Q&A August 2012, Part II

An additional Fairport inquiry, if I may, in the aftermath of the recent anniversary… how was Fairport regarded by the musical critics of the day? Did you delight or annoy traditionalists with your electric approach to old folk songs? Did your fan base include people who also followed the big rock acts of the day (Stones; Beatles; etc.)? (I realize in asking this last question that you didn't run focus groups!!)

For fans more in the rock/psychedelic world, we would have been embraced as The Incredible String Band were embraced - as part of the wide smorgasbord of styles available on the scene. I think you could be a Zep fan, and an Arthur Brown fan, and a Fairport fan, and that was all cool. At worst, folk rock would have been seen as a novelty, especially as it got into the 70s, and bands like Steeleye started to have hits. The Brits have difficulty with their own culture - call it post-imperial malaise. On the folk scene, things were much more divided, with some hostility from the real traditionalists, and some great support from figures like Lou Killen, Bob Davenport, and AL Lloyd. The folk revival in the UK was only 10 years old at that point, and people had very decided opinions about the way traditional music should be performed - some clubs didn't allow instrumental accompaniment, for instance.

Finally, does Gary Bettman annoy you as much as he annoys me???!!! Brian Hayes - OTTAWA ON

As the man who handed Dustin Brown The Cup, I must have a small soft spot for him. If he's the spoke in the wheel causing a lockout, my opinion will spiral downwards rapidly.

Just curious, given your study of pop music, what do you think of rap and hip-hop in the context of other pop music? The popularity of these styles seems to have only widened over the past couple decades, and many elements have worked their way into other pop music styles. Are there any similarities you've noticed with other pop music styles, trends, movements, etc. over the years? While not exactly my cup of tea, I'd be interested in your view as someone who has looked at pop music trends spanning centuries. Thanks, Brian

I think Rap and Hip Hop are mostly repetitive and derivative, and not very interesting. Tupac was clearly The Man. Like a lot of styles, there are a few originators, and a lot of people cashing in… so I'd say it's 95% dross, but then I think most popular music over the last 40 years has been 95% dross. We remember the good bits.

With all the questions concerning hockey, and you wishing it had been something you'd done as a kid, I'm wondering if you've ever tried or watched much Irish hurling? I'm fairly certain there isn't a better sport on Earth. And if you like hockey, you'd love hurling. Speaking of which, given the 3,000 year history of hurling, and it being Irish, I'm surprised I've not heard many songs about it. The Irish seem to write songs about everything - why so little about their national sport?

I went to a game in Dublin years ago, and loved it. Somewhat dangerous, but no worse than rugby in that department. I'd put it up there with Aussie Rules Football as a great game that deserves a wider audience. Working on my hurling song right now…

John Cale is playing in Chicago the night after you. This made me curious: How did you end up working with Cale on 'Fear'? Is he somebody that you're still in touch with ever and have you followed his career much since the 70s? And, most importantly, any chance you'll be dropping by his show? ;-) Hope all is well and looking forward to hearing new material and seeing you play again as soon as possible. All the best, Austin

I'm a big fan of John's. At the time of 'Fear' I think we were on the same label, and working in the same studio. I've followed a lot of his career. I have to fly out before his show in Chicago.