Welcome… at last, to Northern Ireland's first major folk festival!
Whilst first of all the States, then England, then Europe enjoyed the celebration of open-air festivals, we, in Ireland, safe in the knowledge that our traditional music flourished, remained bystanders. Over the last couple of years festivals in Ireland have begun to develop but it has always been assumed that to stage one in Northern Ireland was well-nigh impossible. That assumption might have remained intact but for a remark made by Nicky Ryan to organiser Eammon McCann during Planxty's Irish tour earlier this year.
In record time Eammon assembled the 1979 Causeway Coast Folk Festival with a guest list that reads like a who's who of folk music.
Fittingly the Festival is sited in an area rich in folk music associations; from the days of song collector Sam Henry to the more recent contributions of Eddie Butcher, Len Graham and the late Joe Holmes.
Wherever you've travelled from or whatever your role (performer or listener), we hope that your visit to the 1979 Causeway Coast Folk Festival will be a thoroughly enjoyable one and that we'll see you again... at the 1980 Causeway Coast Folk Festival.
'Folk on Friday'
P.S. Would you like to help its plan next year's Festival?
If so, please complete and return enclosed leaflet.
One of the extremely gifted generation of American singer/ songwriters that dominated the folk world of the sixties... Dylan, Ochs, Farina, etc., Tom Paxton has the pedigree of a Derby winner.
He emerged in New York's Greenwich Village scene in 1960 and his first album yielded such standards as Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound, What Did You Learn in School Today? and his magnum opus The Last Thing On My Mind. Over the years his songwriting has touched extremes, ranging from gentle children's songs to the angriest of anthems.
Tom has always stayed firmly rooted in the folk scene, becoming the almost obligatory American troubadour at festivals the world over.
Loudon Wainwright III is a 'post-psychedelic beatnik' who has been lauded far and wide as a writer-performer of uncommon wit, intelligence and insight, and with a unique capacity for capturing irony and absurdity in his work, that sets him apart from the great majority of similar entertainers.
Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 33 years ago, he became interested in music at prep school, and even then this was overshadowed by his love for acting. Before deciding on a recording career, LOUDON studied drama at the Carnegie-Mellon Institute for a year and a half. LOUDON wrote his first song in 1968, and after leaving college began working at the few folk clubs there were in Greenwich Village and Cambridge, Massachusetts. His reputation grew with his early albums. Using simple imagery, with which virtually everyone can identify, LOUDON effectively dissects minute details of American culture, and his own personal experiences. The subject matter of his work has ranged from a musician's lonely life on the road, the small miracle of swimming, and dead skunks (his hit single Dead Skunk made it to number 12),** to the joys of imminent parenthood, education, golf, natural disasters and the intake of alcohol, to name but a few.
'The last true solo performer left alive' is how Rolling Stone magazine described the amazing Mr. Wainwright, who outside the music world has maintained an interest in acting, appearing in the TV series MASH.
** (U.S. Charts)
Over the last 25 years the British folk scene has evolved a number of indigenous guitar styles; from the 'Soho' school of Graham and Jansch to the percussive genre of Carthy and Jones - but none of them can compare with the Martyn approach to the instrument.
John's affair with electronics has given him a range of sounds and textures far beyond that of the average singer/ guitarist and as yet he shows no signs of curtailing his adventurous approach.
From the usual beginnings of the 'folkie' songwriter his work has gathered influences from many areas giving him a vocal style more akin to a John Coltrane saxophone solo than any oral form.
Even through all the hardware there shines an immensely personable character who may even entice you to warble Singin' In The Rain.
In times when musical values have all but been overwhelmed by sensationalism and theatrics masquerading as excitement, John Martyn is just about the most unbogus performer you could ever hope to find.
In the nine years since the release of his first album, Martyn's progression has been forever unfolding; consistently avoiding the temptation to stick to what is cliché and stereotyped. Anything but static, his music has its roots in the folk scene of the mid-Sixties - simple vocal deliveries over a linear, bare-bones melody line. But Martyn has always been open to experiment, to the constant regeneration of his music; his contemporary style has been embellished with harmonic density, astounding effects and a strong current of improvisation, while still retaining the lyrical sensitivity of folk music and the emotional depth of the blues.
His vocals, meanwhile, have melted into an emotive slurring, becoming more united with the instrumental components with the emphasis on establishing a mood rather than enunciating verbal content.
The Strawbs were one of the very influential contemporary bands to emerge from the fertile British folk scene of the sixties. Playing originally as the Strawberry Hill Boys and featuring a good deal of Bluegrass in their set, they veered towards a more contemporary sound nourished by Dave Cousins' songwriting talents.
A succession of fine albums emerged winning them a new audience in the rock arena and attracting musicians such as keyboards wizard Rick Wakeman into their ranks.
Sadly a series of personnel changes and Dave Cousins' increasing solo work led to the apparent demise of the band. The persistence of Causeway Festival organiser Eammon McCann however, brought about their welcome reappearance this weekend... an occasion which should be one of 1979's musical highlights.
There have been several bands who, from their formative days in folk clubs, have later emerged to find a much wider concert audience and major record sales. It is doubtful that none found greater international fame in this way than THE STRAWBS.
From its earliest days as the Strawberry Hill Boys, through to the major chart success and world tour status that the band now enjoys, the constant link-pin, creative force, major writer and front man has always been DAVE COUSINS.
The band has been the spawning ground of many major artists including Sandy Denny, Rick Wakeman and Hudson-Ford. But, it is in the songs that the real secret lies. The range of material is so broad that it is often difficult to appreciate the fact that the same person wrote them all. From the mediaeval pageantry of The Battle through the Gothic might of Grave New World, the haunting Hangman And The Papist, or Benedictus to the dynamic Lay Down.
From the time that the band hit the headlines with Part Of The Union they have toured extensively and exhaustively worldwide finding particular success with massive sales in America.
Having spent much of the latter half of 1978 preparing and recording their next album Heartbreak Hill, Dave has at long last found time to undertake a project that he has been waiting on for some time, an acoustic tour. This tour will give him the unique chance to play in more intimate surroundings than huge concert halls, enabling him to have a much more direct communication with an audience that can really hear all the words of the songs. In many ways this is a greater challenge than ever since there is no great barrier of sound or security-guarded stages in huge halls on this tour. No way to cover anything up - just Dave and an acoustic guitar to meet the audience.
An exciting experience, both for Dave and the people lucky enough to get to see him.
This Galway band's merry progress over the years has been punctuated by the arrivals and departures of numerous illustrious members and by an almost wayward approach to their music. The result is one of the most potent combinations around combining most of the best characteristics in contemporary Irish music.
De Dannan can boast one of the few virtuosi of that much abused instrument, the bodhran - handled with incredible dexterity by 'Ringo' McDonnagh (Ringo recently worked with Tubular Bells composer Mike Oldfield). Heart of the band is fiddler Frankie Gavin, with a style echoing the West coast mode of playing. The band's potential was heightened earlier this year by the addition of accordion player Jackie Daly, a man who's added fire to an already effervescent line-up.
Past members of this celebrated group include Dolores Keane, Andy Irvine, Johnny Moynihan and Tim Lyons.
The British folk scene has never been noted as a prolific producer of lady performers, but those that it has produced have been of great quality... Sandy Denny, Maddy Prior, June Tabor, Barbara Dickson.
The latest of this line must surely be Melanie Harrold, a young lady of daunting talent and someone who over the past three years has built up a great rapport with Ulster audiences. Originally she worked under the name of Joanna Carlin but last year she came clean and reverted to her real name... a slightly confusing situation.
After making her name as an interpreter of other people's songs, she is now emerging as a perceptive songwriter as she demonstrated on her last two albums, Fancy and Blue Angel.
Recently she worked with Ashley Hutchings' much lauded Albion Band and it should be noted that the musicians who comprise the Mel Harrold Band also provide the same service for none other than Gerry Rafferty.
7.00 p.m. Donagh McManus
7.30 p.m. Ferdia
8.15 p.m. Paddy Glackin
8.45 p.m. Joe and Antoinette McKenna
9.30 p.m. Phantom Orchestra
10.30 p.m. Boys of the Lough
11.30 p.m. De Dannan
1.30 p.m. Frank and Jane Cassidy
2.00 p.m. Blackthorn
2.30 p.m. Phantom Orchestra
3.15 p.m. Jimmy Crowley
3.45 p.m. Joe and Antoinette McKenna
4.15 p.m. Sands Family
5.00 p.m. Paul Brady
7.00 p.m. Dave Cousins
7.45 p.m. Melanie Harrold Band
8.45 p.m. Jimmy Crowley and Stokers Lodge
9.30 p.m. Tom Paxton
10.30 p.m. Frances Gilvray and Mick Burke
11.00 p.m. John Martyn
1.30 p.m. Scoftha
2.00 p.m. Stocton's Wing
2.45 p.m. Spud
3.30 p.m. Frances Gilvray and Mick Burke
4.15 p.m. Mat Molloy and Liam O'Floinn
5.00 p.m. Christy Moore
7.00 p.m. Cieran McGowan
7.30 p.m. Barry Moore
8.15 p.m. Strawbs
9.15 p.m. The McPeake Family
10.00 p.m. Loudon Wainwright III
11.00 p.m. Melanie Harrold Band
The Boys are unique in the world of folk music in that whilst they are firmly rooted in the tradition, their music is very much of a hybrid. Without compromise they combine the music of Ireland, Scotland and the Shetland Islands in a way that is both natural and exciting.
