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as well: “Singing is healthy. It people nowadays are familiar
expands the lungs and increases with the sound of tabla, and folk
the heart rate - it’s good for you! music should be a product of
There’s lots of evidence about the its society, after all. Najam is
psychological benefits, and for very well respected as a singer
much older people it’s a lovely, and musician within the Indian
gentle form of exercise, For all of and Pakistani communities, but
us, remembering a narrative and he’s happy to work with other
a harmony line keeps us ticking musicians too, and he’s really
over mentally. It’s as good as any nice. We’ve done Eppie Morrie
walking club or dancing club.” together - a song about a woman
resisting an arranged marriage,
The choirs are still thriving, but in which Eppie manages not to
Janet has a new project that have sex with this bloke who’s
she’s even more excited about. trying it on all night! Najam also
JigJaw, a quartet including Rosie plays on The Banks of Sweet
Davis from Sisters Unlimited, Dundee, where again a woman
Kerry Fletcher, Frances Watt and is told to marry a rich man when
Kat Davidson, aim to perform she’s in love with the archetypal
mouth music accompanied by ploughboy down the road. To
percussive dance, and to operate put tabla on those songs hints
as a new kind of ceilidh band. at the custom of forced marriage
“Initially we’re doing concert - which was a part of British
performances, then we’ll work up culture not so far back. I’m very
our stamina so that we’re capable interested in the kind of things
of doing a whole evening’s dance. Sheila Chandra’s done, exploring
They do it in the Basque country British ballads in a traditional way
and Brittany: three or four women and gradually introducing Asian
will stand up and sing mouth decoration. I love that blending,
music for hours on end. You have when it’s very clear what each
to remain strong and rhythmic for tradition is - there’s no grey mush
that length of time, and sustain there.”
enough kick to keep the dancers
happy.” The new album includes a preview
of the kind of things JigJaw will be
The members of JigJaw combine doing, using Janet’s voice multi-
a wealth of experience. “Rosie tracked. But perhaps the highlight
knows the American dance is The Sodjer’s Cairn, a poem
tradition very well and is an by Mary Symon set to music by
experienced caller, Kerry calls Janet. “I was working on the
too and gives workshops in Linn Records collection of Burns
all kinds of styles. They’re the songs, and telling Fred Freeman,
main dancers, but Frances is the producer, about a gorgeous
experienced in French, Breton project I’d been doing with Coope,
and Swedish dance as well as Boyes and Simpson about the
being a fine singer, and Kat famous ‘Christmas Truce’ in World
became very interested in mouth War I. Fred gave me this beautiful
music on the folk degree course poem, written from the point of
at Newcastle. A lot of the old view of a woman grieving for her
mouth music has been lost, but son, who’s been killed in that war.
we’re working really hard to dig Building a cairn on a nearby hilltop
things up, like nonsense songs is the only way the women of the
that were carried by the travellers. village can express their grief and
Everybody sings, with Kerry and love for their fathers, sons, lovers.
Rosie providing the percussion, I was very moved by it.”
and I think it has the potential to
be really exciting. I’ve got the Janet hopes that the new CD will
energy to do a good bit with that help to get her music known to
group – it’ll be fun again, without organisers on the folk scene who
the loneliness of solo touring.” weren’t around during her glory
days on the circuit. “I know I’ve
Janet is, nonetheless, planning a lot of spadework to do letting
more solo work, and her new people know what I’m like, what
CD is geared towards that. It’s my rapport with the audience is,
more solidly traditional than and so on, because bookers who
her previous solo recordings, knew me once may not be there
although there’s still room for any more. I’m having to start
the unexpected, such as Najam from scratch in a lot of places,
Javed’s highly effective tabla but I’m astounded by how many
accompaniments which add people out there still remember
insistent rhythms and drone me from ten or fifteen years ago.”
effects to some of the traditional Those people will be delighted to
ballads. “I live near Bradford, and hear that Janet Russell is back in
it felt honest to work with a tabla business again, and her bold new
player; to combine what I know musical plans are sure to bring
with someone whose culture a host of new supporters to her
I’m living next to. Lots of British cause. q
The Living Tradition - Page 1
Issue80.indd 17 14/7/08 14:48:35
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