Love, Death & the Lady


 The April installment of this ongoing blog is an aptl y timed Arian return to the concept that originally inspired its initiation in the first place. As readers to whom I have spoken about in connection with my blog will themselves be aware, this thing started as a  personal fortnightly or monthly viewpoint focussing on certain current themes bubbling to the surface on the local Traditional Folk and World Music Scenes; as well as some of what I myself shall be up to in connection with the above over the succeeding few weeks and months. 
Listeners to a very interesting, and perhaps controversial, broadcast from the incomparable Shirley Collins, for many years a true mainstay of the nineteen sixties’ National Folk Revival Movement, ‘Love, Death and the Lady’, may have heard to a very amusing description of the late Euan MacColl. Although Shirley’s references to him as a ‘contrived’ musical personality is not the kind of way one is accustomed to hear him being referred to in a broadcast from the BBC airwaves, which he himself dominated for so many years before his death, it is fact that his origins were considerably more Mancunian than Scottish; whilst he also appears to have had no proven extant folk tradition in his family history beyond the first generation.
One fact that was not dealt with in any great detail in this programme, however, was that Mr. MacColl is not the only person who appears to have disseminated a contrived image of himself as a Traditional Folk Singer through the medium of BBC broadcasting. In more recent times Mr. Michael Tickell, Father of the world famous Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell, seems to have attempted to contrive a similar tradition for himself; as a now not so recently broadcast series on the Border Ballads will attest.
This matter in itself has done much to undermine the credibility of the BBC as a world class institution, in that accuracy of content is as much a part of good public service sector broadcasting as quality of sound or value for money. So, it is perhaps about time that such issues were properly addressed: not only by the BBC but also by some of the publically funded institutions with which the organization has become associated. Most notably the Sage Gateshead.
One aspect of the Border Ballads that is by no means well understood is their role as a repository of ancient pre-Christian legendary traditions. Something about which Mr. Tickell appears to have demonstrated a woeful ignorance during the course of his publically funded broadcasts. These traditions in turn can be shown to have been part of a lost literary canon of folk song, which is rooted in the Minstrel Traditions of the High Middle Ages and was known about by the Templars and other gnostically inclined seekers after truth such as the Cathars of Southern France. The embedded video clip at the top of this blog is taken from my  recently completed digital film ‘Voices of Albion’, which is due to be shown at the 2008 Portobello Film Festival in August or September of this year. 
As well as discussing some of the ideas set out in this month’s blog, the clip also features  a brief appearance by the Copper Family, whose now not so recently deceased head, the late Bob Copper, was himself a longstanding friend and collaborator with the incomparable Shirley Collins. 
For those of you interested to know more about Michael Tickell and the Border Ballads hit here or to read more about the COpper Family hit here…..
More about the Border Ballads in a few weeks…….


About tartantombraider

A lineal descendant of Captain Robert Ferguson (1719-1799) the older brother of the great Scottish Enlightenment Philosopher and historian Adam Ferguson (1723-1816); the friend of Hume, Gibbon and Adam Smith. Also related to the great feminist author and playwright Rachel Ferguson. Have written extensively on a vast range of subjects, published in print as book author and in various journals and magazines into the bargain. Early work as an underground film maker on the early Goa Trance and radical anti-CJB political scene in the 1990s has since become more refined and ambitious and I am now a regular contributor to such high profile events as the Portobello Film Festival Annual Film Maker's Convention.....:
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