logo News and Comment No. 41
March - September 2009

Clare Festival of Traditional Singing 2009

Féile Amhránaíochta an Chláir.  November 6th - 8th 2009.  Bellbridge House Hotel, Spanish Point, Co Clare

The festival's theme this year is: O Glúin go Ghlúin - the handing on of the tradition through families.  It will feature some of the best known singing families in Ireland: the Uí Ceallaigh’s, mother Áine and sons Iriel and Éadán from An Rinn in the Waterford Gaeltacht; Rosie Stewart, and one of her pupils Kreena Mulcrone, from Fermanagh; the Uí Ceannabháin’s, father Peadar and daughter Saileóg from the Connemara Gaeltacht; Jim and Seamus Mac Farland from Derry; and local singers the Cleary’s, mother Bridie and son Peadar.


(The Bellbridge Hotel are offering a special rate of €119 per person sharing for the weekend. This is for 2nights B+B and evening meal on Saturday)

Further details from Anne and Jerry O'Reilly: aandjoreilly@gmail.com


Ruth Askew dies

I'm sad to report that Ruth Askew died on Thursday, 24th September, just two months short of her 80th birthday.  She had been unwell for some time.

See the Obituaries Page for an account of her life.

Paul Marsh - 27.09.09

ITMA Digitised Materials On-Line

The Irish Traditional Music Archive has recently completed the first year of initiatives it began on 1 August 2008 to mark the 21st anniversary of its establishment in 1987.  As mentioned in an earlier News piece, these were: to make the extensive computer catalogues of the ITMA freely available world-wide through its website; to make sample digitised materials from the collections of the ITMA freely available; and to increase public access hours by opening for one Saturday each month.

The following are now available:

ITMA On-Line Catalogue

ITMA Digitised Materials On-Line

Sound recordings made available to date are: Printed materials to date are: Visual materials to date are: The next tranche of digitised materials for 2009 will be available from 1 October 2009.

RE 3 ITMA Saturday Opening

The next Saturday opening for the Archive will be 19 September 2009.  For the remaining Saturday openings for 2009, click here

These initiatives are now continuing into their second year as core elements of ITMA’s access and outreach activities, finances permitting.

You may also be interested in another ongoing online project of the Irish Traditional Music Archive – a cooperative project with The Journal of Music (formerly The Journal of Music in Ireland) by which the online and hardcopy Journal carries every two months an extensive list compiled by ITMA staff of ‘Recent Publications in Irish Traditional Music’ (books, periodicals and articles, CDs and DVDs) and also an Archive Image from the ITMA collections - see: www.journalofmusic.com


BL world and traditional music archives online

You might already have picked this up, but it seems significant enough for me to pass it on anyway.  A new press release from The British Library announces that they’ve launched online access to their world and traditional music archives.  28,000 recordings are available, ranging from field recordings (including their Traditional Music In England collection, for example) to commercial ones (like their unique stash of Decca West Africa 78s).

The press release is here: http://www.bl.uk/news/2009/pressrelease20090904.html

And the collection site is: http://sounds.bl.uk/

Having said that, I’ve tried it a few times and it kept crashing!

[It's OK today (Saturday).  You need to tick the 'Only recordings everyone can play' box, unless you're a member of an institution the BL has a relationship with, and so can log-in.  Ed.]

Anyway, it’s an interesting postscript to the Enthusiasm I did a year or so ago about access to music archives in national collections.

Ray Templeton - 5.9.09

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.

Membership £1 annually, payable on the door.  Admission for members £6, concessions £3.50, non-members £7, concessions £4.

