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BBC4 Christmas Session

GUEST,mulv 10 Dec 10 - 07:05 PM
Suegorgeous 10 Dec 10 - 07:10 PM
Ross Campbell 10 Dec 10 - 08:02 PM
GUEST,lizMcfarlane 10 Dec 10 - 09:40 PM
Edthefolkie 11 Dec 10 - 05:23 AM
Rafflesbear 11 Dec 10 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,Silas 11 Dec 10 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 11 Dec 10 - 05:50 AM
Wheatman 11 Dec 10 - 05:56 AM
GUEST, Richard Bridge (must set cookie on this com 11 Dec 10 - 06:40 AM
squeezeboxhp 11 Dec 10 - 07:07 AM
John MacKenzie 11 Dec 10 - 08:35 AM
theleveller 11 Dec 10 - 10:00 AM
Paul Davenport 11 Dec 10 - 10:08 AM
MikeL2 11 Dec 10 - 10:59 AM
John MacKenzie 11 Dec 10 - 11:28 AM
VirginiaTam 11 Dec 10 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Santa 11 Dec 10 - 12:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Dec 10 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Singinghorse 11 Dec 10 - 12:35 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Dec 10 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 11 Dec 10 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,erbert 11 Dec 10 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,glueman 11 Dec 10 - 01:14 PM
Folknacious 11 Dec 10 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,erbert 11 Dec 10 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Lushka 11 Dec 10 - 01:29 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 11 Dec 10 - 01:46 PM
Paul Davenport 11 Dec 10 - 01:46 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 11 Dec 10 - 01:54 PM
theleveller 11 Dec 10 - 02:02 PM
theleveller 11 Dec 10 - 02:03 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 11 Dec 10 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Lushka 11 Dec 10 - 02:14 PM
GUEST,erbert 11 Dec 10 - 02:37 PM
theleveller 11 Dec 10 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,eliza c 11 Dec 10 - 05:56 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Dec 10 - 06:01 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 11 Dec 10 - 06:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Dec 10 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 11 Dec 10 - 06:08 PM
Dave the Gnome 11 Dec 10 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,eliza c 11 Dec 10 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,glueman 11 Dec 10 - 07:03 PM
Andy Jackson 11 Dec 10 - 07:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Dec 10 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,erbert 11 Dec 10 - 11:41 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 12 Dec 10 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,Silas 12 Dec 10 - 05:28 AM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Dec 10 - 05:36 AM
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Subject: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,mulv
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 07:05 PM

Without a gig tonight,was gonna go to a local session,then I noticed
that the Unthanks were doing a prog on BBC4 about dancing in England so
thought I'd stay in and watch - all quite enjoyable,bla-bla........



then noticed that Christmas Session featuring Bellowhead,Unthanks etc
immediately followed....so I kept sipping the sherry...anybody else
watch this ?



Was it me,was it my telly or were the sound levels for any of the
vocals absolutely dire ? As a 'show' I don't think it translated very
well and the whole 'feel' of the night was,to me,somewhat pompous and
'prancey' and definitely let down by the 'miked' vocals sound quality
(actually,I thought the best singer of the night was the fiddle player
with the Unthanks (forgotten her name).Non-vocals sound was streets
better.



Say what you like about Simon Cowell - but (Wagner apart !!) give me
the X Factor anytime over this self-indulgent 'finery'.I reckon the
show would put off rather than attract any non-folkies who stumbled
across the programme........all in all,a bit of a foot-shooter


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 07:10 PM

Seem to remember there was the same big debate about this here on Mudcat after the programme showed last Christmas...

Wonder if anything new is planned for this Christmas folk-wise?


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 08:02 PM

Still Folk Dancing.... recycles on BBC4 in about 2 mins 1.00am Sat 11 Dec. The Unthanks certainly got around most of the spring and summer events - I liked this enough to watch again now!

Ross


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,lizMcfarlane
Date: 10 Dec 10 - 09:40 PM

Really enjoyed the Folk dancing prog, then watched a bit of the Christmas Session... loved Bellowhead. Stayed up late and the prog has come round again, and I may watch a bit more but, omg - what is this fascination with female singers sounding like wee baby girlies?! It's time someone spoke up like the boy in the Emperor's clothes! Come back Maddy, June, why were you not on the prog, Eliza Judy (Dinning),Sarah Notman ... ? Wish I'd pushed myself to go professional on the folk scene all those years ago, but I thought my voice was not good enough... !


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Edthefolkie
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 05:23 AM

Was it me, or did the Unthanks & crew not in fact do Padstow? I know Doc Rowe popped up (hooray) but all the May day footage seemed to be from previous years. Are the media still frightened of being chucked in the harbour?

Rather alarming to watch the Saddleworth Rush Cart segment shortly after finding the 1984 film on VHS. Time like an ever rolling stream etc!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Rafflesbear
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 05:27 AM

Sad that the telly took some of the audience away from live sessions.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 05:41 AM

"Sad that the telly took some of the audience away from live sessions."

Boy, the poor old beeb can't win can they? They put on some qality folk stuff at last and theyb get this sort of comment!

I though the Folkie Dance stuff was great - recorded the rest to watch later.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 05:50 AM

Well GUEST lizMcfarline, thanks for making me feel not so out of date by being astonished/dismayed (not for the first time) by the quality? of the performances. No mater how you spread it/cut it/measure it or even listen to it they "canny sing" for toffiee.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Wheatman
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 05:56 AM

Yes, it was great about time we had some joy on the telly. Winter events next???


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge (must set cookie on this com
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:40 AM

The best singer of the night was the bloke who was called up to harmonise one song - was it Jem or Jed something? Even The Mistletoe Bough failed to rivet.

Unusually for me however I did like some of the stuff on the gaelic sessions programme - the rearrangement of that sean-nos version of the Four Maries with added accompaniment was riveting even without being able to understand a word.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: squeezeboxhp
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 07:07 AM

if only the Unthank sisters had stuck to clogging and not subjected me to the truly appalling carol singing that followed in the folk Christmas, bring on Ruth & Sadie Price if some good unaccompanied harmony is called for.
Maddy Prior & Carnival band,Waterson's christmas act,Dave & Toni Arthur revival plenty to choose from.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 08:35 AM

Well I saw most of the Christmas thing, and I was apalled. WTF were some members of the audience wearing? It looked like the Good Old Days meets, Down and Out in London and Paris.
If I had stumbled into this as a non folkie, I would have either quickly switched channels, or poured myself a larger drink!
As has been said, the Unthanks were good-ish, but badly miked up, the two lads on piano accordion and fiddle, looked out of their depth, but made a half decent job, apart from the self conscious MC work of one of them.
Bellowhead were their usual, sort of a cross between Spike Jones, and Black Dyke Mills brass band.
The programme that followed was very interesting, albeit, some of the clips shown, particularly Martin Carthy and Peggy Seeger, didn't look like they fitted the 50' and 60's parameters, the show was supposed to fit.
Both Martin, and Paul Brady, look younger now than they did in their respective clips :)


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 10:00 AM

I though the atmosphere was brilliant, like a rather spooky Dickensian music hall set - which suits Bellowhead's style perfectly. I enjoyed it all, with the exception of the Unthanks who I desperately want to like but just don't.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 10:08 AM

There were certainly issues with the editing, voices out of synch with visuals and with the sound, unbalanced vocals and instrumentals. Possibly explains why the media shy away from this music which is clearly still much misunderstood.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: MikeL2
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 10:59 AM

Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: John MacKenzie - PM
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 08:35 AM

< "The programme that followed was very interesting, albeit, some of the clips shown, particularly Martin Carthy and Peggy Seeger, didn't look like they fitted the 50' and 60's parameters, the show was supposed to fit.
Both Martin, and Paul Brady, look younger now than they did in their respective clips ">

Hi John

I watched this too. Although I had seen it before this time I enjoyed Andy Irvine when last time I was a bit "iffy" about him.

Must be getting older...lol

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 11:28 AM

Andy Irvine is still the best self accompanist in the business, for my money.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 11:38 AM

Richard - It was Sam Lee and he was shining in that performance. Wish there had been more of him.

I did watch this again last night. First time was the live performance last year, when I was distracted by snow storm and my daughter's flight from US to UK. My comments last year were a bit coloured by other worries and the general feeling on the other thread, many were posting negatively as they watched it.

I found I enjoyed it much more this time around. I had the luxury to notice more nuances, especially in the Unthank's harmonies. And I looked and listened with a different eye and ear. I think the Victorian costumes were fun. I loved Belshazzar's Feast the best. I do wish Jim Moray had done a different treatment of Oh Come Emanuel. Given what I have heard of his other stuff, I think he could do something quite extraordinary with that song.

