HITHER AND ZITHER
Norman Chalmers sounds out folk at this year’s festival. ‘The thing about playing at lunchtime is that you feel that the rest of the day is your own. but we found we were spending all the profits having tea in the Caledonian Hotel across the way‘. Fond memories of last year‘s Festival concerts by folk modernist Andrew (‘ronshawz to whom mixing traditional music with anything that comes to hand has always been second nature. and whose albums have moved far beyond cult status to being regarded as as among the finest examples ofthe new British folk/roots music.
The fact that he plays. very well. on that instrument always seen at the back of antique shops. the zither. and that his main love is for
Gaelic and Galician music. stops being surprising
when you hear what he does with the tunes. An unprejudiced ear is what he would hope for. ‘I would like to hear. not "now that's Scottish" but “that‘sa beautiful tune . . .what is it‘.’”'The haunting. hanging overtones and harmonics of the amplified zither suit those ancient melodies so well. with the obvious similarity to the sound ofthe clarsach. With a smile. ‘I'm sometimes a bit frightened of your attitude up here to me. an Englishman. playing the music. but I think that a good tune is so strong. you can‘t kill it. it will keep bubbling back. and anyway in any healthy tradition a tune can be interpreted many different ways.
With his zithers. various oriental flutes. concertina and synthesiser. he is joined by June Tabor. she ofthe reined-in passionate delivery in song. She will sing sometimes unaccompanied. and with the other members of the group. who include Jim Sutherland. of Edinburgh‘s Easy Club. on percussion. and. all the way from
Australia. Ian Blake. on reeds. keyboards and bass and once or twice. delicately. on the St John.s Church organ.
(‘ronshaw was a student in Edinburgh in the 70's. and bought his first zither in an old shop off the Bridges. But he now teaches in London. coming up once a year to perform. ‘lt‘s a great chance to come back. play to a better audience. I love it up here. I lived in Torridon for a while. and would probably move back here if I could organise it.‘ But he‘s looking forward to those lunchtime concerts. ‘lt‘ll be great fun. playing every day with really good musicians. the freedom toexperiment . . . and in the end. ifit moves people. it works as music.‘
I Andrew Cronshaw and June Tabor, St Johns, West End of Princes Street, 15-20 Aug and 22-24 Aug at 1pm, £3 (£2).
ACOUSTIC MUSIC CENTRE
Folk. Roots and traditional music is centred duringthc Festival round the very large number of performances in the (‘hambers Street Student Union. renamed for three weeks the Acoustic Music (‘entre. It operates allday with meals. snacks. bars. exhibitions. drama. poetry and childrens shows. And concerts in the two halls. In the spacious cellar bar area there are organised informal sessions with local musicians. basically the Easy Club. in residence to kep things moving.
Admission to the (‘oncerts is by ticket from the box office. Admission to the AM(‘ is free uptill 8pm. when it costs 8(lpon weekdays and £1 .60 at weekends. The ('entre is host to a near 100 percent Scottish music programme.
There are a couple of English performers. and
Yams from South America. but the only other foreign band is the Barra MaeNei/s. and they are from Cape Breton. Nova Scotia. where survives an old form of Scottish music.
A pick of the groups and soloists would include Michael Marra . completely untraditional pianist. singer and songwriter. quite simply the best there is in Scotland. 29—3lst.
Lizzie Higgins Master of the authentic traditional style of unnaccompanied song. 29th.3()th.
I The Barra MacNeils Canadian Scottish. 22nd. 23d.
Elsewhere in the Fringe there are some fine concerts. The Assembly Rooms. George Street. has the wonderful Amampundo. a riot of Black Southern African music. costume. rhythm and dance; and a concert of North Indian Sitar/Sana! Duets.
The Queens Hall is the venue for Dick (:‘aaghan's always sold out concert of traditional song and political commitment. and Scotland‘s leading folk/ rock band A valon. The natural acoustic pipes. flutes and fiddles of the Boys ()f The Lough are heard on the 19th. 20th. 21st. Ted Hawkins. the black ex-jailbird. plucked from Californian obscurity to cult British stardom. takes his smooth Sam (‘ookish singing style there. 28th. 29th.
At the end ofthe Festival [:‘ric Bugle plays one night 2nd. The Australia based Scotsman has written some ofthe most played songs in the contemporary ‘folk‘ repertoire. his The Band Played Waltzing Matilda having for some reason been recorded by scores of singers. 'l'wo concerts on the same night. 3d. by the messianic Breton harp player and singer A Ian Siivell and his acoustic band. sees the last ofthe Queens I lall events.
John .‘Ilartyn. acoustic or electric guitar and vocal spellbinder. who from a late sixties (ilasgow beginning now sells his song albums round the globe. plays lleriot Watt Theatre. (irindlay Street. ll.15pm on the lSth. 16th. 17th.
Down in the dark shadow of(‘alton Road lies The Venue. where the music is essentially functional. The function is to have a good time. Sitting room is minimal. dancing isa
better idea. The season kicks off with African dance and percussion band Farala. who play the 12th. 15th. 16th. and 17th at 8pm. See Rock pages. The great Tex Mex accordion star. Flam Jimine: returns soon after his visit with Ry Cooder. this time leading his own song and dance band. on the 29th and 30th. 8pm. £3. Aferarribcan drums. guitar. sax and percussion make up Ben Baddoo International. He's a master drummer from Ghana. They play 39th and 30th at midnight. and 31st. 1st and 2nd at 8pm. What should really be a memorable few nights stretches from the 22nd to the 24th when the Andy White Band take over. It is made up from Elvis Costello‘s rhythm section. half a dozen well known Irish traditional instrumentalists. Wee Free Kings. Swamptrash and Deaf l leights Cajun Aces. in various combinations. And it goes on from 8pm through till 4am! CRYPTIC The zither. especially in Scottish folk music. is as rare as a Tory songwriter. but there is one. Andrew (‘ronshaw is the remarkable zither exponent. and with other instruments. and indeed other fine players. including one of the most talented singers in the British Isles. Jane 'I'ahor. he brings his imaginative music to St Johns. at the West End of Princes Street. from the 15th— 20th and 22nd—24th at 1pm. See photo. The same venue accomodates the Scots traditional group the Whistlebinkies and the Andean pipes and charangos of Rumillajla.
I Acoustic Music Centre. Chambers Street. open all
day every day. Sessions and concerts. Late Bar. Admission. aﬂeerm,
£1 .60 at weekends or 80p duringthe week.
I Whistlebinkies. Acoustic Music Centre, 18th,
10.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
I Andy M Stewart and
Manus Lunny. Acoustic
Music Centre. 12th,
7.30pm, £3 (£2).
I Avalon. Queens Hall.
17th. 9pm. £3.
IJohn Martyn, HeriotWatt Theatre, Grindlay Street, 11pm,15th—17th.
I Fatala, The Venue, . Calton Road. 12th. 15th—17th. 8pm. I I Dick Caughan, Queens
Hall, Clerk Street. 18th. 8.30pm, £4 (£1.50).
The List 12— 18 August 1988 39