Davy Graham – more re-releases

Davy Graham

David Michael Gordon “Davey” Graham (originally spelled Davy Graham) (26 November 1940 – 15 December 2008) was born in Leicestershire, to a Guyanese mother and a Scottish father. He learnt to play the piano and harmonica as a child and then took up the classical guitar at the age of 12. As a teenager he was strongly influenced by the folk guitar player Steve Benbow, who had travelled widely and played a guitar style influenced by Moroccan music. Graham was one of the most influential figures in the 1960s British Folk Revival. He inspired many famous practitioners of the fingerstyle acoustic guitar such as Bert Jansch, Ralph McTell, Martin Carthy, Paul Simon, John Martyn and indeed Jimmy Page. Graham is probably best known for his acoustic instrumental ‘Anji’ and for popularizing DADGAD tuning, later widely adopted by many acoustic guitarists. Not one to be categorised Graham could be seen as a true World music artist covering the genres of folk, blues and jazz.

Following the 2017 rerelease of Folk, Blues & Beyond and Large As Life And Twice As Natural, 2019 will see the reissue of Midnight Man and Hat, available on CD and vinyl.

MIDNIGHT MAN

When Davy Graham’s previous album, “Folk, Blues and Beyond…”, was issued by Decca in 1965, it collected praises from many people and for many different reasons. The Folk press (almost to a critic) hailed its release as an event of major importance; but then, so did most of the Rhythm-and-Blues publications. Guitarists bought it, listening to the solos and accompaniments with considerable excitement – and some of them even began to follow Davy around, studying his methods and technique. (So far without being able to emulate him). Meanwhile, copies of the record were usually to be found lying in the backs of those dusty, message-covered vans that beat groups use to travel from one job to another. And, finally, and certainly the most satisfying praise of all, a general audience of fans bought it in sufficient quantities to make the need for this second album an inevitability …

Since making the first album, Davy has been actively changing and extending himself musically – several results of which can be heard within these newer performances. He has been travelling again (to Ibiza, then through the Aegean and on to Constantinople), listening carefully to all the musical sounds en route. He has been deeply engrossed in the writings of Ouspensky. And – in bizarre contrast – he has been experimenting with an amplifier to put a different sound into two or three of his solos. Also, he has been absorbing some unusual (for him, at least) sources of inspiration (i.e. The Beatles, Oscar Brown, Jnr. and Jimmy Hughes), letting his own imagination first of all combine with, and then gradually take over from an initial curiosity. I think such involvements have been, if somewhat surprisingly, a great success; as have his experiments with conventional blues and modern jazz pieces, and – of course – the incredible excursion with Lalo Schifrin’s ‘The Fakir’, which seems fairly certain to become the instrumental ‘hit’ on this album … just as ‘Maajun’ was on the previous one.

If anything, and in conclusion, I would say that the second Davy Graham album (here enclosed) is more extrovert and more aggressive, musically, than the first was; although I realise this could be the logical result of his increased experience and growing maturity as an artist. However, I don’t believe it will disappoint any of his original fans; and it ought to bring him plenty of new ones… together with several more guitarists who want to know how to manage to do all he does during ‘The Fakir’!

© 1966. The Decca Record Company Limited, London Ray Horricks

HAT

Somewhere in Notting Hill,

May 4, 1969.

Dear Ray,

The selections on this album are intended to please not only Blues and Folk fans but all those of the New Breed who are just taking up modern music.

I get many requests for guitar pieces from ‘classical’ listeners, so I have included a few finger-busters for them. The two pieces by Oliver Hunt and Stan Watson respectively have never been recorded before. And the adaptation of the Purcell hornpipe is entirely my own. For the next album, there is a Latin piece I would like to do, and also a 14th Century pavan for guitar: but we can discuss these at a later date.

There are also two Muddy Waters’ numbers here (both actually written by Willie Dixon, the giant bass-player who resided at the “Trois Mailletz” in Paris with Memphis Slim in the early Sixties.) And there are two songs by Paul Simon. Paul is a good friend of mine and these are two of his best.

