2013 GRAMMY NOMINEES
Of Interest To FolkWorks Readers
43. BEST REGIONAL MEXICAN MUSIC ALBUM (INCLUDING TEJANO)
44. BEST TROPICAL LATIN ALBUM
45. BEST AMERICAN ROOTS SONG
46. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM
47. BEST BLUEGRASS ALBUM
48. BEST BLUES ALBUM
49. BEST FOLK ALBUM
50. BEST REGIONAL ROOTS MUSIC ALBUM
52. BEST WORLD MUSIC ALBUM
THE COEN BROTHERS’ ROCKY ROAD TO GREENWICH VILLAGE
There were two versions of the Folk Revival available to viewers this evening: on PBS a rerun of John Sebastian’s hosting a program called Folk Rewind, with performances by the Kingston Trio, The Highwayman, The Limelighters, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins and others who made folk music a commercial success in the early 1960s, and on the big screen, the long-awaited premiere of the Coen Brothers “remembrance of things past,” a film homage to the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961, when Bob Dylan hit town in the dead of winter and joined a budding revival that was to move folk music out of the fraternity circuit and into a major cultural force that fueled the civil rights and antiwar movements. Based on a character modeled on Dave Van Ronk, herein called Llewyn Davis, a young, bearded folk singer in love with traditional music who runs into a burgeoning singer-songwriter crowd with whom he is decidedly and humorously out of sync.
AUTHOR: DONALD COHEN
PUBLISHER: MUSIC SALES AMERICA
RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 2013
My friend Donald Cohen has written a new book about Gypsy Music called Gypsy Voices: Songs from the Romani Soul. It is his third book about music; his earlier books include Fado Português: Songs from the Soul of Portugal and Tango Voices: Songs from the Soul of Buenos Aires and Beyond.
Like the earlier volumes, Gypsy Voices is filled with wonderful photographs, commentary on all 21 songs on the cd that comes with it, lyrics translations, and even sheet music. It’s everything that a music fan could want. It also was a labor of love, involving many difficult choices among the thousands of songs in the Roma diaspora (Macedonia, Russia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Serbia).
The Roma people have been misunderstood and maligned for centuries, experiencing repression and rejection wherever they went. Yet they have endured. Originally from Northwestern India, they were called “gypsies” because of their dark skin: people thought they came from Egypt. The word “gyped” as in “The salesperson gyped me…” (meaning ripped off) is an example of the negative attitude.
TITLE: 150 GEMS OF IRISH MUSIC FOR TIN WHISTLE:
WITH SUGGESTED ORNAMENTATION AND PHRASING
AUTHOR: GREY LARSEN
PUBLISHER: MEL BAY PUBLICATIONS
RELEASE DATE: 2013
Grey Larsen’s third instructional book and tune collection for the tin whistle (also known as the pennywhistle) presents a comprehensive explanation of pennywhistle performance in addition to a notated selection of 150 Irish dance tunes with suggested ornamentation. Following a similar organizational structure as his first two books, the first section of 150 Gems of Irish Music for Tin Whistle offers a concise explanation of pennywhistle technique as well as more detailed discussions of ornamentation, phrasing, and tune structure. It is assumes that the reader already has a familiarity with the basics of Western staff notation.
The 150 tunes included within Larsen’s book are divided into three groups based upon whether they are a) perfectly amenable to performance on whistle, b) non-wind in origin, or c) suitable for performance on whistles in keys other than “D,” the most common key for pennywhistles. This is a departure from the majority of tune collections, which are more typically organized by difficulty or tune type. Larsen’s choice to organize tunes in this manner, however, illustrates his commitment to developing a guide specifically for pennywhistle rather than another generic tune collection.
Conveniently included with Larsen’s book are two audio CDs consisting of recordings of all 150 tunes notated in the collection.
TITLE: THE BACH UKE BOOK
AUTHOR: ROB MACKILLOP
PUBLISHER: MEL BAY
RELEASE DATE: 2012
The Bach Uke Book is a surprisingly pleasing book for aficionados of classical music who also play the ukulele. The clean sounds of the Bach pieces arranged in fingerpicking style with some two, three, and four note chords mixed into the melody are at times reminiscent of the sounds of a harpsichord.
