Issue 28 04/2004

FolkWorld News

Johnny O'Leary (1924-2004)
Ireland. Master box player Johnny O'Leary Johnny O'Leary, passed away on February 9th. Johnny hailed from Maulykeavane in the centre of Sliabh Luachra, the wet upland region on the borders of Cork and Kerry. Scattered across its rolling hills, crisscrossed by mountain streams, lives a hardy, gregarious people who pay hommage to the polka and slide (Piggot), and traditional music has tended to thrive in areas like Sliabh Luachra, where holdings are modest and the land unyielding. Bad land produces good music. (Hickey). Johnny has spent his whole life learning and playing the local music with its southern swing (Cranitch).
Young Johnny was listening when Tom Billy Murphy from Ballydesmond, the Blind Fiddler, used to teach Johnny's uncle. He started picking out tunes on the melodeon at the age of five, later switching over to a C#/D Paolo Soprani accordion and its push and draw style of box playing. Johnny played with the legendary fiddler Pádraig O'Keeffe and he struck up a musical partnership with fiddler Denis Murphy. In 1964 Johnny and Denis accepted an invitation to play in Dan O’Connell’s newly opened pub in Knocknagree, and Johnny has been playing for the sets there ever since. Not only has Dan provided a welcome place for musicians to play in, said Johnny, he has also made fine facilities available for dancers. I've hardly seen a place where dancing and music go together so well.
Broadcaster Ciarán Mac Mathúna first met Johnny in 1955: He has a huge repertoire. Any time you meet him, he comes up with new `old tunes' that were hidden away. Johnny reckoned that after 70 years of playing he had up to 1,500 tunes stored away. Some tunes I don't know I have at all till I hear someone else playing them. Breandán Breathnach had for many years been visiting Sliabh Luachra and collecting music from this national custodian, because he regarded Johnny’s playing as preserving the style and repertoire of the area. In 1994 a collection of 348 tunes was published.
Scientists say that Sliabh Luachra people have one of the longest and healthiest lifespans of any community, men are living to an average of 77 years and outliving women by about 2,5 years. Johnny O'Leary was allowed to celebrate his 80th birthday, but now to cite Yeats: Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, it's with O'Leary in the grave. [wt]

Bob Copper (1915-2004)
England. BobCopper, the revered head of The Copper Family,slipped away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Monday 29th March at the age of 89. A few short words on the death of a legend by FolkWorld's Dai Woosnam.

Bob Copper, photo from"We lost Bob Copper just before Easter 2004, and the editors asked me to write a few words on a man who will be remembered for generations to come.
Now, it occurs to me that there will be a mass of words written by other writers both in print and online that deal with the whole wonderful story of The Copper Family, and Bob's leading role in that story. Those Folkworld readers not familiar with the story can just google "Bob Copper" and a zillion words will meet their eyes! So forgive me if I just limit myself to a personal note.

I recall having a conversation with Bob about a decade ago. He had just brought out his book on walking across his native Sussex in the footsteps of Hilaire Belloc. When I told him that as a youth I had been a huge fan of Belloc, and had devoured his Cautionary Tales, Bob beamed with delight. We had the same hero. I told him that I had even dreamt of walking to Rome in the great man's footsteps, but that was all it had remained: a dream.
But unlike me, at least Bob wasn't someone with his head in the clouds: he actually had put on his walking boots and traversed that lovely South Coast county. I envied him his ability to ACHIEVE, and not merely DAYDREAM.

But the strange thing was that Bob envied me when I told him I had once been employed by Trinity House as a lighthouse keeper on Beachy Head, just a dozen-or-so miles from his home. And the overpowering memory of that conversation was of a man who although he did not really know me from Adam, treated me with great warmth, and resisted doing what some "stars" are prone to do when they meet a non-celebrity: he did NOT have his eyes darting over my shoulder in an effort to WORK THE ROOM and make eye-contact with bigger fish (several of whom were wanting to speak to him). No, he made me feel just great, like I was as interesting a guy as him: though the reality of course is that my life-experience just does not even REMOTELY compare.