The aim on all my discs, as you know better than anyone, has been to make ‘Music’ a sufficiently attractive title in itself, and to draw some of those music lovers who previously thought jazz and folk-forms and classical things to be irreconcilable elements. And I predict there will be many more musical revolutions in the near future. I myself would like to explore spirituals a lot more in the next few years. And – if I get the time – I would like to follow up two more projects. One is another trip to the East. Another is an album of some ‘pop’ favourites of mine, backed by an orchestra. Pieces like ‘No Milk Today’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, ‘Daydream’ and something featuring electric blues guitar – dig Lonnie Johnson on ‘Drunk Again’ by the way.

You ask me about my Eastern modes and studies of Indian music. Well, firstly, I am the originator of the modal tuning DADGAD – that is, bass-string first. Also, Indian harmonics are extremely difficult to hear unless you are in a room with a spherical dome-shape, and even then you should not be more than 3 or 4 feet from the instrument. One’s listening progress may be learnt from being able to hear on the high strings the 9th or sub-mediant RE, the 5th, SOL in a major oriental piece, and from being able to hear the flatted 5th in a minor piece. (Electrification, of course, and feedback, have made it almost impossible for the ‘teeny-popsters’ to understand Ravi and Ali Akbar, and there’s even the danger of their ears for music being destroyed altogether.

My best,

Davy.

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‘Anji’ – it has to be, even if someone can’t spell it:

DAVY GRAHAM – Large As Life And Twice As Natural (Bread And Wine BRINECD-2)

NaturalIf you want to know why Davy Graham was such a unique and influential artist just listen to the first track on Large As Life And Twice As Natural, his third studio album. Actually, listen to the whole record but the first track will tell you all you need to know.

That track is ‘Both Sides Now’, yes, the Joni Mitchell song, although initially you wouldn’t recognise it.  In 1968 it was known from the Judy Collins cover; Joni wouldn’t release it for another year. For Davy it must have seemed like a blank canvas. He begins with a bass drone, then introducing a guitar instrumental with wordless vocals which is reminiscent of ‘She Moves Through The Fair’ or possibly ‘Blackwaterside’. Only after two minutes or so does he burst into a high energy version of the song with his band in full cry.

I should tell you that the “band” consists of four of the go-to sides-men of the time: Danny Thompson, Jon Hiseman, Harold McNair and Dick Heckstall-Smith, all capable of playing anything that was asked of them be it folk, blues, jazz or whatever and, on this record, Graham asks a lot. He follows it up with the traditional ‘Bad Boy Blues’, a musical form that he was irresistibly drawn to. Here you’ll find four blues songs and a couple more that come close but Graham is musically restless so the third track is ‘Tristano’, a solo guitar composition.

There are two of Graham’s famous ragas, both different in character and using his original tunings. The first is the appropriately named ‘Sunshine Raga’, which starts slowly as though coming up with the dawn waking up the bass and drums as it rises while a very western melody emerges. The second, which closes the album, is ‘Blue Raga’ with its beautiful echoey opening phrase and Hiseman’s percussion running alongside the guitar.

As if these delights are not enough, there is the Moroccan-inspired ‘Jenra’ and a solemn version of the traditional ‘Bruton Town’. You come away with the impression that these musicians could do just about anything and you can see why Large As Life And Twice As Natural is held to be one of Graham’s finest works.

Dai Jeffries

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You can hear more of Davy Graham at https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/84b35dee-b1d6-4bf6-8748-8bb9918bebaf

and there is a nice feature at http://www.folkblues.co.uk/artistsgraham.html

No film as such but listen to ‘Blue Raga’ anyway:

;

DAVY GRAHAM – Folk, Blues & Beyond (Bread & Wine BRINECD1)

Folk, Blues & BeyondDavy (or Davey) Graham’s Folk, Blues & Beyond is a reissue of his 1965 Decca album on licence to Bread and Wine Records/East Central One, due for release on October 27th 2017. It retains the same tracks and running order as the original vinyl release and the Topic reissue CD from 1999, unlike the 2005 reissue from Fledg’Ling which also included five rarely-seen earlier recordings. It does include the original sleeve notes from producer Ray Horricks and a booklet including a 2016 article for Rolling Stone by David Fricke.

