Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ken Debates A Motion...

The blog's been lately a little um, what's the opposite of 'lively'? It's about time for a Discussion Topic.
This house believes that: folk music has no future.
Aah! Gasp! Shock! Horror!!
I speak for the motion.
The question: 'what is folk music?' is an old, much-debated one, and the answer a thorny one. However, if we assume that folk music is 'music made by people for their own amusement', then the evidence for folk music's decline is compelling. It has its origins, dear reader, before you were born.
Regardless of whether the music is transmitted orally, or via some notation, (and it has been by both for 400 years or more), the decline in folk music started with the Industrial Revolution and the drift to the towns from the country. Folk music's resilience was considerable, but could not withstand the near-mortal blow of the Great War, and the loss of virtually a generation of young men. Some claim that the music was carried-on by the womenfolk. Some certainly was, but the gap between the young of the new generation and their grandparents' ways was a considerable one, and thus much folk culture, in song, tune and dance or ritual, was lost. That device which helped to preserve the traditional music of the British Isles (at least), i.e. the phonograph, was the harbinger of the technology which was to turn the majority from practitioners (in the home and workplace) to consumers through the audio and video media. The family sing-song round the piano gave way rapidly to the passive 'couch potato' culture of today. Even that bastion of folk music, the Gypsy traveler culture, is in its death-throes. Singaround clubs such as the City Folk Club (and there are many similar) are the last outpost of a dying culture. The youth of today see music as a way of escaping their apparent destinies and a route to fame and fortune.
So, can folk music last? Clearly not: the age of most folk singers and musicians means that it is unsustainable for more than a decade or so, say, being generous, three. So: practically extinguished by 2040, save for a handful, who might be no more numerous than flat-earthists.
Anyone care to speak against the motion?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Being the Twentyfourth of July 2009...

David + full cast: Midnight Special
Lynda/Paul: For The Goodtimes
Berry: The Glory of Love
Paul: Three Steps to Heaven
Brenda/Berry: Dream a Little Dream of Me
Eddie: See That Rainbow Shine
Yvonne: I Only Want to be With You
Mike: It's a Mystery
Jane: Lilac Wine
Mike P.: Zimmerman Blues
Margaret: Polly Oliver
Bill 1.2: Travelin' Shoes
Ray: Jangling Waltz
Mave: Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage
Ken/Berry: Mailman Bring Me No More Blues
Mick: Morning Cantref
David: Withered and Died
Lynda: Most of Us are Sad
Paul: Norwegian Wood
Berry: ?/Somebody Stole My Gal
Brenda/Berry: Winchester Cathedral
Eddie: Sing With Me Now
Mike/Yvonne: Halcyon Days
Jane: Hallelujah
Mike P.: Grandma's Feather Bed
Margaret: Long Black Veil
Bill 1.2: The Dutchman
Ray: Home Lads Home
Mave: Four Strong Winds
Ken: Poor Jenny
Mick/Mike P.: My Darling Asleep/Walls of Liscarrol

Friday, July 24, 2009

Being the Seventeenth of July 2009...

David: The Road Away
Paul: I Wish I Was 18 Again
Les: The Bachelor's Lament
Mike/Yvonne: Butterflies
Lynda: Kathy's Song
Jane: Trudie Dies
Mick: Blackwaterside
Mike P.: Teacher Teacher
Anne: Joe Peel
Bill 1.1: The Longer You Live
Ken/Colin: White Squall
Mave: The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
Colin: Lowlands Away
David: The World Turned Upside Down
Paul: Anything That's Part of You
Les: Hotel California
Mike: Y.V.O.O.N.E.
Lynda: Never Again
Jane: Salisbury Plain
Mick: When Kings Come Home
Mike P.: Brand New Day
Anne: The Swallow Song
Bill 1.1: The Wicked Gander
Ken: The Golden Glove
Mave: Turn, Turn, Turn.
Colin: The Twa Corbies

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Being the Tenth of July 2009...

David: Positively 4th Street
Paul: Learning the Game
Berry: It's You
Brenda/Berry: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Jane: Hickory Wind
Lynda: What Ever Happened to Saturday Night?
Mick: Vesta Pol
George: Gua'r Dame Las Vacas
Tony: The Piano
Mike P.: Run For Home
Josie: The Water is Wide
Ray: Spanish Eyes
John: Rose of Allendale
Mave: No, My Love, Not I
Ken: Only As Old
Anita/Colin: A Birthday Song for Lynda
David: Stars In Your Eyes
Paul: I'm a Loser
Berry: I'd Never Find Another You
Brenda/Berry: It Had to be You
Jane: Bold Fisherman
Lynda: Lay Me Low
Mick: O'Carolan's Draught
George: La Cumparsita
Tony: Look What They've Done To My Song
Mike: First Song
Josie: Los Muleros
Ray: Empty Echos
John: Hardtimes Come Again No More
Mave: The Manchester Rambler
Ken: Grumpy Old Man
Colin: The Oggy Man

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My next instrument will be ...

