Thursday, December 08, 2011

Living, breathing, singing - authentic tradition.

Within the past few days I've had contact with some significant people. Significant in that they are just plain ordinary folk, who are the living examples of the things I've been blogging about here over the years.

Firstly a man in his 80s who I met on Sunday night at the Iron Hall, who is a big William MacEwan fan and who still sings solos of MacEwan's recordings around the wee halls of Belfast. Another man at the Iron Hall spoken to me enthusiastically about going to see Seth and Bessie Sykes in Belfast during the 1940s and early 1950s. A phone call yesterday from a lady who lives near Hillsborough, who as a girl attended every single night of a Sykes mission in a rural mission hall in the vicinity and who was trying to trace more copies of "McEwan's Mission Songs" and found my blog thanks to Mr Google. She then found my phone number and we had a great conversation yesterday for about 25 minutes. And last night I had a call from a lady whose parents and older siblings were all Ards people, but she was born where they settled in Corby in England (Corby has a huge Scottish community even today). She was trying to fill in some family tree gaps.

You can make up entertainment, but you can't invent authentic tradition. If it doesn't exist in the lives or memories of the older generation then it's probably rubbish. If the older generation are ignored, then honest tradition is on the scrapheap. Plenty of folk have told me over the years that I was born about 100 years too late - I take that as a compliment! I'll be 40 in January, but learn more from older people, and am more enthused by older people, all the time.