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traditional singers: beards, & guinness?

GUEST,Sean (shagger) Mc Ginn 28 Aug 06 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Rowan 28 Aug 06 - 07:18 PM
erinmaidin 28 Aug 06 - 07:23 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 Aug 06 - 07:53 PM
Dave Ruch 28 Aug 06 - 07:55 PM
Bert 28 Aug 06 - 08:17 PM
Maryrrf 28 Aug 06 - 09:42 PM
Seamus Kennedy 28 Aug 06 - 10:03 PM
Bill D 28 Aug 06 - 10:53 PM
Dan Schatz 28 Aug 06 - 11:15 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 28 Aug 06 - 11:45 PM
Bert 28 Aug 06 - 11:46 PM
Big Mick 28 Aug 06 - 11:57 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 Aug 06 - 12:03 AM
JennyO 29 Aug 06 - 12:03 AM
Bert 29 Aug 06 - 12:09 AM
Big Mick 29 Aug 06 - 12:11 AM
Bert 29 Aug 06 - 12:18 AM
Big Mick 29 Aug 06 - 12:29 AM
Bert 29 Aug 06 - 12:31 AM
GUEST,Rowan 29 Aug 06 - 12:44 AM
Seamus Kennedy 29 Aug 06 - 01:52 AM
Fred McCormick 29 Aug 06 - 04:45 AM
JulieF 29 Aug 06 - 05:43 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 Aug 06 - 06:41 AM
JennyO 29 Aug 06 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Sean 'Shagger' Mc Ginn 29 Aug 06 - 07:57 AM
Fred McCormick 29 Aug 06 - 07:59 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Aug 06 - 09:12 AM
JohnB 29 Aug 06 - 11:08 AM
Scrump 29 Aug 06 - 12:01 PM
Marje 29 Aug 06 - 01:25 PM
Ernest 29 Aug 06 - 01:59 PM
GUEST 29 Aug 06 - 02:49 PM
GUEST 29 Aug 06 - 02:51 PM
oggie 29 Aug 06 - 04:14 PM
Desert Dancer 29 Aug 06 - 04:22 PM
Les from Hull 29 Aug 06 - 04:31 PM
Herga Kitty 29 Aug 06 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,Bruce Baillie 30 Aug 06 - 06:11 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Aug 06 - 06:21 AM
Trevor 30 Aug 06 - 07:17 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 30 Aug 06 - 08:15 AM
Scrump 30 Aug 06 - 08:27 AM
GUEST 30 Aug 06 - 08:34 AM
Scrump 30 Aug 06 - 10:57 AM
Paco Rabanne 30 Aug 06 - 11:03 AM
Declan 30 Aug 06 - 02:20 PM
Old Grizzly 30 Aug 06 - 02:28 PM
Mrs.Duck 30 Aug 06 - 02:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Aug 06 - 03:54 PM
Greg B 30 Aug 06 - 06:37 PM
GUEST 30 Aug 06 - 06:45 PM
Willie-O 30 Aug 06 - 06:59 PM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Aug 06 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,Jerry O'Reilly 31 Aug 06 - 01:49 AM
Old Grizzly 31 Aug 06 - 04:21 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 31 Aug 06 - 05:17 AM
freda underhill 31 Aug 06 - 06:21 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 31 Aug 06 - 07:41 AM
Marje 31 Aug 06 - 12:56 PM
Big Mick 31 Aug 06 - 01:00 PM
Marje 31 Aug 06 - 04:14 PM
Herga Kitty 31 Aug 06 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Rowan 31 Aug 06 - 07:07 PM
Marje 01 Sep 06 - 10:40 AM
Scrump 01 Sep 06 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Henny Penny 02 Sep 06 - 12:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Sep 06 - 02:00 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 06 - 02:59 PM
Tootler 02 Sep 06 - 06:16 PM
Big Mick 02 Sep 06 - 06:26 PM
Tootler 02 Sep 06 - 07:15 PM
GUEST 07 Sep 06 - 04:24 AM
GUEST 07 Sep 06 - 06:24 AM
melodeonboy 07 Sep 06 - 06:52 AM
Scrump 07 Sep 06 - 07:07 AM
Hawker 07 Sep 06 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Henny Penny 07 Sep 06 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Rowan 07 Sep 06 - 07:02 PM
GUEST,Jackie Boyce 08 Sep 06 - 08:15 AM
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Subject: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Sean (shagger) Mc Ginn
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 06:43 PM

Why do most traditional singers have beards, (either longish hair or) balding, hippyish appearance, drink guinness AND 'close their eyes' when singing? (sorry Male singers) Is there a stereotypical singer or is it just the wanton hippy in them trying to get out?
I don't sing myself but, if I did, would I be expected to look similar to the above?
I go to festivals, singing weekends, pub sessions etc and almost everyone who sings traditional songs conforms to this expectation! Now I must admit not all are like this but if someone were to sing with a suit on they would not be given a decent hearing, where as, dress like someone who MISSED the 1960's but wanted to be part of it and they would be told 'the floor is yours'
Another thing, why do some singers speak the last line of a song? Is it just to be different or have they run out of interest? (you have to admit, some of their songs are v.e.r.y long and quite boring.)
Please don't take offence, I am very keen to know.
Cheers, 'shagger' Mc Ginn


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 07:18 PM

Sometimes you have to shut your eyes so you can read the words off the back of your eyelids


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: erinmaidin
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 07:23 PM

Not sure how to respond to the first part of your question as it is something I see occasionally but certainly not the rule at the venues I attend. Being a singer, I sometimes close my eyes when I fear a distraction will remove me from the song I'm singing and I'm a firm believer in trying to respect the song.
Speaking the last line of a song always seemed to me to be self-depracating. Whether real or contrived could only be determined by more time spent evaluating the singer's character.
As for "some of the songs are v.e.r.y. long and quite boring", possibly the fault of the singer. However, our modern society may be responsible for the fact that the average listener has an attention span that doesn't allow anything in that requires too much time or effort.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 07:53 PM

My experience is very different, but perhaps we live in different parts of the world. There are people in most walks of life who have beards, or drink Guinness, or have longish hair, or who are going bald. Some of them sing, some wear suits; sometimes simultaneously. Others are clean-shaven and prefer other drinks and styles of dress. Many, indeed, are women and do not suffer much from beards or baldness, though their hair may be long. So what?

