Author Archives: wendywelch

The Monday Book – Born Fighting – Jim Webb

Jack’s job is the Monday book this week again – so a day late of course – –

I may have reviewed this book some years ago, but there’s nothing wrong with revisiting a book!

When I first read the book I was impressed, first of all, with the description of early Scottish history and then with the history of the ‘Scotch Irish’ in Ireland.

On re-reading, though, I have some doubts. I read ‘Wales – A History’ recently and that sheds a rather different light on the early history of the Celts (or Brythons) and that paints a contrasting picture. The lowland Scots, who were Webb’s ancestors, were part of the Brythonic culture and spoke Welsh rather than Gaelic or Scots. He doesn’t really cover that period well.

Then his coverage of the lowland Scots in Ireland seems to me now to be written strongly from a Protestant point of view and is rather condescending about the majority Catholic population. There is only passing reference to the Potato Famine which was effectively a British ‘pogrom’ against the inhabitants of the country and hugely important.

The book isn’t just a general history, but a very personal history and it’s important to bear that in mind. Webb’s roots are in Appalachia and he really starts from there and weaves everything around that. There’s no doubt that he set out to place himself in that context and that’s fair enough.

Webb writes well and Born Fighting is an easy read, however I would strongly recommend reading other books about the history of the Celts and the Appalachians alongside this one.

Wales – A History – Gwynfor Evans

The Thistle and the Brier – Richard Blaustein


Filed under book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, reading, Scotland, small town USA, VA

Play Misty for Me – – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post – better late than Thursday –

For over twelve years I’ve been compiling, producing and presenting a radio show called ‘Celtic Clanjamphry’ that now airs on two NPR stations here in the US and a community station in Scotland.

For the last few years, instead of traveling down to the parent station in Tennessee, I was recording these at a good friend’s home studio a couple of hours away. We usually do five at a time and then my colleague and excellent engineer Dirk sends them to the station by DropBox. I usually put together all the music for each program in a file in the order it will play and send these to him, then record all the links etc. in his studio. I use my extensive music collection plus promo CDs and such sent by bands in the Celtic world.

When the pandemic put a stop to our gathering, I set up with a soundproof box in the pre-Civil-War jail behind our house. Wendy didn’t mind sharing her writing studio…..

Using this method, I still send the music to Dirk ahead of time; he checks and lets me know how much time I have for the links, station idents etc. Of course he had to advise me on how to make a recording clean enough to work. All part of the team effort. But we do miss the face to face teamwork.

Dirk and I come to the music from very different directions, so sitting across from each other in his studio while recording the links was a very social thing, with much chatting back and forward. That added a lot to the atmosphere of the show and we both miss that enormously. We’re both hoping that it won’t be too long before we can get back working that way again!

When I was first invited to start the show I had no idea it would still be going after twelve years or that it would end up on multiple stations. But it’s a labor of love for both Dirk and me as we’re both big fans of NPR so we’re happy to provide the show as our contribution of support.

Celtic Clanjamphry can be heard as follows – – Sunday 9pm and on-line – Monday 8pm and Saturday 10am and on-line – Sunday 6pm

The above times are US Eastern Time

Alive Radio 107.3 (Scotland) – Monday 9pm and Thursday 5am and on-line

The above times are UK times (5 hours later than US)

My executive producer at WETS is Wayne Winkler who for some reason continues to have faith in me.

My desk jockey and engineer Dirk Wiley does films as an independent producer; you can see some of them here:

Finally – all these stations need your support so if you listen to them at all please consider supporting them as they need it more and more.

Leave a comment

Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch