Taking a short break from writing/editing Advent liturgies to remember a few early important musical influences. This weekend, when my daughters and loved ones were visiting, a conversation about Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Tim Buckley took place. And when I put on a Pentangle album - vinyl not CD - my daughter said, "Oh, yeah I recall growing up to those songs!" As we talked and listened they let me know that a little revival of English/Celtic jazzy-folk-psychedelia seems to be happening, too.
I've returned thanks to Bert Jansch recently - especially noting his passing - and John Renborne, too. Sandy Denny, Terry Cox and Richard Thompson are all masters in this genre as well - and then there is Danny Thompson: bass man extraordinaire! I know that I have grooved to his sound for over 40 years and hear his influence all over the place. (We were listening to Tim Buckley, too and heard his presence on "Happy/Sad" even though it is John Miller holding down the bass on that album.)
Thompson brought the jazz thing into focus with Pentangle - and whenever he played with others - he pushed them in that direction, too. So that the result was total genre bending that highlighted the best of all worlds (rather than an unfocused mush!) I LOVE the way he brings this all together with grace and wit.
You can follow the arch of this into the beautiful new/old music of June Tabor, the Pogues, the Oysterband as well as some of the sounds Jethro Tull shared. Certainly old Donovan did his bit to popularize and advance the cause, too.
And still after all these years, I find these folk to be on the cutting edge of creativity - advancing a vision where cultures blend and become more creative and supportive - rather than just become a watered down pop product that takes off the edges and leave only the sludge. Thank God for the new, weird little Celtic-Jazz-Psychedelic mini-revival: may it take us into new possibilities and help us share a pint or two with one another along the way! Slainte!
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