Tag Archives: traditional music

FRIENDS

Jack’s guest post this week – delayed by his ripping out an old closet in the bookstore

We’ve been entertaining friends both old and new recently and it has gotten me thinking.

 

Old friends like fiddler Pete Clark, who played, like me, in the Scottish folk band Heritage from the mid 1970s through the early 1990s and comes originally also like me, from Dunfermline, help connect me to my roots. But I also have old friends now here in Appalachia and they connect me to this community and make me feel I have started to establish roots here.

 

Just last weekend Pete was here staying with us and playing a house concert on Saturday night. Of course we spent time reminiscing and laughing about adventures we had touring around Europe with the band. But Pete was over with an accordionist – Gregor Lowrie. I’d never met Gregor before but we hit it off famously and so – a new friend.

 

In attendance on Saturday was an old local friend, Ron Short – also a highly regarded musician. Now, both Pete and Gregor are very keen anglers and wanted advice on where they might go on Sunday. It turned out that Ron is also a keen fisherman and he agreed to take them out on the local lake, turning up shortly after lunch complete with a small boat and spent the rest of the day with them.

 

Of course the folk who came to the concert included folk we knew well and others who were complete strangers. By the end no-one was a stranger, however.

 

I suppose I’m a fairly gregarious creature but I love both the company of old friends, the making of new ones, and even acting as the catalyst for bringing both together at times.

 

Finally, there’s another great thing about friendship. There’s something special about re-making friendships. We break relationships either through distance, career diversion and even long forgotten disputes. I consider myself very fortunate despite being guilty of all these to have reconnected closely with old friends over the last few years.

 

So value your friends and look after your relationships.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, blue funks, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, Scotland, small town USA, Wendy Welch

Play it Again, Mike

heritageJack’s weekly guest blog
For more than fifteen years I was the lead singer and back-up guitarist in a Celtic band called ‘Heritage’. Although we were never more than middle-weights in the traditional music scene, we had a lot of fun traveling Europe’s musical gig trail.
The glory days are over and we’ve gone our separate ways, yet some band members keep in touch. Our piper/whistler/keyboard player Mike Ward, who still lives in Scotland, came for a month’s visit to the bookshop two years ago.
Mike has always had a special affinity for Brittany (in NW France, one of the seven recognized Celtic Nations) so has kept up with friends there since the tour days. He recently sent a news report about the sad fate of Pontivy Castle, one of the places where we had played. A lengthy downpour undermined a section, and it collapsed.
This sad event led to much reminiscing between us about the various times we’d been to Brittany – including playing the biggest Pan-Celtic festival in the world, at Lorien. Ah, the magnificent sound of Bagad Kemper, with its combination of highland bagpipes, bombardes, binious and drums; hurdy-gurdy bands of women in regional costumes; wonderful food and drink; and the warm hospitality of Bretons toward their Celtic cousins.
Of course Mike, who studied for the priesthood, never lets me forget the time I stumbled in my faulty French through requesting that two young women pose for a photograph ‘au naturel’ (in other words, nude). We recalled the late great piper Gordon Duncan sitting backwards astride a motorcycle, playing the pipes like a child of Pan as the bike roared through the Lorien’s main streets. Perhaps our favorite was the gig at the Palais de Congress, where the sound desk smoked and sparked all the way through. (Or maybe that’s just the gig we’re most grateful to have survived–no, that would be the one where we kept throwing our cigarettes behind us as we played on a German naval boat, only to find afterward that munitions were stored in that space.)
As you can tell from these memories, we were never equal to the Beatles, but we had some fine musicians on board and even merited an article in the US folk music magazine ‘Dirty Linen,’ by Steve Winick. It was Steve that I met for the first time in person, at my birthday dinner last week in DC.
Which is really the reason behind this blog. Who knew that a castle in 1980 would lead to two friends connecting in the US in 2014? Yet there sat Steve with his lady Jennifer, chatting away with Wendy and me as though we’d know each other since birth. I love these connections through my music, and that so many of them continue. Like books, music keeps the world at large turning, and my personal circle of connections turning in very happy ways. I am a blessed man.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, Downton Abbey, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized