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What got you started?

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Mark Roffe 21 May 99 - 02:36 AM
manylodges (inactive) 20 May 99 - 11:24 PM
Tucker 20 May 99 - 09:43 PM
DougR 20 May 99 - 06:53 PM
Rasta 20 May 99 - 12:28 PM
A new name for this one 20 May 99 - 09:20 AM
Allan C. 17 May 99 - 09:26 AM
Guy Wolff 29 Mar 99 - 12:43 AM
BK 28 Mar 99 - 10:33 PM
Susan A-R 28 Mar 99 - 09:50 PM
Dr John 28 Mar 99 - 08:43 AM
Mikal 28 Mar 99 - 01:09 AM
Paul 21 Oct 98 - 12:55 PM
Jaxon 21 Oct 98 - 08:59 AM
BSeed 21 Oct 98 - 03:24 AM
hrodelbert 21 Oct 98 - 02:46 AM
Sir 21 Oct 98 - 01:10 AM
Snookums 21 Oct 98 - 12:10 AM
gargoyle 20 Oct 98 - 11:45 PM
STEPHEN MALONE 20 Oct 98 - 11:30 PM
Liam's Brother 20 Oct 98 - 12:18 PM
Graeme 20 Oct 98 - 11:41 AM
Big Mick 20 Oct 98 - 08:38 AM
Graeme 20 Oct 98 - 05:57 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Oct 98 - 05:26 PM
H.Dulcimer 28 May 98 - 08:48 AM
AndyG 28 May 98 - 06:54 AM
Art Thieme 28 May 98 - 12:31 AM
Jenny 25 May 98 - 01:16 PM
25 May 98 - 12:44 PM
Bob Landry 24 May 98 - 08:39 PM
Gloria 24 May 98 - 11:55 AM
Axe 24 May 98 - 07:23 AM
Frank in the swamps 24 May 98 - 05:29 AM
Zane 23 May 98 - 11:19 PM
wolfz 23 May 98 - 01:41 AM
Allan C. 22 May 98 - 04:13 PM
Susan of DT 21 May 98 - 08:41 PM
Jon W. 21 May 98 - 05:03 PM
Bert 21 May 98 - 04:18 PM
Bruce V. 21 May 98 - 03:54 PM
Allan C. 21 May 98 - 01:32 PM
Joe Offer 20 May 98 - 08:38 PM
Chris U 20 May 98 - 04:33 PM
Cuilionn 20 May 98 - 12:08 PM
19 May 98 - 06:15 PM
Allan C. 19 May 98 - 01:36 PM
aldus 19 May 98 - 12:21 PM
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Ted from Australia 19 May 98 - 08:51 AM
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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 21 May 99 - 02:36 AM

Playing clarinet in grade school in NY, listening to my big sister play piano, listening to classical and jazz, getting first guitar at age eleven - first song I figured out was "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy" from maybe a Weavers album. My jewish mom was not impressed.

Then Harry Belefonte's first Calyso album or two came out and I was hooked on the sounds of the islands, mon.
Then the Washington Square folk scene led to my first band, "THE SANDY ROCK SINGERS," with Lee and Larry Nelson, the twin sons of the guy who sang "N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the very best....Chawk-lette" with his puppet Farfel. We did folk music and I discovered the blues of Josh White, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker.

Then college - listening to and imitating mostly blues, Dylan, Donovan, Ochs, Anderson, Even Dozen, Ian and Sylvia, Kweskin, Koener-Ray-and Glover, Fahey, Holy Modal Rounders, Fugs, etc.

Then I moved to the Caribbean and got deep into calypso, had a few dance bands. Taught folk music to (and learned folk music from) West Indian school kids. Traveled as musical director of a West Indian musical.

Then I decided to be a jazz guitarist, moved to NY because I heard that a guy named Howard Morgen was a fine teacher there. He squeezed me in and taught me jazz theory.
As a side interest, I was teaching myself classical and South American guitar, and worked on my reading skills.

Then a few bands in Florida.

One day I walked though a San Francisco park and listened to a group of woman playing real good Bluegrass for free. I was mesmerized by the dobroist, Sally Van Meter. I asked for lessons. She was a great teacher.

Then marriage, kids, and playing only at home or at friends' parties. But a couple of years ago I started playing on the radio (KVMR Nevada City CA), and I've been doing diverse shows there: calypso, classical (with a cellist), blues. Have another blues show coming up. Joined the temple choir last year. Started writing songs finally. Found Mudcat while looking for some blues lyrics. Joe O. invited me to a song circle, and now I'm back in the saddle again!

Barkus Woofy

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: manylodges (inactive)
Date: 20 May 99 - 11:24 PM

My parents bought me a drum set when I was eight years old. I had loved to create rythums. I played drums through my freshman year, when I just got tired of sitting in a room by my self pounding out patterns. I wanted to sing, and play, but drums don't give harmany. Then one day I saw a skinny, long haired kid named Dylan sing and play. I wanted to do that. I bought a stella six string and a freind of my grandfathers taught me to play cords. I joined a local garage band, and have been playing every since. I have played rock, folk, irish, and blues, and bluegrass. I have found a love of sea shanties after being in the navy.

I spend my time now singing and playing at rendezvous camp fires for freinds who just enjoy music. By the way a rendezvous is a re-enactment of the pre 1840 fur trad era of canida and the u.s.. nothing is alowed in your camp that was not around during the years of 1700=1840. I have heard french vouager songs, scottish ballads, irish love songs, early lake songs, english tin flutes, and of cource drinking songs from every country. one of the most haunting sounds I have every heard came from a native american loom flute being played from the edge of camp. I love to listen to native american drum, but have failed at the attemp to sing with them. It is very hard to sing at the style needed to be authentic.

my love of bluegrass, and folk music has kept me going even when things pile up. I can still pick up my martin and be lost for two or three hours. It's like being re-charged!!!!

