Last Wednesday saw the BBC Folk Awards , a handy reminder that the British folk music scene is undergoing a real renaissance (although one might quibble about the decision to award Seth Lakeman best album over both Bellowhead and Tim van Eyken). It would certainly be worth be signing the e-petition protesting against the ridiculous government licensing legislation restricting the performance of live music in pubs and bars.
It’s also worth having a think about how we approach this type of intangible heritage. Scotland, Ireland and Wales all have centres dedicated to their popular music. Whilst the Folk Music degree at Newcastle University is a fantastic development it is aimed at training existing performers rather than presenting folk music to the general public. In Scotland there is the National Piping Centre and in Wales there is Ty Siamas , there is no equivalent in England.
However, it is great to see that Somerset County Council has just published the Somerset Folk Map tracing the biographies and pinpointing the homes of the singers from whom Cecil Sharp collected his remarkable archive of traditional song, dance, tunes and children’s games. Much of the work was done by Yvette Staelens, who works in the archaeology department at Bournmouth, and more importantly was once a backing singer for Blyth Power , possibly the best slightly-dodgy folk punk band in history!
You never know, but the effect of Seth Lakeman winning best album could have the same effect as Jim Moray winning a couple of years ago \”the kiss of death\”. As regards English folk music, heritage and culture, Sheffield University run a course in this very subject. Also I believe there is a National Folk music museum/collection in London (where else). Finally the work of Kathryn Tickell should be applauded for bringing the Northumbrian Pipes to a wider and younger audience.Bring on the folk music!
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