It is best to avoid stereotyping, which on the whole gets nobody anywhere. I don't see the point of that part of your question, which I assume refers in any case to "singers of traditional songs" rather than "traditional singers"; the two things are not the same.

As for speaking the last part of a song, that has been fairly common practice -in England, and doubtless elsewhere- for well over a century (likely longer, but information on that is scarce). It isn't compulsory, and not all traditional singers did it. It's a way of bringing the singer, and perhaps the audience, back into the here-and-now after the narrative (sometimes highly emotional and involving) is concluded.

Singing with the eyes closed was also something remarked upon frequently by the early 20th century collectors. It might indicate shyness in some cases, or it might be a way of focusing on the song; or both. At all events, it was quite common.

Whether today's revival singers do these things for the same reasons, or because they think they are supposed to, would perhaps depend on how deeply involved in the whole thing they are.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 07:55 PM

Speaking the last line of the song is a common practice among rural "source singers"; i.e., those from whom some of the singers you have heard have likely gotten their material. It is a trademark of lumbercamp singing, at least here in the US. Others here will be able to give a more thorough history of it.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Bert
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 08:17 PM

I do have longish hair and drink Guinness occasionally. I don't have a beard (at the moment) and I NEVER close my eyes when singing and I'm not going bald.

Now and then I will speak a line or two in a song for emphasis. I rarely sing long songs.

So Shagger, dress how you like, shave or not as you wish and if you're going bald get yourself a wig. It doesn't matter as long as you SING.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 09:42 PM

Well since a lot of traditional singing is done at places where Guinness is commonly served (in the back room of a pub, for example) and usually in very casual surroundings (again, like a pub) or maybe at a festival where people are camping, I don't think you'd find many guys singing traditional songs while wearing suits and sipping martinis. They may well go to work in a suit every day, and sometimes drink cocktails instead of Guiness, but for most traditional singers it's a form of relaxation and not something they'd be all decked out in their best bib and tucker for. Personally I find some of those long haired somewhat scruffy guys that sing traditional songs and dress like old hippies to be quite sexy.   But then I'm a bit of a non conformist myself. And I love listening to long ballads.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 10:03 PM

Personally, my choice of attire and beverage for a session or a singaround is a tuxedo and a dry Tanqueray martini up with 2 olives; and I speak the last line of the song because I've forgotten the tune by the end of the martini.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 10:53 PM

closing the eyes when singing is one way to reduce distractions....like the fellow at your table snagging YOUR Guiness...or the short dress of the waitress....or that 'helpful' person down front mouthing slightly different words at you!

as to beards...well...when most traditional songs were composed, beards were quite common. *grin*....maybe it helps with the mood. (I affect mutton-chops of a sort, if that tells you anything)


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 11:15 PM

Hmmm - not balding (yet) and I don't drink Guinness, but other than that the only answer I can come up with to your question is "Because we have taste."

(An alternative answer is that we can't sing either, but distract others from this by our beards, hippyish appearance and the glare from our foreheads and eyelids.)

Incidentally - the New Lost City Ramblers always used to perform in suits, because they felt it was how genuine old time musicians would dress if THEY were playing large concerts.

As to the last line of songs - this is a very old tradition in ballad singing. I have a recollection that it comes out of Irish musical traditions, but I'm not certain. It's been a long time since I took that college folklore course. Many field recordings have this stylistic element, and many revival singers of traditional songs like to perform as "authentically" as possible.

Dan Schatz and his beard.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 11:45 PM

Actually, most traditional singers are clean-shaven (even the men), don't close their eyes, and have good haircuts. But then, the ones I describe have been dead for 20-30 years. The current crop of singers are from a later generation than the source singers, and many of these latter-day singers would never refer to themselves as 'traditional' singers. 'Singers of traditional songs,' yes, but not 'traditional' themselves.

The eyes-closed thing is, as people say, to avoid distraction (and, for some, to 'read' the lyric -- proof that the printed word has overtaken aural tradition is that we have to 'imagine' the lyric sheet in front of us. For some, of course, the missing words are written on the ceiling of the venue, you know.

And speaking the last line is most common (in America, anyway) among rural singers from the North Woods -- lumberjacks from Maine and Canada -- and the Maritimes. It's much less common to hear a southern ballad singer do it. In fact, I don't know of any of them who regularly do so. If it's common now in Britain, it's probably a 'take-back' of the tradition found in the northern US & Canada.

So that's the real story behind the stereotypes in the question that launched this thread.

Bob Clayton

PS -- I don't drink Guinness, nor any kind of beer or ale. Just a matter of taste, you know. My tipples are hard cider, rum, and single-malts of the mellower sort. Ask Bill D about my taste in malts; he knows my likes better than do I.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Bert
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 11:46 PM

Seamus,

In the first words my wife spoke to me, "You are a Mother fucking liar"

Bert.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Mick
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 11:57 PM

Well, sometimes I wear it long, sometimes short. Currently I am square in the middle. I am thinking I will go back to a neat ponytail, unless I get tired of it while growing it. Then I will go back to wearing it like Seamus.

I usually drink Guinness, started doing that years ago when I was younger than you. Not too long after that I started drinking Jamesons. Once in a while I drink water when I have to rehydrate my brain from the other two. The next time Seamus and I are performing in the same venue, I will have the fixings for a martini in my Porter case. Seamus .... vodka or gin? ..... shaken or stirred? ... I will have olives ..... and a picture of a bottle of vermouth to show the drink so's to make sure it is appropriately dry.

