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BBC4 Christmas Session

Desert Dancer 08 Jan 13 - 03:45 PM
GUEST 15 Jan 11 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,mulv 15 Jan 11 - 09:17 PM
Dave MacKenzie 20 Dec 10 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Stephen Edkins 20 Dec 10 - 03:14 PM
Bonzo3legs 20 Dec 10 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,glueman 20 Dec 10 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 20 Dec 10 - 07:13 AM
Andy Jackson 20 Dec 10 - 07:06 AM
Songwriter15 20 Dec 10 - 06:51 AM
Manitas_at_home 20 Dec 10 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,erbert 19 Dec 10 - 02:25 PM
Bonzo3legs 19 Dec 10 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,erbert 19 Dec 10 - 01:24 PM
MikeL2 19 Dec 10 - 01:05 PM
Bonzo3legs 19 Dec 10 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Guest Betsy 19 Dec 10 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 19 Dec 10 - 05:54 AM
Spot 19 Dec 10 - 03:44 AM
GUEST,Silas 18 Dec 10 - 04:42 PM
Bonzo3legs 18 Dec 10 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,Silas 18 Dec 10 - 04:29 PM
Manitas_at_home 18 Dec 10 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Reimer 18 Dec 10 - 04:03 PM
evansakes 17 Dec 10 - 11:05 AM
GUEST,Elliot 17 Dec 10 - 09:12 AM
Dave MacKenzie 16 Dec 10 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,oldnickilby 16 Dec 10 - 06:34 AM
Bounty Hound 16 Dec 10 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,glueman 16 Dec 10 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,GUEST banksie 16 Dec 10 - 05:23 AM
theleveller 16 Dec 10 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,OLDNICKILBY 16 Dec 10 - 04:41 AM
Suegorgeous 15 Dec 10 - 03:11 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 15 Dec 10 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Eve 15 Dec 10 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,erbert 15 Dec 10 - 11:38 AM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 15 Dec 10 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Eve 15 Dec 10 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,glueman 15 Dec 10 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Penrith Pete 15 Dec 10 - 09:39 AM
Rob Naylor 15 Dec 10 - 09:12 AM
Rob Naylor 15 Dec 10 - 09:08 AM
theleveller 15 Dec 10 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Eve 15 Dec 10 - 07:40 AM
GUEST,Penrith Pete 15 Dec 10 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,glueman 15 Dec 10 - 05:11 AM
Rob Naylor 15 Dec 10 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,LDT 15 Dec 10 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,glueman 15 Dec 10 - 03:23 AM
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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 08 Jan 13 - 03:45 PM

I just stumbled on the 2011 edition available on YouTube: B B C Four Sessions - The Christmas Session.
B B C Four celebrates merry midwinter in unique style, with an exhilarating blend of folk tradition and burlesque fun. Energetic 11-piece Bellowhead and Mercury-nominated alternative folkies The Unthanks get together with the impressive young singers Thea Gilmore and Lisa Knapp, plus other special guests.

Steered by genial host Paul Sartin, the assembled artists perform seasonal songs of their own alongside yuletide favourites, ranging from folk ballads and carols to parlour songs and carousing dance numbers, with everyone coming together for a final knees-up.

Filmed at the atmospheric Shoreditch Town Hall, the setting evokes an old music hall combined with a festive Victorian family parlour, bedecked with garlands, period lamps and fireplace. Even the audience are dressed up in old-fashioned finery and prove themselves ready to kick up their heels.


Featuring,
Bellowhead
The Unthanks
Thea Gillmore
Lisa Knapp
Belshazzar's Feast
Jim Moray
with
John Williams
Belles of London City

I'm looking forward to watching for a belated seasonal treat.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 10:23 PM

Just read all this again - and I've just read such shite that I can't believe

"Let's be a bit simplistic and create a generic dissenter who we'll call Moz." Not sure if this is a pop at me,eh !