Cathal McConnell from county Fermanagh represents the band's Irish interest and has long been regarded as one of the country's leading flute players. As well as this he is also a fine singer and as befits someone from a county renowned for its songs, he carries a rich repertoire.
Aly Bain's admirers are many. American guitarist Dave Bromberg once declared that he'd sell his soul to play the fiddle as well as Aly! The unassuming Mr. Bain has done much to popularise the unique fiddle music of his native Shetlands and is a pupil of the legendary Tom Anderson.
Dave Richardson is the group's only non-Celt, though coming from Northumberland he must be a 'border-line' case! Dave's main contribution to the band has been mainly as a player of fretted instruments but his use of concertina and hammer-dulcimer have been becoming more prominent.
During the Boys of the Lough's career they've also benefitted from the talents of ex-members Mike Whelans, Dick Gaughan and Portadown man Robin Morton.
TICH RICHARDSON, like his brother Dave, comes from Wallsend-on-Tyne in the industrial part of Northumberland. In his early teens he began playing back-up guitar at traditional music sessions round the area, accumulating valuable practical experience. In 1972, at the age of 16, he recorded with Alistair Anderson the Wallsend concertina virtuoso - beginning a recording association which has continued through subsequent concertina albums to the present time. It was at this initial recording session that he first played with Aly Bain of the Boys of the Lough. Since then he has 'stood-in' on the stage whenever illness has reduced their line-up.
His main influences in the 'back-up' style of playing have probably been Tom Gilfellon of the High Level Ranters of Tyneside and more recently Willie Johnston from Lerwick in Shetland.
Tich has been performing on stage with Boys of the Lough since Robin Morton's departure in February and his guitar playing especially on the Shetland and Scottish material adds an interesting new dimension to the group's sound.
Paul Brady's contribution to the folk scene over the years has been long and varied. Hailing from Strabane in County Tyrone, he first encountered music via the beat group scene in Dublin whilst a student there in the early sixties. He subsequently gravitated towards the folk fraternity and joined the renowned Johnstons.
There then followed a very successful period with the group as they carved themselves a unique niche, combining traditional and contemporary material.
Following the break-up of the Johnstons he lived in America for a short time, returning home to join the legendary Planxty as a replacement for Christy Moore. Sadly the band split up before this particular line-up could record but Paul's ensuing partnership with Andy Irvine resulted in a monumental album in 1977.
Since that time he has pursued a career as a solo performer, declaring after his Welcome Here Kind Stranger album that he might devote more time to his songwriting talents and music of a more contemporary nature.
A multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for open guitar tunings, Tom Paxton summed-up Paul's potential in a radio interview last year... "There is no limit to what Paul Brady can achieve!"
Christy will no doubt be forever remembered as the man who brought Planxty together. A charismatic character, his achievements since that time have been equally impressive and in terms of sheer popularity he has few equals.
Over the years he has become synonymous with what in the euphoric sixties were termed 'protest songs', culling the best from contemporary writers and integrating them perfectly into his ostensively traditional repertoire.
His strength of conviction led to his heavy involvement with the Irish Anti-Nuclear Movement, including an extensive country-wide tour with the Early Grave Band.
After a series of fine albums on which he collaborated with a host of excellent musicians, he was involved in the re-formation of Planxty last April.
The 'Friends' who will appear with him this weekend will no doubt feature some well-known faces from the Irish folk scene.
Two master craftsmen who've proved that success and musical acceptance need not necessarily mean compromise.
After serving a youthful apprenticeship acquiring the multiple skills of piping, Liam became a founder member of Planxty... a position which gave him the opportunity to bring traditional music to European audiences. Much of the current renaissance of the uillean pipes must be due to his influence.
Matt Molloy follows in the fine tradition of Roscommon flute players and has the distinction of playing with both the Bothy Band and Planxty.
Their occasional appearances offer the chance to hear traditional music played with both verve and taste.
BAND: Phantom Orchestra.
