logo News and Comment No 32

History and Music conference

18-19 March 2005.  Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities of the University of Cambridge, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

Call for Papers

The meeting is being organised by the Royal Historical Society in association with the Royal Musical Association to examine the relationships between the disciplines of history and of musicology and to consider fresh ways of understanding music broadly defined as a historical phenomenon.  How does an understanding of music contribute to the analysis of general historical structures and patterns?

Offers of papers that are either carefully focused case studies or explorations of the methodological and conceptual issues concerning the relationships between history and music are invited.  Proposals for papers should be no more than one A4 page, together with a short CV and a note of any audiovisual requirements.  They should be sent to Ludmilla Jordanova, preferably by e-mail to ljj26@cam.ac.uk, by 6th December 2004.


Dougie Scott dies

I'm sorry to say that singer Dougie Scott died on Saturday, following a short illness.  Dougie was a son of Willie Scott and sang many of the family songs, as well as others that he had picked up during his years with the King's Own Scottish Borderers.  Luckily some of his songs were recorded and he can be heard on the CD Borderers (Kyloe CD 102).

Mike Yates - 22.11.04

Favourite on the BBC

Thursday, 2 December at 11.30 a.m. on BBC Radio 4, Debbie Kilbride presents a documentary half-hour programme on the Irish music, its musicians and its supporters in The Favourite, Queensland Road, off Holloway Road, London, during the 1960s and 1970s.

Reg Hall - 21.11.04

Mikeen McCarthyMikeen McCarthy dies

We have just received the sad news that Traveller Mikeen McCarthy (29.6.31-15.11.04) died yesterday of a heart attack.

Mikeen was an important tradition bearer with an enormous store of songs, stories, folk and Traveller lore which he was more than happy to pass on to anybody interested.

A man of great humour and generosity, he was loved and admired by all who knew him, Traveller and non-Traveller alike.  Those lucky enough to have met him at the clubs where he appeared on numerous occasions, or at The National Festival at Loughborough, will, we are sure, share our sadness at his passing.

Those who never met him can hear some of his songs and stories on the MT CDs From Puck to Appleby and the VWML cassete of traditional storytelling And That's My Story.

Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie - 16.11.04

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.

Rod Stradling - 11.11.04

Death of Dave Williams - pipemaker

It is with great regret that I am writing to you on this occasion.  Dave Williams, a close friend of mine for over 25 years, died in a car crash on 19th October.  He was probably the finest uilleann pipe maker of his generation.  Paddy Keenan got a set of pipes from Dave which he used on his last CD, and which he played at Dave's funeral.

An appreciation of Dave's life and achievements appears as Enthusiasm No 44 in these pages.

Ken Ricketts - 8.11.04

Dear Companion

Appalachian traditional songs and singers from the Cecil Sharp Collection

Perhaps the most significant part of Cecil Sharp's vast collection is that assembled during the First World War years in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  At the instigation of American enthusiast Olive Dame Campbell, he embarked with assistant Maud Karpeles on a truly remarkable journey through America's southern uplands, to discover a living tradition of songs and ballads, largely of British origin, which had all but died out back home.

Dear Companion is a collection of fifty-three songs and ballads from Sharp's American collection.  An authoritative introductory essay by Mike Yates, together with biographical sketches of the singers and notes on the songs, are copiously illustrated by previously unpublished photographs, extracts from diaries, letters, and biographical writings.  Dear Companion is a celebration of the close links between the musical traditions of Britain and North America.

Dear Companion is published by the English Folk Dance & Song Society in association with Sharp's Folk Club, November 2004, ISBN 0-85418-190-3, [vi], p.137, illustrated.  £14.99 plus £2 p&p (UK) / £3.95 (Europe); air mail: £8.60 (Zone 1), £10.10 (Zone 2); surface mail: £4.75 (Zones 1 & 2).

For advance orders contact: EFDSS, Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent's Park Road, London NW1 7AY.  Tel: 020-7485 2206.  E-mail: admin@efdss.org


Moor Music

Readers may like to know that Mark Bazeley, Jason Rice & Rob Murch from Dartmoor have a couple of gigs in London later this month.


Steppin' on the Eel's Foot

8th &­ 9th of July 2005, The Eel's Foot pub, Eastbridge, Suffolk.

