Issue 29 9/2004
Happy Birthday, Pete!
USA. Congratulations to Pete Seeger who celebrated his 85th birthday on 3rd of May. According to Alan Edwards of Appleseed Recordings, Pete's lifelong quest to use music as a bond between all peoples and as a signpost toward social change has placed him on the ramparts of many of the sociopolitical battles of the last half-century -- from union organizing and the civil rights movement to anti-war protests and environmental protection. With his group the Almanac Singers, Seeger wrote, performed and recorded pro-union songs in the non-union 1940s. In the McCarthy era of the '50s, Pete and his post-Almanac group The Weavers were blacklisted for their political activities. During the '60s, Pete was attending the Freedom Marches in the South and reportedly taught Dr. Martin Luther King an adapted version of the gospel song "We Shall Overcome," which subsequently became the anthem of the civil rights movement. Later in the decade, Pete could be found at rallies protesting the Vietnam War, and his anti-war song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" got him banned from the popular "The Ed Sullivan Show" on TV. In more recent years, he has turned his attention to environmental issues, helping to found the Clearwater Environmental Foundation, dedicated to cleaning up New York's Hudson River. As American bombs fell on Iraq last spring, Seeger entered a recording studio in Woodstock, NY, and updated his anti-Vietnam War song "Bring Them Home" into a pro-peace response to the invasion.
Seeger's musical legacy includes writing or popularizing folk classics such as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," "Wimoweh," "Guantanamera," "If I Had a Hammer," "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and countless others. He has helped to preserve traditional American folk songs while cross-pollinating his, and our country's, music with songs from other cultures.
Pete is typically modest about his role in music and activism -- "I get too many compliments. I've done as many stupid things as anyone else," he recently told the Providence Journal - but he does admit to satisfaction in the creative inspiration his songwriting and performances have provided. "I don't look in terms of successors," he told the Journal, "except that I'm very proud that some of the seeds I've planted have landed on fallow ground. There are hundreds, or thousands for all I know, who've said, 'Well, if Pete makes up songs and sings 'em, why don't I try?'"
Pete Seeger reviews: "If I Had a Song", "Seeds".
Earl Scruggs at Johnny Keenan
USA/Ireland. Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs is making a rare appearance at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Longford, Ireland, on 25th September 2004.
Earl Scruggs was born and grew up in Shelby, North Carolina, in 1924. The area being a stronghold of banjo enthusiasm, he began playing the five-string banjo. At the age of ten, Earl developed a style utilizing three fingers that was to become known as Scruggs-style picking. He smoothed out the rolls into a syncopated rhythm pattern and emphasized the melody lines. He joined Bill Monroe's band and guitar player Lester Flatt was thrilled: It was so different! I had never heard that kind of banjo picking. We had been limited, but Earl made all the difference in the world. In 1948 Flatt and Scruggs formed the "Foggy Mountain Boys" and gradually made changes in Monroe’s bluegrass formula. When Pete Seeger included a section in his folk banjo book about Scruggs’ playing method, the group became well accepted in the folk circles. "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" reached #1 on the country music charts in 1962, the only bluegrass recording to ever do this. [wt]
European Music Cultures:
Sound or Silence?
Netherlands. On Thursday 7th October 2004 the conference "European Music Cultures: Sound or Silence" will take place in The Hague, on the occasion of the Dutch presidency of the EU. The conference is an initiative of the music copyright organisation Buma/Stemra and is aimed at informing the national and European governments and politicians about the current position of Dutch and European music cultures. Buma/Stemra feels that the European governments should pay muc more attention to saving the diversity in music cultures. Cees Vervoord, Chief Executive Officer, feels that it is high time to sound the alarm: At this moment we see that the large record companies are turning their backs on national repertoire. There is no more room for the original European repertoires. This has a negative impact on European music culture. It is absolutely imperative that Brussels gets involved. That is the only way Europe can matain a solid position among other international music cultures. During the conference Buma/Stemra will publish the results of a pan-European study on the state of affairs in the European music cultures. The study highlights issues such as the position of national music, the diversity of the music on offer and the policy measures national governments take to stimulate and strengthen their national musical identity.
Scottish Broadsides Online
Scotland. Bill Fletcher writes: Some of you may be interested in a fascinating collection of Scottish broadsides which are online in both facsimile and machine-readable form. The National Library of Scotland's online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides lets you see for yourself what 'the word on the street' was in Scotland between 1650 and 1910. Crime, politics, romance, emigration, humour, tragedy, royalty and superstitions - all these and more are here. Each broadside comes with a detailed commentary and most also have a full transcription of the text, plus a downloadable PDF facsimile. You can search by keyword, browse by title or browse by subject.
