CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: FOLK FRIENDS 1 (1978)

The latest in our series of reviews of albums from the past that deserve to be aired again! Folk Friends was two volumes of music released in 1978 and 1980 featuring a wealth of Folk music artists live in session in Germany. Almost four hours of music and all available to download for free. The first volume is presented here with Volume Two to follow next week. 

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Folk Friends was a series of two albums recorded live in Germany and featuring a broad selection of artists from Ireland, Germany, England, Scotland and the USA. The music here takes in traditional Celtic Folk, American Blues-inspired Folk and even some German traditional music. Both volumes of the albums were recorded at Hannes Wader’s home and studio, Windmühle ‘Fortuna’, Struckum near Husum, North Friesland, which was a renovated windmill. The sessions would produce two 90-minute double vinyl albums with the first volume released in 1978 and then Volume 2 appearing two years later. While most compilation albums of this type would feature songs from different times and releases this is a historic record of all the artists playing either solo or together over a few days and is a truly unique recording of these sessions of outstanding musicians and friends.

FOLK FRIENDS ONE

Folk Friends One are:
Guy Carawan * Candie Carawan * Derroll Adams (USA) * Alex Campbell (Scotland) * Wizz Jones (England) * Finbar Furey * Davey Arthur (Ireland) * Werner Lämmerhirt * Hannes Wader * Jörg Suckow * Matthias Raue (Germany)

Alex Campbell (left), Davey Arthur (top centre), Finbar Furey (bottom centre)

The first album was recorded during six days in June 1978 and was produced by Carsten Linde and recorded and mastered by Günter Pauler.

Tracklist : 1. Werner, Jörg & Matthias – Six Days on the Road 0:00 2. Finbar, Hannes, Alex, Jörg & Davey – Night Visiting Song/Dat du min Leefste büst 05:13 3. Guy, Werner, Finbar & Davey – Planxty Irwin 8:17 4. Derroll & Wizz – I’m Sad and I’m Lonely 10:34 5. Finbar, Werner & Jörg – Lonely One 13:38 6. Guy, Candie & Matthias – The Trail of Tears 18:25 7. Hannes & Jörg – Willst Du Dein Herz mir schenken 21:48 8. Wizz & Davey – Night Ferry 24:10 9. Guy, Candie & Werner – I Remember Loving You 28:57 10. Finbar, Alex, Davey, Jörg & Derroll – Derroll in the Rain 32:23 11. Guy, Hannes, Davey, Matthias, Derroll, Finbar & Werner – Who Will Sing for Me? 37:13 12. Werner, Guy & Candie – Walking Down the Line 41:42 13. Wizz, Guy, Finbar & Davey – Old Molly Hare 44:53 14. Hannes & Guy – Brüder, seht die rote Fahne/Hold The Fort 46:12 15. Alex, Finbar & Davey – One Day We’ll See Them 49:52 16. Derroll & Wizz – Black Jack Davey 53:31 17. Wizz & Hannes – New National Seven 56:15 18. Alex, Guy, Candie & Derroll – Aragon Mill 58:59 19. Derroll, Hannes & Davey – Pay Day At Coal Creek 1:02:40 20. Finbar & Jörg – John of Dreams 1:07:05 21. Finbar – Alex’s Dream/Ned Walsh’s Jig 1:10:48 22. Hannes, Guy, Werner, Finbar, Davey, Candie, Alex, Susanne, Wizz & Derroll – When The Fiddler Has Played His Last Tune For The Night 1:12:45