I close my eyes to sink into the song, it helps me to emote. I open them occasionally to see if I still have an audience. I also open them when that very young, very blonde, very long legged, very beautiful waitstaffer is taking care of the tables directly in front of the stage. Often I open my eyes very wide when I "accidentally" kick something (like my bodhran, or a banjo, or a monitor, or occasionally Jon the bass player)off the stage and ask her to bend over, pick it up, and return it too me.

I usually sing in jeans, oftentimes in a kilt, occasionally in a suit and tie, and daily in the nude while showering. Let's see you get that mental imagery out of your head.

I very rarely speak the last line of a song, but when I do, it is for effect. It makes me feel like I'm famous or something.

What the hell is the point of this thread????? It proves the logic in only letting members start threads.

Mick


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:03 AM

Gunness is good for you.
Beards - because it joins up with hair coming out of your ears.
Saying the last line of the song - well thats where the high notes are. Nobody capable of growing a beard is that much of a puff.
Closed eyes - well its no good looking round for encouragement with that sort of material.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: JennyO
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:03 AM

Seen at the Loaded Dog last December:

The Roaring Forties started in 1988 as the Ensemble of Fat Bearded Shantymen & tonight they played homage to their origins.

Yes - even the women!!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:09 AM

...Once in a while I drink water ... I KNEW there was something wrong with you Mick! *grin*


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Mick
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:11 AM

What's wrong with me, Bert, is that I don't get to sing with you often enough.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:18 AM

Me too Mick, when are you coming to Colorado again?


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Mick
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:29 AM

Hopefully soon, so's I can see my daughter, son in law, and grandbaby.

And to right a wrong I committed last time I was in the State in not seeing your family.

Mick


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:31 AM

We're still here mate. And remember "Mudcatters can commit no wrong"


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:44 AM

Ah, The Roaring Forties! It looked like Jennifer had to keep a good grip on her beard to keep it in place. Perhaps she was laughing too much for the gum arabic to work.

I've maintained for some years that balding is the only sure sign of maturity and, while I'm working on it, I'm not quite there yet. I confess to singing the odd trad song but couldn't claim to be a real traditional singer. I like Guinness but will accept guineas and prefer to keep my eyes open although, like many box players, I tend to have a fixed expression when getting into tricky tunes that require great concentration (at whch I'm hopeless. My daughters were shocked at how long my hair used to be before I moved to where water-supply (and thus conservation) was a pressing issue (hence the Guinness). They were born here and don't (yet) like Guinness. Lucky me! Severe adolescence caused my beard to persist but I save at least 10 minutes a day by keeping it. The only singers I've heard speak the last lines of their (sung) songs are from Ireland, have learned in Ireland or wish you believe they have some connection with Ireland.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 01:52 AM

Oh crap! I'd forgotten that Bert had seen me perform, and I wasn't in a tux.

But that was in my stage show, and I don't wear a tux there.

I do wear a tux with the martini at sessions and singarounds when I'm not performing professionally. Yeah, that's the ticket! Just at sessions anad singarounds.

And Mick, a true martini is only made with gin and dry vermouth - that vodka miscarriage which Ian Fleming foisted on a hapless public is simply that: vodka and vermouth, NOT a martini.

I still love the Guinness, though; I've been known to lick it off a leper's leg.
But not in my tux..

Seamus


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 04:45 AM

You seem to have a bizarre idea about traditional singers. Harry Cox didn't have a beard. Neither did Joe Heaney, Paddy Tunney, Walter Pardon, Jimmy McBeath, Sam Larner, Phoebe Smith, May Bradley or Elizabeth Cronin. On the other hand, Phil Tanner and George Maynard were suitably hirsute, although I'd be surprised if either of them were Guinness drinkers.

There may be a correlation between Irish traditional singers and Guinness, although Paddy Tunney was teetotal, but not between Irish traditional singers and beards - unless you count the Pecker Dunn, and I personally wouldn't.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: JulieF
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 05:43 AM

I feel somewhat excluded from this sterotype. Well I have got the facial hair undercontrol as for the drink - guinness when I can't get good beer, irish whiskey and scots single malts when I can afford it ( Isle of Jura is about £15 a bottle in the local co-op at the moment), Good red wine when socialising with friends in their houses.   As for the closing you eyes when you sing - Have you seen some of the people I sing with ?

Seriously on the beard front. I think all men should be made to try one at least once at least to see if it suits them

J


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 06:41 AM

Fred I don't think he was talking about the main players - just us lot with the walk on parts.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: JennyO
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 07:18 AM

Most people have never seen John Warner without his beard. It's part of his image. Unfortunately with the passing of time the colour has graduated from black to bits of grey to almost white, and little children tend to call out things like "Mummy there's Santa Claus!" He doesn't feel very flattered by the comparison, and has been heard to say "No - HE looks like ME."

He felt so strongly about this that he actually wrote a song about it, and it was this song that the Roaring Forties were performing when the photo was taken.


BEARD PROTEST SONG

John Warner - 2 May 2004

I protest! Surely my hirsute features cannot be sufficient cause,
For all the kids in Sydney to call me "Santa Claus"


I don't look a bit like Santa Claus,
My verdict is official,
If the beard on me is all you see,
Then your look's too superficial,
There's Karl Marx and Henry Parkes,
With whom I could be compared,
But its plain to see that you can't see me,
If you just see the big, white beard.

We don't judge folks by the slant of their eyes,
Nor yet the colour of their skin,
You don't match a fella like Nelson Mandela,
With the likes of Idi Amin.
Well I'm the same, I resent the game,
Folks play when they make compare.
It aint no joke, there's a unique bloke,
Beneath this facial hair.

It'd turn me grey what people say,
When I'm strolling around the town,
Why, apart from my belly I could be Ned Kelly,
If my hair was a bit more brown,
W.G. Grace had a barbate face,
Though perhaps not quite as hoary,
And Ho Chi Min's, though a bit more thin,
Was his countenential glory.

