Interview with Bert Jansch at Fleadh Festival 2000

bert-janschHere is a transcript of an impromptu interview I did backstage at the London Fleadh in 2000 with Bert Jansch. I was very lucky as Bert rarely gave interviews and I will always remember it as we shared a banana in his caravan just before we started…

Q             Who’s been your greatest musical influence and why?

A             Davy Graham I think. Beyond that I was collecting everything from Woody Guthrie to Scottish stuff mainly. Although I was listening to Scottish folk music, it wasn’t until I heard Davy that it pointed the way in which I wanted to go.

It’s mainly the people in my generation of folk music that Continue reading Interview with Bert Jansch at Fleadh Festival 2000

Celtus At the Memorial Hall, Sheffield 2000 -By Jean and Emma Camp – Devon, England

Celtus At the Memorial Hall Sheffield 2000We all waited outside eagerly, knowing that we were in for a treat. We were not disappointed!! It was our first visit to the Memorial Hall, and we were really taken with the intimacy of the venue. We found out after the show that the acoustics were a nightmare, but this was certainly not apparent to the audience.

Celtus At the Memorial Hall Sheffield 2000Myself and my eleven year old daughter Emma had seen Celtus when they supported Jimmy Nail in Plymouth last November and we became instant fans of their music. It was time for the boys to appear on stage. They came on to spontaneous applause from us all – over 200 of us.

Celtus At the Memorial Hall Sheffield 2000The self-penned lyrics are haunting, mystical and so soul-wrenching. We had all the songs and instrumentals we wanted – played beautifully. Is this really only a three piece band??! They put so much energy into one and a half hours We shouldn’t have asked for more, but we did and we got it. There were standing ovations from a rapturous crowd all wishing they had booked another concert soon.

Celtus At the Memorial Hall Sheffield 2000Celtus At the Memorial Hall Sheffield 2000John, Pat and Dan clearly showed they really enjoyed playing their music and looked as though they had lived through each haunting lyric. Their friendliness and sincerity showed on meeting their fans afterwards, together with their manager Lindy Benson who has tremendous faith in these boys – as we all do. Celtus have arrived!

We walked back to the car in a dream, and promptly booked tickets for another concert the next day. You can catch them at Finsbury Park Fleadh and The Whitchurch Festival.

Jean and Emma Camp – Devon. June, 2000


Interview with Dave Pegg from Fairport Convention on Saturday 29th April 2000

Peggy Cropredy 2012 Dai 2Brief introduction…

A couple of weeks ago we visited Peggy’s place, the “Woodworm Hilton” supposedly to do an interview with him in the morning before shooting off to the Adderbury Morris. Peggy though had other plans for us and we ended up humping all his garden furniture from the shed to the patio for the first part of the morning.  It’s lucky that the Webmaster, Paul kept his mouth shut about his fencing skills (the panel variety not foil or rapier) or we may have never got away!

The interview finally happened in Adderbury, just across the road from the pub and I hope it’s as much fun for you to read it as it was for me to do it. Folkmaster 19th May 2000.

Folkmaster – Who’s been your greatest musical influence and why?

I have had many great musical influences.  When I first started playing the bass I was very influenced by music from America like Tamla Motown and other stuff that was nothing to do with folk music really.  Yes, I was a great fan of that whole Motown School of bass playing.

When I joined Fairport I was a big fan of The Band so Rick Danko, who unfortunately passed away last year, has to be up there as one of my all time favourite bass players.  I’ve also had the great privilege of meeting him.  I met him at this festival we did over in Denmark a couple of years back.  I was so excited to meet Rick that I drank so much Whisky I passed out in the bar of the hotel and had to be taken to hospital and given a stomach pump. It was the first time I had ever had a stomach pump and the next day I felt absolutely fantastic.  I could recommend it to people.

Folkmaster – They probably gave you a colonic as well.

Dave – Yes they properly did.

The next day all the guys came round to my room to see if I was still alive and we went bowling and I achieved my highest ever score. Which goes to prove that stomach pumps can be very beneficial to one’s system, but I don’t recommend drinking large amounts of Whisky to that extent to any of your younger readers.

