sound sound your instruments of joy Sometimes when you think about the Watersons, when you think of this collection of 80 odd songs mostly performed by unaccompanied voices with distinct Yorkshire (where I live) accents, you wonder why anybody would need a collection of 80 odd such songs. But then when you’ve spent several days glorying in the power, magic, the majesty and the variety of four voices exploring singing and song, you wonder why humans ever bothered to invent musical instruments, why they didn’t just explore and exploit the endless possibilities of the voices they were born with. This collection has confirmed to me what I suspected without consciously knowing, and what many must have known all along – that the Watersons are not merely a great force in English traditional music but great and significant artists whose names should be spoken in the same reverent tones used when mentioning Caruso, Woody Guthrie, or Robert Johnson. It is easy sometimes to think of the Watersons merely as curators of a tradition but they are something far more and far better than that – the Watersons are that tradition, alive, evolving, important, thrillingly beautiful. I wondered if 80 odd songs was too many – it’s just a start.
The best thing ever to come out of Hull A month or so ago, word went round the Cumberland Arms that Mike Waterson and Louis Killen were playing a gig at the Wilson Family’s club about 40 miles ago. I got word of this about 3 hours before the gig, dropped everything and headed down to Wolverston. If you’re based in the North East it’s relatively easy to catch Louis Killen at one folk club or another, but Mike Waterson doesn’t seem to get out that much.
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