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41 f A


nd so from sound to vision. Kerr remembers “Ewan Mac- Coll picked five of us from the Critics Group to go to Italy for a series of concerts.


Us women usually wore jeans or ski- pants and a jumper. He gave us a dress allowance, saying ‘you need to look like you’ve made a bit of an effort’. This did- n’t apply to the men.” She says her daughter Nancy (when she and Eliza Carthy were teenagers working together in a duo) “told me that men felt they had an absolute right to put their hand on her knee and make comments on how she looked. “Why don’t you smile a bit more darling’?”


And recently Tickell, putting on an event featuring her students, male and female, says, “It was the girl in the red dress. No one mentioned that the gui- tarist was in a blue shirt. His playing is not mixed up in how he looks. It is mixed up with the women.”


This is rammed home all the time on stages where female musicians are intro- duced with comments on what they’re wearing and “lovely girls, easy on the eye and they can play,” the most popular, or ”I wouldn’t mind one of those on my mantelpiece.”


In a music business stuffed full of men – the MCs, the technicians, the agents, managers, promoters – these casual remarks reflect a wider culture where woman’s value is not in their skill, talent, intelligence and capability but synony- mous with how much they’d like to shag her. Marks out of ten.


What she looks like precludes her from being seen, whether she’s young and luscious and fit ‘for the mantelpiece’ or older and not worth the bother. As Rhein- gans says, “I just want to go on stage and do my thing not having been introduced by someone who’s put you down.”


Following Newton’s Facebook post


that kicked off the conversation about the live situation for women musicians, Karine Polwart suggested she lead a panel discussion at Celtic Connections in 2017 on women in folk music. Newton says, “We were trying to put across views as to why things need to change without it feeling ‘us against them,’ without slag- ging off men. It’s not about that.” It was quite difficult, she says, as this was defi- nitely misunderstood.


With Jenn Butterworth and Michaela Atkins, Newton set up the BIT Collective – “A collective of people interested in dis- cussing and addressing gender issues in Scottish folk and traditional music,” and promoting gigs by upcoming women bands like the excellent HEISK. Over in Ire- land, Karen Casey set up Fair Plé with simi- lar aims, “to achieve gender balance in the production, performance, promotion, and development of Irish traditional and folk music. We advocate for equal opportunity and balanced representation for all.” Judging by some of the backlash, you’d think they had announced plans for a Communist putsch.


For according to an argument put for- ward on Newton’s Facebook page by one


Top: The Poozies with Mary MacMaster left. Middle: String Sisters with Catriona Macdonald left. Bottom: The Rheingans Sisters, Rowan left.


Photo: © Judith Burrows


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