So I'm nothing at all like the bloke in the mall,
With the bright red pom-pom hat,
A marketing play from the USA
I'm not, and that is that.
I sing great songs and folk sing along,
I perform to wild applause,
And I'll sing this, chum, ad-nauseum
If you dare say I'm Santa Claus.

So to hell with the henna and the burnt sienna,
And I'm not gonna trim it short,
Go and embarrass that bloke Rolf Harris,
Tie your own kangaroo down sport.
There's more out there than facial hair,
If you need some cause for offence.
Till the day I've died, I'll wear with pride,
This beard on my countenence.

I don't look a bit like Santa Claus,
My verdict is official,
If the beard on me is all you see,
Then your look's too superficial,
There's Karl Marx and Henry Parkes,
With whom I could be compared,
And I do declare there's a bloke in there,
Who's all one piece with his facial hair,
What you see is what you get when I appear,
A man with a big, white beard.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Sean 'Shagger' Mc Ginn
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 07:57 AM

Thanks all of you who has replied to my query. I understand that not all traditional singers are as I have described in my opening post but you must admit that a huge percentage are like that. I recently went along to a singing weekend and almost every person who sang a traditional song had either a beard (ranging from a few back combed hairs to a full beard) had a pint of guinness in his hand (we are still talking about men only) and almost all sang with their eyes shut. I asked one young man why he sang with his eyes closed and he replied 'everyone does it, it's traditional'
I don't know much about English traditional singers, are they similar to Irish (north and south) I am pretty ignorant in this but have now become interested in the singing of these old songs. I just wanted to know, would I be taken serious if I was to learn a song and sing it at one of these gatherings? I have little hair, no beard and I drink red wine!
Another thing that has put me off about these 'traditional singers' is, it seems like a closed shop! If you are not in the 'KNOW' you haven't a chance to find where the elite singing sessions are being held.
eg:I attended the All Ireland Fleadh last weekend and only the well known (big name singers) seemed to get asked to sing.
Am I wasting my time trying to get accepted and should I sing with my eyes closed and grow a beard if it would help.

Thanks    Shagger Mc Gin


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 07:59 AM

That makes it even more confusing. I've got a walk on part. Well, it's more in the nature of a speaking extra these days and I neither have a beard nor am I much of a Guinness drinker. Give me a pint of real ale any day.

weelittledrummer. "Fred I don't think he was talking about the main players - just us lot with the walk on parts"


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 09:12 AM

With that nickname have you not something better to do?


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: JohnB
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 11:08 AM

I've had a beard for the last 35 years or there about, so I'm not going to shave it off just to sing. I think the Guiness is a throw back to when the "Big 5" had control of the swill that was sold as beer back then. Guiness was at least consistent and once you develop the taste for it you are hooked. I do prefer to try any "REAL" ales that are on draught though "thank God for CAMRA".
I don't speak the last lines as I find it a bit of an affectation, I do however on occassion toast the writer of the song at the end, as in "Scowie". I often find I have to close my eyes to concentrate on the words and the song in the hope of not screwing it up.
I only sing in a tuxedo whenI sing with our local community choir.
I think your description fits more of the so called "revivalist" class of singers than the 20th century source singers.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 12:01 PM

It's interesting that some singers deliberately shut their eyes as they believe it's traditional. Personally I prefer it when people leave their eyes open - I always do when singing. It seems a bit rude to me to shut your eyes, as if you can't stand looking at the audience.

As for the presence or absence of beards, long hair, baldness, and Guinness - yes, you do get plenty of all of these in folk clubs, but you also get plenty of people who are clean shaven, have short or medium length hair and drink other things (as for me, I prefer real ale given the choice, but I drink Guinness if there's no decent ale available, as I quite like the taste even though it's not "real" in the CAMRA sense. Sadly the "real" bottled Guinness of yesteryear is no longer available, at least in England).

Oh, and you forgot to mention the Arran sweaters ;-)

You seem to get more people wearing what might be described as "weird" clothes and funny hats, etc., at festivals, than in clubs. It seems people like to dress in "folkie" gear for these events.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Marje
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 01:25 PM

Now that you've made it clear which country your experiences are in, Shagger, you can discount some of the comments above, as much of it seems to relate to the US and to England.

When you said "traditional singers" I knew some people would take issue with you about this. Take no notice. We all know perfectly well what you mean - people who are alive and active in the folk scene, singing traditional songs. Maybe the Irish don't make such a big deal about this distinction between "traditional" and "revival" - and Irishman once argued with me that there was no such thing as a folk revival in Ireland because the tradition had continued seamlessly into the modern folk world.

I live in England so I can't advise on social habits of the Irish scene either, but I'd guess that the reason Guinness is so widely drunk is that there isn't much in the way of real ale in many Irish pubs, and that's the best they can do, unless they want lager. Here in England, English ale is the favourite drink on the folk scene. Guinness is also available everywhere and is quite a favourite at Irish sessions. Most bodhran players drink Guinness.

Closing your eyes while singing - well, I don't think it's as common over here as it once was. It does seem to me to suggest a lack of interest in the audience, and often an inability to engage with them. I know people say it helps them concentrate, but what they should be concentrating on is communicating, not just on the sound they're making, IMO. If you do get a chance to sing and manage to keep looking at your audience, they'll sit up and take more notice of you than if you keep your eyes shut your all the time.

And as for the dress code -well, every social group has its dress code. The hippy look prevails here too at folk events, and most of us quite like it and indulge in it to some extent, but plenty of people dress in a conventional or nondescript way too. The black-teeshirt look (as favoured by Christy Moore and others) is also pretty common, if you don't want to dress like a jester. If you do choose the patchwork trousers and tie-dyed teeshirt look, a certain amount of hairiness seem more in keeping than a no. 2 crew cut - but you could buck the trend, why not? The only thing that stands out as out of place is a formal shirt and tie, or high heeled shoes.

We'll be interested to hear how you get on at your next Fleadh or whatever (with or without beard/Guinnesss/high heels).

