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Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)

DigiTrad:
AROUND ME BRAVE BOYS
BRISK YOUNG WIDOW
NOSTRADAMUS
OAK, ASH, AND THORN
On Board a 98
THE BARLEY AND THE RYE
THE GOOD LUCK SHIP
THE OLD SONGS
WE HAVE FED OUR SEA FOR A THOUSAND YEARS


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The Sandman 27 Sep 10 - 05:51 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Sep 10 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 27 Sep 10 - 06:26 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Sep 10 - 06:43 PM
CupOfTea 27 Sep 10 - 06:48 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Sep 10 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Heather Wood 27 Sep 10 - 10:04 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Sep 10 - 03:08 AM
Howard Jones 28 Sep 10 - 04:11 AM
pavane 28 Sep 10 - 04:23 AM
pavane 28 Sep 10 - 04:26 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Sep 10 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Sep 10 - 05:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 28 Sep 10 - 06:37 AM
Brian Peters 28 Sep 10 - 06:50 AM
Brian Peters 28 Sep 10 - 07:09 AM
Cusco 28 Sep 10 - 07:59 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 28 Sep 10 - 08:23 AM
Brian Peters 28 Sep 10 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Sep 10 - 09:03 AM
C Stuart Cook 28 Sep 10 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,Gervase 28 Sep 10 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Sep 10 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Goodnight Gracie 28 Sep 10 - 12:41 PM
The Sandman 28 Sep 10 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 29 Sep 10 - 04:05 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Sep 10 - 04:21 AM
Howard Jones 29 Sep 10 - 04:23 AM
C Stuart Cook 29 Sep 10 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,GordonT 29 Sep 10 - 12:57 PM
Herga Kitty 29 Sep 10 - 01:20 PM
The Sandman 29 Sep 10 - 01:39 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Sep 10 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 29 Sep 10 - 07:14 PM
raymond greenoaken 30 Sep 10 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,Lanfranc on holiday and cookieless 30 Sep 10 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 30 Sep 10 - 07:11 AM
Brian Peters 30 Sep 10 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 30 Sep 10 - 08:18 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 10 - 08:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Sep 10 - 09:23 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 10 - 09:41 AM
DebC 30 Sep 10 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 30 Sep 10 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 30 Sep 10 - 11:08 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Sep 10 - 11:24 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 10 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 30 Sep 10 - 12:20 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Sep 10 - 12:26 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 10 - 12:53 PM
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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 05:51 PM

I dont think his lack of gigs towards the end of his life had anything to do with organisers politics, or with other performers political opinions.
in my experience,the political views of folk club organisers are quite unpredictable and idiosyncratric.
I think the folk club scene at that period,from my recollection [1988 1990], was veering towards a middle of the road, entertainment guitar orientated sound, in fact I would go further and say that even today concertina is favoured unfavourably, compared to guitar.
organisers quite often think nothing of having three or four guitarist singers, in a short space of time, but would never have the same attitude to singer concertinists.
Peter was something unusual,conservative[not in the political sense] folk club organisers [imo] thought he was too much of a financial gamble/ risk to book.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 05:54 PM

"at least, those with strong views about hunting songs"
Are we on the left the only ones who edit bits out of songs, or believe hunting to be a barbaric pastime indulged in by overpriveledged thugs (at least the English version of same)?
I doubt it somehow - I think that's humanitarianism.
As for Kipling and his Imperialism - let's not start that again, eh!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 06:26 PM

Peter was forthright and honest in his opinions. He never meant to give offence, he was so passionate about all forms of music, that he could not open his mouth without speaking the truth as he saw it. When Martin Carthy changed his style of singing in the 1980's it was Peter who challenged him to do so (in no uncertain terms-ask Martin!) and Martin says he was the only one to do so. Peter told me quite correctly, while sat in my front room, that I would never be a great singer (Yes like him, but he meant others as well) but I would always be very very competant (his words) in the same breath he was not above asking advice, and I swapped some ideas on guitar with him. In respect of his empty gig diary, we were chatting on the phone, and he asked me 'Nick how the **** do you get so much work?'I answered that it was because I was a persuasive bastard and wasn't averse to making a nuiscance of myself. He replied that he couldn't easily ring up and ask for a gig, he found it so embarrasing. He was a singer and performer, not a businessman in any shape or form. Peter needed our help, and the oxygen of the appreciation of his art.I was touring in Scandinavia when my wife Mally rang me. She is disabled, and was at Whitby festival with Sarah Grey. 'Peter Bellamy has been looking after me and helping my up and down the stairs. He also bought me a meal because I'm a bit low on cash until you come home' That was Peter Bellamy as I knew him. Brian Peters rang me up and told me the news of Peters death. I was so bloody angry. Who was I to interfere in his life or death or even his memory? but I wish he had made just one phone call to anybody anywhere on that night, I know we would have all been there for him and pulled him through and maybe carried that pain for him or with him until he felt stronger. We miss him.
Nick


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 06:43 PM

Jim, I believe hunting to be a barbaric pastime indulged in by overprivileged thugs. I still like the songs & am glad to hear them sung.

