Phil Coulter (*19 February 1952, Derry, Northern Ireland). The Northern Irish born musician and producer is one of the biggest record sellers in Ireland. He wrote numerous hit songs for a variety of popular singers in the 1960s and 1970s, including Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and the Bay City Rollers. His solo album "Sea of Tranquility" became the second-best selling album of all time in Ireland. One of Coulter's most popular songs, "The Town I Loved So Well", deals with the embattled city of his youth, filled with that damned barbed wire during the Troubles. He also produced three of the ground-breaking albums with Planxty, which would have an influence on modern Irish music. In 2007, Coulter joined with Sharon Browne, one of the originators of the successful "Celtic Woman" production, to form a male version called "Celtic Thunder".
Gabriel Yacoub (*04. February 1952, Paris, France). One of France's foremost folk/pop artists, Gabriel Yacoub, was born of a Lebanese father and a French mother. He started as a back-up guitarist and singer with Breton harpist Alan Stivell in the early 1970s. Stivell's blend of traditional and rock music inspired Yacoub to form the group Malicorne in 1973. It became an instant success by integrating rock instrumentation with crumhorns, bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies, and transforming traditional and medieval ballads into modern songs. Malicorne lasted until 1986. Afterwards Yacoub launched a solo career with both traditional and self-penned songs. Today he is still performing as a solo artist, as a trio with Yannick Hardouin (bass, piano) and Gilles Chabenat (vielle à roue), or with an entire brass band.
Graham Nash (*02. February 1942, Blackpool, Lancashire, England). The English born singer-songwriter is known for his songwriting contributions with the British pop group The Hollies, one of the UK's most successful pop and "British Invasion" groups, and with the folk-rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Nash wrote or co-wrote many of The Hollies' original songs. In 1968, he left the group to team up with US musicians David Crosby and Stephen Stills. A threesome at first, they later became a foursome with Neil Young. With them, Nash went on to worldwide success, penning hit singles such as "Marrakesh Express". His "Our House" and "Teach Your Children" have become well known items used in both TV commercials and films. Until today Nash continued with David Crosby as a successful recording and performing duo.
John McLaughlin (*04. January 1942, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England). The English guitarist became one of the pioneering figures in the fusion of jazz, rock and world music. His 1970's electric band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, performed a technically virtuosic and complex style of music that fused electric jazz and rock with with Eastern and Indian influences. McLaughlin's playing was distinguished by fast solos and exotic musical scales. In 2003 he was ranked 49th in the Rolling Stone magazine list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Christine Lavin (*02. January 1952, New York, USA). The singer-songwriter worked at the famous Caffe Lena in Saratoga, New York, until Dave Van Ronk convinced her to move to New York City and make a career on music. Christine followed his advice and also accepted his offer of guitar lessons. She has lived in New York City ever since, recorded numerous solo albums and with other female folk artists under the name Four Bitchin' Babes. She has also put together several compilation albums of contemporary folk artists, including the CD/Cookbooklet "One Meat Ball". Christine is known for her sense of humor and comedy, which is expressed in both her music and her onstage performances. In her youth, she was a cheerleader and she often ends a concert by twirling a glow-in-the-dark baton with the house lights turned off.
Country Joe McDonald (*01. January 1942, Washington DC, USA). Joseph Allen McDonald had been the lead singer of the 1960s psychedelic rock group "Country Joe and the Fish" from Berkeley, California, their signature song being "The Fish Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag," a black comedy song about the Vietnam War with its catchy chorus One, two, three, what are we fighting for? McDonald has recorded dozens of albums and written hundreds of songs over a career spanning 40 years, including songs for the film productions of Henry Miller's "Quiet Days In Clichy" and Saul Landau's film "Que Hacer". In 2007 he took to the road with his "Tribute to Woody Guthrie" show, a mix of music and spoken word. Since the early 1980s, he actively worked with Vietnam Veteran organizations. He has also become a well-respected scholar on the subject of the life of the first military nurse, Florence Nightingale. His "Tribute to Florence Nightingale" website has become a primary resource.
Billy McComiskey (*21. November 1941, New York, USA). Button accordionist Billy McComiskey is a Brooklyn native who began playing at six years old, inspired by his uncle’s playing. At fifteen the budding box player was taken under the wing of the legendary Irish accordionist Sean McGlynn from Galway. McComiskey is a master of the East Galway accordion style and won the All-Ireland Senior title in 1986. He has recorded as a soloist and with two legendary trios, Washington DC’s Irish Tradition and the internationally acclaimed Trian.
Guy Clark (*6. November 1941, Monahans, Texas, USA).
The Texan is a country singer-songwriter and luthier, who often plays his own guitars.
Clark, who credits Townes Van Zandt as being a major influence on his songwriting,
achieved success as a songwriter for Jerry Jeff Walker’s recordings of "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting For A Train". Artists such as Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs also have recorded his songs. Clark has been a mentor to singers such as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell.