Marje


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Ernest
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 01:59 PM

Apart from all that has been said before:

I always thought Foksingers look much more conventional than the people who are attending the Love Parade here in Berlin!

Best

Ernest


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 02:49 PM

Regarding where a singer looks when they are singing; this is what traditional singer had to say on the subject when we interviewed him.
Jim Carroll

J C        When you're singing in a club or at a festival, who do you look at, who do you….. What do you see when you're singing?
W P        I don't see anything
J C        You don't look at the audience?
W P        No; that's why I like a microphone. I'd rather stand up in front of a microphone without anything and that's because I've something to look at, that's what I like, something in front. You can shut the audience out and I'd like to shut the audience right away from everywhere
J C        So what do you see when you're…..?
W P        Actually what I'm singing about; like reading a book. You can always imagine you can see what's happening there; you might as well not read it.
P Mc        So you see what you're singing about?
W P        Hmm.
P Mc        Is it….. how do you see it, as moving thing?
W P        That's right, yeah.
P Mc        Moving?
W P        That's right. The pretty ploughboy was always ploughing in the fields over there; that's where that was supposed to be.
J C        Over there?
W P        Hmm.
J C        So it's that field just across the way?
W P        That's right.
J C        How about Van Dieman's Land?
W P        Well, that's sort of imagination what that was really like; I mean Warwickshire; going across, you know, to Australia; seeing them chained to a harrow and plough and that sort of thing; chained hand-to-hand, all that. If you can't…. you must have imagination to see; I think so; that's the same as reading a book; you must have imagination to see where that is, I think so; well I do anyhow,
P M        But you never shut your eyes when you're singing, do you?
W P        No, no.
P Mc        So if you haven't got a microphone to concentrate on, if you're singing in front of an audience….
W P        Yeah?
P Mc        Where do you look?
W P        Down my nose, like that.
P Mc        Oh, yeah.
W P        That is so; have you noticed that, how I do…..?
P Mc        Yeah.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 02:51 PM

Whoops; I should have said Walter Pardon.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: oggie
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 04:14 PM

I have a beard because if it's a choice between 10 minutes in bed and a shave, bed wins every time! Especially when I'm up for a 6.00am shift.

I did shave it off for charity last December and discovered that all the local shopkeepers no longer recognised me and the regulars at my market stall kept asking where the man with the beard and the hat was.

All the best

oggie (aka Steve)

PS I don't drink Guinness unless it's mixed with Champagne!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 04:22 PM

Peggy Seeger always said that she sings ballads with her eyes closed in order to watch the story happening.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 04:31 PM

I was just think that myself, Becky. Ballads that have a narrative, and for me that's part of the definition of a ballad, are easier to remember and sing if you get these little pictures in your mind. And closing your eyes helps this.

And there's some very ugly people go to folk events .

But the beard and the Guinness and the bright clothing are also true in my case. I'm off to buy an Aran sweater and a pipe now!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 29 Aug 06 - 04:39 PM

I sing with my eyes shut if I'm really trying to concentrate on a song I'm emotionally involved with, and with my eyes open when I'm primarily concerned with entertaining the audience - so probably eyes shut for a Child ballad and open for a music hall song.

I drink Guinness if there isn't any decent draft bitter. I heard on the radio yesterday (BBC Radio 4) that sales of Guinness have fallen in the Irish republic because it's considered an old-fashioned drink.....

Kitty


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Bruce Baillie
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 06:11 AM

...personally I've seen loads of people singing with their eyes closed and heard loads who I wish had had their mouths closed along with them...


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 06:21 AM

Big Mick - thanks for that picture you put in my head.. haven't had a good laugh for days!

LTS


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Trevor
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 07:17 AM

My eyes seem to shut automatically when I'm singing. What usually happens is that I 'see' the story of the song. Ms Lemon started a bit of a discourse on this a while ago here and here. I've got a beard and a bald head, wear a suit all day and hate Guiness, btw. Mind you, I'm not a traditional singer, I just sing traditional songs!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 08:15 AM

Hmm! Guilty on all counts yer honour! Mind you I only have the Guinness when there isn't any decent real ale as an alternative. The eyes closed thing is definitely for "visualising" longer unaccompanied songs. In just one or two songs a spoken last line can convey much more effect than the sung line (as is stopping The Cutty Wren one line short in the last chorus!)

My excuse of course, is that I AM a wanton old hippy :)


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Scrump
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 08:27 AM

I didn't say anything about the "spoken last line" before - if I sing unaccompanied, I usually speak the song's title after the last line of the last verse, mainly so people know I've finished (if they don't already know the song). But I don't speak the last line itself.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 08:34 AM

Scrump, surely if you've delivered the song effectively, then people won't need that spoken verbal cue to let them know the song has ended - they should FEEL that the song has ended without having to be told?


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Scrump
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 10:57 AM

Probably you're right, but it's a convention used by me and others to signal "that's it folks" and cue applause, or raspberries and rotten tomatoes, as the case may be. It also lets the audience know what the song's called, as that's not always obvious from the lyrics.

As I said, I only do it by a sort of convention at the end of an unaccompanied song, never an accompanied one, where I usually have an obvious finish in the musical accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:03 AM

I've always found that the best way to signal the end of a song, is to fire a small brass cannon at the ceiling.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Declan
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 02:20 PM

In Ireland the majority of people over the age of about 40 who drink pints tend to drink Guinness in a pub - apart from Cork where it might be Beamish or Murphy's but as these are all stouts you couldn't tell visually which they were drinking. Lager and Cider are more popular drinks among younger people. Real Ale is generally not widely available in Ireland. and most Irish people I have met who have drunk it abroad tend not to like it much. I disagree but I expect it is an acquired taste as indeed Guinness is.

There is an association in peoples minds between Guinness and Traditional Music, which I think may the effect of subtle and not so subtle marketing by Guinness themselves.