"If the artists who Moz thinks should be getting the breaks which our BBC4 singers are getting DID get those breaks - would they be as successful in that marketplace in this era as the BBC4s? We don't know." I have no axe to grind towards any particular artists - or trying to boost any artists.My point is......overall the recording of the singing was,generally,crap - whose fault ? Singers or engineers ? Dunno. All that I do know is....I ain't suddenly become deaf/hard of hearing (i'll let you know !) and I heard what I heard.

"Could it be that the BBC4s are in fact somehow 'right' for this arena, in ways that other singers are not - and that they are vocalising some 21st century folk zeitgeist that Moz is just not attuned to?" WHAT ??? Google translator,please !

"I don't know, but I do love to find beauty in unexpected places, and I find it easily in the voices we heard on this programme.

Maybe they're not actually bad - just different." Gotta agree to disagree.They sounded sub-standard for fully professional performers.

Summary - if BEEB anyChannel display this next Xmas 2011,we will all know that they have lost their marbles towards song/sound,whatever the genre (or they have lost their budget).Christ knows what George Melly would have said if he'd heard Jazz portrayed like this programme portrayed Folk music.I love folk music and song....and this programme mad me feel like......well......I couldn't recommend ANY of my non-folkie friends to watch it 'cos then they really would know that I was a conker......that they would think that this was my idea of musical entertainment....and it's NOT !!! for whatever reasons are to blame !
(Yeh - an' I remember Mr Sachs,when I were a lad,in his effusively,ebulliently,engaging extollations of performers beyond perfection whose mesmerising manifestations of magical mannerisms and machinations would mystify any audience,by way of song or style,with their use of words of alliterative affectations....bla,bla,bla)


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,mulv
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 09:17 PM

Songwriter15 - I'm just gonna presume that you were pissed when you wrote your review - or slightly hard of hearing when your telly was on.Smack-gobbed mulv


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:11 PM

I wasn't disappointed with "Folk on the BBC - 50's/60's" because I didn't expect them to have that much footage, and apart from the documemtary about kids buying guitars, they managed to pad it out pretty well. I was also pleasantly delighted with Howard Goodall's "The Truth about Christamas Carols" - Bela Hardy, West Gallery Music and Yorkshire pub carol singing amongst others.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Stephen Edkins
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 03:14 PM

Went to Tamworth Folk Club on Saturday for the Christmas Party (fancy dress theme: 1940's)but before I went I thought I'd log onto Mudcat and confirm the words for In The Bleak Midwinter. I was intrigued, saddened and mostly confused by the postings concerning this programme of a Christmas Party at Shoreditch Town Hall (fancy dress theme: Dickens meets Bellowhead). I loved the programme last year and this. It was bloody good fun!

Last night I completed my catching up of the "Folk" programmes I'd recorded from BBC4 and got to "Folk on the BBC - 50's/60's". What a thorough dissapointment! From the title you'd expect to see archive material from the 50's and 60's showing how the BBC presented Folk. Apart from the Harry Cox bit (which was great to see & hear)most of the programme was modern reworking, American or a load of drivel about kids buying guitars.

All you Mudcatters should be directing your bile towards the BBC regarding this programme. It was an opportunity lost and served as a great disservice to us all.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:29 AM

I think that I preferred the Albion Christmas Band show.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:17 AM

To repeat earlier comments, if you didn't like this show it almost certainly wasn't aimed at you.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:13 AM

Personally, I found most of it very dirgey & felt it didn't realy get going until the end!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 07:06 AM

Well said Songwriter 15. When people get off their personal high horses and ego trips most seem to agree that , on balance these programmes where a good thing. The thread has only lasted this long because the usual Mudcat Mudsling has become norm when constructive critiscism has run its course.
Welocome abourd the Cat it can be jolly.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Songwriter15
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 06:51 AM

Only just discovered the site and I have to say, if this expansive ( in more ways than one!)thread is anything to go by, I'm going to be visiting on a more-than regular basis!