Hope they do another and that they mix in some of the old guard with the bright young ones.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:12 PM

The style of the programme was distinctive enough to be something that you either liked or it put you off. I didn't care for it, but aside from that the standard of the singing was dire. Having just seen the Gaelic Sessions an hour before just rubbed in the difference in quality.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:31 PM

Dreadful beyond dreadful from what I saw, which wasn't too much. A snatch of Unthanks and the first verse of the Mistletoe Bough. I couldn't take any more.

I dread to think that there may be people who will have seen this and assumed that this is what folk music is all about.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Singinghorse
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:35 PM

Both as a singer and as an English person i found it to be an embarrassment!
Just terrible.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:46 PM

Trying desperately to be positive, enjoyed the dancing programme and the folk collection after 11!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 12:58 PM

I missed it entirely last year because I was in hospital counting blokes with scythes, but I'm amazed and slightly distressed by the negative comments above. At last some of the top younger UK folk acts get a no-holds-barred slot on the Beeb - surely even it it's not your cup of tea that's something to applaud? And these people are to a man and girl seriously good musicians - how many here could hold a candle? (I certainly can't).

Whatever was there not to enjoy? Great music, great atmosphere, different yet familiar, both variety and Variety - I'd give it 10 out of 10 any day.

I noticed no audio or video problems to speak of (I'm a TV director and I know what this show will have involved - trust me, was a technical triumph), so cannot imagine why others appear to have done so. (There may have been a bit of post-synching of alternative takes on occasion, but that's no crime - in fact it's the only way to capture this sort of show with that many artists on a realistic production budget).

I also thought the singing was extremely good for a live event, any more controlled and it would have lost spontaneity.

Sam Lee has one of the spookily best voices around. Not everyone likes Jon's voice but I think he's terrific, as were all five of the girls (again, not everyone 'gets' Rachel and Backy, but they definitely have got it - or they'd not be where they are today - and I love'em), Paul was as reliably excellent as ever and so was Jim (again not everyone's cup of tea, but his phrasing, emotional charge, diction and timbre are all beyond reproach). I was intrigued by the darkness of Emmanuel, which though in a minor key is usually delivered in a triumphant style - but Jim's version had me thinking of broader meanings for the words - specially "and ransom captive Israel." Top stuff, challenging and beautiful.

The only thing that galled me about this was that I've been trying (somewhat half-heartedly, admittedly) to persuade the Beeb to let me do a folk version of Later - (with, I hoped, Sartin as presenter) and I now I realise I was trumped more than a year ago! The guy is, as I guessed, a complete natural.

The two Pauls did not look in the least out of their depth! Ok the box was a tad quiet, but I've seen them do this live dozens of times and this was bang up to par.

Good Old Days meets Down and Out in London and Paris? Absolutely! And why-ever not?

Great telly - definitely and absolutely a show that will have drawn in and entertained non-folk people, and terrific advocacy for the best of what's afoot these days.

Tom


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:13 PM

I've liked Bellowhead a lot and keenly supported them in various online forum rows.
But must admit I'm going off them, due mainly to the conceitedly affected vocals & theatrical posturing of Jon Boden.

If I want to listen to exaggerated Alex Harvey and 'Laughing Gnome' era Bowie aping Anthony Newly
vocal stylisations, I'll dig out the old LP's.

Up to now I've tolerated that swollen headed bourgeois cabaret/burlesque aspect
of the bands performance persona.
But since they become poptart darlings of the corporate media Art circuit
they are in danger of disappearing up their own self indulgent circus ring.


merry xmas.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:14 PM

"Good Old Days meets Down and Out in London and Paris? Absolutely! And why-ever not?"

Why not indeed. As I said on the other thread there is no music hall or variety in the traditional sense on the box. The programme had the slightly seedy, camp, self-deprecating music hall sensibility down very well. What it wasn't was folk club folk, which the programme clearly never set out to be.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Folknacious
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:22 PM

Great telly - definitely and absolutely a show that will have drawn in and entertained non-folk people, and terrific advocacy for the best of what's afoot these days.

