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October 2013 Articles
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Issue: October 2013

By Alexander Clark Campbell

I am sorry Terrabeat fans am at a loss of what to say. This has been the first month where nothing has come to me. It is a goodbye and goodbyes are hard to say even though we will be online it is still the end of an era. There will be no more sitting down at coffeeshops purusing through the Louisville Music News and no words are coming out. I have spent all night and all morning trying to find the words and nothing is coming.

This man has allowed me to be part of the Louisville music scene and am hopefully starting a career in booking, managing, etc. Virtually every opportunity I have ever had in Louisville I owe to Louisville Music News whether it was co-organizing the Sudanese Rebaba Mayor Show last November or being asked to recruit musicians for Ambassador Shabazz for the International Day of Peace this September. I am a person who has always been musical but have no background as musicians and Paul was kind enough to help me find a desperately desired musical outlet and place in this City.

Louisville Music News has not only allowed me to obtain opportunities I would not have had in Louisville, but also outside of Louisville as well. I am managing an ancient lyre musician living in Wales whom I started a correspondence with several years ago because of researching for a column for LMN and am also working on two tour research for two groups Indialcua a kathak/flamenco group based in Europe and Kitka a vocal group based in San Francisco. I owe everything to Louisville Music News and this has been the most difficult thing I ever had to write because nothing is coming out. Even though we will be online there is a sense of change and it is very, very, very difficult to put on paper.

Louisville Music News is that rare thing: a music paper that covers more of the music scene than just one genre and people will miss LMN and what it has done for the City.

I would like to reprint some of the first things I ever wrote for Paul online three or four years ago:

TerraBeat Intro

Welcome to TerraBeat — let me take you on a journey around the world's music without ever leaving Louisville. Je m'appelle Alexander Clark Campbell — you can call me Sandy.

Be sure you don't forget to get your ticket — READ YOUR LOUISVILLE MUSIC NEWS!!! — whether online or in print; it doesn't matter — because if you don't — like yours truly — you will miss bands like Group Doueh & Extra Golden, as I did last year. World Music does come to Louisville, but it might not come in the preconceived, expected forms you think; as you read this blog, you will see why.

CORRECTION: I have since found out that Group Doueh did not perform in Louisville. I got my information from reading the LEO. I believe the writer said they performed at the BBC Taproom. This was not the case — perhaps the writer got them confused with someone else.

Natalie McMaster and Cape Breton Fiddling

Word of warning here — yes, as you might guess from my name, my people are New World Scottish. My father, who loved all things Celtic, especially Scottish, forced me to listen to Celtic music as a child. The main thing I've learned from that experience is that a person's individual musical path must not be forced — but rather be suggested. Don't know if I would dislike Celtic fiddle music this much, as if I had discovered it on my own — although I do love the pipes — but I have to say, I think that pipers are perhaps more creative than their fiddle brethren — save Ashley MacIssac and; a few others:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNVTUh5yviI

The other thing I learned from my childhood experience listening to Celtic Music is that it is equally a mistake to overlook great music in your own backyard (there is a lot in Appalachia, all the way to Louisville and; Southward) as to get stuck up on music you've heard all you've life just because you heard it all your life.

Take, for instance, Natalie MacMaster and; husband Donnell Leahy (of the Leahy Family), who performed February 3 at the Brown Theatre. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHBhaSN5JR8) She is the perfect person for me to start with given my troubled history with Celtic music — especially fiddling.

I give credit to MacMaster for energizing this type of Celtic music called Cape Breton fiddle — which is higher pitched (and; god forbid, happier) than its somber, darker Appalachian and Southern cousins. Although I do hear similarities in style to Cape Breton fiddle in a small pocket of Webster County, WV fiddlers — most notably Emmon Hammons.

But let me first digress to the Dave Clark 5 (of all people) before proceeding with MacMaster:

Legitimate members of groups of the British Invasion were irked that the Dave Clark 5 were lumped in with their music and were more often than not more popular than they were. They restrained themselves from actually insulting Dave Clark (in print anyway), even though they saw him as a remora who attached himself to them, and was basking in their success. Instead, they politely referred to him as an excellent businessman, and; this is how I view Natalie MacMaster — more of a smart businesswoman rather than someone who is very creative. She has fine-tuned Cape Fiddle to an influential American market that otherwise would not exist. That being said, she is very technically proficient — she is an extremely fast player — and; she incorporates Classical music and; other styles of fiddling into her medium.

MacMaster has acquired a following in the US over the years — I think she is the Jane Austen of fiddle music — appealing (in my humble and tentative opinion) to little girls who want to seem more cultural and; educated and as listening to NPR as they drink their cappucinos.

I guess its easy to see that Cape Breton fiddle music is not my bottle of Irn Bru. Find it annoying, tired, repetitious, lacking creativity, passionless, fossilized in amber like a prehistoric fly — even the participants look like they are about to fall asleep like Natalie's father Buddy, seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny2beJky_KM

After listening to it for a while — not sure whether to shoot myself in the head or commit myself. Finally, cannot decide whether it sounds like a mouse being sexually molested or a cat scratching his balls.

I've read and; heard countless times that Cape Breton fiddle is more authentic Scottish fiddle than what the Scots are playing today. I disagree — I agree that that type of fiddling hasn't seen much outside influence in the longest time, but I disagree that it is 100% Highland Scot. Although I do hear that the fiddle sound complements the pipes, one can hear a lot of Irish-style fiddling in there as well.

A final beef is that on worldbeat radio stations or programs, Celtic ,usic is just randomly dropped into the playlist where it doesn't belong — it doesn't sound right.

Despite my apparent dislike of Celtic fiddling, it is, I must confess, not the thing to turn one's nose up at any music — even if you cannot relate to it or like it right away — one needs to give it time — but you cannot force it, either. So if anyone knows of Celtic fiddling of which I'm not aware and it is good — please email me at shadowbox000@att.net (email now shadowbox000@insightbb.com)

Finally, here is an interesting article on Cape Breton fiddler Jerry Holland —http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/jh.htm in which Natalie's father Buddy is mentioned.

Alright, enough of that.

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