The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #103839   Message #2120156
Posted By: GUEST,Jim Carroll
06-Aug-07 - 03:51 AM
Thread Name: John Brune FolkSong collector
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
The story of MacColl interrupting Brune's singing was another of those doing the rounds of the revival and is totally unsubstantiated.
It was club policy that guest singers be encouraged to sing songs from their own national backgrounds, but in the twenty years I was associated with MacColl (attending the Singers Club virtually every week) or through questioning people who knew him far longer than I did, I have never been able to find a single case of him interrupting a singer or of insisting that they sing anything - it wasn't the way he, or any club resident behaved on stage.
The policy was adopted because, as Alan Lomax pointed out, in the early days of the revival there was a great danger of the clubs being swamped by not only American material and accents, but also it was quite a regular occurrence to hear a singer sing a song say, in German, Russian, Yiddish, Polish, Mandarin Chinese.... you name it. Lomax, Lloyd, MacColl, Seeger and the rest felt that the best way to open up the British repertoire was to have a policy which was aimed in that direction. As far as I can see - it worked.
The story about the 'travellers' songs that Brune supplied went as follows: (It is often told as an anti-MacColl story by people who didn't like him, so I have no reason to doubt its veracity) was:
Coming to the end of the preparation for "The Travelling People" MacColl and Parker decided it would be a good idea to try and fnd songs that were specifically Traveller compositions, (we found enough of these among the Irish Travellers) so they put out an appeal for such.
Brune responded with a recording of 'an old English Travelling woman' singing 'Traveller' songs; these recordings were of Brune singing his own songs in a funny voice.
The production team decided that these were good enough to make the point that Travellers were composers as well as singers and musicians, so one of the songs was given to Sheila Stewart to sing for the programme. When it was found to be a fake it was withdrawn. Had it been used as a 'Traveller's own' song it would have undermined the authenticity of the whole programme. God knows, the Travellers had (and have) enough enemies who would have jumped at the chance to point the finger and cry 'fake'.
For many of us, 'The Travelling People' put Travellers on the map and was the reason people like myself became involved with them. The support they got in the sixties, particularly the mass demonstrations at Brownhills after the death of three Traveller children, was largely due to people having heard the programme.
As far as I'm concerned Brune was a vicious prick who summed up much of the vicious prickism surrounding MacColl.
Jim Carroll