This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
book is for us all to stage our own Maypoles contemporaries (Billy Connolly, for example, itself but of great practical use and extremely
to Mistletoe show, and the book goes into describes him as “my banjo hero.”) Generously high quality. Many hearty cheers for the terrific
great detail regarding the practicalities of illustrated, the book is packed with detail and work of Matt Seattle and the publishers for
such an undertaking. It is, in fact, a Teach local colour which breathes life into the folk reprinting this vital work. For anyone with an
Yourself book, with diagrams of maypole scenes of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow interest in traditional music, this is an essential
dancing, sound advice on effective rehearsals, even for those who were not there at the time. purchase.
copious notes on seasonal traditions and a In other sections, Clive’s journeying takes him
comprehensive bibliography and discography. to Paris, Cornwall and The Middle East. The Paul Burgess
There are lovely illustrations, a mummer’s play word “Travels” would have fit very neatly into
and exhortations to do your own research that subtitle. Good as gone tales indeed.
applicable to your locality. It is, in short, a
cornucopia of seasonal celebration. When writing a biography of someone from the
music scene, there are two things which are
One of the many strengths of Maypoles to difficult to achieve. The first is to make the book
Mistletoe is Martyn’s ability to unearth and interesting to someone with no initial interest
employ fellow conspirators. This is shown yet in the artist; the picaresque nature of this book Duncan Williamson
again with the involvement here of Chris Brown, and the events which affect Clive – the twin
Published by Birlinn Ltd.
a long time educationalist and children’s personal tragedies of polio and the loss of his
ISBN 978 184158 692 2
book expert, and, incidentally, a skilled sound mother at an early age; his ability to continue
recordist. His involvement enables this project to make music way outside the mainstream;
This book has been re-published to
to be placed firmly in a school-friendly context. the revival of interest in each of his classic
commemorate the passing in 2007 of the man
His “Notes for Schools” are both sensible bands; and so on – combine to make this a
described by Hugh lupton as “…quite simply
and exciting – both rare qualities in modern fascinating story of the life of a man which is
the greatest bearer of stories and songs in the
education! in itself worthy of note. The second is to make
Scots and English language.” Duncan’s story
those who are already admirers want to return
was originally taken down in 1980-81 (thanks
This is a great book and record. You can enjoy to the music under discussion feel the need to
to a grant from the Scottish Arts Council) on
it in private for its own sake, or you can use it dig out the recordings and hear them; I found
twelve reel-to-reel tapes recording over thirty
as an inspiration to take to the boards with your myself regularly reaching for reissued CDs, old
hours of his life in his own words later edited
own Maypoles to Mistletoe production. It’s your vinyl and long-neglected cassettes throughout.
painstakingly by his second wife, Linda into the
£25 – you decide! Does Clive Palmer merit a biography? Certainly.
volume that became ‘The Horsieman’. Much
Is this biography he deserves? Absolutely.
later, in 1993, publisher Stephanie Wolfe-
Alan Rose
Murray requested the addition of an extra
Nigel Schofield
chapter to cover Duncan’s early childhood
years. This new chapter adds much useful
Empty Pocket Blues - the life
information, but it is not until chapter two that
you can really hear the sound of Duncan’s
and music of Clive Palmer
voice as you get deeper into the transcriptions.
The language becomes more colourful and
Helter Skelter
VICKERS COLLECTION OF features more of the traveller language, or cant,
The Helter Skelter imprint is a bold publisher DANCE TuNES AD 1770
that he habitually used.
of books: its catalogue, consistently of high
standard, regularly delves into arcane and
Edited by Matt Seattles
I don’t believe the importance of this book
financially risky areas of music publishing.
EFDSS & The Northumbrian Pipers’
can be over-emphasised. This is not just a
collection of stories (though each chapter
This volume is exactly as its subtitle says, Society ISBN 978 0 85418 201 5
features a tale or song written or performed
about “the life and music of Clive Palmer.” The
by Duncan) but a documentation in narrative
sometime member of the ISB may seem at first When the extensive tunebook compiled by
form of a way of life that is now all but gone.
a surprising choice for an in-depth full-length William Vickers in the North East of England
Duncan’s word pictures of the characters he
serious volume (or, indeed, one might say any was first published by Matt Seattle (in three
encountered on his travels are truly delightful,
kind of book at all). Does Clive Palmer merit parts), it was already well-known as a source of
certainly, but true importance lies in the
a biography, one finds oneself wondering on material for such as the High Level Ranters and
description of the tools and working practices
picking the book up. the Cut & Dry Band. So when the rest of us
that were a part of life and the way the skills
were able to see what riches the manuscripts
were passed from generation to generation.
I suspect its most immediate audience will contained, many of the tunes started to filter
The glossary of cant alone will be of immense
come from those whose interest in Clive stems onto the scene and the original publication
use to future researchers.
from his membership of The Incredible String quickly sold out. After a long period the
Band – briefly until their first album and then manuscript has been reprinted in one volume,
For the sake of his family Duncan eventually
more recently in the reformed editions of The with easy to read typesetting and extensive
opted for a life in a more traditional dwelling.
Increds. However, his sojourn was brief and useful and knowledgeable information from the
Students, academics and film crews beat a
his contribution, as opposed to his influence, editor.
path to the door of this master storyteller for
fairly limited. Indeed, he played a much
many years and he carried on performing at
larger role in the bands which followed – The This is a fascinating beast – one can see the
festivals and ceildhs until the end when he fell
Famous Jug Band and C.O.B., whose work, sudden arrival of Cotillons, some French tunes,
victim to a stroke. He will be sorely missed but
virtually ignored at the time, has now achieved printed material and tunes from other players
for many years to come historians and story-
cult status. However, this is truly a life story, – and always, as it should be, you are aware
lovers alike will have ‘The Horsieman’ to help
through which Clive wanders, often quite of a musician on the look out for the best new
call Duncan back to mind. The closing page
aimlessly, encountering a fascinating spectrum material – regardless of supposed national or
of ‘The Horsieman’ carries a transcription of
of legends from the Scottish and English folk cultural boundaries. More than virtually any
‘The Hawker’s Lament’, the last verse of which
scene: the famous names are plentiful and at other manuscript I have come across, the tunes
seems a fitting tribute to both the book and the
times the book has an Alice In Wonderland feel here repay detailed attention. Even items
as one wonders what and whom our hero will that may initially seem unpromising will, when
But maybe some day, when we’ve gone from this
encounter next. Cue The Mad Hatter’s Song diligently worked at, repay the performer with
and remember what the dormouse said. music of the highest interest and considerable
An we’re buried down deep in the ground,
beauty - and there are nearly 600 tunes to
Will God make us welcome, will He give us a home,
Grahame Hood’s style is both informed and discover here.
Or will He tell us just to keep movin on?
eminently readable: his fascination with Clive’s
life shines through, as indeed does that of his This is an epic – not just vastly important in
Phil Thomas
The Living Tradition - Page 2 Sponsored by BIrnam CD
Issue80.indd 52 14/7/08 14:54:57
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