HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGEDY-JOG I'm always happy to come home, but in typical human fashion, as soon as I'm back and secure in knowing all I hold dear is intact, I wish I could beam myself back. Kent and I both agreed that this was not the last trip to Scotland for us. Some highlights included visiting Rosslyn Chapel (think DaVinci Code), the Falkirk Wheel (an ingenious mechanical lock for moving barges to an uphill river-course), The Verdant Works (jute mill/museum in Dundee), Fyvie Castle in Turiff (more below), Rothiemurchus Estate (beautiful trails in the Cairngorms - and a funicular up the mountain!) and of course, several distilleries!
Early in the trip, we had a lovely lunchtime visit with Jim & Susie Malcolm, and Susie prepared trout that Jim had caught in the River Tay--SO GOOD! Now if you don't know of Jim Malcolm, acquaint yourself! He's one of my favorite singers and songwriters, and he performs in this area early each year. In fact, here's an insider's tip: he'll be at the Freight & Salvage on Thursday, February 1, 2018. You'll want to put THAT on your calendar.
THE GENESIS OF FAVORITE SONGS You'll remember the focus of my trip was to record songs in the place they originated from. I've started work on editing the videos of the songs we recorded, and while they'll be kind of home-grown in quality, they will provide a sort of song ancestry. In most cases, we were able to find a place that felt legitmately connected to each song. I did a fair bit of research on where to go; to the left, you can see me at the grave of Agnes Smith, also known as Mill o' Tifty's Annie in an oft-sung ballad that I first heard sung by Jean Redpath. We also visited Fyvie Castle, where lived the laird of that time, Alexander Seton, who figures sympathetically in the story. The song chronicles the secret love between Lord Fyvie's trumpeter, Andrew Lammie, and bonnie Annie, how her father hears of the romance, and it all ends badly: Annie is killed by her angry brother when he throws her against the half-door and breaks her back. Annie's death was in January of 1673!
I have long postulated that many old ballads are based on actual events that become lost or distorted as the folk-process carries them forward from their origin. Many of those ballads, long-lived when shared by generations at the fireside, are quite traceable, although how long the relics and sources of information can survive is anybody's guess. And perhaps it doesn't matter, anymore than knowing precisely who you hailed from in the 1100's can matter beyond being something interesting. A song exists as long as anyone will sing it; in some cases that is a long life indeed.
LARK IS LOOMING! I'll be teaching my class entitled Get Your voice Out of the Closet at Lark Camp, again. But my class is not the only reason to go. Click on that link in the previous sentence to find out HOW MANY CLASSES THERE ARE! You should maybe come, eh? July 28 to August 5, 2017--there's room for you!