music Discography, even if I knew what that might be said to include.  As for 'Traditional' - I'll just have to use my judgement about where trad stops and revival starts, but I'd like to err on the inclusive side.

The word 'complete' in the title is obviously a joke - such a work will never be able to be completed, given the way in which many of the major labels habitually licence their recordings to other labels - but I hope that, in time, it will be complete enough to be a useful resource to many readers.  I would like to thank Steve Roud, Malcolm Taylor, John Howson, Neil Wayne and a number of other people for their help in getting this work started.

As with the Topic Discography, I will have to rely on the help of readers in both correcting erroneous entries, completing partial ones and expanding the range of this new work.  Initially, I intend to limit entries to those labels whose records are (or have been) available in the UK.  Should I live so long, this range may be able to be expanded at a later date, but I would prefer to be able to link to other similar Discographies in other parts of the world.


Regular readers might like to consider this: if MT were fRoots, or Gramophone, or any other serious music magazine, you would have spent around £30 on it in the last 12 months.  As it is, you've spent maybe £1 in local phone calls to read the only magazine in the world dealing with traditional music in the sort of depth I assume you find worthwhile, since almost a thousand of you read it every week.

MT is utterly unfunded and receives no revenue whatsoever except for the small profits from the sales of our cassettes and CDs.  Our total income for last year was £1,117, which included several donations from Friends of MT.  If you consider that you've been getting a pretty good deal out of the magazine for the past three years, we would very much appreciate your becoming a Friend and making a contribution to help us carry on with the good work.

We don't want to have to make MT viewable by subscription only (a course of action which is open to us) and would far prefer it to be freely available to anyone anywhere in the world who may stumble upon it and become interested by the wonderful music to be found here, and perhaps want to go on and learn more.  What we do ask is that those of you who do read it regularly and are enthusiasts for the music should search your consciences and ask yourselves whether becoming a Friend and making a donation to the magazine's funds wouldn't, in fact, be the decent thing to do.

Cheques or banknotes in any currency will be most gratefully received.


CD sales

Our second CD publication seems to be selling about as well as our first - but there's an aspect of its sales which is a little worrying.  As readers must be aware, our intentions with these publications are two-fold:
  1. to make available recordings of important music which is not commercially viable to the small audience, worldwide, which values it.
  2. to make the small profits which, together with contributions from Friends of MT, are the only source of revenue for the magazine.
The second of these, while not the primary motivation, is absolutely vital to the continuation of MT's publication.

As well as being sold mail-order from MT, these CDs are also available through Veteran Tapes in Suffolk.  In order for Veteran to continue trading they need to make a profit, and so we have to sell to them at a wholesale price some 40% lower than the retail price.  The costs of CD manufacture and booklet printing (roughly 20% of the retail price) remain the same, no matter how many copies we sell.

In the case of the Cyril Poacher release, exactly 50% of the sales have been through Veteran  The results of this are:

I do realise that many potential purchasers have a subscription arrangement with Veteran, and so are offered the MT records as a matter of course - and usually buy from there.  I wouldn't wish to suggest that they might consider not doing so.  Nor do I wish to stop supplying Veteran with CDs.  But for other prospective purchasers, I would ask that they consider buying from MT, so that we have the necessary revenue to continue publishing not only the magazine, but also further CDs.

MT Wins Another Award!

Having only just become blasé about the Links2Go award last year, it was a real pleasure to receive the following message this week:
Dear Webmaster:

Congratulations!  Your Web site has received the Web Feet Seal of Approval and will appear in 'Web Feet: The Internet Traveler's Desk Reference'.  Web Feet is the premier subject guide to the best Web sites for students, researchers, and the general public and is the first comprehensive Web guide that is interactive and updated monthly.

A site is included in Web Feet only if our researchers think it is an outstanding site in its subject area.  The Web Feet Seal of Approval tells teachers, librarians, parents, and students that your site is especially valuable for research, teaching, or general interest.

Somebody out there cares!

Daisy Chapman CD on MT label

I need help with information on the Aberdeenshire singer Daisy Chapman - anecdotes, quotes, photos, appreciations ... anything on the woman and her music.  While I have the necessary recordings for a good CD of Daisy, I have virtually no information about her at all, and all the people I have contacted seem to share my ignorance - or aren't replying!  A CD booklet should ideally be almost as important as the record it accompanies, locating the performers in their social and cultural setting and providing insights into the repertoire, performance style and traditions of which they were a part.

I am extremely loath to publish this CD without a reasonably respectable booklet to go with it - so unless any readers can assist, this project will have to be shelved for a while.  Please ask all your friends for information, even if you've never heard of Daisy yourself.

Seasonal and Millennial Greetings:

Christmas Eve once again - and it's difficult to believe that three years have elapsed since I wrote my first Editorial for the virtual MT.  1999 has been a hard year in many ways - three lots of site problems have added to the already full-time task of keeping the magazine up-to-date and working properly.  What's more, the publication of our second CD involved me in a great deal more work that the first (as there was a lot more research to do), and it has had the spin-off effect of prompting quite a number of people with old recordings to contact me with proposals for further record projects.

Obviously, I had hoped that this would happen with the first one, but people were clearly dubious about this new venture (or didn't hear about it!), and the offers - like busses - came in a rush after lots of waiting around.  We now have some 20 further projects on the cards, all of which have involved some extra work.  Mercifully, the next two involve the collaboration of others, so I won't be as overwhelmed with work as I might have been.  I think things are far enough advanced with these to be able to tell you about them without too much fear of eventual disappointment.

The first is something of a coup for a small organisation like ours.  In 1963/4, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger recorded a series of interviews with Joe Heaney, the outstanding Connemara sean-nós singer, then living in London.  The tapes amount to some 5½ hours and include around 35 songs.  Peggy has allowed us access to the originals, Dan Quinn has transcribed the entire interview, Éamonn Ó Bróithe has transcribed the songs and done a truly beautiful job of translating the Irish ones into English, Liam Mac Con Iomaire has provided a biography of Joe and Fred McCormick has the unenviable task of coordinating everything, editing, and writing an introduction.  The eventual publication, scheduled for May 2000, will be a double CD and very full booklet, plus the entire edited Interview transcript will be published in MT a month or so beforehand - watch this space!

Since this project is not one which could possibly be described as "hoping to bring important music which might never achieve a commercial publication to the small audience which values it", we have decided to forego some of the possibly large profits we might have made from publishing it entirely ourselves.  In the interests of getting the records to as wide an audience as possible, we have entered into a licensing and publication agreement with the Topic and Cló Iar-Chonnachta record companies to achieve worldwide distribution.  MT will continue to cover the Internet sales.

As mentioned below, it would greatly help us if readers would attempt to to buy from us rather than retail outlets - helping to fund both the continuing publication of the magazine and further CD publication projects.

The second CD will be the long-awaited Daisy Chapman record, which had stalled for a long while due to insufficient information for the booklet.  An appeal on Radio Scotland finally put me in touch with Daisy's niece, further recordings came to light - and the project is now back on track with Pete Shepheard coordinating and editing the booklet.

Then a reader put me in touch with someone "who used to take a tape recorder around the pubs in north Sussex in the late-'50s".  This seemingly innocent act resulted in my receiving a box of eight 5" reels of tape - jammed full of songs! - all of which need to be copied onto DAT, edited, noise-reduced and stored on CD ready for eventual publication.  Pop Maynard, Jim Wilson, George Townshend, Brick Harber, Sarah Porter ... are among those whose singing will see the light of day on the MT label before too long - if I'm spared .........

And if all that were not enough, I foolishly decided to publish the Musical Traditions of the 20th Century CD-ROM - and even more foolishly, said that I'd include some of the articles from the old 'paper' version of the magazine .......  I didn't realise just how many there were!  But if the scanner, OCR software and my typing finger hold out, the CD-ROM should be available early in the New Year, price £10.00.  Again - watch this space!

We hope that our fourth year will prove even more productive of top quality journalism and music than have the last three.  So - once more - Happy Christmas and other appropriate seasonal greeting to all our readers.

Rod and Keith - 24.12.99

Two New Sites:

Regular readers will know that all of our older material - principally Reviews and Articles pre-June '99 - have now been moved to our new UK Online site ... seemingly without too many problems.  A further and even bigger shake-up followed!

Our regular ISP, U-Net, informed me (in breach of their contract) only three days before the subscription fell due for renewal - that we would be required to pay the full commercial rate for their service in future.  At £650 + VAT, this is obviously out of the question!

I was luckliy able to find an alternative home of the main site at slightly less than we paid last year - so every dark cloud has a silver wassname!  As far as I can tell, the transfer went without a hitch and there was no interuption of service.

However - my E-Mail address is now changed to: rod@mustrad.org.uk

You can possibly imagine just how furious I am about all this.  I really hate the shoe-string nature of the operation I am forced to run with MT - not only for all the extra work and worry it causes me, but also because of the way our readers are being messed about.  If you share these concerns, please read on ...


Regular readers might like to consider this: if MT were fRoots, or Gramophone, or any other serious music magazine, you would have spent around £30 on it in the last 12 months.  As it is, you've spent maybe £1 in local phone calls to read the only magazine in the world dealing with traditional music in the sort of depth I assume you find worthwhile, since almost a thousand of you read it every week.

MT is utterly unfunded and receives no revenue whatsoever except for the small profits from the sales of our cassettes and CDs.  Our total income for last year was £1,117, which included several donations from Friends of MT.  If you consider that you've been getting a pretty good deal out of the magazine for the past two and a half years, we would very much appreciate your becoming a Friend and making a contribution to help us carry on with the good work.

We don't want to have to make MT viewable by subscription only (a course of action which is open to us) and would far prefer it to be freely available to anyone anywhere in the world who may stumble upon it and become interested by the wonderful music to be found here, and perhaps want to go on and learn more.  What we do ask is that those of you who do read it regularly and are enthusiasts for the music should search your consciences and ask yourselves whether becoming a Friend and making a donation to the magazine's funds wouldn't, in fact, be the decent thing to do.

Cheques or banknotes in any currency will be most gratefully received.

Cyril Poacher CD now available:

Our second CD publication - Cyril Poacher: Plenty of Thyme (MT CD303) is now available.  Sadly, we learned of Cyril's death only a week after it was released.

This new record contains 31 tracks - pretty well every song he is ever known to have recorded - and the A5 booklet is very comprehensive, including song notes this time.  I think the whole thing is even better than our Bob Hart publication from last year.  The track listing is as follows:

Plenty of ThymeAustralia
Running Up and Down Our StairsJoe Moggins
Green Broom (Broomfield Wager)        The Nutting Girl
I'll Be Your SweetheartJust a Rose in a Garden of Weeds
The Irish Jolting CarGreen Bushes
The Black Velvet BandTwo Little Girls in Blue
The Great Big WheelA Young Man From the Country
Bold General WolfeA Broadside
The Farmer's BoyFlash Company
The Bonny Bunch of RosesLamplighting Time in the Valley
Fagan the CobblerThe Maid and the Magpie
Captain Ward and the RainbowA Sailor and His True Love
Your Faithful Sailor BoyStrolling Round the Town
Slap Dab (Whitewash)Australia - 3 verses only
Nancy of YarmouthNancy of Yarmouth - live
The Bog Down in the Valley 

The Booklet notes are now available as an Article and further details can be found on our Products page.

MT CD-ROM now available

The 'Musical Traditions of the 20th Century' CD-ROM is now on sale.  Anyone who doesn't have the hard disc space to keep an up-to-date mirror of the site might well feel that a tenner isn't too much to pay for the complete three years worth of virtual MT, plus a further eleven years worth of articles.

The CD-ROM runs without any problems on all computer platforms and operating systems.  It contains everything ever published in the on-line version of the magazine - including all the photos and sound clips - in exactly the same configuration as on the Web, so you should have no problems in finding your way around.  Also included are various fonts and viewers to enable purchasers without Net access to see the magazine properly for the first time.  See the 'Read-Me' file for further details.

The UK price is £10 inclusive of p&p (£8.50 for friends of MT).  Foreign readers can pay in their own currency, but we need to make a small extra charge for the transaction and the p&p.

To purchase: Please send banknotes or cheques (payable to Musical Traditions) to my address at the foot of this page, together with your own mailing address.

MT Expands

The last few months have seen a huge increase in the number of CD publication projects we have in the pipeline - to the extent that MT sometimes feels more like a record company than a magazine these days.  It also means that there is more work than I can realistically handle alone.

So it is with great pleasure and some relief, that I announce an addition to the Editorial board; Fred McCormick - who has contributed so much excellent journalism to the magazine over the years - has agreed to become a Co-Editor.  Fred is currently engaged on the coordination and production of our Joe Heaney double CD, due for launch in May.  Full details of this release can be found below.

Fred's acceptance of the job is extremely gratifying; Keith and I are very pleased to welcome him aboard and look forward to his valuable contributions to our continuing efforts in making MT the world's foremost publication on traditional music, in any medium.

... and now, a message from our Founder:

Technology has given the academic study of Folk Music enormous opportunities due to the easy accessibility and use of cassettes, videos and even computers.

Is it really seventeen years ago that I wrote that in the first editorial to Musical Traditions in 1983?  The magazine was my brainchild to explore the enormous amount of traditional music then being researched, recorded and presented both at home and abroad and to give me the opportunity to promote some of the performers I held most dear and to give a platform to like-minded enthusiasts to do the same.

Not that MT was at that time at the cutting edge of technology - far from it!  In those days articles and reviews, once submitted, were typed up on a word processor by Jacqui (who ran our firm's computer department) for me to photocopy-reduce and then cut and paste (the smell of cowgum still affects me!)  Once printed, it was my task to address by hand all the envelopes (from a water damaged consignment I had acquired cheap).  Initially this was hardly a time consuming exercise as the original response was fairly underwhelming but gradually interest grew, some fascinating contacts were made and Musical Traditions gradually established itself as a serious contributor to the study of our music.  Enthusiastic and knowledgable reviewers such as Chris Smith, Ray Templeton and Keith Chandler could be relied upon, record companies like Topic, Rounder and Arhoolie were most generous and latterly Graeme Kirkham's desk top publishing skills were to prove invaluable.

However a series of domestic disasters and job changes gradually reduced the amount of time and money available to continue with the mag and so when in 1998 Rod approached me with a view to putting MT on the Internet my immediate view was - what the hell?  Go for it!  But where was the audience and who would write for a journal that no-one had access to?  Well, for once my powers of prophesy were completely up the wall, for in the space of a couple of years virtually everyone who wishes to has access to this media and countless excellent articles, reviews and comments have poured forth.  Rod's IT skills have astounded me time and again but more so his boundless enthusiasm - and that is the key.  Musical Traditions was born out of enthusiasm and, with the ongoing support of current and doubtless future enthusiasts will continue to champion the great musics of the world.

They deserve nothing less.

Keith Summers - 18.1.00

New Articles?

But there has been something troubling me as I slogged through the small hours, squinting at the monitor and wearing away my typing finger - and I have just realised what it was.  A bit of checking has revealed that only about a quarter of our articles (both paper and virtual) were actually written for MT!  The large majority were reprints of things in other publications, record sleevenotes and booklets, academic papers, talks ... you name it.  Of the 46 articles advertised on our Home page, I think only 15 were originally written specifically for this magazine.  Naturally,I'm very pleased that we've been able to include all the others (many of which are among the most important things we've published), but it does give me cause for concern about the future ...

I've just spent a long time getting old material from ten years ago ready for HTML publication - but where are the new articles?  Looking back over the recent inclusions I have to go back to April '99 to find the first - Jonathan Stock's piece on Ethnomusicology - which was actually written for MT, and back to December '98 to find one about a traditional performer!  This causes me considerable concern!  I don't want MT to become little more than a recycling site for old material.  I'm very pleased to be able to include articles which are no longer publicly available, but a revised, updated version from a third millennium standpoint would be so much better.

There must be many of our readers who know about a tradition with which they have some connection, or a performer they know (or knew) - and could put together an article which would be of interest to other readers.  There must be many of those who have written one for us who could contribute another.  I can't offer any financial rewards for your work, but surely the interest of thousands of readers in over 40 countries spread across the face of the globe is something worth considering?  Please let me know if you might be able to write something for us.


Modern Technology up to Speed?

Here's something to ponder.  A while ago I was pleased to pass on a reader's letter about an MT Small Ad - sent on Friday, posted on Saturday, acted upon later on Saturday, and the goods arriving on the reader's doormat on Monday morning.  He was very pleased!

As something of a contrast, another reader told me, in the second week of February, that the Rounder/Lomax Songs of Seduction CD - the first in the Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales (Caedmon) series - was available through CDNOW.  I e-mailed Rounder asking for a review copy.

On the 18th, Rounder's boss-man i/c traditional releases replied that he'd only seen them himself two days before.  He suggested that I should get one via Direct Distribution in London, as they'd be over here "very soon".  He was clearly correct in this, because, a few days later, another reader told me that he'd come across the CD in a shop in England on Saturday (20th).  Pretty efficient distribution there!

However, Rounder's distributors in the UK - Direct (now Proper) - seemed to be entirely in the dark as to these developments and have only just got their review copies.  MT's arrived on the 15th of March - some 3½ weeks after I could have bought it over the counter in a UK shop!

What's more, I'm told that several shops now get their Rounder issues from a "distributor in Europe who is much cheaper and quicker than Direct".  So if readers continue to find records available in UK shops long before MT reviews them - it may not always be our fault!

If any readers are having problems getting Rounder CDs, they might like to know that Veteran have the following in stock:

MT CD Release Schedule Changed:

... and here in sunny Stroud, things don't run much truer to timetable.  The tentative schedule of MT releases I mentioned a couple of months ago has had to be changed because of forces beyond our control.

Keith Chandler's CD of Scottish music on Beltona 78s has been cancelled because the sound quality of the discs he had access to was not good enough, and too little of the material was what he felt to be traditional.  A great pity, since I'd like our output to be wider than the wholly English material we've been able to release so far.

The double CD of Joe Heaney is pretty well ready, but Topic have decided to delay its release until September for scheduling and commercial reasons.  I'll keep you informed of the definite release date as soon as it's know.

But the good news is that the George Townshend CD, which I hinted at earlier, is now a reality, as is the double CD of Walter Pardon from Mike Yates' recordings.  This release is intended as a supplement, or even a counterbalance, to the Topic A World Without Horses record, and contains pretty well every song he ever recorded not currently available on various CD issues.  I'm extremely pleased about this collaboration with Mike - and hope that it will be the first of several ...


Articles from the 'Paper' editions of MT:

As it has been some time since a new article appeared in these pages, I thought it might be a good idea to begin publishing those from the 'paper' editions of the magazine which, until now, have only been available on the MT CD-ROM (see our Publications page for details).

Making the assumption that most of our regular readers who want to spend a tenner to free up some hard drive space have already done so, I don't think many people will object if the old articles start appearing here for the benefit of our more casual readership, worldwide.  And, since Bampton practices have just started for the new season, I thought I'd begin with Keith Chandler's excellent piece covering 150 years of fiddle playing and morris dancing in that Oxfordshire village.  It is now in place on the Articles page.

Except when a new article arrives to interrupt the schedule, one of the old 'paper' articles will appear here each month, until all 30 have been published.  June's will be Mike Yates' The Socio-political songs of Walter Pardon - to coincide with the launch of our new double CD, Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father ... the other songs of Walter Pardon.

MT Walter Pardon double CD available

Our latest CD release, the 146 minute, 49 track, Walter Pardon: Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father (MT CD 305-6) is now available, and you can find the complete booklet notes in our Articles page.  This double CD, certainly our most lavish production to date with a 32 page A5 booklet, contains pretty well all the songs (49 tracks) Walter recorded for Mike Yates in 1978-80 which are not currently available on CD elsewhere.  The track list is as follows:

MT CD 305:
  1. Cupid the Ploughboy
  2. A Country Life
  3. The Poor Smuggler's Boy
  4. I'm Yorkshire Though in London
  5. Seventeen Come Sunday
  6. The Parson and the Clerk
  7. Blow the Winds I-O
  8. Hold the Fort
  9. All Among the Barley
  10. Black-Eyed Susan
  11. Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold
  12. Lord Lovel
  13. The Skipper and his Boy
  14. Thornaby Woods
  15. An Old Man's Advice
  16. If I Were a Blackbird
  17. The Bonny Bunch of Roses-O
  18. The Green Bushes
  19. Polly Vaughan
  20. The Saucy Sailor
  21. Little Ball of Yarn
  22. The Huntsman

A full review of the CDs by Roly Brown
is also now available on the site

MT CD 306:
  1. Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father
  2. The Cuckoo
  3. Old Joe the Boat is Going Over
  4. Cock-a-Doodle-Do
  5. The Harland Road /
    Wheel Your P'rambulator
  6. Ben Bolt
  7. Uncle Walter's Tune
  8. Two Lovely Black Eyes
  9. Alice Grey
  10. Rosin-a-Beau
  11. Not for Joseph, Not for Joe
  12. The Old Armchair
  13. The Marble Arch
  14. Wake Up Johnny /
    When the Cock begins to Crow /
    Saving Them All for Mary /
    Down by the Old Abbey Ruins
  15. The Mistletoe Bough
  16. On a See-Saw
  17. Your Faithful Sailor Boy
  18. Here's to the Grog
  19. Nancy Lee
  20. Up the Chimney Pot /
    Slave Driving Farmers /
    Bound to Emigrate to New Zealand
  21. Husband Taming
  22. Uncle Walter's March
  23. If I Ever Get Drunk Again
  24. Naughty Jemima Brown
  25. The Dandy Man
  26. For Me, For Me
  27. While Shepherds Watched

To purchase: Please send banknotes or cheques (payable to Musical Traditions) to my address at the foot of this page, together with your own mailing address.

All prices are inclusive of p&p.  The UK price is £15 (£12.50 for friends of MT).  Foreign readers can pay in their own currency, but we need to make a small extra charge for the transaction and the p&p.

Details of this and all other MT products can be found on the new-look Publications page.

Stand Up, Ye Men of Labour

As promised below, Mike Yates' article on the socio-political songs of Walter Pardon is now in place in these pages, as a useful adjunct to the MT double CD release.

Peter Kennedy letter:

It was with some trepidation that I downloaded a large e-mail attachment from Peter Kennedy, after all the things which have been said about him in these pages.  However, I was pleased to have a response at all, whatever it might contain - and doubly pleased when it turned out to be a letter (now published in our Recent Letters page), containing quite a lot of praise for the work and stance of MT and its writers, in which he said he would be "commenting on some of the unfortunate bloomers that Musical Traditions reviews are laying at my door" regarding the notes to Rounder records.

My pleasure turned to sadness after reading it through several times.  Most of the 'bloomers' (to be honest, the numerous serious charges which have been levelled at Mr Kennedy in these pages over the years) are not even mentioned, let alone commented upon.  As far as I can see, he only deals with the 'date of Harry Cox's discovery' issue directly, and 'general inaccuracies in the notes' indirectly.  He also raises the matter (not mentioned in MT) of "inappropriate artwork" on the Harry Cox CD; namely, the inclusion of the Union flag.  He, rightly, "deplores any unnecessary nationalism", but seems unaware that the artwork was also flawed by the, presumably American, assumption that the Union Jack is the English flag.  In all three cases he seeks to place the blame and responsibility for these failings upon others.

Now, I have absolutely no doubt that some, even all, of his stories of changes being made by others and of the final version not being what he'd hoped for are absolutely true.  But he is - and is publicly acknowledged to be in the booklet notes - the Series Editor for the British part of the Alan Lomax Collection.  As such, the responsibility for the final outcome of the project is his.

It seems to me obvious that an important part of that prestigious job is to ensure that the final version is exactly what he'd hoped for - and to insist that he be given the authority to achieve this end. If this authority was not forthcoming, then he should have resigned the post on that ground.  He might even have made a public statement about his decision, which we would have been happy to have printed.

As it is, he presumably remains in the post and, equally presumably, we may look forward to further volumes in the series exhibiting the same flaws as those we've seen already.

I Never Played to Many Posh Dances - book

In his recent Enthusiasms piece, Keith Summers said "During a period that laughingly passes for 'Spring Cleaning' at Crossfield Road, I happened upon a list of review items originally scheduled for the next issue of Musical Traditions before it went 'Forest Friendly'."  Further excavations have now unearthed two boxes of Reg Hall's superb book on Scan Tester, the Sussex anglo concertina player, which was published by MT back in 1990 at a price of £7.95.

These copies - the last remaining stock - are now available for sale at £5 including UK p&p to MT readers.  Since they are strictly outside the financial sphere of MT on the Net, we would ask any prospective purchasers to contact Keith directly at: keith.summers@virgin.net or at: 49 Crossfield Road, Southend on Sea, Essex SS2 4LS, UK, and to make cheques payable to him.

Topic Records:

Readers will be aware that the MT production Joe Heaney: The Road from Connemara is due for release in September on the Topic and Cló Iar-Chonnachta labels (TSCD518D and CICD143).  We will obviously be selling this double CD - but we have now also arranged to sell the full range of Topic traditional CDs from the magazine, along with our own productions.

Thus readers can have access to pretty well all the UK production of traditional music CDs from one place, with just the one letter, e-mail, phone call, and cheque.

It is also hoped that a reciprocal arrangement with Topic can soon be finalised, so that Credit Card purchases of MT records can be made from them.  Watch this space for further details.

Record Price increases:

The recent one penny increase on the first class stamp price didn't seem unreasonable, but postage rates on heavier items have increased much more and the weight ranges have been narrowed.  This, together with the fuller, and thus heavier, booklets we now produce, has caused our p&p costs to escalate considerably.

Moreover, the change in status mentioned above means that I now hope to sell MT records through other mailorder outlets and shops.  The reaction from some of these has been that our prices are well below the 'standard' CD price, meaning lower profits than is normal, yet more work and p&p costs because of our A5 size booklets.  MT record prices have also remained the same since 1998.

Accordingly, I have decided to raise our prices on August 1st this year.  I can't be doing with these silly £11.99 prices - so from that date MT single CDs will cost £12 and doubles £16 - both inclusive of UK p&p.  I hope most readers will agree that they still represent extremely good value.

MT Records - changes:

In the 20th century, the two CDs we produced funded the production of the magazine and helped pay for various bits of software and hardware necessary for their and its production. In the 21st century, things have changed a bit.

If everything goes to plan, we will have released three single and two double CDs by the end of the year - George Townshend, Walter Pardon, Daisy Chapman, Joe Heaney and the Smith Family.  The records side of the operation will be profit-making in a real sense - and thus needs its existence declared to the taxman.  Such a declaration would be enormously complicated if it included the non-profit-making magazine aspect of our work.  For this and several other more complex reasons, I have decided to separate the two parts - and from the 1st of January this year, the record company and the magazine have been keeping separate accounts and operating independently.

Musical Traditions Records will continue to fund the Magazine as and when necessary.

Topic Records - sales arrangement:

Credit Card purchases of MT records and CD-ROM at our normal prices can be made through them - though they do not appear on the interactive Topic Website.  Anyone wishing to buy MT records by Credit or Debit card should telephone Topic Mail Order or fill in and post/FAX one of our printed Order Forms - full details appear on the new Records page.  Topic also keep a stock of our CDs, so dispatch should be immediate.  This arrangement is mainly to enable overseas customers to buy our records more easily - we hope that UK customers will continue to deal with us directly, as our profits from the Topic deal will be severely limited since they have to include VAT and other costs in their price.

I Never Played to Many Posh Dances - book

Reg Hall's superb book on Scan Tester, the Sussex anglo concertina player, which was published by MT back in 1990 at a price of £7.95.

These copies - the last remaining stock - are now available for sale at £5 including UK p&p to MT readers.  Since they are strictly outside the financial sphere of MT on the Net, we would ask any prospective purchasers to contact Keith directly at: keith.summers@virgin.net or at: 49 Crossfield Road, Southend on Sea, Essex SS2 4LS, UK, and to make cheques payable to him.


CDs of Italian Traditional Music:

Regular readers of this magazine will doubtless be aware of my enthusiasm for Italian music from the numerous reviews I've written over the years.  Many of these records have unfortunately been unavailable in the UK ... while a number which were supposed to be, it subsequently turns out, were not either.  The Felmay label (ex Robi Droli) and its various sub-labels used to be distributed in a half-hearted way by ADA in the UK, but the new ADA in Belper is not actually a distribution company any more.  Discovery, their new distributors, are only interested in their latest 'world music' releases - so, as usual, traditional music takes a back seat.

It now seems fairly clear that the only way anyone in the UK will be able to easily buy some of the truly wonderful music I've reviewed here is if I start selling it myself ... so I shall!  Within the next few days, the following CDs will be available from our Records page, along with Topic and our own productions.  May I stress that this is not 'difficult' music - if you enjoy the Coppers or the Watersons, you'll love the singing, and if you like British jig-time dance music played by a fiddle-led band, you'll love the music!

Despite being special imports, all will be at our standard price of £12.00 inc P&P.  Full details, including printable order forms, can be found on our Records page.

MT's Wiggy Smith and Family CD released:

They're coming thick and fast!  I'm pleased to tell you that our fourth CD release of this year - Wiggy Smith: Band of Gold (MTCD307) - will be available from 1st September.

Gloucester's Wiggy Smith and his father, Wisdom, will be quite well known from appearances on various Topic LPs of Traveller songs.  His uncles Denny and Biggun (Jabez) however, have never before appeared on record - and the four of them present a fine and broad repertoire of songs, ranging from Lord Bateman and The Cruel Ship's Carpenter, through The Deserter and Oakham Poachers, to Ikey Moses and That Little Old Band of Gold.  Even Wiggy's granddaughters, Jean Johns and Rachel Butler contribute a great little playground song, My Boyfriend Gave Me an Apple.

The CD contains pretty well every song (33 in all) that they are known to have recorded - and few of these particular performances have ever before been published.  The tapes come from as far back as Peter Shepheard's 1966 recordings of Denny and Biggun, Mike Yates' 1970 recordings of Wiggy and Wisdom, and move right up to date with Gwilym Davies' and Paul Burgess' of Wiggy in 1994-99.  The accompanying 24-page A5 booklet describes Wiggy’s life and music in some detail, and contains the texts of all the songs, including complete versions of some of the longer ballads.

As usual, the Notes from this now appear as an Article in these pages, and details and a printable Order Form are to be found on the Records page.

Joe Heaney double Topic CD now available exclusively from MT

Cover pictureSince it has been decided that the Topic/CIC release of this MT production will not now take place until November - and since we have had it ready for five months and have widely advertised its availability in September - it has been agreed that we should begin to sell it as advertised.  Accordingly, it is now available from the MT address and full details appear on the Records page. The Road from Connemara costs £16 (the same as it will from Topic), but our price includes UK p&p.

Rice Girls deleted!

Contrary to what I was told by Harmonia Mundi, the Auvidis Ethnic CD Donne della pianura del Po - the extraordinary 'rice girls' of the Po Valley (see below) - will not be 'available in a couple of weeks' from MT ... actually, it has been deleted!  This seems extraordinarily harsh, since it was only released in 1997 - but that's the way it goes with real traditional music.  Sorry about that ... But please see our News pages for some further information.

Harry Cox double Topic CD now available from MT

Cover picture Once again, we are pleased to be able to offer MT readers a new Topic release ahead of its official launch date.  The Bonny Labouring Boy is another lavish VotP-style production - two 78+ minute CDs, 54 tracks and a 60-page booklet housed in a super-sized case.  The booklet is really superb: introduction by Reg Hall, song notes by Steve Roud, biography and appeciation by Paul Marsh.  Puts our booklets to shame!

It is now available from the MT address and full details and printable order form appear on the Records page. The Bonny Labouring Boy costs £16 (the same as it will from Topic), but our price includes UK p&p.

Seasonal and Millennial good wishes!

May we take this opportunity to send the very best wishes of the season to all our readers and friends in music.  Who knows what 2001 may bring - but we will do our best to ensure that whatever it may be includes some good journalism, useful information and helpful reviews, together with a continuing stream of important recordings.

A happy holiday, a peaceful and musical New year, good stuff to read, great stuff to listen to ... What more do you need?  Friends across the world to share it with!

Rod, Keith and Fred - 23.12.00

MT reviews - a point worth making:

An MT review has two purposes; it should alert the potential purchaser to both positive and negative aspects of the publication which might not be immediately apparent upon cursory inspection, and it should also raise related issues which are likely to be of interest to readers.  In simple terms, it's an 'enabling' exercise, the aim of which is to help our readers enjoy and appeciate more of the huge amount of music which is available to them today - and that more fully.

It is something of a paradox that, as the audience for real traditional music appears to be dwindling, the quantity and quality of what is being published is increasing.  In the last couple of years an unprecedented number of extremely important publications have appeared which have dealt with traditional music in a fuller, deeper, wider ... a 'better' way than almost any in the past.

What's more, instant global communications via the Internet have allowed the small number of people actually interested in such things to keep abreast of these developments and in touch with each other.  Most of us understand that new standards are constantly being set - and realise that any new publications must live up to these standards.  MT reviews should attempt to reflect these developments, since we are now addressing what has become an extremely educated audience.

Like the reviews in any other music magazine, ours tend to fall into a few broad categories:

  1. The 'ordinary' review - "I listened to this CD/read this book; it was good/average/poor of its type; these were its outstanding features; I do/don't recommend it to this or that interest group."  There are lots of these.

  2. The 'enthusiasm' review - "I knew nothing about this music before I heard this CD but now I can't live without hearing lots more of it.  Every sentient being on the planet needs this for Christmas!"  There are rather fewer of these.

  3. The 'informed' review - "This is an extremely important/disappointing publication for the following list of reasons; this is the background information you need to know about this music; this is how it compares with previous publications; these are the ways in which it succeeds in broadening our knowledge of the subject; these are its failings; and here are some peripheral ideas it's got me thinking about."  There are rather fewer of these, too - although they are really what MT should be about, in my opinion.

  4. The 'fan' review - "This is the very latest fantastic album from the wonderful ....... augmented in this instance by ethereal vocals of ....... and the groovy synth work of ....... and so, of course, it is absolutely brilliant!"  I hope there are almost none of these.
As Editor, I am regularly called to account for examples of type 3 which are described as being negative, cruel, harsh, destructive, over-detailed and - almost always - academic!  (Any real academic would roar with laughter at this description)  Many of these correspondents appear to cling firmly to that old adage "If you can't find something good to say - say nothing" - and a substatial proportion of them seem to live in the USA.

Personally, I would far rather hear about the possible failings of a CD before I encounter it as an enticing looking, shrink-wrapped (and thus unexaminable) object in my local record shop.  I would rather know that the glossily produced booklet actually tells me very little about the music or the performer before I shell out £13 of my hard-earnt!

Rather more difficult to answer is the charge that, since the publication in question really is very good and well worth buying, "Why did your reviewed have to go picking holes in it?"  Here, I can only refer back to the point about the constantly improving quality of publications and the standards they inevitably set.  Our own Musical Traditions CDs are a case in point - whenever I'm presented with a new project, one of my major worries is that I won't be able to do as good a job on it as I did on some of the previous ones.  Also worth remembering is the way in which small flaws in an extremely good piece of work stand out far more annoyingly than they would in a mediocre one.

Anyway - I will continue to publish, indeed to encourage, critical reviews (in the best sense of the word) - though I will try to exercise rather more editorial control over those I consider to be needlessly so ... and attempt to do the same with my own contributions as well!  But MT, although an e-zine, is not a fan-zine - and has no intentions of becoming one.

Another year done gone ...

Time flies when you're having fun, they say ... they should add 'and when you're working flat-out'.  It seems almost inconcieveable to me that, at this time last year, I hadn't even started work on the George Townshend CD!

But, as the 'real' Millennium draws to a close, the MT team will have produced four single CDs and five double CDs in 12 months - and, with a bit of luck and a following wind, will have published all but the last of these doubles before December 31st.  Nor has the Magazine been neglected - having now grown to a staggering 116Mb in size.  This will mean that a big chunk of the older material is going to need shifting to our 'second' site at UK Online - probably in late January.  Keep an eye on this Editorial page for further details of when the move takes place and how it will effect you.

For anyone trying to figure out what all those CDs were/are, the list goes like this:

This last one - which I hope will be out before the end of the year - is the next project from the Brian Matthews Collection, which furnished the George Townshend and Pop Maynard CDs.  It's a double CD containing pretty-well everything which Brian recorded in a number of Sussex pubs in late-1959 and 1960.  Some wonderful stuff there ...

The aforementioned 'fifth' double will be an overview of the Mike Yates Collection and will feature tracks which are no longer available - almost a score of them have never been released before, including three complete Child Ballads he collected only a couple of months ago!  It is likely to be available early in 2001, as is the new version of the Musical Traditions CD-ROM, complete with all this year's magazine output.

This might also be a good time to remind readers that the new Gordon Hall CD, all the Topic traditional CDs and a select range of Italian ones are available from us (see our Records page), and to remind overseas readers that all the MT CDs are available for Credit Card purchase from Topic in London (44 [0]20 7263 1240).  Ask for Mail Orders.

Also, the last remaining copies of Reg Hall's superb book on Scan Tester, the Sussex anglo concertina player, I Never Played to Many Posh Dances, which was published by MT back in 1990, are now available for sale at £5 including UK p&p to MT readers.  Please contact Keith directly at: keith.summers@virgin.net or at: 49 Crossfield Road, Southend on Sea, Essex SS2 4LS, UK, and to make cheques payable to him.

It's Moving day ...

As I mentioned earlier, the magazine has grown in size quite considerably in the last year or so and it now comes the time for one of my periodic removals of some of the older material to our other site at UK Online.  For the benefit of newer readers, I should make it plain that this move should make no difference to your accessing the magazine - merely that the Articles and Reviews published in 1999 will now be downloaded from that site rather than the usual one.  In practice, you should notice no difference whatsoever - this process happens with all the pre-1999 material already.  The only difference will be that the 1999 Reviews will no longer have sound clips, although the Articles will have.

The reason for this is that the sound files associated with the reviews account for more than twice as much space as all the files I will be moving in total.  Since all of these older Reviews will have already been read by those of you who were interested anyway, it seems to me unneccesary to go to all the trouble and cost of such a time-consuming and space-hungry transfer.

The only real result of all this will be that any Bookmarks you've created pointing to older Articles or Reviews will no longer work. This does not mean that the file in question no longer exists (they ALL continue to exist!) - merely that it is now in a different place, so you need to go to the Articles or Reviews index page first, to find it.

By the time you read this the move will have been completed and all the links from the magazine's Index pages will have been altered to point to the new file locations.  This process usually goes through without too many glitches, but there will inevitably be the occasional missed link somewhere in the 2,000 or so pages - if you do notice a link which isn't working any more, please let me know.

So - in brief: All pre-2000 files are now moved to our other site.  If you can't find a file, go to the appropriate Index page and get to it from there.  Don't rely on bookmarks for the older material.


West Virginia University Press CDs from MT

I'm very pleased to announce a tie-up between the West Virginia University Press Sound Archive and MT enabling us to sell their superb Edden Hammons Collection Volumes I and II, which have been hitherto unavailable in the UK.  The complete sleevenotes from the LP version of Volume I appeared as a fascinating article in Musical Traditions No 10, Spring 1992 and are now available online in these pages.