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Tucker
Date: 20 May 99 - 09:43 PM

Honestly! I guess the weavers although Mom says my first song was "Mule train", although the first song I remember is Good Night Irene, Goodnight

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: DougR
Date: 20 May 99 - 06:53 PM

Athlete's foot! I guess you could say that's what got me started in a serious sort of way. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Mother use to say that I learned to sing before I learned to talk. I sang all the time, as did she. My dad couldn't carry a tune in a basket though. My brother played trumpet in the high school band (this was during WW2) and filled in as band leader when the regular band director was drafted. He left to join the Navy soon after. I, along with a few of my classmates, was recruited to become a member of the band but there was no one around to teach us how to play our instruments. We were given uniforms with express instructions not to blow one note. We were there only to make the band look larger. Finally, the band was disbanded, so to speak, until the war was over.

My uncle Buck gave me his old guitar that had ony four strings on it when I was about six or seven, and that probably whetted my appetite for that instrument.

In my third year of high school I got a bad case of athlete's foot and was confined to the bed for about three weeks. My mother ordered me a guitar from Sears and I taught myself the three basic chords in a few keys while recuperating. A friend down the street played guitar a little and he helped me out. We knew a younger girl who played accordian. We formed a trio and played at rodeos, and all types of gatherings.

When I left for college I left that all behind me, but later, when we had children one of daughters learned the fiddle (classical) and another daughter the flute, and I bought another guitar. We played a lot of music together and they learned (by ear) the folk music popular in the 1960s.

I spent most of my career managing symphony orchestras, but I never lost my love for Folk and Western music.

Sorry to have gone on so....


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Rasta
Date: 20 May 99 - 12:28 PM

First it was Elvis and Ricky Nelson ,so I sang as an 8 year old at my brothers teen parties. then round 63 or 2 he took me to a Kingston trio concert with new member, John Stewart. I was mesmerized, permanently scarred. that same summer before JFK got it, I met Long neck banjoist Hedy West. that was the first real banjo she let me pick on. -Hedy wrote 500 miles. that same summer I met a life guard in Lake George N.Y. who turned me on to Dylan,s frst album. Walla I discovered my purpose in life. So in the summer of 63 I started pickin a Sears and Robuck guitar and Kay banjo an Im still pickin.-------------------ps -Hedy didint have a long neck, her banjo had a long neck ---El Rastaaaaaa

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: A new name for this one
Date: 20 May 99 - 09:20 AM

I think I won't use my real name on this (which is what I use for most postings).

At school (what we English call a public school) you got out of lessons if you had instrument tuition. I was p****d off not being top of things since I had got a scholarship and decided to work the system. Parents kindly bought me a guitar. I never learned to play it well, and after a couple of electric bands at university things sort of hung around.

Some years after settling down (if not legally marrying) my wife told me she was so bored she was leaving if we didn't stop just watching TV and arguing in the evenings. She had been a fairly good guitarist/singer in the folk boom, with her first husband and had known lots of musicians. So she bought me a washburn D10 for my birthday. It wouldn't tune so I took it back and changed it for a different one which almost would. I don't like D10s. So with a friend of her oldest son's we formed a folk band. We got away with it 'cos he could sing. The he came out and moved away with his boyfriend. Now we argue so much when we practise I wish we'd never started.

Would someone like to turn this into a country and western song?

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 May 99 - 09:26 AM

Mick Lowe, I am refreshing this thread in reference to your remarks in another thread. I think it is along the lines of what you were wanting.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 29 Mar 99 - 12:43 AM

Hi In the 50's I loved listening to Peter Paul and Mary and by the early 60's I was playing drums in Rock and blues bands in the Summer on cape Cod. In 1969 I went to aprentice at Jugtown Pottery in North Carolina and it's owner ,Nancy Sweezey was old freinds with Raulf Rindzler of the Smithsonian Folk Depatment so she had this wanderfull collection of folk records. Clarence Tom Ashley just blew me away so I bought my brother a Banjo for his birthday. Then I buoght my girlfriend a banjo for her birthday and then I broke my neck on a motorcycle working in a pottery nr Bridgend in Wales and went up to London and bought myself a banjo.{I'm alittle slow} .After the sing-songs in Wales and Union Grove Fiddilers Convention in North Carolina there was no turning back.THank You Allen Block in New Hampshire for showing me the joy of playing,and everyone since for sharing the fun of it all.....I saw Lui Collins and Tom Rush tonight in New Milford Ct...What a wanderfull combination of peaple to see in one night.It just never ends... Cheers Guy.........

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: BK
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 10:33 PM

Susan: I loved the last several lines of your post. They describe what is true for many of us, (even including the eclectic careers!). Keep on singing.

Cheers, BK

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Susan A-R
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 09:50 PM

My family sang in the car, at bed time,I had older siblings with taste that ran toward PPM, Samon and Garfunkle, Judy Collins and Joan Baez (also Beatles, Stones, etc.) I took u violin at age 8, sang in choruses from age 11 sang in community musicals from age 13, got a dulcimer (mountain) at age 17 started my own record collection late in life (college) with Gordon Bok, Priscilla Herdman (did the Fox Hollow Festival and Maine Festival in college, and did coffee house performances through college, and back here in VT. got a wonderful injection of southern music during a stay in Virginia, wrote a few songs now and then, etc. etc. It's been kinda meandering, sort of like my life. you know, journalism, advocacy, teaching, dental assistant, chef . . . Suffice it to say I sing, therefore I am Though it's not the trade by which I eat When melodies and stories meet In song, I am alive, complete. I sing therefore I am.