Louisiana Red (1932–2012). On February 25th, 2012, Louisiana Red (born Iverson Minter) passed away in a hospital in Hannover/Germany. Louisiana Red was an African American blues guitarist, harmonica player and singer, who recorded more than 50 albums and won a W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Blues Male Artist in 1983. Red lost his parents early in life; his mother died of pneumonia shortly after his birth, and his father was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan when he was five. He lived in Hanover, Germany since 1981. In 1994, Louisiana Red fused the blues with the urban Greek music of the bouzouki player, Stelios Vamvakaris, on the album "Blues Meets Rembetika."
Mícheál Ó hEidhin (1938–2012). The native of Derroe-Rossaveel, County Galway had been a musician, teacher and schools inspector of music. Mícheál Ó hEidhin studied music at University College Cork under Aloys Fleischmann and choral development with Pilib Ó Laoghaire. He was music director for RTE programs and an adjudicator for Oireachtas and Slogadh competitions since 1969. Originally a piano accordionist he switched to the concertina because of a chronic back ailment. Only last year, Mícheál was eventually lured into the studio to record an album with fiddler Charlie Lennon and guitarist Steve Cooney, "Ceol Sidhe," which was awarded Album of the Year in the LiveIreland Music Awards. Mícheál Ó hEidhin died on January 29th, 2012.
Enrique de Melchor (1951–2012).
The flamenco guitarist Enrique de Melchor (son of Melchor de Marchena, 1907–1980) died in Madrid at age 61, on January 3d 2012. He was one of the finest guitarists of his generation, and he worked in the tablao of Manolo Caracol, ‘Los Canasteros’ in Madrid. He played guitar with several of the top Spanish flamenco singers such as : Antonio Mairena, Camarón de la isla, La Perla de Cádiz, Pansequito, Rocío Jurado, Chiquetete, El Lebrijano, José Menese, José Mercé, Enrique Morente, Fosforito, Carmen Linares, El Fary or María Jiménez. He also played with Paco de Lucía in two world tours, and as a solo guitarist he played in Madrid’s Teatro Real, Liceo de Barcelona, NY’s Carnegie Hall, and London’s Queen Elizabeth & The Guildhall Bath.
Jackie Leven (1950-2011). The Scottish singer and song writer passed away on Monday, 14th November; he had suffered from cancer. After starting his career as a folk musician in the late 1960s, he first found success with new wave band Doll by Doll. He later recorded as a solo artist, releasing more than twenty albums under his own name or under the pseudonym Sir Vincent Lone.
Michael Kenny (1956–2011).
The Irish artist and sculptor from Castleisland, Co. Kerry,
passed away peacefully on 12th August after a short illness.
Michael Kenny designed and sculpted a range of public monuments.
Since 1983 a tribute to the renowned musician Pádraig O’Keeffe has stood
in the village square of Scartaglen, Co. Kerry.
Kenny was also commissioned to design a statue in memory of the Sliabh Luachra musician Johnny O’Leary,
which is a much photographed town centre feature in Killarney, Co. Kerry.
In 2008 he completed a life-sized statue of composer Seán Ó Riada in the grounds of St. Gobnait’s Church in the west
Cork Gaeltacht area of Cúl Aodha.
1967-2012: Fairport Convention Anniversary
British folk rock veteran Fairport Convention celebrates 45 years as a band. Formed in north London during the 'summer of love', Fairport Convention rapidly became popular on the club and college circuit. Fairport went through frequent personnel changes in its early days nurturing world class talents such as Richard Thompson and the late Sandy Denny along the way. 45 years on, the band has won a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award and Radio 2 listeners voted Fairport's 'Liege & Lief' album the Most Influential Folkrock Album of All Time. For the past 32 years the band has also staged one of the UK's major music festivals, Fairport's Cropredy Convention.
The current line-up of Simon Nicol (lead vocal, guitars), Dave Pegg (bass guitar), Ric Sanders (violin), Chris Leslie (lead vocal, fiddle) and Gerry Conway (drums) is still busy. In August, the Cropredy festival will reflect the forty-fifth anniversary with special guests and Fairport alumni in attendance. Co-founding member Richard Thompson will play a headline set at the event. Fairport Convention and its 45-year history will also be the subject of a major music documentary to be screened on BBC4 television.
Two new CD releases will add to the celebrations in 2012. 'By Special Request' is a studio album featuring new versions of Fairport's most popular songs from the past 45 years.
The second release revives Fairport Convention's folk rock opera 'Babbacombe Lee',performed and recorded in its entirety during their set at Cropredy in 2011.
Kimmo Pohjonen: Soundbreaker
The documentary music film "Soundbreaker" is all about the long-career accordion ace Kimmo Pohjonen. Pohjonen has succeeded in creating his own unique and recognizable style. This film gives a peek behind the scenes, offering documentary episodes as well as revealing Kimmo’s own thoughts about his instrument, musicianship and projects over the years and decades.
Kimmo's projects featured in the film are Earth Machine Music, Uniko with Kronos Quartet , KTU, K Cube and Accordion Wrestling.
