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Never heard of Alex Campbell

Related threads:
Alex Campbell (40)
Help: Alex Campbell (45)
Lyr Req: So Long (Alex Campbell) (5)
Alex Campbell -- advice on recordings (16)
Lyr Add: Been on the Road So Long (Alex Campbell) (6)


MARINER 08 Apr 01 - 12:18 PM
Fiolar 08 Apr 01 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Firecat in Berlin 08 Apr 01 - 12:52 PM
MARINER 08 Apr 01 - 01:36 PM
Rick Fielding 08 Apr 01 - 01:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Apr 01 - 01:54 PM
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Fiolar 08 Apr 01 - 02:06 PM
MARINER 08 Apr 01 - 02:26 PM
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nutty 08 Apr 01 - 03:23 PM
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Subject: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MARINER
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 12:18 PM

A friend who lives in Stockton on Tees was in Edinburgh recently. Being an old folkie he sought out a folk club, for his nights entertainment.He found one called Whistle--,( he can't remember the rest,I would hazard a guess that it was Whistle binkies?). Anyway, he had a great night of music. Except that when one singer asked for requests and my mate asked for a well known Alex Campbell song , he was shocked that the singer never heard of Campbell!!. Is this likely?. Any way to the purpose of my post. Where can I find a discography of Alex ansd is there any of his numerous albums available on C.D.?. The forum search is being less than co-opreative at this moment in time. Maybe it's not the searcher, maybe it's Sunday lunchtime wine ??.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Fiolar
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 12:40 PM

Try the following: www.argonet.co.uk/users/gatherer/scottish/artists/alexc.html Good luck


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Firecat in Berlin
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 12:52 PM

Don't worry, I haven't either!!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MARINER
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 01:36 PM

Firecat, you haven't what??.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 01:47 PM

Alex visited Toronto once. I've never seen a folksinger who so embodied "the mystique". I didn't even know that he was famous, and had so many albums and fans....he just "looked" so much the part! Was sorry to hear it when he died.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 01:54 PM

Is there any video of an Alex performance anywhere? I think it'd be fascinating identifying how many mannerisms and performance techniques other people learned from him.(And from Derroll Adams, from whom Alex learnt so much.)

Someone should reprint Alex's little song-book/autobiography. Or better yet, do it as a CD - the tapes of him telling the stories in it could well exist still. And maybe others as well. Time is passing, now's the time to do it.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 01:57 PM

I've got that book McGrath. It's wonderful. Especially the tale about diving into the empty pool!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Fiolar
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 02:06 PM

To Mariner. Sorry - "Good Luck" is not part of the contact point.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MARINER
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 02:26 PM

Eventually got through to the argonet site, had tro go to the home page and work from there. Gatherer's site is excellent but it seems that none of Alex's albums are available on C.D, at least if they are they're not mentioned. It's notable that most of his albums were on "cheapo labels" like Saga and Society, many of them I have but due to those labels using cheap vinyl thay're well worn and crackly by now. That's also the reason it's difficult to pick them up 2nd hand in sny kind of reasonable condition.The old cheap vinyl didn't last too long.Wouldn't it be great if someone re-released Alex,Campbell stuff on C.D.?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 02:38 PM

Hi Mariner. You're right. His stuff was all very cheaply done. He was never taken seriously by the "serious" British folk scene. I think he was considered too much of an'entertainer'.

Hi Album of 'Scottish Songs' on Topic, was wonderful. He mixed obscure traditional songs with well known ones and I think he was seen as too commercial for the 'folk' and too trad for the mainstream.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: nutty
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 03:23 PM

There's stuff here that may be of interest

CLICK HERE


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Firecat in Berlin
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 04:19 PM

Heard of whatshisname, Alex Campbell!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MARINER
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 05:50 PM

Nutty, thanks for the site info.I notice one Alex Campbell C.D. among the vinyl. (Also gave me the idea to try to sell some of the "surplus to requirements" vinyl in my own collection)


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Lanfranc
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 06:39 PM

I knew Alex pretty well in the late 60s and 70s. The last time I saw him, we spent a whole day drinking scotch while we worked out how he could play "Going Back" in open G, which was all his arthritic hands could manage at that point. I'm pretty sure I've got some tapes of his live performances on reel-to-reel, recorded on my old Akai, but nothing to play them on. The only hope for video would be the BBC, but I'm not too hopeful.

He was a bit resentful that the UK Folk "hierarchy" never took him seriously, despite over 100 albums being produced in his lifetime. He died in Denmark, where he had settled in his later years.

Allan Taylor has probably done more than anyone to keep the flame of the "Guv'nor" alive and I commend his website http://www.allantaylor.com/


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 08 Apr 01 - 08:09 PM

Nutty's site is interesting but doesn't seem to give tracklists. (With 100 albums there must be some amount of double recording - or whatever you call it!)
John Dalton at Little Pot Stove Vinyl sometimes has second hand stuff. The April sales list lists 'Alex Campbell Sampler' for 8 pounds. Email John at

JohnDalton@littlepotstove.co.uk

if you'd like to subscribe. (No, I don't get paid for this!)


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MARINER
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 01:00 AM

Jon, I know this is slightly off thread, but despite the fact that the vinyl in the cheapo records of the 60's seemed sub standard, they did open up a whole new musical world to young lads like myself. In rural towns and villages record stores were scarce and conservative in what they stocked. When Saga ,Society, Arc, et al came along they sold in local paper shops, sweet shops etc,( at 15/11).Their catalogues covered a multitude of musical genres. Cheap labels turned me on to Sonny& Brownie, Lightin' Hopkins,Sandy Denny,Johnny Silvo, various Doo- Wop groups, Roy Guest,Little Richard singing Gospel, Ray Charles, Homer & Jethro and a whole plethora of Country &Bluegrass,plus many others, as well as Alex Campbell.So I suppose I shouldn't denigrate them too much, they were a great source to the cash strapped young chaps of the time.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Anglo
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 02:48 AM

I remember one LP I used to have, Alex did it ages ago, pretty much straight Scottish trad, including a Glasgow Peggy with Martin Carthy on guitar. My memory fails me as to what else was on it, how much Martin played, etc. It may still be in my old next door neighbor's attic, three thousand miles away... I wish _that_ one was on CD.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 08:55 AM

The cheap vinyl records still sound pretty good to me. I've never noticed that cheapy vinyl deteriorates any more than expensive does. It depends how you treat the records. CDs are convenient, and they don't get damaged so easily, but the sounds no better.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: John J
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 09:01 AM

WHAT????!!!!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Tim
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 09:54 AM

Way Out West, what a record, and at ten bob what a price.

Ewan McVicar writes in "One Singer, One Song" (1990) "I first met Alex in London in 1960. He had just returned from Paris where he had been a busking blind blues singer, complete with white stick. He had made a miraculous recovery in London and became a folk singer. Alex always mixed his songs and loved them all. He recorded albums of cowboy songs, Scots ballads, bluegrass and blues and blue material and a blooper or two. I got up a a folk club in north London where Alex was that evening's guest and sang "Maggie's Waddin". Alex was much taken with "Maggie". He asked me to come and sing it again at his next gig, after midnight that same night in the Partisan Coffee House in Soho, where one of the resident singers was a very youthful Long John Baldry. I saw Alex again years later in Glasgow. He was singing in one of our concert halls. The Ian Campbell Folk Group was on, so was another noted performer whose identity evades me. She had long lank hair, a long lank dress, sang long lank ballads, and her personality was rather short on joie d'eistence. Shall we call her Alanka? Anyway, Alex was filling the role of compere. At one point he complained about who was getting paid what. "Here's the Campbell Group, they all arrived in a Jaguar. Here's Alanka, she arrived in a Jaguar. And here's me, with the seat hanging out of my jeans". he turned round, and in the days before designer shredded denims, his native flesh was indeed in view. The last time I saw him was in the early 80s at the Glasgow International Folk Festival. Alex sat beside me, his vocal chords were so damaged he could not sing any more".


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Dita (at work)
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 12:48 PM

Loved the man. He was the only person I could listen to singing "Wild Rover" et al without cringing. He sang with conviction, passion and sincerity, all part of what Rick calls the mystique.
I think the albums refered to as "Scottish Songs" and "with Martin Carthy" are the two LPs and 1 EP he made for XTRA. Tracks from these were later compiled to form skw's Sampler. Occasional tracks from these records surface on Castle Communication's CD compilations, so they still have the masters. There's no reason why they couldn't issue a CD like the recent best of Matt McGinn.
I don't know of any other CDs, and I have been looking - the guy on nutty's link sounds like he's going to burn a CD off the vinyl and send both.
Must agree with McGrath, (is that a Mudcat first?), my XTRA, Society, ARC etc still sound as good/bad as when I bought them, they were inferior pressings, but have not deteriorated any futher.
Alex died in Denmark and was buried in Glasgow in the early days of January 1987. His gravestone,(paid for by his friends in Denmark),reads "Alex Campbell - So Long."
Alex would have loved the funeral. The graveside was a who's who of folk, Hamish, Alan, Dougie, Danny, Archie, Cilla, among the great and small. The family had asked a local minister to officiate. He had no idea who Alex was as a person. He looked up, saw Billy Connolly in his "audience" and flipped. He went into a tirade, all hellfire and brimstone, about how Alex was now burning in hell, with no chance to repent, and how we, and one of us in particular, had better give over our evil ways, and blasphemy, and seek forgiveness before it was too late.
We retired to the old Star Club, minus minister, and remembered Alex in song, story and drink - "Hell, Yes."
love, john.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 01:50 PM

I was picking at a festival in Middletown, Connecticut back in the very early '80's I think. Lisa Null rwas behind it. Alex was there and I was in charge of taking him on his booze runs to the liquor store because he couldn't get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Actually, I knew of him from an LP I'd bought very inexpensively ($1.98) in a supermarket in Depoe Bay, Oregon in 1967 or '68. I loved his songs. He showed me it was O.K. to sing songs that others had tired of if one did them honestly and simply and in a straightforward manner with honest real conviction.

Old chestnut songs and even older jokes were always a part of my serious repertoire----a lesson I learned well from Alex Campbell.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 06:30 PM

I don't think I could like anyone who didn't love Alex Campbell. (Leaving aside those who never met him.)

I remember in a room over a pub, a tiny gig, but that was never a reason for Alex to put any less dedication into it - and Alex decided he was going to get each person around the room to come up with a song and sing it. And he did it too. Including Away in a Manger.

Personally I'd have been inclined to put that minister in the grave, and take Alex in his coffin along to the pub.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Micca
Date: 09 Apr 01 - 06:59 PM

I always remeber him in the upsatirs room of what was the "Scots Hoose" at Cambridge Circus in London singing ( and harmonising) the most ribald version of the Wild Rover with Noel Murphy( Murphs version) and haveing to pause ,frequently , to get his breath back from laughing..and what greater memorial, ? than someone who made you laugh??


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Moleskin Joe
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 04:19 AM

My abiding memory of Alex Campbell was one night in 1963 in FSCV in Montrose Street when he had the entire audience participating in a rumbustious rendering of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm". The place was in an uproar. I think everyone who ever saw him perform loved him. I've got about twenty of his LP's but they don't adequately convey the charisma of the man. Good Luck, Ian M.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Bugsy
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 05:14 AM

Big Tim, "Way Out West" was the very first LP I ever bought. Got it in WH Smiths. It was that album that got me singing folk music. I still have it today, and occasionally used to play it on my Folk radio show.

A wonderful interpreter of song.

cheers

Bugsy


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 10:45 AM

To whom it may concern:

Alex Campbell was ...

A supreme entertainer who established instant rapport with audiences of all kinds, from infants to pensioners, from folk fanatics to complete newcomers to the music.

A magnificent interpreter of songs, who could make the familar seem fresh, and the obscure become accessible ... an alchemist whose magic touch could turn any material into gold.

A great educator, who usually introduced songs with a brief reference to the sources he got them from, and thereby alerted audiences to singers like Jeannie Robertson, Jimmie MacBeath, Jesse Fuller or Reverend Gary Davis, whom they might otherwise never have encountered.

An under-rated musician, who never sought to dazzle audiences with his instrumental technique, but simply used it unobtrusively to support his songs.

A marvellous teller of tales, whose stories could make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think - sometimes all three at the same time.

A warm-hearted and generous friend, for whom everyone he'd ever met was special - now gone from among us, but not forgotten.

None of the recordings I've heard have managed to capture the magic of Alex's best live performances. Even so, there must be enough good material available for someone to put together a CD, or perhaps even a boxed set with commemorative booklet. And judging by the response to this thread, there should be a market for it.

Musical entrepreneurs, where are you when we need you?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Tim
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 12:28 PM

Bugsy : "Magic".


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 06:48 PM

Well said Mike.

There must have been some video recording at some point. Though I can't every remember seeing him on the TV. Typical. Maybe in Scotland?

But there must be a lot of hometaped audio around. Though I haven't got any, I'm pretty sure. Search your attics...


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 07:23 PM

WONDERFUL bloke. The only folkie who ever tampered with Tom Paxton lyrics to positive effect. (He sang "Fare the well, my rambling boy" instead of "Here's to you......")

I couldn't connect to that argonet site just now. Would this have anything to do with Arthur Argo, who managed the Humblebums (Billy Connolly & Tom Harvey) among others, and who I thought died many years ago? Or is it just a common name?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 10 Apr 01 - 08:23 PM

Never saw him live, but my first ever folk LP was "Alex Campbell Live" which I bought in the 60's: hooked on folk music since! Tattie B


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Tim
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 05:08 AM

Fionn, there's a famous photo of many of the Scots folk greats, incl Billy Connolly, Hamish Henderson, Aly Bain, etc. in 1969, I think. Aly Bain said of it recently "the amazing thing is not that were were all gathered together at the same time but that we are all still alive". [Given the copious amounts of drink that we consumed].


