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Back in business again
“... One of my favourite singers was Iain Mackintosh
from Glasgow: he played the most lovely, moving
songs in which he put his point gently, with a smile.
He wasn’t known as a ‘political singer’ but, by God,
after one of his sets you’d have got the message!
He was one of my role models.”
Janet had performed publicly at school, got the message! He was one of my role
but it was at the folk club that she gained models.”
confidence. “When I left university, I went
to Edinburgh and decided to try singing Janet stayed in Edinburgh until 1984,
in pubs, and see if people would pay playing pubs, folk clubs and the city’s
me. And it worked!” At the time she was festivals, but it was when she moved to
working in various low-grade day jobs to London that things took off. “I went down
make ends meet, but focussing on music- to live with Jim, who was the singer with
making as an ambition. Meanwhile her the street-theatre group The Fabulous
interest in political songs was growing. “At Salami Brothers, who were a real eye-
university it was ‘political’ just to be proud opener. I realised that I could juxtapose
of being Scottish, because St. Andrews that theatrical, story-telling type of political
is a very Anglicised university, full of song with traditional stuff - I loved both,
rich kids who haven’t made it to Oxford and I didn’t want to choose between
or Cambridge. Playing the traditional them. London was much more open
music of Scotland felt like standing than Edinburgh or Glasgow where, even
up for something. Politics was in my in the late 80s, singing women’s songs
background already – my father was a wasn’t well received. There was a political
socialist, and the Fife coast was a hotbed tradition but it was male one, and people
of that kind of politics. Hearing Dick would frown on ‘personal politics’ and
Gaughan left its mark, then in Edinburgh I feminism - they’d look at you funny and
came across people like Leon Rosselson suggest you go to America!”
and Roy Bailey, Frankie Armstrong, and
Sandra Kerr, and saw that it was possible In London, Janet started doing bookings
to combine a love of folk music with in earnest – her festival appearances in
saying things that needed to be said.” Edinburgh had already got her some
gigs in England, so she had something
Janet, though, has never been one to to build on. A busy round of floor spots
bash audiences over the head with some and sessions expanded her base, while at
grand message. “No…. Much better the same time she was working in a duo
to have a little joke about it, to entertain with Christine Kydd. The folk scene at the
people, and not just hammer things into time was awash with guitar-toting male
them. One of my favourite singers was soloists, so Janet’s gender and mixture
Iain Mackintosh from Glasgow: he played of material gave her an edge. She didn’t
the most lovely, moving songs in which always enjoy life on the road, though: “The
he put his point gently, with a smile. He hard thing was always the travelling. I’m
wasn’t known as a ‘political singer’ but, not very good at finding my way to places
by God, after one of his sets you’d have and there was no Satnav or Multimap in
The Living Tradition - Page 1
Issue80.indd 15 14/7/08 14:48:31
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