Seconded. Or thirded, especially because What it wasn't was folk club folk.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:27 PM

sorry, got a bit carried away, I'm thinking more in terms of Bellowhead's recent TV appearances promoting the new LP.
I think I enjoyed the xmas show when it was first televised last winter, but was most probably very drunk whilst watching it.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Lushka
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:29 PM

It's not about folk club- or non-folk club folk, it's about quality.
Compare this, our "English Sessions" (closest we have!) to the Highland or Transatlantic Session also on BBC4 - the chasm is vast.
It's amazing what a bit of razzmatazz can do!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:46 PM

erbert, are you saying that it's wrong for one artist to be influenced by an earlier artist - Bowie by Newley, for example? I hope not - or we'd all be in trouble, and so would every artist before us.

I don't think there's anything wrong with Boden taking a leaf out of Newley's book if he wants to - not that he has, IMO. What he HAS done - and it's a legitimate technique - is deliberately to occupy the grey area between his modal voice and falsetto, an approach influenced, I understand, by Peter Bellamy. If he did not do this, not only would his delivery be weaker and less individual (always a crucial factor) but his voice would be lost in the appealing maelstrom that is the Bellowhead sound, and the project would never have got off the ground (I suspect that's why he's the vocalist even though the band contains at least another four potential lead singers).

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and accept that your last sentence is not merely sour grapes, but will remind you that success is hard fought for and hard won. Bellowhead are, thank the lord, breaking though to a wider audience - and absolutely on their own terms. We do not criticise rock artists (like Harvey) for adopting 'swollen-headed' larger-that-life stage personas, and there's no need to do so to Bellowhead just because they're 'from' the folk arena.

Big acts need big acting - and it's working.

Tom


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:46 PM

Tom wrote; 'I noticed no audio or video problems to speak of (I'm a TV director and I know what this show will have involved - trust me, was a technical triumph), so cannot imagine why others appear to have done so. '
I was speaking of the movement of lips after the sound had been heard, the number of people clapping off the beat??? Soundwise, Becky Unthank's solo was inaudible whilst her sister's harmonies were as clear as day. Like you Tom, I can't imagine why.
However, to be positive, it was great to have an evening of folk on the telly - something of a refreshing change.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 01:54 PM

Lushka, comparing the Highland Sessions with the Bellowhead Christmas show is akin to comparing The White Heather Club with, err, Shanties and Sea Songs with Gareth Malone.

Or fish cakes and harmonicas.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:02 PM

I absolutely love Jon Boden's voice - it has the special drama and ubderlying sense of menace that brings a whole new dimension to the sonsgs and that came across especially well in Songs from teh Flood Plains. Like I said, this session was the perfect foil for Bellowhead - a folk concert produced by Edgar Allan Poe or M R James.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:03 PM

And I'll put me glasses on before typeing hext time.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:05 PM

Well Paul I'm sure you know that to have as many cameras in that hall as there appeared to be would cost about three times the budget. So there were not in fact that many.

I wasn't there, so I don't know what happened, but the normal approach is to film each song two or three times. The audio is then taken from the take in which the close-ups are recorded, and the wide-shots are post-synched to that audio. When the act is miming to a pre-recorded track, this usually works seamlessly, but when it's done two two or more live performances it doesn't always fit perfectly.

I spotted a couple of very minor sync issues, but they were well within normal tolerances and I certainly wouldn't mark the show down for them.

The alternative is either only to use the available cameras on a single take and look 'shot-poor' in comparison with other TV music shows, or to ask for triple the budget and have the show idea turned down.

"Becky Unthank's solo was inaudible whilst her sister's harmonies were as clear as day" - not on my telly, just not perfectly balanced perhaps, but then a few things usually do slip through the net and we hope people won't mind too much.

Shows like that are very hard to make.

Tom


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Lushka
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:14 PM

I didn't know it was called the Bellowhead Christmas show - i read 'Christmas Session' and since all the contributors were English it seemed like a fair analogy.
You're right though - there is no comparison.
I'm in my twenties so i'm not harking back to some golden age of "proper folk" - and i love English music. I just didn't rate this concert, while the musicianship on the Highland and Transatlantic Sessions is generally excellent, whether or not you appreciate the style.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 02:37 PM

Its just my personal disappointment that a band who's music I enjoy very much,
is for my own taste becoming too overshadowed by the foibles of its lead singer.
I accept most of what you say Tom regarding live shows, but I find him a little overpowering and grating
on the Band's new CD recording.
That's a matter to consider when it came to the working relationship between the band and veteran producer John Leckie.

Its not so much I begrudge any performer celebrating and incorporating their cultural influences, but there is a limit before it starts feeling forced and irritating.