There are few folk-ish guitarists of my generation who haven’t owned or at least heard this album at one time or other, and even fewer who were not influenced by his work directly or indirectly. Indeed, that influence extended far beyond the folkier types who picked up on his use of modal tunings, and eclectic pickers like Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. Even in the 60s/70s it extended into the commercial and rock ecologies with (for instance) Paul Simon and Chicken Shack’s Stan Webb – two of many guitarists who recorded Davy’s instrumental ‘Angi’ (a.k.a. ‘Anji’).

Here’s the track-by-track summary:

  • ‘Leavin’ Blues’ is credited to Leadbelly, though it strays quite a long way from Louisiana and the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) railroad so beloved of so many blues and old-timey singers. The intro has a decidedly Eastern feel, often described as raga-like or sitar-like, though to me it’s more Middle Eastern in intonation than Indian. The main body of the song uses octaves in a guitar figure that recalls Leadbelly’s version while going far beyond it, returning to some Eastern voicings in the mid-song instrumental break. I suspect that this was played in DADGAD tuning: at any rate, it falls off the fingers quite easily that way.
  • ‘Cocaine Blues’ has been a folk club staple for many years: this version apparently derives at least in part from Rambling Jack Elliot – it’s a song with a multitude of floating verses – though Davy’s guitar gives it extra swing and fluency. Still my favourite version, 50 years on.
  • ‘Sally Free And Easy’ is another folk club standard, written (of course) by Cyril Tawney, though more often performed in a more ‘traditional’ manner. I’ve always thought that this rhythmic, drum-driven version has an entirely appropriate maritime-motor feel, though it can be sung very prettily unaccompanied.
  • ‘Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair’ uses more or less the same lyrics to this (originally traditional) song as Nina Simone’s. Simone used the tune written by John Jacob Niles, as does Davy. Wisely, perhaps, he doesn’t attempt the vocal pyrotechnics that both Simone and Niles tended towards. Not the strongest performance on the album, vocally, but worth it just for the subtle, restrained musicianship of the guitar part.
  • ‘Rock Me Baby’ is one of a group of blues songs with similar titles and themes: the version here is very much as Big Bill Broonzy wrote and recorded it (also recorded as ‘Rocking Chair Blues’) though the drums and bass here augment a typically jazzy arrangement. I suspect that Broonzy, who often played and recorded in a jazz context, would not have been unhappy with this version. I love it.
  • ‘Seven Gypsies’ recalls his collaboration with Shirley Collins Folk Roots, New Roots, released a little earlier if I recall correctly, being a traditional ballad (Child 200) treated to a typical guitar accompaniment, athletic but not flashy. While there are longer, more dramatic and certainly more ‘authentic’ versions, I’ve always liked the way this version, like some American versions, strips the story to its barest bones. I’d love to have heard Shirley sing this version, but I don’t know if she ever did.
  • ‘Ballad Of The Sad Young Men’ is an abbreviated version of the song by Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf from the 1959 musical The Nervous Set. While the whole lyric bears close examination, Davy’s version gets to the point, and it suits his voice.
  • ‘Moanin” is the classic Bobby Timmons composition, played faster and harder (and more succinctly) than the Jazz Messengers version, and no worse for the experience.
  • ‘Skillet (Good ‘N’ Greasy)’ is a song associated with Uncle Dave Macon, among others: this version, from an unnamed banjo player, is fairly similar to a version recorded by Woody Guthrie, but Woody never played guitar like this. But then, who apart from Davy did?
  • ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business What I Do’ is a blues standard from the 1920s that has branched off into many variations of tune and lyric. According to the original sleeve notes “Davy says ‘In my lyrics, I’ve chosen to bring out the loneliness side of the song.’” There aren’t too many examples of Davy’s lyrics around, but if these are original, they’re entirely suitable. In any case, it’s a great version.
  • ‘Maajun (A Taste Of Tangier)’ is Davy’s take on “a melody he found in Tangier”. It’s a stunning instrumental track with sympathetic bass and drums.
  • ‘I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes’ is a song mostly associated with Blind Willie Johnson, as credited here. However, this is very different from Johnson’s growl and slide version. (I don’t believe I ever heard Davy play slide.) But just as effective.
  • ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ is a song by some American singer/songwriter whose name escapes me. Faster than most people seem to play it, and it works fine that way. It suits Davy’s voice very well.
  • ‘My Babe’, Willie Dixon’s secular rewrite of ‘This Train’ for Little Walter, was long popular with British R&B and pub rock bands, and probably still is. Davy’s “Chico Hamilton-ish” version swings a little more than was usual in those contexts, and is all the better for it.
  • ‘Going Down Slow’ is a classic if lugubrious blues. This version was learned from Champion Jack Dupree, but the interpretation is pure Davy Graham.
  • ‘Better Git In Your Soul’ (Charles Mingus) is an exquisite example of how Davy, on the right day, could take a jazz theme and make it sound as if he wrote it himself. Fine work (as on several other tracks) by Tony Reeves (bass) and Barry Morgan (drums).

