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Joe Heaney - any personal memories?

Virginia Blankenhorn 19 Feb 16 - 02:10 PM
Brian Peters 19 Feb 16 - 02:32 PM
RTim 19 Feb 16 - 02:32 PM
RTim 19 Feb 16 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 19 Feb 16 - 04:39 PM
Virginia Blankenhorn 19 Feb 16 - 07:53 PM
Mark Ross 19 Feb 16 - 09:40 PM
Virginia Blankenhorn 20 Feb 16 - 06:20 AM
Virginia Blankenhorn 20 Feb 16 - 06:38 AM
Brian Peters 21 Feb 16 - 09:14 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Feb 16 - 12:36 PM
Virginia Blankenhorn 24 Feb 16 - 09:10 AM
Joe Offer 10 Mar 16 - 02:45 PM
GUEST 11 Mar 16 - 05:25 AM
Vic Smith 11 Mar 16 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,AR 11 Mar 16 - 06:09 AM
maeve 11 Mar 16 - 07:21 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 11 Mar 16 - 08:09 AM
Virginia Blankenhorn 12 Mar 16 - 08:11 AM
Vic Smith 12 Mar 16 - 09:19 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 16 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Liberty Boy 16 Mar 16 - 08:48 AM
Virginia Blankenhorn 21 Mar 16 - 02:53 PM
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Subject: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 02:10 PM

I'd like to get a sense of Joe Heaney's participation in the events of the Folk Revival -- in Scotland and England from the early 50s, in Ireland (1961-66), and in the US from the time he emigrated there in 1966 to his death in 1984 -- and I'd love to hear from anybody who encountered him in person and/or observed him in action in those days. What songs did he choose to sing? Who was he friendly with? Did he engage in discussion of his songs, and those of other singers? Did he tell stories and anecdotes? How did he present himself? Did he take an interest in learning songs from other people? Joe wasn't the only "source-singer" participating in the Revival: who else do you recall being on the scene at the times he was there? Thanks for all your help. (BTW I do know he worked with MacColl, and am familiar with the long interviews they did with Joe, some of which you can hear on www.joeheaney.org.)


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 02:32 PM

This might be useful to you, if you've not already seen it:

Joe Heaney, interviewed by MacColl and Seeger


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: RTim
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 02:32 PM

Look for a book called - The Melodic Tradition of Ireland by James R. Cowdery.

Jim is a friend of mine and he works in New York as an Editorial Director at
Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM).

He interviewed Heaney for the book and there is a whole chapter (Chapter 2 - "Putting it over") devoted to him, with other insights with the book.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: RTim
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 04:06 PM

I wrote to Jim and he said this:
Thanks, Tim! Sean Williams's book is pretty much definitive, and I worked with her some on it.

http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Star-West-American-Musicspheres/dp/0195321189

http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Star-West-American-Musicspheres/dp/0195321189


Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 04:39 PM

John Harrison (Watersons) worked with him. He threw an LP of his at me when I was about 22 years old and commanded me to listen to him.
Amazingly I did what I was told, and have not regretted it.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 07:53 PM

Thanks to all who have replied so far. It might help you to know that I am more than familiar with all that has been written about him, including Jim Cowdery's book, Lillis O Laoire and Sean Williams' book, Liam Mac Con Iomaire's biography of Joe, numerous articles in both Irish and English, and the complete MacColl/Seeger interviews with Joe. I am the person who edited the website devoted to Joe, www.joeheaney.org. What I would really like is any PERSONAL MEMORIES of encounters with Joe that would illustrate his relationship with the Revival and the Revival repertoire. I tried to make this clear in the question I asked. Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 09:40 PM

The NY Folklore Center produced a concert with Joe some 40 years ago. I was assigned by the boss Rick Altman (Izzy Young having left for Sweden a year or so before), to take Joe out for a beer at the break. We ended up down the street at a place called (of all things) The English Pub. With us was Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber, and a woman (whose name I can't recall), avery butch lesbian, who worked at The National Guardian, a very Red newspaper that Irwin edited. Somehow in the course of the conversation the topic of feminism arose, at which point Joe Heaney raised his pint and announced that he didn't like feminists because women had enough nerve as it was. Forrunately, it was time to head back up to the store for the 2nd half of the show.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 20 Feb 16 - 06:20 AM

Thanks, Mark -- that sounds like Joe alright! his relationship with women was, to say the least, complicated.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 20 Feb 16 - 06:38 AM

