Adrianne Greenbaum

Boxwood Conversations
Boxwood Conversations
Adrianne Greenbaum
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TRANSCRIPT

CHRIS NORMAN:  Hi, I’m Chris Norman and you’re listening to Boxwood’s Artist Huddle – Conversations.

Our September 15th 2020 Artist Huddle featured the Klezmer flute player Adrianne Greenbaum.  We chatted about the history of Klezmer in Eastern Europe and North America and its long history with the flute.  She shared some of her musical philosophy, experiences, and some great tunes.

CHRIS NORMAN:  For a lot of people, Adrianne, Klezmer is a music that’s so closely associated with the Jewish faith and with Jewish identity, I think for those of us who are not Jewish, an immediate question would be – Are we welcome here in this music and what would be our place in the music as non-Jewish people? Should we have any concerns about cultural appropriation as we talk about this music?

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:  Excellent, excellent.  So, it’s not as complicated a concept as you might think.  First of all, we can erase any kind of inappropriate like “I’m not Jewish.”  It’s not really based on any kind of faith, it’s cultural and so we Jews, of course, call it our music and it is.   It’s the music of the Jewish people.  But I’d rather think of it as the Jewish people rather than the Jewish faith.  I am not particularly religious myself.  On the other hand, certainly you’ve got those who are religious, but we also have stars in Klezmer who are not Jewish at all.  And there’s even a group in Amsterdam called Di Gojim.  They just like the music and I don’t think anybody

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yea, it’s interesting because these objections rarely come from musicians or from artists in any genre, it’s often people that are outside the artistic pursuit that tend to raise these objections, but generally speaking …

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:  Sure

CHRIS NORMAN:  But in my experience if you’ve got an understanding of the music and you have the contextual basis to play the music just in your own musicality there’s just no question about it.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Exactly, and you know I’ve fallen into “I want to be Irish, I want to be Scottish.”  I had my sister sort of dig deep into our DNA and she said “Sorry, there’s nothing there” and I’ve always felt that I should have some, some lineage there in order to be allowed.  But they all welcomed me in Scotland and of course there were the Jews that came out to hear me.  No one complained and you know when I found that Scottish set mislabeled in the folio, it was trying to say Caledonia but it was really butchered spelling by this Polish guy who just scrawled something, but we figured out it was definitely Caledonia, and there were four tunes.  That was right in the Klezmer folder and obviously it existed there because they either liked it and/or someone requested it for a fair.  Klezmer bands played for county fairs, so whatever that means in Eastern Europe.  So, it’s not just Jewish music that they have to know, it’s just like any, any Klezmer has to know how to play – back in the day when we were really working – at weddings, if someone requested the Macarena, fine.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Right, they’re just there to play the popular music, whatever people want to hear.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:  Yeah

CHRIS NORMAN:  So, I know Klezmer has a very close association with music of the Roma from the Romani and Gypsy population of Eastern Europe.  Help me understand the delineation there of where that Eastern European Gypsy music contacts with Klezmer music and where does one end and the other begin.  I’m sure it’s a blurry area, but just talk a little bit about that if you would.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:  Um, it’s really just based on meeting and traveling and picking up.  Jews did maybe as much as the Roma in terms of roaming around, no pun intended.  Traveling around, and meeting other cultures, and equally really, they would latch onto Turkish and Egyptian and wherever the music took them or a gig took them they would bring it back, and I would gather that the Roma style was closely related because they would feel that being Gypsy, they didn’t have the same vibe of sticking to rules.  I think they were more free.  They enjoyed our modes and we enjoyed theirs.  And that’s really when you would read about or if I were to have been fortunate enough to go out and do field work, I would have been out in the hills and finding out “Oh, you know this tune.”  It’s not exactly what we know it as, and almost far from it, but that happens everywhere.  I was just flipping through this major resource that we have that an ethnomusicologist who was hired by the Ukrainian government to literally go around say “Sing into my disc.” And he recorded and he wrote down what their job was and whether they sang or played an instrument and in what area.  And he was far out into the hills and low and behold, you’d look at – we’re going to do one tonight – it traveled, the tunes traveled far and wide.  So, he might have met someone who knows it from his family in far away places and it came all the way to New York.

CHRIS NORMAN:  I’m interested Adrianne, on this question of where these points of contact are, you look at the old black and white photographs and often you do see pictures of flute players, they’re playing western classical Boehm flutes or simple system flutes.  Are the any examples, pictures of Klezmer bands that have somebody playing a ney or fujara or any of the traditional flutes of the Romani?