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Dr John
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 08:43 AM

As a child listening to Chidren's Favourites on BBC Radio which often had folkish singers and songs - Elton Hayes, Shirley Abacaire (whatever happened ...) Burl Ives, Vernon Delhart (forgive spelling). In the evening Big Bill Campbell and his Rocky Mounteneer: does anyone remember them? This got me started. Then as a teenager I got hooked on Lonnie Donegan and Skiffle. When that faded out I didn't like the teenage stuff that was being dished out to us so we looked for were it all came from and found Broonzy, Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie etc. Been there ever since.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Mikal
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 01:09 AM

My family gets together once a year. The day is all stories and music from one end to the other. As a child, I assumed all adults played or told tales.

Then, at five, the real teaching began. My grandfather, now twenty years dead, taught me to tell tales. My Uncle Joe started me singing and drumming. My mother sat me down every tuesday night to hear songs she played on guitar. I was in school for three years before I found out this wasn't the norm for everyone.

Now, I have a nephew who learns to tell stories from me. My wife plays fiddle with the family.

We all have different, wonderful stories of where we come from, and what made us what we are.

Bah, it's late. I'm getting misty eyed thinking about the past, and my bed is surely warmer than this keyboard! Still, it's nice to hear all the tales.


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Paul
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 12:55 PM

My parents made me take piano lessons and practice every day from age 7 to 13; it was always a big fight. At about 16 I discovered my dad's old Stella six-string guitar sitting around and decided to learn it. Since I was into '70's punk rock at the time, that took about a day.

When I was 19, I discovered the acoustic folk and blues that was being played around my college town, and immediately traded in all of my electric gear for a cheap acoustic guitar. A year or so after that, my car stereo died, so I thought it was a good time to learn harmonica. That was when I started up my blues band, singing and playing guitar and harp.

About a year ago, I decided that since I no longer have time for a band, and was in a real rut in my playing, I would sell my guitar and get a mandolin. If you know one stringed instrument, you know a little bit about them all, so it didn't take me long to be able to pound out some rough cowboy chords while howling my favourite Guthrie, Prine, or Dylan song. I've found I'm having a hell of a time getting past that point, however.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Jaxon
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 08:59 AM

I grew up thinking I couldn't sing but still loving music. Lyrics were always important to me. I grew up without ever singing outside of the shower and without ever touching a musical instrument.
At age 42 I was at a Folk Mass in my parish and sat next to a woman and daughter who both sang beautifully. After Mass I told them how much I enjoyed their voices and the mother said thet she had enjoyed my voice too! For whatever reason I believed her and approached the folk group in our parish. Within a month I had bought a guitar and started taking lessons. I was also singing with them at rehearsals and finally was invited to join them at Mass.
I began to learn many Irish songs I had heard as a child as well as many folk songs I learned in the 60s. I now play out solo and with friends. Music has become an integral part of my life because of one kind comment from an unknown lady.
Jack Murray

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: BSeed
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 03:24 AM

You might want to scroll past this one: I have a feeling it's gonna be long.

My family's Saturday evening entertainment was listening to the radio--a couple of family dramas ("One Man's Family"?), then a comedy show called "It Pays to Be Ignorant," and finally, "Your Hit Parade." Frank Sinatra was the male vocalist on the show, which featured the top ten songs of the week, ten down to one. I grew up singing pop songs.

I'm a preacher's son (no, Joe, not a priest's) and my mom sometimes played piano in church, if the organist was off, and often played at home, the whole family and any guests there may have been leaning in to try to see the words of the songs she played, Christmas carols, Stephen Foster songs (but it wasn't until a couple of months ago when I began learning the loveliest, "Hard Times Come Again No More"). My older sister had piano lessons, my older brother had trumpet lessons (and later taught himself piano), my younger brother played trombone--my parents started me on violin and the evening of the day that my teacher told me to lighten up on the strings, after about a month's lessons, my mom--in tuning the violin--broke the bridge. A new one would cost $.50, a huge sum in the late thirties, and my parents, having heard me practice before my latest lesson, decided it was better for the whole family if my lessons ceased. The violin (and an old round bodied mandolin died years later, neglected and abused, in the garage, its bow long since losing its hair to ill conceived attempts to play musical saw.

In my mid teens there was talk about buying me a clarinet, then a month or so of piano lessons, then a decision that I wasn't a musician. Then my older brother, Dave, came back from college with a ukulele, playing "Ain't She Sweet" and other such. When I started college there was a guy in the dorm who played "Keep on the Sunny Side" on a uke, singing a very unspiritual chorus: "Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life; you will feel no pain as I drive you insane, so keep on the sunny side of life." Between choruses, he'd tell very dumb jokes. The girls loved him. At that time I linked making music with success with girls and tried to imitate some of the songs Dave played on the uke. I went into the air force toward the end of the Korean war, after which I finally bought my own ukulele, a Martin soprano on which I learned to play a few dozen songs (badly). To amplify my unlistenable music, I bought a very bad tenor banjo, replaced the steel strings with nylon, and tuned it like a uke.

Possibly because I was so lousy, no one ever seemed to want to play with me, so I had no models and never got better, even after buying my first guitar, a very nice--and for me, very expensive--Goya classic guitar. But I got away from the old uke tunes and actually started playing some folk songs at this time, "Look Down, Look Down That Lonesome Road" and "The Foggy, Foggy Dew" and such. But I got bad reviews from the audience the only time I tried to play it publicly, at an open mike in Fresno, and traded it in on my first 5-string, a very nice Bacon long neck, and got Seeger's book. The basic up picking technique was easy enough to learn, and soon I was double-thumbing melodies, hammering on and pulling off, choking and sliding a bit, "Hard, Ain't It Hard" and "John Henry" and "Waltzing Matilda" and "Whiskey in the Jar."