So I recall him as a man you just don't meet every day. And also I remember his generosity. I had given him a business card that bore my address, and to my surprise a week later, a gratis copy of his book arrives at my door, with a lovely note attached.

As I say, ten years have gone by since then. I would have liked to have seen him write more: certainly one always felt that a quarter of a century without cousin Ron had somehow diminished The Copper Family sound. That rasping bass voice of Ron's was unmistakable, and - so it proved - irreplaceable. And that word "irreplaceable" sure fits Bob too."

Dai Woosnam, Grimsby, England.

Photo: Bob Copper, the day before he died. Photo from

Flook in Colchester, photo by The Mollis40th birthday of Colchester Folk Club
England. It must be one of the longest going folk clubs in England - Colchester Folk Club has celebrated this month its 40th birthday. Born in 1964, the Folk Club is still far away from having a mid life crisis - it seems to be as healthy as ever. Colchester Folk Club is held these days in the Colchester Arts Centre, in the beautiful surroundings of a converted church. It is held every Monday, with the exception of a summer break and the Bank Holiday Mondays, and has most of the time high profile guest performers from the English and Celtic scene. FolkWorld has covered already several of its concerts in its "Suffolk and beyond" series, including Flook (photo), Claire Mann & Aaron Jones, Marie Ni Chathasaigh & Chris Newman and the Wrigley Sisters. With its varied programme and its attractive venue, the Folk Club manages to attract a wide range of ages and "classes" in the audience - and often, quite a few visitors are younger than the folk club!
The birthday was celebrated with its "local heroes" who usually perform as support acts, in a birthday acoustic residents night on 29 March and in a barn dance with Itchy Feet on 5 April. Many happy returns from all at FolkWorld!

McPeake Family Back
Northern Ireland. One of the pioneer folk bands of the 1950's and 1960's is back on the road. The legendary McPeake Family have reformed after 32 years of being apart. Furthermore, 19th to 24th July 2004 sees the launch of the 1st International Summer School in Belfast. Tuition in music, dance, language and music business will be provided. The 1st World Championships of Irish Music will be held in Belfast City Centre from 22nd to 25th July 2004. [wt]

Ross Kennedy, Photo by The MollisThe Iron Horse is back!
Scotland. The Iron Horse has come back from their "retirement" break, which they started in 2001. A new album, 'The Wind Shall Blow For Evermore', has just come out, the band's sixth album, and their first release since 1997. It marks a return to the sound of the band's earlier albums, namely their critically acclaimed self titled debut and the award winning 'Thru Water, Earth & Stone'. The new The Iron Horse have a new line-up, bringing back the person who actually started the band in 1990: the excellent singer and guitarist Ross Kennedy. He joins Annie Grace and Gavin Marwick, who have been on board since the bands inception. Another musician re-joining the band is percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Stevie Lawrence. Also appearing on the album is Stuart Glasgow. Stuart has a fine pedigree in the industry as musician, producer and engineer having worked with bands from the mainstream through to traditional bands and artists.

Photo: Ross Kennedy, photo by The Mollis

Russia calling (1) - for Golden Autumn festival
Russia. If you want to explore the folk and folklore scene of Russia, the festival "Golden Autumn - 3rd International Folklore Festival" in Podolsk will be a good opportunity. The city of Podolsk, in the neighbourhood of Moscow, is well located for a folk festival - as an economic and cultural centre, and at the center of European Russia. There are very strong traditions, and it is Moscow suburbs with its surprising nature that provides the most organic perception of national culture. In the Podolsk area there are still villages where the tradition is alive, with many family ensembles. The festival will be exciting both for Russian and international musicians and visitors. The festival intends to promote Russian folk music cultures, to have folk music courses, and to exchange between Russian and international folk music and musicians.
The festival welcomes any folk and folklore group that represents local traditions - including songs, dances, games, seasonal ceremonies. Contact:

