Norman Chalmers chooses the best of folk and previews them below.
I VUJICSICS One at the greatest European lolk groups comes irom Hungary.
Oueen’s Ilall (Fringe Venue 72) 668 2019. 15 Aug 6pm. £4 (£3).
St Johns Church (Fringe Venue 126) 14-16, 23. 24 Aug. 1pm. £4 (£3).
I SANGSCIIAW The late iiugh Mactilanniu’s poem/song cycle brought to vivid Iile by composer/cellist lion Shaw and other superb musicians.
Acoustic hiuslc Centre (Fringe Venue 25) 220 2462.15 Aug. 6pm. £4 (£3).
I ACOUS‘I’IC AIIISIC CEIITIIE ‘I’he leading venue ior concerts and Intonnal sessions
Acoustic Music Centre (Fringe Venue 25) 220 2462. 11 Aug-2 Sept. Open all day, but entrance by ticket only 8pm—1 am. Fri or Sat £1.60; Suns or Weekdays 60p; Season
ticket £11.50; Season ticket vreekt £9.60; Season ticket week 2 or 3. 66.60.
I .IEAII IIEDP'AIII Scots song in all its sspectslrom one at its loremost exponents.
Book Festival, Charlotte Square. Iain Theatre. 16 Aug. 6.30pm. £3(£1.25).
I ALASIAIII AIIDEIISOII Virtuoso conertinist. traditional music enthusiast, anti Iiorthumhrian small pipes player. .
Acoustic Music Centre (Fringe Venue 25) 220 2462.11 Aug. 1.30pm. 63.56 (63).
Play me something
Norman Chalmers takes great pleasure in easy listening.
The Easy Club, one of the most innovative groups to have emerged from the Scottish folk scene, with their cheeky. bravura string playing and swing jazz treatment ofessentially Scottish material, are back together again for two concerts during the Festival.
At the Acoustic Music Centre, downstairs, the guys in the band are booked to keep the sessions going all through the Festival, although percussionist and cittern player Jim Sutherland knows ‘I’m not going to be there all the time. Over the course of the Festival I won’t get out too much. New house and the wee boy will see to that. And the gigs with Andrew Cronshaw.
‘We’re not long back from playing a festival near Madrid, at Segovia. At Edinburgh there will
be more of us, but in Spain it was just the two, Andrew on his zither and me with various bits of percussion. The audience liked it, but I don’t know what they made of it.‘
Cronshaw’s annual Fringe show at St John’s concentrates on his instrumental excursions through other cultures, using instruments usually found at the back of a music shop. He is famed for his interpretations of traditional Gaelic airs played on the amplified zither, a sound like a
clarsach in a cathedral.
‘With Andrew, I prefer working with the more ethereal, big lyrical productions. It’s an atmospheric thing, and from the audience’s point of view I add another, visual interest. In the rhythmic things, with ﬂutes and concertina — he likes long sets — the percussion sustains the atmosphere. But it’s Andy’s music. Whatever culture it comes from, he makes it his own.
‘Apart from Community Arts pro jects— I do about three a year — soundtracks for film and TV are what I want to do most. I’m working on the intro for a C4 series in which most European countries contribute one programme. Glasgow’s Pelicula Films are series editors. It’s going to be all sampled, but using just voices from all over Europe, built up melodically using a percussion trigger on the sampler, adding a little synth and percussion. Forty seconds can be a long time.’
Jim wrote and recorded the music for the recently completed John Berger/Timothy Neat ﬁlm, a love story which moves from Barra to Venice called ‘Play Me Something’ (which recently won the Europa Prize at the Barcelona
‘It is some of the best stuff I’ve done. I was given my head, asked to come up with ideas. And I didn’t have to please anybody.
‘Music plays a big part in the film. There‘s one section, about seven minutes of stills, with little dialogue. I went to a screening to meet John Berger. I had written something for that sequence, based on a tune I’d been singing to the wee lad at home. John had a cassette, something he wanted me to hear, but I got the cittern out ﬁrst; I wanted not to hear whatever it was. After I’d ﬁnished he said “well, listen to this”, and he played this guitar etude. Amazingly similar in mood. So there was definite communication. From there on in it was OK. We got there in the
I The Easy Club (Fringe) Acoustic Music Centre (Venue 25), Wed 23 and Wed 30 Aug, 11pm,
I Andrew Cronshavr (Fringe) St Johns Church (Venue 126), 14—26 Aug, £4 (£3).
I Play Me Something, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Filmhouse, LothIan Road.
Aug. 1pm,£4 (£3); Queen's Hall, Clerk Street (Venue 72), 668 2019. Tue 15,8pm.