Another very long plateau, a lot of side trips into guitars and autoharps and harmonicas and so on, and finally, in the past three or four years, thanks to some friends into old timey songs, I started learning to frail, now trying to build up a bit of speed playing clawhammer melodic banjo, some three-finger style, and so on, and a sudden breakthrough a couple of years ago when I finally learned cross-harp style of blues, country, and folk harmonica...and still cursing about my mon's decision not to buy a new bridge for the fiddle.


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: hrodelbert
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 02:46 AM

Having started isn't it wonderful that there's enough reportoire out there to last several lifetimes. Any moment you can hear something you've never heard before and get the real buzz. The ultimate accolade from me is to say " I must learn that one". I'm now tied up for years

Just thought I'd say that


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Sir
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 01:10 AM

My love for folk music started with my father who used to sing when he drove the family on trips to relatives or camp meetin'. Some times we'd put a blanket out on the ground in the front yard in summer and sit beneath the stars and he'd start singing songs that he learned growing up in the Ozarks. My children know many of the songs he would sing and I am pleased that music's oral traditions are still being handed down.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Snookums
Date: 21 Oct 98 - 12:10 AM

What got me started? It's hard to say, but probably the 1st thing is that I was born to very tolerant parents.

We used to have an old pump organ down in the basement. At 4 years old, I would go down there, pump up the pedals with my hands (I couldn't sit on the bench and reach the pedals) and hammer out "The Green Beret" by ear. When the organ would wind down, I would stop, get down and pump her up again.

I was in 3rd grade when my sister (a year older) brought home a clarinet. She taught me what she was learning. I took up clarinet a year later when "I was old enough". A couple of years later, my folks bought me a guitar. My dad taught me a couple of chords, but for the most part, I learned chords from Reader's Digest song book chord diagrams. He then bought a mandolin. We would spend countless hours out in the garage playing old time and country music. I always got stuck with whatever instrument was left over.

Again, probably the biggest thing that got me started was tolerant parents. I cringe when I hear my neices or nephew get told by their parents to "knock off that racket". The world would be shy alot of musicians if all kids were told the same thing.


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: gargoyle
Date: 20 Oct 98 - 11:45 PM

Four years old.

A tall windup record-player in the garage.

Beryle Ives singing about kittens that lost their mittens.

I was hooked for life.

Today, the windup stands near the computer and smells of camphor wood.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
Date: 20 Oct 98 - 11:30 PM

After listening for years to Rory Gallegher, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrex etc, I just had to give the guitar a go sooner or later.

Regards, Stephen. Ireland

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 20 Oct 98 - 12:18 PM

My father was in and out of work all during the 50s... strikes, recessions, cancer. During one period of prosperity, he bought a piano. I hated and loved the piano. Hated it because my teacher kept a ruler handy to smack me on the hands when I muffed a note. Loved it because the entire family would gather around the piano and sing.

I got lost once at Steeplechase Park in Coney Island (a most remarkable place with a horse chase ride that went on forever... on of the World's greatest amusement parks. I was found by New York's Finest and taken to the Police Station. My frantic mother finally located me. The cops - all Irish - had me standing on the captain's desk and were milling around. Couldn't figure out how a kid that small with an English accent knew so many Irish songs. Very suspicious. That's how it all started.

All the best, Dan Milner

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Graeme
Date: 20 Oct 98 - 11:41 AM

Thanks Mick - it's good to be here.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Big Mick
Date: 20 Oct 98 - 08:38 AM


Welcome back, and thanks for coming.

All the best,


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Graeme
Date: 20 Oct 98 - 05:57 AM

Barbara - thanks for re-constituting this thread , it's fascinating. It seems there is one thing in common; everyone started very young, either by what they experienced in their teens, or with their families in childhood.

For me - well I was just a hippy student. I'd been able to play several instruments by ear since I was a little kid, and I loved music. None of my family were musical, but I learnt to sing at school and went from there.

The early stuff of Simon and Garfunkel appealed to my deep romantic sense (which has got me into awful trouble ever since!), and from there people like Paxton, Dylan, Lehrer etc grabbed my political attention.

It wasn't long before I discovered a very rich heritage of English folk music, through the medium of Lindisfarne, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, Pentangle, Amazing Blondin and others. I tried to learn guitar (God how I tried!) but my inability to read music only let me play what I could by ear. It's not too bad, but far from good enough for performing. Then I had a bad accident and my left hand was smashed up, so that put an end to that.

After a long break I rediscovered folk music quite recently, after my marriage broke up and some concerned friends took me to a folk club. It felt like meeting once again a long-neglected, dear friend.

Nowadays I sing mainly, and play the alto recorder which I can still just about do, but not as well as before. I love to write my own songs, and arrange new tunes to old ones. (A laborious process of thinking of a tune, playing it one finger on a piano, then trying to write it down!)

And having found the music once more, I know I'll never leave it again.