Just wanted to comment on "Tom Bliss" ( unfortunately don't know you Tom but I have a feeling we'd be "okay" when it comes to music in general!) and his seeming enthusiasm re defence of the BBC4 Christmas Session.....

....So, what's to defend?!?! This was a wonderfully jolly, talent-packed, yet informal and cuddly, celebration of the "music of Christmas" - or as much of it as could be crammed into such a, relatively, short programme - produced, in the opinion of mine and my beautiful Phyl's, eyes and ears, in the "style", if that's an acceptable word, of a "local Folk Club", typically, of the 70's or early 80's!! I think I'd defend that description by claiming that it presented all the vagaries, inconsistencies, and, yes, flaws, of an, again, "typical", night at "The Chequers" / "fill in your own nostalgic memory here"( anyone from the Island remember those utopian nights?!? ), along with the talent, musical entertainment ( YES, TOM, I, for one, still remember that word! ), and, and I make no apology to man 'nor the gods for saying this, pure joy, that those nights promised, and, invariably, delivered!

This was a programme of, not just the aforementioned, and, IM(less than humble!)O, talent, but of the communal, co-operative, "everybody-play-with-everybody-else" vibe that pervaded the, relatively, small, local clubs of that, musically, wonderful era.
Yes!! Of course I'm awash with nostalgia! I'm 60 for christ's sake! .......

........BUT ( and here come's some, very minor (!!), self-glorification!), Mike Jolliffe once wrote, in the programme for the, oft remembered in these parts, Blue Whale Concert, of '76, that,in terms of songwriting, I was " The most prolific of us all" and that I could " write a meaningful song about a pool cue"!
If there's ANY truth in that, then I claim the right, along with all the other opinionated contributors to this thread, to state, as a god-given fact, the merits, or otherwise, of this programme!! :-)

It was BRILLIANT entertainment! The sound was PERFECT - sorry folks, but, in the context of our TV's speakers, it WAS!..... and the sentiment of the show, whether accidental or intended, was simply WONDERFUL!......

......and JIM ( if I may be so familiar ) you may feel, whether because of the key, or lack of adequate preparation, that your performance of "Emmanuel" was less-than-perfect....and maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't note-perfect, and maybe not all the phrasing or breath-points were how you would have liked - but we two loved it!
We loved the expression - both vocal AND facial! :-)

Well, it's nice to be here and to have contributed, in however pathetically inadequate a way, to a thread that pressed pretty much all of my personal buttons!

To all out there who celebrate this most magical time of year, we both wish you a wonderful Christmas, and a beautifully peaceful New Year, and may we meet in mutual musical appreciation for a long time to come.......I bloody well hope so, anyway!! :-)

Seeya
Chris and Phyl


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 20 Dec 10 - 05:57 AM

As I said above how does anyone get the impression the audience were in any way 'posh' (as if that were a crime!). They were dressed up for an evening out and large numbers of them seem to have been dressed by Sue Ryder and Dr Barnado. Just the sort of stuff worn by a lot of youngsters at folk festivals in fact. Would you be having a go at them if they had been wearing brand new Burbery, Pringle, Fred Perry or Diesel?


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 02:25 PM

hmmm.. I don't know you bonzo, why the snide reaction ? what's the problem ?

Would you be one of them 'posh prats',
or maybe just a toadying servile boot polishing arse licking social ladder climbing lackey
anxious not to lose the favour of the local Squire & M'Lady ???


Funny old world... because that's as much as we know or care about
each other's 'genuine' personal individual background and life history..



merry xmas.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 01:48 PM

"even the smarmy posh prats in the audience"

By what criteria do you make that statement? Did they touch your pretend working class inverted snobbery fluids?????


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 01:24 PM

12 months since I last saw it, I watched it all again last night; but this time objectively stone cold sober.

So overall, I enjoyed every performance, considering at least one to be exceptionally good.
Even Jim Moray was presentable enough despite his own reservations regarding his lack of adequate preparation.