Michael - re the Transports and after, I wonder if it was a coincidental bit of bad timing. Everyone remembers that 1977 was the year of punk, but what isn't always remembered is that punk wasn't just a fashion which came and went - it was also a kind of Year Zero for pop music, so that everything that came after it was defined by reference to punk. And this Gleichschaltung effect was more pronounced after 1977 than in 1977 itself; straight trousers only really ousted flares in 1978, just as long hair became the norm in 1968-9 rather than 1967. So perhaps there was just that bit more room for a work like the Transports in 1977, when it came out, than there would be in the next few years.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: CupOfTea
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 06:48 PM

I was so delighted to meet Peter Bellamy at Fox Valley, the year Phil Cooper mentioned above. I could trace my folk influence lineage back to him for so many things, that meeting him felt like an accomplishment in and of itself. In a small, intimate festival like that, you got close at workshops and main stage, you had a chance to talk.

I had a "task" to perform, of getting a copy of "The Transports" from him for a singer here in Ohio. I was dismayed to find out that he was reduced to running off cassettes himself - the recording wasn't available otherwise. I gave him a check, and in due time the cassettes arrived from England. I thought it was dreadful that this was the only way to get his earlier recordings... everything he had with him was a homemade cassette. He was glad that a few folks were interested.

I don't think it was even 6 months after his death that a CD copy of "The Transports" showed up in the racks at the local folk music store. I wondered who made money on that, and thought it SHOULD have been the man himself, dammit.

Not too long after Bellamy's death, Len Graham was here in concert and talked about his sorrow at having had Peter ask him to do a festival with him just days before he died. It haunted Len, his declining that invitation.

We can't control how others live their lives or chose to die, but by all that's holy, This death was one more nudge to make me continue to tell people I value just HOW much I value them, and why, and OFTEN.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 07:15 PM

Thanks for that, Nick.

Having started this thread, I feel I should make a confession: I was 31 years old when Peter Bellamy died, but I didn't know about it at the time and had, in fact, never heard of him. I'd heard his voice, without knowing it, in a Young Tradition track on a Transatlantic sampler; at the time I found the YT approach bizarrely harsh and austere, greatly preferring the Steve Tilston track on the same LP. (I'd never have believed Tilston & Bellamy were friends.)

Bellmay's work still speaks to me, and makes me wish I hadn't temporarily* lost interest in folk. And how I wish he could have hung on for a few more years, to see the word "folk" become fashionable again - some of the younger acts' following would surely have found their way to him.

*1976-2001


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Heather Wood
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 10:04 PM

Thread title reminds me of the anagram: Elmer P. Bleaty (don't know who thought that one up) of Pete's name.

He was an amazing guy, talented in many ways (drawing, painting, cooking - which he got into after visiting New Orleans, dress-making - he made many of his own stage clothes with WIlliam Morris furniture fabrics he bouught in Dalston Market). Oh, and he could sing and write great tunes for that nice Mr Kipling.

One thing I really appreciated - he did not want to sing harmony. WHich left them to Ro and I, who did.

Miss him - especially when I want to ask "do you remember ..."

But since I believe we all go to a Big Party, I'll see him, and Royston, and all the too-damn-many others, later.

Much later.

Heather


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 03:08 AM

"I still like the songs & am glad to hear them sung."
Pip; personally I find them somewhat tedious and uninteresting, but I would never in a million years attempt to stop anybody from singing them - I'd rather people sang than slaughtered for pleasure.
On the other hand, I wish I had £1 for every time I've heard anybody being asked (or told) not to sing political (left-wing) songs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 04:11 AM

I can't claim to have known him - I only met him two or three times, although I have fond memories of an afternoon in his company at a small festival in Suffolk where he was the main guest. However I think many of us who were around at the time - even those who didn't know him personally - feel a collective sense of guilt that we didn't appreciate him enough when he was alive. He could be uncompromising, with a voice and singing style which you either liked or hated, and it is undeniable that he polarised audiences.