Of course I'm hoping their next CD will be brilliant, but I'll think twice next time before I buy it unheard.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 03:10 PM

I too have mixed feelings about Bellowhead CDs, but live they are incomparably good fun.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,eliza c
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 05:56 PM

I missed this mast year, and saw it last night-and i have to say this somewhere, out loud. Those people who mention the transatlantic sessions-you are absolutely right. This concert was an embarrassment from start to finish in terms of performance quality and sound. And the costumes and the gurning and that fucking bloke in the stripy leggings all made me want to shoot myself. I have never been so ashamed of myself or my dearest friends. Oh my god. Not a shred of honesty or emotion in any of it. My boyfriend said to me last night after it was done that this is what defines English music now, and I was very, very sad.
Actually, I take some of that back. Lisa was lovely, and Thea doing what she does. But all the prancing about and the leggings and the everything else...I am sorry, everyone I know and love that was there and a part of it, but Jesus...what on earth are we we playing at here?
xe


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:01 PM

Eliza,
Thank god for some sanity. I thought I was going mad! It looked like a load of hooray Henries taking the piss!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:05 PM

"what on earth are we we playing at here?"

erm - light entertainment?

I believe it's still permitted.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:06 PM

Forget "folk club folk" - what I'd have hoped this could have been like was the kind of folk music-hall events I've seen at festivals such as Sidmouth, Whitby or Fylde, for example. Raucous and rowdy and energetic, with music and song to lift your heart and send you off into the night joyful.

This wasn't it. It wasn't within a million miles of what it could and should have been.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:08 PM

Sorry, I missed this -

"I have never been so ashamed of myself "

How exactly did this impact on you?


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:21 PM

I think I mentioned last year - or I may have just thought it - The sound man needed putting down. I have heard Bellowhead both live and on CD and the brass is never that overpowering. Eliza C - Amen to the stripey legginged bloke. He should be against the same wall as the sound man.

I thought the Uthanks were OK but that song they did about the tar barrels (Written by Daddy Uthank unfortunately) made what I thought was an exciting event sound like watching paint dry.

All in all, 7/10 for effort by the beeb but 1/10 for content. Failed on so many counts. The only thing I think could be worse is the dire mawkish drivel that the plastic paddys put us through on St Pats night. At least we can switch off the TV:-)

DeG


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,eliza c
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 06:42 PM

Tom-
   I just feel very protective of both modern English folk music and my mates, since you ask. It's kind of my thing.
xe


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 07:03 PM

Wasn't it just part of a long tradition of dressing up in daft clothes for a Christmas special? It did, superficially at least, look like Jack the Ripper meets Gay Pride but the audience and performers made the effort to put on a show which was visual as well as musical. That willingness to mess about and have a laugh is not something the folk scene is noted for.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 07:49 PM

Admit it, it was B**** dire. Very shaky start indeed and one bad song led to another. It was only Sam Lee that gave me hope. And then after a fairly ropey start the wonderful Belshasars feast turned the whole show around. Suddenly the audience seemed to relax and enjoy themselves. The unthanks found their voices. (I did enjoy daddies little Tar Barrel song by the way.)With the lighht hearted now in full flood some great clogging and a finale of songs well worthy of the memory of Sidmouth and Chippenhan Old Time Music halls, it scraped through.
Not a patch on the excellent Clogging Programme or the equally worthwhile Still Dancing, but taken as a whole a good few nights entertainment.
Oh, I better own up, I enjoyed "Morris, a life with bells on" too!


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 08:00 PM

"That willingness to mess about and have a laugh is not something the folk scene is noted for."

I'd say that is precisely what is most specially characteristicl of the folk scene in England. For example

There are of course some pompous buggers about, but that's part of the fun.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 11 Dec 10 - 11:41 PM

Actually, who are the target audience for this BBC4 Xmas 'folk' session ???

I'm curious enough to want to see the producers written viewer demographic profile
and what terms are used to describe them ?

"Cool groovy sexy socialites like us" ???


wikileaks anyone ?????

I'm used to being haughtily scolded for sarcastic use of certain words I'm inclined to apply,
but certainly very few folk where I live
could even afford the fancy dress hire to attend a 'high society' concert like that.


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 05:17 AM

But with respect Eliza, isn't "very protective of both modern English folk music and my mates" not all that far from what some people said when your Dad joined Steeleye, perhaps?