I didn't dislike any of the performers.

To my complete surprise, even the smarmy posh prats in the audience
[and certain ingratiating members of Bellowhead] were'nt as antagonising as on last viewing
when I was merrily off my face on xmas spirit !!!?????

.. and I'm not the kind of person who's usually spoiling for a punch-up after an over indulgent drinking session...

[Btw.. our band, i.e. the few members who braved it out in the snow, did a last-minute arranged gig Fri night
without any preparation, practice, or knowing half the songs,
or able to read the chords clearly off the hastily shoddy printed cheat sheets..
but we still bluffed it out and went down well
with a local audience of happy xmas social club pissheads up for a good night out...

.. so that indicates my personal standards for performance quality control judgement]

My wife, watching this TV concert for the first time and completely unaware of any bitter discontent & dischord here at mudcat,
insisted the entire show was brilliant,
and wished she could have gone to it herself all dressed up like that !!!!???
..and she wants to watch it all over again with a good drink on xmas evening.

Her only casual criticism was that some of the female performers were a bit 'all warbly' or tying too hard to be Kate Rusby.

We agreed it could even have been half hour longer, and would definitely be worth £2.99 if it was available as a DVD
in a Tesco's new year bargain clear out.

Shame though, it's a BBC4 repeat
and not a brand new show produced for this holiday.

That says something not particularly positive about the BBC's estimation of audience reaction.

We are a diverse 'market' and do deserve something to be learnt and improved from this seemingly unpopular 'one off' show;
allowing for the possibilities to learn from mistakes to do it better,
and ideally some version recomisioned as an ongoing annual TV 'folk' music xmas special event.
More balanced & evenly reflecting the seasonal 'folk' experience as enjoyed by 'real' communities
and not only just the smug narcissistic London elite 'culture-intelligentsia'.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: MikeL2
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 01:05 PM

hi

I am not sure if this has been commented on earlier in this thread but I have just noticed that on BBC TV on New Years Eve on The Jules Holland gig which stretches over midnight features Bellowhead, not a fan myself.

Mind you top feature is Kylie Minogue...nuff said ???

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 10:07 AM

"I am surprised, Bonzo, that you even consider that anyone values your opinion at all, so it is quite inspiring that you continue to voice it.

Well done."

I do because I can - I laugh!!!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Guest Betsy
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 06:35 AM

I watched part of it last night,THAT's as much as I could stand.
No wonder people think that people involved with Folk music are wierdos.
It was horrible and pointless.
Piss poor Christmas fare.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 05:54 AM

I watched part one of "Wallander". Excellent. Part two is on Monday night.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Spot
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 03:44 AM

Allo everybody

I forced myself to watch this programme to the end last night. My feeling is that after the "Original TransAtlantic Sessions" they should have pulled the plug while they were on top.All of last nights performances made me cringe.

Enough said...

Regards to all... Spot


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 04:42 PM

I am surprised, Bonzo, that you even consider that anyone values your opinion at all, so it is quite inspiring that you continue to voice it.

Well done.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 04:39 PM

Quite frankly I rate the Unthank sisters as average floorspot material.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 04:29 PM

Well Reimer , there is nothing like a bit of well balanced and considered thoughtful opinion. And that was nothing like one.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 04:25 PM

how on earth did you get access to see their bank accounts? Just because it was filmed in Shoreditch Town Hall ( I think) doesn't mean the audience is rich.I was brought up in nearby Columbia Road and a lot of the same people are still living there even though the shops have gone up market. Besides, half the audience were dressed in cast-offs and hand-me-downs weren't they?


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Reimer
Date: 18 Dec 10 - 04:03 PM

I managed 6-7 minutes of this smugfest (BBC4 18/12 20.00) before having to switch off. The assembled well-to-do tosspots of Shoreditch, Hoxton, Crouch End and beyond doing an upmarket version of 'The Good Old Days' in what appears to be another level of the gentrification of Folk music. Frigging awful. The urban counterpart of the arseholes who buy up entire fucking villages. I'd have left a nail-bomb in a hold-all there if I'd had a chance.