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Yes, less so, but the ney definitely, and if I were to, you know, branch out more.  I find it difficult to play, anything side blown …

CHRIS NORMAN: [Laughs] The embouchure, it’s hard to forget the old and learn the new, for sure.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:    Yeah, I mean there’s no fingering involved, there’s, you just have to get the sound and then, you know, get the harmonics.  Augh.

CHRIS NORMAN:    So there actually are some photos of folks playing Klezmer on a ney.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:    Yes, but really, maybe it’s the ones I’ve focused on, but mostly, 90 % are doing this [demonstrates playing position] using a western instrument, and that’s why – I ran into, some of you might know the name from the flute list, this woman who came out with the flute dictionary, and she kept asking me “Describe a Klezmer flute.”   It’s a simple system flute, it’s not a separate instrument, it’s what the Klezmer played. 

CHRIS NORMAN:   Yeah, it’s the same thing with the Irish flute, which is a non-existent instrument as well.  It’s just a style that you play on a flute.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Yes.

CHRIS NORMAN:    Now Adrianne, you have been such a trail blazer, not only in restoring the flute to its rightful place in Klezmer music but also as a woman in Klezmer music.  Again, as I look back at those old photos of Klezmer bands, it’s remarkable how there’s not a woman to be seen in any of them.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   No.  Yeah, we were disallowed.  We were not allowed to …

CHRIS NORMAN:    Tell us about that journey for you.  Not only discovering the music on the flute, but also, you know, being a woman.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   I think I’ve had this question posed to me many times.  Two years ago, there was a complete organization devoted to women in Klezmer and we, there were eleven of us from North America that got together and we were questioned “How does it feel to be a woman in this business?”  I think it was no different, which is not good, to being in the early orchestras where it was frowned upon – “How could you join us?  You’re supposed to be at home.”  Whatever the thoughts were, and I experienced it in Klezmer camp.  I was on staff when the director said “OK, faculty, go on stage.” All the men went on stage and my students were going “Adrianne, get up there.”  I said “Um, um” and the said “Why not?” and I said “I know what the reaction’s going to be.” “Oh, come on, you can’t possibly be thinking that.”  I went on, oh, it was so hurtful, the heads went like this [turns head and stares]

CHRIS NORMAN:    Yeah, of course, it’s not just Klezmer music. It’s every pursuit, not only in music of course, any pursuit you can name.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   I think though, in the end, I think I’ve been left out of festivals much more, much more because I play the flute.  And I still get it from clients, you know, they want the violin, anything that’s not going to be loud, that vibe of the violin, the flute, and the hammered dulcimer, the cymbalom – were the first three instruments to form a Klezmer band, so I think it’s the flute itself – “Oh but you’re not going to really make it upbeat like the brass and the clarinets can do, so, no thanks.”

CHRIS NORMAN:    So, you’ve been such a trail blazer, I’m curious, who do you see filling your shoes in the next generation coming up?  Are there a few names that we can look for?

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   I haven’t given it a thought.  I have not given that one thought.

CHRIS NORMAN:    OK.  Well, let us know, because I’m curious, you must – you know, all the waves that you’ve put out with all of your work in this field.  I would think that there would be some uptake and some folks that are inspired by what you’re doing.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   In terms of western flute, there are people who have – Jan Boland, do you know?

CHRIS NORMAN:    Of course, yeah.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Yeah, she did one of my Klezmer sets, incredibly well, it was beautiful.  She’s my age through, so…

CHRIS NORMAN:    Right.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Umm, you have to find someone who really wants to run with it.  There’s a recorder player married to Jake, the violinist that I think you’ve met, yeah, you did, who’s married to him and they sound wonderful together, she has managed to make the recorder really a Klezmer instrument.

CHRIS NORMAN:    What do you see in terms of a trend, in terms of the students that you find coming to you for auditions, when you see fresh musicians coming in just out of high school, what’s different now in 2020 that from 10 years ago, from 20 years ago, from 30 years ago?

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   The trend has been, no one has majored in the instrument, they would be foolish and it’s a liberal arts college is the right place, if there’s a good flute teacher, to be.  And I think that the conservatory experience is probably more in jeopardy, because where are they going to go?  If they have a double degree component, great, like Peabody/Johns Hopkins.  And I’ve certainly been encouraging my high school students, very talented – please don’t go to a conservatory.”  At least do what some have done, at least go to a fine school where there’s the option of delving into other things.