Davy Graham made many fine albums, but perhaps this and Folk Roots, New Roots (which provided a template of sorts for the English folk rock bands that came later) were the most influential. He was capable of phenomenal instrumental technique, and a pleasant voice, if a little erratic in pitch at times. At least as importantly, he defied categorization and musical boundaries, and generations of guitarists have benefited from that breaking of barriers. If you don’t know Davy’s work or this album specifically, you owe yourself the opportunity to hear it.

David Harley

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Artist’s website: www.daveygraham.moonfruit.com/

There are lots of sites that talk about Davey, but I don’t know that there’s one that could be described as his own. http://www.davygraham.com/ is really just a link to an info email address.

Not on the album but try finding appropriate footage. ‘All Of Me’ – Davy Graham on TV:

Beverley Martyn: NEW ALBUM ANNOUNCED + TRACK STREAM

Beverley MartynBeverley Martyn started her musical career at just 16 with the jug band The Levee Breakers and recorded her first single “Babe I’m Leaving You” in 1965. In 1966 she was chosen to launch Deram Records and released a single, “Happy New Year” written by Randy Newman. She contributed to the Simon & Garfunkel album Bookends, toured America with the duo and later appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival on 16 June 1967.

In 1969 she met John Martyn, whom she later married. As a duo they issued two albums, Stormbringer! and The Road to Ruin. Although she was spending more time with her children, Beverley continued to contribute to John’s solo projects until the breakdown of their marriage.

At various times, Martyn has worked with Levon Helm, Jimmy Page, Dave Pegg, Richard Thompson, John Renbourn, Ralph McTell, Davy Graham, and Sandy Denny. She appeared in the photograph on the album sleeve of Bert Jansch’s 1965 album It Don’t Bother Me; where she can be seen lounging in the background.  In December 2013, Beverley appeared at the Royal Festival Hall as part of a celebration of Bert Jansch, alongside friends and contemporaries such as Donovan, Martin Carthy, Pentangle and Robert Plant. Her powerhouse performance of “” was described by Mojo as ‘sounding almost Janis Joplin-esque’.  A film of the event is due to be shown by the BBC in the spring.

In 2004, Fat Boy Slim sampled Beverley Martyn’s song “Primrose Hill” for the track “North West Three” which is on his album Palookaville. Beverley still performs the song live along with ‘Auntie Aviator’, also from The Road The Ruin.

April 2014 will see the release of her new album entitled The Phoenix and the Turtle. Described by Beverley as a very personal album, it features songs written throughout her entire career, from her very first song, “Sweet Joy”, to the previously unrecorded Nick Drake & Beverley Martyn song “Reckless Jane” which was started in 1974 when Drake lived nearby Beverley in Hampstead. “We started writing the song as a bit of a joke,” she says, “I couldn’t look at it for a long time after he died, but then finally I decided to finish it.”