Folkmaster – If you could be one person in history who would you be and why?

I would love to be James Taylor, but would like to have someone else’s haircut because James has got the same Haircut as I’ve got now.  I think he is just a wonderful performer a great songwriter and a wonderful guitarist. Actually I would rather be the bass player in his band, that way I would get the pleasure of hearing him every night.

Folkmaster – We’ll see what we can do there Dave and maybe we’ll make some enquiries for you.

Folkmaster – Where do you think the future of the Music Industry lies?

Oh I don’t know about the music industry because it’s something that luckily I have not really been involved in since 1979.

Folkmaster – Where do you think the future of Music lies?

Future of music?  Oh I don’t know that’s a difficult one.  Music is for people to play really, I’m not up with this kind of modern music and young people’s music.  I really cant listen to radio one any more as it really hurts my ears, probably because I’m a boring old fart.

The future of music is in the hands of the young people who are making it.  The fact that I don’t like it doesn’t really matter one way or another.

Folkmaster – Is it in the artist’s hands, or is it what the records companies think will sell?

It’s in the hands of the Record Company’s who are only interested in stuff that sells in vast quantities.  These people are looking for a very quick return which results in no longevity plans for the new artists of today.  That’s the main problem with music now, you can get a great singer or band who will put out one great single or album in their first year and then have a flop, their next album doesn’t hit the required sales target and then they are dropped from the label.  In fact it’s been this way since 1978-79 when the records companies were taken over by accountants.

There are a lot of people in the music business today that really don’t care about the quality of the act.  They are only interested in whether it sells, its just a business to them and that goes right across the board to the distribution companies and the chains of record stores in the high streets.  It’s still exactly the same story, if they are turning a coin out of the act it’s fine, if their not then it’s goodbye.

Folkmaster – We feel that music should come from the heart and should be given the room to grow its artistic direction.  The Internet is able to cover every aspect of Music on a Global scale and lets people choose the type of music that they wish to listen to. In our case, people that are interested in the many facets of the folk music genre have a site that’s directed more to the music not the money.  That’s why we openly promote and support any new initiative that empowers new musicians to keep that tradition going.

Yes it’s very good.  Folk music does not suffer as much because none of the major labels are really interested as they feel its something that will never sell in huge quantities.   There are a few exceptions like Kate Rusby who is selling CD’s by the bucket load and major labels supporting people like Richard Thomson, which is fantastic.   Most folk acts though have managed to survive by manufacturing their own CD’s and selling them at gigs, on through the net or by mail order.

In the case of the Fairport’s that’s how we’ve survived since 1979.  We were probably the first act to set up our own record label and start doing it all ourselves because no one else was interested at the time.

Folkmaster – What is your favourite movie and why?

Top Secret is definitely my favourite movie because I wet myself every time I see it. It’s the sort of film that the more you see it the more you see the things that you have missed before.

Folkmaster – That’s like me with the movie Spinal Tap!  

Well, Spinal Tap would be my second choice, I am a big Spinal tap fan, I even saw it in French last year and it was still pretty amazing.

The first time I saw Top Secret was about 18 years ago.  We were all struck in the front room and my son Matt said, “Oh has anybody watched Top Secret”.  I thought oh no, the 11 year old son is going to put on this film on and we’re all going to be bored out of our brains but It was the funniest thing I have ever seen and I still love it and I watch it all the time.

Folkmaster – Can you tell us anything about the New Album?

“The Wood and the Wire” was the last CD Album that came out in January and we are still playing a lot of material from it on this current tour.  We are very happy with it, I particularly like it because it’s the first time for many years that Fairport has been able to utilise the song writing talent of one of the members of the band.  In this case Chris Leslie, who has come up with a bunch of really great songs. I am very pleased with the way the album has been received and its also selling well.

