logo News and Comment, No.47

Bayou Seco - lifetime achievement award

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Seven artists and major contributors to the arts in New Mexico will be honored at the 2017 annual Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts today (14th September).  "Through these lifetime achievement awards for the arts, we celebrate the diverse and amazing talents of these 2017 recipients whose efforts help drive our creative economy and truly make our state the Land of Enchantment" Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement.

Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie, known the world over as Bayou Seco, are not only extraordinary performers but they are ambassadors of New Mexico music, preserving the cultural heritage of Hispanic and cowboy folk music, organizers said.


Help please

Can anyone please help?  I've recently been digitizing some of my old cassettes. One of my great favourites has not physically withstood the test of time, and I'm hoping someone can provide me with a digital copy.

Folktracks FSA-60-100 - Phoebe and Joe Smith - I am a Romany

In exchange I can offer numerous items of traditional performers from around the world in multiple genres, many from 78s or private field recordings which have either not been reissued in the vinyl/CD era or which never had a commercial release in any form.

Fingers are crossed in hope.

Keith Chandler - 20.9.17

Are Humanities Journals in Jeopardy?

With the increasing emphasis on so-called STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in higher education, university support for and investment in humanities subjects has steadily declined in recent decades.  Humanities, of course, includes pretty well everything to do with the oral culture of traditional song, music, dance, drama, etc.  Funds to replace departing staff (not to mention adding new ones) are too often denied; whole subject-areas are rationalised out of existence; and activities associated with such subject-areas are curtailed.

One of these activities is the publishing of academic journals, including many longstanding and prestigious titles.  Because publication is - as one editor of a prominent title put it - 'currency of the realm' for scholars, the threat to the continued existence of such journals poses a steep hurdle for young academics, especially in the humanities, who must show a record of substantial publication if they are to have any hope of building a career in their chosen field.

Many journals have seen the wisdom of putting their publications out in digital format, and it is probably safe to say that most have considered doing so.  Although some academics worry about the issue of permanence when a work is made available only in digital form, the case for digital dissemination is hard to refute: scholars are able to see their work in print relatively quickly, and publishers can largely avoid the cost of typesetting, printing and distribution.

Unfortunately, even journals that have moved entirely to an online format can find themselves under financial pressure.  Even the limited cost-centres associated with an online publication can tempt administrators tasked with cost-cutting, with the result that a journal - even a digital one - may be forced to reduce the frequency of publication, or even cease publishing altogether.

We invite readers familiar with the current state of academic publishing to comment on this situation, and to consider the possibility that a consortium might be formed to support the functioning of established academic journals, and encourage the development of new ones, by providing an independent resource for the timely production and dissemination of scholarly work, and by doing so in a manner that allows journals to benefit from economies of scale.

If you would like to contribute to this discussion, please contact Rod Stradling (rod@mustrad.org.uk) or Virginia Blankenhorn (virginia.blankenhorn@ed.ac.uk).


Angela Brazil dies

I've just heard that Angela (Angelina) Brazil, the youngest member of the Brazil family to appear on MT's 3-CD Set, Down by the Old Riverside (MTCD345-7), died last week.  I've been invited to the funeral, and will hope to be able to come up with something of an obituary shortly after that event.  In the meantime, here's a short clip of her singing The Poor Smugglers' Boy (Our Ship Lost it's Rigging).

Rod Stradling - 16.7.17

New MTCD514-5 When Cecil left the Mountains

Mike Yates' 5-CD Set, Far in the Mountains, first published in 2002 (Vols.1-4) and 2013 (Vol.5) have sold in gratifyingly large numbers (for us!)   So we're hoping that our second 2017 CD publication of traditional singers and musicians, When Cecil left the Mountains, a 2-CD set comprising 83 historic recordings of Appalachian singers and musicians from 1927 - 1955, will prove equally popular.  It runs for 149 mins, and features Horton Barker, Emmett Lundy, Luther Strong, Emma Shelton, Ella Shelton, Bill Stepp, Emory Stoop, Eliza Pace, Dad Blackard's Moonshiners, and 20 others.

When Cecil Sharp left the montains for the last time, he complained about '... the sound of Victrolas and the strumming of rag-time and the singing of sentimental songs - all of which we have suffered from incessantly during the last 12 weeks.  I am sorry to have said goodbye to the mountain people but I suspect that I might have seen the last of them.'  What he didn't realise was that within just a few years, American record companies would be sending scouts into the Appalachian Mountains looking for singers and musicians who could be recorded commercially.

This is a double CD set of performers having some sort of familial or geographical connection with the people Sharp collected in the nineteen-tens - as, indeed, was the Far in the Mountains 5-CD set.  The important difference is that those recordings were from Mike Yates' 1979-83 trips ... these are from the late-nineteen-twenties to the mid-nineteen-fifties, and are of people who were alive when Sharp visited the mountains - and a few who actually performed for him a decade or two earlier!  Lots of very interesting stuff from both commercial and private recordings.  As with Far in the Mountains, this has been compiled, and the booklet written, by Mike Yates.

It is now available from the MT Records' website, price £16.00.

Rod Stradling - 2.7.17

News from Far Americay

Dwight Lamb was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship and the Beth Lomax Hawes Award for his dedication to preserving and passing on traditional music to the next generations.