The Word on the Street - Broadsides at the National Library of Scotland: www.nls.uk/broadsides/
Lost trails to Romania,
Greece and Bulgaria
Romania. www.losttrails.com is an educational multi-media web site. It features the 'Herodotus Project', a free serialized new translation of the Greek historian Herodotus along with extensive photography of the locations and artifacts mentioned in the book. With this resource a student of history can explore the text visually while reading it. This project aims to eventually have as complete a pictorial record as possible of the sites mentioned by Herodotus. In the future we expect to include photographic essays on the Dacian archeological sites in Romania as well.
Another ongoing project of Lost Trails involves music, having done a great deal of recording traditional folk music in Romania and Greece and Bulgaria. From this music, more and more free samples will be available on line. The music part of the website can be found at http://www.losttrails.com/pages/music.html
Celtic Colours starting
to get sold out!
Canada. Celtic Colours is one of the biggest and most important Celtic festivals in the world, located in Nova Scotia in Canada. The festival reports:
"It seems that while the Summer was stuttering along here on Cape Breton Island and most of the population was in denial that the Summer months would ever end, Celtic music lovers from around the world were looking toward Autumn in anticipation of the 8th Celtic Colours International Festival. Each year, the Festival features hundreds of Celtic artists and performers from all over the world during a nine-day celebration of Cape Breton Island's living Celtic culture.
This year, 44 concerts will be presented in 33 communities around the island at venues ranging from community, church and fire halls to theatres and professional performance spaces. The Festival, which also offers dozens of hands-on workshops and lectures, attracts visitors from around the globe, counting among last years population, ticket-buyers from 18 countries, from 48 States and every Province and Territory in Canada.
This year, tickets went on sale in mid-July and by the end of August, two concerts had sold out. In the past week another show has sold out and six more concerts have fewer than 50 tickets left. "To have two shows sold out by August 31 is unprecedented in the eight years of the festival," said Festival Director Max MacDonald. "We've sold 2,000 tickets just to Americans already which is pretty amazing when you consider that Cape Bretoners haven't purchased that many yet."
The first concert to sell out this year -- Step into the Past at Fortress Louisbourg -- is a perennial favourite, while the second sellout -- the Pipers' Ceilidh at Nova Scotia Highland Village -- is indicative of the type of concert that has proven to be very popular with fans of the Festival.
"Step into the Past is always a popular event," says Festival Director Joella Foulds. "It is really unique in that it offers both an 18th century style meal and an acoustic concert by candlelight. The setting is the chapel of the Fortress of Louisbourg, one of our true treasures. We find that the special shows such as the tributes to culture bearers, the Cape Breton Fiddlers and the Pipers' Ceilidh are always among the first to sell out." The Pipers' Ceilidh is being presented this year in the recently relocated church on the grounds of the Nova Scotia Highland Village in Iona. The third show to sell out this year is Raising the Roof in Boisdale. Shows with very few tickets left include the Tribute to Gordon Cote in St. Peter's, Celtic Women in Port Hawkesbury, Passing the Bow in Judique, Giant's Ceilidh in Englishtown, and Cape Breton Fiddlers and Lobster Tales at the Gaelic College.
Celtic Colours International Festival opens October 8 with the Gala Opening Concert at Centre 200 in Sydney and wraps up in Baddeck at the World's Biggest Square Dance, October 16. Tickets and more info via at www.celtic-colours.com.
Scotland. Edinburgh's folk scene focusses once again this November for one weekend on the fiddle, yet Fiddle 2004 is a festival which covers a wide range of folk instruments, and combines concerts, sessions, ceilidh dancing, workshops, open stage and more. The programme features top acts such as all-girl band Cloud 9, Session A9, Chris Stout, Sarah-Jane Fifield, and amazing young fiddler Graham MacKenzie, as well as the Ceilidh Band The Bella McNabs Dance Band. As usual, young people feature strongly, with Edinburgh’s Youth Gaitherin’ and Plockton School’s National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music. The innovative Open Stage (alternating performances by lead fiddlers with those from up-and-coming players) such a huge success last year, will continue.
Fiddle 2004 takes place 19-21 November, in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Full info at http://www.scotsfiddlefestival.com/
looking for support
Germany/Bulgaria. The Bulgarian folk singer Ivanka Ivanova ( www.songiva.de) lives in Cologne, Germany and sings with the German world music band, Schael Sick Brass Band (www.ssbb.de). Ivanka has recently recorded 46 traditional Bulgarian songs, thirty of them musically accompanied by a big orchestra with the traditional Bulgarian instruments. And the other sixteen are played by a small band with traditional Bulgarian instruments. All the songs are recorded on DAT-cassettes - just the record label is missing - if anybody is interested, please contact Ivanka via www.songiva.de.
In the German news you can find as additional news:
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