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Blessed are the Bewildered


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Folk Revivals

In the 60’s and 70’s, Ireland, England, and the US all had folk music revivals thanks to several singers and bands. These are just a few of the bands that were at the forefront, and just a brief sampling of their songs. Please suggest others for our listening pleasure!

In Ireland Sweeney’s Men were one of the first, appearing in 1966 featuring Joe Dolan, Johnny Moynihan, and Andy Irvine. Moynihan is known for introducing the bouzouki to Irish folk music.

  • Exiles Jig (mp3)

  • Sweeney’s Men reunion, with Paul Brady filling in for Dolan (guitar), Johnny Moynihan (accordion), and Andy Irvine (mandolin & vocals): Sally Brown

Andy Irvine went on to join piper Liam O’Flynn, and Donal Lunny to record an album with Christy Moore in 1972 (Prosperous), after which the four formed the Irish folk group Planxty. Lunny and Moore left in 1973 and 74 respectively, but the original 4 reformed in 1978 for several years. They’ve recently toured together again.

As one of the YouTube commenters notes, it’s interesting to see the evolution of the hair. Other popular bands at the time included The Dubliners, Tommy Makem & the Clancy Brothers, and The Bothy Band.

Terry Woods, who had replaced Joe Dolan in Sweeney’s Men, later joined British folk band Steeleye Span (and much later The Pogues). Steeleye Span & Fairport Convention did the same for British folk that Sweeney’s Men helped to do with Irish. Both bands owed much of their distinctive sounds to their lead singers - Maddy Prior (Steeleye) and Sandy Denny (Fairport), who replaced Judy Dyble, the original Fairport singer. Denny died young, at 31, in 1978 of a cerebral hemmorhage.

Fairport had a number of fantastic musicians pass through their ranks, in addition to Denny & Dyble, including Richard Thompson and fiddler Dave Swarbrick. I once saw Iain Matthews, an early singer with the band (the male lead on the “Time Will Show” clip), at the Jewish Mother cafe in Virginia Beach. He was very friendly, chatting with everyone between sets & taking requests (one I remember was Blister in the Sun). There was a group having a loud conversation during one of his sets. Dirty looks from the other guests weren’t helping, so he asked them to keep it down, noting that he didn’t bother them at McDonalds when they were working.

In the U.S., The Kingston Trio and New Lost City Ramblers were at the forefront of our own folk revival. The Kingston Trio came on the scene in the late 50’s with the lineup of Dave Guard, Nick Reynolds, and Bob Shane. They’ve continued to tour since then with various rotating members. New Lost City Ramblers are a favorite of mine, with their blending of many instruments (guitar, banjo, fiddle, accordion, auto harp, and much more) and styles (original and traditional folk songs, Old Time, bluegrass, Cajun).

NLCR - There isn’t much good on YouTube, so here are a couple of mp3’s from the cd 40 Years of Concert Performances. If you like these, check out the cd or downloads (I recommend the cd for the liner notes). The hard part was picking just two to post: Madeleine and Old Bell Cow mp3’s.

Posted by guest author: Jefe on Jul 13, 2008 8:00 am

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