Thank you, Mudcat.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Oct 98 - 05:26 PM

This is another good one to refresh for newcomers. Lots of biographical info about the Mudcat neighbors.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: H.Dulcimer
Date: 28 May 98 - 08:48 AM

I think it is probably a long story. I remember mother always singing "harmony" to all the songs on the radio. I was fascinated with that, and tried to imitate what she did - always wondering how she knew the right notes to sing. I gradually learned to hear and sing "harmony" too, and am so glad I did. It makes it easy now when I add embellishment to the melody as I play hammered dulcimer. Then, as a young teen, our girl scout troop went to see a young lady play an instrument none of us had ever heard of - the appalachian mountain dulcimer. It was fascinating, but I never thought much about it until years later, when I joined our local folk music and mountain dulcimer society. I sang in gospel ensembles in church and on travelling teams from my college. It was hootenany era, so we alll got ukeleles and played folk music and sang. Married a non-musician...........went to a Reinactment festival in Lafayette, In. the Feast of the Hunters Moon............saw my first Hammered Dulcimer. Saw it again the next few years, as we returned to the Feast. Was determined that some day I would own one and learn to play. I've been playing now for 5 years....... Went to a dulcimer festival, met a lady with a collection of antique hooked. I now have a collection of about 50 instruments which I try to learn to play................ Well, I told you it was long.......... But music is my life..........I love it.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: AndyG
Date: 28 May 98 - 06:54 AM

The BBC "Broadcast for Schools" Singing Together.

The BBC regularly commissioning Ewan McColl songs for their "docu-history" shows.

The BBC giving The Spinners a weekly radio show.

The BBC televised shows including regular appearances by Tom Lehrer, Julie Felix, Jake Thakeray, Robin Hall & Jimmy McGregor, Cy Grant, Lance Percival

My parents for ensuring I had enough cash to get to three or four concerts every year. (just enough to make you selective about who you go to see)

The British Government allowed me into Pubs (and clubs) at the age of eighteen.

Friends who introduced me to Joan Baez,Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen,Tom Paxton,The Incredible String Band,Martin Carthy Fairport Convention,Recreational Pharmecuticals

I can blame the English Civil War society for letting me "make my own entertainment" on campsites (and in pubs) throughout Britain for 10 years.

In the end however, I enjoyed what I heard and what I did.
I got me started.


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 May 98 - 12:31 AM

What got me started, huh?

Can't remember her name--but she was AMAZING!!!

Once I got started, I couldn't stop!


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Jenny
Date: 25 May 98 - 01:16 PM

WOW ... looks like I'm going to add a few more cents to this thread ... ALLAN C ... I, too, played the Sunday night hoots at the Cellar Door, '69-'71; it was there that I saw Ian and Sylvia for the first time; on my 18th birthday I saw the Mitchell Trio who had replaced Chad with some new guy, Henry John Deuschendorf (sp) III; and I was there the night that John Denver and Fat City (Bill and Taffy Danoff) recorded "Country Roads." Did you ever hear a trio called "Happy Face" (2 guys and a girl) at the Sunday night hoots? They had a rendition of "Southern Man" that I particularly liked. I sang and played weekends at a place called "Garvins," just on the DC side of Connecticut Avenue.

I continue to be amazed at the 'Cats with whom I have something in common ... ttfn ... jenny

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
Date: 25 May 98 - 12:44 PM

I guess the first time I saw live music - it was a local high school talent show and there were three guys sax-bass-drums - they played HARLEM NOCTURN just like the recording by the VISCOUNTS ----- and the really cool thing about it was the blue & purple & red colored lights up on stage ------ absolute magic ---------- shortly after that I heard my older brothers Kingston Trio album #1 and the sound of the banjo hooked me --- been trying to play ever since.............

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Bob Landry
Date: 24 May 98 - 08:39 PM

Like others who have replied above, I share a long family musical tradition: Grandmother (pump organ) and a few of her siblings, Dad (fiddle), Godfather/uncle (piano, fiddle and guitar), another uncle (piano, accordian), an aunt (piano), brother (banjo & guitar), sister (piano), brother in law (guitar), several cousins (various) and the list is growing. Many neighbours played music. Many of my childhood friends played music. Some had regular paying gigs, especially my Dad and his brothers who played for community dances. Some even recorded tapes and LP's. Most of us are self taught and we do have a blast whenever we get together. As kids in the 1950's, we sang folk songs in school, participated in community concerts, formed impromptu bands. We listened to a lot of radio, which, in Cape Breton, meant country, celtic (especially Cape breton fiddlers and the beginnings of the folk revolution for me, Irish folk groups such as the Clancy brothers) and the beginnings of that newfangled rock and roll stuff.

I took piano lessons as a boy but never learned to play very well. The biggest accomplishment was learning to accompany my Dad when he played the fiddle - and I did that until shortly before he died. Other than that, I wasn't all that enthused by the hours of practice that the piano required. I'd rather spend my time playing hockey and baseball, listening to music on the radio or going to dances and envying my friends who played the fiddle or the guitar.

I didn't do anything about the guitar until after graduating from university and moving to Ottawa. There I met new friends, some of whom played 12-string guitars and sang a lot of folk music (among other things). There was a spare guitar and I picked it up, learned a few chords and started to play softly in the background at our frequent parties (and we partied a lot). That lasted about 8 months and the group started to break up as guys got married and moved away. I then bought my own guitar, some Gordon Lightfoot songbooks, and started playing along with him. I've been collecting music, learning tunes and howling ever since. Folk, celtic, maritime music, blues, bluegrass, and older R&B are my preferences.

I'm proud to say that the musical tradition is moving on to the next generation. It looks as if about 50% of my family's children are going to keep the music alive in my family. They've been frequently exposed to our collective love of music including first hand experience at watching their parents and grandparents gather in the kitchen, the living room or the basement and going at it. It's wonderful to be able to witness the musical tradition continue.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Gloria
Date: 24 May 98 - 11:55 AM

I started on the piano when I was 5, now I'm 18. My love for music; folk songs and all those stuff started when I was picked to be in my school choir at 10. Since then I've been singing in choirs, both in church and in school. Now I teach my school choir and of course do the arrangements to suit them. AND I'm crazy over Celtic music of any kind!!

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Axe
Date: 24 May 98 - 07:23 AM

Hard to recall exactly what it was. My mother plays piano, her mother taught piano, my uncle was a professional musician and my great-grandfather (on my mom's side) was fiddle player so I guess it runs in the family. The first music I remember hearing was classical, especially, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Like many others, my first instrument was piano. I took lessons until I was about 12 years old. At that time I mistakenly figured it wasn't cool to carry piano books to school so I could walk to my my lesson after (Oh well).

Anyway, I picked up a guitar for the first time when my mother brought home a "Roy Smeck" 6-string generic brand from the local department store (can't remember whether it was Sears or Eaton's). My older brother and I listened to a lot of Lightfoot, Dylan, Ian and Sylvia as well as the Beatles, Doors, Hendrix, etc. I managed to figure out some tunes and went from there, basically self-taught on guitar.

My favourite types of songs to play are blues and bluegrass and my favourite composer is Bach. I'm hoping my daughter will continue with the music in the family. She's learning fiddle, so I guess my great-grandfather would be smiling.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Frank in the swamps
Date: 24 May 98 - 05:29 AM

With my memory, who knows? I recollect in primary school, about 6 yrs. old or thereabouts, we had a guy come into our class who played a guitar and sang songs. One was "The Golden Vanity" I was outraged, infuriated at the evil ships captain, I guess I identified with the poor little double crossed cabin boy, MORE ADULT DUPLICITY! Though that wasn't in my vocabulary. My uncle Jim played the banjo, but was so bashful you rarely heard him. I also thought "John, Paul George & Ringo" we're the coolest, Mom used to yell at me to stop jumping up & down on my bed singing "She Loves You, yeah, yeah...."

Skip ahead to twelve years of age, taking guitar lessons with Tiny Hostetter, a GREAT SOUL (r.i.p.). Tiny played and sang with his wife, Tina, they played the popular music of their time, the great standards of the 30's & 40's. Tiny actually had a pretty horrible voice, it was Tina who could sing, but Tiny told me to never be afraid, just sing, or if you're too embarrassed, whistle. As much as I learned about music from that man, I learned more about dignity and generosity of spirit. I always get emotional when I think of him.

To this day, most of what I play is Jazz, the standards that Tiny & Tina used to sing, but the Old Songs still are a part of me, especially the ballads. Between playing Jazz & Swing for fun, some classical duets (Violin & Guitar) for weddings, and holding down a "real job" in the unreal world, most of my folk experience these days consists of either listening, or reading the ballads, but if I ever get shed of my "real job......"

Frank I.T.S.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Zane
Date: 23 May 98 - 11:19 PM

My first thread response.... It was middle sixties, I was on my way to church where I played my huge accordion {big enough to hide behind}in the church band. I passed through a community park where a real live rock band with groovy suits, long hair and beatle boots belted out "Don't Bring Me Down" by the Animals. That moment changed my world- I was mesmerized! Soon after I traded my accordion for a guitar.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: wolfz
Date: 23 May 98 - 01:41 AM


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Subject: RE: A tabulation of What got you started?
From: Allan C.
Date: 22 May 98 - 04:13 PM

Thought it might be interesting to tabulate the "driving forces" mentioned in this thread. If nothing else, it impresses me enough to take a second look at my collection of recordings...

Buddy Holly
Kingston Trio
Chet Atkins
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Planxty, Bothy Band, etc.
Singing in church
PP&M, Simon and Garfunkel and all these old vinyl records me parents had
Judy Collins songbook
Leonard Cohen
A friend gave me a Sandy Denny record and some Pentangle records
Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, etc.
The Beatles
Harry Belafonte
Pete Seeger
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Midnight Special
Barbara Carins
Both my grandparents played and sang, and my parents too.
I can't remember not singing. I sang along to Perry Como, Dean Martin, and others.
I found Alan Lomax's *Folk Songs of North America* in the library.
I learned guitar to impress the girls
Sandy and Caroline Paton
The New Lost City Ramblers
The Beers
Hootenannies and coffee houses
Richard Dyer-Bennett, Jean Redpath...etc.
The Weavers
Burl Ives
"New Folk" with Hedy West, Jackie Washington, David Gude
And The Greenbriar Boys
I think it was the nuns.
My dad
Englebert Humperdinck
I borrowed a guitar, learned a couple of chords
Van Ronk, Eric Von Scmidt, Geoff Muldaur, Rolf Cahn, etc.
The Rose of Tralee
Sink the Bismarck, Hey Little Devil
A guitarist (John Malcolm) who could play bass, rhythm and melody at the same time, who sang interesting songs
'Sam Hall', 'Whittington Fair' ...the one with Uncle Tom Cobbley and all (or perhaps, Widdecombe)
Dave Isom, of The Bushwackers
Other sailors started me in folk/acoustic stuff
Ian & Sylvia
Tom Paxton
Joe & Eddie
Gordon Lightfoot
James Keelaghan
The Furies
I am mesmerized by ballads - the combination of poetry and music.
I've always been of the opinion that a good instrument is the best inspiration to play.
Christy Minstrels
"The Johnny Cash Show"
Saw an ad' re "Musos to start folk music club". Why wasn't I told about this bloody years ago?!
I grew up where evenings were spent singing songs such as The bonnie Swans, Famous Flower of Serving Men, The Bonnie Lass of Anglesey and so on.
The Great Irish Tenor John McCormick
Fairport, Steeleye Span
June Tabor, Nick Jones, Frankie Armstrong, Martin Carthy, The Watersons
Irish Rovers
Planxty, Anuna, the Wolfe Tones
My third grade teacher's daughter, Kat Eggleston
Walked into a music store and... bought my first guitar
Singing was something we loved to do to entertain ourselves.
Girl scouts and summer camp singing
Sing Along with Mitch
Hootenanny on TV
Ewan MacColl, Jean Redpath, Jean Ritchie, John and Tony, Young
Tradition, Coppers, Watersons, Jeanne Robertson

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 21 May 98 - 08:41 PM

In the 50's there were girl scouts and summer camp singing. My family was not musical - I took piano lessons but no one else did anything.

