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Bert Lloyd Tribute - Cecil Sharp House 15 November 2008

From Frankie Armstrong

It's very fitting that I jot a few thoughts down about the Bert day now as I've just finished listening to a recording of the World Roots Programme that was broadcast yesterday. I was running a workshop so my Aussie husband recorded it for me. Hence it's all very fresh in my mind.

I'd been running a workshop on singing folk songs at Cecil Sharp House the morning of Bert's Memorial Celebration so it made me extra aware of how central his influence is on my singing and approach and what a privilege it is to be in the position to pass this on to young singers. So straight from teaching I crushed into the crowded room to hear Peta Webb and Maddy Prior conversing on the nature of folk song and Bert's enduring influence.

I really enjoyed and concurred with what they had to say - and they both sang beautifully. And from this point on it was an endless stream of "How lovely to see you here, let's hope we get a chance to chat later" - the chance rarely came as the day was so full and absorbing. There were numbers of highlights in the afternoon concert.

Of course another great mentor of mine was Louis Killen, a man I sang with for several years back in the 60s and so hearing him again was a great thrill and trip down memory lane. His Death Of Nelson was especially moving.

Dave Arthur's talk about his research for his forthcoming book was facinating and revelatory. I spent quite a bit of time chatting with Bert over the years but like many others I'd not known about his being consulted on his poems by Dylan thomas or his connection to a set of poets, writers and left wing intellectuals in the 30s. He was an even more extraordinary man than many of us knew.

Paul Adams was also elequent about Bert's singing and influence on the likes of Louis and myself and so many other singers of our generation. He's been doing hours, days, weeks of listening to Bert editing the new double CD (which is wonderful) and preparing the CDs of live performances that will come out with the book. The atmosphere throughout the whole day was a fine balance of enthusiasm and listening - informality and efficient organisation.

I would have loved to see more of Barry Gavin's film and I do hope that at some time there will be showings of the films made on and by Bert for BBC television. There were so many wonderful moments in the evening concert.

It was wonderful to hear Alistair Anderson who has been such a powerful force himself in the whole revival, especially through the Folk Music Degree he has set up on which I'm lucky enough to teach from time to time.

Young Sam Lee is one of the young singers who I've got to know over the past year and so it was good to have him included in the concert - he is turning into a great singer and organiser ( it was for his seriies of workshops that I was teaching in the morning).

I loved the chance to introduce the thrilling Bulgarian singer Dessislava Stefanova as part of my set. It was Bert that introduced me to Bulgarian singing, Bulgarian singing that got me started on voice Workshops which earn me most of my livlihood these days, but more importantly still keep my love of voice and song bubbling away after all this time.

It was also a great thrill to sing Tam Lin to an Audience of such afficionados and have it be responded to so warmly. And what can one say about Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick and Norma Waterson except they take one's breath away - and Mike Waterson as a bonus too. Norma's voice is one of the voices I love the most - something indefinable about it's directness and power always touches me so profoundly.

Thankyou to everyone who participated as performers or audience and especially the organisers who did such a fine job, and thankyou Mark for spreading the word across the globe.


Many thanks to Frankie Armstrong for permission to add this review to the Australian Folk Songs website


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory