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...
Pamela Irving talks with Donegal fiddler and musicologist Liz Doherty about Cape Breton music after an intermediate / advanced fiddle workshop she gave at the Celtic Arts Centre in Judique.
Talk to professional fiddlers, and you’ll soon see the range of what they do. There’ll be solo performing, of course, band work, tuition, recording, film and TV contracts, judging competitions, composing, researching, and maybe even instrument-repairing. A few fiddlers, though, will tell you how they also move into other genres, perhaps to back a rock or jazz singer. Some will have had (or still have) a career in classical music as well; Irish fiddler Mairéad Nesbitt, formerly of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, comes to mind. One Scottish fiddler who fits exactly into this ‘mixed genres’ category is Douglas Lawrence.
The Cape Breton fiddle style is famous the world over, with many names being synonymous with it - Brenda Stubbert, Natalie MacMaster and the late Jerry Holland to name but a few. But there is a new generation of young fiddlers emerging through the ranks, and they are following in the footsteps of these masters, bringing the tradition to new ears with great skill and passion.
It’s a few years now since Pete Coe celebrated 30 years on the road, and though not unique among many of the singers of his generation, he is distinctive. Nowhere do you find all the threads of song, dance, musician, caller and organiser woven together into such a rich tapestry. The tag of ‘one man folk festival’ is well earned!
Rummage through any collection of British folk music, read the sleeve notes and you will find that the name Bill Leader will be present on a huge number of them. From the 1950s to the early 80s, Bill Leader’s recordings are monumental.
Following the sad news of Alistair's death, we thought it fitting to feature an article written about him by Mel Howley, not long after Alistair moved back to the UK from Australia, published in the Living Tradition in Sep 1999.
In the late 1970s, at the height of the revival, Nic Jones was probably the most sought after solo performer on the British folk scene. He had an armoury of guitar techniques, a lyrical style of singing, and a varied choice of mostly traditional material that he made modern and relevant to today by his arrangements.
As the seminal Irish traditional band Planxty prepared for their first UK concerts in more than twenty years, Julian Gurr caught up with founder member Andy Irvine, for whom one “supergroup” just doesn’t seem to be enough!