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I just returned from a week in England, and as always I am grateful, overwhelmed, and inspired by my experiences there. There is too much to learn in this world of other traditions, but I have gotten a special view into one aspect of English folk music through my associations with musicians and music promoters there.
This is precisely how I felt after living in Texas. When I moved to Texas in 1999, I had barely heard the accordion played live. After a few months there, I knew the specifics about zydeco, cajun, czech polka and conjunto accordion styles. Certainly the accordion is a mainstay of English folk music, but for me it's now it's the mandola, the cittern, the bouzouki that I've discovered - in all of their varieties. Jim Moray showed me his brand new tenor bouzouki (or was it a mandola?) styled like Robert Johnson's guitar (picture below).
Of course one also finds out more about one's own traditions when traveling abroad. I met and heard Jonathan Byrd from North Carolina, and was thrilled to talk with someone who has traveled a path so similar to mine. He is excellent. See us all playing with the Sweetback Sisters in the picture above. And then there are The Sweetback Sisters, who are on my record label, and who sing the prettiest country and gospel harmonies I've heard.
Lastly, Maddy Prior. I didn't even know who she was when I was up on that stage in Shrewsbury a couple of days ago. I do now: Maddy Prior is a English folk queen, a member of Steeleye Span and in the Silly Sisters with June Tabor. I might have shrunk from the stage if I had known such information.
Of course, I treasure above all playing with dear friends. There is something about this music business that makes me cling to fellow musician mothers, and I will always treasure playing with Kathryn Roberts on the main stage at Shrewsbury, though I think a 4000-seater tent may be beyond me. I do like the smaller venues best, and tremble a bit when looking out at all of those little faces in such a big place. I also loved playing with Patsy Reid, a Scottish fiddler and singer of the highest order. Perhaps I have never met such a kind person and consummate professional. I would love to travel her beautiful country and play with her days on end. I wish i had a picture of us playing together at Shrewsbury, as I would treasure it. As I've learned over the past two years, England and Scotland are worlds apart.
Thanks for viewing my photo montage. Now I'm home, and the cd release season is upon me. Goodbye for now, dear England.

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