CHRIS NORMAN:    Join a Klezmer band!  Or a Bluegrass band! [laughs]

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Right, I mean, you have to have, I think, a passion that’s strong enough to weather the huge financial storm that you’re going to run into.  Because it’s only the sing-songwriters that have careers and they’re, you know, if you’re not one of the lucky ones that have been found, discovered.  Did you hear, CAMI folded?

CHRIS NORMAN:    No, I didn’t hear that.

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM:   Columbia Artists Management – I mean, if they can’t survive with Itzhak Perlman, etcetera, I don’t know what they’re supposed to do.  They’ve filed for bankruptcy.  You know, sure, it could be that the administration, you know, “where’s my millions that I’m used to getting”

CHRIS NORMAN:    Right, right

ADRIANNE GREENBAUM: “Well, If I can’t do that anymore…”  you just don’t know the level.  But you know, the Met, all these big organizations… So, where are the positions that flute players are going to have?  Education?  You know, that’s better, but as many people know who have students going into music education – the schools, in our country at least can’t find the value for it.  So how are you going to get your job?  There’s less and less reason, and I understand it, unless you’re passionate and you think you can get to that very, very top level, and that’s of course to be defined.  What is the top level?  We all know wonderful flutists, are they great musicians?  [Klezmer flute and piano music playing]

CHRIS NORMAN:    To hear the complete Artist Huddle with Adrianne, among many others, and to receive my regular Tune of the Month videos, subscribe to us on Patreon at patreon.com/boxwood We’re grateful to you for your support and to Canadian Heritage, the Provence of Nova Scotia, and Culture Ireland.  Thanks for listening.

Boxwood Conversations
Boxwood Conversations
Pascal Gemme



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Transcript

CHRIS NORMAN:  Hi, I’m Chris Norman and you’re listening to Boxwood’s Artist Huddle – Conversations.   In our July 12th 2020 Artist Huddle, we featured the irrepressible Québécois fiddler, singer, composer, and podorythmie purveyor Pascal Gemme.  We enjoyed a chat exploring some of the history and regional styles and the traditional music of Québec and French Canada.

CHRIS NORMAN:  This Is our twenty-fifth year, Pascal, running this festival and I’m looking forward to chatting with you a bit about a festival you’re involved with as well.  Are you still involved with the Sutton Fiddle Festival as well?

PASCAL GEMME:  I wasn’t for a few years but now I’m getting involved again ‘cause my whole family moved to the eastern townships in Québec so to uproot my family and replant the roots again I kind of called it quits for a few years.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, I know that feeling, I haven’t done that quite yet though.  So, in case you don’t know Pascal, he’s one of the leading figures in Québécois music.  And he’s toured the world and taught worldwide [with] Yann Falquet and with his trio Gentecorum.  And Pascal tell us a little bit about how you got started, I know you have some background in composition and guitar playing as well.

PASCAL GEMME: Yeah, yeah, I studied arrangement, big band arrangements at school.  But before that traditional music was in my family.  And uh, my grandfather was a fiddler, my father sang, was singing songs, and uh my mother was always singing in the house.  So, when I was, I think I was, I don’t know, I was 4 or 5, I started asking for a fiddle and they were like “No, no, no.  No no, No no, we’ll let him ask a little bit for a few years and see if he forgets about it.”  But I did not and here I am 46 years later.

CHRIS NORMAN:  So, you had a long relationship with the guitar as well, is that still part of your musical life?

PASCAL GEMME: It was not for a long, long time, for 20 years I almost didn’t touch it, but for the last 18 months I’ve been playing more guitar than fiddle, so it’s coming back with a vengeance.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Oh fantastic!  I look forward to hearing some of that.  Now with your arranging and composition, particularly with the big band stuff did you have anything to do with the arrangements for La Bottine?

PASCAL GEMME:  Ah no no, but I found out about La Bottine when I was, uh, studying big band arrangements. Like, I knew I liked that music … I don’t know if uh … if some people who, if you remember MuchMusic.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yea, yea. 

PASCAL GEMME:   So, they had a few videos on MuchMusic and uh, I didn’t know it was La Bottine Souriante. It was just, “Oh, I really like that music,” and eventually when, while I was studying big band arrangements one of the, actually the arranger for La Bottine Souriante was in the big band that I was writing for. 

CHRIS NORMAN:  Is that right? 