While the ukulele is mostly known for its origins as a Hawaiian folk instrument, and prior to that, as a Portuguese folk instrument, the classical pieces in this book will help any musician to become familiar with the whole instrument and to work on tempos and variations within the music.
The pieces range from easy to challenging but are not placed in the book in the order of difficulty nor is their any notation on the piece to indicate the level of difficulty of the piece. It is up to the musician to determine the level of difficulty for themselves. The more challenging pieces, such as “Minuet in F”, “Polonaise in Gm”, and “Sheep May Safely Graze”, include triplets, sixteenth and thirty-second notes and intricate phrasing.
Watch What You Wish For:
The Settino Soprani 55
It is the old joke about the guy who leaves his car unlocked, and forgets that he has left an accordion (or a banjo or a set of bagpipes) on the back seat, and rushes back to find two of the instruments waiting for him.
We live in Aberfeldy, right in the geographical heart of Scotland, and in the last week we have become the custodians of approximately fifty accordions, part of a collection of over three hundred owned by a lady who lives north of here in Invernesshire.
BATTLEFIELD BAND’S NORTH AMERICAN TOUR
Scotland’s venerable Battlefield Band has been playing great Scottish and Irish music since their formation in 1970, and they are just embarking on their latest tour of North America. Unlike some Rock and Roll bands who have become sad caricatures of themselves, they have stayed to the forefront of traditional music. They have pretty much seamlessly pulled it off with the timely changing of personnel, not always an easy or satisfying feat to accomplish.
I first saw them in the early nineteen eighties at the home of Clark and Elaine Weissman in Tarzana, who in my estimation did more to promote this kind of music in Southern California than did all the Scottish and Irish cultural organizations put together at the time. The Weissman’s also hosted Silly Wizard, Ossian, and the Tannahill Weavers, among others. To say that I was blown away, is a serious understatement, as I really thought that I had died and gone to musical Heaven! I subsequently saw then at McCabe’s in Santa Monica, the Barn at U.C. Riverside and Cal Tech in Pasadena and always enjoyed them.
The Battlefield Band, named for an area in the South of Glasgow, has had a great deal of lineup changes since their founding, and their list of alumni reads like a who’s who of great Scottish and Irish musicians. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the current line up were just a gleam in their parent’s eyes, when the band first hit the road.
The current musicians are Sean O’Donnell (vocals, guitar), Ewen Henderson (fiddle, bagpipes, whistles, piano, and vocals), Alasdair White (fiddle, tin whistle, banjo, bouzouki, Highland bagpipes, small pipes, and bodhran), Mike Katz (Highland bagpipes, small pipes, various whistles, bass guitar, and guitar). A swift piece of arithmetic comes up with around twenty instruments, which must be no fun for their roadie!
They are currently beginning their umpteenth tour of the States, which will include AMSD Concerts in San Diego on the 24th of March, Ojai Women’s Club on the 27th and Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on the 28th. If you have seen them before, then you will know that they are the real deal (or make that the reel deal), and if you haven’t, then you are in for a treat. From frenetic jigs and reels to traditional (and not so traditional songs, such as O.V. Wright’s hit That’s How Strong My Love Is (made famous by Otis Redding). The tunes and songs continue to sound fresh, and you get the feeling that they are really enjoying themselves. Their somewhat different version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising will always be a classic for me!
I had a really interesting conversation on the 9th of March with Robin Morton, who has managed and produced them since the early days. Robin was an original member of the Boys of the Lough, so he has a very good pedigree in this particular field. It was somewhat surreal, as he was in New York, and I was in the Scottish Highlands. We talked about the current economy and its effect on musicians in general. We also discussed the current line up, and talked about the early days.
In this current climate of the internet, there is a whole world of information at your fingertips, so look them up, see what they are about, and attend one of their concerts near you. You will not regret it.
Battlefield Band's latest record Room Enough For All was released in the USA on the 19th March, by Temple Records.
Ron Young had the good fortune to grow up in rural Scotland, surrounded by the traditions of Scottish music and dance. He would like readers to know that whatever you heard about that sheep, it’s not true. Ron has spent the better part of thirty years involved with various Celtic and Scottish cultural organizations in southern California, and now back in Aberfeldy where he has continued to pursue his love of traditional music.