Promoters of public concerts of traditional folk music have a great responsibility. The music itself does not seem designed for performance in concert halls. Many folk music concerts have, therefore, tended to present either the "voice beautiful" style of folk music, aimed at classical music audiences, or a "teen-beat" show little removed from pop music and aimed basically at a pop music audience.
The fact is that folk music has its own styles and terms of reference. The intention of the concert at the Royal Festival Hall was to present a panorama of some of those styles. Many singers and many regions had to be omitted from the concert, but if this record encourages listeners to explore further, it will help to give them a wider knowledge of their own traditional music.
BOB DAVENPORT AND THE RAKES These four young men are motivated by love and respect for the music, social attitudes and basic dignity contained in the tradition. They now have some recognition in the Folk Music movement, but they are still happiest singing and playing in company with the fine traditional performers, who have been and still are, their inspiration.
The Rakes got together in 1956. They served an exciting apprenticeship under Michael Gorman, the Sligo fiddler, and now form part of the Four Court Ceilidhe Band. Reg Hall has learnt from many English country musicians and owes a great deal to the West Hoathly Band and the Padstow Blue Ribbon Band. The Rakes are essentially a dance band, but have played along with Bob Davenport for about seven years.
THE McPEAKE FAMILY (Francis senior, Frank, James, Francis and Kathleen) come from Belfast, Northern Ireland and are one of the most well-known traditional folk music families.
JACK ARMSTRONG started playing in 1926 and founded the Barnstormers dance band, became piper to the Duke of Northumberland. Invited by Burl Ives to Hollywood where he stayed for ten weeks. "I am much too old to appear now but hate the idea of giving up. I have had a really wonderful life with this kind of music".
PATRICIA JENNINGS Born and bred in the heart of the Borderland, comes of a family where music, song and dance have always been to the fore. She heard and loved the Small Pipes when a child and had her first set at the age of 15. Only in the last two years, since her children are grown, has she been able to throw her energies into playing, as she now does, with Jack Armstrong.
LOUIS KILLEN From Gateshead-on-Tyne, he is one of the most well-known singers of the folk song revival and was a founder-member of Folk Song and Ballad, Newcastle, one of Britain's first folk song clubs concerned with traditional folk music.
JACK ELLIOTT "I was born of a mining father. My grandfather was a miner at eight years of age in 1836, naturally I am concerned with the traditional mining songs which I became interested in when I was about 10 years old. I am now 58 years old, retired from mining six weeks ago through a spinal injury. I was born in this mining village and I can't see me moving now. I've done every job in the pit bar the manager's and that's that".
THE COUNTRYSIDE PLAYERS The idea of a "Music of the Countryside" Concert was inspired by a holiday in Shetland and was first tried about 15 years ago in a village hall in Dorset with great success. Nan Fleming-Williams and Pat Shaw were both in the original group and Denis Smith joined them about six years ago to form the Countryside Players as they are today. They have specialised in the traditional music of the British Isles, though their repertoire also includes items from much further afield. In performance they aim at combining the spirit and vitality of the original tradition with a modern presentation.
DAVE, BETTY AND WINNIE CAMPBELL Dave and Betty Campbell were both born and brought up in Aberdeen. Dave's father worked "in the fish" and as a child Dave travelled extensively with him around Scotland and the islands, hearing the songs and legends of the fishing tradition. Later, as a young man, he went to work on an Aberdeenshire farm, and learnt songs of the bothy tradition. He married Betty, whose background was more rooted in the music hall traditions still current in Aberdeen. They have five children, of whom the eldest three, Ian, Winnie and Lorna, sing. The family moved down to Birmingham in the late forties.
THE WATERSON FAMILY comprises Norma, Michael and Elain, with their second cousin John Harrison. They come from Hull and the three, orphaned early, were brought up by their grandmother, a secondhand dealer. They're partly of Irish gipsy descent. Like thousands of others they came to folk song through an early interest in jazz and skiffle. They formed a group called The Mariners and played for a while in a coffee house. Then, as their style became progressively less "popped-up", more serious, they decided to start a folk song club. At present they're singing to capacity houses on Sunday nights in the largest available pub room in Hull, at the "Bluebell". They have a wide repertory but their abiding interest is in the songs and customs of their native East Yorkshire.