We failed to appreciate him enough, and it's hard to avoid the conclusion that it contributed to his state of mind.

In the words of Karl Dallas, he "was a giant in a world where the pygmy is the standard by which all must be measured."


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: pavane
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 04:23 AM

Heather,
Thank you so much for the harmony. The YT recordings remain my favourites, and it is such a shame that there were so few of them.
Your Banks of the Nile stands out particularly.

I didn't discover the group until you had broken up, so I never got a chance to see you, though I did see Peter later, and met him as well.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: pavane
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 04:26 AM

Jim - I certainly did not like sitting through Ewan McColl & Peggy Seeger singing "Ho ho Ho Chi Min" and such songs in 1971.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 05:31 AM

"Jim - I certainly did not like sitting through Ewan McColl & Peggy Seeger singing "Ho ho Ho Chi Min" and such songs in 1971."
I wasn't particulary fond of the song either; both Ewan and Peggy wrote far better political songs, yet they, among others I know, were constantly being pressurised into not singing ANY political songs - ie were victims of political censorship, or should I say, left-wing political censorship. In context, Kipling's hymns of praise to the Imperialism that sent a generation of young people to be slaughteed in the obscenity that was the trenches of WW1 were just as political as Ho Chi Mhin, and far more lethal in the effect they had.
And as I've said, I've yet to hear of such censorship applies to the songs lauding killing for pleasure.
If you don't like political songs, avoid them, just as I attempt to do with songs that offend me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 05:59 AM

to see the word "folk" become fashionable again

I must have missed that!


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 06:37 AM

It's true Sean, you and Rachel are the focus of a serious personality cult down here at The Beech, erm ........honest. We have kept it a secret because we know you will be against that kind of deep, personal artist worship.

As for BP. unique, powerful, mesmorising, talented I could go on. The heart of hearing old songs/ folk songs/ traditional songs is to be in a small acoustic space and have somebody sing a song that filled almost all of your senses. I heard him in the Grove, Leeds. That's what Peter did. He could do it on stage through PAs, saw him at Chester Festival around '78, and that was the measure of his talent.

We owe it to him, and all those people across hundreds of years, who sang the songs simply because they liked them, to go out and sing them again.

Need I say, The Beech, Beech Road, Chorlton, Manchester every Wednesday?

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 06:50 AM

I was prompted by this thread to dig out a review I wrote of a Bellamy performance for the then Folk Roots magazine, around six months before he died. He rang up on the day it appeared to say "NICE ONE!", so I guess he approved.

Peter Bellamy
Nook Folk Club, Holmfirth

The Nook is not the sort of pub you tend to see on Last Of The Summer Wine. Noisy, dingy and overflowing with spilt beer and bikers, it does nonetheless possess a certain seedy charm, and also hosts a folk club. Tiny rectangular room, fire flickering in the hearth, bench seats around the walls, a few stools and tables out on the floor, the Mean Fiddler it ain't but it manages to sustain an enviably intimate atmosphere and a quality guest list.

Peter Bellamy clearly likes it. He's spent the week playing a succession of duff clubs, and the friendliness of this one is bringing out the best in him. And when Bellamy is on form, there are few more exciting performers around. That voice, butt of Bleaty jokes and parodies, is a formidable instrument, soaring to impossibly high notes with coruscating clarity that sets hairs bristling and bone marrow a-tingle. Then there's the physical presence, an eye-rolling, lip-curling, brow-raising gamut of facial expressions, with body movements to match. His performance teeters on the edge of high camp and self parody, but always stays just the right side of assisting the song to tell its story.

Bellamy clamps his specially-made levers over the drone buttons of his concertina (no-one plays Anglo quite like this man) and launches into On Board A Ninety-Eight, a prime example of his talent for refurbishing the tradition, writing tunes that combine an authentic feel with unpredictable leaps and twists to test the singer's voice and rivet the listener. He introduces his setting of Bob Copper's poem The Old Songs with a barbed reference to performers who "used to sing traditional songs but now have more important things to sing about", and old songs there are in abundance, from Brisk Young Widow, sung in memory of Royston Wood, to an excellent ballad, Allan Tyne Of Harrow; from Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy to a supreme Trees They Do Grow High that wrings out every drop of emotion. There's Kipling too, of course, though in restrained measure, with Big Steamers and a surprisingly entertaining account of a cholera epidemic. The night ends with what would be incongruous choices for most 'traddy' performers: a bluegrass song, followed by the cowboy classic Santa Fe Trail with Steve Tilston and Maggie Boyle roped in.