PASCAL GEMME:   Every two weeks they were playing an arrangement by us, so uh, so I realized “OK, that’s the music that I like, it’s called traditional music,” I didn’t know the name.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yea, that’s fantastic.  Now you are a great proponent of foot percussion with your playing and I love this term that Michel Bordeleau has applied to the tradition of foot percussion in Québécois music it is podorythmie? It that, am I saying that right?

PASCAL GEMME:   Podorythmie, yea, yeah.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Now is that, has that, with your own playing, has that always been a central part, has that always gone along with your fiddle playing?  Or is that, or did you start playing the fiddle and then you added the podorythmie later on?

PASCAL GEMME:   I started with the fiddle and once I learned maybe twelve tunes then I, I started to try to put the foot tapping together with the fiddling and it was, oh boy, I still remember it, it was quite a process it was like, “OK, down here [plays single note on the fiddle] and then I’m going here [taps foot, plays another note] All right, like this [taps foot plays another note] Oh boy.”   But I did that for uh, for a few tunes, maybe three, four tunes, and then it’s like your whole body gets into the groove and it actually helps you with the fiddling once you really lock the bow with the foot tapping.  And, and then I play those three tunes out on the porch at my Mom’s house for hours and hours with all the corn heads – there was a corn field in front – until the very late hours of the night and um, and then I learned a fourth tune, with every tune it became a little easier to get it going.  Eventually I was just jumping straight into “OK, I’ll try it with this tune and see what happens” and that’s how… Maybe um, in three months, it took me three months of intense practicing. 

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, and it’s just part of your fiddle playing now.  Do you, are you called upon to play fiddle tunes without feet from time to time?

PASCAL GEMME:   Oh yeah

CHRIS NORMAN:  And it that confusing for you?

PASCAL GEMME:   It was confusing, it really was, the first ten years maybe I was playing the fiddle, if I wasn’t allowed to foot tap for the, for the arrangement, I wanted to come in half way, it was like “Oh, this is so uncomfortable.” 

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah

PASCAL GEMME:   I don’t have the groove machine [taps feet in rhythm]

CHRIS NORMAN:  Pascal, now I wanted to ask you a little bit about regional styles within Québécois music, you know, being way out on the remote corner of the east coast of course, people talk about Québécois music as if it’s a monolithic idea, but I’m sure, like most musical traditions there are a lot of regional styles and little pockets and so forth.  In my mind, just basically my experience from my parents and grandparents record collections, uh, I have an idea of the Gaspé tradition which seems to match quite a bit with your own style of playing.  I’m thinking about Hermous Regal, Édouard Richard, the likes of those quys, and then I’m thinking of maybe more of the Montreal style of playing, Jean Carignan and Allard and…

PASCAL GEMME:   Oui 

CHRIS NORMAN:  and maybe, yeah, so can you talk to us a little bit about that and how you tend to organize the various styles of Québécois music

PASCAL GEMME:   It’s true there’s definitely in the eastern part of Canada and of Québec there’s the Acadian kind of syncopated bow that happens a lot, you know, so that Acadian style, that kind of – I associate it with New Brunswick also, uh, and Gaspé like you said.  It’s a lot of syncopation in the bow, of going [demonstrates on fiddle].  Roaring Mary for example – they take 25 percent of the notes out and add attitude instead of the actual melody.  So, there’s that eastern part, there’s the Québec region which is um, a lot more accordion, kind of uh, inclined, and all the quadrilles, the old marches [demonstrates on the fiddle].  So, a lot of big vibrato that was brought on by Jos Bouchard’s style and he influenced people everywhere in Québec but a lot in that region like Québec City and the South Shore, Lissee? and there’s …

CHRIS NORMAN:  Would you put Jean Carignan and Allard in that sort of central Québécois style as well?

PASCAL GEMME:   Carignan and Allard I would put them more in the Montreal crowd.

CHRIS NORMAN:  OK

PASCAL GEMME:   Like the international fiddlers ‘cause they were at lot, they were influenced a lot by Irish music.  For Allard for example, he just basically, he lived in Chicago I think when he was young then came back to uh, the suburbs of near Montreal.  So, he learned all those Irish tunes, he just gave them French names.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Hmmm

PASCAL GEMME:   So, this is from Joe Allard, this is the Reel des Oublies? [plays tune on fiddle] 

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, we had 78 recordings, uh, in my family.

PASCAL GEMME:   Yeah 

CHRIS NORMAN:  So, and that’s how I was first introduced to the music.

PASCAL GEMME:   Wow, do you have the whole collection of the 78?

CHRIS NORMAN:  Well, I’m thinking of Bouchard, Allard, those were on the playlist. Buried in the back of the record bin, you know, covered with dust, and I remember pulling them out and just like you “I love this music!  But damn!  I’m a flute player.” And then of course after quite a while I thought “Wait a minute [laughs] give it a go and see what happens.”  Fantastic.  You were talking about an eastern style, a Gaspé, and more of a central style, Montreal and Québec City, would you lump those together? 

PASCAL GEMME:   Montreal and Québec City, there’s one thing that’s particular to the Québec City region is the quadrille, that’s not associated that much with the Montreal style.  Montreal is more like Scottish, Irish tunes with French names.

CHRIS NORMAN:  And how about a Métis style, would that fall under the tent of Québécois fiddling?

PASCAL GEMME:   Yeah, yeah, well not Métis, but to me Métis is like, I hear French Canadian music because of the foot tapping that there’s a lot of free meter tunes, like crooked tunes.  So tunes that aren’t formatted for square dance, a regular square dance, they’re more for, uh, like Québécois squares which are a lot freer than the southern squares. 

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, and how do you see, am I correct in maybe pegging you a little more in a Gaspé style or do you see yourself as more of a polyglot?

PASCAL GEMME:  [Laughs] Uh, I think, I love, I met Eduard Bouchard? and I played with Eduard Bouchard at many festivals for a few years he was there at the festivals and I picked up the tunes very quickly so he thought I just knew all his tunes, so he wanted me with him everywhere he went because I would just augment his sound.  So, I picked up a lot of tunes from him and Yvon Mimeault, I uh, just, he’s a great guy, a lot of fun to be around.  Lots of stories, like he talks, he talks, he talks, he talks, he has ten different stories for each of his tunes.  A lot of interesting repertoire, you know he was a radio host for a while so he needed to have many, many tunes.  And uh, so I learned a lot of his tunes too, I learned from his CDs and I learned a lot of his tunes just by being with him.  So, I think those two like were maybe the biggest influences for the eastern kind of syncopation.  Claude Methé you know, Claude Methé, I love him, he’s my hero, what a great composer.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Well and you’re a hero to so many musicians nowadays as well. I just love your commitment to the music and I just love the buoyancy and the love that you pour into it is palpable. It’s just great.

PASCAL GEMME:   Thank you.  [fiddle tune playing]

CHRIS NORMAN:  To hear the complete Artist Huddle with Pascal Gemme, among many others, and to receive my regular Tune of the Month videos, subscribe to us on Patreon at patreon.com/boxwood We’re grateful to you for your support and to Canadian Heritage, the Provence of Nova Scotia, and Culture Ireland.  Thanks for listening.

Boxwood Conversations
Boxwood Conversations
Tara Diamond



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TRANSCRIPT

CHRIS NORMAN:  Hi, I’m Chris Norman and you’re listening to Boxwood’s Artist Huddle – Conversations. Our August 15th 2020 Artist Huddle, featured the Irish flute player Tara Diamond to talk about her influences and life-long passion for traditional Irish music on the flute and whistle.  Later on, she’s joined by her husband Dermy Diamond for a few tunes.

So, Tara I wondered if you could tell me a little bit about how you got started?  You’re originally from County Down and I’m curious about that moment when you first heard the flute, or heard the whistle, heard traditional music and what that looked like and how you got your start?

TARA DIAMOND:  My father was a flute player, flute and whistle player, so it was really from listening to him.  I didn’t want to learn the flute at all, I wanted to learn the pipes.  You know when I began to listen to music and realized, found out about the different instruments, the pipes were the ones that appealed to me the most.  I play left-handed and it was really difficult in those days to pick up a left-handed practice set, and also very expensive.  So, I just ended up with a flute because there was a flute in the house.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Right, so did you Dad play left-handed as well, Tara?

TARA DIAMOND:  No, he didn’t, he played right-handed.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Uh-huh, was that an issue when you got started?  Did he ever try to steer you in a right-handed direction?

TARA DIAMOND:  No, he said the way you take it up, the way you lift it up should be the way you play it.  He didn’t correct me, and I didn’t have a teacher as such, um, he used to write tunes out and sort of insist that we learn them, myself and my brothers.  But none of us read music so he would give us the ABCs or he would give us a recording on a tape, on a big reel-to-reel tape recorder to learn from.  We didn’t learn tunes directly from him, he just encouraged us to learn at that stage.