Two days of step dancing, with workshops, music sessions, and of course, real ale.  The premise of Steppin' on the Eel's Foot 2005 is to promote, develop and sustain the relatively unknown form of English dance that is Step Dancing.  It will bring together styles from all over the country, provide an informal setting for this indigenous dance to be learnt, and there will be plenty of music and beer for those who just want to watch.

Contact: David Delarre.  Tel: 01277890519  E-mail: dave@mawkin.co.uk



Gwilym Davies is offering a workshop called Stepaway on the music, song and speech of the English travelling people, i.e. Gypsies, based on his first-hand collecting, illustrated by sound and video clips.

For further details, and bookings, E-mail him at gwilymdavies@bigfoot.com


Ramblin' Man

Ed Cray's Ramblin' Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie was reviewed a short while ago in these columns.  It will be available in Britain from 16 November in hardback (no p/b) at £18.99. ISBN 0393 04759 8.  As with the American edition, the publishers are W W Norton & Co Ltd.


The George Reid Memorial Studentship

PhD Studentship - Oral Heritage of Scottish Travellers

A 3-year PhD Studentship commencing 2005; application closing date 29 October 2004.  Full fees at the Home/EU rate and maintenance of £6500.  Based in the Elphinstone Institute, College of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Aberdeen.

Background: The person appointed will have an interest in some aspect of the oral and cultural traditions of Scottish Travellers and initially will work alongside Stanley Robertson, who is co-ordinating a Heritage Lottery funded project aimed at recording, conserving, and promoting these traditions including songs, singing styles, ballads, stories, storytelling, language, customs, beliefs, occupations, family life, travelling, and, in general, Travellers contributions to society.  The researcher will concentrate on one of the themes within the overall project, and provide research support.

The richness of the field offers opportunities to researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds ethnologists, folklorists, cultural or oral historians, anthropologists, and ethnomusicologists among others.  The research will be supervised by Dr Ian Russell, Director of the Elphinstone Institute, drawing on other staff expertise for additional support.

Qualifications: A 1st or 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (e.g. Ethnology, Folklore, Anthropology, Cultural History).  A Masters degree in a relevant subject would be an advantage.

Interviews: To be held in November 2004.

Application: Informal enquiries about the studentship should be directed to Dr Ian Russell on 01224 272386 or email ian.russell@abdn.ac.uk

Applications should be in the form of:

These should be sent to: The Secretary, The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, 24 High Street, Aberdeen AB24 3EB


Daisy Sherlock dies

I've just heard that Daisy Sherlock, Scan Tester's daughter, was found dead at her home on Tuesday.  She was just five days short of her 94th birthday.  Details of her funeral to follow.

Reg Hall - 14.10.04

Festival for Keith

London, May 20th-22nd 2005

It was one of Keith Summers' last requests that some musical events should be held in his memory, and being the good old boy that he was, he even willed some money in our care in order that this could be done.  Our aim is to have a series of annual events, the first of which will take place at the King and Queen pub, home of the Musical Traditions Club, in Foley St. London W1 P 7LE , over the weekend of May 20th to May 22nd 2005.  The landlord at the pub has kindly agreed to let us take over the pub for the weekend.

Planning for this festival is in its infancy at the moment, however we have already invited Rosie Stewart from Fermanagh and some Suffolk musicians so that the two locations most associated with Keith are represented.  In addition The Orchard family have agreed to attend and all the usual suspects (Dan Quinn, Reg Hall, Bob Davenport etc.) have been alerted.

Put the date in your diary !

Peta Webb and Ken Hall - 11.10.04

A Toast to Bob

A day of music and song to celebrate the life of Bob Copper

The EFDSS is to host a celebration of the life and music of Bob Copper on Saturday 2nd April 2005 at Cecil Sharp House.  Beginning around midday, the afternoon session will include a singaround, an audio-visual presentation about Bob, and a concert.  The evening concert will feature the Copper Family and special guests.  So far lined up to take part during the day are Bob Davenport & the Rakes, Martin Wyndham-Read & Iris Bishop, Dan Quinn and Will Duke, Brian Peters, Dave Arthur & Pete Cooper, Peta Webb & Ken Hall, Jeff Davis, Gerret & Jeff Warner, Vic Gammon, Vic & Tina Smith, Jim Ward, Bob Lewis, Piers Bishop, and the English Country Blues Band.  Shirley Collins will compere the evening concert.

