FolkWorld #50 03/2013
© Walkin' T:-)M

German Book Reviews

T:-)M's Night Shift

Since the 1990s the number of (music) festivals throughout North America and Europe has grown like a snowball. People celebrate local traditions and cultures, and local boards have discovered festivals as a tool to promote tourism and rural development.

Play Tunes on the Irish Tenor Banjo Banjos galore I recently discovered [49], and here we are again: Craobh Rua's [2] [15] [41] Brian Connolly offers another banjo tutorial and guide book to teach the basic techniques for the beginner on the Irish tenor banjo, and build your repertoire, stamina and confidence when playing and to improve and develop your technical skills, he says. The first 30 pages are dedicated to the basics: holding banjo and pick, reading music, playing first notes, major scales, arpeggios. After a progress check (if you've mastered all this) comes a couple of songs - "Sally Gardens" to "I'll Tell Me Ma" - and polka sets with stave notes (without ornamentation), tab, names of the notes placed below, and chords. Progress check again: playing clearly and fluently including changeover from one tune into another. Then there's jigs and slides (playing triplets), reels (the supreme discipline), and, last but not least, hornpipes and mazurkas. The tunes are recorded in sets of two and at a slower pace on the two accompanying CDs. Brian stresses again the importance to get the changeover from one tune into the other, so ending and start are recorded separately. The volume is dedicated to the memory of the late Dubliners' banjo player Barney McKenna, [48] who contributed so much in popularising the tenor banjo in Irish traditional music and inspired Brian as well, and includes many pictures of banjo players (side effect, you can have a look at their bearing) such as Angelina Carberry [30], Éamonn Coyne [33], Stevie Dunne [49], Cathal Hayden [39], Brian McGrath [39], Mick Moloney [41], Gerry O'Connor [30], Damien O'Kane [47], Enda Scahill [49], Damaris Woods [49], ...
Brian Connolly, Play Tunes on the Irish Tenor Banjo - Introductory Repertoire. 2011, ISBN 978-0-9571736- 0-6, pp85, €25 (incl. 2 CDs).
Play Tunes On The Irish Tenor Banjo is available from Claddagh Records.

Waitze, Celtic Collection for 5-String Banjo Though a perfect instrument for backing up songs, the 5-string-banjo is not the most obvious choice for playing Celtic instrumental music, as a solo melody instrument that is. The question is: can you? Oliver Waitze, who plays bluegrass, jazz and swing on guitar, mandolin and banjo, recorded with David Grisman [27], authored several flatpicking guitar tutorials and tunebooks, and owns a guitar shop, the New Acoustic Gallery, gives an answer. He starts with an introduction into tune styles of Celtic music (jigs, reels, ...) and 5-string-banjo techniques (so distinguishing for Bluegrass music) such as rolls and drones, Scruggs three-finger picking method (best for bluegrass songs), as well as Bill Keith's melodic style and Don Reno's single-string style (both suitable for Celtic tunes). The 52 tunes - with stave notes, tab, chords and fingering - are mostly of Irish provenience, including several Carolan tunes and polkas There's also some Scottish reels and the old-time "Ookpik Waltz." Well, the answer is: Yes, you can!
Oliver Waitze, Celtic Collection for 5-String Banjo. Schell Music SM 11056, 2013, ISBN 978-3-86411-056-6, pp159, €36,95 (incl. CD).

Joe Burke Traditional Irish Music Collection East Galway's Joe Burke [34] is an iconic accordion player with a deep knowledge of his land and music. His skill, style and technique - and his personality himself - have been an inspiration for many a budding young Irish accordionist. Now 104 tunes have been compiled and recorded by Joe. 72 reels, 23 jigs and 9 hornpipes, featuring traditional and more contemporary compositions (by the Dwyers, Fahey, O'Brien etc.), including his own "Morning Mist" reel (which I heard recorded by accordionist James Keane and fiddler Randal Bays [38]), form a treasure trove of tune settings (says fiddler Charlie Lennon [46] in the foreword). On the accompanying CDs every tune is played slowly with variations and ornamentations. Ornamentation such as rolls and trebles are also indicated in the stave notes. In the end, the collection is not only suitable for box players but all other instruments as well.
Joe Burke , Traditional Irish Music Collection - 104 Tunes. 2011, ISBN 978-0-95665-170-9, p52, €30 (incl. 3 CDs).