In listening to some 400 hours of recorded song and conversation between JH and a great many other people, I was struck by how cagey Joe often was when someone asked about his sources -- particularly for those songs in English that formed a good percentage of his teaching repertoire in his later years in the States. While he did learn a good many English-language songs from his father and others in Carna, I have the feeling that he picked up a lot more during his years on the Folk Revival circuit -- from other singers, from recordings, from printed sources -- but that he preferred to let people think that he had learned all of them "at home". I am interested in exploring Joe's experience of the Folk Revival and trying to understand the accommodation he felt he needed to make to the new environment in which he found himself, and how his perception of that need may have helped shape his repertoire. Now you know why I'm asking about this! So if you are of an age to have been around the Revival scene in the relevant time period, and if you have any insights to offer, I'll be delighted to hear from you.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 21 Feb 16 - 09:14 AM

"I have the feeling that he picked up a lot more during his years on the Folk Revival circuit -- from other singers, from recordings, from printed sources"

You'll presumably be aware that the late Fred McCormick addressed this very point at some length in his introduction to the MacColl Seeger interviews on the Musical Traditions site, that I linked above.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 12:36 PM

It might be worthwhile putting the MacColl/Seeger interview with Joe Heaney into context. It was made not long after they had formed The Critics Group, which was set up to help singers improve their techniques and understanding of traditional song.
When joining the Group, MacColl suggested to members that they make themselves familiar with the older generation of singers and take from their singing anything that might be helpful – unfortunately, there were, and still are, very few examples of Traditional singers talking about their "art", which was what Ewan insisted it was.
Ewan was a fierce opponent of the "unconscious as songbirds" image that had been projected by the some earlier collectors and Interviewing Joe seemed an ideal opportunity to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge; he carried out a similar interview with Paddy Tunney around the same time. It was not intended as an 'in-depth' study of Joe, but an attempt to gain some knowledge of him as an artist.
It has been occasionally suggested that Ewan and Peggy 'fed him the information they wanted to get' – I don't believe that was the case – they were concentrating on gathering the information they believed would be useful to younger singers. Having met Joe, he didn't strike us as the type of individual to be manipulated.      
The idea that some singers thought about their songs and how they 'should' be sung is certainly a rare one.
Thomas Moran of Mohill, Co. Leitrim, describes visiting a local man "who had never crossed a cow-track in his life" to get his large repertoire of songs and information.
Paddy Tunney, as well as getting songs from his mother, also visited her brother, Michael Gallagher, to take his songs and knowledge – Paddy was extremely articulate when talking about his songs and traditions.
Joe, and his cousin, Seán 'ac Dhonncha; were influenced strongly by visiting an uncle, Colm Keane of Glinsk; most of the 'big singers' had their mentors.
In our collecting work, we spent a great deal of time questioning singers on how they approached their songs.
Walter Pardon was probably the most articulate: his inspiration, Uncle Billy Gee, had died, so Walter put his songs together posthumously and made his own sense of them. His understanding of the songs was outstanding – he insisted that they needed to be sung using the right 'strook' (pace); "you have to have imagination, to sing them, like reading a book".
Tom Lenihan of County Clare described having to put the 'blás' (relish - taste) on the songs to make them work and spoke of them as being 'true' – "that's a true song, that happened, surely".
Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, described being chastised by his father for singing his songs "the wrong way". He described the differences between 'street singing' to earn pennies, the technique needed to sell "the ballads", the song-sheets he and his mother sold around the fairs and markets, and "fireside singing" among family and friends.      
Most of the singers we met and questioned had opinions on their songs and how they should be sung; virtually all of them considered themselves storytellers whose stories came with tunes, which were secondary to the texts.
It was this type of information that Ewan and Peggy were trying to elicit from Joe when they interviewed him – in my opinion, they made a pretty good job of it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 09:10 AM

Thanks once again, Brian -- I am indeed aware of the MacColl interviews with Joe Heaney, and the very interesting and perceptive introduction to that material supplied by the late Fred McCormick. Both the interviews and McCormick's comments are referenced and quoted from extensively in the commentary and notes I myself provided for the Joe Heaney website.

But as I asked (and will keep asking), I am looking for additional material, specifically, for PERSONAL MEMORIES of people who may have met JH at some time, or observed him in performance, and who may have some stories that have not already been told elsewhere. I realise that I am wandering about in a well-tilled field, and most of the stone-age artifacts may already have been spotted and collected by others. Nonetheless, hope springs eternal.