Peter Bellamy loves and respects the English tradition; simultaneously he subverts it, sends it up, re-invents it and revitalises it. But he never ignores it.
Brian Peters


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 07:09 AM

I had political arguments with Peter on more than one occasion, and it was never entirely clear to me whether he was disputing my leftish ideas because he viewed them as shibboleths that needed to be challenged simply for the sake of it, or because his own preferences (which he was pretty vague about) were diametrically opposed. He liked to play Devil's Advocate on all kinds of topics, and when he criticised your choice of music, for instance, it was because he wanted you to justify it, not simply as a put-down. On the other hand, his bitter slating of prominent left-wing performers in a Folk Roots interview that same year did him no favours at all (he claimed he'd been misquoted, and definitely regretted it afterwards), but I never bought his 'lefty folkie conspiracy' theory about his lack of work in the clubs. As Good Soldier says, folk club organisers of the time were a very mixed bunch with most of them in the woolly liberal bracket, give or take one or two confirmed Marxists. The reason he didn't get the work his talent deserved had much more to do with the Marmite effect his singing had on audiences, which several people here have referred to. My local folk club organisers wouldn't book him for ages because they "couldn't stand the sound of his voice" but, when I finally persuaded them to book him, they were bowled over - as was the entire audience.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Cusco
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 07:59 AM

The first time I saw him in YT my ears couldn't beleive it. I knew what to expect but even so.

Second time it was in the foyer at Cecil Sharp house. All quiet then Peter appeared in a big black hat and Royston in clogs. Instant atmosheric electrification.

Third time was when Alistair Anderson put on a series of events at the the South Bank. The Transports was one of them. Never was sure about the girl shadow dancing but the rest of the performance was stunning.

Fourth time was at a poetry society evening in a Pub somewhere at the back of Oxford St/Regent St. Apart from Maddy Prior and Rick Kemp and me I think it might have been a non folk audience. Peter did the full Kipling show and was fantastic, absolutely on form. The strange part of the evening was when he announced he was going to do "that song" to give due warning so that the lady President of the Kipling Society could vacate the room before "Danny Deever" chilled everyones bones.

Fifth and last time was in a local club just before the summer break so it would have been one of his last performances. He'd had a meal just before with Ken & Mags Whiting,the organisers. Brilliant performance but he was somewhat detached and distant. Couldn't beleive the news when it came through. Tragic.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 08:23 AM

This thread has been a revelation, with a lot of fascinating and (to me) unfamiliar information about a man I thought I knew pretty well. (thanks to all the contributors -this is Mudcat at its best.)

I met Peter shortly after he arrived in London in early 1965 (or was it late '64?) and saw quite a bit of him until I left town in the autumn of '65. We were acquaintances rather than buddies, but in those days we talked (and argued) quite a bit, mostly over coffee in Bunjies. On one occasion, having found himself inadvertently double-booked, Peter passed the less lucrative gig on to me and my then singing partner. (The fee was two quid – between us, not each – plus a plate of spaghetti Bolognese and a cup of coffee on the house. Luckily, one of us had a day job!)

How bitterly ironic it is now to think of Peter having an embarrassment of offers at the beginning of his career, and contemplating an almost empty diary when he was a respected artist with a distinguished body of recorded work behind him and plenty of fire still left in his belly.

The roots of this tragedy seem a little clearer now, thanks to some of the illuminating postings here. I always knew Peter could be difficult sometimes - you didn't have to know him very long to find that out - and that he enjoyed winding people up. No doubt this tendency didn't help his career. I hadn't realised until now just how much his uncompromising musical stance had alienated listeners who might, in time, have learned to appreciate what he had to offer.

But he could not be other than who he was, or pretend to be what he wasn't.   He was one of a kind, and we're all poorer for his early departure.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 08:34 AM

Weird coincidence, that, Cusco. Ken Whiting was the very organiser I mentioned, who was initially so reluctant to book Peter but was eventually persuaded (to be fair to Ken, he hadn't heard Peter for a long time) - so I presume you're talking about the Pack Horse club at Mottram. It was indeed a brilliant performance that night. I didn't find him distant, though - we had a lively discussion over quite a lot of malt whisky afterwards, and Peter also met and charmed the socks off my mother.

Talking of whisky afterwards, I seem to remember a story of Peter playing at the Wilsons' club in Thornaby-on-Tees and proceeding to a drinking session at one of the lads' houses which ended with them (having finished every drop of alchohol in the house) coming to blows over the last liqueur chocolate. Probably apocryphal, but a good tale nonetheless, knowing the characters involved.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 09:03 AM

Some truly touching testimonies here.

Thus far I've been resisting the temptation to include an anecdote PB related at a gig at The Bay Hotel Folk Club in Cullercoats, circa 1986 (?) which caused several of the audience to leave the room in high dudgeon, and even gave us loyal Bellamists pause to ponder. This concerned an event he'd sang at in the USA with some American Folk Singer (can't remember which one) who enquired of two young girls who'd turned up expecting to sing: 'And how long have you been professional folk singers?' To which they replied they weren't in any way professionals, but just sang for pleasure. 'Well,' quoth the AFS ' - You can fuck off then.' PB not only thought this somehow just, but also hilarious; as I say I had my reservations at the time, and I have them now, but wasn't that all part of the - er - charm of the man? On another occasion, as I recall, he stayed with mild-mannered Christian folkies who later reported their horror when PB having asked if they minded if he smoked proceedeed to skin up a spliff.

The Bellamist rejoices in such warts-and-all anecdotage as part & parcel of his very singular genius; a genius way too big for the folk scene. PB was a man could show Vivian Stanshall a thing or two about flamboyance in most respects, and whatever his politics may or may not have been, the humanity of the man was faultless. Here's what Dick Gaughan has to say about him:

http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/chain/peter-bellamy.html

*

you and Rachel are the focus of a serious personality cult down here at The Beech, erm ........honest.

The feeling is entirely mutual, Les! Rest assured, we'll be back withing the year...


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 10:35 AM

Aha, Brian it is I, appearing as my alter ego Cusco.
I'm sure he was a different man sluiced on the malt. I'm comparing the only two close-up live performances I had. In London he burned the back of everybodies eyeballs with eye to eye contact of a fierce intensity. At the Packhorse I thought between songs he seemed to be concentrating on an off to the side spot. A bit of what I usually call a Stalybridge stare if you know what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Gervase
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 11:28 AM

There's no dounting that PB had presence. I remember his performance of the Kipling-inspired cycle "We Have Fed Our Sea For a Thousand Years" at the Norwich Triennial back in the very early Eighties with the also lamented Dolly Collins on cello.
It was clear that the evening was not quite what many in the audience - the county tweed and twinset types - had expected, and as he launched into the first song there was some murmuring and shuffling of prgrammes and one or two walked out in protest at this 'avant garde nonsense'.
PB seemed to see it as a gauntlet flung down and to change up a gear, and the sense of 'sod you lot, I'm going to do this my way' was palpable. Within the space of the next song he had transfixed the hall, and from then on one could have heard a pin drop.
His vocal style was never my favourite - I always found it a little too affected, but there's no doubt that he was an elemental figure. It's only the the past year or so that I've started playing his recordings again, and it saddens me that I didn't make more effort to see him live. The recorded legacy is stunning, and I'm so pleased that Jon Boden is mining it so well for some of his material.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 12:11 PM

Dolly Collins on cello.

That would have been the Maritime England Suite (1982) with Dolly Collins on piano and Ursula Pank on cello, issued in a cassette only edition with a fetching yellow photocopied cover!


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Goodnight Gracie
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 12:41 PM

My husband Peter and I had the honor of meeting Peter through our good friend Lisa Null. Peter was a fine musician and person. I have wonderful memories of him in the red suit playing the concertina with a garter on it. He stayed with us 4th of July week in Ann Arbor in 1976 and had a great time participating in our bicentennial. He and Pete appreciated each others sense of humour and became fast friends. We miss him terribly as a friend and as a great artist.

Grace


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Sep 10 - 12:49 PM

Stalybridge Stare, interesting, reminds me of the phrase Stockport Fruitcake.In culinary terms PB was more like Gentlemens Relish


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 04:05 AM

I've always understood PB's culinary flare was every bit as flamboyant as his approach to traditional song - albeit somewhat more cosmopolitan. I was talking to someone recently who'd once been PB's dinner guest and was served up authentic gumbos & jambalaya all to the accompaniment of 78s of vintage New Orleans jazz.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 04:21 AM

Indeed I recall the menu being so after their return from Nawlinz ~~ but, credit where due, the gumbos and jambalayas were Anthea's work. Peter was no sort of cook, to my recollection.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 04:23 AM

For those who can get Spotify, there's quite a number of his recordings there to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 04:31 AM

I'm a 'Stopport' lad born and bred though I decamped to the hillsides above Hyde many years ago. 'Fruitcake' hardly touched the surface of some of the inhabitants. I worked on Stockport market for a number of years. Some of the characters were amazing, Dirty Les and his brother, old man Petulengro with his mane of grey hair.
Last years club combination of Barber and Wilson was a fantastic tribute to both PB and MacColl. Fantastic personal interpretations of songs rooted in the originals. I've almost worn out the CD.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,GordonT
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 12:57 PM