A bombarde!
... mais ma femme ... elle dit, "NON!"

Le quatorze juillet, Bastille Day, is a special day of celebration in France. Whether Brittany is truly part of France is historically debatable, and I am unsure how loyal Bretons will receive this post in such a context. (Enlightening comments are welcome.)

Here's a song, in Breton Gaelic about a swan (An Alarc'h). My thanks to someone called hanterkant for the following paraphrased explanation:
The plot is simple, based on a real story. In the middle ages, a Breton duke (surnamed "the Swan") returns from England to Brittany in order to help his people fight against a French invasion. The Bretons sing, "D'an emgann! D'an emgann!" ("To the fight! To the fight!").

Some viewers might recognise the tune. It has been acquired for accompanying a traditional English/Scottish tale of human mortality, desertion and avian feasting.

Which one?

What is the collective term for a group of legitimately conceived bombarde-players?
... bombast?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ship's log for the year of our Lord 2009 ...

By the grace of God, being the fourth day of July.

John – skipper and helmsman
Stephen – helmsman’s mate
Don – caterer
Helen – female cabin boy

On board - a total of 36 voyagers, hopeful for a new life in distant lands, boarded the good ship Richmond, tearfully waved farewell to their grieving loved ones on the quay and set sail for who-knows-where, not knowing if or when they would return.

In fair weather, skilfully steered by very-able seaman John, the vessel was carefully navigated out of the canal basin whence we pursued a southerly direction.

Grog was generously distributed or jealously guarded. To pass the weary hours music was played and songs were sung. Someone decided that an exercise in answering very silly questions might distract the passengers from the tedium of a long sea voyage.

As the city lights dwindled into the distance, we could no longer make out the forms of our relatives still waving their handerchiefs. We discussed the health risks of this ancient custom of handkerchief-waving.

At a remote place called Hunston someone passed wind and we were obliged to tack onto a more westerly course.

At Donnington disaster struck! Our progress was blocked by a low bridge that one Mr. Crosbie had hurriedly constructed overnight. The captain cursed Mr. Crosbie and pondered this desperate situation for a while. He decided to put about our craft. This serious piece of helmsmanship involved going astern for some distance. There was no option other than to return to our home port.

On passing Hunston again a fine anchorage was found. Noting that the on-board supplies were diminishing, some of the passengers undertook the short excursion to a local hostelry. The natives were friendly. A strange intoxicant called ‘Guinness’ was discovered. A pint thereof could be purchased for 350 pence in an unfamiliar local currency. Emboldened by this and other liquors, more songs were sung.

Twilight approached. The passengers staggered back aboard the Richmond. The anchor was weighed and, having left that earlier foul wind behind, we proceeded northwards. Entertained by more music and singing, we safely arrived back at the canal basin in time for the last train home.

Seriously, didn’t we have a jolly time again?

Very many thanks to all who contributed to our enjoyment of the evening.
The timely appearance of ardea cinerea while Anne was singing about a heron was greatly appreciated.
Thanks to Joe and his staff at The Spotted Cow for their indulgence.
Thanks to David for … err ... well … for simply being! (No, I didn’t say, nor intend, ‘being simple’!)
Congratulations to Linda who exhibited exhaustive knowledge of unimportant things. With 93% correct answers, she won the quiz.

Most importantly, thank you to John, Stephen, Don and Helen, volunteers of the Canal Society, who were extraordinarily tolerant of our behaviour and ensured that no lives were endangered, souls lost, nor limbs severed on the voyage.

I was so pleased that my glass eye was rapidly recovered from the bilge!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Being The Third of July 2009...

The Snake: David
I've Got You Under My Skin: Brenda/Berry
Heartbeat: Paul
Leaving on a Jet Plane: Lynda/Paul
Oh So Naturally: Yvonne/Mike
How It's Meant To Be: Margaret/Mike/Yvonne
All The Goodtimes: Eddie
Box On Her Head: Anne
Turning of the Year: Mike P.
Babe I'm Gonna Leave You: Margaret
Someday: Berry
A Tree Song: Colin
You Know Who I Am: Jane
I'm Throwing Rice: David
The Very Thought of You: Brenda/Berry
His Eye is on the Sparrow: Paul
Raggle Taggle Gypsies: Lynda
Jesus Saviour Pilot Me: Jane
Do You Remember?: Mike
Next Time Around: Eddie
Catch Me If You Can: Anne
Play Me: Margaret
I'm Gonna Try For the Sun: Mike P.
Please Help Me I'm Falling: Berry
The Heart is True: Colin
Jimmy Brown: Paul
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight: Mike P.
Silver Dagger: Anne
Putting On The Style: Berry
Talk To Me of Mendocino: Jane