ASAP Irish Guitar Doc Rossi is a well-known citternist and guitarist in both traditional and early music. This is a quick guide for intermediate players to flatpick traditional Irish dance tunes on the guitar as soon as possible. Doc Rossi demonstrates ornamentation (mostly hammer-ons and pull-offs, including cranning / popping, which is a technique used by pipers on the low D or E with lifting off single fingers to achieve a bubbling effect, here imitated by using a quick succession of one hammer-on and two pull-offs) to give a basic idea on the "Peacocks Feathers" and the "Fairies" hornpipe. The 17 tunes include popular hornpipes, jigs and reels with stave notes, tab and chords. Rossi looks beyond simple three-chord patterns, and he shows his own tuning to play easily in all important keys without a capo and with open strings as drone. It is a small booklet, seemingly, but with a rich content above the average. The 53 CD tracks feature examplary ornaments, basic rhythms, and each of the 17 tunes played at slow and regular pace.
Doc Rossi, ASAP Irish Guitar - Learn How to Play the Irish Way. Centerstream, 2011, ISBN 978-1-57424- 288-1, pp32, US$ 19.99 (incl. CD).

Rest my darling, sweetly slumber, while I sing you lullaby ... Suo Gân (i.e. lullaby; suo = lull, cân = song) is a well-known Welsh lullaby from an unknown composer, first printed around 1800, which has been often recorded (especially on Christmas albums). You might know it from the movie "Empire of the Sun" with Christian Bale lip-synching the song. Today there are different English translations in use. Here is sheet music arranged by Tim Knight [48] for unison choir with an option to split between upper and lower voices.
Tim Knight, Suo Gan - For Unison Choir with optional upper part. Tim Knight Music/Spartan Press TKM704, 2012, ISMN 979-0-708106-82-1, pp4, £1.25.

Chris Gibson & John Connell, Music Festivals and Regional Development in Australia. Ashgate, 2012, ISBN 978-0-7546-7526-6, pp250, £55.00.

The Danish Tønder festival comes to my mind which has stressed its economic impact on its community since time immorial.[49]

Since being small, seemingly trivial and ephemeral events they are often ignored by local planners and also academics. Chris Gibson & John Connell explore Music Festivals and Regional Development in Australia.

The authors examine the role of festivals in rural small towns in Australia and how they contribute to cultural life and economies in a countryside where wheat and sheep are no longer so important and are gradually being replaced by creative arts, gastronomy and tourism.

Part I discusses general themes:

Music festivals only emerged in developed countries in Europe and North America after the Second World War.

They were pioneered by jazz festivals such as that at Newport (Rhode Island), which began in 1954, and in the 1960s were linked to the rise of the countercultural hippie scene, youth rock music cultures, and the maturing of jazz and classical music audiences seeking experiences beyond one-off performances in opera houses and concert halls. Music festivals were an alternative space for social and sexual interaction, drug consumption, musical expression and relaxation.

Establishing an early link with rurality, countercultural folk and rock festivals were usually held outside capital cities on large pastoral properties that handled the crowd sizes, promised bucolic charms and offered retreat from the tedium and oppressions of suburban life.

The folk music revival led to the desire to celebrate the national heritage, ethnic revivalism created a demand for Celtic (and other migrant) events. The expansion of mass tourism then was the spark that triggered countless music festivals.

In the 1990s, a second phase of more commercial festivals grew in many western countries linked to the increased mobility of consumers, more sophisticated marketing in the music industry, the emergence of alternative music scenes, and an increasingly internationalised touring circuit controlled by oligopolistic and territorially organised promotion companies. Commercial motives triumphed over community orientation.

From the 1980s onwards, however, a multitude of music festivals had begun to appear in small towns, many for no special reason other than for entertainment and because local authorities wanted to enhance local cultural life. Others started because of desires to promote particular musical genres, because of the efforts of enthusiastic fans and local musical clubs looking for a focal point on their annual calendars of events, or because musicians themselves sought outlets for performance where few previously existed. Many music festivals in smalll towns happened just once, or lasted for a few years. Others survived, gained reputations and developed their own heritages and traditions, rising from small beginnings to national and even international prominence.


Several hundred music festivals are taking place outside capital cities annually, almost every rural town in Australia. In 2007, the authors found 288 music festivals in regional areas of the three south-eastern states (Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales), including more than 30 folk festivals such as the Cygnet, Illawarra, Port Fairy and Tablelands festivals. 75% were operated by non-profit organisations.

