A Punter’s Perspective #38: The Good Intentions — Americana from the UK

Peter Davies and Gabi Monk. Image courtesy of The Good Intentions.
Peter Davies and Gabi Monk. Image courtesy of The Good Intentions.

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#38 The Good Intentions: Americana from the UK

First published on the Timber and Steel blog on 5 November 2012
Second published in Trad and Now magazine, November 2012

For 20 to 30 years, I’ve been aware of the UK TV series ‘7 Up’ and its sequels without ever having watched them. I’ve wanted to, but as they’ve come along in seven-yearly updates, I’ve had this chronologically pedantic need to see them in order.

I mean, you wouldn’t start watching Star Wars at Episode IV now, would you?

Oh wait…

(I should mention at this point that the ‘7 Up’ mentioned here is not a carbonated beverage, and the ’56 Up’ that will soon be mentioned is not the middle-aged version with added cranberry juice, added fibre and iron supplements for the senior on the go. Click on the above link for a catch-up on this TV series that chronicles the changing lives of a group of Britons at seven-yearly intervals, starting at age seven.)

Fearing I might not live long enough to see them in order, my initiation to the series was the redux of ‘42 Up’ at the end of October on SBS TV in Australia, and then two days later, the debut of the latest offering: ’56 Up’.

My interest was slightly piqued in ’42 Up’ when the show’s host mentioned that a couple of participants had pulled out along the way. I idly wondered whether they would rejoin at a later point.

Sure enough, one of the first vignettes in ’56 Up’ included one R. Peter Davies, and when he quite clearly stated his reason for rejoining the program, I literally clapped and applauded:

Peter wanted to get some publicity for his independent band.

There may be more worthy causes but they’re not springing to mind right now.

Before the segment was over, I was looking up ‘The Good Intentions’ on social media, and through the wonders of technology, mutually agreeable diaries, and time zone differences, just under four days later, I had phone and recording device perched precariously on the compost bin under the carport, and was having a chat with Peter Davies and Gabi Monk, two-thirds of the band that also includes Francesco Roskell. Continue reading

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A Punter’s Perspective 14 — Countrified folk or folkified country? (Greg Champion)

Greg Champion
Greg Champion

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#14 Countrified folk or folkified country? (Greg Champion)
First published in Trad and Now magazine, February 2009

When musical chat turns to genres, labels and identification, if someone poses the age old question, ‘Is it folk?’ or the broader chestnut, ‘What is folk?’ I suddenly hear my mother calling.

(For a woman with reduced lung capacity, she can make herself heard well enough from 300kms away when the need arises, God love her.)

They are worthy and valid questions of a kind, with multiple levels and directions of discourse, but to borrow a phrase another family member uses, if someone starts on these topics, I can just feel the backs of my eyes going dry.

It’s fair game (sometimes) if weighty matters are being discussed at a conference or workshop, but when someone decides to get all loquacious after 17 pints of the sponsor’s product at a festival, that indeed is time to throw them their guitar or bodhran or electric spoons and ask can they play that one about the boat/shearers’ strike/ode to Annie, Nancy or Gwinviere.

For all of that, there’s one related topic that I’m continuously interested in: folk versus country. Which is not some sort of fiddle and dobro slap-down in the cage with folding chairs at ten paces, but more of a mild interest on where the line is, or if it exists.

Are there points of intersection, cross-over (and pass your partner down the line) or even symbiosis?

I’m suspecting ‘yeah’ on all three.

But lord knows I’m a punter and do not presume to be capable of long treatises on-topic. Instead, I took the chance at last year’s Maldon Folk Festival to buttonhole a favourite performer, just one of many who move in both worlds of folk and country: Greg Champion, as he made his way through a lunch-time feed of Indian food outside the Guinness Tent. Continue reading