The Ironbath wonders why good people spend their hard-earned money travelling around the world for 2 weeks each year in order to discover the cultures of others when they overlook their own cultures for the other 50 weeks?
Perhaps in England we are worst than most nations, and the Ironbath is no exception. He has seen Maasai warriors dance in the Serengeti, Maori’s perform traditional ceremonies in New Zealand, applauded street musicians in Cuba & at all points in between. But he has never experienced an evening in a traditional northern English Folk Club.
The Scottish, Irish & Welsh are proud of their musical heritage and celebrate it as part of their national identities. Traditional music & dance is integrated into their schools and fully supported by their parliaments.
From Northumberland to the tip of Cornwall there is a grand tradition of English Folk music and dance that records the lives of everyone from the Kings & Queens and their wars to the working men and women- the miners, labourers, seamstresses, fishermen – lasting 1,000 years.
Yet the English are hopeless at recognising their own culture. Folk musicians performing in a pub, without an expensive entertainment license, was effectively criminalized in 2005 when the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Dr Kim Howells said “listening to three Somerset folk singers sounds like hell“. Fortunately Dr Howells lost his seat in Parliament in 2010.
But English folk music is thriving as a sub-culture. All this week the Ironbath will celebrate English Folk with archive performances from legends of the folk scene, the current folk royalty and introduce the next generation of folkstars.