R


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: evansakes
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 11:05 AM

Here's another one that obviously wasn't good enough to make the final edit.

Thea Gilmore with Midwinter's Toast


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Elliot
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 09:12 AM

Well I thougght the programme was great and I'm sure you'll all be equally delighted hear the programme's being repeated on BBC 4 this Saturday at 8pm.

I also came across these other tracks that didn't make it onto the show

Remember O Thou Man

Shepherds Arise


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 10:28 AM

Just to repeat, I thought it didn't live up to the standards of the artists concerned or to those of BBC4.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,oldnickilby
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 06:34 AM

Well, I didnt think it was that good either, which is why I was quite moderate in my condemnation. It was more X Factor than what we know and greatly respect as our heritage of our peoples music.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 06:17 AM

GUEST,OLDNICKILBY: 'absolute and utter SHITE' Bit strong that, didn't think it was that good!

The serious point, for those who havn't read back in this thread is that perhaps our expectations were too high.

We, as people who care passionately about our music, know these artists and know what they are capable of producing, but is was, for whatever reason, a sub standard performance from most of them. Jim Moray, one of the artists involved, candidly (and bravely) admits that in his post earlier in the thread (and to be fair to him, also explains a very valid reason)

I suspect that most 'non folkies' watching the programme thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it a jolly romp.

John


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 05:46 AM

What suegorgeous said. Half the point of folk music is it trades virtuosity for clunky passion. To Oldnickilby I suggest an Eagles album, or late Fleetwood Mac. All the production you can shake a stick at.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,GUEST banksie
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 05:23 AM

Well, OLDNICKILBY, "absolute and utter SHITE" is a value judgement you are perfectly entitled to (and as I missed the Friday programmes I cannot pass an opinion). But as Tom Bliss says, the fact that the programmes are on at all is a serious improvement over the all-but-zero coverage folk music has had for the last few decades.

And for what its worth, I did see the clogging flashmob programme on the Saturday - as did the people staying with us. They were so taken with it one of them is now seriously interested in taking up, and they all then sat and watched the old TV clips of Pentangle et al. The interspersed current clips from still current performers such as Paul Brady and Richard Thompson were particularly enlightening for them, bringing forth several `ooohs' and `ahhhs' and `who's that, he's good' etc.

Some of it was shite by my reckoning as well - Incredible String Band, for example - but that is purely personal view. I expect they don't think much of my singing either. But I'd much rather it was on than never shown.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: theleveller
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 04:52 AM

"This year we've done really well for folk TV"

Yes, I agree, Tom. I really look forward to seeing what folkie shows are on Beeb Four on a Friday night - about the only time that I control the channel changer. And even if no-one else did, I enjoyed the Christmas Session and I'd have loved to have been there (mrsleveller says that's how I usually dress, anyway).


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,OLDNICKILBY
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 04:41 AM

No Mr Bliss we have not "Done Well" these programmes were absolute and utter SHITE They in the main were dumbed down(not the Highland the Transatlantic nor the Clog ). They were the unacceptable face of Tele Folk
Me thinks the man has far much to say on this matter and doth protest too much


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 03:11 PM

Emmanuel may not have been Jim's best performance, yet for me it was the highlight of the show. Don't know if this is because in general I often seem to actually prefer technically non-perfect performances and voices. I can hear the "beauty" of the perfect stuff, just doesn't turn me on as much as something I can only clumsily and inadequately describe as soul and passion. And Jim's rendition conveyed something of that for me that night, even if there were things wrong with it.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 01:16 PM

But Eve, that's the point, it wasn't by any means a solitary outing. On the Friday night there was Highland Sessions, the Dancing programme, and the archive programme, then on Saturday, more dancing and another archive. Both Bllowhead and Imagined Village have been on Later (did Damo do it too, can't remember now, but he/they will if not), so has KRusby. We've had the Transatlantic sessions, the Shanty Show, Folk Btitannia... This year we've done really well for folk TV, compared to years gone by when there was zip for whole decades at a time.

And like it or not, those people did earn their spot. Nothing succeeds like success and they were in the right place at the right time.

Tom


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Eve
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 12:17 PM

So in that case "everyone's a singer"..

True of course, i suppose but - I'm a very average fiddle player (or you could call it "naive" or "rustic") This is partly due to lack of talent but also because i haven't put in enough practice. I've tried hard over the years to improve but i've hit a plateaux!

I play down the local pub occasionally and i guess some people enjoy it - it's fun - but i'm very aware of my shortcomings and a good fiddle player would easily be able to criticise my technique and realisation of the tunes and their affective and stylistic qualities..even though to the layman (i busk in the streets occasionally) i probably sound ok.

I can't imagine my playing would be received well on BBC4, especially if i was the only English fiddle player broadcast.. However, if Dave Swarbrick in his prime had gone up there, few people anywhere would be able to truly criticise his playing, even if they didn't like his style..

That was the main issue as far as i was concerned - I'm not criticising any of the performers specifically - some i enjoyed very much while others made music that wasn't exactly to my taste - and of course there's a place in music for all kinds of voices, technically great or otherwise, but i just felt there are other singers not showcased whose voices are world-class by anyone's standards, who i would like to have represented English folk in this single solitary outing into mainstream media.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 11:38 AM

Regarding the appropriateness of technicaly poor voices in folk/roots music;
I've occasionaly been playing Jeff Walker und Die Fluffers "Welcome To Carcass Cuntry" as background music
while I sort out my daily doings.

The singing quality would seriously make Shane MacGowan sound like Charlotte Church.

But once you get past the adolescent novelty of a bunch of death metal / grindcore 'artistes'
paying homage to country blues standards, its actually to my ears quite an effective and respectable tribute
to a genre of hard working beaten up 'manly' music.

However, Shane MacGowan , Billy Bragg, or anyone remotely with a voice like that were not performing on this xmas special;
so apart from technicaly good singers performing a little under par,
I can't personaly find any cause for complaint with the quality of the performers.

Again I think the main problem with this xmas special
is the self-indulgent wanky 'in-crowd' presentation.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 11:04 AM

Good points Eve, but I'd say that the appreciation of singing is very different to the appreciation of instrumental playing, because singing is both music and talking at the same time.

That's how people like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Iggy Pop and Neil Young get to be fantastic singers even though they don't have great voices.

I myself have a sadly weasily voice. (I'd love to be able to sing like Sam - I agree absolutely that he's up there with Bob Fox, Chris Foster and Phil Beer in terms of timbre). But (a few) people are happy to pay to listen to me - because I can do other things than sound pretty (as can the above, of course), and that's important too.

Thus with the disputed singers in this show. Jim, Jon and the Unthanks are all technically superior to me in terms of tuning and phrasing, but they get more flack than I do because their voices are even further away from the 'folk standard' than mine.

I think that if you listen to all four with open ears, you'll hear that they're are all in different ways doing something new and interesting. It's not so much what they do, actually, it's what they don't do. It's in that gap between the prediction and the delivery that the magic is hidden, but you have to open your ears and heart to hear it.

I don't know to what extent this effect is deliberate - I understand it is in Jon's case - and to what extent it's an accident of birth, but there's no doubt that a lot of people like it, else these artists wouldn't be as successful as they are, (and that success is not just down to hype - 'you can fool a few of the people...' etc etc)

This show contained a lot of hymns, and it seems people have more problems with hymns 'sung wrong' than even trad songs sung wrong - but if anything the effect I'm talking about is even stronger.

Applying a 21st century post-pop approach to songs we know so well that we hardly hear them any more was, to me, refreshing, challenging and (mostly) beautiful.

Tom


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Eve
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 10:12 AM

I've been thinking more on the voice thing..