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 09:03 AM

MCGrath, I don't think there is much, if anything to be had in Scotland, in terms of video.
The last time Alex was in Scotland was the Glasgow Folk Festival in 1984. There was a tribute concert at the Tron theatre, Ramblin Jack, Hamish, Iain Mac etc. Alex had no singing voice left, but he was in great spirits, and was touched that the festival flew him over. He did some MCing. I missed the gig as my band was playing elsewhere at the festival that night, but I donated my band's PA, as we were using a house system.
I think Denmark may be a better source of TV material, as has been already said, Alex was unfashionable in the 70's in Britain, but was much loved on the continent. Denmark gave him a pension, despite the fact, I understand, he didn't qualify for one. It seems thay loved the big man so much they ent the rules. So I would look for material in that direction.
love, john.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Dita (At work)
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 12:50 PM

Above from Dita forgeting he's at work again. love, john.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: fat B****rd
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:38 PM

I believe his sons, robin and ali formed UB 40


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MARINER
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:54 PM

Wrong Campbell ,fat B****rd, your getting Alex mixed up with Ian, whose sons went on to form UB40. Mariner


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: jacko@nz
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 05:06 PM

I remember being in the back room of a pub in Edinburgh around '62/'63 when Alec, who was MCing and introducing Ian at that moment, suddenly broke off and stared towards the back of the room and muttered "another bloody Campbell" as Bobby entered the room.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: fat B****rd
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 03:49 AM

Thankyou, Mariner. I stand (or sit) corrected. Are you one of the Grimsby Mariners by any chance ?? all the best fB


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Ian McCann
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 11:07 AM

I was part of Alex's backing band in the early sixties along with Johnny Orange aka John Affleck. He paid us 7/6 a gig. I played on Way out West, Best Loved Songs of bonnie Scotland and several other albums. He was like a father figure, a kind and sensitive human being.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 11:20 AM

I think Denmark may be a better source of TV material, as has been already said, Alex was unfashionable in the 70's in Britain"
ha ha, I saw Alex playing to a full house at Dartford in 1974, he was a great entertainer, and was playing to a packed club


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 02:23 PM

He always played to packed houses in Walsall in the 70's ... unless that's just happy memories speaking!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 02:30 PM

Blast from the past Ian. I have the Best Loved Songs and Way Out West right here. Did you get to meet the legendary Dave Laibman?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 03:12 PM

I saw Alex Campbell live many times ~ always a great night.

This is Alex Campbell's son's YouTube channel. He said that he will be posting lots of his father's work on to YouTube and that he intends to get some of the out of print stuff out there again.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Bettynh
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 04:18 PM

Amazon has two albums for download or press-on-demand. Itunes has the downloads of the same albums for a dollar more each. This is USA, folks, maybe someone can look into the UK situation.

Youtube has lots of tunes, with enough searching:

This channel has several uploads. Search the righthand column for more.

This channel contains the entire "Alex Campbell 'Live" (1968) album.

This channel has several tunes, with a black screen.

This channel has several tunes, with attached stories. Search the right column for Alex Campbell.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Tunesmith
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 04:41 PM

I remember my brother, and a mate, going to see Alex Campbell in folk club in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, many years ago.
Well, this mate of my brother was really taken with Alex's performance, and cornered Alex after the show.
He asked Alex what he did for a living, but no mater how Alex explained it, this chap couldn't get it in to his head that Alex made a living out of singing.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gealt
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 05:15 PM

I remember going to a concert in the Gate Theatre, Dublin late '63 or early '64. The line up included The Dubliners & Luke Kelly, Deirdre O'Connell (Luke's wife), Dominic Behan and Alex. Alex brought the house down & upstaged the rest of them
I heard after that Alex had difficulty getting into the Gate, in those days one did not go to the theatre dressed in denim jacket & jeans.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 07:45 PM

"Names that once we held so dear
Are unknown to the young ones here"
"Fading voices" Harvey Andrews


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 08:15 PM

"CRM" (Alex Campbell, Alan Roberts, Dougie Maclean) on CD at Amazon UK & US

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dougie-Maclean-Alex-Campbell-Roberts/dp/B0002CH982/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1323040816&sr=1-1

Track Listings
1. Trooper And The Maid
2. I Lo'e Nae Lassie But Ane
3. Jute Mill Song
4. Her Fa La La Lo
5. John Anderson My Jo
6. What Wouldna' Fecht For Charlie
7. Leis A Lurighan
8. Bonnie Mary
9. Rattlin' Roarin' Willie
10. Little Song
11. Miss Elisabeth Campbell
12. Alick C. MacGregor
13. Jock Stewart

Also listed on CD are "Alex Campbell at the Tivoli Gardens"

Track Listings
1. Cindy's Crying
2. Candy Man
3. Needle Of Death
4. Tom Thumb's Blues
5. First Time Ever
6. The Time Has Come
7. Where I'm Bound
8. Champion At Keeping Them Rolling
9. Long Gone From Home
10. Strolling Down The High Way
11. He Was A Most Peculiar Man
12. Sally Free And Easy

and "Alex Campbell in Copenhagen"

Track Listings
1. Colors
2. Rambling Boy
3. The Oggie Man
4. 1913 Massacre
5. Been On The Road
6. Verdant Braes O'Skreen
7. John Riley
8. Lang A' Growing
9. Whistling Rufus - Double Eagle
10. Roll Down The Line
11. Leaving Of Liverpool

Amazon's Alex Campbell Store lists 53 tracks available as MP3 downloads. Some of these are duplicates from different albums (but might still have been recorded on separate occasions).

MusicStack lists about thirty different titles available, mostly LPs, from £5 to over £100.

I saw Alex a couple of times at Blackpool Folk Club at the King's Arms, early seventies. After the second time, when he managed to consume a whole bottle of whisky during his set, I swore I would never go to see him again. A few years after, a gigging singer friend who had "discovered" Alex persuaded me that, straightened out, he was still a performer to be reckoned with. At the Raikes Hotel (about 1980?), he was certainly on form and produced a great night. He and local residents the Taverners had a running competition to try to remember how many folk clubs each had helped to start (and sometimes to close down!)

There was a copy of Folk Review magazine mid-seventies that included a breakdown by Alex Campbell of his year's income and expenditure (total about £3000 as I recall). That's turnover, not profit! Not a lot, even back then.

Ross (no relation)


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Iain
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 05:01 AM

I vaguely remember back in days of yore seeing Alex Campbell perform at the Surbiton Assembly rooms, then being run by Derek Serjeant. This would have been somewhere around the early-mid sixties


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 05:38 AM

Alex Campbell was funnier than Ewan MacColl, but not such a good songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 06:27 AM

Didn't Allan Taylor write a PhD thesis on Alex?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 07:48 AM

I heard [ or read ] a story that Alex once went on stage with Derroll Adams somewhere in Holland, both so drunk they couldn't remember the words of the first song., now thats style.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 08:33 AM

interesting guy. he had something of the Tony Hancock's 1950's aspirational bohemian about him. i liked him.

but the folkscene was on its arse in the 70's. much worse than now. due to pure civil war between the factions on the English scene.

the jasper carrot lot on one side - all trying to replicate Billy Connolly's success. the ones Jim Carroll thinks were the bees knees singing real folk music and boring the arse of everyone.

entertainer/minstrel folksingers - my ownparticular favourites - Campbell, Brimstone, Murphy, |Lockran. for the most part they supplemented the dog rough English venues with work in Europe.

people are more tolerant nowadays. just because you find youself attracted to a certain kind of folkmusic - it doesn't preclude you from playing and enjoying another. nothing excuses or necessitates rudeness or unpleasantness.

it was that ferret pit of the English folkscene in the mid to late 1970's where i started off as an entertainer. i saw my heroes abused and treated roughly, struggling to make a living, they weren't at home in either venue. the crowd at Jasper's Boggery quickly grew restive if someone sang a sad folksong. i recall Noel Murphy trying to sing Freeborn Man - by the second verse half the audience were talking about something else;

i recall shit for brains traddies thinking they were so superior to Gerry Lockran at a club in Sutton Coldfield - they weren't fit to lick his boots.

However if Elijah Wood's biography of Dave Van Ronk is to believed - Van Ronk in his later years suffered the same sort of smart arse audiences over in the states.

ignorance and rudeness are truly international.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 08:48 AM

My recollection of Alex is as a charismatic performer with a nevertheless questionable technique. I remember once asking rhetorically, reviewing one of his albums in Folk Review, something to the effect of "how can he hold an audience so expertly and effortlessly when he can't hold a melody line?". I recall Peter Bellamy laughing heartily and approvingly. Alex himself, tho I am sure he was aware of this notice of mine, greeted me with perfectly cordial affability when we met a few weeks later at Cambridge FF.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 09:14 AM

"Jim Carroll thinks were the bees knees singing real folk music and boring the arse of everyone."
Why do you insist on doing this Al?
The singers Club was boring full houses right up to the death of MacColl
The 1970s/80s was e of the best times for folk music - it was more or less guaranteed that if you turned up to a folk club you'd hear folk songs - the crash came when that ceased to be the case.
Throughout that time Folk had a fair selection of its own magazines and even its own shops - can't say that - very different from the anything goes/and you don't need to know the words or tune to sing at a a folk club ethos that pervails nowadays.
If you find folk song boring, why not try hip-hop and stop knocking those of us who do?
Didn't intend to take part in this - I've said what I have to say on Alex.
Give your arse a chance Al, as we used to say in Liverpool!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 09:34 AM

point taken Jim. it was a good time for your lot they got set their stall out.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 10:17 AM

"Our lot" actually got the revival started, 'twas the mistletoe killed the tree.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 11:05 AM

Sadly I never heard him sing live but I did sell him a set of strings for his 'old Gibson guitar' I had most of his records though (some digitised on my Mac)


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 11:06 AM

I disagree that (Y)"our lot" actually got the revival started.

It was mainly skiffle that got "the revival" started, Ken Colyer, Tony Donegan etc.
Alan Lomax was in the UK at the time and formed Alan Lomax and The Ramblers featuring skiffle and folk songs. Group members included Lomax, Brian Daly (I think), Shirley Collins, Clarinettist Bruce Turner and Bassist Jim Bray from the Humphrey Lyttelton band and Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl. I believe this group was only a recording group. I don't think they performed live.
The popular appeal of skiffle increased the interest in the UK of American blues and folk music. From this interest a few people discovered British folk and decided that they preferred that. Unfortunately some of them also lost their sense of humour and started taking themselves too seriously.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 11:47 AM

The folk revival was not started by Jim Carroll,what killed the tree were people like Jim Carroll laying down rules in their club and being so serious that they forgot that some people who like folk music also liked to have fun and were there not just because they liked folk music but to socialise get to know with a similiar taste in music girls. much as i respected Ewan as a songwriter and a performer, the idea of spending an evening with such a pompous overbearing patronising old git was not my idea of fun


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 12:20 PM

don't lets get into all that. there were certainly faults on both sides. ironically it was actually the professional disseminators of folk music like Alex and my own favourite Derek Brimstone that i saw being the real victims of that polarisation.

and i got so much out of them.... i saw alex more than a few times at Barrie Roberts club in Walsall. also at Andy Dwyers club in Tamworth. neither were really well attended. in both cases they weren't source singers in the way that Jim puts so much value on. but in both cases - they had known the source singers and absorbed, and thought carefully how to convey traditional songs to contemporary audiences - there was no 'take it or leave it' about those guys. they had a passion to communicate.

it was sad to see it misunderstood so profoundly. distrusted by the traddies.   misunderstood by the folk comedian crowd who expected a laugh every 45 seconds.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 12:42 PM

" it was actually the professional disseminators of folk music like Alex and my own favourite Derek Brimstone that i saw being the real victims"
I've got a recording of Alex Campbell complaining bitterly about young upstarts (that wold be tCarthy, he Watersons, Peter Bellamy, and many others of that ilk) earning the same as he did.
I came onto the scene when payment wasn't an issue - not to say there was anything wrong with being paid for singing - just that the vast majority of us didn't, and didn't particularly want to.
The revival was basically the child of the BBC's mopping up campaign in the early 1950s, Colyer, Donegan, et al, were doing something else - they certainly weren't promoting their music as 'folk'.
Lomax was the one who kicked Ewan and Bert up the arses for singing America stuff.
I've always found folk music "fun" (and a great deal more) to be involved in - if I wanted to socilaise, I'd go down to The Old Sergeant or The Eagle, where my wanting to socialise didn't nause up anybody elses enjoyment or concentration - the same with Shakespeare, or watching films, which I also find "fun"
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 12:47 PM

Derek Brimstone was a very gifted musician, an excellent performer, and a most likeable man. But as to his having "thought carefully how to convey traditional songs to contemporary audiences", as asserted by Al above -- when would that have been? I certainly never heard him sing a traditional song: EVER; from the time I first heard him at the competition of the 1st Cambridge FF 1965, in which he won Second Prize [First Prize: Lee Nicolson; No Prize At All: MGM] onwards. Was he ever a performer of traditional songs in any shape, manner or form whatsoever? I suspect not.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 01:16 PM

A contribution from a pedant:-
[First Prize: Lee Nicolson; No Prize At All: MGM]

He was Lea Nicholson with an "h" and he took his first name by shortening his middle name "Leatham".

I ran a weekly club with him in Brighton from 1968 - 1970 and though he had a good reputation as a singer and musician, I reckon that he was seriously underrated in both departments. He was a truly original inventive concertina player.
Moved away from folk song into electronica. Last spotted playing bass guitar in a band in the Derby area.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 01:20 PM

Yes indeed. Thanks for correction, Vic.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 01:29 PM

well lets see

i've heard him sing songs of the Copper family, Frank Proffit, Leadbelly, Broonzy, Josh White, Mance Lipscomb, Rev Gary Davis, Jean Bosco M'wende, Jean Ritchie. just off the top of my head.

you probably didn't notice. derek never exercised his right to bore you with his erudition.

if theres no room for people like derek in your version of the tradition - you're throwing away one of your best cards. well they did throw him away - more fool them.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Tradsinger
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 01:31 PM

i saw Alex perform several times around Portsmouth in the 60s. What I remember is a performer of tremendous charisma who always had the audience hanging onto every word of the song. His singing of tender songs could bring the audience near to tears. He had another side, however, and could quickly switch to coarseness, almost offending the audience.