They argue that music festivals can be serious components of local economic development and regeneration strategies through visitor expenditure. The 1998 Woodford Folk Festival was reported to have injected about $3 million into the local economy.

Tangible benefits are: increased revenue to local economy, job creation, positive media coverage, increased volunteerism, skills acquisition, subsequent tourism. Intangible benefits are: improved quality of life, community pride, place promotion, ...

Part II provides an in-depth survey of a selection of music festivals and examines how some have become an success.

Parkes in New South Wales had been only known for its radio telescope (The Dish), a vital link in the 1969 Apollo moon landing, but has little other attractions and high unemployment rates. Since 1993, the Parkes Elvis Festival celebrates the birthday of The King, who had never visited Australia at all. It became a huge success against all odds, and the authors show how a new tradition can be constructed by a random concept in a random place.

Kasey Chambers

Kasey Chambers @ FolkWorld:
FW#46, #50 |

»Following such exposure at Tamworth, where an impression was made on media gatekeepers, Kasey Chambers went on to secure airplay and become a household name in Australia ... By the late 2000s the commercial success of corporate country had waned and instead a new trend was towards 'roots' identities: Kasey Chambers, the most popular female country performer in Australia, challenged the sexualised bimbo persona by appealing to urban pop music fans and by presenting an 'alternative' image.«

Australian Artists @ FROG

Outdoor events such as Opera in the Paddock near Inverell in northern New South Wales and the Four Winds Festival near Bermagui on the south coast of NSW offer classical music since 2002 and 1991, respectively.

The whaling town Byron Bay in the far-northeastern corner of New South Wales had been transformed into a countercultural mecca and festival capital, with the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival running since 1990.

Through the major Tamworth Country Music Festival and related tourism, Tamworth in the New England region of New South Wales became known as the place for country music - the self-appointed capital of country music in Australia. Tamworth is anouncing the winners of the Australasian Country Music Awards, and had built museums and memorials - such as a 12 metre high Golden Guitar at the town entrance.

The festival itself had no formal coordination until 1993 when the Tamworth City Council took up the role. rather than the Council running the entire event through professional event management staff, it managed key logistical problems such as traffic and waste management, and allowed everything else to be run by local non-profit organizations and private businesses. There is no single ticketed venue, but a constellation of separate venues and spaces, including 23 local pubs. The festival is surprisingly diverse. Performances of varying levels of professionalism take place across the town, from mind-numbingly awful to staggeringly brilliant, including spaces for buskers, line-dancers, alternative and Aboriginal country artists.

The first Tamworth Country Music Festival had been held in 1973. By 2011, the festival had a 10 day program, 2,400 events, 116 venues and nearly 1,000 artists with around 60,000 daily visitors, making it Australia's largest single music festival and the world's second largest country music festival.

Though Australia (in particular the three south-eastern states Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales) is in the focus of Gibson and Connell, the book is relevant for Europe and North America as well. It is interesting if not essential reading for anybody who's involved with such kind of festivals, be it economic and tourism organisations or just non-profit promoters looking for examples, models or even an argumentation aid.

Hart, Lake of Sorrows
German Review Erin Hart is the wife of Irish accordionist Paddy O'Brien.[46] Her second mystery novel, Lake of Sorrows, follow-up to Haunted Ground,[47] leads forensic pathologist and spare time singer Nora Gavin and archeologist and flutist Cormac Maguire to the fictional Loughnabrone (which translates as Lake of Sorrows) in Co. Offaly in the Irish midlands (Paddy O'Brien has been born in Offaly). A body has been found in the bog, sporting signs of the Iron Age ritual killing of triple death (strangulation, throat-cutting and drowning), unfortunatly also wearing a wristwatch.

While the drama in the bleak badlands of the Irish peat bogs unfolds, Cormac relaxes with flute playing - so much of existence was like that: endlessly, thoughtlessly self-perpetuating cycles. He plays the old jig "The Hurling Boys," which antiquary George Petrie collected and said it was a most popular set dance tune in Offaly in the 1860s (it's #963 in O'Neill's 'Dance Music of Ireland'). Nora sings the ancient love song "Donal Og" (Young Donald), a song about lovesickness and infidelity (see Cathal McConnell for example).[47] Together they are attending a set dance night - in the dirtiest pub in all of Ireland.

Erin Hart, Lake of Sorrows. 2005.

Photo Credits: (1ff) Book Covers, (12) Kasey Chambers (from website/author/publishers); (11) Tamworth (by Wikipedia).

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