On closing the eyes this has been covered well above. Traditional singers don't tend to think of themselves as entertaining an audience. The concentration is on singing the song well. If the 'audience' enjoy it thats fine, but it really isn't an entertainment thing. The song is more important than the 'performance'.

As for Beards, this has a lot to do with the revival in the 60s when if was a hippie/folkie thing. The likes of the Dubliners would have been very influential in this respect. Three quarters of the original Planxty had beards etc.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Old Grizzly
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 02:28 PM

Hi all,

To regularly take a sharp implement to hack off facial hair is a most un-natural act.

It is to deny what we really are .... Animals !! :o)

Dave
...running for nearest cover.... and finding his beard most convenient to hide behind :o)>>>>>>


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 02:50 PM

I know a man with no beard!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 03:54 PM

he's had a Brazilian or a Californian.......?


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Greg B
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 06:37 PM

Well, the beard is so that when someone says 'give the money
to the fellow with the round glasses and the beard' you'll have
yer chance.

Guinness...well it does feel good on the throat, now doesn't it?

As for closing the eyes, it's either that or sing the song to the
lovely young bright-eyed blonde girl in the front row, but she's
far too young and lovely for an old bugger like you and if you
keep looking at her you'll get so bloody depressed that you won't
be able to finish the song.

Now as to speaking the last line, you once heard Louie Killen do
that, and read somewhere that it was traditional among traditional
singers, so what the hell "the rose in June."


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 06:45 PM

It isn't traditional among traditional singers.
Some Irish ones used to do it but it's become an affectation nowadays
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 06:59 PM

Why do accountants wear suits and drink whatever they drink?

I don't know, who cares?

My entire life people have been telling me I close my eyes when I sing. I don't, but I guess I squint somewhat. I want to see what's going on. (See: musicianship 101, "visual cues").

W-O


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 08:42 PM

Assuming that Jim was talking about speaking the last phrase or two -or the occasional entire verse- of a song, I'd have to disagree. It was quite common among traditional singers (in England at any rate, in the early part of the 20th century) but, when (if) their songs were published, there was usually no mention of that. If you have the opportunity of looking at the original collectors' notes you'll get a better picture.

I'm sure, though, that Jim is right in saying that it is often just an affectation nowadays; a thing that people do because they think they are supposed to (like always omitting final -g). The whole point is that a singer needs to absorb a song thoroughly, and live it. When it has become real to you, when you believe that what you are singing is really happening now, then you will know what to do with it; and your audience will take the point.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Jerry O'Reilly
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 01:49 AM

Thought I'd contribute something to this one.
1. I do sing traditional songs and I close my eyes to better concentrate on the story and words. I've tried singing with my eyes open but find I tend to lose concentration and go astray in the "story".
2.I've had a beard for over 40years, wheather its to do with image or what I'm not sure. What I do know is that my future widow would evict me if I attempted to shave it off.
3. The issue of speaking the last line of the song is a thorny one. A lot of the source singers did speak the last line, the reason why I was never able to ascertain. On reflection I'd say it was personal preference or for impact as in the final line of The Titanic "when the sea gives up its dead"


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Old Grizzly
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 04:21 AM

Hi Jerry,

I am in the same boat here.

My wife has long blonde hair which she has always threatened to cut short should I ever dare to shave off my beard..... and she never makes empty threats!

Dave


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 05:17 AM

One of the greatest singers of traditional songs that I ever met was the late, great Bert Lloyd. Bert was clean shaven (although he did have luxurious eyebrows!). I seem to remember that he usually wore a suit and tie and looked a bit like a bank manager. I don't remember if he closed his eyes or not or what he drank - all I can really remember is the vivid pictures he painted through his singing - that's the important thing!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: freda underhill
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 06:21 AM

good one, jennyo!


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 07:41 AM

Reted, I admire your style but I bet you don't get asked back very often :)


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Marje
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 12:56 PM

A quick follow-up about closing one's eyes: if you go to a storytelling session, you'd think it very odd if the storyteller closed their eyes throughout the story and said it helped them to concentrate, wouldn't you?

Marje


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Mick
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 01:00 PM

Marje, are you a performer?


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Marje
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 04:14 PM

Yes, I sing, and sometimes I accompany myself. I prefer to sing unaccompanied in the right setting and I think I sing better that way.

Even if I was speaking just as a listener, I think my comments about eye-closing would be the same. I won't say I never do it, but I try not to, and am finding it a worthwhile exercise.

I don't have a beard either, but I'm working on it :o)

Marje


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 05:27 PM

Well, at least if the singer's eyes are closed it means they know the song and aren't reading the words....

If I'm performing at a paid booking I will generally sing with eyes open, but I don't consider that there is any obligation to do so in an informal singaround.

Les Barker used to be an accountant, but he doesn't wear a suit (or sing....)

Kitty


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 07:07 PM

It doesn't bother me what people do when they sing, so long as the song comes across well. I don't think my criteria for that would be unusual. They can drink & wear what they like as far as I'm concerned, stick their finger in their ear, whatever! If it works, fine. If they need to do it to make it work, who am I to criticise them? I'm sure I've got idiosyncracies but I'm happy to own them and (some) people seem happy enough to hear me sing or play to keep asking me to do so.

But there are people who seem to persist in closing their eyes when talking to you; perhaps that should read "talking at you". They may not mean to but the notion that they regard you as inferior (in my case I have much to be inferior about but I'm not going to advertise that to them) and not worth engaging with is difficult to avoid. Eye contact is differently interpreted and has different rules in many cultures but I suspect some of our understanding of such rules is informing the postings about behaviour when singing.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Marje
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 10:40 AM

Good point, Rowan, eye contact is partly a cultural thing.

About the finger-in-the-ear habit: I know one singer who cups her hand behind her ear and sticks her elbow out. This means that she hears her voice beautifully, but anyone sitting to one side may have the sound of her voice and the sight of her mouth masked by the protruding arm. It's hard not to conclude that she's singing more for herself than for the people she's performing to.