The 86 minute film was produced and directed by Kimmo Koskela. International distribution is being
planned for 2012 as applications are being sent to major film festivals worldwide.
Marco Paolo McNeill has created a website for his late father Paul McNeill, featuring his music, interviews, photographs and links.
Paul McNeill had been an Irish-born in Lancashire England in 1939.
His grandmother introduced him to Irish Folk songs and he started to play the guitar.
He became a fixture of the London folk scene in the 1960's, with a residency at
the famous Troubadour Club. With Linda Thompson he formed a duo that recorded several
singles; he also recorded two albums on the Decca label.
Disgusted with the over-commercialization of his music, he left Britian,
moved to Switzerland and became a busker.
Paul McNeill passed away on 26 December 1989.
Learn to Play Fiddle
Canadian fiddle phenom Gillian Boucher is not only an outstanding
traditional performer, she’s also a highly successful fiddle teacher
with 15 years experience!
Now, she’s bringing her acclaimed fiddle
instruction method to the web.
The lessons use highly acclaimed instruction software that provides you with a secure learning space where you’ll progress at your own speed with Gillian as your guide and fellow students to share your ideas and experiences with.
Every lesson has sheet music, diagrams and other documents, but you’ll learn directly from Gillian via HD video sessions that will lead you through all of the exercises and tunes- you’ll play right along with Gillian!
From the site, you can email any questions or even send Gillian a video of your fiddling for personal advice on your playing progress.
Lorient Interceltic Festival 2012
The Lorient Interceltic Festival was born from the desire to contribute to the development of Breton music and culture and also to open up to the Celtic nations of the British Isles (Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Ireland) and Northern Spain (Galicia and Asturias). Over the years the Festival has developed strong cultural exchanges with all the delegations from the traditional Celtic countries, giving rise to the concept of the "Inter-Celtic".
A unique phenomenon that brings together over 700,000 festivalgoers and 4,500 artists from all over the world: today the Festival is the centre of the Celtic Planet. Showcase, driving force and creator, the Festival transcends borders with a culture that is resolutely modern without having lost its soul. A festive and carefully thought out adventure in activism that has been spearheaded by volunteers and aficionados alike.
In 40 years, the Festival has never stopped innovating and transcending even more frontiers. Therefore as well as the great Celtic nations, this year’s Festival will celebrate the Year of Acadia.
1 May 2012 Roots and Roses Festival, Lessines (BEL) www.rootsandroses.be 9 - 13 May 2012 folkBALTICA, Sønderjylland-Schleswig (GER/DK) www.folkbaltica.de 17 - 19 May 2012 European World of Bluegrass, Voorthuizen (NL) www.ewob.eu 25 - 27 May 2012 Off The Tracks Spring Festival, Donington Park (UK) www.offthetracks.co.uk 22 - 23 June 2012 Dartington Home (UK) www.dartington.org 5 - 8 July 2012 TFF Rudolstadt (GER) www.tff-rudolstadt.de 16 - 20 July 2012 Meitheal - Residential Summer School, Limerick (IRE) www.tradweek.com 26 - 29 July 2012 Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge (UK) www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk 10 - 12 August 2012 Folkwoods Festival, Eindhoven (NL) www.folkwoods.nl 23 - 26 August 2012 Tønder Festival (DK) www.tf.dk
Last but not least: Could it all be a fiddle?
For many years, I have taken no notice of the BBC Folk Awards. Why not? Well, because not only was it manifestly not a transparent process, there were also too many rumours (for my liking) from too many reasonably authoritative sources, of some of the judges having an alleged subsequent commercial contact with certain winning artistes.
And if that were not the case – as it indeed may not be – there were still daft awards like Folk Club of the Year. In its 11 years of being doled out, it never went north of Edinburgh (its sole time in Scotland), and was four times awarded to London and the Home Counties. What chance had a club in Cornwall or Wales?
Bizarrely, the organisers used to canvass artistes as to which club was the Club of the Year. Answer? Well not surprisingly, the answers could never be that objective. It might easily be the one that paid them most and gave them various perks in hospitality. And how many artistes (often based in the South of England) could justify the travel to perhaps what was a solitary invitation in Stonehaven, Aberdeen or Portsoy (let alone farther afield in Stornoway or Lerwick)? It would not be an economically sensible journey. So it was that such clubs did not have an earthly of a jury member ever crossing their threshold.
The Awards’ organisers - Smooth Operations - now seem to have seen sense and knocked that on the head this past 2 years, but many of the other aberrations continue (like the same old names reappearing as nominees in the various classes).
Well, it seems that now, the effluent is finally starting to hit the air conditioner! What was once just whispered, is now making the pages of our UK national newspapers. Thanks to my friend Eddie Walker for posting me this link: www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/could-it-all-be-a-fiddle-folk-stars-tell-the-bbc-to-reveal-who-judges-awards-6358939.html.
David "Dai" Woosnam