In the sixties, there were Baez and Belafonte records and then Sing Along with Mitch (not quite folk, but borderline) and then Hootnanny on TV. To college in '64 where I went to one Folksong Club meeting and left, but then found a group of people vaguely related to the Outing Club who sang together most Friday nites. By the time I graduated, I was definately a folky, but not very sophisticated about it.

My first folk festival was Fox Hollow in 1970. Between that and the cheap record bin I found Ewan MacColl, Jean Redpath, Jean Ritchie, John and Tony, Young Tradition, Coppers, Watersons, Jeanne Robertson... and definately turned toward British/Scottish.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Jon W.
Date: 21 May 98 - 05:03 PM

I like the idea of the tape swap too. I think we've been sitting around waiting for Max to come up with a way of posting sound files (.wav or .mp3) to the forum (which would be great) and we've forgotten that we can do things on our own. But how do we go about it?

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Bert
Date: 21 May 98 - 04:18 PM

Bruce V.,

I like the idea of a tape swap, I tried to start one a long time ago but didn't get much interest.

Anyone else interested?
Email me at

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Bruce V.
Date: 21 May 98 - 03:54 PM

I just loved reading these stories from all of you. It reminds me that there is a community of folkies. I grew up in a musical family. We sang in church and around the piano. Singing was something we loved to do to entertain ourselves. I played piano and cornet during grade school. I got the bug during the folk scare when The Kingston Trio and PP&M, among others, had radio hits. It was an amazing time. I bought a plywood guitar, for $12.50, and taught myself. Since I could read music already, from my other instruments, it wasn't that hard. I still play every day, although rarely in public. I have a small collection of old guitars. Maybe we could start a tape swap amongst the Mudcatters.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Allan C.
Date: 21 May 98 - 01:32 PM

I'll bet that "branch hangs" low not "slow".

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Subject: Lyr Add: GO TO THE WATER (Kat Eggleston)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 May 98 - 08:38 PM

Cuilionn, Kat Eggleston may not do a lot of traditional music, but I think a lot of her stuff has a very traditional sound to it. She certainly had a beautiful voice. Here's a gospel-sounding song she wrote from her 1997 CD called Outside Eden

Go to the Water
copyright, Kat Eggleston, 1997

chorus: Go to the water, walk down slow,
Where the rock is battered and the branch hangs low
Where the sea is rough, the sun burns hotter
To know love, go to the water

You walked through the garden in the early spring
Where the wild blossom was a growing thing
You pressed that flower in your favorite book
And kept its color, but never bore fruit.

Nothing so smooth as the side of a thorn,
Nothing so calm as the eye of a storm
To young love, nothing so sweet
As the sound of a promise no one could keep.

It laughs and shouts where it touches land
And it holds the world like a loving hand
It's a bed of pearls on a moonlit night
Full of life, no end in sight.

The same album has very nice renditions of Flower of Northumberland and "Pastures of Plenty."

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Chris U
Date: 20 May 98 - 04:33 PM

Ah, mine is a sad tale, but with a happy ending. Once upon a time I was engaged to be married, but it was not destined to be. Three years ago this June (and with three months to go before the big day) I learned that my intended did not share my enthusiasm for our impending nuptials and thus the engagement was terminated. I don't know whether it was the need to break out of the low period I found myself in or revenge, but a month later I withdrew all of the money I had saved for the honeymoon, walked into a music store and, with no prior interest or experience in playing an instrument, bought my first guitar. The rest, as they say, is history. I'm now what you would call an advanced beginner, but not a day goes by that I don't pick up my guitar.

Oh, about that happy ending - A year ago I married a wonderful girl who not only shares my enthusiasm for music, but who is learning to play bass as well. Life is good :-)


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Cuilionn
Date: 20 May 98 - 12:08 PM

Sittin' on the gymnasium floor, gathered around the piano with all the other third grade kids, I watched my third grade teacher introduce a young woman with waist-length wheat-colored hair and a matching guitar. This was my teacher's daughter, a fledgling folksinger, and I remember listening to her sing "500 miles" with tears pouring down my face. Made it kind of embarrassing to sing along with my voice all quavery, but I did try. Third grade sing-alongs were an important part of my schooling.

A few years later, my third grade teacher let on that her daughter, Kat, had gone off to the British Isles, collecting songs, and that she'd learned some in Scots Gaelic. I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever heard of, and vowed to myself that someday (I figured, say, around age 80) I would go to Scotland and learn to sing in Gaelic. The next year I had Kat's first tape in hand, with one piece of Gaelic mouth music on it...riviting. The tape got worn out on family road trips, kept my brother annoyed, and made me very happy.

Two years ago (about 17 years after third grade), I started Scots Gaelic classes. Before we knew it, we had formed a Gaelic Choir (four-part, 30+ voices) and started performing at the Highland Games and the Seattle Folklife Festival doing tweed-waulking songs as we waulked real hand-woven lengths of woolen cloth.

