You may have come across Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer somewhere in the UK or beyond. They’re one of the hardest working musical acts on the scene today and have been regulars at clubs and festivals all over the country for many years. But Vicki and Jonny’s immersion in the folk world may be slightly surprising when you discover how they started out...
Back in 2005, Issue 63 of The Living Tradition boasted a very fresh faced looking young band by the name of Danú. Despite their youthful appearance, the band had already been on the road for almost ten years and had released six CDs to great critical acclaim. In the accompanying article, Steve McGrail told the story of the band’s origins and how it came to be known as “a top-flight Irish traditional music band”. As the article drew to a close, Steve reported that changes were afoot and that Danú planned to take a bit of a break due to changes in their personal circumstances.
Si Barron’s recent debut solo release, Sweet Billy Caution, is garnering plaudits aplenty. A “genially undersold yet distinctly magical CD” according to David Kidman’s review in LT104, and our editor admits to having “nearly worn the CD out listening to it – it is one of the best I have heard in a while”. Time for some investigation…
The Living Tradition has never been one to laud the latest young musician as being the future of folk music. Such predictions rarely live up to expectations and first albums, whilst benefitting from an element of freshness, when viewed over time often lack a depth that comes with experience.Currently on the crest of a wave, Greg Russell and Ciarán Algar display a maturity in their performance which belies their youth. Fast developers or early starters? Probably a bit of both, but my guess would be that it was the early start that gave them their edge.
“It’s powerful altogether to see musicianers rooting and plundering in the old (and new) collections like weans with new toys. It is also powerful to hear dacent tunes one doesn’t know, instead of the nearly standardised menu that has gone the rounds too often.” So says Rev Gary Hastings, the renowned flute player from Belfast, in the sleevenotes for Josie Nugent and Brian Stafford’s debut album, The Caves Of Cong.
Colum Sands, from County Down, is well known to most lovers of folk music. A musician, songwriter, radio broadcaster, album producer as well as a collaborative artist and member of the celebrated Sands Family, Colum has many years in the folk music business under his belt.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1942, Lisa Null is a respected singer throughout the US and beyond. Over the years she has developed many links with the folk scene in the UK and she has a special interest in the music and song of Ireland. She co-founded the Green Linnet record label with Patrick Sky in 1973, which went on to become one of the most prolific record labels of its time, specialising in Celtic music.
Pete Seeger was born on 3 May 1919 in a small town about 100 miles north of New York. He was sent to boarding school at the age of 4, then in 1927 his parents divorced - he was 8. Neither really had custody - apart from the odd holiday, Pete was at boarding school for most of his childhood. One of three sons (Pete was the youngest) he refused either piano or voice lessons but it was at this time, whilst still very young, that he made up the story song, Abiyoyo.
Success in the music world means different things to different people, and can be hard to define. But in terms of the outsider looking in, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Tim Edey seems to have success by the bucket load. Having just won himself not one but two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (Musician Of The Year and Best Duo with Brendan Power), and with a list as long as your arm of top notch musicians queuing up to play with him, he appears to have it all.
Allan Taylor has spent his life making music. His immediate career aim on leaving school at 16 was to run a folk club. After a decade honing his craft as a songwriter, singer and guitarist, he made his recording debut with Sometimes which featured members of Fairport Convention, with whom he also toured at the time.
In the first few years of the 20th century, Cecil Sharp thought that he was collecting the last remnants of a song tradition in England. A few years later, during a working visit to America, an opportunistic meeting with an American collector, Olive Campbell, was to lead to the creation of one of the most significant folk songs collections in the world.