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•Loch Col Uaraich, Upper Coll, Lewis
Photo by John MacLean Photography
Tonight’.’ Setting the undeniable ‘I do have to be careful how I get to know people. I think that phenomenon then, that tradition
charms of Mr. Irons to one side, say this, but I feel very strongly there will inevitably be a split in bearers are being ignored or cast
it’s clear that Willie Clancy Week that festival organisers should what we currently fit under the aside, in favour of the latest high-
holds much appeal for Margaret. truly know the genre they are all encompassing umbrella of profile band or performer? Do
‘It’s because it’s such a true promoting at their event. Things ‘Celtic Music’, if it hasn’t already we see the same in England and
festival. It’s very traditional, and too often get formulaic and happened. I see many musicians Ireland for instance? ‘It is not for
nobody, bar nobody, is treated predictable, with the same bands leaving the tradition behind; me to say, as I am no expert and
as a celebrity; as Mr. Irons and performers appearing at most it’s a natural course for them, my opinions are based only on my
put it last year “everyone is a festivals, so something has to particularly if they are full-time own experiences and observations
celebrity”. For me, that’s one of give. Naturally enough, budgets musicians, seeking work not just and mainly on the current state
the things that’s so special about and funding criteria generally in Scotland and England, but of Gaelic song.’ Does Margaret
it – no egos allowed. Many old control the programming for many beyond. Audiences will dictate have any suggestions as to what
tradition bearers attend each year of these festivals, particularly their performance style; some might have caused this? ‘I haven’t
and are given the respect they the smaller ones who need to festivals will only accept a certain studied it, but I guess we would
deserve and it makes my heart attract audiences and cannot ‘image’ or style and this is bound have to look at how newcomers
glad to see the young and not so afford to be so adventurous, but to have an effect on a performer’s to the music and young people in
young, metaphorically sitting at I was impressed with Donald or band’s repertoire. Sadly, for areas known for traditional music
their feet; listening, learning and Shaw’s choice of programme me, the popularity of this ‘fusion’ and song styles are currently
appreciating the nuances of style at Celtic Connections this year; is at the expense of traditional being taught. I would have to
which these ‘masters’ are passing I believe he had the right mix regional styles, particularly in make the point here that I have
on during this very special week. of the high-profile ‘venue fillers’ singing but also in other areas, absolutely no opposition to
The older tradition bearers don’t and international talent, while still and in another generation we innovation and experimentation
hold classes but are often brought remaining true to our Scottish are in danger of seeing these within traditional music - it is
in to demonstrate particular styles roots, and in some cases, being styles becoming extinct. These after all a living tradition. I would
or to talk about some aspect of adventurous, with the inclusion are the roots of our music and be happier if there was some
their playing or singing.’ of sean-nòs and very traditional although I have uttered this ad evidence that in the areas where
bands and performers. It’s a nauseam I don’t think it can be we still have a strong living and
Willie Clancy Week is an annual huge festival and very hard to said often enough “if the roots unbroken tradition, and there are
Summer School run along similar get to see everything and even die, not only will the tree fall but tradition bearers to pass this on,
lines as its younger cousin, Ceòlas have the ‘craic’ with your fellow in time so will the entire forest”. that they are given their place,
in South Uist, and Margaret performers, but it’s an immense Ask any young performer or the respect they deserve and the
evidently feels comfortable undertaking and was certainly an student of ‘trad music’, who their opportunity to give more than just
attending such an event, enjoying amazing showcase for Scottish influences are, or easier still, ‘the song’ or ‘the tune’.’
the way that the educational music this year. Personally, I check their MySpace pages: to
and ‘working’ part of the events couldn’t handle more than one read them is an education in itself, ‘I see that perhaps this
combine so successfully with of those types of festivals per a contemporary commentary on could be one of the possible
the evening concerts and year, necessary though they may who young traditional performers causes. Organisations who are
opportunities to socialise. Is she be. I miss the camaraderie of emulate, learn their material and responsible for teaching traditional
equally attracted by the wealth small events, where there is more musical styles from.’ music and song, such as Feisean
of festivals on offer these days, contact between performers, more nan Gaidheal and the various
particularly in Scotland? impromptu sessions and time to Is this a uniquely Scottish institutions of learning who offer
The Living Tradition - Page 1
Issue80.indd 19 14/7/08 14:48:54
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