“When The Levee Breaks’ and ‘Going To Germany’ are songs Beverley used to sing with The Levee Breakers. Another song, ‘Women And Malt Whiskey’ is, in part, about John Martyn and other friends from the scene back then.

The Phoenix and the Turtle is Beverley’s first album in fourteen years and was recorded in Wales with guitarist and producer Mark Pavey; it also features contributions from bass player Matt Malley, ex-Counting Crows and drummer Victor Bisetti, ex-Los Lobos which were recorded “by the magic of computer” in California. The album “still has that in-a-room feel,” said Beverley recently, “it sounds like an old style analogue record. It’s very me, very transatlantic.”

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Topic Records announce The Great Big Digital Archive Project 2013

70-years-of-Topic-150px The Great Big Digital Archive Project – 2013 

“Going Forward With Our Past”

From January 2013, the venerable and redoubtable Topic Records (now 74 years old) will be making available another of its ‘gifts to the nation’, in the form of The Great Big Digital Archive Project. Thereafter, a programme of 6 – 10 additional titles will be released every month throughout the year. With the possible exception of Smithsonian Records in the US, this will probably constitute the largest digital project of its kind undertaken by an independent record company anywhere in the world.

Topic has always had the underlying philosophy of making traditional based music as widely available as possible. The ambition of the label is now to make as much of its vast historical catalogue available using the current format – digital. What makes this project distinctive is that at the moment, digital delivery all too often divorces the audio recording from all artwork, documentation and sleeve-notes. The plan at Topic is to restore and include all of the information that accompanied the original releases of the past.

In January 2013, 84 of these albums will be available to download complete with digital booklets. The digital booklets will be available from the Topic website as well as iTunes. There will also be a short YouTube film explaining the project in detail and the content of specific digital booklets.

The first tranche of 84 digital releases will include albums originally released on vinyl LP in the late 1950s, the 60s, 70s and 80s. Many have been out of print for twenty years or more and include titles which were championed by John Peel and other influential broadcasters.

Much of the repertoire on the field recordings included in the Topic archive has fed into the latest British folk revival, whilst many recordings of Irish traditional music are of cultural and political significance and date from a period when there were few domestic labels in Ireland releasing such music.

Example:

TSDL070

The original recording of Davy Graham’s ‘Angi’ was made in Bill Leader’s Camden Town basement flat in 1962 and released on the seminal Topic 7″ vinyl EP – 3/4 AD. The vinyl release appeared in three different sleeves during the early 60s and with slightly different sleeve notes by Alexis Korner. The digital booklet will incorporate all the sleeve notes and illustrate the variant sleeve designs.

‘Angi’ is widely regarded as one of the cornerstone compositions of the sixties’ acoustic guitar movement, famously recorded by Bert Jansch, Paul Simon, Ralph McTell, etc.

And – looking a little further ahead – leading up to Topic’s 75th birthday in 2014, the label also plans to make available digital booklets for all current Topic releases, artist by artist, as well as new “themed” digital collections.

The first 84 TOPIC archive digital releases for January 2013

TSDL035 DOMINIC BEHAN Down By The Liffeyside (Irish Street Songs)

TSDL051 A L LLOYD Outback Ballads

TSDL070 DAVY GRAHAM 3/4 AD

TSDL084 THE WILLETT FAMILY The Roving Journeyman

TSDL093 RAMBLING JACK ELLIOTT Talking Woody Guthrie

TSDL110 VARIOUS ARTISTS Sea Songs & Shanties

TSDL113 PEGGY SEEGER & TOM PALEY Who’s Going To Shoe You’re Pretty Little Foot?