MT is extremely pleased and excited at having been selected to make this wonderful music available in the UK.  See News and Comment No 21 for more details.


MT Supplements

One of the greatest glories of the old 'paper' magazine was its support and publication of the two Supplements, Many a Good Horseman and I Never Played to Many Posh Dances.  We have now gone a short way in continuing this process - though, without funding, we cannot yet afford any paper publications.  Keith Summers' Sing, Say or Pay! - a mammoth survey and round-up of his collecting work in East Suffolk, unavailable for more than 21 years - has been re-published here with a revised and updated text and discographies and the inclusion of sound clips from his extensive tape collection.  We have also published Dr Mike Brocken's Doctoral thesis The British Folk Revival, at 615KB or 125 pages, a complete book in itself.

The third MT Supplement is currently in preparation - the writings of world-expert Keith Chandler on Morris Dancing in the English South Midlands 1660-1900 will appear on CD-ROM in mid-2001.  This will bring together his two books Ribbons, Bells and Squeaking Fiddles and A Chronological Gazetteer, plus numerous other published and unpublished shorter works on the subject into one essential volume.  Every piece has been revised and updated for this new MT publication, reflecting Keith's continuing research into the Morris tradition.

This CD-ROM will be The Morris publication of the decade.  I would ask all readers to pass on information about this impending release to any friends interested in the Morris, since many of them will be unaware of MT's existence, and getting the information to them by means of normal publicity methods would be extremely expensive.

Keith has very generously donated all profits from the CD-ROM to MT funds.  A Friend indeed!


"He'll be taking his ball home, next"

The above phrase occurs in the letter from Mike Brocken about the 'Elizabeth Cronin review controversy' which was published in our Letters pages in January.  In fact, Dr Brocken's remark was about John Moulden - but appears to have been more widely prophetic than he might have imagined.

Some four months ago, I was happy to publish Dáibhí Ó Cróinín's letter responding to Fred McCormick's review, and extremely pleased by its calm tone and magnanimous approach to the matter.  As may be imagined, Dáibhí and I exchanged several e-mails over the following few weeks, and my opinion of him was further enhanced by an offer he subsequently made.  I'd had the temerity to ask if he fancied contributing anything for publication in MT, and he replied:

"I wonder would you find it useful if I sent the texts of some Bess Cronin songs that I was given when I was in Cúil Aodha a week ago - two or three are 'new' (i.e., either not known to me before or else noted by title in the book from one of her song-lists, but no text then to hand).  One or two already in the book, but these (handwritten versions, from a copybook of my father's dated 1939!!) are slightly different."
... and added, in a further message:
"Fred mentioned that you might write asking for a listing of the actual sources for the printed texts in my book.  I'd be delighted in principle to oblige, but fear that it'll take a while ...  I'll be happy to post it on your site.  It's work that should be done anyway ..."
Naturally, I was delighted that such a positive result might be the outcome of what had, at times, been some rather heated debate in our letters pages.  However, I refrained from publicising the fact, as I didn't want to appear to be putting Dáibhí under any obligation to fulfil his kind offer.  Despite being very busy with his University work, he took the trouble to keep me informed of developments in the succeeding months.

So I was very surprised by an e-mail from him last week (now published in out Letters page) telling me that he was unhappy about my publication of Mike Brocken's letter:

"[Your] publication of the ignorant and offensive letter by Dr Mike Brocken of Liverpool University seems to me to indicate that there is, in fact, no meaningful moderatorship of the letters at all.  I'm at a loss to understand why the views of a self-declared ignoramus in the subject should be given the freedom of your pages ...  His comments are just too silly to merit any reply, but in view of the fact that he was allowed to air them at my expense, I must - reluctantly - withdraw my previous offer to publish the newly-discovered Bess Cronin material in your pages."

Now, I'm not aware that I've ever given the impression that the Letters pages were Moderated - and nor are they.  Nor do I see any need to have a moderated Letters Page - this is not an academic Journal.  Any letters sent for publication appear as requested and as the authors sent them - but spell-checked.  If I'm aware of any blatant inaccuracies or misunderstandings, I will sometimes add a brief editorial comment to that effect ... I did so in only one instance among the four letters concerned.  And in this particular case, the few facts being discussed are not in dispute - the arguments being raised are for the most part dependent upon opinion.  I don't set myself as an arbitrator of the validity of authors' opinions, and feel that McCormick and Brocken are as entitled to put their points of view as are Ó Cróinín and Moulden - without undue interference from me.

Nor, to be frank, do I see much in Dr Brocken's letter, or in my publication of it, which could be construed as being 'at Dr Ó Cróinín's expense' - let alone ignorant or offensive.  For the most part, it merely reiterates points which have been raised before - and, for the most part, not answered!  Let's be specific:

These are the important criticisms which Fred McCormick's review levelled at the book part of The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin.  These are the criticisms which Dáibhí Ó Cróinín has failed to even discuss, let alone attempt to answer.  Maybe he would now care to do so?

These are also the points which Ó Cróinín's and Moulden's letters have essentially side-tracked - a pity, as I believe they need discussion.  The tone of the review has already been discussed, explained and apologised for ... it does not need to be covered further, I think.  The MT Letters Page is a forum for people with an interest in traditional music to share their thoughts with other such people.  There is no requirement for them to be experts.  MT is not an academic Journal and its correspondence pages are not moderated.  I will both welcome and publish any contributions discussing some or all of the above matters.  That, at least, would be a positive outcome ............

Throughout my life, I've attempted to share my great enthusiasm for (and moderate knowledge of) traditional music in every possible way.  One of the results of my re-publication of MT on the Net has been to help others in doing the same.  I see this as being positive and helpful.  I believe most readers would agree that we all benefit from it.

So I'm sorry that Dáibhí Ó Cróinín has decided to take his ball home.  I don't see how it is any way positive or helpful.  Nor do I (as yet) see who benefits from it.


Three new articles

As we hadn't had any new articles for quite a while, I decided - once again - to reinstate a couple of those which appeared in the paper version of the magazine, but which had thus far only seen an electronic publication on our CD-ROM.

The Tommy Talker Bands of the West Riding, by Ronnie Wharton and Arthur Clarke, was the very first article to be published in MT, back in mid-1983.  It's an account of what I would call an English folk music rather than a traditional one, and as these are pretty few and far between, it makes very interesting reading.

The other was John Howson's piece on The Barber Family, of Wingfield, Suffolk, which is rather more central to what I know to be the interests of most MT readers.

And then - just like the proverbial London busses - another one turned up!  Georgina Boyes offered me a piece on Alice Gomme, who was an influential collector, advocate of the Revival and associate of Sharp.  It was her work on children's singing games which convinced Sharp that England wasn't a land without music, but that folksong might still exist here.

I was extremely pleased, as we have very little on women (collectors or singers) in the magazine, so I was glad to have it on that score alone - apart from the fact that it is also well written and interesting.  It's a great pleasure to get contributions from writers of Georgina's distinction, and hope for further collaborations in the future.


HTML Coding article:

Much of the first-time correspondence I get includes some positive comment about the speed and efficiency (generally!) of the MT Website - which is very pleasing.  Perhaps because of this, I'm often asked how to do something on a Web page, but I usually find that the explanation is very difficult because the questioner doesn't understand how HTML works.  And, as there are still a few people who feel that excessive bandwidth use is not a good thing, or who simply like to have an idea how something they use actually works, I decided to write a piece about how to create plain, simple HTML, by hand.  Learning by doing is always the best way!

So, you will now find this piece available here, or via a link in the bottom section of the MT Home Page - under the first of the green divider lines . It is not a 'course' and doesn't include lessons or exercises, but it is - I hope - presented in a logical order, and if the reader follows it through, experimenting with the examples of code I've given, I'm reasonably sure s/he will emerge at the end with a fair level of competence at writing plain, simple HTML Web pages.  Little knowledge of the subject is expected, but I do assume a basic understanding of how to access files on a PC.

I hope that those of you who are interested in such things will find it helpful.


My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte review/article:

My comments about MT's reviews policy, below, were prompted principally by the reaction to Fred McCormick's review of the Book/CDs The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin, published in these pages almost a year ago.

True to that intent - though with some trepidation - I'm pleased to be able to publish another long review, this time of the new double CD, My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte, from Frank Harte and Dónal Lunny.  The writer in this instance is the co-author of the much-acclaimed Rough Guide to Irish Music, Geoff Wallis - who is also an historian with a long-time interest in Ireland and political history.

As so often seems to be the case, Geoff was happy with the CDs, but not with the booklet notes.  As he comments: 'Since such notes have a tendency to enter the canon, it became necessary to challenge their contents.'  Readers with an interest in Napoleon, or with Irish history, should find the review a fascinating read.


Joe Rae - The Broom Blooms Bonny

MT is very pleased to announce yet another new CD release: Joe Rae - The Broom Blooms Bonny (MTCD313).  Eight 'big ballads', three traditional folktales and four songs, recorded by Mike Yates in 2001 - all in digital stereo.

Joe Rae is an exceptional man.  A joiner, who now lives near the small Ayrshire town of Beith, he carries with him a store of folksongs and stories that he inherited from his family and neighbours, including unique versions of classic ballads and ancient Celtic folktales.  Ayrshire is not well-known for its folk performers - certainly not as well-known as the North-East of Scotland - and Joe Rae represents a tradition that has all but vanished today.

Joe was born in 1937 into a community of rural farmworkers and shepherds who, for generations, had been responsible for their own entertainment.  Many of Joe’s songs came from his grandfather, John Rogerson, a shepherd who had worked in the Galloway Hills.  John learnt the rare ballad Achnachie Gordon from a fellow Scot whilst fighting in the Boer War.  Other ballads, such as William and Lady Marjorie and Katharine Johnston, came from another shepherd, Edward ‘Ned’ Robertson, who was retired and living in the village of Sorn when Joe knew him.

Many of Joe’s songs and ballads refer to local events - You’ll Gang tae the Pawn was learnt by a young Joe Rae in the ‘jiner’s shop’ where he was apprenticed, while Oor Young Lady relates to the Maxwell Family who have lived in Nithsdale since the time of the Scottish King David the 2nd (1329 to1371) - though some ballads, such as The Bonny Hind, are known throughout Europe.

The area around Beith is scattered with Gaelic place-names, so it should come as no surprise to hear Joe retelling some of his grandfather’s stories of mermaids and kelpies - malevolent underwater creatures - stories that are common to both Ireland and the West Coast of Scotland.

The Broom Blooms Bonny, Joe Rae’s first album, contains a choice part of Joe’s heritage.  It will be valued by all who love and appreciate Scottish traditional music and culture; and it is a significant document, and memorial, to a way of life seldom seen today.

The CD and 20-page booklet are priced at £12.00 inc p&p, and can be ordered via our Records page. As usual, the CD's Booklet Notes appear as an Article in these pages.


Cover picture

Eva Tagliani : la voce delle mascherate - booklet translation

When this lovely CD was reviewed (and added to our Italian CDs catalogue), it was indicated that the accompanying booklet was entirely in Italian - but a translation was promised in the near future.

Danny Stradling has now completed this challenging and lengthy task and her translation appears as an Article in these pages.  Now you can not only buy a CD of a superb ballad singer, but also read all about her and see her entire song texts, in English.

Reinstated articles:

Once again, some of the articles from the 'paper' version of MT have been reinstated here.  Firstly, In Pursuit of Polka Happiness... and a classless culture? by Charles and Angela Keil - from Musical Traditions No 2, Early 1984.  This was one of my favourite articles - thought provoking, intense, committed ... and one of the first pieces of writing I'd ever read to deal with the 'art-as-object' vs 'art-as-process' debate.

Not an easy read in places - but something that everyone really needs to think long and hard about.  Do have a look.  And I hope you come to value it as much as I do.

Also, since the musics they deal with are mentioned in passing in the Keil article, I've reinstated John Harrison's Damn Society! ... an Introduction to Greek Rembetika and João Dos Santos' The Gangster Reformed ... a study in musical parallels, which looks at the Fado of Lisbon and the Tango of Buenos-Aires as well as the Rembetika of Athens.

Loads of interesting stuff for your summer reading!


Useful Addresses:

Having made the decision to keep the entire contents of Musical Traditions Internet Magazine on-line and available to readers, rather than publishing 'editions', it's always a bit dispiriting to encounter those who have obviously only ever read one page of it.  The nature of the Internet, and the reliance upon search engines by so many users these days, means that a significant proportion of our readers arrive at, say, a review of a particular performer's CD direct from a Yahoo search, read it and go away again without, seemingly, having ever suspected that the review was just a tiny part of a greater whole.

One result of this is that I tend to get a great many requests for information about where to buy the CD concerned ... since I have been foolish enough to include my contact details at the foot of every page.  Some three years ago, whilst spending far too many happy hours assembling the Traditional Discographies, I decided to include a list of what I hoped would be 'useful addresses' of record companies, distributors, shops, etc, to enable readers to find this information for themselves.  This has been kept up to date subsequently, as and when further contact info came to hand.  So it's a pity that most of the queries I receive concern information which can be found on the Useful Addresses page - it certainly takes up a considerable amount of my time, trying to find pleasant ways of saying "Well, why not look where I've already put the address you want?" to several people every week.

So - regulars will notice that I'm now including a note to this effect at the head of each review and the Latest Batch page, in an attempt to minimise these pointless requests a little.  I do realise that almost everyone who reads this present piece will already know how to find out the address of Rounder, Felmay or whoever - but could I ask you to spread the word about the Useful Addresses page to other, less frequent, readers?  They (or even you) might very well find something of interest - or actually useful - there.  To make it doubly easy, I've now put a link on the Home Page, too.


MT Cassettes:

May I draw your attention to the fact that I no longer hold any stocks of the MT cassettes (MT Cass 101-5 and 200-3), so anyone wishing to purchase any of them, or a copy of Reg Hall's book Scan Tester: I Never Played to Many Posh Dances, should apply to Keith Summers, 49 Crossfield Road, Southend on Sea, Essex SS2 4LS, UK  E-mail: keith.summers@virgin.net  Phone: 01702 618136


Ray Andrews: Classic English Banjo (MTCD314)

Cover pictureI'm very pleased to announce that the CD from Ray Andrews, indicated as a distinct possibility in Geoff Woolfe's recent article, is now a reality.  Details and an order form can be found on our Records page, as usual.

Ray Andrews (1922-87) was a well known musician and entertainer in the Bristol area.  He learned to play the banjo from his father, who had been a boiler-man in the Navy in the First World War.  In the 1930s, Ray was sent as a boy to a teacher, Harold Sharp, who taught him to play in the classic style, a tradition which dates from the mid/late 19th century.  Ray won a talent contest at the Theatre Royal Bristol, and performed at variety shows as Bristol’s 'Boy Wonder banjo player'.

After the Second World War, he became a stalwart of the Bristol Banjo Mandolin and Guitar Club, whose band won many national competitions.  Ray was well known as a pub and working men’s club musician, and when the BMG orchestra declined, he worked with Erik Ilott (the Bristol Shantyman), and was also involved with a club band, The Swingers, and a charitable concert party, The Volunteers.  He taught others to play the banjo, and was interested in a wide range of music.  He recorded himself on countless cassette tapes, for his own amusement and for his musical friends.  Ray performed solo and with Erik Ilott at a number of Folk Festivals in the 1970s and 1980s and became known beyond the ‘classic’ banjo world.

This CD is made up of a number of Ray's own recordings, some private recordings made at festivals, a few studio tracks, and reissues from a cassette, Banjo Maestro, made in the late 1970s by Erik Ilott.  It illustrates Ray’s repertoire, both live and in the studio.  We hope you will agree that it gives a flavour of Ray’s approach - as an entertainer who enjoyed playing before an audience, most of whom were new to the English banjo tradition.  The CD contains 26 tracks, with a running time of 74 minutes, and is accompanied by a 24 page A5 booklet including a biography of Ray’s life, information on the musicians with whom he worked, and a section on the history of the ‘classic’ banjo in Britain and its origins.  Once again, we are able to offer a wealth of material otherwise unavailable on CD, much of which will be entirely new to most listeners.  As usual, the CD's Booklet Notes appear as an Article in these pages.


No more files moved to second site:

Our main website has now become unlimited in size - which means that I will no longer have to move the older material to our 'second' site, as I have done in the past at this time of year.  The only difference you will notice is that the year 2000 reviews will no longer lose their sound clips in January.

I won't promise, but I shall seriously consider moving all the old material back onto the main site and restoring the sound clips (totalling 20Mb) which had been removed.  A job for the New Year - if I still have me strength .......


Kevin and Ellen Mitchell: Have a Drop Mair - double CD

Cover pictureI'm very pleased to announce that our last CD release for 2001, Kevin and Ellen Mitchell: Have a Drop Mair (MTCD315-6), is now available.  The ideal Christmas present for almost everyone, I would have thought!  Why not order your copy now and be sure of getting it on time.  Details and an order form can be found on our Records page, as usual.

Readers of the CD reviews in Musical Traditions Internet Magazine will know that I, among others, have had cause to criticise the recordings of some of the younger generation of singers - people who are, like myself, to some extent products of the 'second British folk song revival', and of the folk club and festival scene.  In far too many cases the singer has come away from the traditional source having learned little beyond the text and a simple approximation of the tune.

But I am also aware that there are a good number of singers who share this heritage, yet are well able to be judged by the same criteria as traditional singers without being the losers by it.  For several years, it has been my intention to produce some CDs of such people, as well as of traditional singers - live people as well as dead ones!

However, intentions don't automatically translate into reality: some ideas had to be shelved because commercial labels were considering something similar; some didn't produce enthusiastic responses; and some, like this present one, took far longer than I had anticipated to bring to fruition.  This has been much more a function of the distance from Stroud to Glasgow than of any lack of enthusiasm on the part of Kevin, Ellen or myself - they have worked less frequently in the southern half of England than I was expecting, and I have travelled northwards rather less often than in the past.  For whatever reasons, it has been almost three and a half years since I first suggested the idea ...

Nonetheless, here we are with MT's first double CD from people who I don't wish to call revivalists - not only has it become a pejorative term, it's also inaccurate - successors might be better.  Call them or it what you will; I think it's a superb record!

As usual, the CDs' Booklet Notes appear as an Article in these pages.

Musical Traditions Virtual 5th Birthday!

Yes - I know it hardly seems possible, but it's true ... virtually the entire content of the ill-fated paper edition No 13 was published on my AOL site on Christmas Eve 1996.  I'm no longer sure quite how big it was, but I think it may have totalled just a couple of hundred Kb, since there were no sound clips in those days, and even the pictures weren't in colour.

Things soon changed, and we outgrew the AOL site in the first eight months - particularly after I found out how to do sound clips!  Two years with U-NET followed, and them a final change to our current ISP at NicNames, who have now made their site provision unlimited - so no more old files need be moved to the second site (see below).  The entire online magazine now amounts to almost 86Mb!

One of the many things I never dreamed of in 1996 was that I would become a record producer.  Keith Summers had produced a number of cassettes for MT, but I certainly wasn't thinking of making any more.  Then digital technology took a few strides forward and I found that I could afford the necessary kit to make CD-R publications, and after some help from Paul Marsh, that I could do the whole process myself, at home!  The result of that has been a total of 6 single CDs, 6 doubles and a CD-ROM.  Another double, a quadruple (truly!) and another CD-ROM are scheduled for early in 2002.  Plus there is a very exciting development currently being worked on - and which I'll tell you about in due course, once the details are ironed out.

So it only remains for me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and an even better New Year than the last, and to assure you that I will do my best to live up to, or exceed, the standards we've set in the past.


George Dunn: Chainmaker double CD now out

Cover pictureAs announced below, the new George Dunn double CD, Chainmaker (MTCD317-8) is now available.  This great Black Country singer was recorded in the early seventies by Roy Palmer, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, and Charles Parker.  The CDs contain 51 tracks and are accompanied by a very substantial booklet written by Roy Palmer.   Details and an order form can be found on our Records page and, as usual, the CDs' Booklet Notes appear as an Article in these pages.  Price is £16.00 inc p&p.

Also, Volume 3 of The Complete Musical Traditions CD-ROM is now out, containing the entire output of the magazine - from the articles in the 'paper' editions of the magazine of 1983 onwards, right up to the last files uploaded to the Website on December 31st 2001.  It's an ideal way of accessing the bulk of MT without having to go online, contains a number of articles still not available on the Net, has all the sound clips, saves you a load of disc space (over 108Mb), and only costs a tenner!

Become a 'Toner Donor'

Having just paid out the end-of-year Sales Royalties an all the MT CDs (yes, we do pay royalties!), I received something back which I thought I'd like to share with you all.  Ray Andrews' son, Dave, asked that the royalties from Classic English Banjo should be paid to St Peter's Hospice in Bristol, where Ray had been a patient.  The letter of thanks from St Peter's included information about their 'Toner Donor' scheme.

Put simply, empty laser printer toner cartridges and inkjet cartridges are used in the 'compatibles' market place and this scheme gives the Hospice at least 50% of their eventual resale value.  Thus you can help both the recycling movement and the Hospice at no cost to yourself!  I've signed up - and it occurred to me that, as you all have computers, there must be a great many toner and inkjet cartridges ending up in the dustbins of MT readers, which could easily be put to good use.

You can get FREEPOST envelopes for the inkjet cartridges and/or a bin for laser printer toner cartridges which will be collected free when full - or you can post either to me at my address below.  For the former, write to Envirocare, FREEPOST SWB 978, Bristol BS1 5ZZ, or you can contact St Peter's Hospice, Bristol Recycling on 0845 458 8822 or e-mail sph@tonerdonor.co.uk for further details of the scheme.


Outdated Links

Our Links Page is often described as being very full, interesting, useful, etc, by readers.  It only remains so if the links actually connect with what they're supposed to.  From time to time, site owners contact me if their URL has changed, or readers tell me that one they tried isn't working - this is only to be expected.  But it was pretty alarming when Vic Smith e-mailed me the other day to say that, as part of a course he was teaching, he'd had the time and opportunity to try every link on the page - and enclosed a list of 20 or so which didn't work!  I've now been through the list, amended those I was able to, and deleted the others.

May I ask all site owners with links on MT's Links page to check that your link goes to where it should, and to tell me if your URL is now different to what it was when you first asked me to include it.  If a reader tells me of an outdated link, it will be deleted - and I'll need convincing of your integrity before I reinstate it.

Competitions Nos 4 and 5

Our fourth competition featured another series of questions based on the booklets accompanying the various CDs which MT has published.  No-one has come up with a set of correct answers in three months, so I'm putting it on the back burner for a bit, to be reinstated later if need be, and am replacing it with a new one specially set for us by Geoff Wallis, and concentrating on Irish music.  Three prizes each of 3 CDs - see how you make out ...

Reasons to be Cheerful

It's comforting to reflect that the 'top-down' model of power and influence structures is not always the one to get the results, as evidenced by the virtual clean-seep of the Grammy Awards by O Brother Where Art Thou? a week ago.

This household currently contains three avid fans of more-or-less everything the Coen Brothers have produced to date (we're talking films/movies here, not some little known klezmer combo - lest any of my readers with rather limited horizons should misunderstand).  A couple of years ago when the first UK reviews of O Brother Where Art Thou? began to appear, we were surprised to find an only moderately favourable review in the Guardian, and actually looked in a few other papers for something more positive; but to no avail.  Further, we discovered that the film had bombed in the States a few months earlier.

Working on the "Sod the critics, I'm sure we'll enjoy it" thesis which has proved reliable so often in the past, we went to see the film and were utterly delighted - most particularly with the sensitive and imaginative use of music (and folk music, at that!) as an integral part of the story.  Indeed, we felt that the music was, in truth, one of the main characters in the story.  This was particularly surprising in that not one of the several reviews we'd read had mentioned the music at all!

Naturally, we encouraged all our friends to go and see it - as did a great many other people, it seems - and before too long we began to hear that it was gaining some kind of underground cult status; popular despite all the critics had said.  Then the CD of the soundtrack came out; began to sell in millions; the film suddenly began appearing on Screen 1 of multiplexes all over the place; Gillian Welch became a star; and the next thing we know is that the CD has won a score of Grammies and other awards.  How nice the see the pyramidical hierarchy structure working in reverse for a change - pressure from the grass-roots finally filtering all the way up to the top!

(As an adjunct to that, do go and see the film Down from the Mountain if it's ever on anywhere near you.  After the O Brother soundtrack had been recorded, the Coens put on a couple of charity concerts by the performers concerned, and this is the film of one of those concerts, together with lots of stuff of the singers and musicians talking and playing together beforehand.  For the music lover, it's even better than O Brother.  The Cox Family, in particular, are absolutely superb.)

Then: an article appeared in the New York Times a couple of days ago.  It began:

On a mid-September day in 1959, an inmate in the Mississippi State Penitentiary named James Carter led some of his fellow prisoners in singing "Po Lazarus," a bluesy, melancholy old work-song about a man who is hunted and gunned down by a sheriff with a .44.  In the course of a long, hard life that followed, Mr Carter, a sharecropper's son, forgot about that day, the song, and the man who captured it on tape, Alan Lomax.  Until about two weeks ago, when two people visited him in his Chicago apartment to give him some amazing news - and a $20,000 check.
Po Lazarus, you may recall, is the song which is heard over the opening sequence of O Brother Where Art Thou? - a chain gang breaking stone on a country road.  The recording is a Lomax original, attributed to 'James Carter and a gang of prisoners'.  Mr Carter will earn royalties for being the only named performer on the Lomax recording and, because Po Lazarus is in the public domain, he will also earn songwriter royalties which go to the performer once the copyright expires. T-Bone Burnett, the film's musical director said James Carter's royalties could run "well into the six- figure range."  The album has sold five million copies to date and the Grammy triumph is expected to push sales far higher.

James Carter appears to have been one of the lucky few for whom the US penal system actually worked; after four spells in jail he managed to get back into ordinary life, settled down, married a preacher woman, and now lives quietly in moderate prosperity at the centre of a large family in Chicago.  The story of how Burnett and Anna Lomax found him is an unusual one in an industry rampant with tales of swindled royalties, corruption and stolen song credits - you can read the whole thing here.  My thanks to Derek Schofield for passing it on to me, and for making the world seem, if only momentarily, a much nicer place.



I'm very pleased to announce MT's publication, in CD-ROM format, of a substantial body of historical Morris Dance research by Keith Chandler.  Morris Dancing in the English south Midlands 1660-1900 : Aspects of Social and Cultural History (MTCD250).  Fuller details are available on the latest News page.


What do you think?

I'm considering a change in packaging and production methods for future CDs from MT, and I'd like to hear your opinions.

The next MT publication will be Volumes 1 & 2 of Far in the Mountains, Mike Yates' 4-CD Appalachian collection, and it will be ready quite soon.  We're intending to package these in a double DVD case (7½" x 5½") with the booklet included inside the case.

Both Mike and I think that this method of packaging is a considerable improvement on the current one:

In fact, I think that it's such an improvement that I'm considering going over to this method of packaging for all future CDs, both single and double.  Naturally, I'd like to hear your comments on this proposed packaging change before implementing it.


Cover pictureFar in the Mountains : Volumes 1 & 2 now available

As indicated below, the latest pair of CDs from MT are the first two volumes of Far in the Mountains, Mike Yates' 4-CD Appalachian collection, 1979-83.  These are now available, handsomely presented in a double DVD case with the booklet included inside the case, for the sum of only £16.00 inc UK p&p.

Both CDs are full of excellent stereo recordings - 80 tracks, 150 minutes - of ballads, songs, tunes and stories, which Mike made in Virginia and North Carolina.  As usual, the complete booklet notes are available as an article in these pages, and ordering details and an Order Form are to be found on our records page.


Cover pictureFar in the Mountains : Volumes 3 & 4 now available

The latest pair of CDs from MT are the second two volumes of Far in the Mountains, Mike Yates' 4-CD Appalachian collection, 1979-83.  These are now available, handsomely presented in a double DVD case with the booklet included inside the case, for the sum of only £16.00 inc UK p&p.

Both CDs are full of excellent stereo recordings - 58 tracks, 149 minutes - of ballads, songs, tunes and stories, which Mike made in North Carolina and Tennessee.  As usual, the complete booklet notes are available as an article in these pages, and ordering details and an Order Form are to be found on our records page.

Anyone purchasing all four volumes at the same time can do so at the Set price of £30.00


A Catalogue Sampler (MTCD319) now available

Since its earliest days as a paper magazine, Musical Traditions has produced cassettes of important music which was not commercially available in the UK.  Later, after the move to the Internet, we started production of a new series in CD format, and the first of these - a double CD of Suffolk singer Bob Hart - was published in June 1998.

So it’s now almost exactly 4 years since MT started issuing CDs.  In that time a startling 31 discs (8 doubles, 6 singles, plus 4 CD-ROMS and a few peripherals) have emerged from my little wind-powered forge here in Stroud.  The recent change to a new packaging format (DVD case with integral booklet) Cover pictureprompted me to think that this 4th birthday might be a good time to publish a ‘sampler’ CD ... particularly as one track from each of the 22 records might just about fit on to an 80 minute disc!

The result has been A Catalogue Sampler - 25 tracks and 79 minutes of song, music and a story from: Bob Hart; Cyril Poacher; George Townshend; Walter Pardon; Wiggy Smith; Biggun Smith; Denny Smith; Daisy Chapman; Jim Wilson; Sarah Porter; Pop Maynard; Freda Palmer; Frank Hinchliffe; Joe Rae; Ray Andrews; Kevin Mitchell; Ellen Mitchell; George Dunn; Pug; Allen; Evelyn Ramsey; Doug Wallin; Cas Wallin; Benton Flippen.  All of the text for the accompanying 32 page internal booklet is drawn from those accompanying the CDs, suitably edited for this publication.

The selection has to be seen as nothing more than my current favourite tracks; at least one from each release and more from some - but I’ve made no attempt to be representative of any particular singer’s repertoire or style.  Even then it has been a very difficult selection and a number of lovely things from the several ‘various performers’ CDs have had to be omitted for lack of space.

A Catalogue Sampler (MTCD319) costs just £10, inc UK p&p.

My hope is that this full and inexpensive sampler may find a wider audience than any of the individual publications have, and may open a few eyes to the riches to be found within MT’s ‘small but very valuable catalogue’.


VotP Song Notes and Performers and Song & Tune indexes

When Topic Records' superb Voice of the People 20-CD set appeared at the end of 1998, one of the comments frequently heard was with regard to the general lack of notes to the songs.  Mike Yates has decided to address this matter by providing some himself, which are being published in MT as they become available, together with Roud Numbers and additional information from your Editor.  The first part of this massive project is the two indexes, which show all the performers and all the tracks independently.  Although it has been possible to find this information for several years by searching our Topic Discography, I think the present presentation is both much easier to use and more informative.

Part Two is the song and tune notes themselves.  These are now complete, and you can find them in the new VotP Suite of pages which contain everything on the site relating to this 20-CD series - reviews, comments, interview, etc, in an interlinked, updated and re-edited format.  You'll find the whole thing in a new link off the Home Page.


Canti e Suoni d'Italia

Lovers of Italian music who read my August review of this excellent CD, and subsequently tried to buy it, will have been disappointed to find that the task was well nigh impossible.  As ever, MT has sprung to your aid, and it's now available from our records page.

The Canti e Suoni d'Italia CD contains selected performances from the 2002 Ponte Caffaro convegno internazionale sulla musica popolare, and is published by the same Compagnia Balarì e Sonadùr di Ponte Caffaro who delighted all who saw them at Sidmouth this year.  It has 19 tracks, plays for 71 minutes, and costs just £12.00.

And for those who didn't manage to buy one at Sidmouth, we also have the wonderful Pas en Amúr CD of the Ponte Caffaro carnevale ritual dances from martedi grasso (Mardi Gras) 1993 on sale at the same price.


New Records page layout

Our Records page has been growing in size, to the point where - because of all its cover pictures - it was taking a long time to download.  Ever attentive to readers' needs, I have now reorganised the entire Records section of the site into a new framed suite of pages which should be much quicker and easier to use.  Try it out with this link !


The return of sounds

Last Spring, I mentioned that the MT web-space had become 'unlimited' in size and that, as a consequence, I would no longer be moving older files to our other, ukonline, website.  I also, rather rashly, suggested that I might at some point move the old files back to the main site and reinstate the sound clips which had been removed.  It's taken a while, but I've finally got round to it, and the entire content of the magazine now resides on the main website - including the sound clips for the old reviews.

The result should be considerably faster downloads of these older files.  I have left the old files in place on the ukonline site so that readers who have Bookmarked them won't be showering me with "Where's the xxx review gone, then?" e-mails.

In the process, I have generally tidied up the presentation of the older files, added the current logos, headers and bottom-of-page links common to all other MT pages.  Finally, I'm in the process of including the remainder of the old 'paper version' articles in the on-line magazine.  Most are now there, and the process should be complete by Christmas.

It will be almost inevitable that, somewhere in the process, I will have missed out on changing one or two links.  If any reader notices their browser being pointed to web.ukonline.co.uk for a page, please let me know where the offending link is.



My apologies for the lack of a magazine for the past couple of days last week.  I was in the process of transferring the site to a new Web host and, of course, a few problems developed!  This change was occasioned by an e-mail from the previous Host company informing me that the monthly traffic to the MT site was 3.6Gb last month - when the traffic limit is actually 0.5Gb!  They, helpfully, went on to suggest that I transfer to one of their 'professional' hosting options - at £550 per year.

Since this was obviously out of the question, I had to quickly start looking for an alternative home for MT - and found one at 1&1 Hosting which offered all the facilities and more than the previous one did, plus a 10Gb traffic limit, for about the same price.  The mustrad.org.uk domain name was transferred to them (rather more quickly that I had been told to expect) and then I found that I couldn't access the new site by FTP to upload the magazine's files!  My change to a new password had not been implemented, and it took several phone calls to discover the problem.

Anyway, I've now now uploaded the entire site - heartfelt thanks to Roger Grimes for the use of his broadband connection!  Please inform me if anything's not available or working properly.

Whilst doing all this uploading, I thought it would be sensible to include all the old articles from the 'paper' editions of MT (as mentioned below), so you should find that everything ever published here is now available, on-line, at the same site.  This should result in a much quicker access time for all the pages and, I hope, a better service for all our readers.

Oh - and while I'm at it - please do not use my old mustrad@ukonline.co.uk e-mail address any more; it doesn't get to me now.  Always use rod@mustrad.org.uk


New MT Records site with VISA and Switch payments

"I will continue to try to find a way of accepting Credit Card payments which won't bankrupt the organisation" I said in my Christmas message.  No sooner the word than Geoff Wallis told me about PayPal.  This was an American organisation which I'd looked into before, but it's recently been bought by its biggest customer, eBay, and now has a UK version at paypal.co.uk, with facilities for UK banks and automatic currency conversion into Sterling - though they do charge a fairly hefty fee for doing so.

So - at last - I've got Credit/Debit Card purchasing facilities available on the Records pages.  These are now accessible from a new domain name - mtrecords.co.uk - so you can get directly to them by entering www.mtrecords.co.uk in your browser.  Alternately, the Records link anywhere in the magazine will take you there, as usual.

I should explain that, due to the additional costs which Credit/Debit Card purchasing incurs, plus the impending rise in UK postal rates, I can no longer include p&p costs in the catalogue prices of the CDs when bought using plastic - though they still are if you buy with a cheque or cash.  So - for Credit/Debit Card purchases only - £1.00 is added to the price of single CDs and £1.50 to doubles, to cover these costs.  This is still cheaper than most other sources of these and similar CDs, as far as I can tell.

Put very simply, cheque or cash is cheaper but less convenient and takes a day or two before I get your letter, while Credit or Debit Card is a little more expensive but is more convenient and I know about your order within seconds of your having placed it - the choice is yours.  In either case, I will post the CD(s) within 24 hours of knowing about your order.

Why not check out the new site now? ... I'm rather proud of it.  And you might just decide that there's something there you've been meaning to buy for some time - but somehow haven't got round to writing the letter.


From Puck to Appleby (MTCD325-6) now availableCover picture

One of the treasured possessions of our household for many years has been the little cassette called Early in the Month of Spring.  It was published by the VWML in 1986 and is made up of recordings of Irish Travellers in London by Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie.

Jim and Pat have been working with me for the last few months in producing a double CD set (in a DVD case with internal 40-page booklet) including all 15 of the cassette tracks, plus 30 more from the same source.  I'm extremely pleased to announce that the result of our labours, From Puck to Appleby (MTCD325-6) is now available - and it really is superb!

As usual, the complete booklet notes, including tracklists, photos and sound clips, is now presented as an Article here.  The CDs are available for purchase by cheque, cash or Credit Card from our new Records website at www.mtrecords.co.uk priced £16.00 inc UK p&p.  There is a £1.50 surcharge for Card purchases, but it does include foreign p&p.


Joseph McLawrence article reinstated

A recent e-mail form a reader enquired about St Lucian music, so I set about giving her some information sources and was intending to also point her to Keith Summers' 1992 article on the St Lucian Kwadril fiddler Joseph McLawrence - only to find, to my chagrin, that it was nowhere on the site.  For reasons which are unclear to me now, it was never copied from Volume 10 of the paper magazine into the electronic one!

So I promptly set about digitising it.  If only I'd had the modern software I now have back in 1999 when I did all the rest of the old articles ... it took about half an hour for the entire job!  So - other readers with an interest in such things will now find the Joe McLawrence article available in these pages.  I only hope I didn't miss any others.


Cover pictureHere's Luck to a Man ... (MTCD320) now available

A few eagle-eyed readers may have been wondering what was intended to fill the vacant slot in MT Records' listings between the Catalogue Sampler (MTCD319) and Far in the Mountains Vol 1 (MTCD321).  All is now revealed in the delightful shape of Here's Luck to a Man (MTCD320), which is an anthology of Mike Yates' 1970s recordings of Gypsy songs, stories and music from south-east England.  Performers are Mary Ann Haynes, Jasper, Minty, Levi and Derby Smith, Joe and Lena Jones, Bill Ellson, Chris Willett, and Alice Penfold.  It may be seen as a companion volume to our From Puck to Appleby (MTCD325-6) double of Irish Travellers in England, released last month.

Here's Luck to a Man contains additional material to the presently available Yates recordings on Topic's My Father's the King of the Gypsies (TSCD661).  For aficionados, 16 of the 39 tracks are by Mary Ann Haynes!

Like all our new releases, it comes in a DVD case with an integral 36 page booklet, and is priced at only £12.00.  You can order your copy, by cheque or credit/debit card, from the Records page.


Joe McLawrence with sound

Like Mike Yates, Keith Summers has deposited all his collection with the NSA - which means, among other things, that he now has all of it available, and easily playable, on CD-R.

So when he saw that I'd reinstated the Joe McLawrence article (see below), he asked whether I'd care to add some sound clips.  "They may be a bit rough", he added.  Well - if this is rough, give me excess of it!

There are now four examples of Joe's excellent playing included and - since the 'kwadril' tradition of St Lucia will probably be new to most readers - I do urge you to go to the article again and check it out ... lovely stuff!


