Steve Matthews & Lennie Whiting - The People's Music


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The Idiom Of The People

‘The study of musical style should embrace the total human situation that produces the music’ said Alan Lomax, but too often we have seen people come from high literate urban background to take away with them nothing more than the literal – mere inkstains on a piece of paper, or on an electronic tape, resulting in a reproduction that owes more to the Victorian parlour, tin-pan alley and latterly modern pop.  In such hands it is treated as just another type of music when in its originality it represents so very much more.  If one can stand aside from such material modernism one can see and hear these cultural differences thorough expression that has been formed from time immemorial.

I feel refreshed therefore to present two members of a small community who have learned their self-expression in music, song and dance only in the true oral tradition – from others of their same local cultural idiom who have gone before.  This owes nothing whatsoever to books or pieces of paper – only people.

The people whose culture the music comes out of, know nothing of the word ‘Folk’ in respect of their musical idiom.  It is simply a word not known or used in this connection within tradition.  It is furthermore a word that I try not to use as it distorts and gives false conceptions of the tradition and can confuse the literal minded public into believing that reproduction and revival are a continuation of the original when this is something that it can never be and is indeed very different. 

Here Steve talks of the ways and days of the old people that he learned from both in button accordion playing and song.  He demonstrates then plays and sings for us.  Lennie steps in the same manner that his family have throughout living memory, then tells us of others who influenced him and sings two songs that as a boy he learned off his Father whilst, well fortified with good ale, driving the pony and trap home on Saturday nights from Debenham.  You will then hear him sing An Old Farmer in Cheshire and the early ballad The Outlandish Knight.

I knew that Steve was from the tradition as soon as I heard him for the distinct way that he uses the tempo to the advantage of the stepper.  Just what that is I hope to explain in depth in a booklet and similarly why Lenny, who has won many prizes, is reckoned to be one of the best step dancers in the country.  Steve, who is Lennie’s favourite musicianer, has played at Appleby, Stow and other horse fairs and wherever the culture is still strong.  Long may it remain.  Steve tells several stories from the Gamekeeper Wop Garnham concerning poachers in the area.  The Poacher Whistlecraft, whilst rumoured to have shot the Gamekeeper we understand was acquitted upon trial.  Should the booklet referred to not be enclosed I will be pleased to forward a copy on request.

Time:  1 hour & 12 minutes approx.  Produced:  June 2014

Product Code: NLDVD84




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