However, as an interpreter of folksongs, I have seldom heard anyone better.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 03:06 PM

"derek never exercised his right to bore you with his erudition"
Constant references to boredom are very reminiscent of those tiresome bt#rats who constantly whine "mammy, I'm bored".
I know people who are bored out of their skull by Dylan, Shakespeare, Jazz folk song of any type, blues, dickins, Coronation Street......!!!
Boredom is the domain of the bored, not the boring - most subjects have their adherents.
(I always found Derek Brimstone facile, boring and not infrequently unfunny - but then again, that's me
I wouldn't dream in telling people what they should or should not be interested in a million years
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Gurney
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 03:21 PM

I think that people saying "I saw Alex at...." is typical of the man. He was on tour for much of the time!
He charged less than most professionals, and he worked a lot more, and he was often available in your locality, wherever that locality was.

I booked him several times when I ran clubs, and he never let me down, unlike some who would accept a booking and then cry off later (and late!) because they got no other booking in the area.

And could he drink whisky!
He came to our wedding ceildh. We had a day when there was nothing folky on, so he had no gigs to go to. Ah, yes. If he didn't have a gig, he would go to some local club anyway.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 03:41 PM

Couldnt get away from the bugger in the late 60s early 70s in the SE London and N kent

He adjudicated a folk singing competition at Whitelands college Wimbledon about 1971

There were a handful of performers

After announcing the winner he reintroduced the artiste to conclude the evening

The sod

He was a folk entertainer and thats what drew in the crowds

Derek Brimo was of the same style but sober and a great deliverer of jokes

The warning to folk club organisers was 'watch out for the traddies,' !!!!

I see him now in my mind's eye, in the mid 70s, sitting in the lounge bar of the Ivanhoe Hotel in Bloomsbury, dressed to the nines. I had to do a double take.

Yes he was a legend in his own lifetime

Hell Yeah

The black cat piddled.... and the white cat sighed....
And the white cat said'cor blimey'
And the black cat said 'You silly sod, you shouldnae stand behind me'


any more memories

So long


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 04:00 PM

"I've always found folk music "fun" (and a great deal more) to be involved in - if I wanted to socilaise, I'd go down to The Old Sergeant or The Eagle, where my wanting to socialise didn't nause up anybody elses enjoyment or concentration - the same with Shakespeare, or watching films, which I also find "fun""
as usual an interesting comment, there is an assumption that wanting to socialise is going to mess up someone elses enjoyment, we obviously have different viewpoints on socialisation, for me it was going to the les cousins folk club listening to good folk music even if some of it was american, and maybe quietly chatting up an attractive young woman in between the music no ones enjoyment was spoiled.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 04:11 PM

no more to be said - really - boring, facile, frequently unfunny.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 06:03 PM

funny old game as Jimmy Greaves used to say, but I find the disciple of MacColl now resident in County Clare, boring facile and frequently unfunny. I know who i would rather pay money to see perform and its Derek Brimstone,but thats just me.. a talentless moron


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 06:16 PM

i said - no more to say. but looking back - i love that bit about most of us just didn;t want to be paid - like as if being as talented as Alex or Derek was just a matter of choice, but of course real folksingers would disdain such shallowness.

I can see why he was pissed off at the young upstarts . people were turning up at folk clubs expecting the folk stuff they heard on the radio in the 1960's. exciting though it must have been to dig up some fusty old unmemorable folksong that had died out for bloody good reasons - it was /is frequently tough going on the poor sods listening. England's two folk journalists were calling Carthy England's Bob Dylan - so where was blowing in the wind?

Brimstone told me through that period, he would turn up after a melody maker folk page had built up a young upstart - to find a club that had been there for ten years had been decimated. i guess alex was having the same sort of experiences.

and as for facile - Derek could piss rings round most people as a guitarist and banjo player. i knew none of your gang who came anywhere near. you don't get that good as a diletante semi pro. you WORK to get that good.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 12:20 AM

Whom do you mean by "England's two folk journalists", Al? I certainly would never have dreamed of calling Martin any such thing. Neither, I am sure, would Karl; or Fred; or Eric -- or any of the other great number of us who had as much right as whoever you mean to be called "England's folk journalists".

Regards

≈Michael≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 12:58 AM

you'd have to ask Martin. i've forgotten where i heard it, but he would remember. i remember he was pissed off about it.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 02:09 AM

there are several things that are required now, one is that young performers are paid to run a guest booking folk club, perhaps the EFDSS should be allocating funds for this.
secondly,young performers should be running guest booking folk clubs , where people listen to the music, they should look back at the early days of the uk folk revival and start doing club swap and booking each other at their clubs. young people canotr expect other peop[lew to do all the work, IF they want a scene where there is a network of guest booking clubs , they have to put some work in , if they dont then the network of clubs will be gone


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 03:11 AM

"one is that young performers are paid to run a guest booking folk club,"
Making money a factor in folk song is a nail in its coffin before it even begins feeling a little queasy
God protect Irish song from such a mercenary (from a professional singer).
Not to say that some people shouldn't make money from their work - just that it should never, ever be a guiding principle.
I really did think this died way back in the folk boom that gave us 'The Smothers Brothers at the Purple Onion'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 03:20 AM

Should read "mercenary attitude"
Thank you for your character reference BTW - a confirmation that I'm not getting things too wrong, coming from who it did!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:05 AM

has it ever occurred to you how many people were drawn into folk music by The Smothers Brothers? MacColl was pissed off because he wasn't one of the big names in the great folk scare. understandable.   vanity, vanity...all is vanity!

Stop being bitter on his behalf. like they say in Jurassic |Park, the dinosaurs had their shot. MacColl had his, and he did what he wanted with it. good for him. he achieved much.

there is no need to slag off fine musicians like Derek and Dick.

but try having some dignity. you are doing the memory of Ewan MacColl no favours by using this site to remember and celebrate his petulance and intolerance. they were small and very occasional failings in a man deserving of our admiration.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:11 AM

Making money a factor in folk song is a nail in its coffin before it even begins feeling a little queasy."
what a load of crap, money is one[not the only but one] of the incentives for most professional musicians, if you want to have professional standards [and you are always banging on about amateurish performance people reading from notes etc] then you have to have professional performers, professional performers have to practise their music,that generally means they need the time to do it, that is facilitated for them if they can work at it full time., OR HAVE A PART TIME JOB THAT ALLOWS THEM TIME TO PRACTICE
I could have earned a lot more money if i had chosen another form of music, but i loved playing this kind of music and accepted that the financial rewards would be less than in the pop world, but that dOes not stop me accepting money for performance, however i do on occasions play for nothing. I ALSO run a festival for nothing.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:17 AM

Not an answer to my question, Al. I don't care who said what about Martin; I just don't know what you could have meant by "England's two folk journalists", implying that there were only two. If you had said "Two of England's folk journalists", it might have made a bit of sense. But I know full well that I was one at the time, and I said never any such thing about Martin or Dylan or whoever.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:38 AM

"Never heard of Alex Campbell?" Sounds like an old country song


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:40 AM

of course you're right Mike. you were a fine journalist - top end though.
i was thinking of Karl and Colin Irwin who wrote for the very influential melody maker folk pages. the phenomenon of those guys making large claims for artists who were inaccessible to general listeners - i have heard one or two of the old stagers remark on. i suppose they thought thet were doing the artists a favour.

like i say, i made my entrance as folk singer, after many years listening to find myself in the middle of this civil war. anywsy the traddies won, but time has proved that they couldn't hold the ground.

sooner or later - the real folk take possession of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:40 AM

the real folk take possession of folk music.

Is it just me, or is this a totally meaningless phrase? I know we are in a election campaign with lots of trite phrases being bandied about - 'for the benefit of hard-working families', 'all in this together' etc. but without something more precise and clearly defined, it just sounds like a sloppy slogan to me.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:43 AM

"what a load of crap,"
Take this somewhere else - I raised it in response to your having doneso.
The only relevence to the topic is that Campbell once complained about younger singers earning more than he did.
Other than that, it has no place here - go and start another thread if you want to pursue it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:48 AM

"MacColl was pissed off because he wasn't one of the big names in the great folk scare"
No he cartainly was not Al - unless you know something we don't.
Parhaps he wrote about it somewhere??
Ontherwise, it sounds like yet another MacColl urban myth to me - I'd have thought we have enough of those already shame on you joining that particular flock of sheep!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 08:12 AM

some things never change, still the same people in the folk world trying to tell others what they should do, the disciple of MacColl reveals his true colours,
Alex Campbell was a generous man, I have been told by two ex organisers, how in his.. hey day he refused to take the larger fee[percentage of the door], just taking the agreed minimium, and saying keep it you might need it some time to keep the club going.both clubs had been packed and busier than they had been for a long time, he was an entertainer whose music was accesible though his quick wit.
He was a giant compared to some of the pontificating pygmies on this thread, if he complained about the hype of young superstars he had justification,no one pulled in audiences like Alex Campbell, he was a very funny man and a good communicator.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 08:33 AM

i'm sorry Jim - i thought that was a given. i understood that from the first interviews i read. ten years before i met him. he came over as rigid with anger that Donovan etc were being described as the face of folk music.

i remember he thought it extraordinary that i had learned Nottanum Town from Bert Jansch. i didn't pursue it. i figured it was of cos of his dismissiveness of all the 60's crowd.

perhaps i misunderstood. its possible. perhaps you'ld care to elucidate. he certainly seems to have passed on his low opinion of other people trying to play folk music to you.

i take it he wasn't keen on Alex Campbell either.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,dave
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 08:39 AM

Ewan MacColl's record as a songwriter stands alongside anyone of that era, I never got to see him perform. Alex Campbell I know only from recordings, a significant performer, if not to my taste. Martin Carthy may not have written Blowing in the Wind, but his arrangement of Scarborough Fair was of course a worldwide hit, even if unattributed. Bob Dylan's output is of course prodigious, if uneven. But I had never, ever heard of the Smothers Brothers until happening upon this thread.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 08:58 AM

The Smothers Brothers - My Old Man

Fairly popular in the USA in the late '50s early '60s, occasionally their shows were broadcast on British television.
A very broad interpretation indeed would be needed to call them a 'folk act'.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 09:10 AM

"Donovan etc were being described as the face of folk music."
Yup - me too - a little far from "MacColl was pissed off because he wasn't one of the big names in the great folk scare"
"i take it he wasn't keen on Alex Campbell either."
I honestly never heard him take a pop at any other performer - not publicly anyway, and certainly not in the period I knew him.
After the John Snow meeting, he adopted an isolationist policy and worked with those he believed could make a difference on the folk scene
I confess, when I spoke on The Critics Group at his 70th birthday symposium, it was one of my main criticisms of his wit#k with the Group - in view of the grave-dancing that is still going on thirty years after his death - didn't I get that one wrong!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 09:27 AM

Thanks Vic, I enjoyed that, and we had Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor[sp]


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:20 AM

gravedancing?his isolationist policy was a mistake , but none of it takes away from his legacy , his songs


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:30 AM

As I have said before: far from its being 'grave-dancing', I consider the continuing {pro as well as con} critical evaluation of Ewan's influence as an earnest of what an important figure he was on our Scene. Shows how seriously we all take what he stood for and achieved, Jim.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:31 AM

I've only heard him on recordings, but think he could put life into a song. Just been listening to a clip and I'd just have to join in with "Can't You Dance The Polka"

I do more playing that singing but sometimes when I do a song, it's one I got the words from a tape of his - Willie Moore. Other end of the scale maybe, quite a sad one.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:44 AM

Yes indeed. I too learned Willie More from Alex's singing. Now one of my favourite songs.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:45 AM

nah the smothers bros glory days were late 60's early 70's. they came over did Parkinson. they even tried one series on the bbc, but it was too bland for England. Tom Smothers did some acting. but they were a stateside thing. the sort of act that had its genesis in nightclubs in the days when Josh White played alongside Lenny Bruce.

they were pretty good musically as i remember - sharp. and like i say - they featured folk artists on their show and folksongs in their act. they introduced people to folk music - someone has to -otherwise it never gets away from behind the haystack.

but the thing is Jim. i look at it as an artist, and i understand the source of Ewan's angst -perhaps better than you do. everyone says he worked he worked like a demon on that ship of fools project - and so many other things.
of course it would have pissed him off seeing Donovan and Dylan and all the rest of that circus pissing away creative opportunities, publishing deals - god knows what. he'd been promoting and writing folk music before most of them were born. Ewan on the Parkinson Show, interviewed by Playboy, Esquire....it would have made his work so much easier. he must have been incandescent. its the lot of all artists!

being nasty about other very talented performers won't make people like MacColl any more. i admire your loyalty. i don't like the nastiness that comes with it - i don't believe Ewan would want it. he was more of a positive person than a negative one.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 11:30 AM

Jim Carroll wrote -
After the John Snow meeting, he adopted an isolationist policy and worked with those he believed could make a difference on the folk scene
I confess, when I spoke on The Critics Group at his 70th birthday symposium, it was one of my main criticisms of his wit#k with the Group


I think that this is an important and significant point that Jim has made. Ewan did shut himself off from the rest of the folk scene and keep a lot of the benefits of his wide reading and broad and interesting thinking and experience only to the group that met in Beckenham. If he had tried hard to explain his views on the tradition in a better way to a wider audience, his impact on the folk scene - and the understanding of his approach - at the time might have been broader; but that was not Ewan's way.

I would like to add that I think he went beyond an "isolationist policy" and that he actually blocked the importance of what was happening on the wider scene. This story will illustrate why I suggest this.

In the late 1960s Ewan and Peggy were booked at a club in Brighton.
Now, in those days, as I remember from when I booked them myself, their contract was quite specific on how the evening would be run including no bar to be open in the performing room and that they were to perform the whole evening with no support acts.
Now when the organiser of this club told his resident singers/comperes that their only task that evening was going to be introducing the guests not starting off the evening or organising and introducing floor singers they decided that they would not bother to come on that night. The pissed-off organiser approached me, the organiser of another club in the town to run the evening for him whilst he, as usual, took the money on the door.
I was talking to Ewan before the evening started when we heard that it was house full and people were being turned away.
"House full," said Ewan, obviously very pleased, "I don't expect that happens very often."
"Oh, yes, I replied. "Reasonably often. Certainly, twice in recent weeks."
"Really? Who was booked as guests?"
"Well, one was Jake Thackray and the other was Jeremy Taylor."
"Who?"
I repeated the names.
"I'm afraid that you have the advantage of me." was the reply.

