Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stanley Robertson and Jim Couza

I've just read that Stanley Robertson died on the 2nd of August. Stanley was one of the last of the Scottish Travellers, and a singer and storyteller. His family were important bearers of the tradition, and included the singers Lizzie Higgins and Jeannie Robertson and, as well as his stories and ballads, Stanley played an important role in preserving the tradition with his work for Aberdeen University on Travellers' culture. Duncan Williamson died last year, and now Stanley has died. Both of them had the stories of their culture in their memories, true carriers of an oral tradition. They were the last links to that way of life, and it is sad to think it is all but gone.

There is a small clip of Stanley speaking and singing here, with his wonderful Aiberdeen accent. It takes me right back to the eighties when I lived there.

Also on the 2nd of August, the American hammered dulcimer player, Jim Couza, died. He was a brilliant player with a distinctive style and he had a fine, resonant singing voice. I mentioned the Lockerbie Folk Aid concert in another post a couple of weeks ago, and Jim played at that as well. I seem to recall that as well as playing the dulcimer he sang a stunning song which sent shivers down the spine. This is him playing on a BBC lunchtime show, some time in the eighties, judging by the age of Paul Coia, the interviewer.

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