Issue 31 1/2006

FolkWorld News


Ibrahim Ferrer, photo from

Ibrahim Ferrer died
Cuba. Ibrahim Ferrer passed away in Havana, Cuba on Saturday August 6th, at the age of 78. "Ibrahim Ferrer first rose to worldwide fame with his inspired performances on the Buena Vista Social Club album and film. Ibrahim's distinctive, emotional interpretations of songs marked him out as a truly special artist with tremendous improvisational skills and he was known for being one of the last great exponents of the bolero. His charismatic performances would touch the hearts of audiences of all ages, throughout the world who felt genuine affection and respect for such a gloriously unaffected and talented star. Off-stage, Ibrahim was a very humble, spiritual, caring and warm-hearted man devoted to his wife and family and to his country. His rise to fame gave him a youthful vigour and a zest for life that saw him touring, recording and winning awards worldwide and he played an integral part in the phenomenal worldwide interest in Cuban music." (Information and photo from

Gordon Duncan died

Scotland. We are very sad to hear of the death of Gordon Duncan, piper and composer extraordinaire. He died on the 14th December at his home in Edradour, Pitlochry, Perthshire. Gordon was 41 years of age. Gordon was one of the most talented and innovative pipers in Scotland in present times. Gordon recorded three wonderful albums for Greentrax, the first in 1994. Hamish Moore wrote of Gordon in a sleeve note on the "Just For Seumas" album: "This man is precious and should be one of Scotland's living national treasures". Gordon was a very rare talent indeed and is a sad loss to the Scottish traditional music scene. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends. [Information from Ian Green, Greentrax Recordings]

Frank Harte Frank Harte (1933-2005)
Ireland. The renowned Dublin singer and record maker Frank Harte has died on Monday 27th June, 2005, at the age of 72. Born in Chapelizod on the banks of the Liffey, he was well known for his rendition of Dublin street ballads. That remarkable walking archive of traditional song had assembled a database of over 15,500 recordings which he began collecting early in life. His motto (a quote from the poet Brendan Kennelly): All songs are living ghosts and long for a living voice.
He also had a string of recordings to his name, recently 'The First Year Of Liberty' about the 1798 rebellion (-> FW#7) and 'The Hungry Voice' about the 1845 famine (-> FW#30), both collaborations with Donal Lunny. The final tracks of his latest CD project, on songs of working men and women, were only handed over three days before his death. [wt]

Smithsonian Global Sound
USA. The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is proud to announce the launch of their highly anticipated web site, Smithsonian Global Sound. Smithsonian Global Sound offers digital downloads of music and sound from around the world at a reasonable price. The site has a wealth of educational content and downloads are accompanied by extensive liner notes. The goal is to encourage local musicians and traditions around the planet through international recognition, the payment of royalties, and support for regional archives. According to Smithsonian: The first track we sold was "Tarab" by Famau, Harambee Music Club from the album Music of the Waswahili of Lamu, Kenya, Vol. 3: Secular Music--an eight and a half minute track of drum, harmonium, and bongo. Some lucky person is walking around right now jamming to that track on their iPod while reading the liner notes and benefitting the musicians of Lamu. This is what Smithsonian Global Sound is all about! [wt]

Happy Birthday, Peggy Seeger!
Peggy Seeger USA. Peggy Seeger turned 70 on June 17. According to her website biography, born in 1935 into one of North America’s foremost folkmusic families, Peggy was well schooled in the classic European music traditions. Between the ages of 12 and 35 she learned to play piano, guitar, five-string banjo, autoharp, Appalachian dulcimer and English concertina. She cut her first record when she was 18 and in her early twenties she became a professional touring performer. In 1959 she settled in London with Ewan MacColl, to whom she bore three children. The MacColl/Seeger duo were at the forefront of the British folksong revival for the ensuing three decades.
Considered to be one of North America’s finest revival singers of traditional songs, she has also written music for films, television and radio. She has collaborated on books of folksongs with Edith Fowke, Alan Lomax and Ewan MacColl. She has made 21 solo LPs and collaborated with other performers (Tom Paley, Mike Seeger, Guy Carawan, Ewan MacColl) on more records than she can remember. In the mid-1970s she began to concentrate on feminist and ecological issues. Her best known songs are 'The Ballad of Springhill' and 'I’m Gonna Be an Engineer'.
After Ewan’s death in 1989, she moved back to the USA where she now lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She now tours solo as a singer and lecturer. In 1998 she published a collection of 149 of her own songs ('The Peggy Seeger Songbook'). She has also completed a comprehensive anthology of Ewan’s songs ('The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook'). She produces a new album every 18 months or so, the latest being a volume 2 in her 'Home Trilogy', 'Love Call Me Home' [see review in this FW issue]. Congratulations, Peggy! [wt]

