September-October 2010

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A guitarist finishes his gig and is the last one in the place with the barman, who asks if he'd like a beer before he goes home. The player says 'sure' and the barman plonks down a pint and a little bowl of peanuts to go with it, then wanders off to wipe down the counter. This leaves the gun guitarist all by himself for a minute. From nowhere a little voice says 'great gig man, you're one hot picker'.

The player looks at the barman and says 'thanks' and the barman says 'what for' and the player says 'for sayin' nice things about my work'. The barman says 'I didn't say nothing.' The guitarist thinks it's late and he's a bit spaced so he'd better head off when another little voice says 'yeah great licks man and nice moves too, you sure cut it up there'. The guitar player turns around and says 'thanks' but there's nobody there. The feller at the bar says 'are you ok?' cause the picker looks a bit pale and the guitarist says 'yeah, I think so'. Then, as he empties his glass another voice says 'hot licks, great look, wonderful style man, the chicks sure got off on you' and the bloke says 'OK! THAT'S IT! WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?' The barman runs down and says 'what's your problem dude?' to which the guitarist says 'WHERE ARE THOSE VOICES COMING FROM? IS THIS CANDID CAMERA?' 'What voices? What are they saying?' when the guitarist tells the barman what was going on, the barman says 'oh that'll be the peanuts-they're complementary!'

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Arguably the most successful Celtic band ever to play in the Los Angeles area, the Battlefield Band have visited southern California so many times that they're better known than some local acts. Last month Alan Reid, the sole remaining founding member of the band announced that he plans to retire at the end of 2010 after 40 years on the road and in the studio.

Reid's replacement will be Ewen Henderson. Ewen hails from the Scottish West Highland town of Fort William, and has been naturally steeped in the traditional music, Gaelic language and culture of the area. Now in his early twenties, he started learning the fiddle at the age of five, and has since mastered an impressive array of other instruments, having had the privilege of being taught by many of the true masters of West Highland traditional music, from Aonghas Grant Snr on fiddle to Angus MacColl on bagpipes.

The new lineup sounds promising, and I'm sure that we'll hear some new and exciting sounds from the BB, but Alan will be missed.

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Tshikona is lwa-ha-masia-khali-i-tshi-vhila, "the time when people rush to the scene of the dance and leave their pots to boil over." Tshikona "makes sick people feel better and old men throw away their sticks and dance." Tshikona "brings peace to the countryside...." It is an example of the production of the maximum of available human energy in a situation that generates the highest degree of individuality in the largest possible community of individuals. --John Blacking on the Venda (South African) national dance.

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Festivals: Some of the UK's best folk music festivals are coming up. Scottish balladeer Dougie McLean's Perthshire Amber will begin in late October. By the time that one ends, we should have the lineup information for Celtic Connections, which will be in January, 2011. I can't begin to say how brilliant both of these festivals are. Airfares from the US to Scotland are comparatively low in the winter, so if you can get the time off, it's well worth the trip.

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‘..the elephant smoked too much.' --Victor Borge (explaining why the keys of his piano were so yellow)

An American now living in Scotland, Linda Dewar is a singer and a player of various instruments with strings and keys. She can be found performing Scottish and American folk music at gatherings on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as singing In the Aberfeldy and District Gaelic Choir. Visit her web site at www.lindadewar.com .

  

All Columns by Linda Dewar