Good to hear these memories of PB.
I first heard him in the mid 70s at Leeds Poly folk club.I think he came on wearing a cape.I thought he was great,and went to see him again a few days later at the Grove,where I couldnt help noticing he did exactly the same set.He did his best to antagonise his audience at the Poly (which was not a very trad folk club) by saying "You think youre too cool to join in the choruses - well none of you are as cool as me"!
A few years later I did a spot at Selby folk club,run by Mike Soar,with Peter as guest.I sang The Seven Gipsies and said "this is from a singer called Harry Cox from Norfolk or somewhere".Peter didnt think much of this and took the piss out of me for the rest of the night - "here's a song from Yarmouth - or somewhere".
I got to know him a bit when he moved to Keighley.His house was stylish,the home of an "artist",and he was always wonderfully entertaining and seemed to know about everything.Did the fact that his records,cds and tapes were so meticulously arranged on his shelf show a slightly obsessive streak? I dont know, but I remember that his huge number of Beatles tapes were arranged so as to spell out The Beatles in big letters on the spines.Then there were his large busts of Keith Richard and his tudor style paintings.
i last saw him at Whitby that year and spoke to him in the spa about his quiz.In retrospect,he didnt look that great - he was perspiring heavily for some reason.
His funeral was the saddest,most emotional thing - the coffin with his hat and concertina on the top,led by John Pashley's New Orleans jazz band.We probably all thought - if only he could have seen this, the love people had for him.And yet - would it have made any difference? He was obviously in a distressed state, and had attempted to take his own life several times before.It's very hard to reach someone when they get to a certa9in place.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 01:20 PM

Regarding Heather's post, I believe Elmer P Bleaty came from Lawrence Heath - Southern Rag /Borfolk - and Googling to find the combination of SR, LH and EPB came up with a mention on this thread on Mudcat last year.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 01:39 PM

boring is a poor description, Mercurial is [imo]more appropriate


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 06:54 PM

God love you, Dick, I didn't for a moment mean to suggest that Bellamy was boring. The whole phrase - "boring bleating old traddy" - was one that he coined himself, with obvious *ENTIRELY* *IRONIC* reference to himself.

I suppose my reason for using the phrase was to reflect on the contrast between the success he had and the success he deserved. (Which was probably his reason for using it as well.)

Incidentally, I sang "Poor fellows" this evening. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool traddie, but I'm sure that won't be the last Bellamy song I sing.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 29 Sep 10 - 07:14 PM

You did a good job on it, too, Pip. One of the high points of the evening.

This has been a marvellous thread. Thank you, people, for all the anecdotes and reminiscences.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: raymond greenoaken
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 04:37 AM

Love it too. Keep 'em coming!


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Lanfranc on holiday and cookieless
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:06 AM

I didn't know Peter that well, unfortunately, but of all the people I met through my lifelong obsession with folk music, he is the one I miss the most. In YT days we shared the management services of Bruce Dunnett and I booked him at clubs that I ran whenever I could. Unfortunately, if it was a committee-run club, I was often outvoted when I suggested booking him.

He once travelled into London with me on a commuter train after spending the night after a gig. The reaction of our fellow passengers (who seldom spoke) when Peter burst into song at 8am was a sight to behold!

I'm glad his memory lives on.

Alan


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:11 AM

the contrast between the success he had and the success he deserved

For PB to have had the success he deserved the folk scene would have had to have been a very different thing to what it actualy was - and is. The Karl Dallas quote sums it up perfectly: ...a giant in a world where the pygmy is the standard.... Maybe in an alternative universe PB would have got the Fairport gig (he was offered the job, and did accept!) and by such means come to the attention of a wider more eclectic and appreciative audience - but the further irony her is that whilst Shirley Collins is lauded by the likes of Current 93 and darker scenes beyond the reactionary confines of the folk orthodoxy, somehow Bellamy's genius has singularly failed to attract such a cult status - thus far at any rate, despite the best efforts of we frustrated Bellamists who insist he is deserving of a world class status transcendent of genre.