TSDL117 HEDY WEST Old Times and Hard Times

TSDL118 A L LLOYD First Person

TSDL120 THE CAMPBELL FAMILY The Singing Campbells

TSDL125 VARIOUS ARTISTS New Voices

TSDL130 EWAN MacCOLL Bundook Ballads

TSDL134 JESSE FULLER Move On Down The Line

TSDL137 THE FISHER FAMILY Traditional & New Songs From Scotland

TSDL139 PADDY TUNNEY A Wild Bees’ Nest

TSDL147 EWAN MacCOLL The Manchester Angel

TSDL163 HEDY WEST Ballads

TSDL175 WILLIE CLANCY The Minstrel From Clare

TSDL182 MRS. SARAH MAKEM Ulster Ballad Singer

TSDL183 WILLIE SCOTT The Shepherd’s Song

TSDL185 LIZZIE HIGGINS Princess Of The Thistle

TSDL186 THE HIGH LEVEL RANTERS Northumberland Forever

TSDL190 DAVE & TONI ARTHUR The Lark In The Morning

TSDL193 PHOEBE SMITH Once I Had A True Love

TSDL200 PETER BELLAMY The Fox Jumps Over The Parson’s Gate

TSDL203 A L LLOYD The Great Australian Legend

TSDL206 THE OLDHAM TINKERS Oldham’s Burning Sands

TSDL212 OAK Welcome To Our Fair

TSDL214 THE CHEVIOT RANTERS The Sound Of The Cheviots

TSDL216 FRANKIE ARMSTRONG Lovely On The Water

TSDL222 THE CHEVIOT RANTERS The Cheviot Hills

TSDL229 VARIOUS ARTISTS English Country Music From East Anglia

TSDL230 VARIOUS ARTISTS The Lark In The Clear Air

TSDL237 THE OLDHAM TINKERS Best O’ T’ Bunch

TSDL240 VARIOUS ARTISTS Boscastle Breakdown

TSDL247 JOHN KIRKPATRICK & SUE HARRIS The Rose Of Britain’s Isle

TSDL250 SEAMUS ENNIS The Wandering Minstrel

TSDL251 THE RUSSELL FAMILY Of Doolin, County Clare

TSDL253 VARIOUS ARTISTS Songs Of The Open Road

TSDL256 ROY HARRIS Champions Of Folly

TSDL274 BOB DAVENPORT Down The Long Road

TSDL275 BOB CANN West Country Melodeon

TSDL276 THE OLDHAM TINKERS For Old Time’s Sake

TSDL277 ARCHIE FISHER Will Ye Gang, Love

TSDL286 GEORGE MAYNARD Ye Subjects Of England

TSDL295 JOHN KIRKPATRICK & SUE HARRIS Among The Many Attractions At The Show…

TSDL297 THE HIGH LEVEL RANTERS Ranting Lads

TSDL305 THE O’HALLORAN BROTHERS The Men Of The Island

TSDL306 JIMMY POWER Irish Fiddle Player

TSDL307 BELLE STEWART Queen Among The Heather

TSDL315 DICK GAUGHAN Coppers & Brass

TSDL316 ROSE MURPHY Milltown Lass

TSDL318 BOB DAVENPORT Postcards Home

TSDL319 BOB SMITH’S IDEAL BAND Ideal Music

TSDL323 THE OLDHAM TINKERS Sit Thee Down

TSDL335 TOMMY HEALY & JOHN DUFFY Memories Of Sligo

TSDL337 JACK & CHARLIE COEN The Branch Line

TSDL350 BOB DAVENPORT & THE RAKES 1977

TSDL355 JOHN KIRKPATRICK & SUE HARRIS Shreds & Patches

TSDL361 BOB ROBERTS Songs From The Sailing Barges

TSDL362 MARY-ANN CAROLAN Songs From The Irish Tradition

TSDL366 DAN SULLIVAN’S SHAMROCK BAND

TSDL371 ALISTAIR ANDERSON Corby Crag

TSDL378 VIN GARBUTT Eston California

TSDL380 SHIRLEY & DOLLY COLLINS For As Many As Will

TSDL382 NEW VICTORY BAND One More Dance & Then

TSDL385 VIN GARBUTT Tossin A Wobbler

TSDL388 THE HIGH LEVEL RANTERS Four In A Bar

TSDL392 WALTER PARDON A Country Life

TSDL398 JOHN DOHERTY Bundle And Go

TSDL399 THE OLDHAM TINKERS That Lancashire Band

TSDL403 ALISON McMORLAND & PETA WEBB

TSDL405 CILLA FISHER & ARTIE TREZISE Cilla And Artie

TSDL408 JOHN KIRKPATRICK & SUE HARRIS Facing The Music

TSDL416 UMPS AND DUMPS The Moon’s In A Fit

TSDL430 MARTIN SIMPSON Grinning In Your Face

TSDL435 CURLEW Fiddle Music From Shetland & Beyond

TSDL438 MARTIN SIMPSON Sad Or High Kicking!