PERSONNEL: Richard H. Jones (gtr and vocals), Mox (flute, harp and vocals), Pascal Segard (violin, flute, mandolin and gtr), Peadar Melinn (gtr), Alan Kelly (double bass and guitar), Patrick Collins (violin, gtr, backing vocals and mandolin), and Philippe Godart (double bass).
Richard J. Jones: born in London he has contributed harmony vocals to French recording group Nobodys.
Mox: also London born, he's a veteran of numerous studio sessions both acoustic and electric.
Pascal Segard: commenced his 'professional' musical activities in the Paris Metro.
Peadar Melinn: born in Dublin he later moved to Paris where he learned to play guitar, next he moved to St. Tropez where he wrote some songs before returning to Paris where he played with some people he knew and some people he didn't, before joining the Phantom Orchestra (so that's how he became a rock 'n' roll star? No. That's how he developed tuberculosis etc., etc., and fade).
Alan Kelly: born in Castlebar where he played with Bros' Walsh. In the five years prior to joining the Phantom Orchestra, he busked in Paris and elsewhere.
Patrick Collins: born in Dublin and boasts extensive musical and theatrical experience.
Philippe Godart: born in Paris, where he played with innumerable jazz bands (mostly in the street) before joining the Phantom Orchestra when it was one week old.
BAND HISTORY: Formed in Paris in October of 1978 where they established themselves as a regular Metro attraction, as well as organizing more conventional gigs for themselves and others. Since coming to Dublin the P.O. have acquired five residencies with a sixth (in the Rathfarnham Inn on Thursday nights) imminent, and have already made two T.V. appearances on the Late Late Show and Our Times.
MATERIAL: Wholly acoustic based set of predominantly non-original songs, although self-penned material is increasingly being utilised. Included in the cover versions are songs by The Beatles, Dylan, Fats Waller, Muddy Waters and others.
CONTACT: George O'Reilly (agent) Ph: 789500.
After the Northern conflict erupted in 1969, jukeboxes in, of all places, The German Democratic Republic were playing a song called, All The Little Children. A simple, familiar-sounding sentiment relating to their homeland, it was a freak chart success for the Newry-based quartet, The Sands Family.
It says something about the group too; the Sands have kept a guerrilla-like low profile on the Irish folk landscape, preferring occasional sorties into German territories to keep themselves occupied. But in ten years or so, on the road they've notched up eight albums, their latest currently on release on the Belfast label, Emerald Records.
Tom, guitar player and joint songwriter with the group, doesn't really identify with the folk scene south of the border. He's out of touch too. "The Dublin groups are almost part of a cult. There's something competitive, cold, about it," he comments.
The Sands stick to their own part of the country when they're home. Although their careers are full time now, the family and area have strong ties for them. Vocalist Anne: "Our parents were musical. Our grandfather and his brothers were lilters at dances. Our mother played the accordion. Now we sing the songs our fathers loved, and a few we like too."
Their work is strongly Ulster flavoured, in two senses. The traditional material on the new album Real Irish Folk nearly all relates to the north east. Here I Am Amongst You was gleaned from the renowned Northern duo, Len Graham and the late Joe Holmes. Multi-instrumentalist Colum composed a reel, calling it Trip to Rathlin. And Misty Mourne Shore, Tom and Anne particularly like.
The developing taste of folk fans have drawn performers like Jimmy Crowley into the limelight. A singer and songwriter of some wit, he reflects many of the characteristics of his native Cork and yet still manages to win audiences with what after all is a fairly regionalised music.
His work with his band -Storkers Lodge- has won much acclaim this year, to the extent that he has been elevated to cult status.
LEON TOURISH and his fellow Ferdia members are folk artists by adoption. None of them have the roots contact of, say, their fellow Donegal group Clannad. The Ferdia five are based in urban Letterkenny, their influence is mid-Seventies hybrid Irish folk.
Denied the benefit of contact with the oral tradition, Ferdia have lately tried to innovate, stepping into the precarious area of composing 'folk' songs and tunes - something attempted by Finbar Furey, and with less success by others.
Leon sees Ferdia as a struggling small band with the major names on a not necessarily deserved pedestal above: "That interview in your yearbook was very interesting. But there was something of a lofty attitude coming over from them like the way they were saying 'here's all our eggs for last year, let's count them'. The big names have made advances, but a lot of people are overstressing their own value to the music scene."
He feels that others like Allan Taylor, who toured here last month are generally under-rated: "His sentiments are in a sense obvious, but so well expressed. It's like saying television destroys the art of conversation. We all know that, but it takes someone to say it."