CHRIS NORMAN:  That’s fantastic.  And you bumped shoulders with some legends of traditional Irish music in the north there, Paddy Tyrrell.

TARA DIAMOND:  Paddy Tyrrell – we pronounce it ter’-el – he used to come play in our house when we were young and he gave me lots of pointers because my Dad was only really a few steps ahead of us all, and Paddy was more advanced, and he played jazz on the silver flute as well.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Right, he’s a name that you come across regularly but there aren’t many recordings of him, so tell me a little bit about his playing.

TARA DIAMOND:  He played traditional music but it really wasn’t really, you know, it was on the silver flute so he probably was a bit restricted in the ornamentation and that wasn’t the same ornamentation as I would do on the wooden flute.  But he did teach me how to do rolls when I was about 14, 13 and I couldn’t get the hang of them at all, and he sat down with me one day and showed me what to do that that was a huge benefit, a huge help.  And he also told me to practice breathing exercises on the floor, lying on the floor with a book on my stomach …

CHRIS NORMAN: [Laughs] That one has gone the world around, hasn’t it?  With opera singers and flute players and…  And who else did you come into contact with early on with?

TARA DIAMOND:  Cathal McConnell came to stay at the house several times.  Tom McHale, who’s a whistle player who’s no longer with us.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yes, of course everyone knows Cathal, we actually had him to Lunenburg last summer, that was his second visit to Boxwood, so we’re all well acquainted with Cathal.

TARA DIAMOND:  He’s a character.

CHRIS NORMAN:   Tell us a little bit about Tom, he’s another musician you hear about but there aren’t many recordings of.

TARA DIAMOND:  There’s one recording actually, I think, of himself and a guitarist called Denny Warwick.  I’m not sure how widely available it is.  He was a really, really good whistle player, you know, he had lovely variations.  A limited repertoire but what he played, he played really, really well.  And I suppose you describe him as a likable rogue.  I was too young really, to realize.  He used to come and stay with people and you know,  he’d run up debts and bills and things.  He’d borrow money and then he’d disappear, he’d go somewhere else.  But everybody just, he was so likeable that people, they just sort of shrug their shoulders and never invite him back to the house again.  He was a really nice man.

CHRIS NORMAN:  And when did you move out of County Down?

TARA DIAMOND:  I moved to Belfast from County Down when I got married in 1977, and we lived there for 10 years until 1987, just outside Belfast.  Dermy, who’s a fiddle player, my husband and myself and then in 1987 we moved to the house I’m in now, in Dublin.  So, we don’t live here all the time, but we’re here because we’re having a big job done in the garden.  We’re having some trees felled.

CHRIS NORMAN:  OK, we’ll watch out for the chainsaw sounds.

TARA DIAMOND:  I don’t think you’ll hear it, it’s a very big garden, so it’s a good distance from where they’re working.

CHRIS NORMAN:  So, with your flute playing Tara, how do you feel that the northern style has informed your own thinking about flute playing? Of course, with fiddle playing, a northern style, a more articulated style is something that everybody recognizes.  But as flute players, it’s a little murkier, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on a northern flute style.

TARA DIAMOND:  I don’t, I’m not actually convinced that there is a northern flute style.  I think flute playing is very strong in the north.  But I think individually the flute players are very different, if you listen to them, you know, there’s not a common style.  I mean, I’m thinking of people like Davy Maguire, Michael Clarkson, Harry Bradley.  Um, I suppose, myself, Gerry O’Donnell, from Fermanagh.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Right

TARA DIAMOND:  There’s a few, that’s just off the top of my head.  There are more of course, we all play very differently.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, and I think that’s healthy, it does seem that with our connectedness now, it does seem like regional styles, individual styles sometimes get the corners rubbed off of them.  People tend to sound a bit more like each other, or, you know, the style du jour.  And I think that’s a healthy thing.

TARA DIAMOND:  So, I wouldn’t think that I’ve got a northern style.  I don’t know, maybe it’s more the tone, you know, people concentrate on the tone more.  You know, they’re not so worried about variations, the tone is the big thing.  It could be that, I don’t really know.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Hmmm

TARA DIAMOND:  Oh, Desi Wilkinson was the other person I was thinking of, you know who Desi is…

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yes, indeed

TARA DIAMOND:  So, we don’t have a common style, I don’t think, any of us northern flute players.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Now, one of our mutual friends is Dáithí Sproule, what was your first contact with Dáithí?

