FolkWorld #68 03/2019

German Letters

Letters to the Editors

  The Whisky Priests: Bloody Well Back!

A huge "Thank you!" to everyone who supported The Whisky Priests by coming to see the band live during our "Bloody Well Back!" Reunion Tour recently. I am delighted to announce that the band will be continuing into 2019 with some further gigs (including a small number of festivals and another mini-tour) currently being planned and arranged [more news on this soon].

Gary Miller

Whisky Priests @ FROG
Gary Miller @ FROG

In the meantime, anyone who came to any of the shows can relive the experience through a host of video clips (with more on the way), whilst anyone who couldn't make the shows can get some idea of what they missed, by visiting the band's Reunion Tour Videos Page (with full menu) - HERE, or the Reunion Tour YouTube Playlist - HERE.

In addition, we had a fantastic intro/walk-on video/audio clip to begin many of the shows, which was amazingly well-receieved and really enhanced the shows. Titled 'The Shift' (illustrations and layout by the band's official artist/designer Helen Temperley [*] / music written by Mick Tyas and arranged by the band's instrument technician Jake Lucas) it is available to view HERE.

There is also a huge selection of photos from the tour available to view through various galleries- check out the official menu HERE.

I will also be busy throughout 2019 pursuing a number of other creative projects in various collaborations (and each featuring illutrations, art and design by Helen) including the following Durham-themed projects : -

Thanks for your continued support. Gary Miller

  Kelly & Woolley: Miner’s Eyes

»Miner’s Eyes«

Many thanks, how is FolkWorld funded, can I make a donation? Gary Woolley (Kelly and Woolley)

Hi Gary. Thanks for your offer, much appreciated :-) FolkWorld stopped long ago to collect any fundings or put advertising on its pages. It is a labor of love from and for roots music connoisseurs. The FolkWorld team works and reviews only for honor and glory, there is no payment involved whatsoever. Thanks again, if you like us, spread the word. T:-)M

  Stephen Harrison: It Starts with the Soul

"It Starts with the Soul"

Hi. Thanks very much for your email and for taking the time to review my album. What a lot of reviewing you have done! So many albums, so I am especially grateful that you found time for mine.

Best wishes, Stephen Harrison

Christmas Truce 1914

  Dai Woosnam's DAI-SSECTING THE SONG: Christmas in the Trenches

My best piece of published writing for several years, methinks...

Friends, FOLKWORLD.DE has long been the most prestigious online Folk Music website in the Western world. This German based website is read, not just by the German speaking diaspora, but by Folkies throughout the whole of the English speaking world. I had several readers of my Daigressing output living in North America and Australasia, who told me they were regular readers of FolkWorld.

So, when Tom Keller the editor recently asked me to embark on a series called DAI-SSECTING THE SONG ...well, I jumped at the chance.

John McCutcheon

»Christmas in the Trenches«

John McCutcheon @ FROG

I hope you enjoy what I have written. Please play the song three times...and make sure that on one occasion at least, you resist the temptation to view the YouTube screen, and instead read the lyrics in my text...whilst the song is playing in the background.

I would like here to say a lot more that can help put that essay in greater context. But before I do, I am still reacting to that tweet from Donald Trump yesterday. Look... it was strong stuff, but gee, I think the new Napoleon needed telling. To class the USA army with the Russian army was mind-blowingly offensive.

Here is Trump's no-holds-barred response...

'... Emmanuel Macron suggests [the EU] building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. ...'

Macron needed putting in his place there. Somebody should tell him that the fields of Europe are full of white Carrara marble crosses and white Stars of David ...they are marking the final resting place of brave young Americans...mostly under twenty five years of age. They died in their thousands to save Macron's France...a country several thousand miles from their homeland.

They had their lives taken from them, before they had lived a third of it. For many years, I have tried to make an annual pilgrimage to the American War Cemetery in Cambridge. It is to be found in Madingly, just five minutes off the M11 motorway. Larissa and I love the place. We would spend at least two hours there every time...walking between the quiet contemplation, and offering up grateful thanks.