More old pictures

Keith Summers has at last, mercifully, retired - no more getting up at 5:30 am to go to work in London!  I'm sure we all wish him well and hope for a marked improvement in his health as a result.

However, the lamentable state of day-time TV has meant that he's not being idle, and several new MT CDs are in their compilation stages down in Southend.  But a dysfunctional CD player has temporarily put a brake on this activity and so I had a letter the other day saying "In the meantime I have been sorting out my photo archive and have pulled out the enclosed 'vintage' items for possible inclusion in the old Pictures Page."

No sooner the word than the deed - and you can now find these little gems in thumbnail and full-size form on the aforesaid Pictures Page.


Who's saying what to whom?

Caption competition

The accompanying photo, from Doc Rowe, surely demands an appropriate caption.  Your suggestions will be gratefully received and, in consultation with Dr Doc, I will decide upon a winner when it appears that we have a sufficient number in.  Watch this space ...


"And I say I did hear horses!"  Henry Peacock - 20.7.03

Ritmia - forse il mare

I'm very excited to tell you that Felmay Records have agreed to allow Snatch'd From Oblivion Records to re-release this superb CD.  So it's now available through our MT Records site for the usual, minuscule, price of just £5.00.

The truly wonderful Italian/Sardinian quartet of Riccardo Tesi, Alberto Balia, Enrico Frongia and Daniele Craighead, first published forse il mare in 1986.  This may be the most effective attempt at making European traditional music accessible to the modern listener without recourse to pop or rock gimickry and, more importantly, without diminishing the original stuff in the slightest.

Believe me when I say that anyone, no matter what their tastes, will just love this record.


No more MT records through Topic

Since all MT records are now available for purchase by credit or debit card from anywhere in the world through the new MT Records website at www.mtrecords.co.uk we have stopped the arrangement with Topic Records of making them available through their website.

I would like to publicly thank Tony Engle and Dave Kuznetts of Topic for their help in this respect over the last four years, and hope that readers will realise that both Topic and fRoots magazine have been extremely generous towards MT since its move to the Internet, in offering assistance and facilities.  I would like to make it clear that this has been done not out of personal friendship to me, but out of a genuine love of the sort of music we support at MT.  I hope all readers will remember this and act accordingly the next time they hear someone disparaging either fRoots or Topic.


MT's American Old Time Music series now on CD

Cover picture, Volume 1 Back in 1985, Keith Summers produced his justly acclaimed 5-cassette series of American Old Time music, with sleevenotes by Tony Russell.  Some years ago I suggested to Keith that I could now put them all onto CD but, since he still had stocks of the cassettes to sell, it was decided that it would be counterproductive at that time.

'Years rolled on since it happened' and we now find that he has run out of copies of some volumes - so the transfer process was started.  Moreover, I have recently bought a piece of noise reduction software which seems to do a pretty good job - given that we can't afford Cedar - and so I have cleaned up the original cassette tracks whilst digitising them.

The results are now available from the MT Records site at £10.00 each or £40.00 for the complete set of five - click on the 'Ex Cassette CDs' catalogue button.

The series comprises:

The '200 Series' cassettes of Freddy McKay, Billy Harrison and Peta Webb will also be available on CD, sometime in the next couple of months.

And Keith asks me to remind readers that he still has lots of copies of Reg Hall's wonderful book on Scan Tester, I Never Played to Many Posh Dances, available for only £5.00 inc p&p.


FAQ / Mirror pages removed

Checking through the currency and relevance of MT pages - as I do from time to time - it has occurred to me that the old FAQ page and its sibling, the Mirror page, are both now rather out of date - and rather irrelevant in today's world.

They were first published in the days of pay-as-you-go ISPs, small hard drives, and before the appearance of the MT CD-ROMs of the entire magazine.  Today, with most ISPs offering either free or unlimited access to the Net and so many people taking the Broadband option (several of which are quite a lot cheaper than BT's, by the way), most of the information in the FAQ has become redundant.  Similarly, I can't imagine anyone wanting to go through the complicated procedures of setting up a mirror of the site 'by hand' on their hard drive when using one of the many freeware programs available will do it all for them.  Or they can set Internet Explorer to 'Work Offline' - or they can get the whole magazine on a CD-ROM for just a tenner!

Accordingly I have now removed both the FAQ and the Mirror pages from the site.


P&P Charges on MT Records Site

Several users of the MT Records website have asked why I added the p&p charge to the price of the CD rather than having it added as a 'Shipping Cost' - one of several 'additional costs' the PayPal system allows to be included.  The simple answer was that these 'additional costs' were, until recently, only available in $US - not too much help for a site trading in £ sterling.  However, this has recently changed, and so the site has just been updated as follows:

Purchaces priced under £10 are charged 15% for 'Shipping'.  The only items under £10 are the Snatch'd from Oblivion CDs at £5 each; these (ordered singly) now attract a shipping charge of only 75p rather than the £1 they did before.  Any other order totalling (necessarily) £10 or more is charged at 10% for shipping.  The overall effect of these changes mean that small orders cost a little less than they did before; medium sized orders cost either the same or a little more; while larger orders can cost quite a bit less.  This more fairly reflects the actual system charges and additional shipping costs I incur for what are, in the main, orders from overseas.

I hope this meets with everyone's approval.


C J Bearman's Open Letter

I recently published an 'open letter' from Dr C J Bearman in MT's Letters page.  Some people have questioned my judgement in doing so.  Now that what I suspect is the last response to the publication has just been put on the site, I feel that this would be a good time to explain my reasons, to add a personal comment, and to suggest an end to discussion of the subject in these pages.
  1. Since I have publicly declared that the MT Letters page is open to all, it seemed to me that I should not refuse a request to publish a letter, even though I strongly disagreed with the views expressed in it.  I would rather not have a Letters page at all than have a censored one - I only draw the line at letters which I consider to be just plain silly.
  2. I decided that, if I refused to publish the letter, he would probably manage to have it published elsewhere - perhaps in a medium where it would be more difficult for readers to publish their responses, at least, in any number and within a reasonable time-frame.
  3. Since the three main targets of C J Bearman's letter are personal friends of mine, I was concerned that I might be being unfair to him in some way because of my own feelings, and so I agreed to remove his 'first draft' and replace it with the second, some 24 hours later.
Those who know C J Bearman may not be surprised that he wrote me another letter, subsequent to some of the responses being published, and asked that this also should be put on-site.  This letter was almost as long as the first and, for the most part, merely reiterated the points he had already made at some length.  Where it differed was in the addition of a section containing 'a few words for some individuals among my critics.'  In this, I felt he engaged in exactly the sort of 'mud-slinging' which he had so condemned in others.  He also implied that the failure of his three targets to respond to his letter in some way vindicated the points he was making.  I replied saying that I would not be publishing this letter, for the reasons mentioned above, and suggested that the fact that none of his targets had responded to his attacks might indicate the importance with which they viewed them.

He replied: 'Dear Mr Stradling, I have just read your e-mail.  I am at a loss to understand your attitude - it is not as though your website is overburdened with correspondence.  You just seem to want to shut up people with whom you disagree.  If you will not publish my letter, will you at least make public your refusal so that people will know how you deal with opposing points of view.'  So I have.

My own response to his Open Letter, which I thought better to withhold until others better qualified than me had had their say, was as follows:

Firstly to declare my own support for Malcolm Taylor, Georgina Boyes and Vic Gammon, and my distaste for this far-too-frequently employed tactic for gaining attention and academic kudos.  Secondly, to suggest that he has misunderstood the intention of Seeds of Love and the nature of the medium in which it appeared.  Thirdly to suggest that, however good Bearman's research (and I understand that it is very good), it is, I believe, entirely peripheral to the central understanding of Sharp's work - as is, I believe, all this discussion of his life, politics, motivations, strengths and weaknesses.  Particularly since most of them are mere reflections of the time and society from which he came, and should be fairly obvious to anyone examining his work with any seriousness.

Finally - and it's probably just this bloody Centenary - but I've been getting heartily fed up with all the stuff about Sharp recently.  What irks me is that nobody appears to have any interest in the people who sang for these collectors or, more importantly in my view, what they sang - the styles, the subtleties, the manner of performance - and how these reflected the subcultures within which they operated.

Because what I want to know about is how, why, when, where and with whom to sing these songs.  I want to know about ways of making the singing of these songs more effective, more communicative, more resonant - and the sort of situations we need to set up for these things to happen more easily ... today!

Frankly, the proportion of Sharp's singers who were working class, or whether the Morris Ring was Fascist, etc, is of very little interest to me at all.


Peta Webb cover pictureFreddy McKay, Billy Harrison and Peta Webb cassettes now on CD

In August I said that 'the 200 Series cassettes of Freddy McKay, Billy Harrison and Peta Webb will also be available on CD, sometime in the next couple of months.'  Now they are.

If you visit the MT Records website and click on the 'Ex-Cassette CDs' catalogue button, you will find them, priced £10.00 each, below the American Old Time releases, complete with links to track listings and reviews.


MT Records Site problems:

I have just been alerted to the fact that the MT Records site has not been functioning correctly for a short period in the immediate past.  Customers, on clicking the Add to Cart button, have been taken directly to the Payment page rather than the Cart Contents page, so that it was difficult or impossible to order more than one CD at a time.  This problem has been rectified and the site now works as it always has.  My apologies to anyone who has experienced problems.


MT Discographies

Both our Traditional and Topic record discographies have received quite a bit of updating recently, principally with the aid of Alistair Banfield.  I was unaware of it, but it appears that Alistair did much of the work on the original Topic discography which we published here (originally as part of Mike Brocken's PhD thesis on The British Folk Revival).  He was not credited for this work (except that he is the 'AB' mentioned where the existence of a disc is referred to), so I should here and now like to offer him my - our - thanks for all this useful information.

You'll find, for instance, that the Leader catalogue is now both complete and in the right order, and details of the numbering system are explained and, I hope, clarified.  Thanks Alistair.


More new old pictures

Reg Hall has been sorting through his enormous collection of old postcards (as part of an exciting project which you will find out more about later), and has put aside a batch of them which will not used in that - but which, he felt, would do well to adorn the MT Pictures page.  There are 55 of these postcards, so, not wishing to overstimulate your visual senses, I am adding them to the page in small groups.  The first dozen of these little gems in thumbnail and full-size form are now on the aforesaid Pictures Page.

Keith Summers has also discovered an interesting picture of a Very Important Person - it's the top right-hand thumbnail on the Pictures page.



Only 40 Shopping Days to Christmas

Regular MT readers will be aware of my continual efforts to make you lives as congenial as possible, particularly with regard to your visits to these pages.  From time to time I even attempt to anticipate your requirements - and this is just such a time.  MT £12 Gift Voucher (UK)Hoping to make your seasonal 'prezzie hunt' just that little bit less arduous this year, I am now providing - wait for it ...  Yes, Record Tokens!!!!

Well, it may not be such a new idea - but it's new to MT!  You can now send that friend/relative who always says "Oh yes, I like folk music,too" whenever you're unwise enough to mention your tastes in music - and who you know very well has nothing but that 1974 Spinners album in their collection - an MT Gift Vulture Voucher, and bring them some of the real thing this Christmas.

MT Gift Vouchers are available in £5, £10, £12 and £16 values, and in two flavours: turquoise (above), which cost their face value and include p&p for the UK; MT £16 Gift Voucher (overseas)and pink, which cost £1.00 more and include p&p for the rest of the world.  I should stress that these Gift Vouchers are only redeemable against Musical Traditions CD-Rs and/or CD-ROMs and Snatch'd From Oblivion CD-Rs.  They do not exchange for Topic, UWVP, Kyloe, Italian, or any other labels whose CDs we offer in the MT Records catalogue.

They will be available by post from me at the address below, and each will be accompanied by a sheet listing the CDs with which they may be exchanged, and simple instructions for their use.  The recipients of your generosity may, of course, send me an additional cheque, should they wish to buy a more expensive item, or more than one.

Please use this special printable Order Form - only for use with a £ Sterling cheque payment to make life simpler.

Seriously - you probably all have someone for whom you ought to buy a present, and who might well like one of the MT CDs, but you're not sure which.  Make their day with an MT Gift Token - and don't forget to get a pink one if they live outside the UK.

As a further aid to would-be purchasers, the whole MT Records catalogue is now available in both PDF and HTML formats on a CD, so you can print it off for friends/relatives without Net access.  It's free, too!


Older MT CDs begin the move to DVD cases

I've been concerned for a while about the booklet with the MT Bob Hart CDs.  This was my first production, back in 1998, and I didn't include any song texts or notes.  Requests from various people meant that I did do so in subsequent productions.  Accordingly, I began the process of re-packaging the Hart CDs in a DVD case with a new internal booklet complete with song texts and notes and, and this instance, updated sound files.

Having found it not to be too arduous a process, I have decided that I'll be doing the same for all the MT CDs as the current shelf stocks run out and I need to make more.

Currently both the Bob Hart and George Dunn CDs are available in DVD cases, and others will follow as time and sales permit.


Season's Greetings!

Here we are again, then - Christmas Eve - and it's difficult to believe that it's seven years since I first uploaded a few files to an AOL webspace and created the beginnings of the Musical Traditions Internet Magazine.

This year has been a little calmer than the previous two.  Although fourteen CDs have emerged from my little wind-powered forge in 2003 (two doubles, nine singles and a CD-ROM), eight of those singles have been CD re-issues of the old MT Cassettes, and so have not required anything like so much work as new productions do.

It has also been a great relief to find that our web host (1&1 Internet) have not sprung any unexpected horrors on me (as the previous lot did), and so the magazine has been able to develop gently and steadily - and seemingly without too many glitches.

It's always tempting to use this message to tell you about new things in the pipeline but, since these are almost always dependent upon the co-operation of others, I've become a little wary of saying too much in advance in case that co-operation fails to materialise.  However, I think I can say that a double CD of Irish songs from Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie's collection looks pretty certain - this is being produced in collaboration with Dublin's Goilín Club.  We are also hoping to have a couple of releases from Keith Summers' extensive collection out in the not too distant future.  Watch this space!

Looking back over the year's News items, it's profoundly depressing to see how many great traditional performers have died recently - Fred Jordan, Jasper Smith, Will Atkinson, Bob Hobkirk, Paddy Tunney, Snake Chapman, Donald MacLellan ... to name just a few.  And we shouldn't forget important collectors like Alan Lomax and Roberto Leydi.  All of which sad news just serves to remind me that, aside from the CD releases mentioned above, I don't have a single new CD project featuring a traditional performer in the production pipeline at the moment; ie. nothing from a collector with whom we have not already collaborated.

So, may I suggest a really worthwhile New Year's resolution for 2004?  If you know anyone who might have old tapes sitting in their attic, see if you can persuade them to contact me with a view to getting them out on CD, so the rest of the world can share them.

It only remains for me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and an even better New Year than the last, and to assure you that I will do my best to live up to, or exceed, the standards we've set in the past.


New Volume 5 Magazine CD-ROM now availableCover picture

Bang on schedule again this year, the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2003 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the 266Mb of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


Friends of MT

Those of you who have been with us since our early days, and others who've become aware of MT more recently and have read the 'About MT' page, will know that by the end of 1997 the magazine was at a bit of a crisis point.  Mainly because of the addition of sound clips it was obvious that my AOL web site would soon be full up.  We really needed to get ourselves a proper site of our own, with plenty of space, a dedicated phone line, maybe our own domain name (they were pretty expensive in those days).  I had tried all the obvious official sources of funding, but without success.  Either we were not considered to work in the appropriate 'local' areaAll UK arts funding is locally devolved to the various area arts organisations - South West Arts is ours.  But, despite a Government initiative to give funding preference to 'new technology', the Internet is obviously not a 'local' medium, and MT certainly isn't - so we don't qualify!, or we didn't want enough money!I don't know what the present situation is, but at that time it was impossible to apply for funding of less than around £8,000.  So - we were reduced to asking everybody we could think of with a serious interest in traditional music whether they could come up with a donation, however small, to help with the good work.  Astonishingly, almost £1000 materialised within a month from the 'Friends of MT', as they became known.

When I started producing CDs of traditional music in 1998, I decided that it was pay-back time and offered substantially reduced prices to Friends wanting to buy the records.  Almost inevitably, this produced problems.  Some of them didn't ask for the special prices and, if I didn't remember that they were Friends, they got charged the full amount.  Then I had to contact them again to explain and say that they now had a credit against their next purchase - and if they didn't buy something else in the near future, it probably got forgotten again by one or the other of us.

But by the year 2000 it became apparent that I was making far more CDs than I'd expected to be, and that the profits from these made any further contributions from Friends unnecessary.  I duly pointed this out in an Editorial and donations became less frequent.  The last one was made almost a year ago.  It is also impossible to make provision for special prices for bona fide Friends on the MT Records website.

So may I now suggest that the Friends of MT scheme has ended as of 31st December 2003?  For anyone wishing to contribute towards the future of the magazine and its record company (and who doesn't feel able to do so by writing reviews, articles, etc) may I suggest that you buy a few more MT Records CDs.  That way, we all benefit.


Alphabetical articles

A recent phone call alerted me to the fact that, in our list of 150 Articles, it is pretty difficult to find the one you want since they're displayed in order of publication.  This was done for the benefit of regular readers, who are likely to be interested mainly in the most recent additions - but it does put new readers at a disavantage.

Accordingly, I have now added an alphabetical version of the Articles Index, accessible from the Home Page, in the hope that this will make life easier for everyone.


Changes on the MT Records website

For the last five years I have been making provision for customers from overseas to purchase our CDs using foreign currencies.  In the event, only about half a dozen people ever did so.  Now that almost anyone can buy our CDs via the MT Records website using either credit or debit cards, with transactions in seven major world currencies, at the exchange rate of the day, it is obvious that the complicated and expensive foreign currency arrangements are no longer necessary - so they have been withdrawn.  All prices on the website are now shown in £ Sterling only.


The Hardy Sons of Dan

I know it was rather stupid of me but, although I was aware that one or two of Keith Summers' recordings on Voice of the People came from Co Fermanagh, I didn't really know that he'd done much recording there.  Cover pictureSo it came a something of a shock when he sent me two C60 cassettes of the stuff as an indicator of how he wanted his new double CD project to end up.

Even more of a shock was the sheer quality of what was on offer!  Anyone who was impressed by Seán Corcoran's Here is a Health cassette will be sure to enjoy what Keith has put together from his six years of intermittent working in the north of Ireland: 1977-1983 recordings of 14 singers from Fermanagh and surrounding areas.  It includes the likes of Maggie Murphy, Phil McDermott, James and Paddy Halpin, Mary Ann Connolly, Big John Maguire ... and is titled The Hardy Sons of Dan - football, hunting and other traditional songs from around Lough Erne's shore

I would hasten to assure more sensitive souls that it is the 'other traditional songs' which comprise the great majority of the 37 tracks, and that there are only two football and four hunting songs included - but all are excellent examples of the genre.  (The 'Hardy Sons' were the ‘Drumlane Sons of O'Connell’ a Gaelic Football team, formed in 1886, and named after Daniel O’Connell [1775-1847] the Kerry-born politician known as ‘The Liberator’ who founded the Catholic Association in 1823, aiming to secure Catholic Emancipation in Ireland.)

As usual, it comes in a double DVD case with a very informative 40-page integral booklet including lots of colour photos and full song texts.  The CDs can be bought from me at the address at the foot of the page, or by credit/debit card from the MT Records website, priced £16.00 inc UK p&p.  The booklet contents are also available online here as an article.


An on-site Search Engine for MT

Through the good offices of Google, Alta Vista, et al, the MT website receives numerous visitors who've entered 'Ewan MacColl', or similar, into the Search box and found themselves in the depths of the Topic Records discography.  Those few who've gone on to make it to the magazine itself have often then e-mailed me to ask why there isn't a Search facility on the site.

Actually, it's a good question!  The answer is really to do with the fact that there are so many pages - and most of them, being a bit larger that the web average, contain quite a number of things which ought to be found in a Search.  Add to this the fact that I like to be able to make things work the way I want them to - which has meant that I've not considered any of the 'off-site' search engines available (many of which seem very slow).

But technology does advance, and a recently introduced product, called AeroTags Search Expert, appears to do the job I require.  It indexes only the parts of the MT site I want it to, and stores it, together with the interrogatory engine, as a couple of Java files on the site itself.  This enables me to adjust the way it behaves exactly to my requirements - making the files you're most likely to want appear at the top of the search results, just as Google does.  It also seems to be pretty quick about it.

So - you'll now find a 'Search the Entire Site' button at the head of the Home page ...  See Part 2 (above) for the current situation.


MT's on-site Search Engine - Part 2

Since no one has contacted me saying the initial implementation didn't work, I have now Indexed the Reviews, Articles and Discographies on the site, as well as the main Magazine files.  All four are in separate Index files, since a single one for the complete site would be extremely large, and take several minutes to download!

So you'll now find four buttons: 'Search the Magazine'; 'Search the Articles'; 'Search the Reviews'; and 'Search the Discographies', at the head of the Home page.  Click any one of them and you get a blank page with a Search box at the top (plus Help and Back links).  Type a word or phrase (see * below) in the box and click the 'Search' button, or hit the Enter key, and you'll quickly be presented with a list of the first 10 matches found.  The output is very like the Google one: it tells you the number of matches on this page; the total number of matches; how many pages of 10 there are; and details of each match.  These include a Title of the page, the 'hits' this item scores, a Description, and the URL of the page concerned.  Both the first and last of these are hyperlinks to the page found.

Regarding the 'hits' mentioned above: if your search word(s) occurs in the 'title', it scores 4; in the 'description', 2; elsewhere in the text ('other') just 1.  The results are displayed in descending order of hits - so the most likely suspects come at the top of the list.

* Regarding your 'search phrase'.  Firstly, it is case insensitive.  Secondly, you can imagine that the ballad 'The Two Brothers' would throw up thousands of instances of these three words; only a few of which would be relevant to you.  In this case - where you're looking for a whole phrase rather than several individual words - put a + sign before the first, thus: '+two brothers'.  Then you should find what you're looking for quite easily.

Like most Search Engines, the links take you to the page within which your search word/phrase has been found; it is then up to you to find it.  Since many of our pages are pretty big, the best course of action is to then use the browser's Find facility - Ctrl+F or Edit/Find (on this page) will do it for you.

I have not indexed the contents of stand-alone single pages or the more obvious Index Pages (like Links, Sessions, Small Ads, etc) because you can see what they contain immediately.

As usual - if you have any problems, please let me know about them.


Enter Java!

Readers will notice that, after years of keeping to an HTML-only policy on MT, I've started adding some Java script to the magazine - but only where it makes your lives easier.

On the MT Records pages, I've added pop-ups to display the track listings of all our CDs and a drop-down calalogue list, while in the magazine itself there are now a few headers with drop-down menus replacing the old lists of content items which used to disappear from view as soon as you scrolled down the page.  The Reviews Index page is a little different, too - the Latest Batch is automatically displayed, and the various geographical Index pages are available from the drop-down menu.

I hope these additions will enhance the ease of use of the website.


Another Ballads Index

I have recently been made aware of The Traditional Ballad Index - a net resource compiled by Robert B Waltz and a group of associates centred around the California State University, Fresno, USA.  (Although it has a very similar name, this is not Steve Roud's Folk Song and Ballad Indexes, though it does include Roud numbers for many of its entries).

It is described by its authors as 'an annotated bibliography of the folk songs of the English-speaking world' and uses the pleasingly broad definition of a ballad - songs in which things happen!  Unlike Roud, it is an Internet resource, and so it is free to access, and its on-line search implementation at: www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html is fast and easy to use.

A valid criticism of almost any reference work is 'incompleteness' and - like Roud - it does have holes in its data set.  However, being created on opposite sides of the Atlantic, each have different areas of incompleteness, and so each is a useful adjunct to the other.  They also treat their base data in different ways: with Roud you're given numerous instances of the occurrence of a single song and have to make your own interpretation of the data; with Waltz, you get a digest of the data in a single coherent statement about the particular song.  Depending on the song and how much is known about it, some items can be quite lengthy - and extremely interesting, containing as they do comments by members of the team regarding the provenence and history of the songs.

As well as the on-line search, users can download the complete Index as an HTML file.  This is merely all the entries in an alphabetically sorted list, so it is pretty big - over 8MB!  On it's own, it isn't particularly useful unless you're prepared to do a great deal of scrolling up and down to find what you want.  Accordingly your editor - ever eager to be of use to humankind - has devised a little support application (also in HTML) which minimises the task and so makes the Index file rather simpler to use.

Simply put, it displays a horizontally split screen (the split-point is dragable) with all the song titles in the top half of the screen, and the Index in the bottom.  All the titles are hyperlinked to the appropriate point in the Index.  Since the titles file is much smaller (only 10,437 lines rather than the 105,035 lines in the Index), it's far easier and quicker to find the title of the song you need.  In addition, there's a set of A to Z buttons at the top of the upper window.  Click on the, say, D button and the Titles file jumps to the start of the titles beginning with D, thus minimising the scrolling you need to do.  Then you merely click on the title in the top window and the Index immediately jumps to the appropriate entry in the bottom one.

If you'd like to try the accessory (it's only 4 files - in a 212Kb ZIP file) it's downloadable here - together with instructions as to how to set it up in the Read-Me file.


Scan Tester book

Following Keith Summers' death, I have just received what are probably the last few copies of Reg Hall's superb book - I Never Played to Many Posh Dances: Scan Tester, Sussex Musician 1887-1972 (Musical Traditions supplement No 2).

These are available from me at the very reasonable price of £5.00 inc p&p, or from the MT Records website.


A Singers' Songbook

A few months ago I wrote an Enthusiasm piece proposing a new kind of songbook - one especially for singers.  At the end of the piece, I asked anyone who was interested in the idea to contact me so that we could discuss it.  A few people did so, and the resultant discussions have led to an agreed basic structure for the Songbook website, several promises of contributions, and a few actual ones.

So the Songbook now exists, and contains some six songs - most of them ballads or ballad-type narrative songs.  You can have a look at what we've done here (the URL is: www.mustrad.org.uk/songbook/s_index.htm), and you'll also find a link on our Home Page - down at the bottom, below the first green line.

All the contributors (both putative and actual) have expressed great enthusiasm for the project so - if you're a singer - you might find it interesting too.


The Birds Upon the Tree

Cover pictureTime for a very humble apology, particularly to Mike Yates.  Due to some intensive work on the next MT CD project (to be revealed quite soon) back in mid-September, I completely forgot to announce the existence of the last one, which I'd only just finished.  I was wondering why it had sold so few copies!

In the process of publishing its review, by Keith Chandler, yesterday, I realised, with some horror, my mistake.  So - better late than never ...

MT is pleased to announce it's latest CD publication - The Birds Upon the Tree ... and other traditional songs and tunes (MTCD333).  It comprises a further selection from the Mike Yates Collection, featuring Fred Jordan, Packie Manus Byrne, George Fradley, Charlie Bridger, Scan Tester & Rabbidy Baxter, Archer Goode, George Spicer, Bob Blake, Debbie & Pennie Davis, Freda Palmer, Harry Cockerill, Ray Driscoll, Jacquey Gabriel, Alice Francombe, Ivor Hill & family.  22 of the 27 tracks are previously unreleased.

As usual, it comes in a DVD case with a 24 page integral booklet, and costs just £12.00  The complete booklet notes are published as an article in these pages.


Around the Hills of Clare CD now available

Cover pictureEagle-eyed readers who were wondering about the gap between MTCD329-0 and MTCD333 need puzzle no more.  We are proud to announce that our latest CD - Around the Hills of Clare (MTCD331-2) is now available.

This is a compilation of songs and a recitation from Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie's 1973-2004 recordings of 16 singers from west Co Clare, and includes Tom Lenihan, Nora Cleary, Straighty Flanagan, Ollie Conway, Martin Howley ...

Not only is this our second collaboration with Jim and Pat (From Puck to Appleby was the first), but also our second collaboration with another record company (the first being with both Topic and Cló Iar Chonnachta, over the Joe Heaney double CD, back in 2000).  In this case we are working with Dublin's An Góilín traditional singers' club, so the CDs also bear the number Góilín 005-6.  We did the booklet and packaging, they did the CDs and production/printing.  They are selling them in Ireland, whilst we deal with the 'rest of the world' from the MT Records website.

The CDs come in the familliar DVD case together with a 44-page integral booklet.  You get 2 CDs, with 47 tracks in total, and 156 minutes of singing - and a recitation! - all for just £16.00 inc. p&p.

The complete booklet notes will be available here as an Article in the near future.


Keith Summers' missing LPs

When Keith Summers died at the end of March this year, Peta Webb was given the unenviable task of dealing with his estate.  A particular concern was with regard his large and precious record collection - for which Peta has no room in her small flat.  Fortunately, MT Co-Editor Fred McCormick has some space in his house, so he was given the task of looking after the collection.

During the course of the removal from Essex to Merseyside, the removals firm which Peta and Fred employed managed to 'lose' two crates of blues LPs ... and then to deny that they had done so.  Fortunately, Keith had been meticulous in his collecting, and had all the records' details entered in a database, so it was very easy to prove that some records (some 400 records actually) had not been delivered to Fred's house, and to give the precise details of what they were.  Since they were blues records, they have a real and readily disposable value, so it appears very likely that they have been stolen rather than simply lost in transit.  Unfortunately, since the removals company will not admit to a theft - or even a loss - Fred cannot go to the Police about the case without some proof of criminality.

This is where you come in; those readers who collect blues and similar records, or who frequent second-hand record stores, websites, fairs, etc, are asked to read Fred's appeal in Recent Letters, to print out the list of 'missing' LPs accessible by a link there, and keep an eye open for any of them in your travels.  If you do come across anything suspicious-looking, please contact Fred with the details he asks for.  If nothing else, it may enable him to bring the thieves to justice, and to sue the removals firm - who are being completely obstructive of this matter.

Please do all you can to help bring this sickening affair to a rather happier conclusion than is presently the case.


Season's Greetings!

Well - it's Christmas again - and eight years since Musical Traditions Internet Magazine's humble beginnings as an AOL web page.

2004 has been a fairly quiet year, all told.  After some pretty hectic activity in the first three months to get Keith Summers' Hardy Sons of Dan published whilst he was still here to see it (thanks particularly to Geoff Wallis, Finbar Boyle and Peta Webb for all their hard work), things seemed to get very quiet after his death at the end of March.

I then had another busy patch in late-summer, working on the Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie compilation, Around the Hills of Clare.  We were trying to meet a deadline for a launch at the Milltown Malbay singing weekend in October ... I managed my bit but, sadly, technical problems in Ireland resulted in it being a week or so late.  This was followed, almost immediately by the Mike Yates compilation, The Birds Upon the Tree.  I've been getting my breath back since then ... and am only working on three projects simultaneously at the moment!

On the Magazine front, things have also been fairly quiet.  There have been about 70 Reviews and 16 Articles added to the site this year - around two thirds of the normal number.  This has been partly due to the paucity of releases of traditional material this year, and partly because the pool of writers I'm able to call upon has been slowly but surely dwindling.  Were it not for Roly Brown's sterling efforts on 19th century ballads, things would have been in a sorry state.  Fewer people have volunteered new Articles or Enthusiasms ... more people have failed to review the CDs and books I've sent them.  I'm not sure of the reasons for this trend, but it's certainly an alarming one.

Looking to the future, it's always tempting to use this message to tell you about new things in the pipeline but, since these are almost always dependent upon the co-operation of others, I've become a little wary of saying too much in advance in case that co-operation fails to materialise.  And perhaps because most of the CDs where ready co-operation has been available have already entered MT Records' catalogue, it seems far more difficult to get projects finished these days without months (years, even!) of struggling against logistical and institutional difficulties.

However, I think I can say that a double CD of Aberdeenshire singer Lizzie Higgins looks pretty certain - as do the other two I'm presently working on.  I mentioned in last year's Christmas Editorial that we were hoping to have some releases from Keith Summers' extensive collection out in the not too distant future.  The Hardy Sons of Dan was the first, and my stated intention remains true but, obviously, Keith's untimely death has meant that his records are now much more difficult, and slower, to produce, particularly in terms of the booklets' contents.  Two new releases in Keith's Old-Time Country Music '100' series are currently being worked on by Tony Russell, and I hope they will materialise during the first half of 2005.  CDs memorialising Keith's Suffolk collecting will definitely appear, but I can't even begin to envisage a time-scale for their release at this stage.

It only remains for me to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a better New Year than last, and to assure you that I will do all I can to live up to, or exceed, the standards we've set in the past.


New Volume 6 Magazine CD-ROM now availableCover picture

On schedule again this year (well, one day late - but who's counting?), the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2004 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the 215Mb of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


New MT Records Catalogue Sampler now availableCover picture

It's now approaching seven years since MT started issuing CDs.  In that time, a startling 54 discs (14 doubles, 8 singles, plus 6 CD-ROMS and a dozen peripherals) have emerged from my little wind-powered forge here in Stroud.  The change to a new packaging format in 2002 (DVD case with integral booklet) has resulted in the eventual conversion of all our CDs to that format - finishing with this Catalogue Sampler, originally published in 2002.

That original sampler featured one track from each of the 22 records then published, plus a few extra tracks to fill up an 80 minute CD.  Since then another four doubles and a single have been added to the catalogue, so this new 2005 version includes examples from the complete list.

My hope is that this full and inexpensive CD may find a wider audience than any of the individual publications have, and may open a few eyes to the riches to be found within MT's catalogue.

Test-drive 'some of the best collections available of traditional music'Steve Winick, writing in Dirty Linen. available from the MT Records wesite ... one hour and twenty minutes worth for only a tenner!


Revamped What's New Page

It occurred to me recently that the What's New page wasn't really doing its job properly.  Certainly, the dozen or so items there had indeed been 'added or updated in the last couple of months', but there was no indication as to when - so readers would have been uncertain about which ones they had already seen, or which had been modified since that time.  Equally, some items get updated quite frequently, so they are always there on the page.

Accordingly, I have now set out the page as a chronological list, with the most recent new or changed file at the top, and with each item having its date beside it.  You can see what I mean here.  New items will now always appear at the top of the list, and those older than a couple of months will drop off the bottom as time passes.  In addition, I have decided to reinstate the two Discographies and Links page in this listing when appropriate.

I hope that readers will find this arrangement far more helpful in keeping up to date with the site as a whole - even if it does now involve more work for me!


Articles Renumbered

Readers may have wondered why the number of Articles indicated on the MT Home page didn't correspond with the 'Article Number' at the top of each new article, or why many of them appeared not to be in numerical order.

It's a long story, but basically it was because: firstly, several articles have been removed from the site when they have subsequently been commercially published; and secondly, because all the 'old' articles from MT's 'paper' days have been added, two or three at a time, during the period 2000 to 2003.  These were all scanned from the originals and converted into HTML back in 2000 and given appropriate numbers then, but these did not necessarily fit into their chronological position in the Articles Index page.  Nor did simply counting the number of files in the Articles directory tell me exactly how many there were, since several of the bigger articles have three or four files each, and many have more than one.

So I've now renumbered all the articles to match the order in which they have been added to the website, and am able to tell you that there are exactly 154 of them.  Do I hear mutterings of "Get a life!"?


Folk Music Journal's future under discussion

I am aware that I'm a bit of a pessimist - but I didn't think I'd actually reached the stage of full-blown paranoia yet.  Mind you, whenever I choose a supermarket checkout line, you can be pretty sure that the till will break down, or the person in front of me will have about 30 money-off vouchers to present ....... !

But I heard some news today that got me wondering.  Readers may have noticed that my recent review of The Bismarck's new CD included the line '... when I'd again taken up the membership I resigned some 40 years ago!'  The membership concerned was that of the EFDSS.

And now sources close the Society inform me that its National Committee will be looking into the future of the FMJ.  It seems that at a recent meeting they have agreed to let the next issue be printed, but the following issues look as though they could be on-line only.  This, only a couple of days after receiving the minutes of the AGM, wherein I was informed that subscription rates are set to rise next year.

Knowing the general mind-set of MT readers, I guess that most will feel that their annual copy of the FMJ is pretty central to their investment in the EFDSS, and that its removal to an on-line-only availability might well make then think twice about renewing their subscriptions thereafter.  They would certainly feel that this change of medium ought to be reflected in a commensurate fall in the subscription rate.  And what about those Society members who don't have, or want, a computer and Internet access?  Rather obviously, as the editor of an on-line-only magazine, I have no objection in principal to the FMJ's being published in this way but, clearly, since the costs of so doing will be almost nil, I would expect the EFDSS subscription rate to fall accordingly.  Moreover, I know very well that many - even most - people do like to have a physical book to refer to and keep on their shelves along with all their other reference materials.

I hear that the FMJ's Editorial Board are 'up in arms about it' and that mass resignations may be in the offing - and I can't say I'm surprised.  I wonder what other people think?

For my part, I shall be writing to Jerry West, Chairman of the NC, (at: jerry.west@ntlworld.com), raising my concerns.  Maybe some of you will wish to do the same?


Lizzie Higgins photos?  Please help!

After a very long and often extremely frustrating struggle, the latest MT Records CD project is at last approaching its conclusion.  This project is to be a double CD of Lizzie Higgins, the wonderful Aberdeenshire singer.  However, there is - as I have come to expect - a final hitch; I have almost no photographs of her for the CD's booklet!

Exactly why I cannot fathom, but no one I have asked seems to have any.  All the obvious sources who don't want commercial fees have been approached, but only Derek Schofield has been able to provide me with any at all.  I had been pinning my hopes on Lizzie's husband, but his house suffered a break-in last year and, inexplicably, his photos were amongst the things stolen.

So, the time has come for a more general cry for help; if anyone out there has any photos of Lizzie - particularly from her earlier years, pre-1975 - please let me know.  I can now scan both negative strips and slides, as well as actual photos, and will guarantee to post them back to you within 24 hours of their receipt.

Alternately - if you don't want to trust them to the Post, and have the ability to scan them yourselves - please do so at 300dpi, in colour (even if they're monochrome), and save them as TIFF files.  Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.


Re: Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie's letter

An editor's job is not an easy one - mainly because s/he has to make decisions ... and you can be very sure that every decision you make is going to upset someone!

This is particularly true in the case of MT, since it is really the only one of its kind, and people are unsure of how 'heavy' or invasive my editing is.  Generally, it's as light as possible; if I foresee problems I discuss them with the writer - as I did with Geoff Wallis in this instance - but I leave the final decision with him/her since, as MT's Home Page states 'The views expressed in all articles, reviews, etc, are those of the author of each piece, not of the Editor.'

When I'm sent a CD for review I have to make a decision about who to send it to.  I send it to the person I believe is best capable of writing that particular review.  My first choice in the case of Around the Hills of Clare would have been Tom Munnelly - but he was ruled out by his involvement in the project anyway.  My second choice was Geoff Wallis, whose knowledge of Irish music is first-rate.

I had no idea that Geoff would find fault with the CD's booklet, since my knowledge of Irish music is pretty basic.  Nor was I able to suggest the correction of any of the errors he mentioned, when I was designing the booklet, for that very same reason.

Jim and Pat say that Geoff has his facts wrong.  If so, I'm sure plenty of people will be writing to correct him ... and I will publish their letters.  Debate is always beneficial.