Well, at that time these two were household names - well beyond the folk scene. Jake was always on the television and had a weekly spot on the hugely popular Esther Rantzen programme. Jeremy had shows running in West End theatres, some he wrote the music for and some like "Wait A Minim" he appeared in himself. I didn't (and still don't) believe that Ewan had not heard of these people. If he hadn't he must have been leading a very "isolationist" life indeed.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,oggie
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 11:35 AM

Alex's son (also Alex) is gradually putting more and more of his recordings on Youtube, just search for him.

In all fairness they are a mixed bag. By modern standards some are now so old and hackneyed I don't think they're sung anymore BUT live (and I saw him a couple of times) it didn't matter. One of the most charismatic performers I've ever seen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFNqEKNv_ZQ

Steve


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 12:26 PM

I had a similiar experience to Vic, on this particular occasion I was doing a support for them, this was unusual as they did not like having support acts, we had a long conversation between the break , and Peggy said that there seemed to be a lot of people writing good songs in America, but no one doing so in the UK, I mentioned a few names such as Bill Caddick JezLowe PeterBond, they had not heard of them.
Afterwards they said to the organiser that all though the support act was good , that next time they would rather do the concert without a support act, this was how they isolated them selves they did not go to many clubs other than their own, and they did not see any other performers because they wanted to do the show on their own.
the concert that they did was very good


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 12:42 PM

"If he had tried hard to explain his views on the tradition in a better way to a wider audience, his impact on the folk scene"
You're assuming he didn't try Vic - if what's happening thirty years after his death is anything to go by, the revival wasn't exactly a "listening bank".
MacColl actually had a considerable following both for his singing and for his ideas, about ten 'Critics type' workshops dotted around the country (I ran one in Manchester Terry Whelan ran one after I moved to London).
The old guard made pretty sure that the ideas that were coming from some of the policy clubs and workshops weren't taken seriously and even developed a launguage to make sure they weren't "purist", "finger-in-ear", "folk police"... still pretty much in currency.
A group of people, Bob Davenport, Terry Whelan and Harry Boardman among them, expressed some doubts with what was happening in the revival, approached Ewan and asked him to run classes - he refused, and instead, said he would be prepared to run a self-help group.
The Critics Group rn for nearly ten years and was disbanded as a Singers group in 1972, in order to form an acting group - which broke up in disarray a year later.
MacColl could have tried harder with his arguments, but he decided, why bother - I was was critical of his doing so - but the last couple of months trying to get people to even look at some of the work we did has pretty well brought me around to "why bother" - why talk to a wall when you can go and build your own house?
I know that the Group produced a totally unprecedented body of work on song - don't know anybody who came anywhere near to doing so.
And guess what - you still end up talking to that feckin' wall when you try to discuss it.
Discussion on MacColl, never get beyond the 'Arthur Two-Sheds' Jackson stage (present company sadly not excepted), discussions on 'what is folk song' are a no-go area and you have to send a scouting party out to find if a club advertising itself as "folk" actually caters for those of us who actually like and believe we know what a folk song is.
Household name or not, I have to admit, beyond a handful of recordings I heard and wasn't particularly impressed by, I wouldn't have put myself too far out to listen to Jeremy Taylor and wouldn't have been able to single him out from so many others on the part of the folk scene I wasn't involved in - busy days back then.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 01:13 PM

It is difficult, sometimes, to convey things in writing without making them sound challenging. It is much easier to convey this by tone of voice in conversation. I write this with the hope that it will not sound as though I am trying to start a row - which I am not......

Jim wrote
he adopted an isolationist policy and worked with those he believed could make a difference on the folk scene

Then he quotes me agreeing with him saying:-
If he had tried hard to explain his views on the tradition in a better way to a wider audience, his impact on the folk scene

and responds this by saying -
You're assuming he didn't try Vic

Well, which was it? Was he trying to disseminate his views or was he being isolationist. I don't think that you can have it both ways.

And one more thing. You explain Ewan's attitude to other performers.
I honestly never heard him take a pop at any other performer - not publicly anyway, and certainly not in the period I knew him.
Utterly admirable! A policy that many would be advised to adopt, because in the end it is only personal likes and dislikes that we are talking about. It would be good advice to someone who has in recent times 'taken a pop' at artists as diverse as Jeremy Taylor and Norma Waterson on the very public forum of Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 01:24 PM

having read the above post, i despair, jeremy taylor was instantly recognisable and had a distinct style of his own, I would not put him in the same class as MacColl, but his songs were unusual witty distinctive and well constructed as were the songs of Miles Wooton, but you could not confuse the two of them.
Jim Carroll reminds me of the wailing wall, it really is like talking to a person who has set ideas, who cannot acknowledge when people mention MacColls good points, in fact talking to Jim Carroll is reminscent of the main character in the film Shirley Valentine who ends up talking to the wall.
I can predict his response its a like a 78 record that is stuck, it will be grave dancing corpse kicking


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 03:03 PM

"Well, which was it?
Both, of course.
MacColl worked along with the rest of the scene up to the point where he and Bert tried to get some sort of consensus as to which direction the clubs should aim for.
After the John Snow debacle, and beating in mind some of the events beforehand, (including one attempt at sabotaging one of the Radio Ballads, he shagged off elsewhere and went it alone, encouraged by a number of fairly well established singers on the scene.
He and Peggy, and the rest of us who were aware of the work being done by the Critics, never stopped arguing for some sort of work we believed was necessary to improve our singing, but rather than become involved in the dog-fighting, did our own thing.
For a long time, the various magazines run by people like Dallas, continued to be outlets for the work that was actually taking place, some of which made its way into Folk Review.
Ewan, Peg and some of the members of the Critics did weekend seminars at various part of the country and ran lectures the Singers club - got some of them on tape.
When I set up a workshop in Manchester I was given a list of around a dozen speakers who could run a week-end for us.
Ewan and Peg threw open their home to anybody who showed a genuine interest in working on song, and equipped any visitor with a bed, meals, two linked tape recorders and full access to their tape collection and books - without charge.
As Peggy said on the radio programmes we did (which hardly anybody in the U.K. has commented on) for nearly ten years, their three-bedroomed home welcomed researchers almost every weekend except when they were on tour.
By the time I joined the Critics Group I had copies of over three quarters of their sound archive and I had read a half dozen of their books.
I don't know another singer on the scene who can claim to have helped new and wannabe singers to that extent.
They could , of course, weighed into the melee and waited for the next packet of earthworms to pop through the letterbox, or the next tape of phony recordings of "Gypsy field singers" sent to **** up another Radio Ballad.
Let's face it Vic, you wouldn't have been the slightest bit interested in discussing ideas on singing with Ewan or any of us, any more than you are now - much easier to add to the Chinese whispers.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 03:47 PM

MacColl and Seeger demanded that there were no support acts on at their bookings? That's a new one on me; our club booked them three times between 1968 and 1973 and each time they stipulated that they would perform approx. 30 minutes in the first half and the whole of the second which amounted at around 90 minutes. The bar would be closed but no mention of residents etc being barred; as we were a folk and blues club naturally the residents performed both musical genres and on each occasion Ewan was highly complementary regarding our singers and musicians and on one occasion, during the interval, Peggy joined a couple of our musicians on her concertina as they played "The Weaver's March".
Regarding Alex Campbell one of the albums he recorded for Xtra was simply called "Alex Campbell" and contained 100% traditional songs (and very well done to boot). I loaned it to various friends and when he played our club, double booked with Finbar & Eddie Furey, the majority who had borrowed the LP were surprised that he performed mainly contemporary material.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 03:57 PM

Interesting, Dave, I wonder why they had different approaches to different clubs? I saw them five times in clubs in Sussex, twice at my own and each time it was a concert by the pair of them.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 04:07 PM

i think everybody who sings is always interested in talking about the practice. i love talking to people who sing and play in different styles. look at all these magazines for people who all sing and make music in diverse ways. its the best club in the world. with no fees!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:16 PM

DaveSutherland " I never said demanded" did anyone else use that term? . no. they asked, they politely made clear their preference, not the same thing at all, but it resulted in isolation.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 03:24 AM

Dave Sutherland's experience of seeing Ewan and Peggy as Guests is mine as well.
I must have seen teh at least a dozen times before I moved to London - I never once saw them insist on taking the entire evening without residents or floor singers - not once.
Not only did they perform with other singers but they insisted on sitting in as audience when others were performing and they requested of Group members that they did the same - we were quite busy as a group, especially during projects like the Festival of Fools and it was a way of getting feedback from what was happening, and finding new guests to book - many of our bookings came from recommendations of what was happening at other clubs.
At The Singers Club, they would mix their performances - some nights together, some nights with two other residents - very occasionally a 'Solo Flight' evening, where one of the more experienced residents with a large enough repertoire would take the bulk of the evening - at no time was the floor spot abandoned, though, due to the number of visiting singers we got, it was usually limited to on floor singer, one song.
At no time did I see our residents adopt the attitude I've seen many guests a clubs do - sit in the bar until they were called to do their spot.
As someone who did the door regularly, it really used to get up my nose when some visiting floor singer would ask for a spot, ask to be called "when it's my turn", then come down immediately, hand you his/her card and piss off into the night with no idea of what the club was about (occasionally complaining that they "only got one song".
Now that's what I call "isolation".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 03:57 AM

At no time did I see our residents adopt the attitude I've seen many guests a clubs do - sit in the bar until they were called to do their spot.
As someone who did the door regularly, it really used to get up my nose when some visiting floor singer would ask for a spot, ask to be called "when it's my turn", then come down immediately, hand you his/her card and piss off into the night with no idea of what the club was about (occasionally complaining that they "only got one song".
Now that's what I call "isolation"."
    I totally agree,
however on further reflection I realise that my memory is partly playing tricks, when they came to Bury St Edmunds folk club they did do the night along with the residents, but when they did concerts[ in art centres etc] they definitely had a different policy, one where they preferred not to have other performers., and one where they often made it clear to the organiser they did not want other performers, this partly explains their ignorance of other performers on the uk folk scene
on all occasions, that i saw them, they gave excellent perfomances































2


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 04:23 AM

"his partly explains their ignorance of other performers on the uk folk scene "
This presumes that they were ignorant of other performers on the scene - which they were not, or no more ignorant than any other professional performer on the scene.
You said you met him once (it made its way up to twice or three times on occasion) - you take a great deal on yourself, pontificating the way you do on what they knew and what they didn't.
You 'folk police' are all the same, telling us who we should know and like.
" I mentioned a few names such as Bill Caddick Jez Lowe PeterBond, they had not heard of them"
What a load of crap - Peggy ran a publication entitled 'New City Songster' in which she published new songs contributed by songwriters - several of them came from Bill Caddick
You are making this up - the source of many of the Chinese whispers still circulating.
Give it a rest Dick.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 05:08 AM

I was utterly bored by Ewan and Peggy when I saw them at the Yorkshire folk centre in '66 ish.
It was more academic and not to my then taste
The likes of Alex , kept my interest alive
I promoted two Jeremy Taylor concerts, one in Lewisham Town Hall , I was also used as insurance and as Jeremy was late arriving I had to go on .
For the 2nd concert at the Young Vic , Jeremy did a solo performance to a capacity house and recorded an album,
Move on some 40 years and I'm organising a club in Herts, I book Jeremy and Harvey Andrews 3 times each and they attract a full house on each occasion, as did Harvey Andrews.
Have either of them been recognised for their contribution to the folk world?
Would I have booked Ewan and Peggy ?
Ewan's song output is beyond question .
Both Jeremy and Harvey have made considerable contributions to the world of folk song plus being first rate entertainers.
Long live Jez Lowe.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gealt
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 05:56 AM

The first time I saw AlexCampbell was in the Troubadour in 1963. In late '63 he was part of a concert in Dublin's famous Gate Theatre. also taking part were The (original 4)Dubliners, Deirdre O'Connell (later married to Luke Kelly)& Dominic Behan. It's a long time ago but I remember that Alex Campbell upstaged everybody else. He was brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 07:48 AM

" I mentioned a few names such as Bill Caddick Jez Lowe PeterBond, they had not heard of them"
What a load of crap - Peggy ran a publication entitled 'New City Songster' in which she published new songs contributed by songwriters - several of them came from Bill Caddick"
Jim are you calling me a liar
This was 1986, she certainly said that there were not people writing good songs in England, she certainly appeared to have not heard of jez lowe or peter bond and at that time in the conversation she did not acknowledge anything about bill caddick, which would be surprising if she had seen his songs in new city songster. when were his songs published in NCS?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 07:57 AM

I have been thinking over what Dave and Jim have said about booking Ewan & Peggy and the time of performances. I can't swear that they asked to perform for the full evening; but it seems likely to me that the contract probably called for the same 30 + 90 minutes which Dave mentions in his post.
Now I saw the pair three times in two Sussex clubs - both Sunday night clubs in pubs with a strict 10.30 pm, no drinking up time finish.. Both these clubs started at 8.15 and would have had a 15 minute interval leaving 120 minutes - the time the the guests were asking to perform!

We moved to Brighton in 1968 and started a Wednesday club straight away in a central Brighton pub. Looking back the situation seems unbelievable, but I can assure you that it is true. The Brighton licensing laws called for a 10.30pm closure on Suns and an 11pm closure on Fris and Sats. On Mon - Thurs pubs closed at 10.30 apart from a 13-week "holiday season" - effectively June to August - when they closed at 11pm. This meant that for 9 months of the year the club also had a 2 hour session. Actually, we started at 8pm but as in all the clubs that I have run the first 1/4 hour was of residents playing tunes.