Named after their late mentor, a sort of Serbian Hamish Henderson. Vujicsics is one ofthe most sophisticated. learned. skilled and experienced folk groups in the world. The fact that they have not been to Britain before is our loss. But you‘ve got lots of
While no longer a novel sound in Edinburgh. after years of successful Festival visits, music from Bolivia continues to exert its windy fascination. This
chances to make amends year brings back the over the Festival. The six massed pan pipes. men are augmented by charangos and bombas of
Awatinas. Based in
exquisite vocalist Marta France. they play
Sebestyen. no stranger to Britain. having been here a few times with fellow Hungarians. Muzsikas. Between them the group. pronounced ‘voy chich‘. play dozens of eastern European instruments,
and jet back to the Andean alti plano to keep up their street cred. Like the Boys Of The Lough’s annual Highlands and Islands tour, in kilts.
adding some arresting The two parts ofthe close vocal harmony on performance are In different costume,
top. It might be hard for them to decide what to play. As Marta says. ‘If you go to play a dance. you play for six hours. But at a wedding. you could be playing non stop for three days.’ (Norman Chalmers)
I Vuiicslcs St John‘s. West End (Venue 126). 447 5685. 14—16 and 23/24
Quechua and Aymara. The instruments are authentic and exotic. some homemade. and the music and singing excellent. You can even go along to some oftheir workshops and see if you can get a noise out of a llama bone.
European dates regularly.
I Awatinas Riddles Court.
Lawnmarket (Venue 11), 225 8961. Three Day Workshop 1 1am-1pm. £8 (£4). l’hree concerts 30 Aug-l Sept, £4 (£3) atSt Johns, West End (Venue 126), 447 5685. 6.30pm; 17—22 Aug, 1pm. £4 (£3) at St Johns (as above);
3 Sept. £6.50 (£5) Night For Nicaragua at the Playhouse, Greenside Place (Venue 59), 226 2428. 7.30pm.
First performed at this year's Edinburgh Folk Festival, this is a musical setting of a cycle of poems by Scotland‘s greatest poet this century. Hugh MacDiarmid had conceived them as songs in their regular rhythms. and there have been at least two arrangements of them over the last fifty years.
This latest, by Edinburgh cellist and keyboard player Ron Shaw. is a pungent, powerful and beautiful marriage of the Scots language and 20th Century music, with a traditional undertow,
involving Rod Paterson on vocals and guitar, Dick Lee on woodwind, Ron playing cello, and recitations by Mhairi Grealis.
Shaw, as well as being a composer, once published some poetry himself, and remembers, ‘I always loved Sangschaw. It means song festival , and was his first collection in Scots, back in 1925. I didn‘t arrange all the poems, but most of them. Startling symbolism , and in places a cosmic or religious profundity, and all somehow simple , accessible because of the language.’
The dense music by Ron is more complex harmonically than simple folk song, although strongly ﬂavoured by it. and Rod Paterson has exactly the voice for the beguiling, sometimes quirky melodies.
Another Fringe production uses music by Ron. ‘l’ve just finished the arranging and recording of a tape for Hamish Gillies‘ Parcel 0' Rogues. I play keyboards and cello, Mhairi sings the title song and then there are
passages using the instruments with Mhairi singing vocals, just sounds, over the top.’
And one last thing. No one is sure what instruments the historical Picts played, but the line-up of their namesakes at the end of the Festival with Hamish Moore, Dick Lee and Rod Paterson has been stretched to include Ron’s ever exploratory cello.
I Sangschatv (Fringe) Acoustic Music Centre (Venue 25) 220 2462. 15 Aug 8pm. £4 (£3). IThe Picts (Fringe) Acoustic Music Centre (Venue 25) 220 2462. 1 Sept. 7.30pm. £4 (£3).
SCHOOL OF SCOTTISH STUDIES
Set up after the post-war Irish example. Edinburgh University’s School Of Scottish Studies, as well as being a teaching department, also collates, collects and catalogues the culture of Scotland. They have a huge library of field
recordings of traditional singers, story tellers and musicians, regularly release albums on such topics as Walking Songs or Scottish Fiddle styles, and produce a quarterly magazine called Tocher.
An archive of over 10,000 photographs documents the evolving, sometimes vanishing, ways of life , and ﬁxes images of our great singers like Jeannie Robertson or Jimmy MacBeath.
The Carrying Stream is a photographic exhibition , partly drawn from the archive, which shows the valuable work of the School. Admission is free, but a donation to the School‘s Appeal Fund would be greatly welcome, threatened as they are by cut-backs. in a University more and more overrun by English students, lecturers and attitudes. (Norman Chalmers)
I ‘I’he Carrying Stream (Fringe) Netherbow Arts Centre (Venue 30). 3 Aug—2 Sept. 10am-4.30pm and 6pm-9pm (Not Sundays).
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