As the group's songwriter Leon aims to connect with that type of approach, with the group providing a melodic acoustic backing: "Each song will present strong sentiments. For instance, the one I'm writing at the moment makes a statement about the Irish situation. It's angle is against Carson, Redmond and Lloyd George..."
"We're sick of the same songs always turning up. See, when we started out on a busking holiday in Germany in '77, we were influenced very much by Planxty at the time, having a bouzouki-pipes sound. Then we found we could do numbers I'd written. We won the Letterkenny Folk Festival when we came back, I know because of our originality. Mentioning no names now, but I think people who rely on Sam Henry's Northern Collection have their days numbered. Or else peoples' sources will run out - or die."
But Ferdia won't cease being a folk group either. Leon, with ambition and perhaps a degree of naivety, has it all worked out: "It'll still be regarded as folk music, so nobody can knock us. The Long Note can't say, 'this is terrible! What are these boys at?' We won't be messing around with songs. It'll be our own material."
"Like, our first album (on Polydor) was a rushed job. With the next we'll be concentrating on songs. I'm bloody excited about it. Harmonies are a thing we'll be using. I can't describe it. I'd need to give you a copy of the new album..."
Over the last year, FRANCES GILVRAY and MICK BURKE have had some very interesting things written about them.
In a Melody Maker article on acts tipped for the top, Colin Irwin wrote of Frances' 'powerhouse vocal style' and Mick's 'tasty guitar work'.
It was also said; "The influences they draw upon are many and diverse. Folk, blues, jazz, rock and country are all there, merging into a truly dynamic presentation of contemporary music."
They are not new to performance, their track record with various bands is considerable and it is out of this background that they have now emerged to project their own material on their own terms to an ever growing band of enthusiastic followers both in Britain and across Europe (where they tour extensively).
If you enjoy good music, then FRANCES GILVRAY and MICK BURKE deliver the goods, don't miss them.
Joe McKenna grew up in Thomas St., Dublin, just a stone's throw away from the famous Cumann na Piobairl Uillean or Pipers' Club, a great centre of traditional music activity. His parents are from County Monaghan and, like a number of emigrants from rural Ireland to Dublin, they kept alive their love of traditional music despite the indifference of most people in the big city.
The McKenna home is a beehive of piping activity. Two of Joe's brothers also play pipes and their father, Paddy McKenna, is an ardent devotee of the instrument and loves to discuss various aspects of pipes, piping and pipe making. In recent years the McKennas have become involved in the important craft of making pipes and are now turning out full sets in their family workshop.
Joe started learning traditional music at an early age on the tin whistle and progressed rapidly. He demonstrated such ability and interest that his parents got him a bag, bellows and uillean pipes chanter and sent him down the street to the 'Club' to take lessons from the late Leo Rowsome (d. 1971), the best-known piper of his day and perhaps the most famous of all time.
Joe has a strong penchant for playing things his own way, which was his characteristic approach even when he was just beginning. Rowsome would play a tune and have all the students play it back; when it came Joe's turn to play, he would make a conscious effort to do it differently, not wanting to sound like all the other pupils. This evidently amused Rowsome, who was a very influential player and was accustomed to hearing students to copy him quite closely. Joe continued to follow his own impulses, playing the chanter alone for six or seven years. On getting a full set of pipes, he went on to win the All-Ireland championship for two years running.
When asked which players have been major influences on him, Joe is hard pressed to say. He mentions Rowsome -as well as two other great pipers, Patsy Tuohey and Johnny Doran- but it is clear that, instead of following any particular player, he has created his own blend of music from what he's heard.
Antoinette McKenna (nee Bergin) also comes from a Dublin family with roots 'down the country'. Her father was from Kilkenny and her mother from Wicklow. Both were musicians, playing accordion and fiddle respectively. As with the McKennas, the Bergins imparted their great love of traditional music to their children.
Antoinette's interest in the harp dates far back to a visit she paid as a young girl to an uncle who had just built one. She played it whenever she visited him and later, in Sion Hill School, Dublin, got a chance to study the harp in earnest. Her love for singing traditional songs developed on summer trips to the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) regions, particularly Carraroe, Co. Galway, an area that abounded with fine singers.
Her harp back-up provides a light, breezy counterpoint to the pipes and whistle.
The festival took place on 24-26 August 1979 in Portrush, Northern Ireland. It only saw one edition.
Material provided by Maurice Shannon with a little help for the date from Edwin Ruiter. Several spelling mistakes have been corrected.