What are we Selling?
The Canadians are Coming
Ronnie Simpson of Lismor Records looks to have made a sizeable investment in releasing a whole range of albums from Canadian artistes in the UK market.
In our feature article the writer asks if this will be a boost for traditional music. I think it could well be. Not neccessarily because of any difference in skill level but because of the fresh ideas they will bring.
For a long time Canadians have recognised the dangers of a cultural dominance by their neighbour the USA and have introduced schemes to support their own musicians and cultural identity. Traditional music in general faces a threat of dominance by the commercial music and broadcasting industry and similar measures with positive discrimination may be appropriate. We look forward to finding out about the Canadian experience.
What are We Selling?
Sheena Wellington and I recently made a presentation to people working in the tourism industry in Scotland. When it came to questions the following one was revealing - 'You are obviously passionate about your hobby and would like the Tourist Boards to tell people about all these great events that are happening, but can you please explain to me just what traditional music is?'
The lady who asked wasn't daft, but she thought that traditional music was something to do with the preservation of Gaelic. How could she encourage people to come to something if she didn't know what it was? Her point was a valid one.
If we want to make information about traditional music available, it helps if they know what it is so that they can ask the right questions.
A question I have asked often is why, after all these years, do the general public not know much about their own traditional music and why are so many great singers and musicians relatively unknown outside of the folk scene?
After 30 years of work it took an appearance on the Mercury Music Awards for there to be wider recognition of Norma Waterson, surely one of the great voices of the revival, and Isla St. Clair is better known for her time on The Generation Game than for her ballads. Where have we gone wrong?
I intend write to various bodies who are working with traditional music to ask for a definition of traditional music and to say what the aim of their work is. I suspect that the answers won't be easy to get.