What made the situation even more ridiculous was the fact that Hove was a separate local authority in those days and their non-Sunday closure was 11pm all the year round. Our first flat in Brighton was only one block away from the sea front, but also very close to the border with Hove. We had 3 pubs in our street, two in Brighton and one in Hove. We would often be having a drink in our local and if you were in a good conversation, around 10.25 someone would say, "Does anyone fancy a 'Hove pint'?" and then we would toddle 50 yards along the road for half hour's more drinking.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 09:25 AM

I know they tried to specify how long they performed - they usually worked out a programme in advance to give a balance of their repertoire, but the times I saw them perform, that specification was flexible ether way to fit in with what normally happened at the club.
They liked to hear the residents and made a point of going into the club room to listen to them beforehand - they seldom left the room till the end of the evening.
First time I saw them, at the Spinners Club in Liverpool, they ran over time by fifteen minutes doing encores of requests.
They also specified that, if there was a bar in the room that the noise was kept to a minimum, and if possible, drinks were only sold at the interval - wish all performers had done that.
They also requested that, where accommodation was provided, it was suitable to allow them to do voice and relaxation exercises - (lovely story on 'Freeborn Man' of Luke Kelly, who was a member of the Critics, terrifying his hosts in Grimsby into breaking down the bathroom door when they heard him doing the voice exercises.
"This was 1986, she certainly said that there were not people writing good songs in England,"
Extremely difficult to believe
Peggy ran New City Songster for twenty+ issues (got them all); it was made up of songs that were sent in from all over the English-speaking world.
They always made a point of commenting on the quality of the songs.
Between them, they probably did more than any other performers to encourage the making of new songs and getting them into circulation.
"I was utterly bored by Ewan and Peggy when I saw them at the Yorkshire folk centre in '66 ish"
The problem with these discussions is that all too often it gets bogged down in personal taste.
I was knocked out by Ewan and Peggy the first time I heard them sing ballads - it made me a lifelong devotee to that form of song.
So what - it doesn't matter how I or any individual feels about their singing - they are acknowledged as artists by enough people to have had the following and the respect that they gained, even though they may not be to everybody's taste.
The produced 'The Long Harvest' and 'Blood and roses, and between them, they introduced me to around half of the Child Ballads - that'll do for me, thank you very much.
I do know some people who don't actually like ballads - I can only say, "I'm sorry for their loss" (as they say around here whan somebody dies!!
"Jim are you calling me a liar"
I've no idea whether you are telling the truth or not - sometimes I have difficulty in working out what planet you occupy.
I've told you what E and P did to encourage song-making - easily verifiable
If I did call you a liar on this matter, it would be fairly small potatoes compared with the abusive and ill-mannered way you address innocent enquiries sometime (just had a good example of it on another thread).
"she did not acknowledge anything about bill caddick", which would be surprising if she had seen his songs in new city songster.
Are you calling me a liar?
She not only "saw" his songs - she selected them for publication - she was the editor.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 10:16 AM

I am somewhat loth to throw my hat in the ring, but here goes.

In my time as one of the MC brigade at MSG I hosted Ewan and Peggy at least twice, and Alex Campbell several times.

Let me say that I enjoyed all of these 'concerts'. I do not remember E & P laying down the law as to how the evening should be conducted,

Let me also say that I remember Alex as reasonably sober - it was only later I saw him "off his box" at what I think was a "Golden Lion" concert.

I was also a proud member of the Manchester Critics under Jim Carroll's excellent and learned stewardship.

It seems to me that this is a pointless argument. There are Ewan-philes, of which I am one, and Ewan-phobes.

It seems to me also that the poor bastard ought to be left in peace-

DE MORTUIS NISI BONUM and that means Ewan, Alex, and all who have gone before - we owe them much.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 10:28 AM

Bryn??
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Don Day
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 11:02 AM

"Regarding Alex Campbell one of the albums he recorded for Xtra was simply called "Alex Campbell" and contained 100% traditional songs (and very well done to boot). I loaned it to various friends and when he played our club, double booked with Finbar & Eddie Furey, the majority who had borrowed the LP were surprised that he performed mainly contemporary material."

I would remind Dave that on that night Alex Campbell was the main guest and therefore had to follow the Fureys in the first half. During the interval he pulled me and Bob Gilroy backstage and insisted that he should play first in the second half. In tears he admitted that the Fureys were better performers than himself and that this was what the audience would prefer to see. Although well oiled in Alex's usual style he represented himself well and he certainly raised himself in our estimation.

I would add that he was the main guest as he was booked first and the Fureys were, at that time, unknown.

Don Day


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gealt
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 11:09 AM

DE MORTUIS NIL NISI BONUM. But before we do that may I just say that EMcC threw me out of his club in Gray's Inn Road for laughing, maybe he forgot that we were in a public house & yes I was rather squiffy.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 12:51 PM

jim carroll, whether you like it or not they isolated themselves
peggy seeger said what i am quoting.
furthermore she had never heard of jez lowe or peter bond. this is all borne out by the fact that many years later, 2006 when jez contributed a later song to the radio ballads, she did not recognise the singer, and wanted to know who the singer was and who wrote the song.
JEZlOWE started writing and performing songs in the late 19 seventies, he was fully professional from the 1980s[ he played guitar on my first album] IN 1981, Peggy had not heard of him in 1986 and still in 2006 was not apparantly aware of him, until she listened to the 2006 radio ballds. whether you like it or not Mr Carroll, these are facts, ALL THIS BEARS OUT THEIR SELF IMPOSED ISOLATION.
It also bears out that I am not a liar, AS YOU ARE SUGGESTING.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 01:19 PM

well Ewan as getting on. Do we know all the latest people on the folkscene, bow that we're as old as Ewan was. don't we all have to explain popular culture to our parents.

try to understand - he was a person, fallible, human.

Jim - Dick is not by nature a liar. they published a song by me. but they couldn't comprehend the space i occupied, i have the letter from her asking if i was black or brown - because i had sent them a song in Jamaican patois. at the time i worked as a teacher on soho rpad , newtown , birmingham - just opposite the black wax record shop.

wasn't i interested in the songs ofmy own country, peggy asked. this is my country , I explained. this is how people speak every day where i live and work.

The Caddick mustake is entirely understandable. forgiveable.
don't change Mudcat into the Jeremy Kyle show


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 02:24 PM

"whether you like it or not they isolated themselves"
So not recognising an individual singer songwriter is "isolating themselves?"
Bit crass, doncha think?
MacColl and Seeger devoted a large part of their lives to working with other singers - that is not isolating themselves,
They threw their home, their library and their collection open to singers and researchers on a weekly basis - that is not isolating themselves.
With New City Songster, they provided an outlet and encouragement to songwriters, that is not isolating themselves.
Of all people, MacColl, when asked his advice and opinion on a visiting singer's performance, he ave it, along with advice on how he believed it could be improved - that, as much as anything, led to his unpopularity - hat is not isolating themselves.
Instead of going with the flow when the clubs started to slither downhill, they continued to run a policy club and say publicly what they believed was happening on the scene - that is not isolating themselves.
If they had to decided to do none of these things, say and do nothing and just get on with their careers - that would have been to isolate themselves from the people who mattered - the audiences and the younger, less experienced singers coming to terms with folk music.
That is what the rest of the professional singers on the scene did - got on with their careers and left the rest of us to plod on.
I confess, I confess - I don't recall ever hearing Jez Lowe, as long as he might have been around.
I was far to busy listening to Jeannie, Belle, Sheila and Alec, Walter, Harry, Sam, Robert Cinnamond, Tom Costello, Elizabeth Cronin, John Strachan.... and all the other old singers who caught my attention and gave me my songs.
Then we plunged into recording field singers and players; Travellers, West of Ireland singers, Irish musicians in London, Norfolk country singers and fishermen.... as well as trying to improve my own singers and help others through London Singers Workshop.
Just taken time out to listen to Jez Lowe singing something about a monkey- which of the above do you reckon I should have abandoned to listen to someone who sounds like a middle-of-the-road cabaret singer whose style is half musical and half recitative and whose approach is somewhat twee?
Not impressive enough to miss an episode of Holby City for as far as I'm concerned.
What are you people on, strutting around telling the rest of us how much we've missed if we haven't heard.... well.... whoever happens to turn you on?
You seem to equate knowledge and experience with how many superstars we are familiar with.
"don't change Mudcat into the Jeremy Kyle show"
Very tempted to say "who's Jeremy Kyle" but that wuld be naughty of me!
I really am not trying to turn this into a 'who can piss highest' match
I'll happily leave that to Dick.
I just want him to go and stalk somewhere else.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 02:27 PM

Vote for Jez Lowe at the awards

I remember him in the early 70s with his hairy hurdy gurdy geezer friend Jake Walton down in North Cornwall.

Black diamond days

His latest album 'The Ballad Beyond' is very good, possibly better than average

I'm on the wrong thread . Get it ?

his tribute to Judy Dinning is very touching

His pose on the inside of the lyric booklet is very pro, a sex symbol from the 70s,

long live Jez L


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 03:25 PM

I quoted Jim on Ewan:-
I honestly never heard him take a pop at any other performer - not publicly anyway, and certainly not in the period I knew him.

and I responded:-
Utterly admirable! A policy that many would be advised to adopt, because in the end it is only personal likes and dislikes that we are talking about. It would be good advice to someone who has in recent times 'taken a pop' at artists as diverse as Jeremy Taylor and Norma Waterson on the very public forum of Mudcat.

Now we can add Jez Lowe to that growing list.
Any more for any more?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 03:28 PM

jim, at some point you stated that they made a mistake in being isolationist, now you are saying they did not isolate themselves, for god sake stop wasting everyones time.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 04:12 PM

jez lowe...a middle of the road cabaret singer!

this conversation has just got silly. very silly.

from now on.....its a thread about Alex. all this other stuff is crap. if its shit i'm after, theres a farm down the road with horse manure.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 05:40 PM

Exactly.
The original post refers to Alex Campbell.

My introduction to Alex Campbell was when he came back from busking in the streets and in the cafes in Paris with New Yorker and whizz kid banjo player Joe Locker.They were a popular act at the Ballads & Blues and various other clubs. Joe went back to New York for a while and Alex appeared regularly as a solo act at the Ballads and Blues and other clubs around the country . I can verify that whenever he played the Ballads and Blues Club it was full. One evening he recited a very short poem the Glasgow kids used to recite which involved farting the audience thought it amusing and a couple of other singers told their farting jokes. The only guy that didn't find it amusing was seated in the Christine Keeler style. Rightly so I guess after all kid's street poems aren't folk are they.
OK so Alex had a fault or two like all of us human beings but he was an entertainer who made the music enjoyable and I am sure was responsible for bringing many people into the field of music that we call "folk". I would guess that even some people that are now primarily into the Child Ballads may have gotten there via Alex.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 07:26 PM

I couldn't say a bad word against Alex . He was larger than life , a massive ego and would knock out a song a the drop of a hat - no matter what you requested. The 60's folk scene in the UK ( to a certain extent) demanded personalities and Alex crtainly fitted THAT bill.
Breezy 's comments on 09 Mar 15 - 08:12 AM , were warming, and we shouldn't judge by todays values. Everyone then was trying to master "Angie" (slight exaggeration)apart from Carthy. These were nice days when Alex performed but the upcoming Mike Harding , Barbara Dickson , Tim Hart and Maddy Prior , Tony Capstick , Vin Garbutt, Derek an Dorothy Elliott etc etc were about to change the Folk Scene - for reasons best known to ourselves.
I last saw Alex when we stayed at Mike Billington's in Wolverhampton who had arranged gigs for us both (different venues of course). Long long time ago !!!
Alex was wrestling with the old damnation - Whisky - and had himself temporarily convinced that he could exist on Schloer which he clearly couldn't.
Nevertheless a clourful, and kind showman, and no bad word from me.
As he used to sing " So long " Alex .

Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 08:07 PM

Jim Carroll, you describe Jez lowe, as a middle of the road cabaret singer..
I quote from set into song Peter Cox, page 276. jez lowe came up with a beautifully crafted song that used the trade list as a background chant, whose idea was that said, Peggy Seeger...Brilliant.
Alex Campbell was a great entertainer,and a decent guy.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 08:44 PM

fer chrissake Dick, drop it!

its not about Ewan or Peggy. interesting as those people were...

lets talk Alex. one thing i was wondering - does anyone remember a young protege of Alex's - a guy called Dan Fone. Isaw him a few times in the 1970's and quite enjoyed his work. it would be nice to know how that story played out. like alex - dan was advertised as one of mike and julia billington's artists. i seem to remember they were based at Astwood Bank, sort of Dudley way.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 03:02 AM

Actually Don you are telling me something new rather than reminding me of the Campbell – Fureys night as I always thought that they shared equal billing; however I was at that time very much a junior member of the committee having only been invited aboard a few months earlier after my club, The Royal Turf at Felling, had closed and I was still serving my apprenticeship. The Gilroy man has regaled me with that story many times since and it was my recollection that Alex, although I enjoyed most of his performance, divided the audience as some, as I stated earlier, had come expecting traditional song and many had come to see The Fureys. I will take issue regarding them being unknown for while it was some years prior to them hitting the dizzy heights that they were to achieve they were massive on the folk scene at that time, especially among the younger generation. We booked them twice in the previous two years at the aforementioned Royal Turf, to capacity crowds, and they were number one favourites at the other South Shields club, The Marsden Inn, at that time; so Alex was dead right about that!
Last time I saw Alex was at Barnsley Festival in 1979 when I caught the end of the Monday afternoon concert where he brought the house down and then set off back down to London where he was booked that night as part of a week's work around his usual haunts down there.
BTW Hootenanny have a look at MacColl's book "Journeyman" – he includes a farting poem in the section dealing with his early years.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 03:31 AM

"Now we can add Jez Lowe to that growing list."
No we haven't
As far as I can see, Jez Lowe does what he does well - he has chosen to perform certain songs in a certain manner, which, as far as I can see, has nothing to do with folk song as I understand it.
Back in th eighties the 'folk' scene proliferated with wannabe stand-up comedians, some good, some bad, but all strutting their stuff in folk clubs until they were taken up by the media and given their own shows - nothing to do with folk song as I understand it.
Dick has been castigating MacColl for "isolating himself - if he did, it was by sticking with folk song and writing songs that were using recognisable styles and forms to produce new songs.
He never in his life stopped advocating the importance of folk songs and art created by working people, that was what 'The Song Carriers' was about, thet was what 'The Radio Ballads' were about, that was what everything we did in the Critics Group was about.
The forays I have taken into the English club scene over the last decade or so have indicated that it has become extremely difficult to find the music I believe to be 'folk' in the clubs.
The music that drew me into the revival fifty odd years ago seems only to survive in a small handful of clubs, it's not a factor any more, it certainly#y is no longer the driving force that it was.
This argument, and all the others that have become no-go areas, are seldom about folk music any more - you can't even raise the music and its importance any more without being howled down (try starting a "what constitutes folk song" thread and see what happens).
Talking about folk song is a no go area, talking about standards is the same
Talking about somebody who devoted hi life to understanding folk song and went to great lengths to develop a greater understand of folk song and a technique that might be used to improve their performance has proved virtually impossible - thirty years after his death, you'd rather talk about his trousers or how tall he was.
To accuse me of taking a pop at Jez Lowe, yet you appear to have made yourself a part of blocking any serious discussion on MacColl and his work and ideas - not even to consider and reject them - now that's what I call insulting someone.         
The folk scene (in England at least - can't talk about Scotland, seems to have pulled itself up from its roots and gone somewhere else and it is considered "isolationist" not to have gone with it.
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 03:59 AM

I have not castigated anyone, I have told the truth, you also said he isolated himself.I am agreeing with you
I have pointed out lots of times what a fine songwriter MacColl was, Peggy Seeger praised one of Jez Lowes songs, calling it brilliant, but had not been acquainted with his work up until that point, that reinforces my statement that she had never heard of Jez Lowe in 1986 and was not familiar with one of the most talented and popular songwriters on the uk folk scene, and had not heard of him until 2006. you have called me a talentless moron and accused me of making it up insinuating that i am a liar.
there are laws of libel, jim, you have overstepped the mark.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 04:16 AM

no Jim.
you have decided quite arbitrarily that you are going to decide what folk music is and what standards are to be applied.
furthermore you are regularly bloody rude to anyone who disagrees with you. Your description of Jez Lowe as a cabaret singer was insulting beyond measure. Derek Brimstone 's folk guitar and banjo style would stand alongside and bear comparison with any of the Seegers, not just Peggy. That measure of accomplishment in an age when tuition was not readily available required dedication beyond belief. facile...lets see you attempt that sort of facility!

serious discussion of Ewan MacColl....the only person blocking it is you. anything less than reverential awe, trying to understand him as a human, who achieved much - but had feet of clay like the rest of us and you flare up.

now this thread happens to be about a guy who inspired many other people and much creative endeavour on the folk scene - Alex Campbell.

you want to talk on your favourite subject - very simple. start a thread entitled Ewan Macoll- no criticism allowed!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 04:17 AM

"you also said he isolated himself.I am agreeing with you"
In context, I said that after attempting to draw together those who he believed shared his concerns for what was happening in the revival, he went off and worked with people who did.
I also said I criticised him when I was asked to speak at his symposium, I now understand why he did so and agree with his reasons - you missed that bit out.
"you have called me a talentless moron and accused me of making it up insinuating that i am a liar."
You have threatened me with violence - now that's what I call "overstepping the mark"
We all say things we regret in anger - you have a habit, with your tendency to stalk, to get up my nose far too often.
Leave it Dick - I have
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 05:59 AM

Big Al Whittle -
"no Jim.
you have decided quite arbitrarily that you are going to decide what folk music is and what standards are to be applied.
furthermore you are regularly bloody rude to anyone who disagrees with you. Your description of Jez Lowe as a cabaret singer was insulting beyond measure. Derek Brimstone 's folk guitar and banjo style would stand alongside and bear comparison with any of the Seegers, not just Peggy. That measure of accomplishment in an age when tuition was not readily available required dedication beyond belief. facile...lets see you attempt that sort of facility!

serious discussion of Ewan MacColl....the only person blocking it is you. anything less than reverential awe, trying to understand him as a human, who achieved much - but had feet of clay like the rest of us and you flare up."


Spot on!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gust, Brian
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 06:23 AM

I thought this started out as a discussion about Alex Campbell's fame or otherwise outside the inner sanctum, and the availability of recorded matter.

Didn't take long for the custodians of opinion to start to preach about St Ewan of Salford. I simply cannot believe that he can still be upsetting/affecting what we are supposed to think (now via his acolytes, obviously). He was hardly casting a long shadow.

I was at a concert last night and the performer mentioned that he had read "Singing From The Floor" and was surprised to find that Mr MacColl "wasn't well liked". When you read his views re-iterated ad nauseum on here it's hardly surprising. Papa Doc would've been as far left as he could go were he not a rampant Communist.

Lights blue touch paper and retires. Mr Campbell must be laughing his head off, wherever he is.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 06:37 AM

Back on thread, even referring to the OP after all this time: need to correct my post of 14 years ago! That first LP I bought was "Alex Campbell Sings Folk" , not Alex Campbell Live, which is the title of another album - although at least some tracks were obviously recorded at live gigs; yellow cover. I have more recently seen the same album as a CD, tho' can't now find an online source of it: but you can buy the tracks as downloads on iTunes (some customers have said they get 2 "Gresford Disaster" tracks and no "Bonnie Ship the Diamond".
Looked on YouTube but no actual video footage: numerous audio tracks however.
As for the "never heard of Alex Campbell" - the OP doesn't say what age the singer in Whistle binkies was: even in 2001, Alex had been gone for some years and none of us knows everything about everyone in folk! Incidentally, Whistlebinkies now tends to host rock and indie bands, singer-songwriters, reggae, "cover bands" and very few folk gigs!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 07:04 AM

".the only person blocking it is you. anything less than reverential awe"
To both of you not the case.
I knew MacColl and was able to view many of his failings first hand.
Personally, I don't give a toss how he is regarded by those who didn't know him - my memories are my memories.
I will intervene when I find things said about him that aren't true or fair, but only when they get in the way of discussing his work, which you, Vic, refuse to do, and appear to be happy to use the shit from prevent that happening.
Some of the flaws in Ewan's character were covered in the two radio programmes that went out last month (still no comment from the U.K. - a tsunami of positive response from people in Ireland)
It's not my admiration for MacColl that is blocking any discussion on his work - it's the mean-minded begrudgery of people who would rather talk about his trousers - sartorial elegance, stature and name-change seems to take precedence to the furthering the fortunes of folk song in some quarters
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 07:07 AM

yes i had that album. what i really loved was Dave Laibman's accompaniment to Railroad Bill. Most of were playing it in C like Baez which was very nice in a Carter family sort of way.

Dave played it in A. which means that you move to C sharp7 chord. when you play that with the two open E strings - it is SO beautiful - so simple. my room mate at college pointed it out to me, he had a much better ear than me.
we were at teacher training college in Grantham and fri nights we would hitch down the A1 to London to go to Cousins. go round on the circle line all night when they chucked us out. sleep in the national portrait gallery till they chucked us out and it was time for the cousins all nighter.

i played at Eric's funeral last year. Talk about a life in folk music. Nah of course - not REAL folk music , is it?

I wondered at the time about the Laibman connection with Alex. does anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 07:55 AM

Jim Carroll -

"I will intervene when I find things said about him that aren't true or fair, but only when they get in the way of discussing his work, which you, Vic, refuse to do, and appear to be happy to use the shit from prevent that happening.
Some of the flaws in Ewan's character were covered in the two radio programmes that went out last month (still no comment from the U.K. - a tsunami of positive response from people in Ireland)"


I would be be perfectly will to discuss Ewan's work at any time, Jim. Perhaps to you could provide a link to the programmes as they have not been broadcast in the UK as a starting point.

Before we can get that far, however, I think you have not explained yourself well in the section that I quote above when you say ...and appear to be happy to use the shit from prevent that happening.

Perhaps, we can deal with the shit by reference to Ewan's composition, The Toilet Paper Song which is included in one of the programmes.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 08:12 AM

Jim,This thread is about Alex Campbell, it is not about Ewan or you


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 08:15 AM

"I would be be perfectly willing....."

"Perhaps to you could....."

Right, Jim, that's my mistakes corrected. Could you correct yours and then we can get on with the important off-topic matter of discussing Ewan's work?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 08:17 AM

"I would be be perfectly will to discuss Ewan's work at any time, Jim."
You haven't so far Vic, in fact, just the opposite - I have found your attitude to date rather obstructive ("having a joke", I think was the way you put it)
As far as the programmes are concerned, they were on Lyric F.Ms website, which I'm told is available in the U.K., but now may have been moved.
Got an e-mail from Peggy this morning; she's delighted with them and asks if they can be made available in the U.K. - is it worth it, I ask myself?
Both of them deal mainly with Ewan's work as an artist rather than a personality - may not be to everybody's taste, I'm afraid.
The second one centres on the work of The Critics Group, an antidote to the somewhat mean-mindedly entitled, 'How Folk Songs Should Be Sung"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 08:28 AM

"Jim,This thread is about Alex Campbell, it is not about Ewan or you"
Dick - it was you who introduced MacColl to this thread - it was never about me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 08:39 AM

More contradictions I'm afraid-
* You would like to us to discuss Ewan's work.
* You correctly suggest that the Lyric FM programmes would make a good starting point.
* Peggy Seeger enjoys the programmes and asks if they can be made available in the U.K.
* You write "is it worth it, I ask myself?" Why, Jim? If you think that the programmes are insightful and important, why not just jump at the chance and try to get them embedded on - let's say - the new MacColl website where they can be made freely available to British listeners?
* You write "Both of them deal mainly with Ewan's work as an artist rather than a personality - may not be to everybody's taste, I'm afraid." You are trying to move discussion on from aspects of his personality to discussions of his work with the Critics Group. You are the one with the tapes of their meetings. What are you afraid of?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gust, Brian
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 09:06 AM

JMoe, Can't you do anything about these two? They're like dogs with a bone, and won't shove off and have their spat in private.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 11:16 AM

I did listen on line to the programmes referred which was streamed. I did not post any opinion on Mudcat as I was certain that there would be the regularly repeated sulk from Jim Carroll yelling the same old, same old.

Getting back to the OP. The BBC did a tribute programme to Alex Campbell
by one of his old mates Wally Whyton. If someone could persuade the BBC to repeat that or make it available on line then those who had never heard of Alex Campbell could be enlightened. I think I might still have it on tape.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 02:32 PM

Big Al Whittle asked:

"I wondered at the time about the Laibman connection with Alex. does anyone know?"

And the answer is 'Yes'. So here's what I can remember about it - though as the events in question happened more than half a century ago, I can't swear to the accuracy of every detail.

Sometime in Nov-Dec of 1962 Alex came to sing at the Oxford University Heritage Society (the student folk club), of which he was an honorary member).   The booked artist for that evening was Jim Bassett, whose club in Harlow Alex was due to play the following night. As Alex was not working, he came along with Jim, sang a few songs, and brought the house down as usual.

Among the floor-singers that night was Dave Laibman, a very talented young American over here for just one year on some sort of student exchange. At the after-hours session, Dave and Alex astonished the rest of us with some improvised duets. Later, Alex invited Dave to guest on his forthcoming record ('Way out West'.)

Dave delivered a beautiful guitar accompaniment for Alex's recording of 'Railroad Bill', and played a storming solo on 'Orange Blossom Special'. Several other guests also appeared on 'Way out West', including Gerry Loockran (at the time he still spelt his surname 'Loughran') who contributed some excellent blues guitar.

Alex was a great performer, who deserves to be better remembered. Not least among his many contributions to the folk scene was the advice, encouragement and (free) publicity which he gave so many younger performers.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gust, Brian
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 02:33 PM

OK
LOne last go.

Carroll, Smith - Shut the @++! up! This thread was never about either of you, nor your opinionsn and especially now Ewan Mac bloody Coll. Start a new thread about St Ewan OR SHUT THE ??** UP. We do not need to be told what to think, not by you, Vic, not by you, Jim. What you think is your business, not ours. Go away and sort it out, but not here. Don't even try to ignore me again - I'm not going away. Stay on thread. Joe has yet to respond.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: oggie
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 05:23 PM

Dick Gaughan's take on Alex -
http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/chain/alex-campbell.html


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gueat Betsy
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 06:24 PM

I would just like to say in addition to my piece earlier about Alex that I'm horrified about the way Jez Lowe has been villified in this thread. Some of us had hoped that we were dealing with a Living Tradition and songs would emerge andevolve as indeed McColl was song cWRITER .
Apologies for possible thread creep - but on this thread Jex Lowe has been castigated and unfairly labelled a Cabaret singer which is an absolute disgrace to say the least. Thanks to Dick for standing up for this very decent man, who not only performs briliantly whether solo, or with the Bad Pennies and has injected many wonderful songs into the British Folk scene - as have many others.
Mind you - If you're looking for a good Cabaret song - try "The very first time I saw your face " . It must be great money-earner for Jimmy - sorry - Ewan.

Let's talk about Alex here ...........Eh ?

Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 06:43 PM

Thanks for the link, Oggie, a great tribute to the man this thread is supposed to be about.