I'm genuinely puzzled as to why this concert should have drawn down so many strongly negative reactions, and on so many issues.

Let me try to separate them out a little.

Ignoring some odd sort of political class/regional resentment thing, the criticisms seem to fall into five categories; choice of artists, presentation style, musical performance and technical performance.

Let's begin with the first and second.

Obviously I don't know how this show was pitched to the Beeb, but I think I can guess - and I'm fairly certain that if it had been sold as, say, The Imagined Ratcatchers Christmas Special, or The Folk Club Cool Yule Singaround-up, or whatever else people here might have preferred, it simply wouldn't have been green-lit. The two reasons I suspect it got through were that a) the cast list included people the suits had heard of and believed to be 'current,' and b) the package was dressed up to avoid any risk of earnestness or any of the others things that suits fear about folk. (I'm not calling the Village or the Catchers 'earnest,' but both bands do operate in a slightly different territory - as do most folk acts in fact, with the Bellows and the 2Pauls being two well-recognised exceptions).

Thinking about it, I can't help wondering if the reaction here would have been as bad if the show title had not included the loaded word 'session' - but had instead been called something like The Belshazzowhead Christmas Knees-up and Lark-about, or something equally silly. (It was made under the 'BBCfoursessions' brand, though - which will have been another key factor in getting it through). Show titles are really important because they advise the viewers what to expect, and we all know that failing to deliver on a perceived expectation usually results in consumer complaints. I also was expecting something else, but I quickly realised what was going on and went with the flow, and if, as I suspect, the BBC had commissioned a visual feast with lashings of ironic schmaltz and a side order of history and humour (oh, and some folk music) then all the participants are to be congratulated for giving it their best shot.

(Incidentally, complaining that the show had the wrong artists or the wrong style is akin to looking at a work in the Tate Modern and saying 'I could have done that.' The answer, as you know, is; 'well, perhaps you could, but you didn't - this artist did, and they got it into the Tate Modern.' These guys got their show onto BBC4 on a Friday night. Twice).

Ok. On to the two other criticisms. I'm really not sure where the complains about musical performance come from. I thought everyone sang and played to their usual styles and standards. There may have been a few issues with the sound balance at times, (see below), and maybe some don't personally like the sound or style of some of the artists - but neither of those add up to poor musical performance. No-one was out of tune, out of time, playing poor arrangements (not always to taste, but that's about preference, not quality - though far too many people confuse the two) or otherwise lacking.

I can add here, lest people think that I'm always only nice about everything, that the show that followed the clogging last night contained very few good musical performances - and quite a lot of it really was truly dire in musical terms. Out of tune, out of time, wrong chords, all sorts - but it wasn't a bad show. It was very interesting and many of the poor musical performances were hugely enjoyable for other reasons.

I've already dealt with the technical issues above, but it's worth repeating again that the show would not have been green-lit if the budget was too dear. Maybe a few more cameras, a few more mics, more audio channels, a bit longer in audio post etc would have delivered a better mix with fewer sync glitches, but the brief was, presumably, to grab a live and lively sound - and if a few things got lost in the mix, well - so what. That's what happens at most festivals. I simply turned the volume up to max and it sounded wonderful.

To me this was a logical next step down the entertainment road that Bellowhead and Belshazzars Feast have been travelling, and if that takes public perception of modern English folk music slightly somewhere else, so be it. I'm personally convinced that this approach is a Good Thing for folk music and that it in no way threatens other folk styles or sub-genres. I know there are still people around who feel strongly that FairEye StringTangle were a disaster for English Folk, but I'm not one of them. (They probably said the same things about broadsides and troubadours too).

Sam Lee, Janet Frazer-Crook, Serena Cross and Mark Cooper are to be congratulated for giving a few folk musos a bit of work and publicity - and probably a lot of fun, and delivering a perfectly inoffensive bit of Christmas nonsense that a lot of people will have enjoyed.

And if a few new people decide to go to a Ratcatcher's gig or whatever on the back of it then, well over to the rest of us.

Tom


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 05:28 AM

I can't believe that Guest eliza c is actually who some of us think she is....


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Subject: RE: BBC4 Christmas Session
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 05:36 AM

I'm genuinely puzzled as to why this concert should have drawn down so many strongly negative reactions, and on so many issues.

I'm sure that is true - but I find that quite astonishing. It was terrible, that's why.


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