- Millions of people love and buy the records of Susan Boyle and the X Factor wannabes - does this make their voices objectively the very best in the world?

- Returning to Tom's comment about the Tate modern - as i understand it abstract art is not "simple" because the artist is incapable of anything other, but a conscious choice to work in that way made through the refinement of style and technique and concept.. Same with voices. Some singers have that "breathy" style and they do it brilliantly - but it's not the same thing if it's just because the voice is under-developed.. and it IS possible to tell the difference!
Sam Lee, for example, is a singer's singer - whether or not you like his style, his repertoire, his tights or whatever(!) - it is hard to get away from the fact he's a brilliant singer..and he's worked hard for that.
Sometimes it feels to me like people use totally different ears, and thus judgement systems, for singing and instrumental performance and have much lower expectations about what good singing is.

- Whether or not the posters on this thread are world-class musicians and singers, or not - and as we've already seen, they may be! - should not render them unworthy of passing comment on the performances of others. I know literally nothing about the inner workings of my computer, for example, but i certainly know when it's not working properly!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 09:49 AM

Perhaps she doesn't like folk music Rob? Or even carols? It isn't compulsory.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Penrith Pete
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 09:39 AM

Hi

Well, Leveller, I am no relation to Cockermouth Pete, but he sounds like a good bloke to me, based purely on his name and general location!

Thanks for your comment Rob. I reread what I wrote and it sounded a bit worthy! Didn't mean for it to be so, just wanted to explain my own reaction to it.

Take care

Pete


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 09:12 AM

Glueman: I still fail to see how someone liking Ralph McTell is a barometer of anything

simply that she was prepared to go along and see someone she'd never heard of performing in a genre that she has little experience of with an open mind and used her critical faculties to decide that she liked what she saw and heard...ie she's not close-minded about music new to her. So the fact that she didn't like the prog one bit isn't down to youthful narrow-mindedness or failure to engage with genres she's not familiar with. That's all, really.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 09:08 AM

Great post, Pete and cour comments on the show mirror very well what my 34 year old friend said about the part of the show she watched before switching off.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 08:40 AM

Hi Penrith Pete - any relation to my old buddy and Beeb Board refugee, Cockermouth Pete?


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Eve
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 07:40 AM

I think the major issue (that several have already highlighted) is that there is just so little TV broadcast space given to English folk that a single one-off Christmas special is unlikely to be capable of appealing to and representing everyone..
If i'm being a grumpy young get i would say it seems a pity that the only TV programme we've got had to be an "ironic" "good old days" romp.. And that out of fear that more traditional music and musicians wouldn't appeal to the moron on the street we had a slightly unbalanced cross-section of English folk artists, predominantly young and comparatively "nu"..
It wasn't all to my taste, but i loved Jim Moray's song.
We just need more, tis all.. Sure if you're a fan of Scottish music you don't love every single concert that BBC Alba plays, but there are so many others to choose from you don't feel so let down by it..


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Subject: my 10 pen'th...
From: GUEST,Penrith Pete
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 07:07 AM

Dear Mudcatters

I am 33 and have listened to what most people would regard as folk music pretty exlusively for the last 8 or so years. This really means acoustic music largely played on wooden instruments and inlcudes traditional and contemporary tunes and songs. I am not remotely snobby about anything else - I just have fairly defined tastes. Punk, ska, jazz and prog-rock have all enjoyed my attention as a younger bloke too!

I suppose I found the programme somewhat unbearably light to be honest. As I get older I find I am more comforatble with being a relatively serious minded fellow. I can do fun (and have probably done more than my share!) but I am not great the very contrived or zaney stuff, I admit.

In terms of the performances, well, I thought they were bit dodgy in places and won't pick out individuals, since they are all still much better than me and my guitar. I will say I thought Thea Gimore was excellent though! I thought Jim Moray's comments on here were very straightly spoken, which I really respected.

Christmas to me is one of those few times when our often (and recently) buried folk-culture rises nearer the surface and we remember some of things that link us together as humans in communities. I look forward to the weightiness and visceral nature of Christmas as well as its jolliness (which is also great). I suppose for my taste, I would have liked to see a more simple session allowing the music to do the talking and delving a bit deeper into the treasure trove of festive songs in our tradition (old and new). I like to be provoked to think a bit more, espcially about others at Christmas, as well as to have a rollocking good time.

Now this is only my taste and is not a dig at the show. I was just left a bit flat - and at times cringed a bit to be honest - but perhaps I need to work on this business of having fun! Or maybe accept I am a miserable north country type!

Anyway, I hope you all have a very merry Chrstmas and find time to dip into your own folk culture and well as waiting for the BBC to deliver it. I can forget to do that sometimes, myself. So, sing carols, write one if you like, make merry and if you like to think deeply about things at this time fo year, do some of that too.

A special good wish to the perfromers who have taken a bit of flack on here and some of it a bit personal I reckon. You all do much for the genre, I believe, irrespective of where my tastes lie. It looked a tricky gig and I would love to see you all back in a different format next year.

All the best to you all

Pete


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 05:11 AM

Depends what you mean by evidence Rob. I have a working knowledge of the way gogglebox programmes are commissioned from knowing people who ply their trade in the medium. Saying it was 'badly done' makes no sense when compared to similar television output. It wasn't a major 12 part series called The History of English Folk Music and pre-sold to Commonwealth broadcasters and the States and sponsored by National Geographic and Microsoft, it was a light-hearted Christmas special with a lightly ironic traditional theme and setting.

As LDT points out the carols are probably the biggest turn off for a folk audience with enlightenment / roundhead / digger sensibilities, which is a working majority. I like hearing carols but then I'm sufficiently interested to record them being sung well and badly by all kinds of people. Those people who are exercised at being somehow misrepresented are barking up the wrong tree IMHO. I still fail to see how someone liking Ralph McTell is a barometer of anything.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 04:47 AM

I explained further up the thread where Ralph McTell came into it...ie that I took a young lady to one of his gigs, she never having heard of him before, and on the basis of that she was interested in listening to some more "folky-type" stuff (and not even aware of the graduations of "folk pop", "nu-folk", "trad folk" etc....as I wasn't until a year or so ago!).

I also mentioned in the same post that I like some nu-folky stuff myself, so am hardly a "dyed in the wool traddie". In fact, until a year or so ago the vast majority of my listening was to rock and fairly obscure young indie bands. Both she and I ought, therefore, on your own criteria, to be right in the middle of your supposed target audience. I thought it was badly done, but watched to the end, and she turned off after about 10 minutes. So that's 100% in a sample of 2.

At least that *is* evidence, though from a tiny sample. Your own unequivocal comments about who were the target audience and who would have stayed watching were themselves "just propaganda" apparently, since the statements were made without any evidence whatsoever to back them up.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 04:28 AM

Like the idea but just not keen on the 'christmas theme'.
Watched about first 10mins then the carols just started to annoy me so I switched over. If they would have just done it without the christmassy stuff would have probably stayed up to watch it.

Would have preferred something more along the lines of the Ralph Vaughn Williams day I went to as cecil sharp house ages ago. But in a telly format.

24/F/UK and only a folk fan since 2008.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 03:23 AM

No 'evidence' whatsoever Rob - you'd have to get the viewing figures for that - but I know enough about the workings of television to know this wasn't aimed at a folk-core audience. It was a themed show hoping for crossover viewers, particularly nu-folk buyers who barely know clubs exist and wouldn't dream of entering one if they did.

I don't see where Ralph McTell comes into it, he's hardly an example of the tradition, unless you mean the folk pop revival of the 1970s, or possibly white blues. There were sufficient shows aired this weekend to cater for most tastes, grumbling about a repeat of a Christmas show that set out to do exactly what it intended is cumudgeonliness.


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