For further information or to leave name & address for membership, ring 0208 340 0530 or contact petawebken@aol.com


Islington Folk Club dates

The Horseshoe, 24 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AG Full details on our website: www.islingtonfolkclub.co.uk/


Cellar Upstairs Club dates:

Exmouth Arms, Starcross Street, London NW1 2HR (on the corner of Cobourg Street, near Euston and Euston Square stations; parking is easy), on Saturdays at 8:15pm.  For more info: 020 7281 7700; www.cellarupstairs.org.uk (or the Pub: 020 7387 5440)

Sheila Miller - 13.8.09

Cover pictureBronson back in print again

Francis James Child’s English and Scottish Popular Ballads, published in ten parts from 1882 to 1898, contained the texts and variants of 305 extant themes written down between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Unsurpassed in its presentation of texts, this exhaustive collection devoted little attention to the ballad music - a want that was filled by Bertrand Harris Bronson in his four volume Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads.  When it was first published, the collection, nearly 2,200 pages of tunes and texts, was hailed as a milestone in ballad scholarship, and has never been surpassed.

Camsco Music, in conjunction with Loomis House Press, is proud to announce that, for the first time in over 30 years, Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads is now back in print.  All four volumes are available from Camsco Music or Loomis House Press.

They have printing sources in both US and UK, so there are no huge overseas carriage costs.  Softcover: £23.75, hardcover: £28.50 per volume.  Buy them from Dick Greenhaus at Camsco Music, using PayPal - Email him at: dick@camscomusic.com

It's not ready just yet, but Dick tells me he'll send a CD-ROM of the whole set in searchable PDF format to purchasers of all 4 volumes.


Never on Sunday

Purbeck Village Quire and West Gallery Music Association announce the publication of Never on Sunday.  Marches, Dances, Song Tunes and Party Pieces, played by a 19thcentury Village Church Band, transcribed and edited by Rollo G Woods

The 17 music manuscripts from Widecombe, Devon, form the largest collection of West Gallery mss from a single parish found so far.  Most are of church music, but four contain secular music.  Two are fiddlers' tune books, and contain melodies only, but two contain music in score, copied out for the same band - 2 fiddles, flute, and bass - and by the same hands as some of the church music.  The manuscripts were probably copied between 1850 and 1870, and have been preserved in the families of the musicians who originally played them.  Band scores of this kind are rare, and this is the largest collection found in England so far.

Never on Sunday makes all this music available for the first time: 70 tunes, some familiar, others rare or unknown, as they were played by a village band some 150 years ago, in an A4 book of nearly 100 pages of music, with introduction, quotations from contemporary sources, 2 facsimiles, and notes.

Price £10, including post and packaging. [Cheques payable to Purbeck Village Quire, please].  Available from:
Rollo Woods, 39 Bay Crescent, Swanage, Dorset. BH19 1RB.  Tel: 01929 - 422789.  e-mail : rollowoods@f2s.com


Ray Driscoll CD song notes

Several people have commented that Ray Driscoll CD Wild, WIld Berry which I produced was lacking in background notes on the songs.  I have tried to remedy this by putting notes with sound clips on the Internet at www.cmarge.demon.co.uk/Properjob%20Publications/Driscoll/Notes.html   Ray was one of our least-known traditional singers and deserves to be better known.


Gwilym Davies - 14.7.09

Royal Oak Club dates:

Royal Oak, Station Street, Lewes, East Sussex - Thursdays.  Some dates of interest:

Further info at: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~tinvic


Living the Tradition

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn are spreading their skills and knowledge of traditional tunes throughout Northumberland this summer.

“We've been so lucky to have learned many wonderful tunes from local people over more than thirty years of playing, and felt that we wanted to share the music more widely with others”, said Margaret.  “Our idea is to hold an informal afternoon workshop for anyone who plays concert pitch melody instruments so they can learn a selection of tunes related to the area, and then invite participants to stay for an evening concert where they can join us in performing at least one of the tunes we've worked on.  Everyone is welcome to attend the evening concerts, both visitors and locals.”

The first concert takes place in Holy Trinity Church, Embleton at 7.30pm on Thursday 25 June - but is full booked.  Further venues are:

Tickets for all concerts are priced £5 (children under 12 free) and are available at the door.  Workshops must be booked in advance to guarantee a place.

For further details, contact Margaret or Andrew Watchorn (info@pipesandfiddle.co.uk ) on 01665 576245.


Frank Harte Festival 2009

The Frank Harte Festival 2009 is on September 25th - 28th at The Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin.

