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erhaps the one person who best represented a bridge between the traditional per- formers on the one hand, and the revival singers and work- shop directors on the other was A. L. Lloyd, who himself ran one of the best and certainly the best attended workshop at Keele. Bert’s fascinating lecture/demonstration on ballads was learned but in no way antiquarian.


My workshop on songmaking was, in a sense, right at the opposite pole to Lloyd’s. There, fifty or sixty people, most of them practising songwriters, agreed that work-situation and protest songs have their own expertise, but that love songs are infinitely more difficult to write. After two hours’ discussion the writers had only started to come to grips with the prob- lem… a situation that was mirrored all through the Keele Festival, with people full of ideas and discussions bursting at the seams because there are still only twenty- four hours in a day.


Reading through the Keele pro- gramme in retrospect, one gets a vivid sense of the ‘all going on’ atmosphere of Saturday – Workshop Day – and some idea of the agonising choices of those with a variety of interests. At 9.30 a.m. one could choose between Douglas Tate’s harmoni- ca, Johnny Handle’s melodeon, Colin Ross’s pipes and Nan Fleming-Williams’ fiddle – only to discover that attendance at even one of these meant missing A. L. Lloyd on ballads at 10.00 a.m… or John Pearse on guitar playing, Dave Cousins on banjo playing, Ian Campbell on folk groups and John Foreman on broadsides, all scheduled for 10.30 a.m.


And anyone who elected for these late-morning events stood to miss Paul Oliver’s learned and absorbing account of the blues, reinforced by his own magnifi- cent display of photographs and other early-blues exhibits.


The same kind of conflicts arose after lunch. He who took to one of the guitar, harmonica, melodeon, groups, or song- making workshops must miss the others. If he elected for Ewan MacColl’s long demonstration and lecture on folksong style at 3.30 p.m., he would miss Peggy Seeger on folk accompaniment, the sec- ond pipes and fiddle workshops, and Charles Parker on radio ballads.


At 4.30 p.m., Bill Clifton ran a blue- grass workshop, Peter Kennedy ran a col- lectors’ workshop and I ran a second song- making workshop… more agonising choices and more chances of missing something because one could be in only one place at once.


There were those who said too much was going on at the same time (all those wonderful tapes that Ewan and Peggy seem to have dug up… John Foreman’s irresistible good humour… Ian Campbell’s lucid exposition of group technique… and all those instrumental workshops.


But against this embarrassment of riches must be set the feelings of those who came to Keele precisely because of the great diversity of events. They at least could not complain.


Charles Parker’s workshop on The Radio Ballads A


lthough there were a great many workshops, they did not in any way overshadow the less formal events of the festi- val. Indeed, if one could eaves- drop on Stan Hugill, sitting on a staircase in the University Students’ Union Building and singing and talking about sea songs, one might have felt that an unscheduled workshop was occurring under one’s nose.


This was just one of many pleasant happenings at Keele. All over the universi- ty campus, there were pockets of resis- tance to the organised programme… peo- ple who had paid good money to come to the festival were in many cases content to swap songs and experiences informally in the blazing sunshine that blessed the festi- val weekend.


On the Sunday morning, in the read- ing room of the Students’ Union building, there took place, quite by accident, what is probably the largest and most representa- tive gathering of British traditional per- formers ever seen under a common roof. How fitting that this should have taken place at an event organised by the English Folk Dance & Song Society. In the course of


the morning, the traditional performers asked Ann Briggs to sing for them. The tra- dition, which sometimes appears sacred to some folk enthusiasts, is much more of an everyday matter to the performers involved. To them, a song is a song is a song, and a singer is a singer. The ‘labels’ are not the first things that leap to the minds of traditional performers.


Among events that explored the less well-trodden paths was Charles Parker’s deceptively casual account of the radio ballad series he and Ewan MacColl have made famous, coupled with a vigorous attack on the BBC for discontinuing them – described by one observer as “a highlight of Keele Festival.”


Throughout the festival, Keele Univer- sity campus rang out to a mixture of noises that sometimes blended, sometimes clashed. The pipes of Colin Ross (Northum- brian), Alec Stewart (Highland), and Felix Doran (uilleann), for instance… and the lovely voice of American visitor Hedy West… and the playing of Reg Hall and the Rakes, who seemed to pop up practi- cally everywhere.


Mike Waterson (centre) watches, with possibly Maddy Prior right? Who were they listening to?


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