I met my third grade teacher's daughter, Kat Eggleston, on the ferryboat a few months ago. She's a singer-songwriter living in Chicago now. As we headed across the water to our dear island, I told her how much she'd inspired me and how I was now studying and singing a great deal of Scots Gaelic song, all because of her one bit of mouth-music on her first tape. She laughed derisively. "That old thing?" she said. "Hell, I learned it phonetically. I don't even know what I was singing. Do you think you could teach me?"

I remain, well, rather shocked. But it's part of the wild whimsey of the folk process, and I aim to keep on singing and sharing songs forever. You never can tell who's gonna teach somethin' and who's gonna learn!

A h-uile beannachd ort,


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
Date: 19 May 98 - 06:15 PM

Hmm.. I can't remember not listening to folk.. My Dad got turned on to Steeleye Span before I was born, and I just grew up with everything from Steeleye to the Irish Rovers.. unlike most kids I thought my dad's music was really quite cool... From Steeleye and the Rovers Dad and I (between the two of us) discovered Planxty, Anuna, the Wolfe Tones, and Fairport and Pentangle and and and.. You get the idea.. :) Then I made the mistake of meeting Greg end of my freshman year in college (okay, so that was only last year.. ), who was from Maine and had all the sea shanties and the like.. So i guess life got me started.. there wasn't really a time that I didn't have a love of Irish/folk/etc. music.. :)


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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Allan C.
Date: 19 May 98 - 01:36 PM

Wow! I never dreamed, when I started this thread that so many people would feel compelled to share their stories. Reading them has been facinating. I think I'll print them out and keep them near the computer so I can remember who some of you are.

I realized, as I read, that I had rather abruptly ended my story. So, here is the condensed version of the "history" I spoke of.

I was living in Brazil when I got my first guitar. My guitar teacher turned out to have taught Alex Hasalof (sp?) of the Limelighters. She was totally amazed at his ability to speak so many foreign languages so well. The teacher taught me to play "by ear". She showed me how to pick up chords off of a recording.

My first "live" performance was at an eighth grade party at the American Catholic school in Rio. My best friend, Keith Behner and I performed "Red River Valley" and "Colorado Trail". What a rush!

Back to the states at the begining of the 60's, I landed in the San Francisco bay area just as the surfing craze was starting. Despite the popularity of surfing music, I continued with folk. I found that performing at parties helped to cover my otherwise obvious shyness. I could deal with large groups of people as long as my guitar was between me and them.

Moved on to Northern Virginia where I won a few talent shows in high school. Usually I had a female singing partner. I also played guitar accompanyment for a couple of winning groups.

By that time, playing the Sunday night hootnanny at the Cellar Door in Georgetown was the mark of a "true professional". This was a club where Ian and Sylvia had their own mailbox. The "ready room" was the alley outside of the kitchen door. It was great! Brings to mind a wonderful performer who was a regular there, named Randy Ohara. Yes, I think I spelled it right. He was Japanese. Sang "With What Do You Concern Yourself, Young Man?" - first time I had ever heard it.

Let me tell you that doing a big time club like that did wonders for my career. I was invited to play at birthday parties, coctail parties and even a church social!

Joined the Air Force to avoid the draft. Was stationed in Great Falls, Montana. Only had one gig the whole time - it was at some sort of lodge meeting or Lions Club or something about 60 miles out of town.

Spent the next few years (after I got out of the service) giving guitar lessons and playing for and with a few friends. Found myself booked to perform for the West Virginia State Poultry Festival. This was the last really big crowd I ever stood in front of.

A few years afterwards I played for tips in a small restaurant across the street from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. a couple of times.

I haven't "performed" but maybe once or twice in the ten years or so since then. I began to feel as if people just weren't interested in the music I had to offer anymore. The main problem was that I was tired of playing the same songs I had been playing for years and years. I lacked stimulus. Mudcat has rekindled the folkfires of my soul. I have begun to learn new songs or to play songs I had always meant to do better or even songs I had forgotten that I knew.

I still love to play and sing along with some of my old friends. Maybe I'll eventually work up to standing in front of an audience again. I think I'd like that.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: aldus
Date: 19 May 98 - 12:21 PM

I thought everyone sang all these so-called traditional songs.. I grw up where evening were spent singing songs such as The bonnie Swans, Famous Flower of Serving Men, The Bonnie Lass of Angelsy and so on.. I loved those songs because they all told such wonderful stories. The first commercial records I heard were by The Great Irish Tenor John MacCormack.....I still love those as well. Even though I went through the typical sixties thing..Beatles , Stones and so on. Like many people I enjoyed the revival of the seventies, Fairport, SteeleSpan and so on. But I still love the great tradition of the old story songs and have always sung them in much the same versions as I heard them as a child. Today I listen To June Tabor, Nick Jones, Frankie Armastron, Martin Carthy, The Watersons and, oh yes, I still get a thrill from John MacCormack.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: erica
Date: 19 May 98 - 10:51 AM

yeah, BK, caffe lena is still going...and going strong. they still have a great open mic on thursdays and all sorts of other amazing stuff.... sweet sweet spot.

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Subject: RE: What got you started?
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 19 May 98 - 08:51 AM

Snare drum in the high school cadets,
Snare drum in the RAAF apprentices
Drums in a "Shadows" band in the early 60s
Guitarist who had no "ear" so I had to learn the tunes
for him.(on electric guitar)
Listening to jazz in coffee shops in Sydney after gigs
Move to Darwin late 60s.
Saw an ad' re "Musos to start folk music club".
Why wasn't I told about this bloody years ago?!
Someone's go'na have to pay!!!
35 years of perfoming: full time , part time, in folk
bands, solo, duo with my wife and now only at
festivals in North Queensland.
After all this time I feel that I have barely scratched the surface.I know I'll just keep on scratching until the end. Regards Ted.

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