Guests include: North Cregg, Cork; Robbie MacMahon, Clare; Máire Ní Chroinín, Dublin; Maurice Leyden and Jane Cassidy, Antrim; Máire Ní Choilm, Donegal; Alison MacMorland and Geordie McIntyre, Scotland.

Further information from: Micheál Mac Raghnaill +353 879898534; Máire Ní Chroinín +353 862940652; Jerry O'Reilly +353 868161557


The Songs and the Singer

A Folklore Society Members' Evening dedicated to Traditional Song, Wednesday 8th July, 6:30-9:00pm, Warburg Institute Lecture Room, Woburn Square, London WC11HN.  It's not just for FLS members, but is very much open to all.

Jonathan Roper will introduce a screening of his short film The Crocodile, the Cobbler and Bob about Bob Lewis, a traditional singer from Sussex.  This will be followed by an open discussion with Bob, convened by Paul Cowdell, about some of the topics of the film: learning songs, traditionality, song ownership and what exactly a 'folk song' might be (and whether that matters).

Doc Rowe will also show some additional footage, including film of some of Bob Lewis's mentors such as Bob Copper and Gordon Hall ... there will also, no doubt, be some singing.  This will be followed by a reception in the Warburg Institute Common Room.

£10 [to include refreshments] concessions £8.00.  For more details, contact: The Folklore Society Office on 0207 862 8564


Living Tradition Summer Schools

Living Tradition Summer Schools take place in Dundee in July and August.  They comprise five separate weeks and take place in the superb West Park Mansion in the west end of Dundee.  To enrol for a full week all workshops/classes/concerts cost £135.00.

The first week takes place 12 to 17 July (only a few weeks away) - this is the Traditional Music, Song & Dance Week.

Further details from: www.livingtradition.org.uk/summerschools/htmfiles/week2_000.htm


Take 6 website now online

In 2007 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £154,000 to the EFDSS for its Take 6 project.  Their brief was to catalogue, conserve and digitise six of its major manuscript collections of England's folk songs - those collected by Janet Blunt, George Butterworth, Francis Collinson, George Gardiner, Anne Geddes Gilchrist, and the Hammond Brothers.

The EFDSS is delighted to announce that 9th June 2009 sees the launch of a dedicated website for these six manuscript collections.  Access to 22,000 images of the actual documents, notebooks and letters of six major fieldworkers at the tips of your fingers, fully indexed and searchable.

The Take 6 website will be at: http://library.efdss.org/archives


Fifth Keith Summers Festival

May 8th -10th 2009 The Musical Traditions Club presents at The King & Queen, 1 Foley Street, London W1W 6DL.  Fifth Weekend Celebration in Honour of Keith Summers

Focus on the West Country with:

Also we hope that many of our previous guests will join us again, along with Musical Traditions residents who give the club its special quality.  Keith Summers co-founded the club with us in 1990.  If you don't know about Keith - or want to remember him - see the Obituary.

Pre-booked ticket holders only - space is limited.  No admission unless pre-booked.  Weekend ticket £40.  To get on our mailing list contact: petawebken@aol.com   or 0208 340 0530

A printable Booking Form is available here.


Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend

The Sixth Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend is on the 26th, 27th & 28th June 2009.  There's a formidable lineup of guests and information, too large to include here, but a flyer> and booking form are available here.

Mark Davies - 9.3.09

New Grieg-Duncan book

A selection of the Grieg-Duncan material aimed at peformers is being published on 31st March 2009.

Songs from North East Scotland
A Selection for Performers from the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection (Paperback)
edited by Katherine Campbell

The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection from North-East Scotland, created in the early years of the twentieth century by Gavin Greig and James Bruce Duncan, is of national and international importance.  In its published form it contains 1,933 songs, available in eight volumes arranged thematically.  This selection for performers contains 150 songs from the main collection, and takes as its focus 28 of the singers from whom the songs were originally collected.  All the singers lived at (or had a connection with) a range of locations in North-East Scotland, and biographical information on them has been gleaned from field research and archives.  The book is designed primarily for performers: it is organized by singer, with editorial notes on each song.  The selection covers a range of themes, and includes both folksongs and ballads.  The book will be of interest to traditional singers, schools and universities that teach Scots song, and those interested in the culture and social history of North-East Scotland.  A CD of a selection of the songs accompanies the book.