And Bayou Seco have been awarded the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Our congratulations to them all - well deserved!


Carpenter online project announced

A new project to incorporate a pivotal collection into the world's largest online searchable database of folk songs and music has been announced.  The digitised collection of James Madison Carpenter, which has previously only been accessible by visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, will be added to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Digital Archive, thanks to a grant of more than £63,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow-on Funding Scheme.

Carpenter's work includes a wealth of traditional songs, ballads and folk plays, collected from performers in Scotland, England and Wales by the Harvard-trained scholar, mostly in the period 1929-35.  As well as more than 2,000 items of traditional song and 300 folk plays, it contains some items of traditional instrumental music, dance, custom, narrative and children's folklore.  It also features a large number of audio recordings, allowing us to get even closer to the original performances.

The project is being delivered by the Elphinstone Institute, the centre for the study of Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at the University of Aberdeen, in partnership with the EFDSS and the VWML in London.  The project will culminate in a celebration concert at Cecil Sharp House in March 2018 featuring material from the Carpenter Collection.

Dr Julia Bishop, leader of the James Madison Carpenter Collection Project, said: "The Carpenter Collection has been hidden for so long.  This is a wonderful opportunity to return it to the communities and places where so much of it originated."



ITMA is delighted to announce that it has been awarded funding of over €187k to host one of the European Commission's inaugural Marie Curie Society & Enterprise Fellowships.  Dr Lynnsey Weissenberger a postdoctoral researcher in Library & Information Studies from Florida State University - and a practising Irish traditional musician - will join ITMA in July 2017 to lead the two-year LITMUS project.

LITMUS (Linked Irish Traditional Music) seeks to improve searching and access to web-based Irish traditional music, song and dance resources through the development of a Linked Data framework.  The project will utilise ITMA's extensive Irish traditional music collections as well as introducing Dr Weissenberg to an international network of Irish traditional musicians and researchers.  She will also be seconded for six months to the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway.  While tailored to Irish traditional music, it is hoped that this EC Horizon 2020 project will provide a working model for other European and non-European traditional musics.

The highly competitive Society and Enterprise Individual Fellowship scheme awarded funding totalling €8 million to almost fifty projects across Europe, including six in Ireland.

Welcoming the inception of the project, ITMA Chairman Dermot McLaughlin said: "Sharing and increasing access to the materials of traditional music is at the core of what we do at ITMA.  The LITMUS project, supported by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, will allow us to work with expert colleagues to design and test new ways of using data and technology to increase citizens' access to the richness of our living tradition throughout Europe and globally."

Just one more of the many reasons why Brexit was such a shitty idea - Ed.


Jim Coughlan

On Friday 7th April at Swindon Folksingers Club (upstairs at the Ashford Road Club) there will be an evening to celebrate the life of our dear friend, Jim Coughlan, 03/09/33 - 13/01/17.

Jim was a longstanding member of the club, from its early days.  His repertoire of traditional Irish songs have delighted many, and have been recorded on CD, as 'The Songs of a Limerick Man.'

All welcome for an informal evening of song, memories and anecdotes.  If you have a particular favourite of Jim's songs that you'd like to sing, would you please let me know.  We'll try to coordinate things so that we don't have 10 versions of the same song!

Please spread the word to those who knew Jim and may wish to attend. Thank you.

Andrew Bathe - 19.3.17

Dwight Lamb documentary

Cris Anderson Productions of Minneapolis is working on a plan for a half hour documentary on Dwight Lamb and the story of returning his grandfather's Danish tunes to Denmark.  Cris produces films and is a fiddler and dancer from Minneapolis.  He is trying to raise money to begin filming in Denmark next May when Dwight will be in Copenhagen for a performance.

Please read the information that Cris put together on his idea.  Dwight endorses the idea and wishes Cris the best of luck, but wants people to know that he receives no monetary rewards in this endeavor.  Please pass this on to anyone that you feel is interested.


Bill Peterson - 5.2.17

Forest Tracks booklets available

Hi Rod,

I thought you and some of your readers might be interested in the below information.  George Blake's Legacy - CD booklet - by Tim Radford on Forest Tracks.  When we first produced this recording; the entire repertoire of a New Forest Singer - it was issued in a DVD case with an accomppanying 54 page booklet.

Almost as soon as the publication was completed and issued, much more information on the singer, his life and his songs became available.  Therefore, it was necessary to update the booklet, and this was done at the same time as the recording was re-issued in a standard CD case, with the booklet becoming a 64 page A4 booklet available online on the Forest Tracks website.

With the soon to be re-publishing of the final two Frank Purslow Hammond & Gardiner song books - The Constant Lovers and The Foggy Dew - as A Southern Harvest - it was decided to make these notes available online, not just to purchasers of the CD.  Two versions of the Booklet are now available on the Forest Tracks webpage.  One is for reading, and the second for printing the 64 page booklet.  The web address is - http://forest-tracks.co.uk/LegacyBookletPDF.html

For others who may be interested in a similar booklet, the 16 page booklet that accompanies my CD - From Spithead Roads - Maritime songs collected in Hampshire by Dr George Gardiner.  This is now also available at the following address - http://forest-tracks.co.uk/FTCD211bookletpdfs.html

Thank you and best regards,

Tim Radford - 5.2.17

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