The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132312   Message #2993327
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
25-Sep-10 - 03:47 AM
Thread Name: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy
Yes indeed, thanks for that, Lisa

I had the fortune / misfortune of doing the sound for one of his last ever gigs (Durham Folk Party, July 1991) when as soom as PB took the stage half the audience very pointedly got up and left, necessitating a quick run around the singarounds to fill the empty seats. God knows hat their problem was. I have a tape of the first few songs he sang that evening and as ever he's on blistering form - On Board a '98 is perhaps even definitive.

The tragedy is that if only he'd hung on a few more years he'd be a national treasure by now, lauded by a younger generation who were entirely unforseen at the time. For those of us for whom Revival Folk will always be a lesser music than the Tradition it barely references, much less the resplendent continuities of Popular Music in it's myriad guises so beloved by PB, he was unique in being World Class. Ordinarily my appreciation of folk singers is based on the standards of other folk singers & the insular conservative world they inhabit, but Peter Bellamy is up there alongside Sun Ra, Ian Curtis, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Miles Davis and Henry Purcell (to name but a few) as one of the true master of a universal art. Seeing Peter Bellamy live - just one man and his anglo, PA or no PA - was to live and breath a performance magic one rarely finds in folk clubs. One time I saw him not long the Art Ensemble of Chicago played to a packed hall in Leeds; Peter Bellamy in the back room of the Bay Hotel, Cullercoats, was every bit their equal - ebodying the same sense of energy, excitement, wonder and transcendence upon which he transported us out into the cosmos along the Santa Fe Trail...

I know Dick's going to be along soon to berate me for my Bellamism, but Peter Bellamy was a star who shone with stars; a star who revered stars indeed, as much for their humanity as for their rare and precious genius. In PB's case that genius was all too rare, and all too precious, certainly in the context of a folk scene which, as Lisa points out, singularly and shamefully failed to appreciate him - or was simply a lesser music, too insular and conservative to deal with a genius of that scale.