Since 1994 TASC has been organising Events & Workshops to encourage the use and enjoyment of Folk Music in Mid Wales and the Borders
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During the 1990s TASC Administrator and founding Trustee Philip Freeman joined the board of the Welsh folk magazine TAPLAS. At the same time he began contributing a series of opinion pieces under the heading Freeman in the Fray .

The Editor of Taplas was Keith Hudson who died in June 2015. Without the work he put into editing Taplas the folk world in Wales would have been much poorer, and the virtual demise of Taplas is a sad loss.

These pieces were a very modest contribution to the debate about folk music in Wales, which we needed and still need to have, but we hope they can be seen as a way of continuing the conversations in memory of Keith.

If you click on the images you can see scans of the original, the text of which is printed on the right. Below the image are additional observations and comments.

Any comments you may have can be posted via visitor posts on our facebook page or e-mail us at the address on our Home Page.

Taplas articles by Philip Freeman:
Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr (1995)
Jez Lowe (1996)
Lisa Ornstein (1996) (this also includes an interview with La Bottine Souriante by Keith Hudson

June/July 1993

A plea for diversity, ethical purchasing and the occasional impulse buy. Also a suggestion that we have more power than we think if only we chose touse it.

I think this still makes sense and, if anything, the years that have gone by have shown the truth of it more and more.

NOT THAT I don't shop at Tesco or Safeway but ....

I tried to get a broken carwindow fixed at one of the M6 services recently. 1 rang whatever firm the hire car company had a deal with (my own vehicle died last autumn) and, after some delay, the fitter started fitting and everything was going fine - until the heavies at the service station garage came. My fitter would have to go elsewhere to do it. They had the repair franchise there and other cowboys would be seen off the reservation. (A propos of which, 1 keep expecting to see some extremely thin Indians living on all those central reservations, but that's neither here nor there).

Back to the service station. You see, it only looks like the public highway: in fact, it's private land. As indeed are the walkways within the shopping malls and, these days, most of the short-cuts and alleyways near new developments. Once upon a time, the powerful only owned the land and the buildings. Now they own the highways too.

What's all this about? (Listen to him, he gets more like Alistair Cooke every month!). Well, it's about the fact that famous name bands are what people most go to see. Especially in times of recession, making promoters fight shy of unknown names, who are nearly always bad box office. Organisers of folk (or other) events often get undeserved flak for not booking adventurously. Most of the time, it's bitter experience. Unknown names get poorly supported. And who's to blame for that? We are. The punters.

It's all ethical purchasing and it ought to be more widely practised. Those few crumbs we get from the rich man's tables (or do I mean three-storey banqueting halls?) are an important source of power, but we don't often choose to use it. Backing up our choices with the way we spend cash is very effective. So, if you want supermarkets, not corner shops, if you want multinationals, not individuals, thriving foreign manufacturers, rather than British ones, then put your money there.

And, if you want to support a rich diversity of music, go out and risk a band you've not heard before. OK, they may be crap but perhaps you are too or, if you are not, I bet you once were and if you haven't even tried, you've no room to talk. You can extend this to other experiences, other art forms. There's a world out there to experience.
Just once in a while, perhaps in a very long while, you'll make an exciting discovery, and it will be yours, not Taplas' or WOMAD's or whoever. It'll taste ever such a lot nicer for that and you should get a warm glow where it matters. Which is just what you'll deserve.

August/September 1993

Not one of the better ones.

There are three topics scambled up in here and not all that coherent.

The first point is that we need to understand any art form by looking at excellence. The second is that excellence comes from understanding meaning not surface attention to detail. The third is a reminder of the depth of folk culture, drawn from its heritage.

FUNNY STUFF, this folk lark. You hear some dire singer get up in a singaround and you hope to God nobody knows this is how you spend your free time. Or you urge friends to go and watch real morris dancing rather than depend on the That s Life version (and the demise of that is the best bit of media news for years) and, of course, it's awful.

Then some other day you hear charmed magic from someone who does it right and you ache with the beauty of it. So why doesn't everyone do it properly? Why don't we all get it right? But what is right? What does doing it right mean?

There's sometimes a confusion, particularly acute in Wales, as to what folk is. It's often defined as the music of the peasants, the underclass, the dispossessed; but that defines it only in negatives. People aren't pigs. It's not just the noises a society happens to make. Oh, I hear a reel. It must be an Irish community. People do these things because they mean something to them. And what it meant to them in nineteenth century Ireland is probably different from Wales in the fourteenth or Scotland in the twentieth.

You can't step into the same river twice. It's always changing and it's always the same. Music continues and adapts because it works. It works for the communities who use it. They may no longer be regionally based. They may be self-selecting communities, gathering in a pub on Thursday or Saturday nights but, for them, it works. And it works as a communi ty playing to itself, not being entertained from outside. That's why it needs to constantly change. That's why we had a revival.

In countries like Scotland, Ireland and Wales, it might seem a nonsense to talk about a folk revival, because it was always there. But that misses the point and importance of the revival. The revival was about re-fashioning the culture into new expressions for new groups. Bothy Band and Planxty were clearly about something different from The Dubliners. The Albion Country Band didn't have much in common with The Spinners.

It's not the material that matters, so much as the use it's put to. Yet the material is important, because of the use it can be put to and because of its extraordinary range, derives from previous uses. It's not too fanciful to see it as an old piece of furniture, where the patina of centuries shines through. The word palimpsest even comes to mind, but that's my problem.