Publisher: John Donald Publishers Ltd.  Paperback 224 pages.  ISBN 13: 9781906566012   ISBN 10: 1906566011.  Published: 31 March 2009.  Price £20.

The Book Depository is offering a £5 saving on a pre-order and free delivery worldwide, see:


The following website contains the tunes (in midi files) and therefore the list of the 150 songs from Songs from North-East Scotland: A Selection for Performers from The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, edited by Katherine Campbell


Bob Blair - 7.3.09

Reg Hall gets TG4 awardReg Hall

The following text and photo will appear in this coming Saturday's edition of The Irish Post.

Reg Hall was the recipient of the Graham na gCeoltóirí (musicians’s award) at the recent Gradham Cheoil awards.

Born in Kent in 1935 before moving to London in 1955, he immediately got involved with the Irish musical Diaspora there and got to know and play with some of Ireland’s finest immigrant communities such as Michael Gorman, Martin Byres, Jimmy Power, Bobby Casey, Lucy Farr and Willie Clancy.

As a historian, Reg was perfectly poised to collect and document music from over 400 musicians beginning in 1946 with the first pub sessions; something which was undertaken as a labour of love.  He became a much respected member of the music scene giving musicians a platform and a voice and was the driving force behind many great recordings of the time.  He also wrote sleeve notes for many of these recordings including the seminal Paddy In The Smoke in 1968 which he refers to as a “fleeting privileged glimpse at some of the best of Irish musicians of their time playing on their own semi-private world.”

Reg is currently writing a history of Irish music in London based on his doctorate thesis Irish Music and Dance in London 1890 - 1970. A Socio-Cultural History.  He has donated 400 of his own original tapes to the British Sound Library and, but for Reg, much of our Irish music in London would have been left entirely undocumented.  His work is of immense artistic and historical value providing a rare archive of recordings when Irish music in London was at its zenith.


30 years of An Góilín

An Góilín Traditional Singing Club will celebrate its 30th Anniversary on the weekend of the 15th -16th May 2009.  We hope many of our 'old friends' will join us to mark the event in a suitable manner.  At the moment, we plan to have the usual singing session on Friday May 15th, with a singing session on the afternoon of Saturday 16th followed by a bit of food with the 'Anniversary Singing Session' on Saturday night.  All to take place in The Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 1.  Hoping to see as many of you as can make it.

Jerry O'Reilly - 5.3.09
6 The Orchard, Palmerstown, Dublin 20.
Tel: 0035316267589. Mob: 00353868161557
E-mail: aandjoreilly@gmail.com

Kilfenora Ceili Band Centenary

A unique event in music and social history will take place in County Clare, Ireland, from 23-26 April, when the centenary will be celebrated of the Kilfenora Ceili Band (KCB).  Few musical ensembles can claim a hundred years of history - and indeed the Kilfenora has its origins in a village fife & drum band stretching back into the 1870s.  Contributing to its uniqueness are its roots in a web of local families who have supplied many of its members over the century.  Also unique is the KCB's feat of winning at the Fleadh Cheoil three years running on two occasions - 1954-6 and 1993-5.

The festival will run from Thursday 23 April to Sunday 26 April in Kilfenora.  The main events include:

Céilís with both the Kilfenora band itself and the Four Courts band, concerts, the launch of the Kilfenora's new CD Century, a guest appearance by the Tulla Ceili Band, and of course singing and instrumental sessions in the pubs throughout the weekend with many fine musicians from North Clare and beyond.
The programme of events will be viewable shortly at www.kilfenoraceiliband.com   For any enquiries before then, please email to: kilfenoracelebrations@hotmail.com

Kilfenora Ceili Band 1958     Kilfenora Ceili Band 2009


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