I remember the first time I met Peter Bellamy - a Thursday night at the Bridge in Newcastle after a hard day tree felling with the BTCV circa 1983. I hadn't even heard of him back then, but I was nevertheless recommended to him as the sort of person who could offer him a bed for the night - so up he came to the bar, asking for me by name and looking thoroughly pissed off that such was his exalted status he was reduced to begging for a doss from a stranger who wasn't even at the gig (after a hard day tree felling all I wanted was to drink & roar with my fellows). In the event he found somewhere a little closer to Newcastle than I was living at the time but I often ponder how it would have been to have sat up smoking the night away with PB entirely unaware of his status. Anyhoo - a few days later I related the episode to Raymond who was living in the wilds of the South Tyne valley at the time, asking if he'd heard of someone called Peter Bellamy - and there was my induction, as I recall, right there and then as he took me through the entire Bellamy oeuvre long into the night.

*

Whilst rummaging around for masters for the forthcoming release of the double CD set John Barleycorn Rebirth on Coldspring, I found a rehearsal session of me singing A Tree Song (AKA Oak, Ash & Thorn) from March 2007 which I'd forgotten about entirely. Not bad - even if I say so myself: you can hear it as the first track on my Myspace Page. I fancy PB would have been singularly unimpressed!


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 07:42 AM

"For PB to have had the success he deserved the folk scene would have had to have been a very different thing to what it actualy was - and is."

More accurately, the world would have had to be a very different thing. PB's wildly idiosyncratic style, larger-than-life character, outspokenness, sartorial eccentricity and general other-ness would never have gained him mass adulation in any musical genre. Most humans prefer conformity. Where did eccentric genius get Vivian Stanshall?

"a giant in a world where the pygmy is the standard" is a good soundbite, but are we to infer that MacColl, Lloyd, Carthy, Nic Jones, Ray Fisher etc. (I could go on) were pygmies?


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 08:18 AM

but are we to infer that MacColl, Lloyd, Carthy, Nic Jones, Ray Fisher etc. (I could go on) were pygmies?

Dare I say big fish in a small pond? Whereas PB is a big fish in any pond. I file PB alongside Rene Zosso, Duke Ellington, Davie Stewart, Sun Ra, Kraftwerk, Harry Cox, The Fall, Jim Eldon and Miles Davis. Much as I love the others they're still filed under folk.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 08:58 AM

"Whereas PB is a big fish in any pond"
This is entirely a matter of personal taste - as reflected by Peter's empty appointment diary - not a problem with any of the others mentioned to my knowledge.
It is possibly to have respect for Peter's character without particularly liking his singing, which reflects my own attitude.
Let's leave the beatification to the church and avoid contentious arguments on a thread paying rightful respect to somebody who deserves it, shall we?

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 09:23 AM

This is entirely a matter of personal taste

Of course it is! Who's saying anything different?

beatification

Hardly that - just giving credit where credit's due that's all. PB was a man who dared to push the conservative Folk Envelope (just a bit) and suffered rebuttal as a consequence. The others played it safe, and continue to do so, which accounts, IMHO, for the disparity between the glories of The Tradition and the MOR / Easy Listening status of The Revival even at its most (dare I say) traditional.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 09:41 AM

"and suffered rebuttal as a consequence."
Nope - he was a professional performer who chose his career and failed to please his customers - no more, no less.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: DebC
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 09:45 AM

I didn't know Peter; he had left this world just as I was discovering the YT and many of the traditional folk songs of the British Isles. I do, however, count as good friends the many people on both sides of the Atlantic who knew Peter well and it's always interesting to hear their stories.

If he had stuck around a wee bit longer, I am sure we would have met, though what I would have thought of him personally, I can't ever know. But his artistic legacy is huge and has inspired me to look deeper into the music and try to find the gems amongst the thousands of traditional songs out there.

That said, I have never liked the "sainthood" bestowed on anyone in the folk community (or anywhere else for that matter) be it PB or Guthrie. There is no denying that the contributions each has made to the folk genre are significant.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 10:29 AM

he was a professional performer who chose his career and failed to please his customers - no more, no less.

Which is exactly what I meant, of course. But for those of us who still believe in some sort of musical transcendence it is the inability of his customers to appreciate the genius in their midsts that remains, sadly, the untimate legacy of his craft. And he isn't alone in that - Van Gogh was just such another. This isn't about the bestowing of sainthoood though, this is about the MOR mediocrity that has typified the folk scene since it's inception and continues to do so, with but few notable exceptions - and most of them I hear in singarounds for which I remain eternally thankful.