Jim and Pat have told me that all the other reviews Around the Hills of Clare has received have been glowing - so, in a way, I'm glad of my ignorance, since I might have been tempted to send it to someone less knowledgeable in order to secure another glowing review - which would have been a disservice to us all!  If there are errors, then it's the job of a competent reviewer to point them out ... no one is going to learn anything by ignoring them.

As an editor, I can merely select what I consider to be a suitable reviewer ... and then print what s/he writes, without censorship - even when it's uncomfortable to do so!

And it was particularly uncomfortable to print Jim and Pat's letter exactly as written - as they asked me to do (though I did add their names to the end of it, since they had omitted to do so) - with what amounts to a downright libel regarding my own involvement in the project ... but I did, without the censorship they suggest I should have applied to Geoff's review.

They say 'Originally we undertook to put together 'Around The Hills of Clare' on behalf of The Goilín Singers Club in Dublin. At the request of the editor, and with some difficulty, we brought Musical Traditions on board.'  This is quite untrue.

Mike Yates, in his review of our previous collaboration, From Puck to Appleby, wrote 'Jim and Pat now have a large collection of recordings.  From Puck to Appleby is only the tip of the iceberg.  Is there any chance that there will be follow-up CDs?  I certainly hope so.'  I agreed with his comment, and so subsequently asked Jim and Pat whether there was anything else we could work on together.  They told me of the West Clare project they were just starting with the Góilín Club.  Jim also asked me for details of how to set out the DTP format for the DVD case booklets I use, and I sent him a very comprehensive guide to doing that.  Later I was asked if I would undertake to do the whole presentation side of the project in collaboration with them and the Góilín Club.  Discussions ensued with the Góilín's Jerry O'Reilly, and it was agreed that I would produce the booklet, case cover and record labels in PDF format for their printer, whilst they would handle the CD side of things and the eventual manufacture of the finished product.  It would be published as a joint Góilín and MT publication, and I would receive some free copies to sell.  To reiterate - the Góilín asked me to help with the project!

Their letter goes on 'To say that we now feel that our trust has been betrayed would be an understatement!'  I have a coinsiderable number of e-mails both from Jim and Pat and Jerry, praising my layout, thanking me for my work, and expressing their gratitude for getting it done so quickly.  No indication of any 'betrayal of trust' to be found.  Indeed, I don't quite understand of what this 'trust' might consist.  I was asked to design the project's paperwork; I did so - to the evident satisfaction of all concerned.  I was never asked to ensure that the finished product should receive a glowing review in MT - nor could I have possibly agreed to do so!

Naturally, I would have prefered that the review had praised it unreservedly (it is, after all, a very good pair of CDs of some lovely singing) - but things don't always work out as we'd hope in this life.


No more Topic sales from MT Records website

I have decided to stop selling Topic's CDs from the MT Records website.  Presumably because Topic's own website is now far better known than it was when we started our collaboration, the sales from here have dwindled to a very low level - I've sold just nine so far in 2005.  This means that my Topic stock is taking up valuable shelf space in my small office, and the paperwork involved no longer really justifies the tiny profits we make.

Accordingly, all the Topic items will be removed from the MT Records website as of today.  Readers can buy them very easily (and sometimes more cheaply) from: www.topicrecords.co.uk/acatalog/index2.html

I would like to thank Tony and Dave at Topic for their help and collaboration over the years - and to let readers know that three new CDs in their World Series have just been released.


Re: Around the Hills of Clare correspondence

Tom Munnelly wrote: this 'debate' has now reached the absolute nadir of bitchery and it really should be discontinued.  It seems to me that no one is really contributing anything particulaly worthwhile to what the discussion ought to be focussing upon, so I have decided to take Tom's advice.  I shall not be publishing any further letters on the subject of Geoff Wallis's review of Around the Hills of Clare.  Also, as with previous sets of associated letters, I have now put all the correspondence relating to the Around the Hills of Clare review into one Enthusiasms piece (No 46).

However, as Editor, I feel it is legitimate for me to make my own point of view clear - and without any bitchery, I hope!

I consider Geoff Wallis's review to have been that of someone thoroughly disappointed by aspects of a production he had otherwise greatly enjoyed.  I don't see anything dishonest or partial in it, and I believe its criticisms were the result of a desire to put the record straight regarding the many inaccuracies and conjectures included in the booklet.

Further, almost all paper and internet 'folk music' magazines seem to eschew critical comment these days; whether this is through concern for their advertising revenues or through simple ignorance, I do not know.  One result of this is that a great deal of nonsense is published in CD booklets, and passed off as 'fact' to the general public.  This was particularly the case with a couple of recent 'historical' recordings we have had to criticise, where the often ill-informed and sometimes, frankly, racist booklet notes were described as 'a great history lesson' in one magazine!

I also consider that Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie are far too ready to attribute personal motives to criticism.  They cite a difference of opinion in the past between Geoff and Jim as the motivation for the negativity of the review.  This competely ignores the very positive review Geoff gave to their previous From Puck to Appleby CD in fRoots.

The subsequent correspondence published in the Letters page has not, in my opinion, refuted any of Geoff's claims regarding the booklet's contents to any significant degree - which makes me assume that they were largely correct.  If so, I see no reason why Geoff should be pilloried for revealing other peoples' inadequacies - indeed, this is one of his jobs as an MT reviewer (see our Policy page).

Finally, I'd like to do what, perhaps, others should have done - and say "Thank you" to Geoff Wallis for making me a little more knowledgeable than I was before about Irish music.


MT magazine and Keskidee back-copies now available from MT Records' website

After a very enjoyable Keith Summers Memorial Festival - many thanks to Peta Webb and Ken Hall for their organisational work - I now have all the back-copies of the old Musical Traditions and Keskidee paper magazines here in Stroud.  I've put a new page on the MT Records' website for them and the last of the Scan Tester books, so that they are all now easily available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

I have around a dozen each of Musical Traditions Nos 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12, and Keskidee Nos 1, 2 and 3.  The magazines are priced at just £2.00 each, and the Scan Tester book at £5.00 - and when these are gone, that will be it!  Collectors items at knock-down prices!

Since all these items belong to the estate of the late Keith Summers, not MT Records, all the proceeds of their sale will go to the Keith Summers Memorial Fund - which promotes the Festival and other good causes.  Thus I have to ensure that proceeds are kept separate - which is so much easier to do when I have electronic records of the sales.  Accordingly, these magazines and book will be available only via the website by credit/debit card purchase.


Postage rate increases

Whilst I have been able to keep the prices of all MT CDs constant since I began their production in 1999 (due to bulk buying and the reducing prices of blank CD-Rs), I have no control over the charges the Post Office makes to deliver them to you.

The most recent rate increase (April 2005) didn't initially seem much worse that previous ones, but it has become apparent that, at the heavier end of the scales, and particularly for overseas deliveries, the increases are really quite substantial.  I have just returned from Stroud Post Office having sent a 'Small Packet' to the USA, weighing only 1.4Kg and containing magazines and CDs worth just £28.60 ... yet I was required to pay £13.70 in postal charges!  This cannot go on!

So it's been necessary to increase the 'Shipping' rates on the MT Records website by a further 5%.  Sorry about this, but there seems no real alternative.

Be aware - for purchasers living in the UK, paying by cheque and using the printable Order Form is now a substantially cheaper option.


Cantometrics: a response

A few weeks ago I received a very interesting e-mail from Victor Grauer, who was one of the team which worked with Alan Lomax on his Cantometrics project back in the '60s.

We tend to assume that the Internet means instant communication - but then forget than there is so much information there that it's the simplest thing in the world to miss it completely ... for years!  This was the case here; Fred McCormick's article on Cantometrics appeared as Article No.002 in the new on-line version of MT back in 1997 - yet Victor only saw it for the first time last month!

He was impressed, saying 'It's an excellent piece of work and deserves a thoughtful, if belated, response'.  So I'm very pleased to tell you that his commentary on Fred's original article now appears as a new article in these pages.

Victor went on to say 'I've recently become interested in Cantometrics again thanks to certain new developments in genetic anthropology.  Many things which had puzzled Lomax and myself about the distribution of musical styles worldwide are now making sense, thanks to the ability of these researchers to reconstruct some of mankind's earliest migrations from strands of DNA' and pointed me to a web page where he outlines some of the ideas he's been developing.

Whilst I'm no academic myself, I have to tell you that (assuming I've understood the somewhat technical nature of his arguments correctly) there are some truly earth-shattering ideas emerging from the work he's been doing with various genetic anthropology researchers.  And I promise you that 'earth-shattering' is not an exaggeration!  What's more, he has agreed to try to put together a user-friendly, non-academic version of it in the not-too-distant future, for publication in MT.  Watch this space!


Scan Tester books sold out

Further to my announcement below, I can tell you that the last of Reg Hall's Scan Tester books was sold today, and it has been removed from the website.  All the old Musical Traditions and Keskidee paper magazines remain in-stock, but are going fast ...  You have been warned!

Remember, these magazines are available only via the website by credit/debit card purchase.


Re: Scan Tester books

Further to my announcement that the last of Reg Hall's Scan Tester books had been sold, Malcolm Taylor informs me that the VWM Library of the EFDSS still has some for sale.  So if you're looking for a copy, contact Malcolm at: malcolm.taylor@efdss.org or phone: 0207 485 2206


New MT Stephen Baldwin CDCover picture

MT Records is pleased to announce its latest CD; the first production this year which is wholly our own, and only our second to feature a musician rather than a singer:

Stephen Baldwin - "Here's One You'll Like, I Think" (MTCD334)
Traditional fiddle music from the Forest of Dean

It contains all the 59 known recordings of Gloucestershire's Stephen Baldwin - village and Morris dance fiddler.  The 28-page booklet contains pretty-well all that is known about him and his family, as well as some information about his musical neighbours in the Forest.  There are also 13 photos, including three previously unpublished ones from 1947, and an examination of Baldwin's unique fiddle style.

As Philip Heath-Coleman writes in the booklet: 'Not only do these recordings provide a wonderful snapshot of the playing of a traditional fiddler with a repertoire which predates both the age of recording and broadcasting and exposure to the influences of more formal forms of music and musicianship, but they also preserve the interface between the more static and conservative forms of country dance music for interactive sets of dancers, which were already moribund, and more dynamic and innovative forms of music for solo (and fundamentally exhibitionist) dancers, exemplified by hornpipes and the step dancing they were inextricably associated with'.

No one interested in English fiddling can afford to be without this CD and its excellent booklet - priced £12.00 inc UK p&p, from: www.mtrecords.co.uk


New MT Songs from the Golden Fleece CDCover picture

Musical Traditions Records' third CD release of 2005: Songs from the Golden Fleece: A song tradition today (MTCD335-6), is now available.

In 2001, Musical Traditions Records published what I described as 'our first CD from people who I don't wish to call revivalists - not only has it become a pejorative term, it's also inaccurate - successors might be better'.  That was the double CD from Kevin and Ellen Mitchell.  Another double from Oak followed it in 2003, and now we have a third - from a modern-day song tradition, rather than a performing entity.

I hope that this present double CD publication will prove to be as acceptable to the public and critics as the previous two have been and, most particularly, that it may encourage others to attempt to create the sort of 'Fellowship of Song' which we've all so enjoyed in Stroud's Golden Fleece.

The CDs contain a selection of songs, ballads and a story from one of today's singing pubs - featuring Bob Bray, Audrey Smith, Roger Grimes, Ken Langsbury, Chris Molan, Harry Langston, Martin Graebe, Shan Cowan, Danny Stradling, Rod Stradling, and Jeff Gillet.  All tracks are newly recorded in digital stereo.

It's available from the MT Records website, priced £16.00.


A Veritable Dungheap, by Dungbeetle

Last week I had an e-mail from Steve Gardham, telling me that A Veritable Dungheap, his long-running column in Englsh Dance and Song magazine was, due to a change in editorial policy, no longer to feature in that publication.  Would I be interested in running it in MT?

For those of you who've not encountered it, the Dungheap, written by Steve in the guise of Dungbeetle, is an on-going series of short articles about broadside ballads and their interrelationship with ballads and songs in the oral tradition.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance of publishing this often extremely interesting series.

So - Dungbeetle has now moved from EDS to MT.  The first article is now on-line and the other 18 will follow over the next few months.  Further, Steve has agreed to continue contributing new articles once the existing 19 have been published here.  The unusual name for the series is explained in the introductory page which you get to first from the above link.


NAT Series Booklet Notes and Mondegreens

One piece of positive news, and the possibility of a little amusement, to report:

Over the past few years we've published several selections from the booklet notes to CDs from Rounder's North American Traditions series, produced by Mark Wilson.  Due to changes in the US economy and Rounder's response to them, it appears that the NAT series is no longer available in record stores, but only from Rounder's website (where it's all but invisible).  Further, the booklet notes are no longer printed, but included as PDF files on the CDs.  Neither of these changes please Mark very much - and they tend to mean that these valuable and important CDs will remain unknown to most people who might be interested in them.

So MT comes to the rescue again and will be publishing all the new NAT booklet notes here as articles (and, coincidentally, as advertisements for the CDs).  The first three are from Cape Breton, and Mark has written an introductory page which will serve as a linking point for the three articles.  It and the first of them are now on-line here; the other two will appear in the next week or so, when I've converted them into HTML.

We spent much of this last weekend very enjoyably in a pub in South Armagh.  At one point, the Sunday lunchtime conversation drifted onto the subject of Mondegreens, via a line from a song Ken Hall had sung earlier: And there upon the gilded poop stood Mr Doyle and Gorgeous Raymond.  Cries of "Gorgeous Raymond?  Who he?"  (Of course, it was actually Mr Doyle in gorgeous raiment.)

The idea of mis-heard or mis-understood phrases has long been explored in a general sense via the concept of the 'Gladly' - as in Gladly, my cross-eyed bear.  Its folk equivalent is the Mondegreen, which emerged from a line in The Bonnie Earl o Moray:

Ye Highlands an ye Lowlands, oh whaur hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o Moray and Lady Mondegreen.
Ballad scholars among you will know that it ought to have been They hae slain the Earl o Moray an laid him on the green.

The entire company then proceded to amuse us all with examples from their own experience or recollections, and a jolly half hour ensued.  What finally emerged was the demand that I immediately set up a Mondegreens page in MT, to which readers could add their own favourites from the genre.  Always eager to be of service to the community, I agreed - and so here it is.  Please e-mail me your own contributions.


Reviews of 'invisible' CDs

You will probably have seen Mike Yates' review of Dark Holler: Old Love Songs and Ballads from Smithsonian Folkways, on the Reviews page.  In the e-message containing the review, Mike asked 'Is anybody reviewing the new Smithsonian Folkways Hobart Smith CD?'  I had to reply 'No!  I hope this is you offering to do so'.  From this you will gather that I'd not been sent either CD for review in MT, despite the fact that this is the most obvious place for a European review of these two fine CDs to appear.

It's amazing - I wrote to them a couple of years ago complaining that they didn't send me stuff, and got a very nice reply from someone quite senior in the company, plus a package of about 6 CDs - only two of which were remotely appropriate (and we reviewed both of them).  Since then - nothing.  This despite the fact that I've been in correspondence with one of their head-office personnel over the last 3 or 4 months regarding our up-coming Lizzie Higgins project.

Topic are the same - I just got their latest e-newsletter promoting the new June Tabor album, and noticed that they've got three new World Series releases out.  I checked up and found that I was missing the last 6 of these!  So I had to ask for some review copies - which have now arrived.

Also in the last week I've received two recent releases from the Rounder / Lomax Italian Treasury series - not because Rounder wanted them reviewed in MT, but because I had asked Mark Wilson to organise it for me.

So that's a total of 10 CDs which you would have probably expected major record labels to have sent to MT for review ... but they didn't.  And somehow I don't really see it as part of my job to be scouring record company websites to see if they've just released something which we would be interested in reviewing.  Rather, I think that they should be looking out for appropriate places to send promo copies - after all, this last week, MT got 10,168 requests for pages from its Reviews section! (this is for actual pages, and does not include pictures or sound files).  Which is a damned sight more than the readership of some of the conventional magazines they pay to advertise in.

And before any of you start to wonder whether this may have something to do with the nature of the reviews we publish in MT - ie. sometimes critical ones - there's another factor to consider.  Mark Wilson (see below) has made it plain that Rounder is no longer distributing its traditional CDs, but rather selling them cheap(er) from its website, yet making them all-but invisible there.  If you look at Topic's website, you'll see that they are selling their World Series CDs at only £5.50 - and this for a fully-featured CD with a 16 to 20 page booklet!  Nor do they appear to advertise them in any of the usual places.  Smithsonian Folkways' European distributor refuses to send out review copies of their traditional CDs, and neither does it advertise them anywhere I've looked.

So where does that leave us?  Three major US and UK record labels are making their traditional publications more or less invisible to the public, and two of them are discounting them immediately they are released.  Is it paranoia to think that it won't be long before they stop publishing them at all?


MT Records site no longer requires PayPal membership

PayPal UK - which powers the payments on the MT Records website - has now upgraded its service with a facility which has been available from the US-based parent company for some while: purchasers no longer need to join PayPal in order to make a payment.  This will result in a far quicker process for first-time buyers.

This sounds like a 'good thing' in a world where speed is of the essence ... however, it has implications which may not be immediately apparent.  Whilst the first-time experience will be quicker, it will have to be repeated every time you want to use PayPal - on any PayPal enabled site in the world.  Joining is, indeed, a slower process - but all subsequent purchases from any PayPal site are extremely quick - all you need to enter is your e-mail address.  Since so many websites now offer PayPal payments, you will probably find that you're actually saving time very soon after joining.

However, this is not what I consider to be the greatest benefit of PayPal membership.  Have you ever tried to send money to a friend in a foreign country?  Whichever of the several methods you choose, it costs an absolute fortune!  Suppose you plan to go to Italy, say, and would like a friend there who you plan to visit to book you a nice B&B near his home for a couple of nights, organise a car hire, buy you a train / theatre / concert ticket ...  If you both join PayPal (free), you can send him the money, in his currency, immediately, and without any cost whatever to either of you.  This is enormously empowering to you as an individual, taking you out of the hands of the Banks and other financial institutions, and is a huge step towards making us all 'world citizens' in a way scarcely imagined just a few years ago.

Alongside e-mail, I consider PayPal to be perhaps the greatest benefit the digital age has to offer to the ordinary person ...  That it also allows people anywhere in the world to purchase things from tiny enterprises like MT Records is really only a coincidental dividend.


Season's Greetings and Review of 2005

Another year seems to have slipped by almost unnoticed ... so little of any great moment has occurred!

True, some 760 files have been added or updated on the magazine website, and one single and two double CDs have been produced - but this is pretty small beer when compared with some earlier years.

It has been a great shame that so many of our News items have been reports of deaths, the closure of events and venues - a general shrinking of our already tiny world of traditional music.  But, at the same time, there have been a few positive items.  I've been very pleased to be able to add Steve Gardham's Dungbeetle articles to the magazine site - and already there's a new, never before seen, addition to it, with more planned for the future.  Roly Brown has kept up his astonishing output of 19th Century Ballad Trade articles.  Not only that, but the publication of three new articles based on the booklet notes to Mark Wilson's NAT Series releases on Rounder are just the first of many which will be appearing here.

In addition, one of the double CDs mentioned above was a charity release, which had both positive as well as negative aspects associated with it.  Martin Carthy at Ruskin Mill (MTCD403-4) was recorded on Saturday 4th December 2004 at Ruskin Mill, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, where Martin Carthy gave a concert for the benefit of Richard Valentine, who was suffering from Cancer.  Richard was a well-known and very well-loved member of the local community who had contributed, principally in musical and educational ways, over many years.  He was also more widely known as a superlative piano player with The Old Swan Band during its glory years in the late-Seventies and early-Eighties.  Some 100+ people attended the concert and most agreed that it was one of Martin's finest solo performances ever.  Several hundred pounds were raised.

Following the concert, I had the idea of putting it on to a CD for sale in the local community, to raise some further funds.  I must express my gratitude to Martin Carthy for agreeing so readily to the idea, and to Tony Engle of Topic Records Ltd for allowing this informal and unscheduled release of material by one of their principal recording artists.  My agreement with Topic was that no more than 200 copies should be made and that they should be sold principally in the local area - although I was allowed to include it on the MT Records website, to allow for credit card purchases.

Sadly, Richard died a few months later, but I was able to send him (and, subsequently, his widow) cheques totalling £1,300 - being the proceeds of the CD sales.  At around the 200 mark I stopped producing the records and removed them from the MT Records website.

And although this has been a fairly lean year for MT Records releases, I have been working on a number of new projects during the latter half of 2005 which should see the light of day in 2006.  I don't normally like to talk about future releases in these end-of-year Editorials, but I'm reasonably confident that all, or most, of the following will be released during the course of the next year:

  1. a double CD of Lizzie Higgins, most of the recordings for which are previously unreleased.

  2. a single CD of Suffolk fiddler, Pip Whiting, as a follow-up to our Stephen Baldwin one, again prepared by Phil Heath-Coleman.

  3. a 4-CD set of songs and music from Tennessee, prepared by Mark Wilson, and which may be seen as a partner to our Far in the Mountains set.

  4. a double CD of the Brazil Family from Gloucester, using recordings from Pete Shepheard, Gwilym Davies & Paul Burgess and Mike Yates.

  5. a double CD of Suffolk recordings from the Keith Summers Collection.
So - in hopes of a more fruitful year to come, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Rod Stradling - 24.12.05

Obituaries page

With yet another obituary to publish today, it has been suggested that a separate Obituaries page be set up, rather than including them and notices of deaths in the News page, as been the practice up to now.  I think this seems sensible, so the new page can now be accessed from the Home page, in the normal way.  I have also moved all those previously in the Latest News page to the new one.


Proposed Mechanical Copyright extension

Most of you will be aware that the BBC initiated a programme of recording the remaining traditional singers and players in Britain in the 1950s.  There was also quite a lot of other recording work in the same field going on during the same period.  Some of this material has now fallen out of copyright (it's more than 50 years old), and more will do so in future years.  This will undoubtedly result in some CDs being published by small companies or even individuals, containing elements of the rich results of the BBC's and others' trawl.  Fans of Jazz, Blues and Irish music will already have seen the many recent releases of pre-1950s music by small companies which could not afford to - or were not allowed to - before.

However, there is currently a consultation exercise, or Review, initiated by the Government, regarding Intellectual Property - that's Copyright, Patents, etc, to you and me - and to legislate some more up-to-date law on the subject.  A small part of the new proposals includes a move to extend the Mechanical Copyright from its present 50 years to 95 years and to make it retrospective.  Mechanical Copyright is the copyright of the recording company in the actual physical recording - as opposed to the copyright of the performer in what was recorded.

If the 95 years copyright extension becomes law, and is applied retrospectively, the only people allowed to re-issue recordings made in the past 95 years will be the companies who now own the copyrights.  Due to multiple takeovers in the past, these 'parent companies' are now giants like EMI, Polygram, etc.  What chance do we have that they will ever reissue any of these old recordings?  Their collective track record of re-issuing archive recordings in the last 30 years is between nil and negligible.

There are two simple reasons for this - firstly, the vast majority of the material has no commercial value whatsoever.  Secondly - and this may surprise you - these record industry giants don't actually have copies of most of the 50-year-old records whose copyright they still own!  They've thrown them away!  Why?  Because they have no commercial value whatsoever.  Add to that the inevitable losses due to breakages, mistakes, etc, during takeovers.  Even the BBC has lost a substantial proportion of its archive.

So we are faced with the ridiculous proposal that a huge multinational should be allowed to own a copyright to something they have already discarded as worthless years ago, for a further 45 years!

The current situation is as follows: small companies, even individuals, spend years collecting records (often sole remaining copies) and tapes relating to their own specialist interest which, thanks to modern technology, are now able to be published on CD or DVD for the small audience which values them.  A copy is also usually lodged with the British Library.  A not inconsiderable part of this CD re-issue programme involves material which is now out of copyright and has not been recently re-issued by the copyright owner.  These recordings have sold in tiny quantities of typically under 100, just about covering costs, but enthusiasts will continue to reissue them if allowed to.  This is a task which no commercial company will ever undertake.

To leave responsibility for the re-issue of historically important recordings in the hands of concerns with solely commercial interests will be fatal.  Their track record speaks volumes.  Enthusiasts have re-issued several thousand professionally re-mastered CDs so far - the tip of the iceberg, but already far more recordings than the majors have between them re-issued in the past 60 years.

To make any extension of copyright retrospective will be disastrous - we know that the major labels will not (could not afford to) re-issue the vast majority of their archive material - even if they actually still had any of it!  The only effect would be to stop enthusiasts from publishing it, as they currently do.  What we have to consider here is part of our country's collective heritage.  This decision will determine whether future generations will thank us for our efforts to preserve a disappearing part of our country's culture, or curse a short-sighted decision which will deprive them of that valuable resource.

If you have any views on this subject, you are entitled to make them known to the Review Committee, and its head, Andrew Gowers MP.  To do so, send an e-mail to: gowers.review@hm-treasury.gov.uk - but be sure to do so before the closing date for submissions ... which is this coming Friday, 21st April.

Act now, before it's too late.


Temporary Censorship

I'm afraid I must own up to an outrageous crime - that of censorship; if only of a temporary nature.  I received a letter from Jim Carroll regarding the letter from Fred McCormick published here last week.  I published it - then thought better of it and removed it, whilst I looked more closely into its origins.  I have been taken to task before for publishing writings which some readers felt should not have been given web space, and have defended my position.  Regarding the Elizabeth Cronin book controversy, I wrote: Any letters sent for publication appear as requested and as the authors sent them - but spell-checked.  If I'm aware of any blatant inaccuracies or misunderstandings, I will sometimes add a brief editorial comment to that effect ... I did so in only one instance among the four letters concerned.

However, the letter from Jim Carroll which I removed, contained not 'inaccuracies or misunderstandings', but downright lies and intentional misinformation - as I discovered when looking up the Mudcat Cafe discussion threads to which his letter actually directed its readers.  Having digested, albeit with some difficulty, the pages of abuse I found there, I decided to write this editorial, and to reinstate the letter for your perusal.

I don't normally check up on the accuracy of a letter's content, but Jim Carroll's seemed both unusually temperate for him - as longstanding readers of MT will be aware - and attempted to absolve himself of any blame for the nearly six years' campaign of vilification of which Fred McCormick was complaining.  I was immediately reminded of school days - whenever evidence of a misdemeanour was presented to the class, it was inevitably the culprit who was first to jump up and cry "It weren't me, Miss!"

Carroll's letter claims 'I was drawn into the discussion when my name, along with two others, was incorrectly identified as one of the correspondents'.  First lie - he was one of the correspondents, and actually signed one of his posts with his own name.  In some other posts he used the alias 'Mary' - although with someone who writes with such vehemence and at such length, it's perfectly simple to spot the stylistic similarities - often even the same phrases are used!  He also used similar phrases during his various denunciations of both Fred and Geoff Wallis on the IRTRAD-L newsgroup.  The affectation of an alias when traducing another seems, to me, utterly despicable.

Carroll then touched on the matter of an e-mail (see Fred's letter) which was widely circulated last year in which some nameless individual took Fred's MT review of the Elizabeth Cronin book, removed all the positive aspects and doctored the rest to make it look complete.  He stated 'I did not respond [to the e-mail] as I did not wish to be involved in what I had made clear to the reviewer was a fairly distasteful affair'.  Second lie - he did respond, forcefully and at length, on Mudcat, in the course of which he quoted statistics based on this doctored version of the review.  What's more, it's obvious from the comments which accompanied these statistics, and those made elsewhere on Mudcat, that Jim had either never read the entire review, or was pretending that he hadn't.  In other words, the vendetta of which Fred complains was pursued by someone who was ignorant of what had actually been written.

He then states 'I withdrew from the Mudcat discussion ... As far as I am concerned the matter is closed and I have no more to say on it, apart from the fact that this is not why I became involved in traditional music'.  This, from someone who actually started the present Mudcat 'squabble', as he terms it.  What happened was that Malcolm Douglas had corrected a bit of sloppy scholarship on the part of Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie, commenting 'That sort of laziness is best avoided.'  Carroll's reply 'You must be a friend of the Musical Traditions' reviewers Wallis and Grommitt' was the start of the whole torrent of abuse, and fully substantiates Malcolm's observation that 'Jim and Pat don't take criticism well'.  In my opinion, people who don't take criticism well might be best advised not to make their work public.

As I have said on countless occasions in these pages, it is the job of a reviewer to alert the potential purchaser to both positive and negative aspects of the publication which might not be immediately apparent upon cursory inspection, and to raise related issues which are likely to be of interest to MT readers.  Fred did just that in his review of the Elizabeth Cronin book, and raised several issues which I summarised in my own comments on the affair - see Enthusiasm No 26.  To my knowledge, none of these points have ever been answered in the ensuing five years and eight months.  And I've just re-read the review (for the first time for some years) and agree with Fred that it is every bit as objective and unbiased as anything else he has written.

Finally, I must respond to a statement Carroll made in a post (one he signed himself) to Mudcat.  He wrote:

Having completed Around The Hills of Clare we had more-or-less decided to prepare our Walter Pardon interviews for issuing.  The natural place for this seemed to be Musical Traditions and we had discussed approaching Stradling with the idea.  Now this is out of the question ? we wouldn't trust Musical Traditions wwith the milk money as far as the corner shop.[sic]
I'm sure we would all be interested to hear of one single instance of my financial transactions with Jim Carroll, Pat Mackenzie, or anyone else for that matter, being untrustworthy by even as much as one penny.  This statement and its libellous inference must be retracted immediately and the offending message withdrawn from the Mudcat Cafe site forthwith.

Regarding trustworthiness in general, I could give numerous quotations from Carroll's e-mails thanking me for my work and helpfulness over the two CD projects in which I have collaborated with him.  Maybe I was trusted to see to it that the Clare CD received a positive review?  If so, no one told me - and nor would I have agreed, if they had.  Indeed, I trusted him to produce an accurate booklet text for the Clare CDs - and it was my trust in him which was unfulfilled!


Re: previous item

As might be expected, I received a long letter from Jim Carroll today, going over much the same ground as has been covered more than adequately already, both here and elsewhere.  Once again, it included the phrase 'As far as I'm concerned, everything that needs to be said, has been said ...'

I completely agree - and will not be publishing it, or anything else on the subject(s), by anyone.

However, it did include one paragraph covering a new topic, which does need to be made public:

I did not intend to suggest, nor do I believe that your financial dealings with us were ever anything other than straightforward.  I have always been perfectly satisfied with your honesty regarding our work together.  The question of finance has never been an issue with us; any money raised from projects we are involved in is donated to the Irish Traditional Music Archive.  Nor have I been anything but pleased with the work carried out by you on the two albums we co-operated on.
As are all the MT Records' sales royalties from Around the Hills of Clare and From Puck to Appleby.


MT and the UK Web Archiving Consortium

I recently received this e-mail from the Web Archivist at the British Library:
We are seeking permission to make an archival copy of your website Musical Traditions Internet Magazine currently hosted at http://www.mustrad.org.uk.  The British Library is a founding member of the UK Web Archiving Consortium consisting of the British Library, JISC, the National Archives, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales and the Wellcome Library.  The Consortium is undertaking a two-year pilot project to explore the long-term feasibility of archiving selected websites.  We would like to invite you to participate in this pilot project by allowing us to archive your website.

We wish to preserve your website in the archive for these reasons:

  1. The website contains information with long-term value to the UK education and research community, which should not be lost.
  2. The website is representative of UK documentary heritage and we would like it to remain available to researchers in the future.
On completion of the pilot, the archived copy of your website will subsequently form part of The British Library's permanent collections in the UKWAC archive.  The archiving programme, if you're agreeable to it, would take place under the terms of the attached permissions form.

The British Library will store the website contents in a secure storage facility owned by the UK Web Archiving Consortium.  We will also take necessary action to maintain its accessibility over time and ensure its future integrity.

You may imagine that I was pretty pleased to receive such a request, and I would hope that all MT's many contributors will fell proud to have been so selected - and honoured.

However, therein lies the rub - the magazine is the collective work of some hundreds of contributors since it started in paper form in 1983, all of whom retain the copyright on their writings (as stated on our Home page).  Therefore I am not in a position to sign the 'permissions form' mentioned above, since I only own the copyright to my own contributions and to the magazine as an entity as it exists on the Web.

I should stress, by the way, that the Consortium is asking only for permission to archive the material - copyright will always remain with the authors.  It's just that I have neither the moral nor the legal right to grant this permission.

A few of our contributors I know are now dead, many more (mainly from the Keith Summers period of editorship) I have no way of contacting.  Writing to all the others for their individual permissions would be a huge task.  I raised this with the BL Web Archivist, and she said that in this situation they would like to archive the magazine anyway - and remove it if anyone complains.  Unfortunately, legal and software issues mean that they would have to remove the entire magazine, even in the event of just one complaint.

Further discussion resulted in the compromise you now see before you: I publish this Editorial explaining the situation, and invite anyone who objects to their own article/review/news item/letter/whatever being archived by the UK Web Archiving Consortium to contact me and tell me so.  After one month - say by June 30th - I will make the Archivist a special version of the magazine on CD-R, with any material by the objecting authors removed.  If I have not heard from authors by June 30th I will assume that they have no objections.  For the future, I will now advise any new writers in the magazine that their works will be archived.

Please let me know if you object to a portion of the magazine for which you hold the copyright being so archived.  I would also be very grateful if you would pass on this information to anyone who might be involved, but who you think doesn't look at MT regularly.

Naturally I hope that no one will object, and that we will all feel proud to have had the value of our work recognised.


Re: MT and the UK Web Archiving Consortium

As you will have seen from the Editorial piece below, I was very pleased to learn that the quality of the journalism and information provided by this magazine had been recognised by the UK Web Archiving Consortium, some three months ago.  In it, I asked MT writers who objected to their own article/review/news item/letter/whatever being so archived to contact me and tell me so.  If I had not heard from authors by June 30th I would assume that they had no objections.

I received no such objections, and instructed the Consortium to go ahead with the archiving.

Last week, however, they contacted me to say that 'separately, we have received a notification from a contributor that there is uncleared third party material on the Mustrad site and so at this present time we are not in a position to archive the site.'  Their rules of confidentiality mean that they are unable to tell me who this contributor is.

Clearly, this contributor must have read my Editorial - otherwise s/he would not know of the Consortium's intentions.  Equally clearly, by contacting them directly, rather than me, s/he has made it impossible for 'information with long-term value to the UK education and research community, which should not be lost' to be professionally archived.

Naturally I am extremely sorry that our superb corpus of contributors will not now have their work recognised in this way.  Further, I cannot imagine that any of them would have been anything other than proud that their writings should be included in the UK Web Archive.  Who, I wonder, would - in order to prevent their own work being archived - condemn the work of literally hundreds of others to exclusion?  I can only assume that whoever 'separately notified' the Consortium must bear a grudge against MT and all that it stands for.

Do any names spring to mind?


New MT Lizzie Higgins double CDCover picture

Regular readers may recall that my last two Christmas editorials have contained allusions to an upcoming CD release from Lizzie Higgins.  Unfortunately, this project has been fraught with difficulties - not of my making - and has taken the very devil of a time to bring to fruition.

As it has turned out, this has resulted in a publication comprised mainly of recordings which have never been available before ... initially it was to have been a reissue of some of her LP tracks from the '70s and '80s.  So all the years of frustration have been worth it in the end!

It has been my belief that all the MT Records publications have been important and worthwhile, but I think that this one may be seen as one of the highlights of 'this small but very valuable catalogue'.

MT Records is very pleased to announce its latest release: Lizzie Higgins - In Memory of ... (MTCD337-8) + 36 page integral booklet in DVD case.

A memorial album of this great Aberdeenshire singer and daughter of Jeannie Robertson, containing 34 recordings of the best of her songs not currently available on CD, many of which have never been published before.

The 36-page booklet contains a brief biography and an appraisal of Lizzie's singing style by Dr Ian Olson, full song notes and transcriptions - and lots of photos.

As usual, the full booklet text is available as an article in these pages, and the double CD can be purchased, price £16.00 inc UK p&p, from the MT Records website at: www.mtrecords.co.uk


Season's Greetings and Review of 2006

I don't suppose that Christmas Eve 2006 appears to be a date of any particular moment to most of my readers ... but it was exactly ten years ago today that the first few files of Musical Traditions Internet Magazine were uploaded to an AOL webspace with the 'mustrad' screen-name.  Yes, we're ten years old today!

That I might still be doing this ten years hence would certainly not have entered my head back then.  But with a small (and, sadly, getting smaller) band of writers and collaborators, we have produced an astonishing amount of work: 197 Articles, 55 Enthusiasms, 780 Reviews, three-quarters of a megabyte of News, half a megabyte of Letters, together with approximately 2,600 pictures and 1,300 sound files.

Nor could I have imagined that Musical Traditions would have produced all those splendid CDs of such important music and song.  The most recent of these is MTCD337-8 ... so that's 38 CDs in our main '300' series, plus 12 others in the '200' and '400' series, plus 9 CD-ROMs.  And we produced that double CD of Joe Heaney for Topic/Cló Iar-Chonnachta.  A further 8 in the '300' series are in preparation.  My very sincere thanks goes out to all the numerous contributors and collaborators whose efforts have made these publications possible, not to mention all the singers and musicians (most of whom, sadly, are no longer with us) whose performances grace the records.

In 2006, things have been extraordinarily quiet on the records front, and only one double CD - Lizzie Higgins: in memory of ... 1929-1993 - has been issued.  Of course, work has been ongoing on several others - but it looks as if we'll have to wait 'til 2007 for their release.  It would seem that most of the sets of recordings for which straightforward collaboration is available have now been issued - either by MT or by others.  There will, of course, be lots of other material which could (should) be published - but I don't know about it.  If you do, please let me know.

The magazine, though, has been a hive of activity ... as well as some 60+ record and book reviews, 22 full articles have been added to the listings.  For these, Roly Brown and Keith Chandler are particularly to be thanked - as is a newcomer to the magazine, Chris Holderness, for his five contributions about Norfolk music and musicians.  For the reviews, the majority of them have come from Ray Templeton, Geoff Wallis, Fred McCormick or myself.

All of the 22 articles have been remarkable for the depth of research which has gone into them, along with the broad-based knowledge of their subject displayed by the authors.  This has also been true of many of those 60+ reviews.  This is not to imply that this is unusual for MT contributions - but I think it has been particularly noticeable this year.  Of course, I am very pleased that this should be the trend (what editor would not be?), but there is a downside.  Several e-mails I've received have contained phrases along the lines of 'Of course, I couldn't hope to compete with the academic standards of ...'

Now, clearly, I wouldn't wish to be any part of the dumbing-down plaguing so much of the media these days, but I would like to make it clear that MT is not an academic publication.  It is, and has always been, open to all kinds of input from potential contributors.  Articles and shorter Enthusiasm pieces from people with information and/or enthusiasm to impart are always welcome - and continue to be.  Unsolicited reviews of CDs or books which have moved or excited you remain both wanted and welcome.  Citations of sources and footnotes are not a requirement.

Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of an even more active 2007, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


Cover pictureNew Volume 8 Magazine CD-ROM now available

On schedule again this year (well, a few days late - but who's counting?), the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2006 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the 242Mb of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


New MT CDs - Meeting's a Pleasure: Folksongs of the Upper SouthCover picture

One of Musical Traditions Records' most popular releases has been the 4-CD set, Far in the Mountains; Mike Yates' collection of Appalachian songs, ballads and tunes.

We are now proud to announce what may be seen as its companion volume, a 4-CD set of songs, ballads and tunes from Kentucky and nearby areas, specially compiled by Mark Wilson, editor of the Rounder North American Traditions series.

Meeting's a Pleasure: Folksongs of the Upper South (MTCD341-4)

Volume 1: Come All You Men and Maidens
Volume 2: Cruel Willie
MTCD341-2 + 48 page integral booklet in DVD case, 2CDs, 62 tracks, 140 mins. £16.00

Volume 3: I'll Have a New Life
Cover picture Volume 4: All I've Got is Done Gone
MTCD343-4 + 44 page integral booklet in DVD case, 2CDs, 62 tracks, 141 mins. £16.00

MTCD341-4 Complete 4-CD Set. £30.00

A 4-CD set, available in 2 parts, of songs, ballads and tunes from Kentucky and nearby areas, from the collections of Mark Wilson, Gus Meade and John Harrod.

Featuring: J P and Annadeene Fraley, Buell Kazee, Sarah Gunning, Jim Garland, Blanche Coldiron, The Dixon Sisters, Asa Martin, Nimrod Workman, Roscoe Holcomb, Snake Chapman, Mary Lozier and many others.

Both double CDs come with huge booklets; introductory articles, notes on the performers and the songs and tunes, complete text transcriptions, and lots of photos.  They are available from the MT Records website - www.mtrecords.co.uk - along with the entire catalogue, for credit/debit card purchase, at £16 for each double CD, or £30 for the complete set.


Brazil Family photos?

One of the CD sets I hope to be publishing this year is of the songs and music of the Brazil Family of Gloucester.  That's Danny, Harry, Lemmie, etc.

Whilst I have more than sufficient recordings, and most of the booklet notes are done, the only photographs I have are the two of Danny Brazil as found on the Enthusiasm No 14 page.

The two members of the present generation of the family with whom I am in contact are both still parked (after several years), on the side of the road beside land they already own but are not allowed to move their vans on to.  Most of their non-essential belongings are in storage ... including any family photos.

So this is a general plea for help - if anyone has any photos of Danny, Harry, or Lemmie Brazil (or of anyone else in that generation) please get in touch with me as soon as possible.


New Keith Summers Suffolk Collection double CDCover picture

As already mentioned in the News pages last month, A Story to Tell - Keith Summers in Suffolk 1972-79 (MTCD339-0) has just been released at the Keith Summers Memorial Festival at the King & Queen on May 11th - 13th.

This is issued as a complement to the Veteran Keith Summers VT154CD ... 2 CDs, 75 tracks, 160 mins + 52 page integral booklet telling the story of Keith's Suffolk Collecting in his own inimitable words.  Paul Marsh interviewed Keith a few months before his death, and taped his descriptions of his first going to Suffolk and encountering all those wonderful performers for the first time.  The verbatim transcription of these tapes comprises the major part of the 52-page booklet (our biggest yet), and it's just like having Keith sitting next to you in the pub, sharing his excitement, enthusiasm for, and eventually love of, these remarkable characters.  The booklet really is as good as the records!

Featuring: Jumbo Brightwell, Alec Bloomfield, Bob Scarce, Cyril Poacher, Jimmy Knights, Oscar Woods, Percy Ling, Billy List, Charlie Whiting, Font Watling, Fred Whiting, Eley Went, Fred List, Fred Pearce, Geoff Ling, George Ling, George Woolnough, Harkie Nesling, Reg Reeder and many others.


Pointed at with finger's scorn

It's wonderful what a little publicity will do!  Within a couple of days of my posting my last Editorial (below) and stiff letters mentioning Solicitors from Mike Yates and Topic Records, Les Tucker and his dubious 'products' seem to have removed themselves from eBay's pages completely.  I also received a message from the second person mentioned (name now removed) giving me a plausible explanation for his cancelled eCheque and lack of reply, followed today by a cheque.  So that's all sorted - I'm sorry to have had to call your attention to the matter.


Apart from the fabulous rates of pay, one of the nicest things about being the top executive of MT Records is that everyone is enthusiastic and grateful for the CDs we publish.  People really do email and phone to thank me for the records and the quick service - and this makes all the hard work seem worthwhile.  It also lulls one into a false sense of security, and the assumption that everyone is on your side.  Sadly, this is not always the case.  A couple of recent incidents have rather undermined my feeling that, while the rest of the world may be going to Hell in a handcart, at least the tiny subculture of traditional music enthusiasts are basically a decent, caring and trustworthy lot.

Les Tucker

On the 27th April, a certain Les Tucker bought a copy of Here's Luck to a Man (MTCD320).  A couple of weeks later, another customer of mine emailed me to say that this same Les Tucker was advertising multiple copies of the CD for £4.99 on eBay.  On checking up, I found that he was offering quite a number of Gypsy or Traveller related CDs and DVDs including both Here's Luck to a Man and Topic's My Father's the King of the Gypsies.  Checking the 'Details' of the CDs, I found that they are not CDs of course, but CD-Rs, and that the substantial and important booklets accompanying the legitimate versions of both CDs are not being offered with Mr Tucker's products.  Aside from the insulting assumption that his intended audience is still illiterate, this makes it clear that he can't even be arsed to do the work needed to steal the CDs properly.

Needless to say, I initiated the eBay complaints procedure and wrote to Mr Tucker - but have had no reply from either.  In truth, I don't mind too much; all the singers are dead, so no one's losing out on sales royalties, and I would assume that, at least, some of the songs will be getting back into the communities from which they came.

The slightly amusing irony is that this stupid twat will have the work of copying the CD-Rs and cutting up the cover papers and assembling the final product, plus the cost of the blank CD-Rs, the DVD cases, paper and printing - for a return of £4.99.  Had he asked me for half a dozen at trade price, he could have legitimately sold them, complete with the booklets, with no work at all involved, and made more profit that he does with his illegal scam!

If any of you know this Les Tucker, of Davington Road, Dagenham, Essex, email: les28173@yahoo.co.uk  you might like to tell him what you think of him.

Another person

On 21st May I received notification from PayPal that somebody had purchased copies of Keith Summers: A Story to Tell (MTCD339-0) and Stephen Baldwin (MTCD334) with a pending eCheque.  They included the usual warning that the eCheque payment will remain 'Uncleared' until the funds have cleared from the sender's account, which usually takes seven to nine working days.  In the early years of MT Records I used to wait but, since I'd had no problems with the system, I had dispensed with the wait when the purchaser was an existing customer.  This person had bought several CDs from me over a number of years, so I sent the two CDs off to him the same day, without a qualm.

Two days later, having received the CDs, he cancelled the eCheque!  I wrote to him, pointing out that this was theft and asking for either an explanation, the money, or the CDs returned.  He has not replied.

I feel that this is the far more serious of the two incidents - plain straightforward theft; a con based on my willingness to trust an existing customer.  This person has gained 30 quid ... all the rest of us have lost; clearly I won't be able to offer to trust the rest of my customers again.  I think that this is truly depressing ... I imagine that you will, too.


Cover pictureNew 3-CD set from The Brazil Family

Musical Traditions Records is proud to announce its fourth publication of 2007: The Brazil Family - Down by the Old Riverside (MTCD345-7).  This is our first 3-CD set, packed in a DVD case with an integral 48 page booklet.  The 3 CDs contain 89 tracks, with a total duration of 195 minutes.  The price is £20.00.

A selection of songs, ballads and tunes from the Brazil Family of Gloucester.  A unique compilation of the repertoire of a single English Gypsy family, from the collections of Peter Shepheard, Gwilym Davies, Mike Yates, Hamish Henderson and Peter Kennedy.  Featuring: Danny Brazil, Harry Brazil, Lemmie Brazil, Hyram Brazil, Tom Brazil, Weenie Brazil, Alice Webb and her son, Angela Brazil, Doris Davies, Joan Taylor, Debbie and Pennie Davies.

In his review, Keith Chandler writes: This really is the most important commercial release showcasing the English tradition to have appeared in many a long day.  I cannot stress it enough : absolutely essential.

Pre-production costs have been generously funded by the Greenwich Traditional Musicians Cooperative.  As usual, credit/debit card purchasing, full booklet notes, tracklists and review are available on the Records page.


EFDSS wins Heritage Lottery Grant

In the wake of their publication of a number of important books and CDs over the preceding years, I decided to rejoin the EFDSS in 2005 - after having resigned in disgust back in 1966.  I was very pleased to see that subsequent publications fully justified my new-found confidence in the Society.

But today's wonderful news is of a completely different order of magnitude - six of the manuscript collections housed in the VWML are to be digitised and made available on the Net (see Latest News for more details).  This is really what the EFDSS and its splendid library should be about in the 21st century.  My - and, I hope, our - heartiest congratulations to Malcolm Taylor, Pat Kingswell and Judith Hanson, the team who put this grant application together and saw it through to the end after countless hours of painstaking work.

This is 2007's best news so far ... and there's more to come; watch this space!


The Peter Kennedy Collection and Topic Records

As I hinted below, there was another piece of excellent news for lovers of traditional music due to be made public in 2007.  Full details can be found on our Latest News page but, to my mind, the most important part is this:
Topic Records has acquired the rights to the Peter Kennedy recordings and will be working towards releases of as much of the material as is commercially viable.  This will obviously take some time but they hope that these releases will happen early in 2009 - Topic's 70th year.
My understanding is that Topic will be producing a Voice of the People, part 2 set, drawn mainly from the Peter Kennedy recordings.  And if that's not exciting enough for you, I can also reveal that our own Musical Traditions Records will have access to the material not used for the new VotP set to produce a series of new CDs of the same type and to the same standards as our existing CD releases of traditional material.

After all the doom-laden predictions about the eventual fate of the Kennedy Collection, I think that this outcome has to be seen as the impossible dream come true.  Profound thanks and congratulations to all concerned.


Baldwin confusion

EFDSS members will by now have seen the positive review, in the new edition of the FMJ, of our Stephen Baldwin CD by Elaine Bradtke.  Some of you may have realised that Elaine was confused over which sets of recordings were which - those made by Peter Kennedy or those by Russell Wortley.  I have to say that her confusion is not really surprising because only by reading the booklet text quite closely does one find that the Kennedy recordings are generally the short ones (just once through the tune, as a rule), while the Wortley ones are longer, usually three times through.  Where there were two recordings of the same tune, we placed the Wortley recording first, followed by the Kennedy.  This was not clearly indicated in the booklet because we felt that the music and its performance was what mattered, rather than who had recorded it.

Elaine's subsequent assumption about Kennedy not needing to be concerned about the cost of the tape was thus incorrect, and also flies in the face of Kennedy's well-known practice of rarely recording any tune more than once-through from his traditional musician sources.

Another point which we didn't labour in the booklet concerns the keys in which Stephen Baldwin played, and the tempo of his playing.  We did make the point that Baldwin, like so many other of the older country musicians, tuned his fiddle one tone flat ... yet the Kennedy recordings are all in the 'standard' keys and played approximately 1/8th faster than the comparable Wortley ones.  Now, a tune actually played in F, speeded up by 1/8th, comes out in G!  Without overtly stating that Kennedy had speeded up his recordings (which we could not prove), we hoped that readers would be able to draw their own conclusions from this information.  If this were true (as I'm certain it is), it might well have a bearing on Elaine's comment that 'he sounds more relaxed in the earlier session.'  As any recording engineer will tell you, the easiest way of making a slightly shaky performance sound better is to speed it up a bit!

Kennedy was well-know for his attitude of knowing far better than his sources with regard to what they 'should' have sung or played - he frequently added lines to 3-line verses, removed them from 5-line ones, and put melodies into the 'correct' keys.  I am certain that the speed and keys of his Baldwin recordings are just another example of this dubious activity.


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Season's Greetings and Review of 2007

Well, this has been a dramatically different year from last; fairly quiet on the magazine front but loads of new CDs produced.

We started with the double, Keith Summers in Suffolk - a story to tell; Paul Marsh's superb selection from the Summers Suffolk collection and his wonderful transcription of Keith's conversations telling the first-person story of how it all happened.

Mark Wilson's 4-CD set of Kentucky music and song is, in some ways, a very similar piece of work (although Mark is, happily, still with us to tell the story).  Meeting's a Pleasure can also be seen as a companion-piece to Mike Yates' 4-CD set, Far in the Mountains, of Appalachian material we published back in 2002 - two splendid sets of comparatively modern American recordings which clearly show the similarities and differences in folk music and song on either side of the Atlantic.

Most recently, we produced our first 3-CD set ... a project I had been working on for a number of years.  The Brazil Family - Down by the Old Riverside is just the sort of thing which MT Records was set up to publish - important music which is unlikely ever to see a commercial release.  It was most gratifying to find every one of the reviews were extremely positive ... Keith Chandler wrote: this really is the most important release showcasing the English tradition to have appeared in many a long day.  I cannot stress it enough : absolutely essential.

So, nine CDs in a year! - our largest output so far, I think.  Nor did we do badly on the magazine front.  2007 has seen the publication of 19 new Articles, 5 Enthusiasms, 3 pages of Letters, 2 pages of News and 31 Reviews.  Not a bad year's work.

It's also rather pleasing to note that our efforts are reaching quite a number of people - the website had almost one and a half million visitors in 2007!

Once again, I'll remind you that Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of an equally active 2008, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


Cover pictureNew Volume 9 Magazine CD-ROM now available

Bang on schedule again this year, the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2007 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

And as you will see from the accompanying cover shot, this is the Quarter Centenary edition ... yes, it has been 25 years since Keith Summers first published a paper magazine called Musical Traditions, back in 1983.  Things have grown a little in that quarter of a century: MT now contains 211 Articles; 812 Reviews; 60 Enthusiasms; 21 pages of Letters; 39 pages of News; 2,795 graphics images; 1,366 sound files; plus loads of other things like Links; Obituaries; Mondegreens; Sessions; Picture pages, Discographies ... the list goes on and on.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the 261Mb of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


Baldwin clarification

As I indicated at the end of the Baldwin confusion piece, below, I rather suspected that Peter Kennedy had tampered with the speed and keys of the recordings he made of Stephen Baldwin, and published on Folktrax CD 115.  A message from Greg Stephens (of The Boat Band) seemed to confirm this:
I haven't got your new CD, but I have an old tape of Baldwin recordings (labelled Upton Bishop 1952), and they are one tune once through, generally, but are also on a down-tuned fiddle, and the G (normal key) tunes come out in F.  So, what have I got?  Kennedy's original recordings, before he speeded them up?
Greg's tape was a compilation of recordings of English fiddlers, passed on to him by Dave Lyth (Lancaster fiddler) 20-odd years ago.  It was a copy of a tape he had been given by Keith Chandler.  Keith now confirms that, on his old Folktrax cassette, Stephen Baldwin does indeed play one tone lower - just as he did on the Russell Wortley recordings - making it obvious that Peter Kennedy had speeded up the recordings when transferring them to CD format.

I would imagine that it was done to enable players to learn the tunes without having to re-tune their fiddles.  I would have no problem with this, provided that CD 115's insert notes made clear what had been done to the recording and why.  What seems to me to be extremely dubious is to 'doctor' what purchasers would expect to be an accurate field recording of a traditional player.

This being the case, I have now slowed down the Kennedy recordings by one tone, so they now play in F rather than G, and are at the tempo at which Stephen Baldwin would have originally played them.  All new versions of the Musical Traditions CDs will be supplied with these corrected recordings, and I am willing to supply new CDs, gratis, to any customers of mine who bought the Musical Traditions Stephen Baldwin CD.


Fred McCormick

I was sorry, though not entirely surprised, to receive a message from Fred a few days ago, saying that he wished to bow out of his co-editorship of MT.  I guess that we will all have noticed that his regular contribution of articles and reviews has become more sporadic as the years have passed, and that recently they have almost dried-up all together.  I know most of the reasons for this, but many of you will not - so I asked Fred to clarify his decision for you.

MT punters may have noticed that contributions from myself have been pretty well non-existent of late.  This is due, I'm afraid, to other commitments.  These include my Worlds of Trad Internet Radio Station www.live365.com/stations/oneworldmusic which, infinitely rewarding though it has turned out to be, soaks up far more of my time than I could have imagined.  On top of that there is the work I've saddled myself with, in cataloguing, digitising and systematising the enormous record collection which nowadays permeates every corner of the McCormick household - see Enthusiasm 47 - the final two paragraphs are most relevent.  Also, I'm increasingly fielding requests for advice, assistance and information with various projects, all of which are extremely gratifying and I'm only too happy to help.  But there are only twenty four hours in one day, and before the house falls down altogether, I'd like to devote some time to patching it up, taming the garden and doing all the jobs which other retired folk usually end up bored silly with.

Therefore, rather than remain a co-editor on paper (or perhaps that should be cyberspace), I have reluctantly decided to formally withdraw from Musical Traditions.  That does not mean that contributions from me will cease altogether, and readers may have noticed that I've managed to squeeze at least one review in of late.

It only remains for me to thank Rod for all his patience and co-operation over the years, and to thank the readers of Musical Traditions for putting up with my copy; over-scholastic and long winded though it may sometimes have seemed.

All the best,

Fred McCormick - 18.7.08

We should all be grateful, I think, to Fred for the many wonderful pieces of his writing you can find dotted around these pages, and for his onging work of cataloguing and digitising the 7,000 or so items in the McCormick/Summers Collections.  Further, we should all be thankful for the splendid Worlds of Trad Internet Radio Station he produces single-handedly.  Most of all, we should thank him for his enthusiasm and hard work - and wish him all the very best for the future.


New site search

Readers may remember that I added a site search facility to MT back at the start of 2003.  It was the cheapest and best I could find at the time, and does a reasonable job.  What I didn't really understand at the time was the immense amount of work that would be needed to keep it updated - essentially, going through the index files at each update and removing all the unnecessary words by hand to keep the files as small as possible and thus provide a reasonably short response time.  I did this for a couple of years, but I'm ashamed to admit that I have been rather lax of late.  A search function that doesn't include everything on the website is a bit of a waste of space - and it has become something of an embarrassment to me now.

Accordingly, I've been looking around for a replacement for the past month, and have found two possibilities - FreeFind and Search Engine Studio.  The former does the job, and is free - but includes advertising, and will also only index the entire site, rather than giving separate searches for the Articles, Reviews, Discographies and Magazine ... which I feel is far more useful.  Search Engine Studio will give me far more control over both the indexing and the output, and its 'non-profit discount' makes it affordable for MT.

So you will now find a new Search box at the head of the Home Page - for the present, this is the FreeFind one, but it will be replaced by the better system as soon as I get it set up to my satisfaction.  I hope you will put up with the (very few) adverts for a short while.


NEW new site search

Further to my message, below, about a new search engine for the website, I'm pleased to tell you that I now have the Search Engine Studio solution fully programmed, installed and ready to use ... no more unwanted adverts!  This is what you will now find:

At the top-right of the Home page is a link labelled 'Search the entire Magazine'; click on this and a new page will appear containing four search boxes - Magazine, Reviews, Articles and Discographies.  This serves both to make your searches quicker and more accurate, and reduces the size of the database to be searched.  Each search box allows you to search for a word or words, or an exact phrase - equating with AND, OR, or PHRASE logic.  The results page displays all the files in each section containing the search term(s).  Files containing no useful information, like the various Index pages and framed headers or navigation bars, have not been indexed - neither have the Links and Sessions pages, as they already contain their own alphabetical search facilities.

Since the Articles and Reviews do not always retain the date of original publication, I have arranged for this to be displayed in the results for an Articles or Reviews search.  There is no point in doing this for the Magazine or Discography pages, since these are constantly being updated.

I should point out that the MT Search feature (like Google, or any other search engine) only returns the page containing the information you want - not the point in the file where it resides.  You still need to read the page to find it, or - in the case of the huge Discography pages, or indeed any large page - to use your browser's 'Find on this page' facility.

The MT Records website is not included in the Search feature; it already has fairly comprehensive search features anyway, and to include it would break the terms of the Search Engine Studio 'non-profit discount' I have been allowed.

I hope this feature makes your use of the magazine easier and more fruitful ... please let me know of any problems.  The search databases will be updated when there is any significant addition of material, probably monthly - you should still look at the What's New page to see what's been updated recently.


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2008

Well, as I wrote twelve months ago 'this has been a dramatically different year from last'.  In 2007 we produced nine CDs - this year, apart from the Magazine CD-ROM, there have been none at all!  Actually, two doubles and a single have been awaiting release for some time but, while I have all the sound files ready to make the CDs, none of the associated booklets have more than a couple of pages of content.  All three of the booklet authors have come up against problems in acquiring information - and there's nothing I can do about it but wait.  As usual, I'm not prepared to release CDs without the best booklet we can produce.

Nor have we done all that well on the magazine front.  2008 has seen the publication of only 7 new Articles, although one of these was the PDF facsimile republication of a complete book - Reg Hall's wonderful account of the life of Scan Tester, I Never Played to Many Posh Dances.  In addition, there have been 2 new Enthusiasms, a large new page of Letters, 2 pages of News and a couple of dozen new Reviews.  Not a great deal for a whole year's work, it would seem - but I can only publish what people send me!

All in all, I suppose this has been rather disappointing for Musical Traditions Quarter Centennial year, but it's pleasing to note that our efforts are still reaching quite a number of people - the website had almost 1.3 million visitors in 2008.  And I did get to set up a far better site search facility than had been available previously.  Onwards!

Once again, I'll remind you that Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of a far more active 2009, in spite of the credit crunch - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


Cover pictureNew Volume 10 Magazine CD-ROM now available

Only a day late - due to 'flu - the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2008 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

And as you will see from the accompanying cover shot, this is Volume 10 ... and things have grown a little in those 10 years: MT now contains 218 Articles; 841 Reviews; 62 Enthusiasms; 23 pages of Letters; 42 pages of News; 2,857 graphics images; 1,400 sound files; plus loads of other things like Links; Obituaries; Mondegreens; Sessions; Picture pages, Discographies ... the list goes on and on.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the 514Mb of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


Corrupted Sound Files?

I had an e-mail today singing the praises of our Voice of the People suite of pages - but adding:
I have come across some sound samples that will not play.  Knowing a bit of the technicalities I've had a look at the files and believe they may have gotten corrupted on uploading to the website.  You may, of course already know about them.
Of course I didn't know about them - the only way I'll find out is if someone like this reader kindly tells me ... so thanks very much.  The files he listed had become corrupted somewhere along the line but, luckily, I was able to find earlier versions in my back-ups, and these are now back online.

But strangely - and worryingly - I then found that none of the sound files would play at all on Version 3 of RealPlayer, which I have used for years.  Why this should be I have no idea, since they played perfectly well locally (on the computer).  I then upgraded to RealPlayer Version 11 and all is now well .

But I do rather worry for you, my readers, who may use earlier versions of RealPlayer, since the error message said 'File Not Found' - which implies that the problem lies with the website rather than the player.  Be assured that all the sound files are online, and that if you have any problems playing them, downloading the free Basic version of RealPlayer Version 11 (from http://uk.real.com/) will solve them.  I still have no idea about the cause of this problem.


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2009

This has been yet another quiet year for MT Records.  In 2007 we produced nine CDs - this year, apart from the Magazine CD-ROM, there has only been the CD of Ken Langsbury's Stories (MTCD348) - although that was a really good one - see review.  Actually, two doubles and a single have been awaiting release for some time but, while I have all the sound files ready to make the CDs, none of the associated booklets have more than a couple of pages of content.  All three of the booklet authors have come up against problems in acquiring information - and there's nothing I can do about it but wait.  As usual, I'm not prepared to release CDs without the best booklet we can produce.

It would seem that we've got to the point where pretty-well all the recordings of traditional performers which are reasonably easy to publish have now been done, and I don't know of any others to try ... if you do, please let me know about them.  So maybe I shall start looking at people who I've been calling 'successors' - revivalists who perform traditional material in a traditional way - for future MT Records releases.

Nor have we done all that well on the magazine front.  2009 has seen the publication of 10 new Articles; a few more than last year.  In addition, there have been 3 new Enthusiasms, a large new page of Letters, 2 pages of News and 30 new Reviews.  Again, a rather better show than last year, but not a great deal for a whole 12 months' work, it would seem - but I can only publish what people send me!

Musical Traditions has now been in existence (in paper and virtual forms) for 26 years, and it's pleasing to note that our efforts are still reaching quite a number of people - the website had almost 1.1 million visitors in 2009.  Onwards!

Once again, I'll remind you that Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of a far more active 2010, in spite of the credit crunch - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


Cover pictureNew Volume 11 Magazine CD-ROM now available

Bang on time this year - the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2009 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

And as you will see from the accompanying cover shot, this is Volume 11 ... and things have grown a little in those 11 years: MT now contains 228 Articles; 890 Reviews; 65 Enthusiasms; 26 pages of Letters; 43 pages of News; 2,999 graphics images; 1,482 sound files; plus loads of other things like Links; Obituaries; Mondegreens; Sessions; Picture pages, Discographies ... the list goes on and on.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the 569Mb of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


An avalanche of Articles!

Well, this has been a busy week in my little wind-powered forge in the Cotswold valleys!  At Christmas time I wrote, in the Review of 2009, that the additions to the magazine had totalled 'not a great deal for a whole 12 months' work, it would seem'.  Whether this prompted some good people into action, or whether it was purely coincidence, I do not know but, in the last month I have had six new Articles drop through my virtual letterbox: And five of these came in the last three days!  Blimey - don't it make my typing finger ache!  That aside, it has added a huge 369KB of Article text to the Magazine.

So I thought it appropriate to publicly state my profound gratitude to the five gentlemen concerned in all this work, and the many hundreds of hours of research that must have gone into producing these Articles.  May their example prompt some other good people to send me record or book reviews, pieces of news or comment, letters, or their writings about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world.  Onwards!


More on Sound Files

I've just had an email form a reader who had read my piece on 'Corrupted Sound Files' last year.  He wrote:
Hmm! I've just switched to a new computer and didn't have RealPlayer installed at all, so I downloaded and installed the current version - which then told me that it won't work unless I install a new driver for my sound card. Unfortunately my sound card is several years old and the manufacturer is no longer providing new drivers.  Therefore, as far as I can see, I can't use RealPlayer at all.

What's the objection to making sound clips available in a widely supported format such as MP3?

As this may be a problem for other readers as well, I here provide the essence of my reply:

In a word - bandwidth.  When I started MT, back in 1996, my readers had nothing but a slow dial-up connection, so I looked for the best possible sound playing system which was acceptable in these circumstances - and RealAudio was it.

By the time that broadband became widely available in the UK (it still isn't in much of the world, where there are plenty of MT readers) there were some 900 RealAudio soundclips on the site, and in most cases I had no way of re-doing them as MP3s.  That aside, I still have the experienced user's aversion to unnecessary bandwidth.  As an example:

An 11,659Kb WAV file converts into a 1,056Kb MP3 file, but into a 133Kb RealAudio file - that's one eighth the size of the MP3 file.  Most of my readers will be playing our sound clips on the tiny speakers in their computer - and you can hardly tell the difference on them between .ra and .mp3 sound.
However, there's another solution to your problem, try the RealPlayer Alternative - Google will find it for you - but you need to un-install your copy of RealPlayer first.

I've just installed this Real Alternative player, and it seems to work just fine ... and it's free.  Hope this helps.


May Bradley CD now available

Musical Traditions Records are extremely proud to announce the publication of their first CD of 2010 - May Bradley: Sweet Swansea MTCD349.  It contains 36 tracks, 74 minutes duration, and costs £12.00 from the MT Records website

Of the 49 CDs in our main '300 series', it's very difficult to know which are the most important.  I think that those which present the entire recorded repertoire of a singer, rather than a commercial record company's mediated selection of a dozen or so 'greatest hits', must figure strongly in importance.  Likewise those which present a hitherto little known, or poorly represented, singer.  I'm pleased to say that quite a number of our CDs fulfil both these criteria.  This new May Bradley CD is quite definitely one of these.

Very few people would have even heard of the Gypsy singer from the Welsh Marches, May Bradley, before the publication of Fred Hamer's book, Garners Gay, in 1967.  It contained seven of May’s songs: The Outlandish Knight, Sweet Swansea, The Blackbird, Down the Green Groves, On Christmas Day, Cold Blows the Wind, and The Leaves of Life.  When the EFDSS published the Garners Gay LP in 1971, it contained only five of these songs, as did the VWML cassette, The Leaves of Life, published in 1989.  Many of today's listeners will have only heard the three May Bradley songs on The Voice of the People.  This is really very sad, as she’s a stunning singer who really should be far better-known.

It was a considerable surprise to me to find that Mr Hamer actually recorded 26 separate songs from May Bradley; nine of which he recorded twice, and one, three times - making up the 36 track total you’ll find on this CD.  As far as we know, she recorded for no one else.  We have given what we think are the ‘best’ versions first - then, after a 10 second gap, the 10 duplicate recordings.  My judgement as to which are these ‘best’ recordings is, of course, a personal one, and the duplicates should not be considered in any way inferior, or unworthy of your attention.

I started work on compiling this CD almost exactly three years ago, and soon began to wonder if it would ever be published; information on May Bradley proved to be very hard to find.  Eventually Keith Chandler stepped in to help with the booklet, and his skills as a fact-hunter have finally brought the project to completion.  I am extremely pleased, and proud, to be able to publish it.  This is a very important CD - and one which you will certainly enjoy.


250 Articles!

Yes indeed - after an unprecedented deluge of new articles this year, we now reach what I suppose must be an important point in MT's virtual career; 250 articles are now online.  The 250th is one from Mike Yates, in response to a comment from Roly Brown in a recent Letter, where he concluded: Surprising, isn't it, that, since [Fred Jordan's] death, there hasn't been a peep in terms of commentary.  Another hero bites the dust ...

Mike decided to take up the challenge, but also suggested: I contacted Roly and said that I would put pen to paper.  He replied that he had thought about doing a lengthy review of the Veteran double CD.  I have now written my piece and I am wondering if you might like to contact Roly and ask if his piece is ready.  If so, then why not print both items together.  In fact, how about asking others if they would like to write about Fred, so that we could have several pieces printed together at one time.  You probably think it a mad idea ...

Well, I didn't think it a mad idea - but I did think that if I followed Mike's idea to the letter, we might end up with several articles all containing much the same information.  So I'm suggesting a similar approach to what we did with the Ten Records that Changed My Life article a few years ago: I publish Mike's article first, and solicit further pieces from others to be added to the first one as time passes.

Accordingly, you'll find Mike Yates' Fred Jordan article online now (as MT250), and I will add Roly's review when he's written it, and any other pieces which any of you care to send me, in due course.  C'mon then - time for some action!


The Budget

MT Records' CDs have not risen in price since their introduction in 1998.  Nor do they include VAT as part of their price, so there's no need for an increase due to that budget change.  However, the costs of all the components - discs, cases, paper, inks, etc, and all the services I use in the everyday running of the company will increase by 2½%, so I will need to see whether these additional costs will necessitate a CD price rise in the near future.  I hope not ... as, no doubt, do you!


Rounder's North American Traditions series

Some five years ago, I wrote in an Editorial:
Mark Wilson, series editor of Rounder's North American Traditions series (NAT) has made it plain that Rounder is no longer distributing its traditional CDs, but rather selling them cheap(er) from its website, yet making them all-but invisible there ..... Is it paranoia to think that it won't be long before they stop publishing them at all?
Well, that time has now come.  Rounder has recently been sold to a larger company, and the last three NAT series CDs have appeared with reduced booklets as PDF files.  They are briefly reviewed here, together with links to the complete booklet notes which are, as usual, extremely full and informative.

But some exciting news follows.  Mark Wilson writes:

Many of our earlier NAT projects can now only be purchased (if at all) as MP3s without notes or documentation.  Rod Stradling and I plan to reissue some of these CDs on the Musical Traditions Records label in their original formats, along with several unissued projects, as soon as I find time to collect the original materials together.  But it will probably not be possible to reissue the Cape Breton sets in that mode.
Mark's final comment refers to the fact that the Cape Breton sets (and some other NAT series CDs) are compilations, and involve numerous performers - and the problem of sending extremely small royalty payments to dozens of people in the States every year will be almost insurmountable.

Nontheless, you can look forward to a substantial number of MT Records' releases of North American traditional music and song in the near future - releases which will equal or better the high standards MT Records has set over the past 12 years.


MT Records' first NAT Series re-release now available

As you will have seen (if you read my last Editorial, below), MT Records are very pleased to be able to start publishing some of the North American Traditions (NAT) series CDs that are no longer supported by Rounder Records.  Mark Wilson has written an excellent introductory piece, prefacing his original (1999) article on the aims and scope of the NAT Series - which makes extremely interesting reading, and is available as MT Article No.259 Cover picture

The first of these new releases features Art Galbraith, a fine Missouri fiddler, accompanied by Gordon McCann on guitar, with Dixie Blossoms (MTCD509).  Renowned collector, Vance Randolph, said: "Art Galbraith is the best Ozarks fiddler I have ever heard."  Full Details, including track list and booklet notes, can be found on the MT Records' website  The price is £12.00.

Since this will be the first of a substantial number of ex-NAT releases, it seemed a good idea to create a new 'series' for them - the '500 Series' - and an equally good idea to include the Mike Yates' Appalachian 4-CD set, Far in the Mountains, and Mark Wilson's Kentucky 4-CD set Meeting's a Pleasure, within it.  Accordingly, Far in the Mountains is now renumbered MTCD501-4, and Meeting's a Pleasure is renumbered MTCD505-8, and so Dixie Blossoms is number MTCD509.

Another slight change on the MT Records website is that, since these new NAT records already have their booklet notes available as PDF files, I have decided to use these rather than have to construct new HTML versions.  So, when you click on the Booklet Notes link you will get the PDF version.  I don't imagine that this will cause a problem for anyone - and it's only on the website; the 500 series CDs will still have the usual printed booklet inside the DVD case, just like the 300 series CDs.


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2010

This has been a somewhat busier year for MT Records, thank heavens!  One of the CDs I'd been hoping to release for some time finally came to fruition - and it's a real cracker.  May Bradley's Sweet Swansea (MTCD349) has been very well received - see the review.  In addition, we have started the co-operation work with Mark Wilson, ex of Rounder's NAT Series, and the first two re-releases, Art Galbraith: Dixie Blossoms (MTCD509) and Roger Cooper: Essence of Old Kentucky (MTCD510) came out in November and December.  The next two in the series are Nimrod Workman and Morgan MacQuarrie, and they should be available early in 2011.

There's also a very significant release of an Irish singer, which I hope should be available some time in 2011 - watch this space!

However, with regard to British performers, it would seem that we've got to the point where pretty-well all the recordings of traditional ones which are available to publish have now been done, and I don't know of any others to try ... if you do, please let me know about them.  So maybe I shall start looking at people who I've been calling 'successors' - revivalists who perform traditional material in a traditional way - for future MT Records releases.

On the magazine front, things have been very different.  2010 has seen the publication of an astonishing 40 new Articles - more than in any previous year, I think!  There also have been some substantial additions to the Enthusiasms, Letters and News pages, and 37 new Reviews.  Congratulations to all those hard working writers.

Musical Traditions has now been in existence (in paper and virtual forms) for 28 years, and it's pleasing to note that our efforts are still reaching quite a number of people - the website again had almost 1.1 million visitors in 2010.  Onwards!

Once again, I'll remind you that Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of an even more active 2011, and in spite of all the cuts - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.


Cover pictureNew Volume 12 Magazine CD-ROM now available

Once again the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2010 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.

And as you will see from the accompanying cover shot, this is Volume 12 ... and things have grown a little in those 12 years: MT now contains 260 Articles; 920 Reviews; 65 Enthusiasms; 26 pages of Letters; 43 pages of News; 3,200 graphics images; 1,593 sound files; plus loads of other things like Links; Obituaries; Mondegreens; Sessions; Picture pages, Discographies ... the list goes on and on.

This year I've included a copy of the Real Alternative media player, since a number of readers have had problems with the 'proper' RealPlayer no longer working with the Version 3 RealAudio sound files we use.  It works very well - but you need to uninstall the RealPlayer plug-in first.  I've also included a compendium of all the Editorial pieces from 2000 to the present - since they give a good idea of the sorts of things which have concerned us over the years.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the half a Gigabyte of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


The more-or-less complete Editorial compilation

The Editorial page normally expands until it's getting a bit big, and then the older items drop off the bottom.  Every now and then I archive the file, so I have a complete record of my words of wisdom ... or, to be more accurate, of the things which have concerned the magazine over the years.

But I recently noticed - when setting up a new computer - that these archives only extend back to the year 2000.  Whatever happened to the others?  You may recall that MT actually started it's virtual life on Christmas Eve 1996 - so there's three years worth of information missing.  No hope of finding stuff from the old AOL, UK Online or U-Net sites.  I also discovered that I don't have copies of the first three CD-ROM versions of the magazine, where, it's possible, some of the information may reside.  What to do?

I tried emailing everyone who'd ever bought a copy of the CD-ROM, but found that most people - unsurprisingly - junk the old one when they buy a new one; although one reader told me that he has them all and will put them in the post - thanks Steve Harrison!  However, that only takes me back to 1999.  Prior to the CD-ROM, I had been making floppy disks of the magazine using the old InfoCourier system, for people without Net access.  Did anyone still have copies of these?  It didn't seen very likely.

But today I had an email from Jeroen Nijhof, who told me that much of the early MT stuff can be found on The Wayback Machine, at: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.mustrad.org.uk   What a fantastic resource!  Not everything is there, but it does take us back to July 1998 - and I don't think we're going to get those first 18 months back, unless someone does stll have those early InfoCourier floppies!

Putting together the 'more-or-less complete Editorial compilation' has reminded me what a lot of interesting stuff happened over the years and, in the hope that some of you might find it interesting too, I've decided to put it online, with a link on the Home Page - down at the bottom, so you don't confuse it with the current Editorial!  Or you can look at it from here.


Fred Jordan - 1967

As you will see from my June Editorial (below), MT's 250th article was a multi-part item on Fred Jordan - and I asked for any further contributions from readers.  I've just had a most unexpected one from reader, Paul Carter.  In 1966, he and his wife and Bill Leader were having a bit of a holiday in the Welsh borders, so it seemed natural to call on Fred Jordan, as Bill already knew him.  Paul's wife was the writer, Angela Carter, and the contribution is the short article she wrote for New Society, published on the 23rd of February the following year.  It is now added to the main article.

However, this re-publication involved getting permission from the Angela Carter estate, which was readily granted - but not on a permanent basis, only for 6 months.  Accordingly, it will be removed in July 2011.


Cover pictureMT Records' third NAT Series re-release now available

MT Records are very pleased to be able to publish some of the North American Traditions (NAT) series CDs that are no longer supported by Rounder Records.  Mark Wilson has written an excellent introductory piece, prefacing his original (1999) article on the aims and scope of the NAT Series - which makes extremely interesting reading, and is available as MT Article No.259

The third of these new releases features Morgan MacQuarrie, the fine Cape Breton fiddler, accompanied by Gordon MacLean on piano, with Over the Cabot Trail (MTCD511).

Mark Wilson has written: The music on this remarkable CD represents that increasingly singular anomaly: the artistry of a performer whose musical aesthetic has been almost entirely shaped by an immersion within a localized traditional culture.  Morgan himself never made any attempt to modify his playing to [the modern styles] - only the old Scottish sound of back country Inverness County appealed to him.  He continuously polished his skills over a lifetime of very active playing.  As such, he represents as sterling an exponent of Cape Breton’s unique 'old style' Scottish music as can be found anywhere.

Full Details, including track list and booklet notes, can be found on the MT Records' website   The price is £12.00.


Norma Waterson benefit events

Many readers will be aware that Norma Waterson has been critically ill in hospital for the past three months.  Last November, towards the end of the brilliant 'Gift' tour, Norma got an infection in her knee.  She went to the closest hospital, Warrington, where they prescribed strong antibiotics, to be taken as an in-patient.  Two days later she was on dialysis and a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit.  Our dear Norma had been in the ICU for 11 weeks! with Martin by her side, loving her and making sure she is getting all the necessary attention.

She has at last been moved to an ordinary ward, but the journey back to normality will be a long climb; of course if she could climb there'd be no problem, but after 12 weeks in bed there's not much of her body that has any muscle power at all.  And having had a tracheostomy in her throat for most of that time, she's not even talking or eating normally yet.

As well as an appalling physical and emotional situation for the family, there is the little matter of finance when the breadwinners are unable to work (Martin has only been able to do 3 or 4 gigs in all that time!).  Some of their friends in music - being able now to think about the future rather than just the present - have realised what an awful extra burden this has/will consitute, and are organising benefit events.  Keep your eyes and your purses open, and please consider the possiblities for your club or organisation.  We will try to liaise with all such organisers, and with Alan Bearman, their Agent, to see that things go smoothly, and don't clash with each other.  If you do consider organising some kind of benefit event, please let us know.

Rod and Danny Stradling - 3.2.11
rod@mustrad.org.uk  or  danny@mustrad.org.uk

Norma Waterson benefit events Page

Further to my piece about Norma Waterson benefit events, below, I have now created a Page in MT to allow anyone who wishes to organise such an event to see what's going on, what has already been organised, and to publicise their own event.  Ian Anderson has offered to publicise any Norma Waterson Benefit Events in fROOTS magazine and its website, as has Peter Crabb-Wyke of Folk London - so be sure to tell us about your event in order to get free publicity for it.

In addition, there is now a PayPal 'Donate' button on the page - for people who'd like to contribute, but aren't in a position to organise anything.  It will also be useful for anyone living outside the UK to make a donation, or who are organising events abroad, and need to send the proceeds in their own currency - it will be converted to GBP Sterling via PayPal.

Go to the Norma Waterson benefit events Page

Cover pictureMT Records' fourth NAT Series re-release now available

MT Records are very pleased to be able to publish some of the North American Traditions (NAT) series CDs that are no longer supported by Rounder Records.

The fourth of these new releases features Nimrod Workman, the extraordinary West Virginia singer, with Mother Jones' Will (MTCD512).  The Journal of American Folklore described him thus: One of Appalachia's most celebrated traditional singers and symbolically linked the region's idealized past with the reality of its ongoing political struggles.

Tracks 1 - 18 originally appeared on Rounder LP 0076 in 1976, a further 8 have been added to this 2011 production.  Full Details, including track list, booklet notes and reviews, can be found on the MT Records' website   The price is £12.00.


Cover pictureMT Records' first new release of 2011 now available

MT Records are very pleased to announce their first new release this year - Fred 'Pip' Whiting: "Old-time hornpipes, polkas and jigs" (MTCD350).

This CD may be seen as a companion-piece to our 2005 release, Stephen Baldwin: "Here's one you'll like, I think" - traditional fiddle tunes from the Forest of Dean (MTCD334) - although Fred Whiting was a fiddler from Suffolk, rather than Gloucestershire - and it has been compiled and edited by the same Philip Heath-Coleman.

Although some of Fred's music is available on CD elsewhere, and on the British Library website, we have tried to make up this CD of as many recordings as possible that have never before been published.  The record contains 42 tracks, with a 69 minute duration, and comes with a 20 page integral booklet in a DVD case.

MT's founder, Keith Summers wrote: Fred Whiting's exploitation of his exposure to traditional musicians and music outside his immediate milieu made him that rare thing, a modern traditional musician, of the kind which was common in Ireland and Irish communities elsewhere, but almost completely unheard of in England outside the northeast. His neglect is also in part due to that uniqueness: in England traditional music is regarded very much as their own common property by its modern enthusiasts, who don't know what to do with exceptionally musical traditional players like Fred Whiting.

Full Details, including track list, booklet notes and reviews, can be found on the MT Records' website   The price is £12.00.


MP3 player in MT

A couple of years ago I had an email form a reader who was having problems with RealPlayer - who I advised to try the free RealPlayer Alternative - Google will find it for you.

He ended his message with the question: 'What's the objection to making sound clips available in a widely supported format such as MP3?'

I explained that when I started MT, back in 1996, my readers had nothing but a slow dial-up connection, so I looked for the best possible sound playing system which was acceptable in these circumstances - and RealAudio was it.  By the time that broadband became widely available there were already some 900 RealAudio soundclips on the site, and in most cases I had no way of re-doing them as MP3s.  Also, another of my objections was that using MP3 soundclips pops up Windows Media Player, obscuring what you're trying to read!

However, since the announcement of the provision of high-speed broadband throughout the country (and the discovery that Bampton has it already!) I think that a reconsideration of MP3 is probably in order.  This has also been prompted by a contributor telling me about the Google inline MP3 player - which gives the reader a very complete control over the playing of the soundclip, and doesn't obscure the text.  A slight problem is that a recent version of Adobe's Flash Player needs to be installed - but I guess that most readers will already be so equipped.

Here's an example    using Fred Whiting playing his Old Time Polka, from his new CD on MT Records (see below).  Please let me know if there are any problems with using this player, as I've already used it in a couple of reviews, and am intending to do so for all new soundclips in the magazine.


Norma Waterson Page

As Norma is now home again and recovering a little every day, the fundraising events have completed their work, and the donations more or less finished, we have decided to remove this page.  Norma and Martin have asked me to publish the following message to all the kind friends concerned: Rod and Danny would like to add that their co-ordination of the fundraising activities was actually the idea of another friend, and that several events had already been planned by the time we put up this page.  We have been astonished by the generosity of Norma's friends, raising a very substantial sum and enabling Martin to spend as much time as he needed to at Norma's side.

Now we know what we had always supposed: that Norma is not just the best female singer on the English scene, but also the most loved; and just how lucky we all are to be a part of such a community of kind, generous and loving people.


I wonder what else they sang?

Mediation is a word we encounter quite a lot these days - in our context it means selecting songs or tunes to suit an intended audience.  That doesn't sound too bad - not like the old days, when Sharp et al deliberately changed words and arranged the songs for the middle-class drawing room, with piano-forte accompaniment!  Whilst it's possible to understand their motivations, it's also apparent that much which they actually heard back then has been effectively lost to us for ever.

But by the time that most of the sound recordings of traditional performers were made, collectors had realised their predecessors' mistakes - and the recordings made it possible to hear exactly what was sung or played.  Or did they?

Because almost everyone, amateur or professional, made their own decisions about what to actually record, and what to ignore, of their informants' repertoires.  Moreover, a number of collectors can be quoted as saying, approximately: "S/he soon realised what sort of songs I was interested in, and thereafter only offered them for recording."

Then, when record companies began issuing these recordings, they also made decisions about which items of those that the collectors offered them would make a suitable, and saleable, LP or CD ... products which rarely exceeded 45 minutes duration!  Thus, the question at the head of this piece ... how much did we know of what else the traditional singers actually sang, when there had been so much selection and mediation along the way?

When I published the first MT CD of Bob Hart, back in 1998, I had access to about 60 recordings of him, and it seemed a shame to omit any of them, so I made it a double CD - mainly because I was fond of Bob and liked his singing!  Only later did I realise that it was really rather important to include as much as possible of a performer's recorded work - and avoid the mediation which had been the usual practice of record producers up to that point.  All further MT releases continued this practice - to include all (or as much as was reasonably practicable) of a performer's recorded repertoire.  I believe that only this approach affords the performers the proper respect they are rightfully due.

The reason behind this little outburst is that MT Records have just released a CD of a Shropshire singer named Bill Smith.  Bill was a farm worker (and briefly a farmer in his own right), and a contemporary of Fred Jordan.  Bill's son, Andrew, decided to record him in the late-1970s.  Andrew wasn't a song collector, and didn't choose what to record and what to omit - he just recorded what Bill remembered: songs, recitations, stories, jokes ...  The mediation of past collectors and record producers is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Steve Roud had to allocate no fewer than 21 new Roud numbers for items you'll find on this CD.

This makes this CD perhaps the only available example of the completely unmediated repertoire of an ordinary countryman, from the centre of England, in the middle of the 20th century.  I think that this fact makes Bill Smith: a country life (MTCD351) one of the most important CDs we have ever produced!  I hope you will agree.

To give you a taste of what's in store, here's the tracklist:

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
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6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
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Over the Garden Wall
Tommy Suet's Ball
The Cat's Got the Weasel - Jew's Harp
The Outlandish Knight
Henry My Son
Creeping Jane
AII of a Sudden He Stopped
l Reckon I Missed My Chancel - Story      
l'm Billy Muggins
The Cuckoo
Ram She Ad-a-dee
Ram She Ad-a-dee 1958
The Children's Home
Seventeen Come Sunday
Seventeen Come Sunday 1958
AII Been Havin' a Go
Young Sailor Cut Down
Banks of Sweet Dundee
The Camera Boy
An Old German Clockmaker
The Bramble Briar
The Cinderella
A Group of Young Soldiers
The Willow Tree
Jack Bostock's Whisky - Story
The Irish Girl
A Drunken Family
lt's A Pretty Melody
Coming from a Music Hall
Barbara Ellen
Christmas Day in the Workhouse
Come Lasses and Lads
34 -
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60 -
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65 -
Don't Send My Boy to Prison
Down the Road
lf There Wasn't Any Women in theWorld      
lt's a Lie
My Name is John Giles
AII Jolly Good Fellows
Little Fish
Prisoners in the War - Story
Old Mrs Biggar
Ours Is A Nice House
Pistol - a dreadful old joke
Ring Ting-a-ling
l'm Sixty Three
Some Folks Sing Like a Lark
Ten Little Fingers
The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me
The Agricultural Show
The Circus Tent
The Cobbler
The Mountain and the Squirrel - Fable
The Nightingale
ln These Hard Times
Three Men Went a-Hunting
The Village Pump
The Two Magicians
Wheel the P'rambulator, John
Your Sweetheart Grace
Will the Angels Play their Harps for Me?
Khaki Trousers
Wheezy Anna

Duration: 79:23

Cover picture


New MT CD now available

Musical Traditions Records' fifth CD release of 2011: Harry Langston: Dear Gladys, Dear Gertie ... (MTCD352) is now available.

This CD is, I must freely admit, a bit of a surprise to find on the Musical Traditions Records label.  A set of texts, few older than the 20th century, all with known authors, set to tunes composed during the last couple of decades by a known composer, who also sings them!  But I promise you - if you like traditional English songs - you will absolutely love everything you hear on this CD.  Wonderful, colourful, often passionate lyrics, coupled with some of the most glorious tunes you'll have heard for years.  Added to that the fact that Harry Langston is a terrific singer who has fully overcome the 'curse' of a beautiful voice.

The Booklet Notes to the CD appear as an Article in these pages, so you can check out the sound clips there, if you don't believe me!

Harry wrote all the tunes to these songs himself, and also wrote the words to the song Accrington Pals.  We have been fortunate to have had Harry as a regular at the Stroud singing sessions for many years, and I'm delighted to be able to share our good fortune wilth you.

Track List:

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Recall to Weavers
The Blackburn Poachers
Tackler Joe Proposes
It’s Nobbut Me
What Could Aw Say
Friends are Few when Fooak are Poor
A Lift Upon the Way
Coal Pit Lane
Accrington Pals
Pendle Sally
My Garden (Posey Joe)
Manchester Song (Rich Man - Poor Man)
A Song of Windmill Land
Scatter Your Crumbs
The Coaler
My Piece is o’ bu’ Woven Eawt (A Weaver’s Prayer)    




            Cover picture

Buy this splendid CD from the MT Records website, only £12.00.


Revised MT 3-CD Sets packaging

3-disc DVD case The 2007 Brazil Family 3-CD Set (MTCD345-7) and the new Sarah Makem 3-CD Set (MTCD353-5) have been presented, together with their booklets, in a 3-disc DVD case.  I have been dissatisfied with the quality of these cases for some time, but have been unable to find anything better - apart from the Amaray case which is grey, not black, and extremely expensive.

But my regular blank disc supplier, River Pro Audio, have now come up with a good alternative at a more affordable price - picture on right.

The only 'problem' is that this case requires that the booklet has to be taken out of the case before the first of the CDs can be removed.  Given that I hope that most purchasers would wish to actually read the booklet in the first instance, I don't really consider this to be too much of a problem.  It will certaily be a nice change from having to send replacement cases to customers with broken ones.

If any reader knows of a better quality 3-CD case of the same design that I used before, and at a reasonable price (less than 40p.), I'd be pleased to hear about them.


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2011

This has been a much busier year for MT Records, even than 2010!  The next two in the NAT Series, Nimrod Workman and Morgan MacQuarrie, were published early in 2011.  They were followed, in quick succession, by Fred 'Pip' Whiting, Bill Smith, and Harry Langston.  Then the 'very significant release of an Irish singer' that I promised you in my Review of 2010, finally became available: the 3-CD Set, Sarah Makem - As I Roved Out (MTCD353-5)

I say 'finally' because it's actually been ready for some time - but (as with the Walter Pardon double CD back in 2000), it was agreed to be released concurrently with the Topic Records CD of Sarah (also an MT production).  This was delayed so that the first tranche of Topic's new Voice of the People series could all be released at the same time (early 2012, I'm told).  In the end, I was asked to launch the MT 3-CD Set at the Tommy Makem Singing Weekend in Armagh in October - and Topic agreed to this if I kept the release 'a bit quite'.  That's why there hasn't been a big fuss about it in MT yet.

I'm also in the process of preparing another CD-ROM release: a study of the old 'octave style' anglo-concertina playing and the 'house dance' music it supported, up to around 1920.  This project is written by Dan Worrall, and contains 132 photos and graphics, and 180 MP3 sound files from England, Ireland, Australia and South Africa.  It should be ready in early 2012.  So that makes a total of 9 CDs and two CD-ROMs this year!

On the magazine front, things have been somewhat quieter compared with 2010, which saw the publication of an astonishing 40 new Articles.  This year it's been just 8 new Articles - but there is another big one about Alfred Williams almost ready.  There also have been some substantial additions to the Enthusiasms, Letters and News pages, and 40 new Reviews.  Congratulations to all those hard working writers.

Musical Traditions has now been in existence (in paper and virtual forms) for 29 years, and it's pleasing to note that our efforts are still reaching quite a number of people - the website had over 1.7 million visitors in 2011.  Onwards!

Once again, I'll remind you that Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of an even more active 2012, and in spite of all the cuts - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


Cover pictureNew Volume 13 Magazine CD-ROM now available

Happy New Year!

Once again the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2011 for the Internet version, is now available - priced, as usual, just £10.  Yup - 29 years for a tenner!

And as you will see from the accompanying cover shot, this is Volume 13 ... and things have grown a little in those 13 years: MT now contains 268 main Articles, 68 shorter Enthusiasms articles, around 950 Reviews, 43 pages of News & Comment, 28 Letters pages, a huge Links directory, 3,350 photos and over 1,630 sound clips; plus loads of other things like Obituaries; Mondegreens; Sessions; Picture pages, Discographies ... the list goes on and on.

Again, I've included a copy of the Real Alternative media player, since a number of readers have had problems with the 'proper' RealPlayer no longer working with the Version 3 RealAudio sound files we use.  It works very well - but you need to uninstall the RealPlayer plug-in first.  Be aware, though, that all new sound clips in the magazine will be in the MP3 file format.  I've also included a compendium of all the Editorial pieces from 2000 to the present - since they give a good idea of the sorts of things which have concerned us over the years.

For anyone who's not tried it before, the CD-ROM is a really good way of having all the half a Gigabyte of the magazine instantly to hand, with no ISP charges and no waiting for downloads - a very pleasant user experience.  Everything is presented as Web pages, exactly the same as on the Net - so you already have all the software required, and you know how to navigate to what you want.

Just pop a tenner in the post to me, or go to the MT Records website if you want to use a Credit/Debit Card, and yours will be on its way to you the same day.  You know it makes sense!


New MP3 sound clip set-up in MT

Back in June 2011, I alerted you to the fact that I was intending to make all new Sound Clips in the magazine MP3 files, and that I was using the Google Inline Player for this purpose.  That was all fine, and I had no messages from readers who couldn't make the system work.  There was a problem that I needed to put any new pages online before I could check that the sounds were actually working - but I felt I could live with that.  However, a new problem has now arisen at this end.

Having recently published the annual CD-ROM version of the magazine, I have realised that these new sound clips will not play in that medium, since the Google Player needs to be called online in order to function - and a CD-ROM is, obviously, not online!  This realisation came during the preparation of the new House Dance / Anglo concertina CD-ROM, and a solution needed to be found for that.

In the end, a ludicrously simple answer occurred to me - use links!  HTML allows a word in the text to induce a 'jump' to somewhere else, usually to another piece of text, but it can also jump to a sound file - which is then played by your currently installed Media Player.  The beauty of this method means that the name of the tune in the text of the article (or whatever you're reading at the time) can be shown in a certain way - I've chosen bold italic red underscored - and you just click it to play the sound clip.  There's no need for an icon at the side, or a big Google Player graphic in the text.  Here's an example: of Dooley Chapman playing an Untitled Polka, accompanied by his daughter on piano, from the new House Dance CD-ROM.  A problem with this is that your currently installed Media Player may obscure much of the page you were reading at the time!

If you use the Windows Media Player, you can set it to run in 'Skin Mode' (View menu, select Skin Mode) - or 'Compact Mode', either of which overcome this problem.  In 'Skin Mode', drag the bottom margin up until the Video pane almost disappears.  I think this is the better of the two methods.  But to use 'Compact Mode' temporarily, click the button in the bottom/right corner of the Player (the text 'Switch to compact mode' will pop-up).  To do it a little more permanently, click on the Windows Media Player's 'Tools' menu and select 'Options'.  In the 'Player settings' section, select the 'Start the mini Player for file names that contain this text' option, and type .mp3 in the box below it, and click OK.  If you use a different Media Player, you may be able to set it to run in a similar compact mode.

Please check this out and see if it works for you.  I'm intending to use it in a big new Article, to be online shortly, and I will replace the Google Player implementations elsewhere in MT if there are no objections.  Please let me know.


What a good idea!

I've just had an e-mail from Mark Davies who runs the Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend.  He wrote: It's not unusual to hear complaints that almost everyone involved in traditional music and song is well past middle age - and "Where are all the young enthusiasts like what we was, way back then?"  Well, here's someone trying to do something about it ... Well done Mark!

Maybe I should mention that the Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend is on 19th to 22nd July 2012, at Edgemount Farm, Lumb Lane, High Bradfield, Sheffield S6 6LJ.  Contact Mark at: edeophone@aol.com


Another MT CD-ROM now available

Cover picture As I mentioned in the 2011 Review (below), I was in the process of preparing another CD-ROM release: a study of the old 'octave style' Anglo-concertina playing and the 'house dance' music it supported, up to around 1920.  This is now finished.

House Dance (MTCD251) is a Digital Book with embedded audio files, by Dan Worrall - a well-respected authority on the Anglo concertina.

The heyday of the Anglo-German concertina (1860s to World War I) coincided with a time when social dances in houses, barns, woolsheds and community halls were all the rage in working class urban and rural areas.  Here are 172 archival recordings of 36 early concertina players performing schottisches, polkas, quadrilles, waltzes, barn dances, mazurkas, and varsovianas from Ireland, England, Australia and South Africa - plus more from modern players in the old octave style.  The digital book explores such topics as:

It also includes: The whole thing includes more than 150 photos and graphics, and more than 200 sound files in MP3 format.

The players are:
Australia: Dooley Chapman, George Bennett, Con Klippel, Jim Harrison, Charlie Ordish, Fred Holland, Clem O'Neal, Susan Colley, Ernie James, Percy Yarnold.
Ireland: Musicians of the house dance repertoire: Mary Ann Carolan, Ella Mae O'Dwyer, Katey Hourican, Terry Teahan, Stack Ryan, Jim Droney, Martin Howley.  Musicians of the céilí dance era: Elizabeth Crotty, William Mullaly, Michael Doyle, Patrick Flanagan, Tom Barry.
England: William Kimber, Scan Tester, Ellis Marshall, Fred Kilroy, Eric Holland, Bill Link.
South Africa: Faan Harris, Chris Chomse, Kerrie Bornman, Hans Bodenstein, Willie Palm, Pietie Prinsloo, Silver de Lange.
Modern players in the old style: Australia: Ian Simpson, Ray Simpson, Keith Klippel, Peter Ellis, Dave de Hugard.  England: Will Duke, Dave Prebble, Harry Scurfield.  Ireland: Sean O'Dwyer.  South Africa: Stephaan van Zyl.

The fine looking feller on the cover is Albert George ‘Dooley’ Chapman (1892-1982), of Dunedoo, New South Wales, Australia, and his playing makes him fit to stand beside Scan Tester any day, in my judgement.  Here he is, playing an Untitled Polka, with a piano accompaniment provided by his daughter - just as Scan did!

This fine CD-ROM is available now from the MT Records wesite: www.mtrecords.co.uk   Price £12.00.


New article: Tom Brown, Caister singer, in his own words

Tom Brown I don't normally make special reference to a new article appearing in the pages of MT - but this one really does need pointing out for your attention.  It's another in Chris Holderness' excellent series on Norfolk musicians and singers, and concerns the Caister singer, Tom Brown.  Tom is someone I thought * I'd never heard of, let alone heard - so I was delighted to find that Chris had provided the article with MP3s of six of his songs, at full length.  I would normally extract just a verse or two to make a sound clip, but this time I'm including the full length songs, as he's such a lovely singer.

Tom Brown was one of those singers who, like Walter Pardon, was a generation younger than most of the old traditional singers we've heard on record - and, like Walter, came to the notice of the revival and began to sing in folk clubs at the end of his life.  Two important things result from this: he was recorded whilst young enough to still have a good voice; and was able to give a good first-hand account of his life of work and song ... from which most of this article is drawn.  It's a fascinating read, and the songs are a delight.

* I thought I'd never heard of him, let alone heard him sing, but I was wrong.  He sang Widdlecombe Fair on the Voice of the People No.7, First I'm Going to Sing You a Ditty, Topic TSCD657.

Do check out the article - you won't be disappointed!


Revised George Townshend double CD released

Cover picture You may recall that I made a CD of the fine Sussex singer, George Townshend, back in 2000.  As we were constrained to 70 minutes duration CDs in those days I made the final track as a compilation of a verse each of five songs which were interesting, but not very well recorded.  When the 80 minute CDs came along, I wondered about having a look at reinstating them in full ... but never got round to it!

Having just finished two very large projects, and with a bit of time on my hands, I've just revisited those old Brian Matthews tapes, and found that, with more modern de-noising programs, and help with this from Jim Ward of Country Branch Records, we've been able to resurrect those 5 songs songs - and another 5 more - by George ... far more than will fit onto a single CD.  The ten 'new' songs are:

So I was wondering about turning it into a double by adding some further recordings.  After some enquiries amongst colleagues who might know about such things, I got an e-mail from Reg Hall saying: I have got Bill Leader's copy of Ken Stubbs' tapes.  I own the rights and you are welcome to use them.  The result is that we now have alternative recordings of 18 of George's songs - and a toast.

So the new version of the George Townshend set will have CD One as it was, but with the final 5-song compilation being replaced by full versions of four of them.  CD Two will start with the remaining six 'extra' songs, followed by all the Ken Stubbs recordings.

I will let anyone with the original CD have a special second one, containing all the new Brian Matthews recordings plus all but two of the Ken Stubbs duplicates for £5, inc P&P ... which is about what it costs me to make and post it to you.  This will be a 'cheque or cash by post' option only, as I don't want to confuse the MT Records website with separate Townshend purchases, or to have PayPal adding P&P charges to it.

The new George Townshend double CD has an updated text and tracklists, plus the words of the 10 extra songs.  It will be renumbered from MTCD304 to MTCD304-5.  It is now available on the MT Records website, priced £16.00.


Postal rates increase

You will all doubtless be aware of the UK Post Office's price rises, which came into force yesterday.  The 40% increase in the price of a 1st Class Letter has been much discussed - but few of the other changes have yet been made public.  Like the fact that there is no longer a 'Small Packet' or 'Printed Papers' rate for mail going abroad, or that the first three Airmail rate tiers are now subsumed within the single 150 gram tier.

Since most of my MT Records postage consists of UK Packets/Large Letters, or Airmail Small Packets, it appears that my postal costs are likely to be approaching twice what they were last year - and that was almost £1,000!

So I have had to increase the cost of the CDs shown on the printable Order Form by £0.50 for single CDs, £1.00 for doubles, £1.50 for triples, and £2 for 4-CD sets.  But bear in mind that these still have free delivery in the UK - and that this is the first price increase for 12 years!

For credit/debit card payments via the MT Records website, I have had to increase the p&p charges by 5% - thus Single CDs below £10.00 in value: 25%.  Complete orders above £10.00 in value: 20%.  Therefore UK customers should be aware that it will be quite a lot cheaper for you to buy with a cheque or cash - although it will involve a wait of a day or two for me to recieve your payment by post.  As usual, I will endeavour to post your CDs to you the moment I receive your payment - by whichever method.


New double CD of traditional performers

Back in 1968, Danny and I helped run a folk club in Islington, North London, at The King's Head pub (where the theatre is now).  We booked only traditional performers and, with the primitive equipment available to impoverished young people in those days, made recordings of some of them.  With modern de-noising programs, and helped with this by Jim Ward of Country Branch Records, we've been able to resurrect a double CD's worth of these recordings - 48 tracks, 156 minutes duration.  They may not be perfect by today's standards, but we think that live recordings in front of an audience are often more enjoyable (and informative) than those made within the constraints of a recording studio.  We hope that you will agree.

Moreover, there are several performers here whose songs have never before been heard on a CD recording.

The complete list of performers in alphabetical order, together with their songs and tunes, is: Cover picture

This interesting double CD is now available on the MT Records website, priced £16.00.


MT Records' Second Catalogue Sampler

Back in 2002, we released a short Sampler CD of the complete catalogue as it then was, and added to it in 2005 to make a full 80 minute CD: 26 tracks from the 32 CDs we had released.  It was quite well received - Ian Anderson wrote in the fROOTS review: What's more, most people who bought a copy went on to buy other MT CDs - as had been our hope.

And now, 2012 finds us with another 20 CD cover pictures to go on the front of A Second Catalogue Sampler, as you can see on the right.  If they're a bit small to make out, the 20 new publications are:

That's 20 new publications containing 30 new CDs, so the new Sampler has 30 tracks (one from each) - playing time 80 minutes - and all for just a tenner!  It comes with an integral 28 page booklet containing mini-biographies of all the performers, and texts and notes on all the songs.  My hope is that this full and inexpensive sampler may find a wider audience than any of the individual publications have, and may open a few eyes to the riches to be found within MT’s no longer ‘small' but still 'very valuable' catalogue.


Future Cheque and Postal Order payments to MT

Since the year 2000, when I began making CDs in earnest, and using PayPal for payments on the MT Records website, I have also been using an Alliance & Leicester free business banking account for payments to 'Musical Traditions' (since a business account is needed for payments to an entity, rather than to an individual).  Although this A&L service was described as being 'free forever', now that Santander have taken them over this promise has been broken, and they will start making a monthly charge for the use of the account some time this year.  This decision essentially means the end of free business banking, since no other bank now offers the service for more than 12 or 18 months.  After this, charges are applied - averaging around £250 per year.

Since you'll know that MT CDs are 'productions conceived with the intention of bringing music which might never achieve commercial publication to the small audience which values it', it probably won't surprise you to learn that this 'small audience' really is small.  My 'best sellers' achieve sales of around 300 copies (in total) and less popular items rarely exceed 100 sales.  So you'll be able to see that making and selling these CDs is really only a hobby that pays for itself - just - and never makes a substantial profit.  Accordingly, losing £250 of that tiny profit - to no advantage - is to be avoided if at all possible.

It seems to me that the only way to permanently avoid it is to revert to using a normal current account with my usual bank, Halifax Plc.  Which means that cheque and Postal Order payments made out to 'Musical Traditions' will no longer be acceptable, and that all such payments in the future will have to be made payable to 'R Stradling'.  In case you're wondering - this is not a tax dodge - MT Records' accounts are submitted to HM Customs & Revenue every year, and the tax paid.

So, if you buy Musical Traditions CDs by cheque or Postal Order (the cheapest way if you live in the UK), would you please always make them payable to R Stradling.  Otherwise, I'll have to return them to you to be amended ... costing us both unnecessary additional postage, and meaning you'll have to wait several days longer to get your records.

Rod Stradling - 3.8.12

E-Book implementation of MT CD Booklets?

Like most sensible people these days, I take some care about the carbon footprint of MT and MT Records - which is one of the reasons I use 1&1 Hosting, who use only green energy, to host our websites.  I also worry about paper usage - which is one of the reasons for this discussion I'm about to engage upon.

There's no way I can sell CDs and avoid using some plastic, but much of the weight of an MTCD package lies in the paper used in the accompanying booklet.  So I'm looking at ways to minimise this ... which would also lessen the postage costs.  It appears that there are several approaches to this problem:

  1. Make the CDs mixed-media, to include a PDF or HTML file of the booklet - as Rounder used to do.
  2. Offer an E-Book format download of the booklet, and thus a cheaper CD.
  3. Offer an E-Book format download of the booklet, containing internal links to all the songs/tunes as MP3 files.  Cheaper still.
All of these options have some significant disadvantages.  With 1. it's necessary to be at the computer to read the booklet (and I already publish the booklet contents in MT anyway), or, with 2. to have your e-book reader with you whilst you listen to the CD.  3. seems a better option, as you can read and listen simultaneously on the same device, but few e-book readers currently have sound facilities.  Then there's the extraordinary plethora of e-book readers currently available ... which would be the most readable file format?  As you'll probably know, many MTCDs are already full-length, so there's no space for adding a booklet file to them.  And if I made the booklets downloadable in e-book form, how would purchasers acquire them and pay for them?

These and many other questions arise out of this proposition, and I'm not currently in a position to answer them - so I'm hoping that some readers may have a little knowledge of the subject, and will be able to advise me.

I'm waiting, hopefully ......... Email to: rod@mustrad.org.uk


MT CD E-Booklets

After a good deal of research and discussions with readers about publishing MT CD Booklets in an E-Book format, I've come to a couple of tentative conclusions - please let me know if I'm wrong in either of these: Accordingly, I'm experimenting with the booklet to the recent MT Records' Second Catalogue Sampler (see below).  This doesn't include any sound clips since very few E-Book readers have facilities for sound.  In MT's Articles Page I've added the PDF version of the booklet for viewing, and in the 'MT CDs' and 'Recent Releases' drop-down sections of the MT Records website I've added a 'PDF Booklet' link next to the usual 'Booklet' link.

Please have a look at these and let me know if you're happy with them.  If nobody objects to them I shall make all future virtual versions of the CD booklets in this PDF format, as they are much easier to create than writing a separate HTML version, as I've been doing in the past.

To complete the experiment, I'm making this PDF file available as a download here - so those of you with E-Book readers can try it out on the hardware of your choice - if it will read PDF files.  The Booklet will open in your web browser, so you'll need to do a 'File/Save As' to save it to your hard drive, and then port it to your E-Book reader.

Please let me know the result.


Popular Websites Award, 2012

MT gets another award

The PWA (Popular Website Awards - www.popularwebsiteawards.com) is an internationally represented non profit dedicated to identify and to honor small businesses that continue to excel and grow and deserve praise and recognition for their achievements.

Popular Website Awards is a widely recognised internet award program and inspirational portal, that identifies the pioneers on the internet.  We recognize websites that combine beautiful interactive design with intelligent technology, along with an unmatched dedication to the quality of their service.

We have reviewed your website, mustrad.org.uk, and are happy to inform you that your company has been found to pass our quality criteria and we have selected you for receiving the award.


The missing Radio Ballads and MacColl & Lloyd radio programmes

Some readers may have seen the 1999 Enthusiasms piece on The missing Radio Ballads - The Jewellery and A Cry from the Cut, contributed by the late Ian Campbell.  Good quality recordings of these radio programmes (which were only ever broadcast once) have now been discovered on reel-to-reel tape in Ireland, having been recorded by a member of The Critics' Group.

These recordings, in 192kbps MP3 format, have now been uploaded to the Net at Mediafire, for free download at: www.mediafire.com/?8yi2pivbm13n1.  Radio Ballads enthusiasts should find them extremely interesting.

Probably of even more interest to MT readers will be the complete Bert Lloyd Songs of the People series of broadcasts (13 episodes), and the complete Ewan MacColl The Songs Carriers series of broadcasts (10 episodes), both of which come from the same source and are online at Mediafire.  Songs of the People is at: www.mediafire.com/?gz5hw80fo5oer, and The Songs Carriers is at: www.mediafire.com/?7lc29ei70wbyf

Our thanks to the anonymous contributors of these important radio programmes.


Alternative Web Browsers

For more years than I care to remember I have been using the HTML image tag attribute 'ALT' to display pop-up text for footnotes1 and photo citations in the magazine.  And no reader has ever told me that this doesn't work.  However, since alternatives to Internet Explorer are now becoming popular, my experiments with Chrome and Firefox reveal that neither display the ALT text, despite it having been a part of the HTML specification for decades!  The implications seem to be that either: (1) all MT readers use IE;  (2) no one bothers to read the footnotes or citations anyway;  (3) no one's bothered to let me know!

Another implication might be that manufacturers of modern browsers aren't bothered about the requirements of blind or partially sighted Web users - or that modern Braille and speech synthesis programs have developed a way of getting over the problem.

Whatever - the upshot of all this is that I shall be using the TITLE attribute rather than ALT in all future MT pieces ... in hopes that readers will bother to read the footnotes, etc, that I take such care to encode into our authors' best efforts.


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2012

This has been a much quieter year for MT Records.  Only two CDs - and one of these was our Second Sampler.  The other was something I'm rather proud of - the double CD of traditional performers at the King's Head folk club, from back in 1968-70.  Putting that together brought many a tear to the eye ... happy memories, and the realisation that most of the participants are no longer with us.

The other 2012 release was the House Dance CD-ROM : a study of the old 'octave style' anglo-concertina playing and the 'house dance' music it supported, up to around 1920.  And it seems that the first release of 2013 will be another 'digital book with embedded sound files' - Bob and Jaquline Patten's Somerset Scrapbook, originally a book and cassette release from back in 1987, though fundamentally updated and re-formatted for release in this new format.

On the magazine front, things have also been fairly quiet, just 7 new Articles and the usual additions to the Enthusiasms, Letters and News pages, plus around 40 new Reviews.  My thanks to all those hard working writers.

It's easy to blame the recession for this general slow-down in things - certainly our CD sales are only about half of what they were last year - but I have a feeling that it's more to do with people's enthusiasm for real traditional music.  As was the case back in the '60s and '70s, when revivalist LPs were being released every week, singers and players found it so much easier to listen to, and copy, the 'big names' of the period than it was to take the trouble to come to grips with the far less approachable traditional performers.  Ironically, it was in the 'lean times' of the last 25 or so years that interest in real traditional music began to flourish.

Sadly, it is now the case that pretty-well all the CDs of traditional singers and players possible have actually been made - I'm aware of very few sets of recordings available to me that could result in new CDs.  Actually, there are three or four more such CDs to come from MT, but the difficulties in producing an acceptable accompanying booklet are presently proving insurmountable.

Today, with Sam Lee, Faye Hield et al at the top of the fROOTS Critics Poll, it's a bit dis-spiriting to find that CDs of previously unheard traditional material attract so little interest.  As a friend of mine once said, "The survival of our music would only be guaranteed by it being made illegal!"

This trend is reflected in our website statistics - Musical Traditions Magazine (in paper and virtual forms) starts its 30th year of existence in six days' time and, while it's pleasing to note that our efforts are still reaching quite a number of people - the website had around 900,000 visitors in 2011 - this is around half of last year's number.

Once again, I'll remind you that Musical Traditions Internet Magazine exists to share our love of traditional music and musicians; if you have something to say about any traditional activity with a musical content, from anywhere in the world, please send it to me - the contact information is at the foot of the page.

So - in hopes of a much more active 2013, and in spite of all the cuts - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


Musical Traditions Magazine CD-ROM

Happy New Year!

This is the time when the CD-ROM containing the entire output of the magazine, from the articles in its first paper publications in 1983 right up to the 31st December 2012 for the Internet version, usually appears.  But, with the growth of broadband provision, such a product becomes less and less viable each year.  It was first produced when academic publications wanted something 'actual' rather than virtual for their citations, and as an aid to readers then paying by the minute for dial-up Web access.

In truth, the CD-ROM never sold many copies (around half a dozen per year), and this last year has seen only three purchases.  Accordingly, the task is no longer worth the time and trouble involved, and I have decided not to publish any further volumes.  I will continue to supply the VWML and ITMA with simple copies, as they like to have them for reference purposes.


Two reviews

If my comments in the two Editorials below should make you feel at all downhearted, here's a piece of good news for the start of a new year.  The recordings arm of RTÉ have just released a new compilation of one of the most outstanding fiddlers of the 20th century: Tommie Potts, Traditional fiddle music from Dublin (RTÉ269CD).

It was unusual in that the producer suggested that I should ask Ray Templeton to review it, as he'd expressed interest in the CD - and I was happy to oblige.  Ray thought the record was wonderful!  So did Ken Ricketts and Marya Parker, also regular reviewers of Irish music CDs in these pages.  In fact, they liked it so much that they sent their review unsolicited ... and I can scarcely remember the last time that happened!

So, my doom-laden comments notwithstanding, it's very good to find some real enthusiasm for wonderful music out there.  If only there were more such CDs ... and more such enthusiasts!


School of Scottish Studies in danger

Edinburgh University plans to disintegrate the School of Scottish Studies, home of the internationally renowned centre for research in Ethnology and Celtic Studies, by separating ongoing teaching from its resources - the world famous archive collection and its associated libraries.