Marje


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Scrump
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 12:52 PM

When I were a lad, I were taught to look folk in the eye when they were talking to me or when I were talking to them. I was taught it was bad manners to do otherwise. So shutting my eyes seems ill mannered to me, and personally I avoid it. I've seen performers with their eyes shut do a good enough job, but as a member of the audience I would consider they appeared better performers if they had their eyes open, other things being equal.

If people need to shut their eyes to avoid being 'distracted' by the audience, then I find that strange. I admit I have been really distracted on occasion, but only by unusual events happening in the audience, but those occasions are very rare. A sea of faces just looking at me and listening to me I don't find distracting. Maybe people who have to shut their eyes shouldn't be performing in public if they feel that way?

My only problem is deciding who or what to look at - I tend to look around as I'm singing, but a lot of the time I kind of stare into the middle distance at no-one in particular, as some people probably don't like being stared at (unless they're people I happen to know). Maybe shutting your eyes avoids that problem too, but I don't think it's right.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Henny Penny
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 12:50 PM

I have been singing trad songs with my husband for over twenty years - with the odd toilet break - and I find it easier to keep my eyes open but my husband John sings with his eyes closed tight.
He has sung the odd song with them open but he says that he can relax and concentrate on the feeling of the story within the ballad when his eyes are closed. I dont think it rude to sing with eyes closed and whether eyes are open or not does not reflect on how the song is sung and does not sound better if they are open.
WHAT A STUPID STATEMENT! Scrump you obviously havent been around very many singing sessions to make such a remark.
Thank God not everyone feels like you! So you think because you keep your eyes open and stare into space when you sing makes you a better singer than those who close their eyes when they sing?
Penny


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:00 PM

Of course you should sing with your eyes open.

In fact its in the sub text of many folk songs

Eye Germany
Eye once had a love
As Eye went out on a midsummer's morning
The trees they grow eye

Nothing about closed eyes, shut eyes, half shut eyes.....


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 02:59 PM

Been there, done that, (didn't drink Guiness) but wore Aran jumpers , closed the eyes,(I did'nt like to see people suffer!!) but then it WAS in the sixties.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Tootler
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 06:16 PM

Sorry Henny Penny, I think you are wrong.

If it is a paid performance and the audience have paid money to hear and see you sing, then you should look at your audience and sing to them. Remember they have paid for you to entertain them. If you shut your eyes, it is tantamount to ignoring your audience and, IMO, bad manners.

In an informal singaround, maybe there is some leeway, though I still think it a little impolite.

Scrump has a valid point and calling him stupid does not make his point any less valid.

I have been a lecturer for most of my career before I retired last year and one point I used to make to students when coaching them in giving presentations was to look at the audience and speak to them. I think that is just as valid when you are singing.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Big Mick
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 06:26 PM

Tootler, and others, there is not a correct way. And folks that close their eyes, are not, IMO, being impolite. It is simply their style. Others prefer to look straight at the audience for everything. Some prefer to look above the audience. Some, like myself, will use them all during a performance. For me, it depends on the song and the effect I am looking for. I think what betrays you is your training. I would not close my eyes if I were lecturing. But if the lecture included a song, I might very well close my eyes to sink into the song. This is not an oral presentation, it is a dramatic performance. We are not delivering a speech, we are singing a song. I am sure there are many overlapping "rules", but I think you are off on this one. No offense intended, just my opinion, for whatever it is worth.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Tootler
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 07:15 PM

No offense taken. You are expressing an alternative point of view. I may not agree with it, but you expressed it in a reasonable way and that's fine.

What I did object to was someone who expressed a view similar to my own being called stupid (and shouted which made it worse) because that person in effect called me stupid as well and I resent that. She may not agree with the other person's point view but that is no excuse for calling them stupid.

That's why I came on a little stronger than I might otherwise have done.

That said, the few times I have performed for an audience I tried to look at the audience. Even when using dots (I am more likely to play than sing), I usually use them for confirmation and so glance at them from time to time rather than always read from them. I would not have dreamt of playing with my eyes closed.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 04:24 AM

Sorry to revive this but I intended to respond to Malcolm Douglas regarding singers speaking the last line before I went away and didn't have time.
Of course he is right, I should have said during the thirty odd years I have been recording source singers it seems to have gone completely, none of the ones we recorded did it and the only time I have seen it is from younger singers in a concert situation; it seems to be a performance flourish rather than a response to the song.
I can't remember it occuring on any of the field recordings I have heard (did it happen on the BBC ones Malcolm - I don't recall it?) though I know it was once a common practice.
For me the comments traditional singers made on their songs, during or after were far more significant: Sam Larner's interjection of "you know what they are, don't you?" in Butter and Cheese and All, or Harry Cox's bitter comment "And that's what they thought of us" after singing Betsy The Serving Maid, or his diatribe about land seizure following Van Dieman's Land.
Then there's Dillard Chandler's description of what he'd have done to Lord Daniel if he had been Little Mattie Groves!
It seems to me we know very little about what traditional singers felt about their songs; god knows, there are little enough examples of them being asked. These comments seem to me to fill a gap in some small way,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 06:24 AM

Just an observation ... I sing with my eyes closed because it helps concentration, but will open them from time to time, especially on a chorus, but not particularly to 'perform', just because it feels comfortable. (Humourous songs can be different. Sometimes you need to fix on certain people at different points in the song to gain effect). I don't know if this improves my presentation or not, but being relaxed, which is helped by not stressing about unnatural eye behaviour, does enable me to sing better.
What I do know though is that when I am watching a singer I always feel more comfortable when they are comfortable, and I hate the demanding stares that some performers use to get your attention. It makes me squirm and I wouldn't like to think I have put other audience members in that position of discomfort. For me when I listen to a song, I want to be able to think about for myself. If the singer has their eyes closed then that is one less distraction to my concentration.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 06:52 AM

Some singers close their eyes and some don't. I do a lot of the time when I sing and noone's complained to me.