I never missed going every year I attended the mighty Cambridge Folk Festival. And I did twenty years - of full weekend visits - in succession there. So that is twenty Sunday mornings when that marvellous cemetery was the perfect antidote to the hullabaloo of the hustle and bustle of the crowd at the folk festival. Indeed, I often had the whole glorious cemetery entirely to myself, and whatever folkie friend I had taken with initiate them so-to-speak, in one of the most inspirational and spiritual places in all England.

For the record, I have been three times to The German War Cemetery on Cannock Chase. It is somehow, a slightly dispiriting place. I think a lot of it is down to the choice of granite for opposed to the so uplifting Carrara white marble used for American war cemeteries. I think granite can be wonderful in the architecture of a city like Aberdeen...but somehow granite doesn't lift one's spirits in a cemetery.

Or maybe there is something else at work here. Perhaps it is "slightly dispiriting" in that Staffordshire cemetery, because (a) the age of some of these German military dead is so immensely saddening...several headstones I saw, showed the graves' inhabitants were under eighteen years old...and (b) the profound difference, in that the Americans were a liberating force, whereas the Germans were having to fight for a crazy, deeply wicked, murderous tyrant.

However, we Brits must never forget that Germans are our brothers. That said though, it is well to remember that brothers often fight one another.

Christmas in the Trenches

»Christmas in the Trenches«

And my judgement is, that the likelihood of us fighting one another again, will now be greater in an internecine civil war, as countries one day fight to secede from the EU. Better that we should stay separate, proud individual identities, trading with each other, holidaying in each other's countries, experiencing one another's cuisines, etc. But the federal army will ensure the prison door stays shut in a federal Europe that we have all nearly sleepwalked into.

It amazes me that countries like those that made up the three Baltic States, should - having escaped from the iron grip of the Russian bear - then immediately signed up to a Brussels operation, just as implacable.

For Macron to bracket together the Russian army and the American one is insane: one is led by a flawed egotist, whereas the other is led by a murderous thug...Vladimir Putin. That said, I have huge regard for the Russian people...after all, I married one, twenty six years ago.😀😀

But back to my Europhile credentials... and my love of Germany. I have enjoyed my hotel stays in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg etc.

In Berlin, I stayed in their equivalent of New York City's quirky The Chelsea Hotel...The Hotel Bogota. It was a former Nazi "culture" headquarters for checking out the so-called ethnic purity of writers and actors. Scary history. (I say "was", because it closed down 5 years ago, as the rents went sky high on the Kuerfurstendamm, the luxury shopping street in the country with the EU’s biggest economy.)

I loved my days manning a stand at the MusikMesse ...the Musical Instruments Fair in Frankfurt, at the massive Messe (Exhibition Centre)...and my quirky little Hotel Apollo in Muchenstrasse, in the red light district, just off the railway station.

There was a time - in 1991 - when I was the only UK salesman selling the best German beer I know...Jever Pilsner. Alas, they would not advertise on TV in the UK...and "brand awareness" is crucial if a salesman is to have the wind in his sails...and so they decided to pull out of the UK...and leave the market free to Becks, Holstein and Lowenbrau.

Even though they pulled out of Britain, the German brewery was very good to me. The parent St Pauli brewery in Hamburg put me up in nice hotels, and on one trip, took me on a tour of the Jever brewery in Friesland. Good honest people. Loved them all.

And when you think about the Allies' carpet bombing of Hamburg in WW2, it puts a lump in the throat to meet such kindness.

I have travelled and stayed in every EU country bar one...and consider myself far more a Europhile than most people I know who voted Remain. Indeed, two people I know who voted Remain, have never been out of this country into any part of the EU.

They voted Remain because they thought their pensions were safer...yes, honest.

And I respect them both. They are good honest people...just having a different point of view to me.

I will leave you with this clip. It is a version of the Harvey Andrews song, Hello Hans. I first heard Harvey sing it 45 years ago, but alas his version is not on YouTube. However, here is the song, sung by the late Tony Capstick. I loved Capstick, and saw him sing this song in live performance...more than once.

The song is all about Harvey visiting the above-mentioned German War Cemetery in Staffordshire, and seeing the grave of boy called "Hans". Very moving. And back in 1973, I was so glad that we were embracing our German brothers in the EEC, and that future young men would not lose two dear uncles, like I did, to enemy bullets.

But hey...that's where we came in...!!

TTFN, Dai.

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