Jim, thanks very much for your comments. The interviews you mention are fascinating -- not only for the insights they offer in response to the questions asked, but also for the sometimes hilarious cross-purposes unintentionally revealed during the conversations. In the case of Ewan's interviews with Joe, while I know that both men had great regard for each other, they 'spoke different languages' when it came to talking about the subject they had in common.

To me, Joe most clearly reveals himself as something like a first-year university student, bamboozled by terminology and behind in the reading, who nonetheless wants to make a positive impression on the lecturer, and resorts to the sort of pseudo-academic sleight-of-hand that he thinks will mask his ignorance and give him time to think. The fact that he picked up some useful theory and vocabulary from Ewan is reflected in much of what he later uses when dealing with academics (and students) in the United States. Absolutely fascinating. As for what Ewan may have learned from Joe, I do think his questions reveal a good deal about his own particular filter and indeed about some preconceptions he had about Joe's singing.

Finally, just to correct an insignificant point: I don't believe that Joe was related to Johnny Joe Phaitsín (Seán 'ac Dhonncha); and Joe's relationship to Colm Ó Caodháin (Colm Keane) was more distant than Joe wanted to acknowledge. Although Joe often referred to Colm as his 'uncle', he was actually a second-cousin of Joe's. Joe was very keen to emphasize this relationship, I believe, not only because Colm commanded a huge repertoire that Joe admired, but also because Colm had been extensively recorded by Seamus Ennis for both the Irish Folklore Commission and the BBC, and because some of his songs had been included on Alan Lomax's early recording, the Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music. I have argued elsewhere that this recording was an extremely important marker for Joe, who does not appear on it because he was living in Scotland by the time Alan Lomax was ushered through the Gaeltacht by Ennis; nonetheless JH made his business to learn most of the songs on the recording -- regardless of where in Ireland they come from -- and they turn up later as part of his own repertoire in one way or other.

Virginia


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Mar 16 - 02:45 PM

refresh - any new information?


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 05:25 AM

Been trying my mother, but she never met him, only saw him in concert.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 05:51 AM

Second hand from Belle Stewart......

When the Stewarts of Blair were booked to go to Washington DC for the American Bi-Centenary, they arrived at their hotel, checked in and then walked over to the lift (elevator?) and found that there was a lift attendant to push the buttons and it was ..... Joe Heaney. Belle described a great deal of embarrassment on both sides.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: GUEST,AR
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 06:09 AM

I wonder whether it'd be worth asking among people involved in experimental/avant-garde circles too, given that Heaney worked with John Cage? Maybe some people in Cage's circle might have some memories.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: maeve
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 07:21 AM

Bridget Fitzgerald knew Joe Heaney. I remember her talking about him.
http://www.bridgetcoynefitzgerald.com/about.html


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 11 Mar 16 - 08:09 AM

Thinking about the people who were around the London (and elsewhere) folk scene in the 1950s who might be able to help....
Karl Dallas, Bill Leader, Michael Grosvenor-Myer, John Foreman, Martin Carthy, Leon Rosselson, Sheila Finn, Shirley Collins... all of whom could suggest further names.
Derek


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 08:11 AM

thanks very much to all -- I will follow up the named people you've suggested.

Vic Smith: As far as I know, Joe never worked as a hotel lift-attendant. He did work for a number of years as a doorman (for which operating the lift might have been part of the duties) at 135 Central Park West, a very swank apartment building next door to the Dakota, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived. I doubt very much that the Stewarts were staying in that building. Could it be that Joe was also participating in the 1976 bi-centenary celebrations and happened to be in the same hotel for a related event? He was very fond of a leg-pull....

Virginia


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 09:19 AM

I have no idea, Virginia. I am only reporting the story as it was told to me.


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Mar 16 - 11:11 AM

I've always understood that Joe worked as a hotel lift attendant.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: GUEST,Liberty Boy
Date: 16 Mar 16 - 08:48 AM

Virginia, if you contact me I have some recollections of Joe In O'Donoghues in the mid 60's. Jerry


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Subject: RE: Joe Heaney - any personal memories?
From: Virginia Blankenhorn
Date: 21 Mar 16 - 02:53 PM

Thanks Jerry -- I will indeed be in touch, and indeed your name has been bandied more than once in this connection!

Jim, all I can tell you is what I've read in Liam Mac Con Iomaire's biography of Joe. I've no doubt that lift-attendance must have formed part of the general-duties-as-assigned....

Virginia


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