And to Betsy: thanks for the defence of Jez Lowe: entirely agree with you, There's more to the "monkey song" than meets the eye - local (and also Aberdeenshire) legend, which may not have been understood if you merely watched the video out of context: see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_hanger

So now I'm drifting off thread, but yes. let's talk about Alex!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Mar 15 - 07:46 PM

thanks very much MIke of Northumbria. that's something i've wondered about forever.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 04:10 AM

"Carroll, Smith - Shut the @++! up! "
First, for my prt in this, apologies.
It was never my intention to take part in this thread - I have said what I had to say about Alex elsewhere and had no intention repeating it here.
Dick Miles introduced MacColl to this thread, totally unnecessarily (08 Mar 15 - 05:38 AM), which I ignored
Al Whittle followed it up with a reference to my respect for MacColl shortly afterwards with a snideswipe both at MacColl and my respect for him " the ones Jim Carroll thinks were the bees knees singing real folk music and boring the arse of everyone"; also totally unnecessarily and rather unpleasantly, in my opinion, so I responded to that one.
Things went downhill from there.
I have become rather sickened by the constant targetting of an important artist, dead for a quarter of a century - it was unethical enough while he was alive, now it it simply morbid.
I'm also rather tired of the double standards of some contributors.
"I'm horrified about the way Jez Lowe has been villified in this thread"
I make no criticism of Jez Lowe, other than to comment on his style and say I believe it has little to do with folk style (I specified why) - as it happens, I'm quite fond of some cabaret singing - in it's place.
It seems that, to some people, it's quite acceptable to take a pop at some people, dead or alive (even to the extent of making their work undiscussable on this forum), and yet be "horrified" when comments on their particular flavour of the month are commented on.
So - apologies for my part in this - I trust they are forthcoming from the other culprits - of course it should not have happened.
My up is well and truely shut!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gust, Brian
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 04:21 AM

Thank you, Jim. Apology accepted, several still owed.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 05:32 AM

he is not constantly targetted. without your constant moaning, i doubt he would pop into heads quite so often. he is discussed, and as someone who took loads of people to Ewan's concerts - i can tell you they nearly all found him boring and refused a chance to see him again.

he was a presence, and a huge influence. we are not as sold on his influence as you are. a lot of us don't agree that folk song belongs to gypsies and isolated communities. we believe that English folksong belongs to all English speaking people. we have played music that makes people dance and sing. we don't think it - we know it! more gigs for more people in more places than you can imagine.

you and MacColl stayed with the gypsies and the folk clubslike Winnie the Pooh stayed in 100 Acre Wood. some of us went out in the world, where the folks live.

and YOU are not the person to decide whether Derek Brimstone or Jez Lowe play folk music. put simply - your knowledge is too resticted. you don't know enuff!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 06:03 AM

a story that i heard alex tell bemused me.

he said, when he was a young guy he went with his friends to see Big Bill Broonzy. he and his friends were really impressed by Broonzy's ability to put away vast quantities of whisky, and they figured this is what you did if you were going to be a real folksinger.

it was only later, he realised that at the time, Big Bill was suffering and in pain with cancer. the whisky was a self medication. it dulled the pain, and also it was a way of getting some calories into his body - which could no longer take food, in effect fooling his body.

i wonder what other people make of that one. i suppose Ewan would know as apparently - Broonzy stopped with him.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 06:20 AM

Sorry you don't feel like apologising Al, and would rather continue our differences were we are not welcome
"Broonzy stopped with him."
At the risk of.... no he didn't - he came into a club where Ewan was singing in Brighton
Nuff sed, from me, at least!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 06:23 AM

Oggie, thanks for passing on the link to Dick Gaughan's excellent piece on Alex. I agree with it 100%, and would like to add a few more points.

On dealing with hecklers: for decades, Alex played most of his gigs in venues with no PA system, so he had to be able to read the audience and 'work the room'. Dealing with hecklers effectively was just one skill among many needed for this job, all of which he deployed in a masterly fashion.

On the drink question: yes, Alex sometimes appeared on stage the worse for drink - but there is a context to the story. So many people loved him, and so many of them wanted to show their affection by buying him a drink that it was quite difficult for him to stay sober even when he wanted to. Many other artists have fallen into this trap and been lost for ever. Alex did eventually fight his way out of it, though not before seriously damaging his health, and his reputation.

On encouraging and advising younger performers: Dick Gaughan is only one among many who can testify to Alex's generosity in this regard - the full list would include not only quality performers of Dick's stature, but also a large number of hopefuls with far more limited talents (myself among them) who benefited from his counselling.

As the Bard wrote "He was a man, take him for all in all: we shall not look upon his like again."

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 07:19 AM

"Broonzy stopped with him."
Not wishing to take sides here but I'm sure that there is a passage in "Journeyman" which relates to Broonzy staying with him, presumably while he was married to Jean as he talks about Hamish setting up the recording equipment. Oh and the drink referred to in this instance is brandy...........can't check as I'm at work now but I will later.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 07:42 AM

"I'm sure that there is a passage in "Journeyman"
There is and he did, apologies
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 09:31 AM

you still don't get it. the reason i took people to see him, that i was and still am in total awe of him. he never bored me, i knew enough to get where he was coming from. we have no differences on that score
i can remember saying to Paul Downes - the thing about Ewan - he will talk to you
and Paul said, i don't get it - why wouldn't he talk to you.
but the people who came with me - they never came again to see him. they all told me he'd bored them


Wizz Jones (another cabaret singer no doubt|) told me about Broonzy stopping with Ewan. he met Ewan on a train, and Ewan recognised him - andn said, you ought to come round and see this bloke stopping at my place. he plays a lot like you...
they must have all been looking down the same spyglass at some point. Alex, Wizz, Ewan, Big Bill......
where did it all go wrong?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 11:02 AM

That quote seems a bit "iffy" to me.
Bill Broonzy died in August 1958. I believe he last played England in 1957.
I was taking guitar lessons from Peggy Seeger in 1959 at the premises of the WFDY in Islngton. A fellow pupil was Wizz Jones. If Broonzy was playing a lot like Wizz when he was here I doubt whether Wizz would need to go to Peggy for lessons two years after Bill's last visit.

I'm not knocking Wizz but I don't remember him being that accomplished at the time. If he was I might have gone to him for lessons instead.

I don't think anything went wrong it's just like the song says "Time Changes Everything".


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 12:16 PM

bugger me! Wizz learned from Peggy - never knew that. i suppose that's why does he's so au fait with Ewan's songs.
there must have been more unity and friendship in those days.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 06:49 PM

So pleased that Jim C has left the building and as a journeyman hath disappeared up his own passage. Or was it the pit he was digging himself into ?

I can hugely recommend Jez Lowe's latest album entitled 'The Ballad Beyond'

Quality songs based on true events which to my mind is the idea of 'folk songs'

Educational and enlightening.Entertaining too.

Facilitated for me by the performances of Alex Campbell who in his entertaining manner drove me further along the musical branch road that Peter Paul and Mary and Pete Seeger had directed me earlier.

And Jez Lowe continues to act as guide.

and has followed in the footsteps of previous radio ballad writers.

Well played Vic'


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Gueat Betsy
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 07:01 PM

Nice one Breezy.........


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Mar 15 - 09:01 PM

Tony Savage who who ran the three barrels folk club at Ampersand used to tell this story about alex geeting pissed one night at the Paris Opera House where Tony was singing.

Apparently Alex and another party, also wearing cowboy boots had booked a box and were singing drunkenly along to the opera. Tony told me the other party was Woody Guthrie, American mudcatters assure me this was impossible and the other guy was probably Rambling Jack Elliot.

i wonder if any other people knew about this. i seem to remember Alex was quite poor. i wonder how he got round to booking a box. most people i know can't afford a seat at the opera. perhaps Paris is cheaper than Covent Garden.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 12:30 AM

Drift: But thanks, Al. I have been going crazy trying to remember Tony Savage's name, & it wouldn't come, & lo & behold up you come with it. That's the serendipitous way things happen! I only actually met him once, but one time in about the 1970s he read something I had written in Folk Review & wrote to me to know if I would like some gigs round the Midlands; then without even waiting for an answer, appointed himself my sort of unpaid agent and arranged me 8 or 10 gigs -- Warwick Univ, Lutterworth FC, &c -- for a few months. Then they dried up & I never heard from him again. I had never even realised till now he was a singer himself; thought he was just a sort of self-appointed organiser & factotum. Hmm -- obviously something of a card.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 02:32 AM

yeh he was the lead tenor at La Scala in Milan for many years. but he contracted TB. and he had to retire.

I remember some singer was going on to him about struggling with his voice and he said, call this a gig! try two and a half hours onstage at La Scala!

nice man!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 02:48 AM

" can hugely recommend Jez Lowe's latest album entitled 'The Ballad Beyond'"
Is this about Jez Low - I thought it was about Ian Campbell?
Another case of double standards, I think!
Your fanzine is something else
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 04:08 AM

I have made it clear that i have no intention of being violent towards Jim Carroll, yet he persists with this codswallop.
this thread is about Alex Campbell, not Ian Campbell or Bonnie George Campbell or about the man that started Campbell soup factory.
Jim, a number of people are trying to tell you something politely.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 05:30 AM

The guy in the box with Alex at the opera could have been Jack Elliot, it was definitely not Woody. It could have been Derroll Adams who had taken up residence in Europe. It is even possible that it was Jack's brother Dave. He lived in Paris and was in the film industry. Dave Elliott showed up at the Ballads and Blues one night when we were in Carlisle Street and Alex was booked. Someone placed a stetson on Dave's head and he looked like Jack's twin.

Al, You are right Alex wasn't a wealthy man but he used to do very well from busking in Paris according to one banjo picker that worked with him there and it is very likely that he was there as a guest of someone involved with the theatre.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 06:05 AM

"his thread is about Alex Campbell, "
Then you shouldn't have brought MacColl into it in the first place - about as politely as I can manage with you Dick
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 06:19 AM

A polite reminder to whoever it may concern
I have apologised for my part in blowing this thread off course - others involved have yet to do so, in fact, the individual who is responsible for starting the drift is now trying to give the impresion that it's "nuffin' to do wiv me guv"
How about it lads - it really isn't difficult if you grit your teeth and think of England!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 07:08 AM

allright. everybody's f...ing sorry. particularly me. i'm sorrier than everyone else combined.
my tears would fill a river.
i am moved to poetry

it's all right for some
they don't give a shite
but poor old me
i'm really contrite!

now then, back to Maverick!

I seem to remember Alex played something like a Gibson j2oo. can anyone confirm? know any of the paticulars of his axe.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 07:10 AM

if that apology does not suffice, i will bite my leg off and post it to you!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 01:29 PM

quote
Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Good Soldier Schweik - PM
Date: 08 Mar 15 - 05:38 AM

Alex Campbell was funnier than Ewan MacColl, but not such a good songwriter."
That hardly qualifies as starting a discussion on MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 02:55 PM

you are sorry though? obviously not as sorry as i am, but you are i hope gnashing your teeth and wailing with regrets at your sins, your most grievous sins.....


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 03:01 PM

Al,

One of the photographs I have of him shows a Gibson sunburst finish which I think is a J45. Another shows him with a Gibson plain top taken probably a year or so earlier. Also have one of him playing a mandolin and one of him busking in Paris with a banjo.

Are there no shots on his web site which would give you a clue?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 03:21 PM

just going off my memories...


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 03:44 PM

Al,

I googled Alex and got his son's web-site. There are photographs of Alex there where he is playing what appears to be a J200.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 04:13 PM

has Alex got a website


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 04:36 PM

Hers a picture taken by my wife, Alison Chapman McLean, in 1962/3 in the Troubadour and it may help identify his guitar. I can check on her other pictures if there is any interes.t.
http://www.richardandmimi.com/troubadour2.html


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 04:40 PM

Alex Troubadour


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 04:49 PM

amazing photos - they all look so young!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 04:56 PM

Hello Betsy, see it hasn't taken the hint.

Must have the hide of a rhino.

Alex was the first I heard sing Tom Paxton's 'Last thing on my mind' and it was in the upstairs folk club of the Star and Garter , Bromley.

Kent

Which brings me back to where I came in.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 05:55 PM

i seem to remember Alex was on english tv in the sixties. a folksong programme on around teatime. is that right, or is my memory playing tricks on me.

its really strange. the more you you think - the nore you perceive Alex's importance.

somehow he made folksong attractive and entertaining and possible. its so easy to say - this is something not in the province of ordinary people who have lost their roots.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 06:19 PM

I saw Alex quite a few times in the mid and late 1960s and he always played his beloved Gibson J200. I was a big fan of his - so much so that I was inspired to scrape the money together to buy a rather old J200 myself in 1969!   
Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Guest Betsy
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 07:25 PM

Thanks Jim for those photos - nice to see one of Bob Davenport .
Also, I can almost hear myself singing (to Redd and Martin ) "I live in Trafagar Square with 4 Lions to guard me .........
Continue to keep a cool head Breezy - cheers mate.

Betsy


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Mar 15 - 08:08 PM

i have a modern epiphone j200. very cheap - not my best guitar. but its a lovely guitar all the same.   £230 with electrics and inbuilt tuner. i love it and the headstock has the same design Alex's gibson had.

from the photos - theres only really Martin Carthy who still looks like a youngster.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Jim McLean
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 04:25 AM

There are two pages of photos but sometimes only one comes up from that link. If that is the case, go to the bottom the page where there is a link back to Dick Farino's home page and under "Further Viewing" go to Troubadour where the first page can be viewed and from there, the second.
I first met Alex in 1960, in London, when he asked me if I was Josh MacRae.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 05:24 AM

Great photos of the Troubadour. It was all a long time ago but, yes, I can still hear Redd singing 'I live In Trafalgar Square' and Martin singing his quite magnificent version of Merle Travis' 'Loading Coal'..... and you never knew who would turn up to do a floor spot. Amazing evenings!

On the subject of Alex Campbell's guitar, I've tried one of those Epiphone J200's and I think they are good. Although I've still got my old 1957 Gibson j200 (that still gets played most days) If I was buying one now I think I'd opt for the Epiphone. Why pay more....??
Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 02:02 PM

yes, i remember the Original folk club at the star and garter, never saw Alex there but did see him at Dartford 1974, He was really good that night.I believe Pete Twitchett did a floor spot and sang with her head tucked underneath her arm, can you confirm this twitch, old chap?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 04:49 PM

sell the gibson and get twenty of the epiphones - you cold have ones in different tunings and with different gauge strings!

either that or you could have a couple of cruises.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 05:07 PM

Yes, I think you've got a good point there Al. Forty or fifty years ago you usually had to pay a lot of money for a reasonable sounding, playable guitar but now a few hundred quid buys a Korean or Chinese built guitar that's both those things, has onboard electrics .....and looks good too!
Oh dear I think we've rather strayed from this thread. Back to Alex Campbell, the last time I saw him was in about 1972 at, I think, the Shakespeare's Head in Soho.   It seems he'd had his Gibson stolen or damaged and he was using another guitar. When he saw my guitar he just shook his head slowly saying 'It breaks my heart'. A very sad moment.

Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 15 Mar 15 - 04:22 PM

so did you give it back to him then ? I guess no.
I'll give it a nose test and if it has a faint whiskey odour .......


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 15 Mar 15 - 06:18 PM

No. To my shame I just kept it .......and poured myself a gigantic whiskey!!
Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Mar 15 - 06:34 PM

in Exeter in the 1960's there was a particularly fab groovy coffee bar called El Zamba.

Alex was on the juke box singing been on the road so long. i was familiar with song - cos Bert had sung it on the It Don't Bother Me.

somebody must have put it ut as a single.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 15 Mar 15 - 07:08 PM

I had quite a few LP's of Alex and I seem to remember an EP too but never came across that single of 'On The Road So Long'. I wonder if anyone's got a copy.
Was El Zamba at the far end of the Fore St Arcade? I think it finally became Harley's Cafe.
Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Mar 15 - 10:22 PM

i think so.   there was a great little music shop down the arcade. i got this lp for ten bob lightnin hopkins and sonny and brownie.

i am reading Alan Tunbridge's biography Noose of Light, Alan was a hippy in 1959 with Wizz in Newquay. he later went on to write many of Wizz's great songs like Teapot Blues and National 7.

i don't know if alex comes into the story yet - only just started it.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 05:14 AM

hi al, my cousin is a good friend of wizz jones an is one of the girls [sue], interviewed in the bbc clip where he sings the song about newquay, hard times in newquayhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDsQSOf6_ow


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 05:41 AM

Yes. Alan Tunbridge wrote some great songs but I only know them through the singing of Wizz Jones and Ralph McTell. Just about to order a copy of 'Noose of Light'.
I enjoyed the clip from 'Tonight' of Wizz surviving the welcome in Newquay in 1960....
Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: breezy
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 06:06 AM

Wizz will be appearing at the Cornwall F F in WAdebridge

So their was a Alan Tunbridge after all !

But not as well known as Alex Campbell


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 08:35 AM

is wadebridge a good one?

bit ofa schlep down there, but I love seeing Wizz.
I didn't know Ralph had done any of Alan's songs.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: tritoneman
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 12:28 PM

Ralph McTell sings 'National 7'. I think he's actually recorded it - am pretty sure it's on his 'National Treasure ' CD.
I saw Wizz last week. He did a gig at Topsham with John Renbourn. What a treat!
Going back to Alex Campbell, Paul Snow ( who knew Alex well and drove him around to gigs for a long time) would be worth contacting. He lives in Tiverton and I see him every now and then. I'll quizz him.
Graham


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 01:40 PM

i remember Paul Snow - he used to play an old Levin. He's a friend on Facebook


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,David E.
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 07:22 PM

I just finished Alan's book (Noose of Light) and no, no mention of Alex. Fortunately, no mention of Ewan MacColl either, so no fights break out in the book. That was a joke. (smile)

David E.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Mar 15 - 10:52 PM

you should know that no one is allowed to make jokes that remotely mention MacColl.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Mar 15 - 02:37 AM

Please Dick! don't go there.

you know theres a thing in Woody Guthrie's writing where he says the first time he came to New York - the sight of someone with a guitar case was as unusuak as seeing someone carrying a kayak.

i think that period - i suppose post war up the early sixties. there was atime when there were so few people trying to promote the interests of folk music - they must have had a sort of freemasonry - one that crossed continents.

i suppose as time goes on, people like Alex will become strange disembodied voices. the swathe he cut through the bohemian folk clubs, skiffle cellars will die with our memories of him.

the period is already being turned into legend - the inside lewin davis film, surely just the start.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 17 Apr 18 - 11:02 AM

Just been to see Jez in concert and in conversation with him I remarked that his delivery reminded me very much of Alex whom I knew quite well in my misspent youth :0).
Jez Lowe is a consummate entertainer, excellent musician and a songwriter of quality......unlike some of his modern folk contemporaries.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 03:59 AM

And who would those folk contemporaries of Jez Lowe (b. 1955) be?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Johnny J
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 06:18 AM

I'm not sure.
Ant and Dec are a lot younger..
;-))


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 11:44 AM

Martin Simpson?


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 11:50 AM

Steve Tilston, Bob Fox, with both of whom, on separate occasions, Jez has collaborated.
Don't see the resemblance between Alex's and Jez's "delivery" myself, however, much as I like both artists.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Apr 18 - 04:58 PM

I suppose Johnny Handle was the main geordie folksinger I knew in that time. He did solo gigs and played a fourstring guitar and accordion and he had a band called the high level ranters.
Bob Davernport. Louis Killen...


I hereby apologise publicly to Jim Carrol for any perceived nastiness, three years back in this thread. I suppose it was a sadness I have never really gotten over seeing the factionalism of the 1970's kill off the public's desire to engage in folk music.

I felt like a passenger in a train where the drivers were intent on derailment. I had places I wanted to go.

The music the period gave me will live with me as long as I've got any purchase on reality. I am doing three gigs this weekend. I never got where I wanted to go, but I got somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 09:37 AM

I've probably come a bit late to this thread but I remember (back in the 60's) people predicting a great night 'cos Alex Campbell was coming. Turning up in anticipation and having crossed paths with him several times in subsequent years, I must admit to always feeling underwhealmed. So, to those of you who admit to never having heard of him, I don't think you missed that much.

.... and whilst this thread is open, is anyone else sick of Jim Caroll banging on about Ewan McColl? I only met him once; not many years before his death. I spent some hours with him before and after the concert we played and found that he (and Peggy) was a pleasant and approachable person, not some god as some might have us believe.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 10:01 AM

I met Alex several times - mainly as a floor performer at clubs where he was the guest. He was always fairly affable, on the whole. One thing I noticed was that he liked to be the star of the show. If other performers on the bill competed with him in any way - and I remember him grumbling about the new wave of 1960s fingerstyle guitar players in the Davy Graham, Bert Jansch mould - he could get a bit huffy and dismissive. But he was a good entertainer in his heyday.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 11:47 AM

I think you must be quite a hard man to impress Ray.

I've got to admit both Ewan and Alex had me rather starstruck.

Mind you I also used to idolise Pete Quinn, Dan Fone , Ian Campell ( in fact all the Campbell group), Derek Brimstone, Gerry Lockran, Noel Murphy, Tommy Dempsey and many others.

I really enjoyed all those people and I would have loved to have been a tenth as good.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 01:52 PM

and Hamish Imlach!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 20 Apr 18 - 05:42 PM

"Singers' Afternoon", the last event at the Skagen Festival, is a valued and long-standing tradition. This years "theme" is "The Songs of Alex Campbell".


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 04:31 AM

Idolise is an interesting word, Al. Taking its true meaning, to adore, revere, worship, etc., I think there's only ever been one musical figure like that in my life - well over 50 years ago - and that was Davy Graham. "The Guitar Player", "Folk, Blues and Beyond" and "Folk Routes, New Routes" turned my thoughts about the guitar and musical styling on their heads. The idea of crossover and bringing diverse musical genres together was, for me, incredibly interesting and has stayed with me ever since. Sadly, as we all know, Davy flowered and withered in a comparatively space of time, but he was the major musical influence for me in those days.

And, returning to the thread topic, Alex - seasoned entertainer though he was - was, by comparison, old school. Just my personal opinion.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 09:49 AM

I saw Davy a few times. I've got to admit - I never wanted to do anything he did. I liked Rock Me Baby - I bought two albums of him posthumously - intrigued by what everyone said I missed.

I loved his image - he was always photographed playing a weird unidentifiable chord in Beat Instrumental and all those 1960's adverts. I remember he said his favourite singer was Mary Wells.

When I first got to see him - couldn't work him out at all. Weird time signatures. The choice of nylon strung guitar. the strange things he said in interviews.

I acknowledge the fault is with me. Carthy , Wizz Jones - people I revere talk reverentially of Davy Graham. Latterly I heard he lived in Hinkley for a while as a kid - just outside of Leicester. I thought maybe the privacy of his vision was something to do with being foreign looking in a very insular village.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Apr 18 - 04:27 PM

Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Will Fly - PM
Date: 18 Apr 18 - 03:59 AM

And who would those folk contemporaries of Jez Lowe (b. 1955) be? "
I am a contemporary, he played guitar on my first lp about 1980


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 06:47 AM

It has long been my opinion that "folk music" depends on participation and emotion to show its magical properties.
Alex Campbell and Jez Lowe both had/have the ability to connect instantaneously with their audience on an emotional level. They were first and foremost entertainers for whom the emotion packed genre of "folk" was perfect.
I have seen Alex bring a rowdy drunken crowd of hundreds to order by simply striking gently on the strings of his old Gibson.He had what used to be known as a "presence".....the black open necked shirt, the black denims, the cowboy boots, the thin figure with the timeworn pale face and a voice,which though flawed, had the mark of truth all over it.
Jez Lowe is one of the few performers I have seen lately with that great gift......


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 08:25 AM

What more is there to say on this thread that hasn't been said already? My own 2p worth went in ages ago, and I don't have much to add to it now. Except for this...

To anyone who wasn't around in Alex's best years - between the rise of British Skiffle and the acceptance of 'Folk' and 'Folk-Rock' as a niche product in the entertainment industry - to all of you youngsters, I warmly recommend Billy Bragg's new book 'Roots, Radicals and Rockers'.

The phrase 'you had to be there' is often used to explain why recordings of artists who were revered in their own day sound unimpressive to modern ears. Sometimes it's just a cop-out, but in this case, I believe it's true. To appreciate how much performers like Alex (and a few others) meant to their audiences back in the day, you need to understand the world we lived in then. Billy's book captures the grim, grey, gritty monotony of post-WW2 Britain, and contrasts it with the hopes for a brighter (and more just) future that seemed to be promised by the Skiffle craze of the 1950s, and then by the folk-club boom of the '60s.

All of that is history now. How much impact it had on the 'real world' is a matter for historians to argue over. But for better or worse, Alex was one of the key actors in that drama. Along the way, he gave a lot of pleasure to a great many people, while opening their ears and minds to songs and ideas they might never have encountered otherwise. For that he deserves a great deal of credit - more than enough, I believe, to outweigh the consequences of his all-too-human flaws and failings.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 09:37 AM

Alex had little in common with the "Right on PC" crowd personified by Mr Bragg and his ilk.
Alex was apolitical like most of the revival and post revival singers.
That is what disappointed Mr MacColl and his fellow travellers so much, "folk music" was to be a vehicle for the revolution which never came.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 10:56 AM

Dear Mr or Ms GUEST. You say that:

"Alex was apolitical like most of the revival and post revival singers."

Well, the Alex I knew was certainly not 'apolitical', except perhaps in the eyes of the far left.   But for them, of course, the only way of being 'political' was to be actively committed to the Marxist revolution.

The Stalinist of the 1950s (like Maoists in the '60s, and Trotskyites in the '70s) insisted that if you weren't part of the solution, you had to be part of the problem. And for them, there was only ONE solution. So, they dismissed those of us (Alex included) who campaigned for peace and social justice on different terms from theirs as mere dupes or stooges of the ruling class. (Naturally, we disagreed.)

Both camps - the hard-nosed Marxist revolutionaries and the wishy-washy liberal humanists - did a lot of valuable work in promoting greater knowledge and understanding of the folk tradition. If the historians choose to argue about who made the greater contribution, let them get on with it. The important thing is that people continue getting together to sing the old songs - and new songs in the spirit of the best of the old ones.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 11:46 AM

Sorry Mike the last guest post was from me.
The Alex that I remember was neither a revolutionary Marxist nor a wishy washy "liberal"....far from it! ;0)


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 05:54 PM

I seem to remember Alex doing gigs for UCS...or is that my memory playing tricks. i certainly remember him talking from the stage trying to explain to English audiences what the occupiers of the yards were trying to achieve.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 03:43 AM

Alex was not apolitical, he criticised the singers club policy because it meant that he as a scotsman could not sing woody guthries songs,Alex was a wonderful raconteur and entrtainer and a kind man


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 06:48 AM

Dear Akenaton,

In reference to your comment above:

"The Alex that I remember was neither a revolutionary Marxist nor a wishy washy "liberal"....far from it! ;0)"

Perhaps you misunderstood my comment If so, I apologize for not putting "wishy-washy liberal" in inverted commas - it was meant to be ironic.

Just for the record, the WWL tag was often applied by revolutionary Marxists (among others) to those who believed that the current political and economic situation could be improved by gradual increments, without resorting to violence. It (WWL) became such a familiar cliche that some of us occasionally adopted it (ironically of course!) as a badge of honour. Is that clear enough now?

As to whether Alex was 'apolitical' - well, I knew the man reasonably well over a period of nearly thirty years, and the conversations we had indicated clearly to me that he was both knowledgeable and concerned about many political issues.

To take the most obvious example, Alex supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - he wore the badge and went on marches. And as you might expect of a singer whose repertoire included many songs learned from black artists such as Lead Belly, Big Bill Broonzy and Gary Davis, he was a vehement opponent of racism - abroad or at home. Many other songs that he performed - from Woody Guthrie's dust-bowl ballads to the songs of Scottish traveling people - also highlighted the inhumane treatment of the poor and powerless by the rich and powerful. That's being 'political',isn't it?

Finally, why not take another look at two of the best-known songs he wrote himself - 'My Old Gibson Guitar' and 'So Long'. Both of them give a pretty clear indication of what Alex felt was wrong with the world as it is, and the kind of world he would like to see replace it. If you think they aren't 'political' songs then you and I have a different understanding of the word 'political'.

Finally, I'd like to endorse The Sandman's comment - Alex was a kind and very generous man, as well as a truly great entertainer. None of his recordings - good though some of them are - convey the magic he could generate in a live performance. As I said before, you had to be there.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 07:39 AM

Alex was a unique performer, and I loved him, warts and all.


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 12:12 PM

Alex was a wonderful person and entertainer, he also had a very healthy distrust of politicians and political ideologies of all shades. He understood life, as John says, "warts and all"


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Subject: RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell
From: GUEST,akenaton.
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 12:59 PM

Damn! forgot to sign in again


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