The School was founded in 1951 with two great folklorists: Hamish Henderson and Calum Maclean.  Among the first tapes to be deposited were Alan Lomax fieldwork recordings and for over six decades there have been strong links to many Folklore Departments from all over the world.  Its Archive contains thousands of unique and irreplaceable recordings, a small number of which have appeared in public for the first time on several Musical Traditions CDs.

It seems only a short while ago that concerns regarding the fate of the Peter Kennedy Archive were uppermost in our minds.  In my opinion, the School of Scottish Studies Archive is equally important - and equally endangered.  And I don't imagine that there will be another Topic Records to ride to the rescue this time.

A student campaign is under way to persuade the University that the School of Scottish Studies and its resources must remain intact and accessible to researchers and the wider public.  You can add your name to the campaign by following this link and signing the Change.org petition.


New MT CD-ROM Released

As I wrote in the Review of 2012 (below) our first release of 2013 is another 'digital book with embedded sound files' - Bob and Jaquline Patten's Somerset Scrapbook, originally a 120-page book and cassette release from back in 1987, though fundamentally updated and re-formatted for release in this new format.

A Somerset Scrapbook (MTCD252) is now available from our MT Records website, and while it follows the same format as our House Dance CD-ROM of 2012, it was a rather simpler project to complete, although it should perhaps be of greater interest to most MT readers.  It contains: mini-biographies of nine singers and the texts of 22 of their songs, all also available as MP3 sound files; mini-biographies of nine musicians with 12 of their tunes as MP3 sound files; mini-biographies of five story tellers with 10 of their stories as both text and MP3 files.  There are also eight accounts of various Somerset traditions.  All of the above are well illustrated by some excellent photographs.


Far in the Mountains

Volume 5 - Echoes from the Mountains

Since their publication, back in 2002, the 4-CD set Far in the Mountains have been MT's best-selling production and - thanks to Mike Yates' generous decision to waive his rights to the 10% sales royalty - have done more than twice as much as any other MT publication to keep something in our piggy bank.  In all seriousnes, we might not have survived these 17 years without this source of income.

And beyond this hugely beneficial effect, they are a wonderful source of splendid songs, tunes and stories.  So it is with great pleasure that I announce the publication of Far in the Mountains, volume 5.  Mike Yates writes:

I am sure that many of the 425 people who bought the original 4-CD Set will want to add Volume 5 to their record collections ... in the current economic climate, I really hope so!  And maybe a few others will remember that they had always wanted to buy them - but never got round to it.


William Marshall & Howard Hall:
1. Train on the Island
2. Polly Put the Kettle On
3. Fortune

Dan Tate:
4. Groundhog
5. Poor Ellen Smith

Ted Boyd:
6. Pig in the Pen

Pug Allen:
7. Soldier’s Joy

Sam Connor:
8. Ten Little Indians
9. Granny Will Your Dog Bite?

Stella & Taylor Kimble:
10. Troubles

Dan Tate:
11. Waggoner’s Boy
12. Sally Ann

Robert L Tate:
13. SallyAnn / Old Molly Hare / Baby-O      
14. Down by the Stillhouse

Pug Allen:
15. Turkey in the Straw
16. Sally Gooden

Morris Norton:
17. Dicky Said to Johnny / Mirandy

Tommy Jarrell:
18. Sail Away Ladies
19. Say Darling Say

Doug Wallin:
20. The Little Mohee
21. Pretty Fair Miss All in Her Garden












      Charlie Woods:
22. Cindy
23. Eighth of January / Green Mountain Polka    
24. Walking in the Parlour

Eunice Yeatts MacAlexander:
25. The Preacher and the Bear

Pug Allen:
26. Old Joe Clark
27. Bull Durham
28. Fisher’s Hornpipe

Inez Chandler:
29. The Leaves are Green
30. Daddy Had a Billy Goat

Benton Flippen:>
31. Cripple Creek
32. Lonesome Road Blues

Robert L Tate:
33. The Lawson Family Murder

Mitchel Hopson:
34. Shout Little Lula

Doug Wallin:
35. Let her Go, Let her Go
36. Darling Cora

Walt Davis & J C McCool:
37. Under the Double Eagle
38. Whistling Rufus
39. Wildwood Flower
40. Silver Bells
41. Bully of the Town

Evelyn & Douston Ramsey:
42. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Benton Flippen & Friends:
43. Breaking up Christmas












Total: 76:59

Far in the Mountains Volume 5 - Echoes from the Mountains is vailable now from the MT Records website.  Price just £12.00.


Bernie Cherry: with powder, shot & gun (MTCD359) now available

Our third CD release of 2013 is by another singer who would undoubtedly have been considered traditional if he's been born 50 yeras earlier.  Bernie Cherry is an English singer with a very interesting repertoire of unusual songs, and/or unfamiliar versions.  Perhaps, equally importantly, he copies no one - either revivalist or traditional.

The CD runs for 76 minutes and contains 21 newly recorded 2013 performances, with occasional melodeon accompaniments by Roger Grimes or your Editor.

Tracklist: Cupid's Garden, The Bitter Withy, Henry My Son, The Drowned Lover, The Gown of Green, Death and the Lady, The Poor Old Couple, The Seeds of Love, Searching for Young Lambs, The Poachers' Fate, Peggy Benn, Green Upon the Green, Six Dukes Went a-Fishing, The Storms are on the Ocean, Henry the Poacher, No Sir No, Sweet Belinda, Up in the North, The Royal George, John Barleycorn, The Wild Rover


Dave Bulmer and the fate of the Leader recordings

News of the death of Dave Bulmer, of Celtic Music, reached me at Sidmouth earlier this month, and no sooner had I returned home than I got an e-mail from Mike Yates expressing concerns about what might happen to the recordings of traditional singers and musicians on the Leader label.  For those who don't know, Celtic Music bought the rights and remaining stock of Leader and Trailer Records when they went bankrupt a quarter of a century ago.  For unfathomable reasons, none of these records have subsequently been reissued.

It does, of course, bring to mind similar concerns discussed when Peter Kennedy died - but I wonder if the two situations are actually all that similar.

The most obvious difference is that today we are deep in an economic crisis, and one which seems to be affecting 'unnecessary' purchases like CDs particularly hard.  Certainly, MT Records would be quite unable to attempt to buy the rights to any of the recordings Mike was thinking about - and I would guess that Veteran are in much the same position.  Whether Topic could 'ride to the rescue' again I do not know - but I rather doubt it.

Then there's the nature of the recordings concerned here - I've just checked through what I believe to be a fairly accurate discography of the Leader traditional recordings, and have come up with the following list:

My general feeling is that the work of the 'best known' or most commercially interesting performers here can already be found amongst numerous other CD releases - not the same recordings obviously, nor the same songs/tunes perhaps, but some of their stuff is available.  This was much less the case with the Kennedy Archive - which is why I doubt that Topic might be of any help here.

The real problem lies with the very important records by performers which I guess would have little or no commercial value today - Celilia Costello, Billy Pigg, Charlie Wills, not forgetting Unto Brigg Fair, the LP of ballads recorded in Ireland by Hugh Shields and the American albums recorded by Janet Kerr.

Mike Yates concluded his message with: The way that I see it is that these albums are of the greatest national interest.  They preserve something that has all but vanished and, as such, they deserve to be freely available to all.  If, at the end of the day, it all comes down to money - then that says something about our society that I find simply unacceptable.

I'm not sure I can go that far - Celtic music paid for the Leader records and so would expect to be paid back if another company were to wish to release them in the 21st century.  But the value of what one bought as an investment can both rise and fall - and I suspect that the value of the Leader (as opposed to the Trailer) catalogue has fallen dramatically ... probably to zero.

Maybe some of our readers will have comments on the above, or further ideas on the subject?  If so, why not send me a Letter for Publication - address at the foot of this page.


Double CD of The Willett Family from MT Records

I wrote in my last Review of the Year: Sadly, it is now the case that pretty-well all the CDs of traditional singers and players possible have actually been made - I'm aware of very few sets of recordings available to me that could result in new CDs.  Actually, there are three or four more such CDs to come from MT .......

Well, the first of these is now available!  When, in 1963, Topic Records released their first ever LP of English traditional singers, it was The Willett Family whose songs were presented.  On the front page of the inserted booklet, it stated: Topic Records Ltd acknowledges the help of Ken Stubbs, of Lingfield, Surrey, who first located and recorded the Willetts.  Musical Traditions Records is now - 50 years later - very pleased to be able to present those first Ken Stubbs recordings of Tom, Chris and Ben Willett, with thanks to Reg Hall for making them available, and to Jim Ward for noise reduction on the old tapes.

In addition, for the sake of presenting the Willett Family's complete recorded repertoire, we have added four songs not found amongst these 31 recordings.  With thanks to Topic Records we're pleased to be able to add recordings of Tom Willett singing Died for Love, made by Paul Carter in 1962; and Chris Willett singing Once I Was A Servant and The American Stranger, made by Mike Yates in 1978.  And we have also added Mike's recording of Chris singing A-Swinging Down the Lane from MT320.

Track Lists:

CD One:    CD Two:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
I’m a Romany Rai
Lord Bateman
Riding Down to Portsmouth
The Rose of Ardene
While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping
The Game of Cards
A-Swinging Down the Lane
The Captain CalIed All Hands
The Rambling Sailor
The Bold Deserter
There is an Alehouse
Adieu to Old England
The Honest Irish Lad
A Blacksmith Courted Me
The Roaming Journeyman
The Folkestone Murder
The American Stranger
My Donkey
The Green Mossy Banks of the Lea   
The Lincolnshire Poacher
The False Young Man
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
    1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
Never Change the Old Love for New   
As I was Going to Salisbury
The Strawberry Roan
The Tanyard Side
The Old Miser
The Little Ball of Yarn
The Flower Girl
The Oyster Girl
Thorney Park
Died for Love
Once I Was A Servant
A-Swinging Down the Lane
The American Stranger
Tom & Chris Willett
Chris Willett
Ben Willett
Tom & Chris Willett
Chris Willett
Ben Willett
Chris Willett
Chris Willett
Chris Willett
Tom Willett
Tom Willett
Chris Willett
Chris Willett
Chris Willett
  Total:  59:19

So that's 35 tracks, 101 minutes, making this the complete recorded repertoire of the Willett Family ... generally accepted as amongst the finest English Gypsy singers ever recorded.  As usual, "Adieu to Old England" has a 28 page integral booklet, and costs £16 + p&p from the MT Records website, or £17 inc p&p by cheque.


Re: The Willett Family CDs - an apology

Every year I get email notifications of the WOMEX events, and friends like Ian Anderson and Ben Mandelson extol the virtues of the 'networking' opportunities they provide.  I have never bothered - having neither the time nor the money involved, and thinking that it would be extremely unlikely that there might be anyone there with a record company like mine.  I would guess that Paul Marsh, of Forest Tracks Records, may have felt much the same.  A pity, really ... since our attendance might have avoided a highly improbable and extremely embarrassing faux pas for both of us.

Because we have both released essentially the same double CD in the past month - without either of us being aware of it!  Yes, both Forest Tracks and MT Records have just released double CDs of The Willett Family, from the recordings made by Ken Stubbs in the 1950s.  Both are presented in DVD cases together with substantial booklets.

This is not the place to go into the details of how this happened - a lack of communication, stretching right back to the '70s and '80s, and running seamlessly right on to 20013.  Suffice it to say that both of us were horrified to discover, just this week, that this had happened, and that we were, individually, completely unaware of the other's work on these releases.  Nor were we capable of understanding how it had happened until we were able to compare notes on the processes that led up to our publications.

You may be able to imagine how we felt - and how we do feel about the possibility of both sets of CDs being reviewed in the same publications!  Paul Marsh joins me in apologising to our respective customers, and to everybody else who'll be having a great laugh about this ... we suppose we deserve it!

However, what doesn't deserve it are the two splendid double CDs of some of the greatest English Gypsy singing ever recorded.  We hope that you will buy a copy of one or the other of them.

Rod Stradling and Paul Marsh - 27.10.13

MT Records Samplers

I've been thinking about our MT Records Catalogue Samplers.  Their purpose should be to encourage people to buy some of our CDs, but I think that maybe they're too expensive to fulfil this purpose at all well.

The present ones don't sell many copies - around 70 of the first one and about 15 of the second, so far.  These numbers make them almost not worth the trouble of compiling the booklets, designing all the paperwork and so on.  Furthermore, once made and published, no tracks from our newer releases get added - until we've published around 30 more to put on a new Sampler!  This is clearly a rather silly situation.

Some record companies make samples of tracks available for sale as MP3s on their websites, but I've always refused to do this because:

But I do think that a better and cheaper way of making prospective purchasers aware of the riches to be found in our now quite extensive catalogue needs to be found.  It should be noted that our catalogue now extends to some 80 CDs - so we're talking about making around 80 tracks, that's almost 3GB of files, available in some way.

I've thought of several ways of doing this, though I think all of them have disadvantages of one sort or another:

  1. Make the two present Samplers available as a pair of CDs in a double jewel case, without notes, like our 400 Series.  They could just about sell for £5.00, but would soon lose me money if many Americans bought them - it now costs £4.50 to post a single CD to the US!  And I wouldn't be able to add any new items to them as they are both of 80 minutes duration already.
  2. Put all the existing '300 Series' Sampler tracks, plus the 5 new ones from our 2013 publications, plus the score or so peripheral releases onto a playable MP3 CD, in a simple slip-case, for a fiver.  The problem is the fact that by no means everyone has a player capable of playing MP3 discs.
  3. Do the same as the above, but make it a data disc.  Users would then put the disc into their computers and play the MP3 files.  This looks good, but you can't play them in the car, or away from your computer.
  4. Create a special Page in the Magazine or on the MT Records website, with all the tracks available as playable MP3 files.  Users could play them there and then, and/or save them to their own media if they wished to, but it would take a lot of time and fiddling about.
  5. Put all 80 tracks onto a CD.  Since this would have a file size of around 3GB, they wouldn't fit onto a standard CD ... and, as far as I can tell, it seems that it's not possible to burn a playable 3GB CD onto a DVD disc.
  6. However, I have found a program called Music DVD Creator, which purports to do exactly that.  This will produce a DVD which will play music, and I guess most users will have either a DVD enabled optical drive on their computers these days, or access to a DVD player ... though possibly not all of them.  This would create a single disc which could easily be sold for £5.00, including p&p.
I have tried Option 6, and it does indeed produce a DVD which will play music both on the DVD optical drive on my computer and on my DVD player.  But the program is not as simple to use as it might be, and there are difficulties in getting the video pane to display the correct track listing successfully.  Does anyone know anything about any alternatives to Music DVD Creator which are easier to set up, or provide more display options?

As you can see, none of these ideas are without drawbacks.  Does anyone have any better ideas?  Please let me know by email (rod@mustrad.org.uk) - either as a Letter for Publication, or simply as a message to me for information.


Re: MT Records Samplers

Well, despite 712 people having read the Editorial this last month, only two of them contacted me about the Samplers question I posed below - and neither of them had any better suggestions.

My feeling is that none of the ideas I outlined provide a particularly good solution to the problem - so I've decided, for the moment, to go with the simplest solution, and one which doesn't involve any additional costs.  That is to create a special Page in the Magazine and on the MT Records website, with all the tracks available as playable MP3 files.  Users can play them there and then, and/or save them to their own media of choice, if they wish to.  Take a look here.

There are a total of 82 complete tracks (no 30 second snips here!) - that's one from almost every CD we've produced.  Five have been omitted: I've only included one from the Pop Maynard double (MTCD401-2) because it was only just a double anyway, and contains a number of alternative recordings of the same songs; and none from the Martin Carthy double (MTCD403-4) because it was a special charity project and is no longer available for contractual reasons.  And, obviously, the two published Samplers don't count.

As and when new releases appear, sample tracks can easily be added to the top of the list.  This should actually happen before too long, as our next project, another double CD set, The Complete Recorded Repertoire of Cecilia Costello, should make its appearance in the next month or two.

Not being the sort of person who keeps a strict record of his achievements, I hadn't realised that the publication of The Willett Family: Adieu to Old England (MTCD361-2) last week, marked a rather significant milestone for MT Records.  Because the 82 on the Sampler Page, plus the 5 omissions, plus the 13 Magazine CD-ROMs, make a total of 100 CDs in the MT Records catalogue!  Not something I could have possibly imagined when I published the Bob Hart CDs back in 1998.  The fact that this has happened in 2013 - the 30th anniversary of the original publication of Musical Traditions Magazine, and Danny's and my 70th birthdays - makes everything very neat and tidy.  Serendipity!

So, to pay me back for all that hard work, maybe you'd like to go to the MT Records website and buy a few!  Thanks.


The Hardy Sons of Dan, Volumes 3 & 4

You will remember, I'm sure, the double CD set MT Records released back in 2004, The Hardy Sons of Dan, featuring recordings Keith Summers made in Fermanagh and Cavan in the '70s.  Fortunately, we managed to get them published just a couple of weeks before his death on 30.3.04, and he was very pleased with them.

We are now hoping to publish a further pair of CDs from the same source next March, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Keith's death.  Unfortunately, most of the original participants are now dead, so it will be just Paul Marsh and me, attempting to fill in some of the details regarding the singers and their songs.

Equally unfortunately, I'm extremely busy for the next couple of weeks, so Paul has taken on the responsibility of liaising with people in the hope of filling in some of the gaps.  We're looking for information on the singers - Packie Cunningham, Francie Little, Peggy MacDonagh, Tommy Connolly, and Eugene Ward - and there are several others that are unidentified!  We also need further background information on the singing tradition(s) in the area.

In the first instance, if you do have any information, please contact Paul Marsh at: amarsh@ndirect.co.uk   I will be back in circulation again after Christmas.  We truly hope that someone out there will be able to help.


Phyllis Marshall article

Everyone in Bristol knows Geoff Woolfe, and readers of these pages will have seen several of his articles, plus the CD of the English classic style banjo player, Ray Andrews, he produced for us back in 2001.  Geoff's just written a long article about Phyllis Marshall, an 'amateur' song collector from Somerset, who was active around the First World War period.  When I wrote an 'amateur' collector, this was no disparagement; simply that she never published her work herself, but passed her finds to Janet Blunt, the Oxfordshire collector, whom she had met while at Oxford University.

It's not quite the longest article we've ever published, though most of the longer ones have been the texts of CD publications' booklets, and few have included 46 photos and graphics, including 29 pieces of staff notation, all of which have playable MIDI files attached to them!

I'm pleased to say that Geoff's article also includes pretty-well all that is known of the singers Ms Marshall collected from, together with the texts of their songs and playable staff notation of their tunes.  This is a formidable piece of research work, and I'm very grateful to Geoff for letting us have it to publish.  You can get to it directly from here.


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2013

Not just another annual review, but a rather significant milestone reached.  2013 marked the 30th year of Musical Traditions Magazine, since it's beginnings in 1983 as a printed publication, edited by the late Keith Summers.  Neither Keith nor I could have imagined that the magazine would still be going 30 years later, nor that it might have published 290 articles, and some 1,000 reviews, or would contain over 3,500 photos and over 1,700 sound clips, etc, etc.  Or that we still get over 1 million visitors per year!

Not only that but, since starting CD production in 1998, our most recent release, The Willett Family - Adieu to Old England (MTCD361-2) is actually our 100th CD publication!  2013 has been quite a good year for MT Records' CD releases: A Somerset Scrapbook (MTCD252) a CD-ROM book; Far in the Mountains, volume 5 (MTCD513); Bernie Cherry: with powder, shot & gun (MTCD359); and the above mentioned double CD of The Willett Family.

And I'm pleased to say that Cecilia Costello: "Old Fashioned Songs" (MTCD363-4), another of our 'complete recorded repertoire' releases, will be available quite soon.  Also planned for 2014 are another double CD of Keith Summers' Fermanagh recordings, and the Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger recordings of Caroline Hughes.

Since I'm now officially 'Old', I don't like to plan too far ahead, but it is just possible that we may be able to match 2013's four publications by the end of the year ...  Who knows?

So - in hopes of an equally active 2014, and of a financial recovery - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


Cecilia Costello - back again, and then some!

It seems like ages since I decided to do a re-release of the Leader Records / BBC recordings of Cecilia Costello.  Actually, it's only been about five months, but the amount of work involved has been far greater than I could possibly have imagined.

A bit of history, for those readers unfamiliar with the situation.  Shortly after the publication of the 1975 Leader Records' LP Cecilia Costello, the company ceased trading, and was subsequently bought by Dave Bulmer of Celtic Music - though few of the records were ever re-released.  Following Bulmer's death this summer, questions were raised regarding the fate of the Leader catalogue.  I was interested in some of the traditional records, and realised that the 13 BBC recordings of Cecilia Costello were now out of copyright, so I began looking for further material to complete a full CD (80 minutes) of her singing.  I was surprised to find that so much existed; mainly because Cecilia Costello was recorded by no fewer than five collectors that I have become aware of:

Kennedy and Slocombe accounted for some 29 published recordings (although it became clear that 6 of Kennedy's recordings were actually just doctored copies of those made by Slocombe), plus a further 63 duplicate recordings and pieces of speech.  Charles Parker provided a further 163 recordings, Jon Raven a further 26, and Roy Palmer a further 84.  This gave a total of 365 recordings of some 85 different songs, each of which had to be listened to and compared with the numerous other similar recordings, to find the 'best' version to include on the CDs.

As well as that, only the Roy Palmer recordings were directly available - all the others resided in the archives of various public institutions.  While this was in no way problematic, it did take a considerable amount of time and patience in the liaison work involved.  The 'ready by Christmas' deadline I'd been working towards clearly became impossible to meet.  In truth, I wonder if the project would have been finished at all, were it not for the sterling work by Patrick Costello (Cecilia's grandson) in listening to each of the 27 CDs in the Library of Birmingham archive containing the Charles Parker material, to locate all the viable song recordings.  It took him almost a month!

As will be seen, the recordings date from three distinct periods: the early Fifties, when she was 67; the late Sixties, when she was 83; and the early Seventies, when she was 87.  Mrs Costello's voice and memory were in quite different condition on each of these three occasions.  Also, it would seem that the 'mediation' so often encountered in the earlier years of the Folk Revival, ensured that it was the 'folk songs' in her repertoire which were recorded by Kennedy and Slocombe, while the later collectors encountered few of these, but lots of music hall and 'pop' songs from her youth.

Accordingly, I decided to make CD1 contain only the 1951 recordings, and CD2 the later material.  The reason for this was that I felt that an interesting recording of an old pop song, more recited than sung in 1971, might sit rather uncomfortably next to a brilliant performance of a classic ballad, recorded twenty years earlier, when Mrs Costello was in her prime.

In the end, we are able to publish two CDs, each running to almost 80 minutes duration.  The first contains 26 Kennedy and Slocombe recordings, presented in the order they appeared on the Leader and Folktrax releases - the 24 songs plus two pieces of speech.  The second contains 63 songs and fragments, a few of which have pieces of speech associated with them, and none of which have been previously released.

Cecilia Costello
"Old Fashioned Songs"

Track Lists:

CD One:     CD Two:     CD Two cont:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
26 -
Cruel Mother and Talk
I Wish I Wish
Green Wedding
Wexford Murder
Handsome Cabin Boy
Bring Back My Johnny
Frog and the Mouse
Betsy of Ballantown Brae
Jew's Garden
Maid That's Deep in Love
Write Me Down
Shule Agra
Grey Cock
Cruel Mother (Father's)
Bring back My Johnny
Grey Cock
Farewell He
Love it is a Killing Thing
Betsy of Ballantown Brae
Maid That’s Deep in Love
Shule Agra
Handsome Cabin Boy
Green Bushes
Cruel Mother




     1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
26 -
27 -
28 -
29 -
30 -
31 -
32 -
A Little Drop Left in the Bottle
Rosemary Lane
My Bonny Irish Boy
Kitty Wells
I Once Loved a Young Man
Liza's Wedding
Peaky Blinder
She's Not No Airy Fairy Lady
No Irish Need Apply
I Have Roamed Many Lands
May I Come Home Again
Over Hills and Lofty Mountains
Aye for Saturday Night
Bunch of Shamrock recitation
No Green in Her Eye
I Once Had a Sweetheart
If I Do I Do
Only a Year Ago
The Policeman
You'll Want Me Back Some Day
The Royal Divorce
Are We to Part Like This Bill
When you get up in the Morning
You've Quite Forgot Your Mother
Farewell to My Country
Wedding Bells
Green Grow the Rushes
Paddy You're a Villain
Come Along with Me My Lady Love
Lady in the White Silk Dress
Window Cleaner / Bill Poster
I Dare Not Go Home
     33 -
34 -
35 -
36 -
37 -
38 -
39 -
40 -
41 -
42 -
43 -
44 -
45 -
46 -
47 -
48 -
49 -
50 -
51 -
52 -
53 -
54 -
55 -
56 -
57 -
58 -
59 -
60 -
61 -
62 -
63 -
Sailing in My Balloon
Faithless Little Doner
I Come From Sweet Tyrone
Barbara Allen
The Only Bit of English
Dear Old Mother
Sail Away
I Don't Like Work
Ain't it Nice to have a Father
Is Your Mother in, Molly Malone?
The Table was Laid for Three
Send Me a Simple Daisy
Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty
When London's Fast Asleep
Black Eyed Susan
Won't You Tell Me, Daddy
Stop the Cab
Some They Call Me Ikey
Saturday Night
Chuck Him Up
Mother Had an Apple
You're Not Dead Yet
Johnny, When You Come Over
Only a Chimney Sweeper
Mary Was a Milkmaid
Cuckoo's Nest
I lost My Love and I Care Not
I'll Stick to the Ship / Queen Elizabeth
No Irish Need Apply (folk club)




Anyway - after all that - I'm very pleased to announce that Cecilia Costello: "Old Fashioned Songs" (MTCD363-4) is now available from the MT Records website for just £16.00.


Cecilia Costello - on video

Readers interested in Cecilia Costello will, I think, be extremely interested in something Roy Palmer has just sent me: a 14 minute video interview with her - talking, reciting and singing songs.  This was filmed by Barrie Gavin in 1971 (when Roy was recording her) when she was 87.  The film was deposited with the VWML and was converted to video by the late Barry Callaghan, in 1987.  It is made available by Barrie, who not only gives his permission, but says that he is delighted to do so, and adds that we may consider the film as collective property.

Film of traditional performers is extremely rare, so I'm very grateful indeed for this opportunity of sharing it with you.

It's available as a '.wmv' file, and so should play on most installed Media Players, and is 171MB in size - but it seems to stream (at least in Windows 7) so there's no long wait while it's downloading.  Click here to watch it.


Keith Summers remembered

As many readers will (I hope) remember, Keith Summers died on the 30th March, 2004 - so today is the 10th anniversary of his death.  Keith started Musical Traditions back in 1983, as a paper magazine, and ran it for 12 years in that format.  Today's readers will realise the inherent foolhardiness of such a project - a magazine appealing to a minuscule audience scattered across the globe, where a substantial number of copies had to be printed and paid for in advance and the majority sold before the next volume could be published.  But, due to his having a reasonably well-paid job, not to mention an extraordinarily generous nature, he managed to get 12 volumes published before it became financially impossible to continue.

Whilst there is much I could say about this outstanding man, many others have done so far more eloquently that I could possibly manage, and so I gladly take this opportunity of pointing you to Paul Marsh's superb obituary, and to the memorial page of responses to Keith's death that flooded in to MT from his many friends and from people who knew him.

Furthermore, it's a great pleasure to be able to direct you to Keith's masterwork on traditional music and song in East Suffolk, Sing, Say or Pay! which is hosted amongst these pages.  And for a couple more examples of Keith's excellent journalism, I can direct you to the booklets which accompanied the two double CD sets of Keith's recordings that we were able to issue on the MT Records label: A Story to Tell (MTCD339-0), Keith's Suffolk recordings; and The Hardy Sons of Dan (MTCD329-0), his Co Fermanagh recordings.

Not only that but, to mark this 10th anniversary of Keith's death, Paul Marsh and I have worked together on a new double CD set of more of his recordings from around Lough Erne's shores, to be published by MT Records in the very near future - I Pray You Pay Attention (MTCD367-8) - which may be seen as The Hardy Sons of Dan, Volumes 3&4.  As we have publicly been shown to have been unaware of what each other was doing with The Willett Family CDs, I think it a good opportunity to state that we have worked together on this forthcoming release!  It will be 'officially' launched at the final Keith Summers Gathering, at The King & Queen, Foley Street, London W1 6DL, on Saturday the 31st of May, 2014.

Keith Summers ... good old boy!

And we should not let this day pass without remembering another good old boy, Bob Copper, who also died ten years ago, on the day before Keith.  I was hugely impressed that, in the very midst of their own loss, the Copper Family found the time to write to us expressing their sorrow at Keith's death.  Things like that should make us all proud to be a part of this little subculture of ours; so full of decent, caring people.


Caroline Hughes: Sheep-Crook and Black Dog (MTCD365-6)

With our first release of the new Financial Year, MT Records are extremely proud to be able to publish the rarely heard 1963 and 1966 recordings of 'Queen' Caroline Hughes made by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker.  In addition, we have included a few songs from her husband, brother-in-law, daughter, and Emily Baker, another singer in their Traveller group.

This is the third CD for which Peggy Seeger has allowed MT Records to use recordings from the MacColl/Seeger Archive and, in this instance, also to quote at length from the splendid book Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland.  I must here express my (our!) gratitude towards her generosity in this respect.

Caroline Hughes was a legendary Gypsy singer, thought by many to be the finest exponent of the art.  All her best-known songs are here - a total of 90 songs and fragments - 60 of which don't appear on the recent Topic CD, including eight never before heard, which have been allocated new Roud Numbers.  If the fragmentary nature of some of her songs should displease you, just enjoy the wonderful tunes, the variable verse lengths, long and short lines, and her brilliant musicianship.

Track lists

CD One:     CD Two:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
26 -
27 -
28 -
29 -
30 -
31 -
32 -
33 -
34 -
35 -
36 -
37 -
38 -
39 -
40 -
41 -
42 -
If I Only Had the One I Love
Sheep-Crook and Black Dog
The Game of All Fours
I Don't Want A Girl
All Over Those Hills
The Atching Tan Song
The Banks of Sweet Dundee
Barbry Ellen
The Bird in the Lily Bush
Betsy the Milkmaid
If I Were a Blackbird
A Blacksmith Courted Me
The Blue Eyed Lover
The Bridgwater Farmer
I Am a Brisk Young Lad
Buttercup Joe
The Butcher Boy
Catch Me If You Can
On a Cold and Winter’s Night
The Cows is in the Clover
The Cuckoo
Diddling Song
Fair Wackford Street
Erin Go Bragh
Erin Go Bragh
Fair Ellen
The False-Hearted Lover
The Folkestone Murder
We Dear Labouring Men
Irish Molly-O
The Girl I Left Behind
Still I Love Him
Flash Gals and Airy Too
Go and Leave Me
All You Paddies Lay Down
The Pretty Ploughing Boy
Once I Had a Good Little Boy
The Running, Running Rue
The Jealous Lover
The Famous Flower of Serving Men




     1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
26 -
27 -
28 -
29 -
30 -
31 -
32 -
33 -
34 -
35 -
36 -
37 -
38 -
39 -
40 -
41 -
42 -
43 -
44 -
45 -
46 -
47 -
48 -
49 -
Green Grows the Laurel
Henry My Son
Billy Boy
The Rich Farmer From Chesfield
I Was A Reckless Young Fellow
The Irish Girl
In My Father's Garden
The Prentice Boy
Jel Along
The Jew's Garden
The Jolly Herring
The Blue Jacket
The Little Ball of Twine
The Little Chimney Sweep
Little Poppa Rich
Bold Dollery
Young But Growing
Bold Robert Emmet
Mandi Went to Poov the Grais
My Boy Willy
My Love Cold Beneath My Feet
The Broomfield Hill
The Broomfield Hill
The Lady and the Soldier
Two Pretty Gypsy Girls
The First day in October
The Old Riverside
Old Tom Cat - Rackymandoo
Once I Had A Colour
Johnny Doyle / The Green Bed
Child's Rhyme
The Oyster Girl
The Green Bushes
Three Long Steps
The Little Beggar Boy
Sweet William
Twenty-One Years
The Three Butchers
Bell Bottom Trousers
Died For Love
Final Speech
Space: before fragments:
Lord Bateman
The Dark Eyed Sailor
Brennan on the Moor
The Black Velvet Band





MTCD365-6 : Two CDs + 48 page integral booklet in DVD case.  90 tracks, 148 minutes.  Buy it from the MT Records' website, price just £16.00


I Pray You Pay Attention

As I promised in my Christmas message (above) we were hoping to produce another double CD of Keith Summers' 1977-1983 Fermanagh recordings - which may be seen as volumes 3 & 4 of The Hardy Sons of Dan (MTCD329-0), published in 2004.  Unfortunately, most of the original participants are now dead, and so it was just Paul Marsh and me, attempting to fill in some of the details regarding the singers and their songs.

As is so often the case, this has taken rather longer than was originally hoped, so we missed a 30th March (the 10th anniversary of Keith's death) launch date - but have been able to get everything together for an 'official' launch at the final Keith Summers Gathering at the King & Queen in London, on 31st May.

I Pray You Pay Attention and listen to my song (MTCD367-8) is now available on the MT Records website, for card purchases, or from me at the usual address for cheque purchases.  The CDs comprise 50 tracks, 156 minutes duration, and include a 48 page integral booklet in DVD case.  Price just £16.00

Many of the singers from The Hardy Sons of Dan are here, plus a good number of others, giving a great selection of traditional songs, ditties, and hunting songs from around Lough Erne's shore - but no more football songs.  One track from each CD has been added to our Sampler page.

The track lists are as follows:

CD One:     CD Two:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
26 -
27 -
I Pray You Pay Attention
The Bright Silvery Light of the Moon
The Crockery Ware
From Sweet Tralee
Everyone's Done It But You
My Love, he is a Miner
Paddy and the Donkey
Gentle Mother
The Sprig of Irish Heather
Caroline and Her Sailor Bold
The Heather where the Moorcock Crows
The Irish Soldier
The Hills above Drumquin
My Tackle A Honie
The White Hare of Golan
Erin's Lovely Home
The Bonny Labouring Boy
The Tyrone Tailor
The Moon behind the Hill
The Galway Shawl
My Mother's Last Goodbye
The Little Old Mud Cabin
The Factory Girl
The Lovely River Finn
That Little Thatched Cottage
Packie Cunningham
Unidentified singer
Maggie Murphy
Packie Cunningham
Francie Little
Packie Cunningham
Paddy & Jimmy Halpin
Unidentified singer
Eugene Ward McElroy
Packie Cunningham
Maggie Murphy
Tommy Connelly
Packie Cunningham
Patsy Flynn
Packie Cunningham
Eddie Coyle
Maggie Murphy
Packie Cunningham
Tommy Connelly
Francie Little
James McDermott
Eugene Ward McElroy
James McDermott
James McDermott
Packie Cunningham
Jimmy Halpin
John Maguire




      1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
Mr Bradley's Ball
A Bonny Leitrim Boy
The Granemore Hare
The Banks of the Silvery Tide
The Piley Cock
The Killyfole Boasters
Harper the Pride of Tyrone
Matt Hyland
My Charming Edward Boyle
Mr Macadam & Co
Boys and Girls Courting
The Kilmuckridge Hunt
The Mourne Still
Clinkin' o'er the lea
Keady Town
The Banks of the Lee
The Titanic
The Roslea Hunt
Stock or Wall
The Nobleman's Wedding
Spancil Hill
Blow The Candle Out
Here's A Health to the Company
Maggie Murphy
Jimmy Halpin
Francie Scott
Maggie Murphy
Jimmy Halpin
Red Mick McDermott
Jack Hobson
Peggy MacDonagh
Francie Little
Brian Tumilty
Maggie Murphy
Brian Tumilty
Brian Tumilty
Maggie Murphy
Francie Scott
Francie Scott
Tommy Tinneny
Jimmy Halpin
Maggie Murphy
James McDermott
Patsy Flynn
James McDermott
James McDermott





Postage charges - again!

OK, we all know that postage charges go up every year, but this year's increases have been huge - particularly as regards Europe and Rest of World rates and the removal of certain cheaper options.  Posting to Ireland now costs the same as the rest of Europe.

For me to sell a £12 CD to a UK customer costs £1.24 + a 25p padded bag ... £1.50 is not too bad, you might think.  But to send it to Europe now costs me £4, and to the States costs me £5.  That doesn't leave a lot of profit on a £12 CD, particularly when the PayPal charges are taken off as well.

PayPal UK doesn't help either; despite repeated requests from users over a 10 year period, they still don't provide alternative P&P rates for different areas, as they have done with PayPal US for ages.  Accordingly I've had to charge an 'average' rate (20%) for all purchases.  This has meant the UK customers have had to pay twice as much postage as they needed to, while US customers cost me about £2 for every sale.  It's time for a different approach.

Although it will involve a huge amount of work creating new files, I'm considering altering the way the MT Records website works.  When the 'ADD' button next to a CD is clicked, it would take the purchaser to a new page offering three 'ADD' buttons - one for the UK, one for Europe and one for Rest of World.  Using our new I Pray You Pay Attention double CD at £16 as an example, the UK button will add £1.50 P&P to the cost of the CDs, the Europe button will add £4.00 P&P, and the Rest of World button will add £5.00 P&P, whilst over-riding the normal 20% charge.  Here's a non-working example of what this new page may look like.

These added P&P charges are only what the CDs cost me to post ... and will make MT CDs considerably cheaper for UK purchasers at the MT Records' website than they are from other sources.  However, please note the Warning on the new page ... this will only work if purchasers are honest about where their CDs are to be posted.

The only problem I can foresee is when a customer wants to purchase a signinicant number of CDs at the same time - actual postal costs could be exceeded.  In this case, I suggest customers email me their order and I'll let them know the actual postal costs and full order price, which they can pay me via PayPal.  this would take a little longer, but could save them money.

Please let me know what you think of this proposal - particularly of any flaws in the procedure that I haven't thought of.


New MT Records' Postage charges

Since no one has complained or found any flaws in the idea, I have today implemented the new postage charges system (see below) on our four most recent CD releases: The Willett Family; Cecilia Costello; Caroline Hughes; and I Pray You Pay Attention.

This will make these CDs cost £17.50 rather than £19.20 for UK customers!

Please let me know if you experience any problems with this new procedure.


MT's Cecilia Costello CDs win The Folklore Society Non-Print Media Award

And I'm truly proud to tell you that our 2-CD Set, Cecilia Costello : "Old Fashioned Songs" (MTCD363-4) has come first of a short-list of 5 entries.  The Award will be presented during the FLS's lecture and prize-giving event tonight at The Warburg Institute, London.

I would like to publicly thank Patrick Costello and other members of the Costello family (Candice Bingham and Margaret Grant), Roy Palmer, Pam Bishop, Reg Hall, Fred McCormick, Bill Leader, the BBC Archives, the Charles Parker Archive Trust, the Library of Birmingham, Leeds University Vernacular Archive, Topic Records, Jon Raven, Brian Dakin - for assistance and information.  Without them, these CDs would never have existed ... and it goes without saying that without the assistance of countless other collaborators over the years, none of our 106 CD publications would have ever been possible.