Standing/sitting; eyes open/closed; beard/no beard; Guinness/no Guinness. These things don't matter to me when I'm listening to a song; I have more important things to spend my energy on!

If something's done as an affectation, it can be irritating; otherwise, does it really matter?


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Scrump
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 07:07 AM

I've only just seen the responses to my last comment on this thread (it must've disappeared off the bottom of the list before I saw it).

I was surprised that "Henny Penny" felt moved to call me "stupid", just because she disagreed with my views. I won't respond in kind as I hope my words and HP's will speak for themselves on that point. Thanks, Tootler for speaking up in my defence.

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough. I didn't even say it's "rude" to sing with your eyes closed (that was your word, HP, not mine). I was trying (obviously not entirely successfully) to say that some people might perceive it as ill-mannered or that it simply detracts from the performance, other things being equal. In other words, making the effort to sing with your eyes open and (as others have put it) engage the audience, might pay off in making the performance even better from the audience's point of view.

And no, of course I don't think I sing better because I have my eyes open, than anybody who sings with their eyes closed. I never said that, HP, and I don't think you can have read what I said properly if you think I did say it. I'm the first to admit that there are many, many better singers than me, plenty of whom do sing with their eyes closed, but I think they could be still better performers - not better singers - if they opened their eyes.

HP, please do people the courtesy of reading their posts properly before jumping in with personal remarks - one of these days you're going to upset somebody if you continue like that. As for me - water off a duck's back.


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: Hawker
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 07:25 AM

well,
I am overweight, have no beard and drink spirits & wine and the occasional cider. I wear what I like. I sing with my eyes closed to avoid distraction, as I am notoriously good at forgetting the words. I dont think I am a stereotypical folkie, and I know a lot of people who do look like you describe, it is probably because they are like minded people. To get accepted, it is better to learn some songs, and sing them well - and you will be asked to sing lots - whether you are wearing a wetsuit, naked or in full morris gear! It is to me a matter of ability that gets you accepted, not how you look. I wish you well, be yourself, and don't develop an over sized ego, that doesn't go down too well either!
Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Henny Penny
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 11:06 AM

Scrump I am sorry if i missed the point you were making, though if it had been more clear and to the point then possibly . . . who knows?
I am not one to fall out over points such as . . it is more traditional to sing with one's eyes open or closed! I did not mean to come across as 'hard' as it seemed (when I reread my ha'penny's worth) I'm glad it was water off a duck's back! I didn't mean to offend.
The point I was trying to make was, when someone sings with their eyes closed it is because they feel 'more comfortable' in doing so and they do not think it rude, neither do they wish to be thought of as being rude.
The night I replied to your comment I attended a music session and noticed that three out of the seven people who sang, did so with eyes closed. I made a point of asking each one of them why they did so and did they think it rude. All replied that they felt more comfortable singing with closed eyes as they could concentrate on the song and the words without distraction. One said she would be nervouse if she saw people watching her (understanable) none said they did it to look 'more' traditional or to cause any effect to a performance.
One man who informed me he has contributed to Mudcat in the past, has performed on stage, television and festivals many times and always sings with his eyes closed for the same reasons and never thought it rude or impaired his performance in anyway!
To sum it up, I feel it is up to the individual singer to do what he or she feels makes them more comfortable and adds to the quality of their singing. I can't see how someone who usually sings with their eyes closed should sing with eyes open just because someone 'thinks it would make a better performance' It's the quality that counts NOT the performance! sorry Scrump I do not agree with you I do hope this does not offend you, this reply has been added AFTER I did some open research. Shagger (I wonder how you got that name) I hope this answers your query, maybe you should do some open research also!
Henny penny


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 07 Sep 06 - 07:02 PM

It's pleasant to see people reconciled.
Big Mick's comments started me thinking.
"I think what betrays you is your training. I would not close my eyes if I were lecturing. But if the lecture included a song, I might very well close my eyes to sink into the song. This is not an oral presentation, it is a dramatic performance. We are not delivering a speech, we are singing a song."

Training, or experience, or culture seem to be at the bottom of various contributors' responses. I've been teaching for almost as long as I've been singing; both started in very informal ways, among peers and without particular rules applied by greatly senior people. Teaching and singing were both done in a variety of contexts and for a variety of purposes and so used a variety of techniques. Lecturing is only one way of teaching and is really effective only in a very limited context, usually a very formal setting, although short bursts will be used in almost any type of teaching. Similarly, singing in a very 'in your face' manner has some valid but very limited purposes, while singing as though one were abstracted from the immediate audience also has its uses. A concert hall with 2000 in the audience is a very different context than the back bar of the Cudgewa. In any context, if the technique works for the audience (rather than just the singer) that may be all that matters.

In both singing and teaching I've found that I seem to be more effective if the event actively engages both the audience and me. Perhaps it is a lack of technique that requires me to keep my eyes open to achieve this but 'horses for courses'.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: traditional singers: beards, & guinness?
From: GUEST,Jackie Boyce
Date: 08 Sep 06 - 08:15 AM

Iv'e been keeping an eye on this thread and tend to agree with Jerry O'Reilly.
I also have a beard, to be honest I first grew it as a fashion thing back in the early 70's and haven't the nerve to shave it off.
I also sing with my eyes closed. When I started to sing and compete in local fleadhs I was very nervous and forgot lines (what's changed?)
Len Graham was the adjudicator and he took me to one side and suggested I try singing with my eyes closed. This was to shut out anything that would break my concentration, I have been singing with my eyes closed ever since.
It has become a natural thing for me to do when I sing. It helps me to concentrate, get into the mood of the song and even after all my years singing I would still get a little nervouse at times.
There is no set way to sing, what ever makes the singer most comfortable, after all the song is the important thing not the way you deliver it.
I would sometimes speak the last line of a song, I don't know why, I probably heard it sung that way when I first heard it and liked the effect, ? who knows? either way what does it matter, you never can please everyone.


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