Russia calling (2) - links to Western Europe wanted
Moscow. Sketis Music, a new World Music label, distribution company, and artist agency based in Moscow, is looking for links to Europe. Sketis works with artists based in Russia and Eastern Europe. The principal artists include Wa-Ta-Ga (a.k.a. Reel) from Karelia, putting Russian traditional songs into original acoustic arrangements with 21-century approach; Namgar, a group from the Russian border region to Mongolia; Volga presenting Russian traditional songs coming from as early as 12th century in a kind of magic chant and Telenn Gwad playing soothing and calm European Medieval and Celtic music and songs.
Dmitri explains the role of Sketis like this: "We started as a company that helps Russia-based World Music artists to record and issue their CDs. We also have a distribution network in Moscow, and we occasionally organize World Music concerts in Moscow clubs and concert halls. Once we got involved in all of the above, we found that our artists look at us as a team able to promote them internationally."
FolkWorld has received some CDs from Sketis Music, which will be reviewed soon - watch this space!
More information at or

Russia calling (3) - links to Russia offered
Russia. FolkWorld's new contact in Russia, Maria of Veresk, who has contributed for this issue an article about St Patrick's Day Celebrations in Moscow, would like to inform our readers about an opportunity to be shown on Russian TV!
A new TV channel, which is opening this spring, is looking for any concert video and video-clips of any jazz bands from all over the world (we suppose that it is likely that they are open towards folk music which has some jazzy edge). They will show it absolutely free.
Contact Maria,

Altan & Cliar in village halls in Highlands and Islands
Altan, photo by The MollisScotland/Ireland. Two of traditional music's top bands are to use an innovative new touring fund to go back to their roots, while celebrating the cultural links and diversity of their Gaelic backgrounds. Altan and Cliar are to tour the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as part of the Scottish Arts Council¹s new Tune UP scheme, while major support from Iomairt Cholm Cille (The Columba Initiative) and its Fréamh project has meant that the tour will extend into Northern Ireland and through the Gaeltacht areas of Ireland as well as Scotland. The tour will be backed up by an educational team of Scottish and Irish musicians performing in each community, with support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Iomairt Cholm Cille and Live Music Now!
The tour represents a realisation of Altan's long-held ambition to tour small venues in the Scottish Highlands. The two bands' appearance in village halls will be quite a sensation - Altan being one of the most famous, most popular and, needless to say, also one of the very best of traditional Irish bands, and Cliar having been dubbed the "Gaelic dream-team", featuring some of the most gifted Scottish Gaelic singers and instrumentalist.
The tour schedule, between 26th May and 15th June 2004, includes places as remote as South Uist and the Isles of Islay, Mull and Skye, as well as Belfast, Derry and place in the Co. Galway and Co. Donegal Gaeltachts.
More information about Cliar and Altan can be found online at and Further infos about the tour from Tom Sherlock Management (for Altan): and from Mary Ann Kennedy (for Cliar):

Photo: Altan, by The Mollis

Music families wanted
France. The French region of Alsace announces a new European Competition, ‘MUSIC FROM THE FAMILY’, on Saturday, May 5th 2004. The jury will award the following prices: First Price  “Grand prix” ; a price rewarding vocal practice in family; one for the most creative family; one for the family band of which the children  play a particularly significant part in their musical group; a price rewarding a family of amateur musicians which presents a particularly judicious choice of repertoire. And finally a special prize for the largest family of musicians .
Each competition has a generous price, mostly 700 EURO cash, added by a musical instrument for the jury's favourite, and various other prices.
The competition has been jointly organised by the Philharmonic Society and the town of Sarre-Union, in partnership with the General Council of Bas-Rhin, the Alsacien Regional Council, the Federation of Music Societies of Alsace, the ADIAM 67 and the Robert SCHUMAN Foundation.
Contact: Music from the Family 7, rue du chalet F-67260 SARRE-UNION +33(0)3 88 00 36 97 +33(0)6 08 01 63 58;

Stockton's Wing Reunion
Ireland. One of the innovative Irish folk bands of the 1980s/90s is having a reunion gig on 15th May. Performing under the title of one of their albums "Light In The Western Sky", the concert will bring together Tommy Hayes, Kieran Hanrahan, Paul Roche, Maurice Lennon, Mike Hanrahan.
At Vicar Street, Dublin, May 15th. 2004 @ 8PM. Infos and tickets at

