November-December 2008

And now, suddenly, the cycle is already preparing to repeat itself. The schedule for Celtic Connections 2009 arrived today, and it looks like it will be even better than last year. There will still be tickets available when you're reading this, and although the economy and the airfares may be a problem, I still heartily recommend a visit to Glasgow for the festival if you can swing it.

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Music and the Economy: Yes, the ugly "E" word affects the music industry just as it does all other aspects of life. Not surprisingly, the major retailers of CD's are reporting reduced sales, but then that was happening to some extent before the current economic tempest began. Legal downloading sales are also down a bit, which is much more likely to be a product of the economy. But here's the interesting thing: Ticketmaster is reporting an increase in concert revenue. Interpret this as you like, but I think it means people are choosing the power of music to lift their spirits when they decide to invest in entertainment. What an encouraging thought.

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Jingle Bells was originally written for Thanksgiving! The author and composer of Jingle Bells was a minister called James Pierpoint who composed the song in 1857 for children in his Boston Sunday School. The song was so popular that it was repeated at Christmas, and indeed Jingle Bells has been reprised ever since.

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"My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require." - Edward Elgar

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Nick Reynolds, a founding member of the Kingston Trio, passed away on October 3rd. It would take a book to explain what he meant to American folk music in the 1950s and 60s. Some people will say that the Kingston Trio didn't play "real" folk music; that their music was too produced and "slick." But it was the first folk singing that most of us white, suburban kids ever heard, and without them we'd have never discovered Pete and Woody and the rest. Charlie on the MTA was the closest thing to a protest song that some of us had ever heard-click here to reminisce a bit.

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"Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it."
- John Lennon

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Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer began as a children's coloring book created by Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward Dept. Stores. May was asked to come up with the book as a promotional holiday giveaway to Montgomery Ward customers. The book became amazingly popular and, by 1946, about 6 million copies had been distributed.

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Another legend has been lost, this time to the world of Irish music. Ronnie Drew, of the Dubliners and the Pogues, among others, passed away in August. He was more than a legend-his was one of those voices that you recognized as soon as you heard the first note sung. OK, let's face it... he always sounded like most people do when they've had a bad cold for about a month. But it worked, and he instilled magic in every song. Here are a couple of links: First, click here to see and hear a video tribute to Ronnie from the Late Late Show, featuring just about anyone who's anyone in Irish music including U2, the Dubliners, and more. Then go here to hear Ronnie's version of The Rare Ould Times. Somehow, it doesn't seem right to mourn his passing; it's better to celebrate his life and career.

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"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. ... I get most joy in life out of music."
~Albert Einstein


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