ALBUM LINER NOTES

Singers, guitarists, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bagpipe and dulcimer players from several European countries and the USA, who had been friends with Hannes and each other for many years, met here in Hannes’ windmill.
From the American south, Guy and Candie Carawan brought oppressed minority songs, timeless new songs and their hammered dulcimer. Guy and Hannes met for the first time in 1968 at the Waldeck Castle festival and have since met whenever Guy is on tour in Germany.
The American banjo player Derroll Adams traveled from Belgium. He knew Guy Carawan from the USA in the 1950s before he emigrated to Europe himself. In the years that followed, Derroll had a significant influence on the development of the folk scene in France and England as a street musician and through guest appearances in clubs.
His friend Alex Campbell from Glasgow – who had also lived as a street singer in Paris in the early 1960s and is still a role model for many folk singers – was now sitting in the windmill, as was Wizz Jones, guitarist and songwriter from London, who had been a singer since the 1960s works as a professional singer-songwriter.
Finbar Furey had come from southern Ireland and as a bagpipe player he cannot be overestimated for the more recent development of Irish folk music. He had brought his many flutes, new songs of his own and his friend Davey Arthur, who was causing a sensation in Finbar’s band “The Fureys and Davey Arthur”.
Werner Lämmerhirt, one of the leading folk guitarists in this country, was also there. He had toured with Hannes Wader between 1971 and 1973 and recorded with Alex Campbell, Guy Carawan and Hannes Wader before beginning his own successful career.
And finally Hannes Wader, the host himself. Without his encounter and involvement with Anglo-American folk, his development as a German singer-songwriter and folk singer would have been different. His roots in German folk music, which has been broken several times, and his musical talents form the point of reference to all these fellow musicians who have been shaped in living traditional folk cultures.
Jörg Suckow and Matthias Raue also come from Germany, bringing in their skills on cello and fiddle and taking on choral parts.
Martin and Gertrude Degenhardt, who have been involved with the folk scene in Germany since the first Waldeck festivals, were involved throughout the entire recording time at the Mühle. They observed and sketched the musicians, the cover illustration is the result of their impressions.
Günter Pauler, who recorded the music and kept it up day and night with concentration and good humor, used a Nagara IV S and a TEAC 80-8 eight-track machine with dbx and Sennheiser and AKG microphones. Mixing was done on a Nagara IV S.
Hannes, Guy, Derroll, Alex, Wizz, Davey and Werner had met by chance in recent years when their paths crossed on tours or at festivals. Sometimes, on the fringes of the action or backstage, they would unpack their instruments and play songs and melodies they liked. From time to time they also held sessions and found that they got along well not only musically but also personally. Out of this friendly relationship, they finally met in the mill – regardless of their “market value” or exclusive ties to agencies or record companies – and started making music together without much ado. Much of that friendly, laid-back vibe echoes in the music and songs on this album. The enthusiasm to sing and play together in different groups and to be able to try out new musical possibilities can be heard atmospherically and as a feeling in every song. All songs and instrumentals are audio recording premieres in the changing combinations of the Folkfriends.
The artists involved chose the titles they ultimately wanted to record, in consultation with one another, and arranged their music and songs together. With no pressure to produce their music as a usable product within a set time, they held their sessions in the garden and in the large room of the mill right in front of the microphones.
Such a living room – even in the “seclusion” of a rural environment – is not a soundproof studio with noise-absorbing floor coverings and the warning red light “Caution, recording!”. The farmers’ tractors drove past Hannes Mühle and the dogs from the neighborhood fought in front of her. Occasionally such noises penetrated through the closed doors and windows and thus got onto the tape. However, all of them deliberately regarded these atmospheric noises as secondary if a recording seemed unrepeatable and unique in its feeling (eg on Derroll’s “Pay Day At Coal Creek”).
It wasn’t about making recordings as they are possible “clean” in costly recording studios – albeit in a sterile environment, often in forced isolation of the musicians and only with the help of playback methods. These recordings are genuine “live” recordings. They were created in the congenial interaction of all participants with very few exceptions without playback. Because musicians are people whose feet tap the rhythm of their music, whose fingers sweat and then produce overtones when running fast on the guitar strings and because their breath can be heard when blowing flutes, these noises were deliberately recorded. No attempt was made to filter them out using technical means, as is normally done.
Musicians are not machines whose products are subject to a predetermined or even external norm, but sensitive people who express their sensations and feelings as essential design elements in their songs and melodies. Seen in this way, the recordings of the “Folkfriends” reflect a free, very personal atmosphere that dispenses with technical refinements. And seen in this way, folk music is direct and easy for everyone to understand and do without much complex technology.

Carsten Linde, 1978

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FolkFriends1

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