Music News Reaction
I have had a considerable amount of flak after publishing the news item in the last issue about Celtic Music. The main accusation being that by pointing out positive contributions Dave Bulmer may have made to the folk scene I was giving him credibility, 'sitting on the fence', and in danger of actively supporting him.
What I was pointing out was, that the article in the Observer to me appeared to be unbalanced. It seemed to me that there must be another side to the story. My view was that substantive matters could be masked by people making statements that were not true. Some of what people relate about Celtic Music is clearly heresay and some myths are building up.
Celtic Music has featured in the folk press - mainly in letters to Folk Roots - over a number of years and the company has been in the 'notices' section of The Musicians Union for a long time warning people to seek advice before dealing with them. Some time ago I was faxed a copy of this with a scribbled note on it saying 'What has brother Gaughan got to say about this'. The fact that Dick was working with Dave Bulmer was a surprise to many people and is another factor that led me to the conclusion that there must be more to Dave than is commonly portrayed.
Many people within the folk scene have what appear to be legitimate grievances against the company. The fact that there have been various court cases against Celtic Music clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling. My recognition of the positive aspects of Dave Bulmer's work - and that is the side I have more personal experience of - does not mean that I can understand what he is doing with his business. I bought a copy of Nic Jones' 'Penguin Eggs' CD, (re-released by Topic). I have all of Nic's albums on vinyl and I personally would be ready to buy many re-issues of the Leader/Trailer labels. I personally think that Dave should release them on CD. However, it is his business and he is the one who has to put the money into the project.
Whilst I recognise that it is his business, I do feel that he owes at least a moral obligation to the folk scene in general and to some artistes to make recordings available. Dick Gaughan made that very point in a newsgroup forum on the internet. Dick had been working in the studio remastering some of the Leader/Trailer catalogue and, to quote from Dick ".. amongst which was Nic Jones' wonderful 'Ballads and Songs'. I was under the impression then that release of this was imminent but it's still lying in a box somewhere presumably. Something I consider to be an act of cultural vandalism."
I would welcome comment from Dave Bulmer on some issues. Even more welcome would be some action to right any wrongs. He made a business out of publishing and selling albums coming out of the folk scene. If people owe him any debt of gratitude for providing that service there must be another side to the bargain - he has a duty back to the folk scene, the whole folk scene, to make the recordings available under reasonably open commercial terms. Will Dave be remembered in the folk scene for his musical contribution or for 'cultural vandalism'. The ball is over in his court.