Polish folk magazine
Poland. For anybody interested in the Polish folk scene, there is a recommendable Polish internet magazine on folk music, featuring also an English version. The folk magazine "Gadki z Chatki" is the only folk music paper in Poland. The English version contains information on the most important folk music groups in Poland, experts writing about Polish folk music (both journalists and scientists), festival information, as well as a few articles from "Gadki z Chatki" about the development of music inspired by folkore in Poland. The direct link to the English version is

Paddie Bell passed away
Scotland. Paddie Bell died on Wednesday 3 August 2005. Paddie was part of the Scottish folk group The Corries back in the 1960s. Her funeral was held in form of a singing session in the Morton Hall Crematorium, Edinburgh.

Citty Finlayson passed away
Scotland. Brian Miller informs us of the sad death of Citty Finlayson on Saturday morning 6 August 2005, having battled cancer since 1989.
"Citty was a fixture of festivals all over Britain, Ireland and Europe from the 1960s, often spotted wearing flamboyant party hats, flashing monster bow ties and sparkly wigs or co-organising fringe events such as aquatic ceilidhs. In her more serious moments she was convener of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland for many years, and then a director after TMSA became a limited company. Having enjoyed traditional music festivals such as Blairgowrie and Kinross, Citty was the driving force behind installing similar in Auchtermuchty's community festival, which celebrated its 25th birthday [just after her deatht], August 12-13-14 2005.
She worked in the health service and was very well known and highly respected as a tireless union activist and worker for women's rights, and only months ago was awarded the TUC's, "Woman of the Year", award."

Dr Faustus retires - but new band FAUSTUS emerges
England. After six years and two albums, Dr Faustus will retire. The band's gig at Towersey Festival in August was their final performance together. Dr Faustus has impressed the folk scene with their fresh approach to traditional English folk songs and tunes, bringing together four excellent yound English musicians. Dr Faustus' two CDs "Wager" [FECD189] and "The First Cut" remain available from the website,
Of course, the band members individually have not retired from making music. Tim van Eyken is working on a new solo record with a newly assembled band (Nancy Kerr, Olly Knight, Pete Flood and Colin Fletcher). He is touring solo and with Waterson:Carthy too - for more info see . Rob Harbon continues to work with the English Acoustic Collective on various projects including a joint show with fantastic dancers Morris Offspring. More news at .
Following their work together with Dr Faustus and Bellowhead, and building on their various solo and duo projects, Paul and Benji have lured Saul Rose (Waterson:Carthy, Kings of Calicutt, Random) out of musical semi-retirement. Together Paul, Benji and Saul are FAUSTUS, an exciting and dynamic new force in English music. They will be touring early in 2006. More information about FAUSTUS from Paul

