Some of you may have heard me bemoan the post-Sixties fate of the Incredible String Band – renowned and successful for about five years, their fame declined as the Seventies dawned. One fateful moment occurred Friday night at the Woodstock Festival when rain led them to postpone their appearance to the following afternoon; by then the magical atmosphere of the previous wet evening had been blasted out of existence by blazing sun, drugs and exhaustion. They sounded pale after Canned Heat and were left on the cutting room floor of the film and the album.
Their flowery image was destined to be the first thing jettisoned and mocked by generations looking back at that wondrous decade. A decline in the quality of their song-writing didn’t help matters, nor did their flirtation with Scientology. But I still love listening to the early albums – the first five to be precise. (Rhino has just put out a box set of those classics – only £12 on Amazon when I last checked.)
Could this be a sign of a small revival of interest? Another positive sign is that the Edinburgh Festival has commissioned us (me and my colleagues Catherine Steinmann and Bryn Ormrod) to produce a tribute to their songs this year: August 17 at the Playhouse. Come to Scotland! Hear some of the best songs to emerge from the Sixties!
I’ll sign off with the official press release (which I wrote). See you in Edinburgh! And like buses back in the old days, you wait months for a Boyd Newsletter and two come along in rapid succession – Friday I’ll give you the good news about the Albanian recording project.
“The music of The Incredible String Band always defied categorization. Was it psychedelic folk? World Music ahead of its time? The avant-garde end of the Sixties singer-songwriter movement? In truth, it was at heart an outgrowth of the fertile and strange world of early ’60s Edinburgh, with its deft folk musicians, its world-travellers, its Bohemian fringe and its psychotropic explorers.
“VERY CELLULAR SONGS”, a tribute to the songs of the Incredible String Band” boasts a Politti” was a seminal ’80s pop modernist; he had left his native Wales under a cloud after inserting a single gold ear-ring in emulation of the other half of the original ISB, Robin Williamson. HITCHCOCK and GARTSIDE represent the individualistic, even eccentric, sector of British music that could be said to have been carved out by Heron and Williamson in the 1960s.
Never forgetting how fundamentally Scottish the band was in inspiration and in spirit, our concert also features three of the most original and important voices in this land’s current music scene: KARINE POLWART, ALASDAIR ROBERTS and WITHERED HAND. POLWART is well known to EIF audiences from her triumphant one-woman show “Wind Resistance” in 2016, while Roberts has forged acclaimed and original paths with his solo work and in collaborations such as the Furrow Collective. Dan MacCOLL, son of Ewan, who has recently been featured in a glorious show dedicated to his father’s McGUINESS, a keyboard marvel of similar varied pedigree from the Concerto Caledonia to collaborating with Scots folk aristocracy including Alasdair Roberts, and GEORGIA SEDDON, Mike Heron’s daughter, a keyboardist and musicologist who accompanies Mike when they perform with Trembling. Bells.
The concert is curated by JOE BOYD, who produced the Incredible String Band’s records and managed them in the 1960s and has written about that period in his book, “White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s”.
Book Tickets Here