This event is a benefit for the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

Ticket prices are as follows:

Contact: Tel: 0207 485 2206  Web: www.efdss.org


Jali Sherrifo Konteh tour

Vic Smith's admirable work on behalf of this master of the kora and great purveyor of the Manding griot culture continues with a month-long UK tour - Sherrifo's first appearances anywhere outside of Sene-Gambia.  Full details and dates can be found on his website at: www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~tinvic/sherrifo.htm


Coppersongs on BBC 4

A TV documentary about Bob and the family which has been filmed over the past year and goes right up to Bob at Buckingham Palace, is to be screened on BBC 4 on October 15th at 9.30 pm.


Clare Festival of Traditional Singing

The Clare Festival of Traditional Singing is on in The Bellbridge Hotel, Spanish Point, near Miltown Malbay, on the weekend of November 12-14th.

Confirmed so far are:

Those of you wishing to stay in the Bellbridge Hotel, on the beach at Spanish Point, where it's all happening, can get very good rates for the weekend.  Ring: 353 (0)65 7084038


Musical Traditions Club dates

King & Queen, Foley Street, London W1 - Junction of Foley Street/Cleveland Street.  Nearest tube Goodge Street.
Monthly, Fridays, 8:00 p.m.

£5.50 including membership.  £5 members.  £3.50 concessions.

Information: Peta Webb - 020 8340 0530   or   petawebken@aol.com
(Ring or e-mail 48 hours in advance to leave name & address for membership.)


Leslie Shepard dies

Sad to announce the death of Leslie Shepard, on 20th August, at his home in Blackrock, Dublin.  He will be known to ballad scholars for his very important work on street literature, in which field he was a leading authority for so long that we all presumed he would always be there.  People may not know that he was also an authority on various aspects of the occult (having edited a huge standard encyclopedia on the subject), on printing history, on documentary film, eastern religion, and Bram Stoker, of Dracula fame, and various other topics.  I believe he ran the 'Fairy Appreciation Society' ("For those who really believe in fairies"), but I may be wrong about that.

His collection of books was legendary, and his small house was filled to bursting with the results of a lifetime of collecting.  The last time I visited him, I took a few books off a huge pile on the floor of the 'living room', and discovered a coffee table underneath that I hadn't known even existed, as it had been hidden for so long.  On another occasion, rummaging around trying to find some 17th century broadsides to show me, he casually handed me a "page from a book printed by Caxton".  "A facsimile, you mean?", said I - "Oh no, it's the real thing."

But above all, Leslie was a really nice man - always willing to help younger scholars, to lend material, to support others with his considerable knowledge and collection, and reluctant to say anything bad about people, even those who had not treated him and his work with courtesy over the years.  He was one of the old school, and he will be sadly missed.

Steve Roud - 5.9.04

Re: Singer, Gender and Power article

This article was a pre-print from a collection of papers on a range of ballads and songs by a range of international scholars, which has now been published as Ballads and Diversity Perspectives on Gender, Ethos, Power and Play, edited by Isabelle Peere and Stefaan Top.  It's published by Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2004.  ISBN 3-88476-691-0.  Price EUR19.50.  E-mail: wvt@wvttrier.de  Web: www.wvttrier.de

It's the first volume in an intended series of Ballads and Songs Internation Studies (BASIS for short) for which Sigrid Rieuwerts is the General Editor.  Most of the papers in this volume are in English with a couple in French and three in German.  They range studies of individual ballads, to children's games, aspects of theory to the role of government in the development of national collections.  It's a stimulating collection and deserves a wide audience.

Georgina Boyes - 26.8.04

Irish traditional music discography

As well as being a regular contributor to these pages, Geoff Wallis was the major co-author of the respected Rough Guide to Irish Music, and also runs (and writes most of) an excellent website called Irish Music Review which is, unsurprisingly, available at www.irishmusicreview.com

He has just uploaded a massive Irish traditional music discography to the website, which includes the almost complete Claddagh discography and many others.  As well as wishing to tell MT readers about this, Geoff would be very grateful if people would contact him if any links do not work or there are any other problems.


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