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31 f


“B


ut I don’t regret anything. We gave it our best shot and I still think it is our best album. If we were ever going to do a major


label album that was certainly the one. It was very successful, too, though it didn’t go stratospheric. But it wasn’t the desire to go up a level that motivated me or anyone else. It was to feel we hadn’t missed an opportunity. The concern wasn’t whether it works or not, but whether we gave it our best shot.”


Throughout it all, Boden was steadfast in his insistence that Bellowhead’s foremost aim was to raise the profile and awareness of traditional music and (the odd Jacques Brel cover apart) they pretty much never deviat- ed from the tradition in that endeavour.


“I’m not sure how much the folk scene appreciates how massive an operation Bel- lowhead was when we went on tour. Two tour buses and a lorry, it was crazy. An awful lot of people came on that journey with us and what is interesting in terms of tradi-


tional music but difficult to quantify is how many of those went from being Bellowhead fans to being interested in traditional music in general. I’ve no idea but I hope it is a sig- nificant proportion.”


How much influence they’ve had is a matter of conjecture but the folk music environment is certainly very different now from the one they embarked on all those years ago.


“I remember thinking ten years ago there was something of the school concert in folk performers. But folkies are now, in general, far better performers. You don’t get up and apologise for not being able to tune your guitar, which is good, although it does create more of a schism with the social music-making side of the folk scene. As the professional side gets more professional and the more slick and better at putting on shows you become, that detachment becomes more noticeable. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. The idea that it was all part of the same thing is false. The singing sessions and getting up on stage in


front of 200 people is not the same thing at all, it is very different. As soon as you set foot on stage, it’s completely different. That has slightly hampered the folk scene because we have been living this lie, that one is a continuation of the other. But it’s not. And by accepting the two things are completely different you can do both.”


I ask him what he’s listening to now. Last time I asked him this he said Kathleen Ferrier. This time he says Roy Orbison and Arcade Fire.


“I’m having a little break from tradi- tional music at the moment, but I’ll come back to it in a year or so.”


And, one classic – if morbid – question to end (says the funeral celebrant). What music would you like played at your funeral? He looks nonplussed for a second. “Erm… I’ve not given this much thought before but… Whistle Down The Wind by Tom Waits.”


All smiles, we re-arrange the haystacks and vacate the teepee.


www.jonboden.com F


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