Folklore Society Non-Print Media Award
Judges' Comments on the Entries

Although Topic are one of the few commercial record companies that sometimes risk publishing material that others would deem unprofitable, there are still many recordings made in field conditions or early formats which would still would be difficult to produce.  The Musical Traditions series fills this gap, and their second entry - "Old Fashioned Songs": Cecilia Costello - is a double CD with an inexhaustible booklet by Rod Stradling.  One of many collections under the Musical Traditions label, it features much previously unreleased material from the remarkable Birmingham singer, Cecilia Costello [1884-1976].  The first CD features 26 tracks made in 1951 - recorded when Cecilia was in her seventies - and the second has some 63 tracks of songs and sayings from 1967,1971 and 1975.  Stradling's inclusive attitude means that snatches of old music hall songs and conversations are given, allowing a sense of repertoire that is not normally acceptable or even respected …

So to the winner … the fact that the TOPIC film The Barley Mow was also issued as part of a BFI DVD compilation in 2011 and the audio recordings were also already available [albeit inferior quality] ultimately made our final decision less difficult.

Not only did the panel feel that Rod Stradling truly deserves an accolade for his continued outstanding effort in discovering, organising and making available recordings that might ordinarily not be available, they unanimously felt that "Old Fashioned Songs": Cecilia Costello is the outright winner.


New MT double CD: Sam Larner: Cruising Round Yarmouth

In last year's Christmas message, I wrote: 'it is just possible that we may be able to match 2013's four publications by the end of the year ...'

And - just in time for that Christmas present - I'm very pleased to announce the publication of Sam Larner: Cruising Round Yarmouth (MTCD369-0) - a double CD of all the recordings Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker made of Sam Larner in 1958-60.

The more-or-less complete recorded repertoire of this wonderful Norfolk singer is here - 65 songs and fragments, plus four spoken passages, give a great impression of Sam's life and times.

But, most of all, it's the startling quality of his singing which is so impressive.  The full details, track lists, etc can be found on the Latest News page.

Rod Stradling - 3.12.14


Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2014

Well, this has been a very good year for our CD publications.  We've managed: Cecilia Costello - "Old Fashioned Songs"; Keith Summers' Fermanagh recordings - I Pray You Pay Attention; the Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger recordings of Caroline Hughes - Sheep-Crook and Black Dog; and also their recordings of Sam Larner - Cruising Round Yarmouth.  All of these have been double CD sets - so we're really talking about 8 CDs this year!  And the cherry on the cake has been the award of the first Folklore Society Non-text Media Award for the Cecilia Costello set.  We've had awards for the Magazine before, but never for a CD publication.

Not only that, but I also have another CD-ROM ready to go - a 'digital book with embedded midi files' dealing with Ralph Vaughan Williams' 1905-06 collecting trips to King's Lynn and environs, by Alan Helsdon - Vaughan Williams in Norfolk (MTCD253).  We're holding this back to be published on January 7th, 2015, to mark the 110th Anniversary of Vaughan Williams' first arrival in Norfolk to collect folk songs.

It's also good to know that the new Postal Rates arrangements are working well - UK purchasers now pay about half the P&P they did before, whilst European and 'Rest of Word' buyers no longer cost me money for each CD I send them ... well worth all the research and effort to set it up!  Now all I need is lots more people to buy the bloody things!

Thankfully, the Magazine has been fairly busy in 2014 as well: 7 new Articles; 3 new Enthusiasm pieces; 40 new Reviews; the extensive new Sampler page; and lots of Letters and News items.

As I wrote last year - since I'm now officially 'Old', I don't like to plan too far ahead - but it would have been nice to tell you of other CDs I have in the pipeline for 2015.  Unfortunately, apart from the above-mentioned CD-ROM, and one other possible CD publication, I don't know of anything else lurking in the shadows for the future.  If any of you have ideas, please get in contact!

So - in hopes of a reasonably active 2015, a real (rather than notional) financial recovery, continued EU membership, and a change of Government - may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Rod Stradling - 22.12.14

Vaughan Williams in Norfolk

As noted in my Christmas message, January 7th 2015 is exactly 110 years since Ralph Vaughan Williams made his first song collecting trip to King's Lynn and environs.  To mark and celebrate this event, we are publishing a CD-ROM - a 'digital book with embedded midi files' dealing with Ralph Vaughan Williams' 1905-06 collecting trips to King's Lynn - Vaughan Williams in Norfolk (MTCD253).

This excellent piece of work, by Alan Helsdon, contains staff notations, texts and playable MIDI files of the 90 items RVW collected - 73 songs in 86 versions, plus 4 dance tunes.  As well as an Itinerary and Narrative of his trip, it has remarkable mini-biographies of the 20 singers he collected from.  Further, due to RVW being far more interested in the tunes than the words of the songs, he seldom noted these - so the author has hunted through available sources to provide the most likely versions of the texts concerned, and furnished a hugely detailed Sources page.

This CD-ROM is now available from the MT Records website, price £12.00.

Few of these song tunes will have been encountered by today's singers - and there are some real crackers there.  Accordingly, I've broken with tradition and, since the single disc contains 90 tunes, I've just added two of the most unusual ones to our MT Records Sampler page.


MT Records & Magazine - the future

Having passed my 'allotted span of three-score years and ten' some while ago, I have been giving some thought to what I'd like to happen when I die - or when I can no longer manage to produce MT CDs and edit the magazine.

This is not any sort of emergency - but I'd like to get the future sorted out (and do the necessary work involved) well in advance.  So your comments and ideas would be extremely welcome.

Rather obviously, passing the whole thing on to someone else to run is the most obvious solution.  But this might be something of a poisoned chalice, in that there's really quite a lot of work involved - for very little return.  And that's just for making and selling the existing CDs, let alone producing any new ones.

Of course, setting up a system to enable online sales of the individual tracks as downloadable MP3 files is a possibility.  I'm very much against this idea, as has been outlined in the 'About' page in MT Magazine for a number of years.  It turns the music into a mere commodity, does not ensure that the complete repertoire of a performer is delivered, nor that the booklet would ever be read by the purchaser.  It would not afford the performers the respect I believe they richly deserve.

But I'd be very concerned about passing on all the formatting, printing, stapling, and guillotining work demanded by our 44-page booklets, to someone else.  I'm also - tangentially - concerned that the current very low sales of our CDs in the present economic climate may be being caused, in part, by the fairly hefty £16 price-tag of most of our releases.  So I'm considering other ways of presenting MT material, which could minimise the work involved, and lower the selling price.

As well as 'normal' music CDs with booklets, some of my recent releases have been CD-ROMs of 'digital books with embedded sound files'.  As you may realise, if you've encountered them, these are really just very long articles in HTML format with links to MP3 sound files.  They are really just big versions of MT Magazine articles, loaded onto a CD.

It struck me that I could very easily present the contents of a CD booklet as that 'very long article' with the links to all the CD's audio files as full-length MP3s.  Now I do know that MP3s are not as high resolution as CD audio - but since almost none of the 50-odd-year-old sound files I get to use are remotely 'HI-FI' in the first place, I don't believe that any listener would be able to tell the difference.

Publishing MT CDs in this way:

Futhermore, the publication of any future new CDs would be so much simpler: all the time-consuming and headache-inducing formatting issues involved in producing the paper booklets would be avoided.


I'm told that iPads, tablets, e-book readers and smartphones are the future.  The format of choice for all of these is the PDF - a single file that contains everything needed to hear the songs and read the booklet simultaneously.  I've tried, and I can produce such a PDF file - but it would not be useable on your stereo or car player.

To sum up and clarify - I'm looking for a way of minimising the work needed by whoever takes over MT Records in producing our publications.  Also, for a format that is useable in the maximum number of devices.

It seems there are several options - produce:

Optional extras could be: I don't want to make the wrong decision, as it would affect the whole future of MT Records and the MT Magazine (which is paid for by record sales).  Any of the above options would involve a huge amount of work for me right now - I wouldn't want any of it to be wasted.

Please help by letting me know your thoughts and ideas.


Vaughan Williams in Norfolk - an apology

Alan Helsdon - a bear of little brain - has just realised that he omitted to send me a Credits page for the RVW publication (below).  We're both very sorry about this.  Alan's apology - and the contents of the putative Credits page - can be found on the Latest News page.


MT Records' downloadable MTDL600 Series

As you'll know from the discussion piece below, I've been thinking hard about the future of MT Records and the Magazine.  Put simply: alongside continuing to produce the booklet and CD(s) in a DVD case products, I want to provide a simple vehicle for the sale of the records which would involve the least work for my successor; which would produce some income to pay for the continued publication of the MT Magazine; and which I can get up-and-running now, whilst I have the time and the ability.  My successor, who ever s/he might be, could then continue in the direction Keith Summers and I have been following - or take things forward in his/her own way.

I've decided on a two-stage solution.  Stage 1 is to provide a downloadable HTML version of all the 300 Series booklets, with embedded sound files.  This format is not as universal as I would like, but it goes a fair way towards it, and is do-able now.  Then I will add downloadable versions of the 100, 200, 400 and 500 Series CDs, and the 250 Series CD-ROMs.  Stage 2 will be to convert all these into PDF downloads with embedded sound files.  That will be something for the future.

So - as well as continuing to produce the usual CDs and booklets in DVD cases, we are now also providing a new downloadable format for MT Records' releases, which contain the complete (and updated) booklet text from the original 300 Series albums, with all the songs/tunes available as links to complete MP3 recordings from within the text.  The 600 Series numbers relate to the 300 Series numbers - so, for example, MTDL605-6 is the complete updated text and photo contents of the MTCD305-6 booklet and the 49 songs from Walter Pardon.  As usual, sound links are shown by the name of the song/tune being in underlined bold italic red text.  Click the name and your installed MP3 player will start.  Place cursor on red asterisks for any footnotes.  Place cursor on graphics for citation and further information ('touch and hold' for tablets).

Since downloads require no booklet production, case covers, CDs, DVD cases or postage, they sell for a far lower price.  Compared to £12, £16 and £20 for the 300 Series publications, the downloads of single CDs are £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00.  The facility exists to pay more than these prices, if you'd like to!

Each Download comprises a ZIP file containing one or more HTML files, a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder.  They can be un-ZIP-ed into a single destination (folder) on your device, and run from there.  Alternately (if you buy more than one download) you could create a single folder called (for example) 'MT Downloads', containing both a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder, and then put all the HTML files into that, all the .mp3 files into the 'sound' folder and all the .jpg/.png/.gif files into the 'graphics' folder.  All files have individual names, so no problems should occur, no matter how many downloads you eventually buy.  Needless to say, all the MP3 sound files could also be copied to any other device you might wish to use.

The first 12 downloads - the 1998 Bob Hart (MTDL601-2) to the 2002 George Dunn (MTDL617-8) - are now available from the gumroad.com website, via links in the special 'Downloads page' on the MT Records website.  If you just want one download, that's all you need to do - pay at Gumroad and it will be downloaded to you immediately.  Some of you may be pleased to know that Gumroad does not use PayPal for financial processing.  Also, that you can 'join' Gumroad to avoid having to enter your details each time you use it.

Other downloads will follow shortly, including all the 100, 200, 400 and 500 Series CDs and the 250 Series CD-ROMs, concluding with the end of 2013 and The Willett Family (MTCD361-2) - a total of 57 albums, many of which are doubles, and two are trebles.  The four 2014 releases will be added next year.


For those who prefer a physical artifact to a virtual one, all the existing 100, 200, 300, 400 and 500 Series CDs (and future publications) will continue to be available as a booklet and CD(s) in a DVD case as normal - for the present.


24 MT Records' downloads now online

Well, when I wrote in the Christmas review of 2014 'in hopes of ... a change of Government', I didn't mean this one!  David Cameron may go down in history as the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the first of a Little England no longer in the EU.  What a bitterly disappointing outcome to the election - and what a way to start the summer!

So, to cheer myself up - and I hope, some of you - I've just put the second dozen Records' downloads online.  That takes us up to the 2009 Ken Langsbury's Stories CD - MTDL548.

More will be following shortly: the eight further 300 Series releases up to 2013's The Willett Family; all the 100, 200, 400 and 500 Series releases; and the four CD-ROMs.  The 2014 releases will follow next year.


Complete MT Records' downloads

This is the last announcement you'll get about this until next year - you may be pleased to hear!

With the addition of the 13 albums in the American 500 Series releases, all the current MT Records' downloads, up to the end of 2013, are now online - a total of 57 CD sets, many of which are doubles, and two are trebles, making a total of 80 actual CDs.  Be aware that Gumroad's Gallery page can be quite slow to completely load, as there are so many items to display now.

I would like to particularly draw your attention to Morgan MacQuarrie : Over the Cabot Trail (MTDL511), a wonderful collection of Cape Breton sets, played in the old style rarely heard these days.  And also to Meeting's a Pleasure Volumes 1 & 2, and Volumes 3 & 4 (MTDL505-6 and 507-8).  These Kentucky recordings are absolutely the equals of Mike Yates' Far in the Mountains sets, in my opinion.

You can find them all via the Downloads page on the MT Records website.  Have a look for more information - and maybe you'd like to buy one!

Downloads of single CDs are £1.00 or £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00
And there's the facility to pay more than these low prices if you should wish to!

And Gumroad (our service provider) now supports payments via PayPal as well as cards.  The four 2014 releases will be available as downloads next year.



New MT Records' release

As I wrote in my last Review of the Year, 'Unfortunately, apart from the above-mentioned CD-ROM, and one other possible CD publication, I don't know of anything else lurking in the shadows for the future.'  That CD-ROM, Vaughan Williams in Norfolk, was published in early-January - but other things have not gone to plan on the new releases front.  The 'one other possible CD' failed to materialise, and another CD-ROM project has taken over seven months in preparation, and is still not quite ready.

However, a couple of months ago another CD popped up completely unexpectedly, and is now ready for release.  David Stacey - Good Luck to the Journeyman (MTCD360) is unusual in a number of ways.  David was born and brought up in Saffron Walden, Essex, in 1943.  From his twenties he spent many years alternating between archaeology in Israel and apple and hop picking in Kent.  There he met Mary Ann Haynes' son Ted, and Nelson Ridley's nephew Henry - and through them, many other Gypsies and Travellers in the area.  He was privy to many of the sing-songs they participated in, and learned a good number of their songs.  Back home, in later life, he encountered a number of other Travellers in north Essex and Cambridgeshire, and a local traditional singer, Walter Jarvis - learning more songs on the way - in addition to the repertoire he'd acquired from books and records.  Most of the songs are in slightly unfamiliar versions (to me, at least) with some excellent variations of the tunes, and have been learned directly - face to face - from traditional singers.

As with our excellent Bernie Cherry CD of 2013, David Stacey is not a traditional singer, but might well have been considered one if he'd been born 20 years earlier.  This is a most interesting and unusual CD.  It's now available from the MT Records website, price £12.00.


Another new MT Records' CD-ROM release

Travellers’ Songs from England and Scotland, by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger (MTCD254).  Songs collected in 1962 - 1976, a 387 page digital book with 155 embedded MP3 sound files.

MacColl and Seeger’s 1977 book was years ahead of its time in terms of its detailed consideration of all aspects of Gypsy and Traveller songs and culture in the UK.  The Introduction and Music Notes are hugely informative, as are the 12 pages on the 18 singers.

All the 131 songs (in 155 versions!) are here as full length MP3 recordings, as well as the original texts and staff notations. Everything is cross-referenced and linked.

The singers concerned are: Emily Baker; Willie Cameron; Charlotte Higgins; Jock Higgins; Caroline Hughes; Henry Hughes; Sheila Hughes; William Hughes; Ruby Kelby; Christina MacAllister; Wilhelmina MacAllister; John MacDonald; Maggie McPhee; Big Willie McPhee; Nelson Ridley; Maria Robertson; Levi Smith; Jeannie Thompson.

This is essential reading - and listening - for anyone with an interest in Gypsy and Traveller songs and culture in the UK.

It’s available now from the MT Records website, price £12.00 + p&p.


Another new MT Records' CD release

Harry Upton: Why Can't it Always be Saturday? (MTCD371).  Our fourth this year and, once again, containing many recordings unavailable since the 1970s.

Harry Upton was born in 1900 in Hove, Sussex.  His father, Frank, from whom he learned most of his songs, was a shepherd from West Blatchington and must have been born c.1865 and, to Harry's knowledge, had been a shepherd on the South Downs all his life.  By the time he was 13, Harry had left school and was working as his father's shepherd boy.  He worked with his father for about five years and then left to become a carter, working with horses on the Dyke Hills, beyond Brighton.  Harry worked with horses until his marriage in 1927 when he moved to Balcombe to work as a tractor driver, a job that was to last for 40 years.  Although officially retired, Harry spent a further seven years rearing calves on the Balcombe Estate until he finally retired in 1975.

He was collected by Ken Stubbs, Mervyn Plunkett and Peter Kennedy, though it was only Mike Yates who he let record more than a couple of his songs.  This CD contains almost all of the songs he recorded, including all of those from the Topic anthology LPs, Sussex Harvest - A Collection of Traditional Songs from Sussex (Topic 12T258), Green Grow the Laurels – Country Singers from the South (Topic 12TS285) and the limited edition LP of Harry’s other songs, released to accompany an article Mike wrote for Traditional Music magazine.  This was Why Can’t it Always be Saturday? (Topic SP 104).  Only 250 copies were pressed, and the album soon sold out. (Imagine selling 250 copies of a traditional singer's CD today!)

This new CD contains 22 songs, runs for 78 minutes and has a 24-page integral booklet in DVD case.  It’s available now from the MT Records website, price £12.00 + p&p.


And yet another new MT Records' CD release

Our recent release of Harry Upton: Why Can't it Always be Saturday? (see below) did not have enough room to include all of Harry's songs - Buttercup Joe and The Banks of Sweet Dundee were omitted - and so we decided that a follow-up CD, containing these two tracks, would be needed.  Mike Yates decided that the remaining tracks on this CD should be relevant to Harry and his songs.  Accordingly, some of the songs are versions of songs which Harry sang, others are sung by people that Harry knew and, finally, there songs that Harry would probably have recognised as being the sort of thing that he liked to sing.

So, just in time for that Christmas present, I Wish There Was No Prisons (MTCD372) contains tracks from Harry Upton, Johnny Doughty, George Spicer, Louise Fuller, George Attrill, Fred Jordan, William Harding, Bill Whiting, Percy Bridges, The Cantwell Family, Alice Green, Cyril Nunn, Freda Palmer, Son Townsend, Fred Welfare, and Ruth and Clare Pinner.  We believe that none of these recordings are currently available on CD.

I Wish There Was No Prisons has 31 tracks, an 81 minute duration, and comes with a 28-page integral booklet.    It’s available now from the MT Records website, price £12.00 + p&p.

Rod Stradling - 5.12.15

Happy Christmas!

Season's Greetings and Review of 2015

This has been a quite extraordinary year for MT Records.  In my last Review of the Year, I wrote that 'Unfortunately, apart from the above-mentioned CD-ROM (Vaughan Williams in Norfolk - MTCD253), and one other possible CD publication, I don't know of anything else lurking in the shadows for the future.'  And, blow me, only weeks after the CD-ROM's launch, that 'other possible CD publication' fell by the wayside due to the person in charge of the project deciding that he would do it on his own.  I am saddened, but not at all surprised, that - some 11 months later - nothing has been heard of that CD's release.

So this left me with almost an entire year without a single CD release to work on.  In a way, this was a good thing, because it led me to re-consider an idea I'd been toying with for ages ... but which would involve so much work that I'd shied away from even discussing it with its principal contributor.  So it was that, in early February, I suggested the idea of a CD-ROM of Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland to Peggy Seeger.  Her response was "Of COURSE, I would love to have the book put onto CD-ROM".  I knew it would take a while to get it all done ... but I had no idea that it would take over seven months to find all the 155 sound files needed to complete the project!  But complete it we did, and it was released at the end of October.

Meanwhile ... other things had been happening during that seven-month period.  Thinking well into the future, and after a lot of ethical and technical struggles, I decided that I would put the entire MT Records' output onto the Net as downloads.  This was a second project entailing a great deal of work, and was accomplished in several stages, but now the entire catalogue up to the end of 2013 is available as downloads - and the four 2-CD set releases of 2014 will be there in the first week of 2016.  And, on checking, I find that we've sold over 300 downloads this year!  And I'm extremely gratified to find that they all appear to work perfectly.

Then, in August, a completely unexpected CD project came along, involving very little work for me, and David Stacey: Good Luck to the Journeyman (MTCD360) was released at the end of that month.  So, by the end of October, I was feeling quite satisfied with two CD-ROMs, a single CD, and 80 downloads as a good year's work.

And then ... a reader's suggestion brought Mike Yates and me together again for what would be our 12th joint project - a CD of the complete recorded repertoire of that fine Sussex singer, Harry Upton.  But, as it happened, a single CD wasn't quite capacious enough, so Mike suggested a further CD, containing the two missing songs, plus - as Mike put it - 'other versions of songs which Harry sang, others sung by people that Harry knew, and songs that Harry would probably have recognised as being the sort of thing that he liked to sing'.  And that was I Wish There Was No Prisons (MTCD372).

Not too bad for a year's work!  It does leave me, unfortunately, with almost nothing for 2016!  Any suggestions?

The Magazine has not slumbered either.  We published our 300th Article back in August, and the total now stands at 303.  Some 30 new Reviews have been added this year, along with plenty of News items and Letters.  Sadly, the Obituaries page has increased in size, as well.  Regarding that, I do urge you to check out Fred McComick's reviews in the Magazine.  Just click on the 'Search the entire Magazine' box at the top-right of the Home Page, and enter 'mccormick' in the Reviews section search box - there are about 60 of 'em, and they're all well worth reading!

The Magazine and MT Records websites each had over one million visitors in 2015.

So, 19 years to the day since the magazine first appeared in this form, I'll end as I always do - in hopes of a reasonably active 2016, a real (rather than notional) financial recovery, continued EU membership, and Jeremy Corbyn's continued leadership of the People's Party - and may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.


2014 CDs now available as downloads

It's Happy New Year time - and, as promised, the eight CDs (four double sets) we produced in 2014 are now available as downloads - they're the last four items on the page.  For those of you who may be new to this service, each Download comprises an HTML file of the complete booklet, within which are clickable links to all the songs as MP3 files.

Each Download comprises a ZIP file containing one or more HTML files, a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder.  They can be un-ZIP-ed into a single destination (folder) on your device, and run from there.  Alternately (if you buy more than one download) you could create a single folder called (for example) 'MT Downloads', containing both a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder, and then put all the HTML files into that, all the .mp3 files into the 'sound' folder and all the .jpg/.png/.gif files into the 'graphics' folder.  All files have individual names, so no problems should occur, no matter how many downloads you eventually buy.  Needless to say, all the MP3 sound files could also be copied to any other device you might wish to use.

Since downloads require no booklet production, case covers, CDs, DVD cases or postage, they sell for a far lower price.  Compared to £10, £12, £16 and £20 for the 'normal' publications, the downloads of single CDs are £1.00 or £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00.  The facility exists to pay more than these low prices, if you'd like to!

They can be found, along with ALL the previous MT Records' CD publications, on the MT Records' Download page.


And now for something completely different!

Despite what it used to say in the Wikipedia entry, Edward the Second and the Red Hot Polkas did not start in 1987, and Let's Polkasteady: Edward the Second, Cooking Vinyl COOK 007 was not their first recording.  Far from it!  In fact the band first performed in public in 1980, in Cheltenham's Victory Club.  The members were Lizzy Howe-Pellant: melodeon, Dion Cochrane: tenor banjo, Johnny Gill, Floss Headford and Paul Burgess: fiddles, Martin Brinsford: sax, Dave Haines: 1-row melodeon and concertina, with Richard Valentine: piano and caller.  By 1983 the personnel had changed quite a bit and Danny and I - recently parted from The Old Swan Band - joined Dion, Dave and Johnny (now playing bass) as a smaller and relatively stable line-up.

We subsequently recorded three cassettes.  The first, from 1985, was called Demos ... sounds rather grand, but it was really only a demo tape to try to get ourselves some gigs.  This was followed the next year by Promos, again just a 5-track promo cassette.  The band's personnel had changed a bit by then.  Dion had left, replaced by Jon Moore: lead guitar, and we'd added two rhythm guitar players, Tom Greenhalgh (from the Mekons) and our son Barnaby - though they rarely played at the same time.  At the end of 1986 we recorded a further 6 tracks which, together with the 5 Promos ones were published as Ethos.  We mused, at the time, about calling our next cassette d'Artagnan - but the Cooking Vinyl record company came along with an LP offer, so that ended the series of pretentious record titles!

Last month, Dion Cochrane asked me for a copy of the Demos cassette, as his tape had broken and, having to record it in real time, it meant that I got the chance to listen to it for the first time in 30 years.  I was gratified to hear how good the band sounded - so I then played the other two cassettes as well - and continued to be happily surprised.  Remembering how well the Oak CDs have sold (over 340 copies!), I thought that at least some MT readers might enjoy listening to these early E II recordings as well.  So here's your chance!

The CD is one of our rare 400 series, so it comes in a regular jewel case without a booklet, although there are some Notes on the inside of the folded cover.  The track list is: Another Fine Mess;  Cliffe Hornpipe;  French Schottische;  Clee Hill;  79th Highlanders' Farewell;  Boatman's Dance;  Ashling / Shantey;  Johnny Mickey Barry's / Freedom of Ireland;  Bromsberrow Heath;  Redower Polka;  Kelly's Home Schottische;  Swiss Boy;  Mr Prime's;  Art Wooton's Quadrille;  Polka Volta;  Gloucestershire Hornpipe;  Queen's Jig;  Stack of Wheat;  Sophie Bourbon's Hornpipe;  Walls of Butlin's;  Swiss Boy;  Bourée a Gaston Tommier.  The tracks are taken more-or-less alternately from Demos and Ethos - the ones with tenor banjo are from the former cassette.

Edward the Second and the Red Hot Polkas: The Early Recordings 1985-86 (MTCD405) has 22 tracks, plays for 81 minutes, and it costs just £10.00.  Not bad for "the best little English dance band on the planet" as someone called it back then.  It can be found on the MT Records' website.


Is the EFDSS Folk Music Journal worth £47 a year?

There was a time, many long years ago - well, 1999 if we're going to be picky - when I re-joined the EFDSS after having resigned my membership back in the late '60s, because it didn't seem that the Society had any of my then interests very far up its agenda.  My reason for re-joining was the ludicrously naïve belief that - with their publication of several CDs of traditional music, not to mention the Bismarck's Upstream CD - the Society had begun to show some interest in the sort of stuff I was interested in.  It's taken a while - 16 years - for me to realise just how ludicrous and naïve my decision was!

It is, of course, the nature of societies that they cater to the interests of their members.  In the '60s, these were aging dancers, today it's young 'folkies' ... and neither group has the faintest interest in traditional music or song or, more importantly, in their traditional performers.  Today I received the latest edition of the EDS magazine - the first since Derek Schofield relinquished his editorship.  (I should add here that my decision to re-join the EFDSS was based in no small part upon the excellent work that Derek had done and was continuing to do within the Society.)

I found almost nothing within the EDS' pages relating in any real way to the oral or vernacular traditions.  There's a photo of village fiddler Johnny Hopkins - but nothing about him in the article it is supposed to illustrate, a short article on 'fluffy' morris which tells us almost nothing about it, and none of the reviews are of traditional music CDs.  So I'm beginning to wonder if the annual copy of the Journal is worth £47 a year.

I also wondered how many traditional performers had ever been recipients of the EFDSS Gold Badge award.  Well, it's a startling seven people: Harry Cox, Bob Copper, Bob Cann, Sam Sherry, Walter Pardon, Fred Jordan, and Francis Shergold, out of a total of 165 recipients!  And the list doesn't include William Kimber, you may have noticed!

I wrote the above, in hot blood - about six weeks ago, but thought I should let it rest for a while before publishing it, in case I had second thoughts.  I have now decided that, as I have some ten more months of paid for membership left, I'll wait 'til that expires in January 2017 and make the decision then.  Maybe the Society will have done something I consider more interesting and worthwhile by then.

I must correct my comments about Gold Badge recipients - poor eyesight?  Derek Schofield wrote to say:

Your list of Gold badge recipients isn't entirely complete.  William Kimber did get a GB - in 1923, the same year as Sharp. Also:

Jinky Wells 1924
Arthur Marshall (melodeon player for traditional long sword teams in N Yorks) 1969
Johnson Ellwood (clog dancer from NE England) 1976
Stan Hugill 1977
Harry Pitts (Handsworth Sword dancers) 1995
3 other Coppers in 1998
Jackie Toaduff (N.E. clog dancer) 2011
George Peterson (Papa Stour fiddle player) 2011
Ricky Foster (High Spen Rapper) 2013


New CD from the Phoenix Dance Band

Ten years after their first CD - after the fire - your Editor's present band, Phoenix, return with All Fired Up, released on our sister label, Firebird Records FBR 005.  It has 15 tracks, runs for 58 minutes, and costs just £10.00.  Now available on the MT Records' website.

There are 43 more less-than-well-known tunes, forged into 15 new dance sets by several years of playing for dancing at numerous clubs and festivals.  We've found it great fun getting it all together and, with Sidmouth, Haddenham, Bath and Oxfolk Ceilidhs lined up in the diary, we're All Fired Up about the future!


Google Search tip / Magazine Search facility

For several days, I have been hunting for a quote I knew I'd used somewhere in the Magazine a fairly long time ago.  It was a quote from an Irish writer called Proinsias (the Irish form of Francis) but I couldn't remember his surname.  I tried the Magazine's Search facility, but that produced no results at all - which was a bit worrying.

Eventually, while searching Google, I either invented or discovered that entering "www.mustrad.org.uk Proinsias" (without the quotes) got me all the Irish Franks in the magazine!  Since I'd never heard of, or seen reference to this form of Google search, I thought I'd share it with you.  It could be incredibly useful in the future for all kinds of hunts.

That problem sorted, I turned to considering of the failure of the Magazine's Search facility.  I implemented the current system some years ago, and it seemed to be working satisfactorily.  However, updating it proved to be both a time-consuming and an extremely tricky business.  So much so that I have to admit to not doing it half as often as I should, considering how frequently the Magazine is updated.  The What's New page helps a bit for regular readers - but it doesn't replace a decent search facility.

I have now replaced the previous search facility with a 'Freefind' one, as you will see top/right on our Home page.  It seems to do the job admirably.


Harry Lee recordings - help, please!

Working with Phil Heath-Coleman, MT Records have produced two very good CDs of English fiddlers, Stephen Baldwin and Fred 'Pip' Whiting, over the past ten years.  Phil is now working on a third - on English Gypsy musicians.  One of these will be the fiddler, Harry Lee.  We have 15 recordings of him, ostensibly recorded by Ken Stubbs, one of which was released on Topic's Boscastle Breakdown LP.

I wrote 'ostensibly' because several people 'in the know' believe that at least some recordings were made by Paul Carter, for Topic.  My problem is that the recordings I have are of absolutely dreadful technical quality - they sound like a 20th generation cassette copy, and sound restoration will do nothing useful to them.  We need to get to some of the near-original recordings.

Phil and I have been doing a good deal of research on this.  The result appears to be that there certainly exists a set of 15 Harry Lee recordings made by Paul Carter.  Whether a Ken Stubbs set also exists is uncertain.

So, regarding the Paul Carter set: the one thing that puzzles me is that the Boscastle Breakdown recordings are just so much better than the ones we have access to.  I know that Topic had access to far better noise-reduction equipment than I do, but I can't believe that the recordings I have could possibly have been improved to that degree.  Accordingly, they must have been taken from the Paul Carter set, in its original form, and then cleaned up for commercial release.

Bearing that in mind, someone must have the same recordings we have, but in a much earlier version (ie. before they'd been copied from cassette to cassette too many times, resulting in the dreadful sound quality we have access to).  So it's possible that someone reading this Editorial may have the same recordings we have - but on an earlier (thus technically better) cassette than we do.  If this is you - please get in touch!


New mobile-friendly MT Records website

Hidden away as I am, in my little Cotswold valley, it wouldn't surprise me if you thought I was out of touch with the ways of the wider world.  Slightly behind the times I may be, but I do eventually get to know what's going on - and even react to some of the changes.  An example is the recent implementation of MT Records' Downloads page - now these young people who don't even remember what a CD is can get access to the wealth of the Catalogue straight to their devices of choice without having to bother with paper and bits of plastic.  All well and good - although it did take an awful lot of time and effort.  But now an associated problem needs to be addressed - making all the riches of MT's productions available to those who only use Tablets and Smartphones to interact with the world.

Now, before you mention it, I have realised that very little of the MT Magazine would be suitable for use on a Smartphone - imagine trying to read one of our 10-page reviews or articles on a 5" screen!  However, I think it's possible to make a pared-down mobile friendly version of the MT Records website suitable for use on a phone ... and I've started working on it.

Above are a some representative screen-shots - the Home page on the left, the start of the 'Recent Releases' page in the middle, and the Shipping Calculator page on the right.  I've been using these latter pages for all the newer CD releases, but will be doing them now for everything ... it makes postage costs fair to all purchasers, wherever they live.

And I do realise that, if you're reading this, you're probably doing it on a PC/MAC or a Tablet, not a Smartphone - but I do like to keep you up to date with what's developing in MT Land.  You could even pass the info on to any interested friends who use mobiles more or less exclusively - I don't know how to contact them otherwise.

I should point out that this new mobile-friendly website is not operational yet; I'll let you know, here, when it is.  As usual, any comments - positive or negative - will be gratefully received.


Shipping Calculator

The 'Shipping Calculator' pages I've had to create for the new 'mobile-friendly' Records website have now been added to all the normal website entries, rather than just the most recent ones.  This means that every purchase of a CD will now be charged the appropriate postage cost - which will be cheaper for UK purchasers, a little more expensive for European ones, and rather more for 'Rest of World' ones.


New mobile-friendly MT Records website

Finally, some exciting news ... well, I think so!  The MT Records mobile-friendly website is now 'responsive'.  After much research and fiddling about, I think I've cracked it!!!  It should now automatically re-size to whatever your screen size is, even to whether you're in portrait or landscape position.  You can find it here.

Please email me to say how clever I've been - as someone who's never even used Style Sheets before!


The new slimmed-down 'mobile-friendly' Records website (below) is now finished, and connected to the magazine and the MT Records website Home Page.  It has been designed for a small screen, and its Home Page is 'responsive', though the rest of the site isn't as it seems to display satisfactorily as it is.  If you'd like to try it out you can do so here, but drag your browser's window narrow to pretend it's a Smartphone.

And - if all this modernisation were not enough - Musical Traditions Records now has a Facebook presence!


A new Keith Summers article!

Whilst scrolling through some of my word processor files today, I noticed one called 'English Country Music'.  Intrigued, I opened it.  And up popped a longish piece on that very subject - by our original Editor, Keith Summers!  The file was dated 17th August, 2004.  Regular readers will remember that Keith died in March 2004 so, clearly, it was written well before that, but I have no idea exactly when it originated, but August 2004 was the date I created it on my computer.

I can only suppose that the months of hectic work involved in getting The Hardy Sons of Dan (MTCD329-0) ready for publication before Keith died caused this article to slip through the cracks, and never to appear in the MT magazine's Articles page.  A great shame, as it's an excellent piece, showing once again Keith's incisive brain-power and breadth of knowledge.

So, better late than never, it is now published as our Article MT306.

Latest: A letter from Matt Milton (see Recent Letters) has now convinced me that Keith clearly wrote this piece much earlier; probably in the late-Seventies or early-Eighties ... but I still have no idea why it was never published in MT. - Ed.


MT's Sam Larner CDs win The Folklore Society Non-Print Media Award 2014 - 2016

And I'm truly proud to tell you that our 2-CD Set, Sam Larner: Cruising Round Yarmouth (MTCD369-0) has come first of a short-list of entries.  The Award will be presented during the FLS's lecture and prize-giving event tonight at The Warburg Institute, London.

I would like to publicly thank, first and foremost, Peggy Seeger for making available the recordings she and Ewan MacColl made of Sam Larner in the 1958 to 1960 period.  Without Peggy's willing assistance, these CDs would never have been published.  This is not the first time Peggy has been of enormous assistance to MT Records - all the recordings on the CD-ROM Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland, and all those on the CDs Caroline Hughes: Sheep-Crook and Black Dog (MTCD365-6), several of the recordings on George Dunn: Chainmaker (MTCD317-8) and all those on Joe Heaney: the road from Connemara (TSCD518D), and the whole Joe Heaney interview which made up much of the MT057 article, were also kindly made available by her.

Secondly, Chris Holderness has my heartfelt thanks for his superb account of Sam Larner's life and times, for detailed assistance with song transcriptions, for most of the photos, and lots of help and advice.  I must also thank Janet Topp Fargion and Andrea Zarza at the National Sound Archive at the British Library, who have been extremely helpful with this project.  The recordings we used were mastered from digital copies made at the British Library where the archival recordings are housed as part of the Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger Collection.

Thanks also to: Jackie Page, of the present generation of the Larner family, John Halliday - for more of the photos, Martin Carthy - for his account of his encounter with Sam Larner.  Danny Stradling and Steve Roud - for proof reading, assistance and information.  Without all of them, these CDs would never have existed ... and it goes without saying that without the assistance of countless other collaborators over the years, none of our 111 CD and CD-ROM publications would have ever been possible.

You may remember that MT's 2-CD Set, Cecilia Costello : "Old Fashioned Songs" (MTCD363-4) also won the 2012 - 2014 Folklore Society Non-Print Media Award.  I was very pleased about that, but I must admit that I'm finding it rather difficult to comprehend that we've actually done it again!


EFDSS - time for decision

Back in April I asked "Is the EFDSS Folk Music Journal worth £47 a year?"  Derek Schofield pointed out that it's possible to buy the Journal on its own anyway, and that you also get public liability protection for your (now) £48.  But since no one much wants a dance band without drum'n'bass these days, I don't think this is too much of a benefit to me.  I decided that I'd wait 'til my membership expired on 1st January 2017 and make the decision then.  Yesterday I got the letter telling me that my membership is due for renewal - so it's decision time.

Having spent some time today browsing the Society's website I failed to find much (anything!) about traditional music or song.  Indeed, the only welcome news was that another new edition of Frank Purslows's fine books has been published ... this was news to me, since neither had been sent to MT for review.  I'm not sure if that was disappointing or to be expected!  Almost all the upcoming events at C# House appear to be by performers who compose some or all of their own songs and, since I don't read music, their much vaunted The Full English project isn't of a great deal of use to me.  Of the very few books and CDs they now offer, I already have all those dealing with traditional music or song.  And lastly, the VWML website links to the Folk Music Journal produce a '404 Page not found' response.  So it does look as if it's time to go ... I've now cancelled my membership of the EFDSS.

Rod Stradling - 23.11.16


Rod Stradling, 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK
E-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk
- or, if you don't mind the fact that he's getting a bit deaf ...
Phone: 01453 759475 or Mobile: 0793 099 1641

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