Above: "A Touring Tale of Ireland," featuring the words and music of Scottish singer/songwriter James Yorkston. The song he performs, titled "Struggle," appears on his forthcoming album, The Wide Wide River (February, 2021). In the little film above, Yorkston reflects on childhood trips to Ireland and the traveling life of a touring musician. It's a poignant subject during this pandemic year, when so many tours have been cancelled, and so many music and drama venues have fallen silent.
Below: "A Day Well Spent," featuring Bernie Pháid and Jefferson Hamer in concert on the Dingle peninsula in western Ireland. Pháid, from Dingle, plays a blend of Irish, Scottish, and American folk music; her most recent album is Síol (2014). Hamer, from Brooklyn, New York, is also drawn to music with transAtlantic roots, ranging from American country and bluegrass to an album of Child Ballads (2013) sung with Anais Mitchell.
Above: "Lamentations of Round-Oak Waters" by English singer/songwriter Jim Ghedi, inspired by the poem of that title by John Clare (1793-1864). "The poem and his life were centred around the time of the land enclosure act in England," Ghedi explains, "where common land was enclosed and lower class farmworkers and labourers and their families were forced into poverty." (For more on the devastating history of the enclosures, see this previous post.) The song will appear on Ghedi's new album, In The Furrows Of Common Place, due out in January. The video was filmed in the Hebrides.
Below: "Goose and Common," a 17th century protest song performed by the English folk duo The Askew Sisters. It's from their fine album Enclosure (2019), full of songs examining many forms of enclosure, and our relationship with the land we live on.
Above: "She Took a Gamble" by Scottish singer/songwriter Hannah Read, who grew up in Edinburgh and the Isle of Eigg and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. The song appeared on her album Way Out I'll Wander (2018), featuring Jefferson Hamer and Sarah Jarosz on guitar and backing vocals. The video was shot on Eigg, in the Inner Hebrides.
Below: "Kicks In" by Scottish singer/songwriter (and sheep farmer) Colin Macleod, from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The song appeared on his first album, Bloodlines (2018). His latest, Hold Fast, will be out in January.
And one more to end with, above: "Wild Mountain Time," a Scottish/Irish folk song popularized by Joan Baez, The Corries, and others -- sung by Colin Macleod in a spare and lovely performance recorded at home on Lewis in 2018.
By the way, if you're interested in farming life on remote Scottish islands (as I am), I recommend Catherine Munro's beautiful blog. Catherine is a crofter in the Shetlands, and an anthropologist researching human-animal relationships, landscape and identity.