THE COPPER FANHLY The Copper family has lived in and around the village of Rottingdean in Sussex for over three hundred years. Working, until the last two generations, as shepherds and carters on the downland farms around the village. "With the disappearance of farming on anything like its former scale in the area Ron and I both turned to the licensing trade in which we are both still engaged". With the appearance of John the family's association with the E.F.D.S.S. moves into the fourth generation. His great-grandfather, James — with his brother Tom — were made honorary founder members for their contribution of Sussex songs in 1898.
CYRIL TAWNEY was born into a Royal Navy family at Gosport, Hants., October 12th, 1930, At the age of 16 he commenced serving twelve years in the Royal Navy and the Submarine service. He has written many songs and has recently taken a lease on the old Guildhall in Plymouth which he is turning into a folk centre for the West Country.
CHARLIE BATE is Cornish born and bred and comes from a family of traditional singers and musicians. His accordion playing and singing have long been very well known in the whole of the county and elsewhere. He is a very well-known personality to many people throughout the country in particular with his renderings of the May Song on "Obby Oss Day" also through festivals, broadcasts and recordings.
DOMINIC BEHAN comes from a famous Irish family. He is singer, song writer, poet, writer and playwright.
THE McPEAKES recorded by kind permission of Fontana Records THE WATERSONS recorded by kind permission of Topic Records.
Pete Seeger has performed at Oberlin innumerable times since he began his solo career in the early fifties. He often performed in the basement of dorms and in other informal situations, for as much money as could be collected by passing a hat. These recordings were made in 1959 in Finney Chapel, where Seeger most recently performed last May. Pete Seeger has recorded hundreds of records, mostly for Folkways and Columbia.
The Highwoods Stringband are an excellent old-time group, now established in upstate New York, although originally mostly from California. They perform in a style reminiscent of the Skillet tickers, a band from Georgia who recorded in the late twenties and early thirties. The band consists of Walt Koken and Bob Potts, fiddles, Mac Benford, banjo, Doug Dorschug, guitar and vocals, and Jenny Cleland, bass. They have recorded two records for Rounder records.
John Roberts and Tony Barrand have given two very fine concerts for us over the last few years, performing old English ballads and songs, along with a vast repertoire of music hall songs. On Staines Morris, Tony plays a bowed psaltery, a small stringed instrument that is many centuries old. They have recorded for Swallowtail and Front Hall records.
The New Lost City Ramblers are one of the pioneer stringjbands, who started performing in the late fifties. The band still occasionally performs, and each of its members, Mike Seeger (fiddle and vocal), Tom Paley (banjo), and John Cohen (guitar) have become famous on their own as folklorists and performers in various capacities. This group is largely responsible for the old-time music revival. They have recorded many albums for Folkways.
The Boys of the Lough are one of the best revival groups from Britain, and they will be performing at Oberlin again this April. The members of the band are Aly Bain (fiddle) of Shetland, Cathal McConnell (flute, penny whistle) and Robin Morton (concertina, Bodhrán (frame-drum) of Ireland and Dave Richardson of Northumbria (Northern England). Their music is a synthesis of the different regional dance musics found in No. England, Shetland, and Ireland. They have recorded for Leader/Trailer (in England), and their recordings are available in this country on Rounder and Philo labels.
Art Rosenbaum is a banjo and fiddle player, artist, and folklorist, who currently lives in Iowa, although is originally from the East. He gave a memorable concert of dance songs and ballads here last October. He has edited with Pat Dunford a fine record of Indiana songs and tunes for Folkways (Fine Times at Our House) and has most recently recorded for Meadowlands and Kicking Mule records.
The Red Clay Ramblers are a song and tune band from the Durham, North Carolina area. They were recently featured in an off-broadway musical, Diamond Studs, and have recorded for Folkways and Flying Fish records. Their members of the band are Tommy Thompson (banjo). Bill Hicks (fiddle), Jim Watson (mandolin, guitar), and Mike Craver (piano, guitar). Their arrangements of many sentimental and blues and early jazz songs were greatly appreciated by the Oberlin audience, as well as their fine arrangements of traditional and not-so-traditional dance tunes.
The Stanley Brothers are one of the best of the transitional bands, whose members were raised on old-time songs and tunes, and then became important performers of bluegrass music. Ralph Stanley, the group's banjoist, is one of the creators of bluegrass banjo picking, and Carter Stanley, his brother, has one of the most famous voices in bluegrass, surpassed only by Bill Monroe. Ralph Stanley continues to perform today with the Clinch Mountains Boys. Carter Stanley died in 1967. They have recorded for Starday and King records.
Lou and Sally Killen opened last year's concert program with a very enjoyable program of English songs. Lou's concertina playing has been quite influential to many of us over the years. The Barley Mow is a great old drinking song. The Killens have recorded for Front Hall records, and Louis Killen has made many solo albums as well for Topic and several other labels.
Since the early fifties, The Oberlin Folk Music Club has been bringing traditional performers to the school to spread folk music and lore. We've never been a stable organization; at first, our concerts were held in basements of now-forgotten spots like Pyle Inn, and the club itself was more or less a loose band of radicals and folk enthusiasts. In the mid-fifties and early sixties, when people like Pete Seeger were blacklisted for alleged communistic sympathies, Oberlin was the only school or club west of New York that consistently hired Seeger, or, in fact, that would hire him at all. Other traditional performers who played here were Jean Ritchie, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, the New Lost City Ramblers, and Guy Carawan. The sound quality on these older tapes is a little uneven, but we thought it was important to include a few songs from the early concerts, including two songs from Pete Seeger's concert here in 1959.
After a number of years in the mid-sixties of rather sporadic activity, the club has recently revived a regular concert series, sponsoring six or seven traditional concerts a year. Thanks to the efforts of David Winston, the club has brought many of the fine performers who you will hear on this record, and continues to sponsor concerts and workshops. In editing this record, I have tried to maintain the atmosphere of the concerts themselves, by preserving introductory commentary on most of the selections, and, as much as possible, audience reaction. We hope this record will inspire memories of good times gone by, and also introduce those of you who missed some of our concerts to the fine performers who have played here over the years.
This is the first album of the Philadelphia Folk Festival to be released since 1961, the year the Festival began. On it you 11 hear highlights of the 1977 Festival evening concerts. Outstanding performances yes, but a mere sampling of the many talented musicians, singers, songwriters, dancers and story tellers who turn these annual get-togethers into something very special.
To them and to the countless Festival volunteers—from seasoned, headquarters staffers to the kids working in parking—this album is dedicated.
Ken Goldstein produced The Philadelphia Folk Festival Vols. 1 and 2 for Prestige Records. Both albums are now out-of-print.
Songs and ballads recorded at the Fife Traditional Singing Weekend in May 2005. This was the third year of the event - a gathering of many of Scotlands finest exponents of the art held at the Fife Animal Park in Collessie, Fife.
The album opens with Joe Aitken of Kirriemuir singing the majestic north-east bothy ballad The Hairst o Rettie. Other songs include Ythanside from Jock Duncan, the ancient murder ballad of the Cruel Mother from Elizabeth Stewart and Stanley Robertson's version of When I Wis New But Sweet Sixteen. Norman Kennedy, the internationally renowned traditional singer originally from Aberdeen was a special guest at the event from his home in Vermont in the USA and here he sings the classic Scots ballad of Binnorie and the infamous Aberdeen song The Castlegate. The tyneside singer Louis Killen, recently returned to our shores after many years as a professional folk singer in the USA, sings the great nautical ballad Bold Princess Royal.
Louis Killen: Born and raised in Tyneside in a musical family of Irish/Scottish extraction, Louis was a founder member of the Newcastle Folk Club in 1958 and an original member of the High Level Ranters. He recorded several seminal albums with Topic in the 1960s and then emigrated to the USA where he continued a career in folk music, joining the Clancy Brothers between 1971 and 1976. Now back on home ground, Louis is recognised as one of the most knowledgeable singers and influential voices of the folk revival, noted in particular for his knowledge of shanties and maritime songs. Here he sings Bold Princess Royal (track 5), a famous song of piracy on the high seas, and a fine convivial song When Fortune Turns the Wheel (track 13), a line from which provides the title to this album.
Source: Springthyme Records