What seems to be emerging here is less a celebration of a uniquely gifted human being who challenged such cloying folk mediocrity, than it is a solemn shaking of the head that he didn't rein himself it in a bit and knuckle under. A dire warning indeed to anyone who dares aim just that little bit higher because your customer demographic is so limited in their horizons they just won't understand. So you too must knuckle under, laddie / lassie, and give them the schlock they can understand, because, as we know, the customer is always right.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 11:08 AM

with Dolly Collins on piano and Ursula Pank on cello

Bloody hell. Just realised what this actually means - that Mrs Ursula Pank, wife of Steve Pank, is in fact none other than Ursula Smith, who played cello with the Third Ear Band circa 1970, appearing on the classic Air, Earth, Fire, Water and the soundtrack for Abelard & Heloise. She briefly joining the re-formed band circa 1988 to play some truly demonic violin on New Forecasts from the Third Ear Almanac. She also played in various other contexts, including the album Spirit of Love by Clive Palmer's COB.

For more on Mrs & Mrs Pank & the TEB see HERE.

Now there's a link to cherish!


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 11:24 AM

I'd like to split the difference between Suibhne and Brian (which will probably satisfy no one).

I think what leaps out at me when I look at Bellamy's discography is how focused he was: there always seems to have been something he wanted to achieve, some project at the back of his mind. Most artists - and I really want to stress that I mean no disrespect in what I'm about to say - record An Album, followed if they're lucky by Another Album, and they're pleased if the album sounds nice and even more pleased if other people think it sounds nice. For most artists, something as wilfully single-minded as (say) an entire album of Kipling settings would attract labels like "side project", "personal passion", "indulging a longstanding obsession".

There are very, very few Another Albums in Bellamy's discography: it seems to consist mostly of personal passions and longstanding obsessions. In this he wasn't much like Nic Jones or even Ewan MacColl, and he was a lot like Sun Ra and Mark E. Smith (and Viv Stanshall, come to that). And Brian's right: these are not the kind of artists the nation clasps to its bosom. Most people like stuff that sounds nice.

However, I don't think single-mindedly following your passions is a sign of genius, or of being a giant among dwarves. On the other hand, coming back to the bit about not meaning any disrespect, I don't think making An Album and trying to make it sound nice is a mark of mediocrity. The Noah's Ark Trap goes down quite smoothly, and you'd be listening to it for a very long time before you were reminded of the Fall; it's still a brilliant album.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 11:29 AM

"this is about the MOR mediocrity that has typified the folk scene..."
No it isn't - you have chosen to confuse this with personal taste and judgement. It really does take a special kind of arrogance to claim that anybody who doesn't share your tastes in singing must be mediocre
I reject totally the idea that any of us who didn't particularly like his performance had anything to do with his ultimate fate. As far as I'm concerned, he was an experimentalist whose experiments just didn't work - for me, at least.
This does not prevent me from being eternally grateful to him for his role in introducing Walter Pardon to a wider audience; something that influenced and enriched my life for over twenty years.
I find it totally unacceptible and extremely distasteful that you should use Peter Bellamy to belabour a revival which you obviously despise, yet choose to be part of and take enjoyment from, along with many others, including me (and Peter Bellamy)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 12:20 PM

a revival which you obviously despise

No I don't, I might despair of it at times, as any self respecting lover of traditional song would, yourself included, but I certainly don't despise it. If I did I wouldn't be here.

these are not the kind of artists the nation clasps to its bosom

Hmmmm. I think they are you know - Sun Ra was cherished and regularly played to packed concert halls. The last time I saw him (1991?) was at the RNCM in Manchester after his first stroke and the place was heaving & the music typically transcendent. Mark E. Smith - what can I say? The latest album (Your Future Our Clutter) is one of the finest ever; he has a devoted following and National Treasure status with BBC 4 documentaries to boot. The only thing that got in the way of Vivian Stanshall's career was the booze - not long before his untimely death he did a Late Show Special which is up there with his finest work, with plenty more in the offing, including a cinematographic return to Rawlinson End.

Odd that PB was top of his game too, as S&RCT testifies. I saw (and did the sound for) what might well have been his final gig and he tore the place apart. That he had nothing in the offing tells us more about the folk scene than it does about him.


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 12:26 PM

Nurse, nurse

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Boring, Bleating Old Traddy (Peter Bellamy)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 10 - 12:53 PM

"No I don't, I might despair of it at times, as any self respecting lover of traditional song would, yourself included,"
True - but we are talking of a different stage in the revival when mediocrity wasn't the main problem by far.
Peter was part of the scene at the same time as MacColl, Lloyd, Killen.... and when it was possible to catch the occasional glimpse of Joe Heaney, the Stewarts... et al; all demanding performers and hardly middle-of-the-road by anybody's standards.
Jim Carroll


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