TARA DIAMOND:  Oh, my goodness, I can’t actually remember, it’s so long ago, I just seem to have known Dáithí forever [laughs] So, it must have been the nineteens, it could have been Dublin, because I know Dáithí lived there for a short while before he moved.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yes

TARA DIAMOND:  I honestly don’t remember where I met Dáithí.

CHRIS NORMAN:  I first became aware of you when I first met Dáithí, and it was lovely, it was on a visit out to Minneapolis-St Paul, I think about 1986 or so.  It was a brief period when the Irish Tradition with Billy McComiskey and Brendan Mulvihill, when that was a six piece and I was playing in that group. Anyway, that’s when I first met Dáithí and he was singing your praises at that time.  So, this is a real treat to finally get to meet you.

TARA DIAMOND:  Ah, thank you.  I met Dáithí and Paddy O’Brien, Paddy O’Brien the accordion player who also lived there, left around the time Dáithí moved?  He would have been a friend of my father’s, Paddy was, so I met him.  He used to come to the house quite a lot.  It wasn’t just flute players, we’d sort of different, it wasn’t all flute players.  I always think I learned most of my music from fiddle players, and accordion players, you know, not flute players at all.  [With husband Dermy on fiddle, plays two slip jigs – An Buachaillin Dreotie and Kitty Come Down from Limerick]
CHRIS NORMAN:  To hear the complete Artist Huddle with Tara, among many others, and to receive my regular Tune of the Month videos, subscribe to us on Patreon at patreon.com/boxwood  We’re grateful to you for your support and to Canadian Heritage, the Provence of Nova Scotia, and Culture Ireland.  Thanks for listening.

Boxwood Conversations
Boxwood Conversations
Yann Falquet



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From our August 31st 2020 Artist Huddle with Yann Falquet.

TRANSCRIPT

CHRIS NORMAN:  Hi, I’m Chris Norman and you’re listening to Boxwood’s Artist Huddle – Conversations. Our August 31st 2020 Artist Huddle featured the brilliant Québécois guitarist and singer Yann Falquet.  Yann and I chatted about his career spanning jazz, Irish, and Québécois music, his work with Genticorum, the McDades, and many other collaborators.  And he shared some beautiful arrangements of traditional songs from Québec.  I began asking about his start studying jazz and visual arts.

YANN FALQUET:  One of my teachers kind of turned me onto jazz and I thought that’s a really good avenue, a direction to take with guitar and that’s what led me to, when it was time to actually go to college, to go into jazz.  So, I went to Concordia University in Montreal.  They had a program that I could get in to.  I actually did visual arts for a year in college before switching to jazz, and went through my three years and that was really the culmination of my jazz career.  I went up to college and as I was there my interests just dove, and I discovered Irish sessions about that same time so that could be linked.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yann, is that when you started playing with the McDades?

YANN FALQUET:  Well, it was a few years after that.  Also, they are from Alberta and a bunch of them moved to Montreal to go to McGill.  So, a different college, and they also went to jazz school.  So, I think they knew when they were looking for a guitar player, “Oh Yann plays Celtic music but he’s also done some jazz, so it could be a good match.”  It was a few years after I was done with school, I had not done jazz for a few years and had started to play with a few trad bands by then.  Amazing musicians.  So versatile musicians, fantastic jazz musicians who also played Celtic music since they were kids playing with family bands.

CHRIS NORMAN:  After that, you began the Genticorum project, is that right?  After the McDades?

YANN FALQUET:  It was in fact before the McDades.  I had started with Genticorum, I had started in 2000, and this is the 20th anniversary of Genticorum this year.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Wow

YANN FALQUET:  Yes, we had a bunch of concerts planned for that, which are not happening.  We just did a very similar kind of Zoom meeting call with the three current members, one past member – Alex – and an interviewer who interviewed us and it will be put into some kind of short documentary with bits of archive footage and photos.  Which you guys will all be able to see I think, at some point, maybe in September.   So, we’re celebrating that.  We started in 2000 and I remember it was maybe 2000 and 2 or 3 when the McDades reached out to me, and I started to tour with them, but it was a weird situation because I had my band, my own band that I started with my friends and even though the McDades were far more advanced musicians and advanced in their careers and really knew how the business worked.  And as soon as I started to play with them, you know, I had to buy a flight case for my guitar.  I remember very well, I ordered it from Myhres Music in Edmonton, one of these thick Calton cases.  Because I had to fly with them, I had never flown with my guitar.  And it was great, it felt very professional, but at the same time, my band, I had to make a decision at some point.  To play full time with them or with my group and it was a gamble that I would leave the really good, advanced band and go with my band that was picking up slowly, and I knew that would work at some point and it would be my own project and I would feel, you know, I felt I had invested so much and I told the McDades when there was a crosswire both bands were taking too much time that sadly I would just stay with Genticorum and I’m really glad I did.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, I know the feeling. Exactly my own experience, for a period of time I was playing in Skyedance with Alasdair Frasier and I was playing with the Baltimore Consort doing early music and I’d started the Chris Norman Ensemble and it was just insane, you know, traveling.  All three were touring internationally and it was absolutely mind numbing to try to keep it all together.  You do have to focus at a certain point.

YANN FALQUET:  And when you start the music, that’s what your goal is, you want to play more and more.  You can’t even imagine at some point it will be too much but that point arrives pretty quickly where it’s just unhealthy, it’s just not good for your music or for your career so you’re not prepared to make these choices.  And I think in retrospect I did the right choice and you know, I think it’s a good thing for musicians to think about.  We’re so hungry to play more that we don’t even know what to do when we arrive to the point where we play enough.

CHRIS NORMAN:  That’s right, I mean there’s something to be said for focus as well because, at least for myself I just felt like I was casting the net far too wide.  So nowadays Genticorum is still going strong.  You’re also collaborating with some other wonderful musicians.  Of course, with Natalie [Haas], and DuoDuo, that’s a going concern is it not?

YANN FALQUET:  Yeah, it’s a band that started at Boxwood in fact.  That first time when both Natalie, Nic [Gareiss], Maeve [Gilchrist] and I were there together in, I forget the name of the church, but I remember very well in my head which one it is.  We were just down in the basement putting together a few songs and thought let’s just combined forces and it’s been a fun thing.  But moving to Summerville has been really good music-wise.  There’s so many good musicians, so both kind of more casually ‘cause there’s all these sessions here, there’s these fantastic musicians that are really under the radar, some of them have never recorded and they’re some of the best Irish musicians I’ve heard that I’ve got to play with and really enjoy it.  And also I’ve started to tour a little bit with Seamus Egan in the last few years.  In fact, I was on a flight to Portland Oregon on March 13th for a tour with Seamus and as I landed, I had a text from him that the tour was cancelled.  The world has changed, just go back home right now.

CHRIS NORMAN:  Yeah, we were all mid-tour at that point.  I was just on my way back from Australia and New Zealand.  But Yann, are you still playing the same guitar you were playing a few years ago when we last met up?  I loved that guitar and I just wanted to ask you to tell us a little more about that guitar.

YANN FALQUET:  Yeah, it has a bunch of new scratches, you see here, and a hole here.  It’s terrible because it’s a really good guitar.  But it’s made by a good friend of mine, a fantastic guitar player himself that plays Celtic guitar called Jordan McConnell.  Jordan has toured with a band called the Duhks.  I don’t know if any of you have seen the Duhks over the years, they’re not active now.  They stormed the music scene in 2010, I guess, something like that.  So, I knew him, I guess, just from we were always in the same festival.  There’s a documentary about Genticorum, I was just talking about.  I just opened boxes of old film photography, photos I had printed but never looked at in years and years and was looking for good things to include and I found I bunch of pictures from that era and we were always with the Duhks.  So, I got know Jordan pretty well, he would come and stay with me in Montreal and at the same time as he played guitar, and he plays pipes also pretty well, he had started to build guitars.  He had built his own guitar which I always saw and thought it was a fantastic guitar, and he always nagged me, sometime you should buy, not buy, you should let me build you a guitar, and they’re not cheap guitars.

YANN FALQUET: [Sings his version of Belle Alouette Grise a traditional song from Brittany which Yann updated and expanded]
CHRIS NORMAN:  To hear the complete Artist Huddle with Yann, among many others, and to receive my regular Tune of the Month videos, subscribe to us on Patreon at patreon.com/boxwood  We’re grateful to you for your support and to Canadian Heritage, the Provence of Nova Scotia, and Culture Ireland.  Thanks for listening.

Boxwood Conversations
Boxwood Conversations
Jean-Michel Veillon



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On July 21, 2020, we had a visit with one of the all-time greats of Breton music, and perennial favorite at Boxwood, Jean-Michel Veillon.

Transcript

A transcript will follow shortly.