I have also been involved in another album project in which I have recently spent about 5 days re-mastering.  It involves some bootlegs that we’ve had from 1982 and 1983 which until now had only been available on cassette.  We will be launching them soon as a quadruple CD set called “AT 2/ and the boot”.  It was 5 days of really good pleasurable work and it sounds great, its amazing what you can do with technology nowadays, you can clean all the tape hiss off and reposition the stereo image and instruments and stuff.  Everybody that’s heard it thinks it’s really good so in a way that’s our current release at the moment.

Folkmaster – I have the other boot and the 3rd leg on cassette, which both are great favourites of mine.

Well, that’s our project for next year to put those two out.  There is a big demand from Fairport collectors to have everything we have done transferred to CD.

Folkmaster – Where was your most memorable live performance?

I enjoyed it when we played the Sydney Opera House, way back in ‘74 with Sandy Denny. We had just come from Japan and she wasn’t in the band at that time as it was the Fairport 9 line up. Sandy joined us for the shows at the Sydney Opera House and we did two shows in the same evening which went on to become an album that was called “Live Convention”. I think that must be one of the nights I’m most proud off.

We also did Carnegie Hall with Sandy in ‘75 which was also a very memorable gig.  I really enjoyed the Rising for the Moon line up of Fairport.  We had some great concerts and were very good in those days, well we still are but different.

Folkmaster – If you could use one of your Songs to promote something, which one would you choose and why?

I suppose we could use “Meet on the Ledge” to advertise bits of mountaineering equipment, that would be quite good.  Ropes, pulleys and shackles.  Yes that would be good – Meet on the Ledge – I could see a TV advert coming from that.

Folkmaster – When you are not involved with the Band what do you spend your time doing?

Well, my wife Chris and I work very hard with Fairport and have lots of dates and schedules to organise and because we are kind of self-sufficient we do everything ourselves.  We also organise the Cropredy Festival, run the Fairport office, which is every day of the week when I’m not on the road so it’s more or less a full time job.

When I am not working I like doing things like losing tennis to our tour Manager, Rob Braviner, who I always let, win.  We don’t play often enough but he thinks he is really good now but one day I am going to get up and show him.

I like to go sailing when I get the chance, I’m going in June for a week. I have this Breton friend who built his own boat and last year I managed to get 10 days off and sailed from Lisbon to Malaga which was great fun and a really good holiday.

Folkmaster – Is there anywhere that you haven’t played but still aspire to play?

Well, we’ve played in a lot of places, all the nice placed in England really.  I like the NEC in Birmingham, but we are not big enough to play there.  We’d only get about 1000 people in it and it holds 11,000.  In fact Fairport did play there at a Charity gig that Jasper Carrot organised 2 years ago at Christmas to raise money for Birmingham Hospital.  I love the NEC, when I used to play with Jethro Tull we played there every year.  I come from Birmingham and its great to go back to your hometown and fill a big venue and see everybody having a good time.

Fairport will play anywhere they can and will literally get into a Car without taking any PA and do our acoustic thing.  On May 13th we are playing at Bloxham Church which is a really nice venue in the next town over that way.  We are playing there to raise money for heating that they need.  We’ve also played at Deddington Church three times which was also great fun to do totally acoustically.

Folkmaster – If you could sit next to anyone famous at a Dinner Party, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Well I would like to sit in between Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.  I probably wouldn’t say much, I would leave them to do the talking because my questions would be too embarrassing.  Whenever I meet somebody famous I am always at a loss for words, I never know what to say.  The same as most people do actually, it’s like when you go back stage after a gig and meet one of your heroes most people find it difficult.

The most famous person I ever met was Paul McCartney.  I completely froze up, as everybody does when they meet Paul, but he was the perfect gent. A very, very nice person as was his wife Linda. God Bless her.  They were absolutely charming and very genuine people.

Folkmaster – What was the first single you ever bought?

It was Apache by the Shadows.

Folkmaster – What luxury would you take with you to a Desert Island?

Folkmaster – You can take a musical instrument.

I thought you meant luxury!  Well I would take my sailing boat I think if I had a choice.

Folkmaster – That’s a good answer and then you could get off it couldn’t you!

Folkmaster – What’s your favourite all time Fairport Album or track?

Rising for the Moon is probably my favourite Fairport Album, I particularly love that track as well because it was when Sandy had come back to the Band.  It was a very difficult time for us to be honest.  The group kind of split up as a result of it when Dave Mattacks left the band.  It was a great Album to make though, because we had a guy called Glyn Johns producing it.  Fairport didn’t often use outside producers but it was great having somebody else’s input and Glyn was a real motivator.  Glyn Johns has produced some fabulous Albums, he did all those Eagles Albums for example. We recorded Rising for the Moon at Olympic Studios in Barnes and it was great fun to do despite the problems that were happening at the time.  It’s also one of the few Fairport records that I still play from time to time.

Folkmaster – If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be – What’s your legacy?

If I could be remembered for one thing – Well I did have a nasty accident at the Krumlin Festival in the 70’s when I was wearing a pair of white trousers.  I had rather too much to drink and when I got on stage I actually shat myself which was very embarrassing as the back of my white trousers changed colour very quickly.  Behind me were all the other acts that were on, including Elton John who wasn’t very famous at the time and The Move who were people that we knew from Birmingham.  I was a laughing stock.  It was incredibly embarrassing and I couldn’t turn around to adjust the volume on my amp because the audience would have seen the brown mass that was attached to my arse and would have know for sure what had happened.

Folkmaster – So they never knew?

The audience never knew.  In fact the Festival was a complete disaster, it all went terribly wrong for us.  Dave Swarbrick didn’t actually shit himself on stage but was desperate for a tiddle and there was this hole in the canvas on the stage.  He went over to the side of the stage, stuck his chopper through the hole and had a waz.  Unfortunately the press area was on the other side of the hole and consequently we’ve never been popular with the Melody Maker since 1970, which I think was the last time they gave us a review.

Folkmaster – That leads me into the next question, What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever done, but I think you have answered that one!

I have done some very outrageous things in my time, usually when under the grip of grappa, because I used to drink excessively as a child, but now I am very mature and old and things like that don’t tend to happen to me as much.

I have done some very outrageous things when drunk, usually involving the music press.  In fact there was a Melody Maker journalist called Chris Charlesworth who I once tipped a pint of beer over his head at this festival we did in the south of France.  Afterwards I went up and apologised to him and said “Please feel free to come up anytime you like and do the same to me” but then several hours passed and I forgot all about it.  When he finally came up and did the same to me I picked a fight on him having no recollection of the previous incident.  So once again it was like nil points for Fairport in the Melody Maker.

So shun the fatal curse of drink that’s the answer. Drink can only make you do stupid things, its better to do other useful things like mowing the lawn – what am I saying, lets go and have a pint!


Celtus At the Royal Festival Hall on Monday 13th March, 2000

Celtus greenThe air was filled with gathering excitement as we waited for Celtus to appear on stage. Our first view was of Dan bathed in a soft eerie glow as he conjured up the introduction to “Two Worlds”. Then light erupted around John as he appeared from nowhere, low whistle in hand radiating a strong stage presence. Pat’s faultless rhythm guitar combined with the multi-coloured backdrop of swirling light patterns created an impressive backdrop that was both visually and musically stunning.

Celtus dsc0028“The Pilgrim” led the way as we followed the morning star of rousing chorus and amazing harmonies along this musical journey.

“Strange Day in the Country” and “Moon Child” have a special place in my heart, as these songs were my first introduction to the band. The low Irish whistle and soft but powerful vocals and chants combined with Pat’s stunning electric guitar work were awesome.

Celtus dsc0038It was time for “The Awakening”, a haunting melodic instrumental that releases the spirit to a state of liberation. At this moment my mind wandered and I thought to myself I ‘m at the Royal Festival Hall in London on the 13th March 2000, the next chapter of the Celtus story. This night will herald the new chapter as the day, John, Pat and Dan reset the standard of live performance, for me a bench mark for all future musical events I attend.

“Touch you” and “Believe” followed – two beautifully crafted songs with a strong message of peace, understanding and hope.

Celtus dsc0042There was also some fantastic tracks played from the new album “Rooted”, one such masterpiece was “Navigator”. Dan’s introduction to this track is like a new journey, full of the anticipation and the danger into the unknown. Johns low whistle comes in like an old friend and Pat’s fiddle verges on a controlled state of mayhem. Navigator works so well, it’s like losing your way briefly only to find that you were going the right way in the first place. The combination of low whistle, fiddle and futuristic keyboard is pure unexpected joy.

Celtus dsc0062The mighty “Cathedral” arrives, a bastion of a bye-gone age, towering over all, spreading its shadow, as it grows ever higher. This is one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard for some time. It’s a lyrical wonder, a visual masterpiece that should hang in the Tate gallery when it’s not being performed. Quite how they created the sound of the Cathedral on stage when it was originally recorded, even with full orchestral backing, is beyond my understanding.

Celtus bandI’ve been asked what is the one thing that makes Celtus the band it is today. Some may say it’s John’s vocal control and gifted low whistle technique, others may say it’s Pat’s diversity of guitar structure and fiddle technique or it could be Dan’s fusion of past and present synthesised sounds. I can’t put it down to any one of these things, for me it’s the sum of the many parts that makes Celtus unique, giving a new dimension to the folk/rock/roots scene.

The Folkmaster, 17th March, 2000

The Set List as follows:

1. Two Worlds
2. The Pilgrim
3. Navigator
4. Strange Day In The Country
5. Moonchild
6. The Awakening
7. Touch You
8. Believe
9. Moment In Time
10. Dear Irish Boy
11. Wasteland
12 Claddagh
13 Wide Awake
14 Bubble
15 Portrait
16 Cathedral
17 We Two Are One
18 Purple Diadem


Celtus – Reviewed by The Sunday Citizen Milton Keynes on the 12th March, 2000 – by Paul Brookman

Celtus Reviewed by The Sunday Citizen Milton KeynesCeltus are simply the best!

CELTUS are quite simply the best band Ireland has ever produced.

Forget U2, The Corrs, Them or any group of any genre – this trio from County Donegal are head and shoulders above them all.

After two brilliant albums their record label, Sony, dropped them just before Christmas – a decision they will live to regret.

Undeterred Celtus have recorded a third album, Rooted, and they have distributed it on their current tour which came to The Stables on Sunday.

I first discovered Celtus when they supported Paul Carrick at Woughton a few years ago. I was impressed then.

This time they were headlining at a packed Wavendon venue and were out of this world.

If some of the audience were not sure what to expect, brothers Pat and John McManus, plus new keyboard player, Dan Axtell (who’s actually from London), had them eating out of their hands by the third number.

Celtus have been likened to a cross between Pink Floyd and Clannad.

Throw in Mike Oldfield influences, together with traditional Irish music, and you’ll get an idea what they might sound like.

But be prepared for the unexpected with Celtus. The Stables set comprised songs from all three albums and showed the depth of their musical range.


Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums – A Poetic look back

Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums folkmaster poetic reviewSitting in a high place, the darkness of night passes slowly to a dawn of eager glow. Beneath lie the souls of the loved and the lost. It’s a time of reflection and remembrance; the energy is so strong here that you feel it could ignite the spark to fuel the light of the dawning day.

Moonchild was born out of Tommy’s love, a musical journey through the inner struggle of the joy and celebration of life and the darker places where no exits lead to the reasons why. Moonchild is an uplifting and moving experience that will heal the darkest of hearts.

Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums folkmaster poetic reviewFrom this high place you view the gathering armies on the plain below, each with its banner and cause. The air is still and the faces of past and present people’s flash before your eyes. Possessed with the knowledge of all that has passed before, you stare in disbelief. As two worlds collide you shout “I am wide awake, I’m not sleeping”. For a moment time stands still, and the ground Celtus Moonchild and Portrait Albums folkmaster poetic reviewbeneath you groans “If you believe in peace it will heal the deepest of wounds”. You turn to leave this place to make the steep descent into the valley below with a single thought in your mind ” I have never lost my faith in you”. When you reach the valley below you are met with a single reflection – a Portrait of yourself.

The Folkmaster,, 12th March 2000

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