TSDL441 BILL CADDICK The Wild West Show

TSDL446 MARTIN & JESSICA SIMPSON True Dare Or Promise

TSDL447 ANDREW CRONSHAW Till The Beast’s Returning

TSDL453 JOHN KIRKPATRICK & SUE HARRIS Stolen Ground

TSDL502 EWAN MacCOLL Chorus From The Gallows

TSDL1050 ANDREW CRONSHAW The Language Of Snakes

Further information: http://www.topicrecords.co.uk/category/archive-digital-catalogue/

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 my influences have come from.

Q             If you could be one person in History, who would you be and why?

A             I don’t think I would like to be anybody famous because every single one has got his or her own drawbacks. If you think of somebody really famous, like Abraham Lincoln, there are so many negatives that go with being someone like that.  I’m just happy being myself!

Q             What is your favourite movie and why?

A             One of my favourites has always been Marilyn Monroe; she was the dumb blonde, but the light of entertainment, so probably the movie “Some like it hot”

Q             Tell us about your latest album or forthcoming album?

A             Yeah, this is one (Crimson Moon) I’ve produced myself and engineered for myself because I’ve become really tired of the finance of the whole studio thing, so over the years I’ve been collecting all the gear that I need, all the equipment, so I can record any time I like and play with a bunch of people like Johnny Marr (guitar/harmonica/backing vocal), Bernard Butler (guitar) who don’t usually get to play with.

This album is just as good as all the rest I’ve done actually.

Q             Where was your most memorable live performance and why was it special to you?

A             I remember playing with Brownie McGhee on an acoustic roots film, that is certainly something I will never forget. I have it on film as well (although I didn’t play much).

Q             If you could use one of your songs to promote something, what would it be and why?

A             I think seriously “Needle of Death” because it’s as much up to date now as it was when it was first written, although I don’t like singing it (it’s a depressing song).

Q             Where do you see the future of the music industry lies?

A             Well I think it does lie in, believe it or not, people like me because there are a lot of us who play intimate personal music, rather than dance music and all that kind of thing. You can churn dance music out basically by numbers these days, or so it seems, but you can’t do that with performance. Without players in the background playing away, the whole thing would soon grind to a halt.

Folkmaster comments: One of our ethoses of starting the site was to focus on the music. It seems to me that folk Music, especially in the UK, needs all the promoting it can get. The mass media tend to focus on the fact that the bands look good rather than the music subject matter.

Television does that, you don’t even have to have experience of playing in front of audience beforehand to make it, just get on “Top of the pops” and there you go.

Folkmaster comments: Which is killing music in a way.

Q             What venue would you most like to play at?

A             Well I’d like to do Cambridge festival a couple of times.

Q             What is the first single you ever bought?

A             (Laughing) “Bad Penny blues”

Q             What was the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you on stage?

A             I think the most embarrassing performance was at the Isle of Wright Festival because when we (Pentangle) first started to play a woman jumped on stage and grabbed the microphone.  She was then ushered off stage at which point Mick Jagger decided to join the audience.  Then, shortly after that, a Hayrick caught fire then helicopters started circling overhead, and this was all happening within the first half an hour of being on stage.

Q             When your not involved in producing music, what do you do?

A             Gardening, well my wife does most of it, I just get hauled in to do the bits she can’t do.

Q             What is your legacy, what would you most like to be remembered for?

A             That my music was there to be enjoyed, I hope that would occasionally come across.

Interviewed by the Folkmaster

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