Radio BritFolk
UK. RadioBritfolk is an exciting new initiative owned by folkWISE, a new organisation run by performers for the benefit of performers Developed by a group of pro folk musicians aims to become a major hub and world-wide shop window for all the folk music of these islands. "Imagine an on-line folk festival - with 'main stage' shows (like other radio stations, but with a theme or story to tell), session-type shows, (show-casing lesser-known music and artists, often with a strong local slant), and workshop shows (how to play an instrument etc) available 24 hours a day, offering a balance of traditional and new music from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England and beyond, with all genres and styles represented. We'll be playing 10-20 hours of music a day, with the schedule changing every week. There are listings pages, an online shop/links page, message board, reviews and more (and we'll be adding ideas as they occur to us). You can become a member (and access the more exciting features), you can make a show yourself (programmes can be put together anywhere in the world, following guides and scripts available from the site), you can sponsor various parts of the site, and even post your own album tracks on the Billboard (all other programming is strictly controlled to BBC standards). Programmes are currently presented by well-known musicians and established broadcasters, but we encourage anyone with a good idea to get involved. Read the Make a Show page to see how to submit your Proposal to the Programme Exec. Give it a listen, read the FAQs, have a good browse round, and see how you'd like to be part of it!"

Flook 10 years old
England. When you read these lines, the bubbly had already been opened at various party shows, to celebrate the10th birthday of one of FolkWorld's fvaourite bands: FLOOK are 10 years old…
Celebrating their tenth anniversary last November with ten special concerts around the British Isles, this four piece group go from strength to strength. Though their first release, Flook! Live! (1997), was already heralded as "the ultimate modern flute album" by The Irish Times, Flook only properly burst onto the international music scene with the release of their debut studio album, “Flatfish”, in 1999. This album introduced master bodhran player John Joe Kelly to Flook's line up of flutists Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen and guitarist Ed Boyd. Flatfish was hailed as "stunning", "remarkable" and "little short of miraculous", but it was Flook's live performances that really captured the hearts of those who watched and listened; the rapport between these four musicians, the sheer enjoyment they developed in playing together, was commented on by audiences and critics alike. "Rubai", released in 2002 and nominated for BBC Folk Album of the Year, was universally applauded by both journalists and fellow musicians and cemented Flook's reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative bands to emerge from the English/Irish folk scene. There is no shortage of virtuosity amongst the members of Flook, but the unique impact of this band stems from the wholly intuitive, almost symbiotic, exchange between the various flutes, frets and skins. Having travelled far and wide across the globe, Flook continue to hone their eclectic blend of traditionally rooted tunes with contemporary beats, and their popularity continues to grow. 2005 saw the release of Flook's eagerly awaited 3rd studio album.

13th edition of Celtic Connections
Glasgow. It is unbelivable - already the 13th edition of the big big celtic winter festival in Glasgow is going to start on the 12th of January 2006.
Once again you can meet the cream of the Celtic music scene in Scotlands smiling city of Glasgow. If you want to see the big names - it is surely the place to go. But also if you want to see the new talents, go there! The Danny Kyle open stage, the festival club and several venues are ideal to meet the next generation of the scene...

Gerry O Connor joins Shantalla
Ireland/Belgium. Gerry O’Connor from Dundalk has replaced Kieran Fahy as Shantalla’s fiddle player for the band’s remaining concerts in 2005. Kieran decided to leave the band in January 2005 to pursue a project with long-time collaborator French accordionist, Serge Desaunay.
With Michael Horgan (Co Down) and Gerry Murray (Co Monaghan) both coming from the Ulster tradition, fans of the band can expect to hear a more distinctive northern sound to the instrumental pieces. Quote from the band:
The band commented on the new band member: “Eight years with the same line-up has been a good innings and during this period we have built up a strong following. While sorry that Kieran is leaving we are very much looking forward to working with Gerry O’Connor. He has incredible drive in his playing, an extensive repertoire and wide performing experience, all of which will add a new dimension to the Shantalla sound.” The parting has been amicable and the remaining band members wish Kieran success with his new project.

Pressgang reunited
England. The "FIRE!" line-up of PRESSGANG has reformed recently - with Damian, George, Tony and Cliff who played together during most of the 90s. The band members all have other projects now so they won't make long tours like in the past. They want to concentrate on festivals or events where the big rock-folk show can be enjoyed. Many of the songs come from the FIRE! CD, "a very lively and radical approach to traditional folk songs", as the band describes the music themselves. But there is also acapella singing, hammered dulcimer, lots of dance tunes, even storytelling for an exciting and varied festival show.


More news in the German issue. Click here!

To the content of FolkWorld No. 31

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 1/2006

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