Carlos Nunez, photo by The Mollis

30 years Tønder Festival
Denmark. Another big jubilee: The Tønder Festival, one of the best showcases of Celtic music worldwide, is celebrating its 30th birthday this August. As usual, it will be held the last weekend of August. Among the first guests announced, are several of FolkWorld's favourites, including Danú, Ivan Drever & Duncan Chisholm, Carlos Nunez, Lunasa, Richard Wood and the Scottish youngsters Give Way. Other more famous acts include Runrig and Mary Black. If you want to join the party, click on for further details.
Best wishes to Carsten Panduro and the whole team of the festival - many happy returns!

Photo: Carlos Nunez, photo by The Mollis.

Grant Award for Angus Folk
Scotland. The newly-formed community project, 'Angus Folk' is delighted to announce that they've been awarded £5000 from Scottish Arts Council grant- making body, Awards for All, to carry out a programme of classes and workshops in tradition-based community singing, in Kirriemuir, Angus. The Chairperson, Anna Brown explains "This will allow us to offer access to workshops at reasonable rates, and means we can extend our experience by gaining more experience in performing, as well as allowing us to bring in other tutors from the world of scots and community song, and sing our socks off!" New committee member Ali Roberts adds "We'll now be able also to purchase equipment to record our sessions, as a learning tool, and build up a library of songbooks, CDs and other resources, including song material relating to the county of Angus. It's an exciting time and the future looks very good!"
Angus Folk has been developed as a project by Christine Kydd and the Commitee, and started life as Singing for Fun with Christine Kydd under the auspices of Angus College. AF is now an autonomous community group of almost 30 people from a wide age range coming together to sing songs from rich traditions, with a focus on Scottish and Angus songs. ,Angus Folk meet on a Tuesday night, Lesser Hall, Kirriemuir Town Hall, 7-9pm.
Further information from Christine Kydd,

Help needed
Britain/USA. Gwyneth Linley asks: "We are thinking of holding the very first Exmoor Folk Festival here in Brendon(Nr Lynton) next year (May 2005). We are complete beginners in organising such an event and are desparate for any advice on organising, groups, artists, dance groups etc. Can you give us any help or advice please. Any help very very gratefully received. Regards Gwyn." Mail to: Gwyneth Linley.
Bob Everhart writes: "Hello. My name is Bob Everhart, 6-cd recording artist for Smithsonian-Folkways (with a Grammy nomination some years back by Moses Asch). I play the 12-string guitar and harmonica with a number of awards for this proficiency. My wife Sheila plays the upright acoustic bass, and also clog dances in an old-time Ozark Mountain Missouri style, taught to her by her grandparents. Our 8-year old daughter Bobbie Lhea specializes in pioneer children's music. The music we play is what we have managed to 'save' from the prairies and great plains of America. Some people call our music old-time, some call it folk, some call it traditional, some call it country-roots and Americana music, some even call it bluegrass. Whatever you call it, it's fun, entertaining, historical, and refreshing in a world of temporal studio perfection. We are hoping very much, as we set our tour to England Oct 21-Dec 6, 2004, that you will consider letting us perform for you. We would be more than happy to send CD's and bio's, but in the meantime we hope you will be so kind as to look at our website at clicking up 'Bob & Sheila Everhart' to find out more about who we are and what we do. Our performance fees are not high, especially when accomodations, food, and local transportation, are included. Our very best to you, Bob Everhart." Mail to: Bob Everhart.

In the German news you can find as additional news:

To the content of FolkWorld No. 28

© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 4/2004

All material published in FolkWorld is © The Author via FolkWorld. Storage for private use is allowed and welcome. Reviews and extracts of up to 200 words may be freely quoted and reproduced, if source and author are acknowledged. For any other reproduction please ask the Editors for permission. Although any external links from FolkWorld are chosen with greatest care, FolkWorld and its editors do not take any responsibility for the content of the linked external websites.


FolkWorld - Home of European Music
FolkWorld Home
Layout & Idea of FolkWorld © The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld