I wondered about going to see Martin Carthy last night at the Band on the Wall
I’d heard that his voice isn’t what it was, that he can’t always form the chords any more. Well, that’s what happens when you get older, and as my companion Crofty pointed out after the show "I love a musician that at 70+ doesn’t try to be anything other than themselves at 70+"
So last night wasn’t a virtuoso performance, but to be fair, that was never Carthy’s shtick. What we got was an engaging show, a bit of chat and an overwhelming sense of folk heritage.
On playing Bruton Town:
"I learned this from Davey Graham"
On an English version of Mrs McGrath:
"I didn’t realise there was an English version until I heard Tim Hart and Maddy Prior play it in ’68"
It would seem reasonable to assume that most of us in the audience had been part of the folk scene for the past decades, attending gigs in little pubs and clubs up and down the country. Carthy, of course, has been at the heart of all this.
I don’t listen to much folk music nowadays. Too many of the performers learned their craft in the conservatoires, and that doesn’t seem very folky to me.
Last night’s show may have had its imperfections, it was all the more enjoyable for it.
(And whilst not suggesting for a moment that Carthy is second rate, I’ve written more about performance here: Second Rate Entertainers)