Song Collectors Conference 2014

Song Collectors Conference 2014

Following the huge success of our first conference in 2013, The Song Collectors Collective presents this one-day event of talks, presentations and performances covering the practicalities, ethics, histories and art of contemporary song collecting. A unique opportunity to explore the origins of folk song, learn about the conservation of oral culture and celebrate the gems on your doorstep and beyond!

Saturday 26th April, 10am-6pm @ The Proud Archivist, 2-10 Hertford Road, London N1 5ET (nearest station: Haggerston). Tickets £15 from


10:00 – Registration

10:30 – Introductory Panel with Sam Lee and invited speakers

11:00 – Tea & Coffee

11:15 – 12:05 – Session 1A: John Howson & Reg Hall (MC James McDonald)

11:15 – 12:05 – Session 1B: Simon Costin (MC Sam Lee)

12:15 – 13:05 – Session 2A: Sam Lee

12:15 – 13:05 – Session 2B: Jerry O’Reilly (MC James McDonald)

13:05  – Lunch

14:00 – 15:30 – Session 3A: Nan Connors & Tony Robertson (MC James McDonald)

14:00 – 14:50 – Session 3B: Angela Impey (MC Sam Lee)

15:00 – 16:00 – Session 4B: Song Catchers Discussion Forum (MC James McDonald)

15:30 – 16:00 – Session 4A: Chris Wright (MC Sam Lee)

16:00 – 16:30 – Tea & Coffee

16:30 – 18:00 – Concert with all the invited musicians and singers


John Howson & Michael Sheehy – John is a folk music collector, researcher, writer, musician, broadcaster, designer, and founder of Veteran Records. Born in Liverpool and now living Suffolk, he has a life-long interest in the traditional music of the British Isles and Ireland. John’s talk is titled “Thinking out of the box – ‘It is not all Child Ballads!’” and he says that although collecting that rare Child Ballad may be the collectors holy grail, there can also be some exciting material to record in the least obvious places. John will be joined by accordionist Michael Sheehy who plays Sliabh Luachra dance music passed down through his family.

Reg Hall – Dr. Reg Hall has been associated with recording traditional musicians, singers and dancers in private exploratory sessions, public performance and in interview since the mid-1950s. As series editor for Topic Records Voice of the People series, he is currently working on Peter Kennedy’s collection.

Simon Costin – Simon is the founder and director of The Museum Of British Folklore, Britain’s first organisation solely devoted to the celebration of our continuing living folk culture. He will talk about how the museum was conceived and why, and present examples of exhibitions and collections, covering topics of fieldwork, archiving and engagement.

Sam Lee – singer and SCC founder, Sam will give an introductory workshop on how to start collecting songs.

Jerry O’Reilly is a noted singer and one of the organisers of the Goilin Traditional Singers Club in Dublin, which is reckoned to be the foremost singing club in Ireland and which has been running for 35 years. Jerry’s talk, “There was a Lord who lived in this Town”, will look at early classic ballads in the Irish song Tradition including some of the recordings made by Tom Munnelly and Hugh Shields.

Angela Impey – Angela is Senior Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at SOAS, University of London, and convenes the MA Music in Development. She conducts research on music in Southern Africa and the African Horn, with a particular focus on land and natural resource rights, gender and musical citizenship. Her talk will focus on a recently completed AHRC-funded music and language project in South Sudan where she recorded, archived and analysed a large repertoire of Dinka cattle songs. She will discuss the aims of the project, share some of the methodological challenges involved in collecting songs in a conflict zone, and share insights related to this extremely rich, but under-researched area of music making.

Nan Connors – In 2012, Sam Lee and James McDonald recorded the songs and reminiscences of Nan in her home in County Wexford. Nan comes from an Irish Traveller background and remembers the old ways of being on the road and sharing songs with friends and family – not to mention many of the old dances! Nan will be in conversation with James McDonald.

Tony Robertson – Tony has inherited the Scottish Traveller songs of his father Stanley Robertson, who was recorded by Sam Lee and shared through the Song Collectors website.

Chris Wright – ethnologist and traditional singer, originally from Dundee and now based in Edinburgh. In 2012/13, Chris was the Scots language Artist-in-Residence for the Kist o Riches digital archive project (, and worked with children in his native Dundee to explore archival recordings of past singers and songs from the area. Chris’ talk will explore how such archives of oral tradition material can be complemented with contemporary song collecting fieldwork to provide vehicles for a wider exploration of local heritage in community projects.

Song Catchers Discussion Forum – Over the past two months the Song Collectors Collective has partnered with the Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS University on the ‘Song Catchers’ research project supported by CreativeWorks London. The project has trained twenty five aspiring song collectors and supported them in recording singers from varied ethnic and religious communities in London from elderly migrants in Islington to Chassidic Jews in Stamford Hill and also remote participants have been recording in Belfast, Budapest, Cape Town and Swaziland. This project has raised many questions about what resources are needed by contemporary song collectors and indeed asked what the role of the Song Collectors Collective should be in supporting them. This session will include brief presentations by some of the Song Catcher participants and will open to an interactive discussion on how the SCC can develop its ongoing training and support for song collectors. Come and have your say!

This event  is supported by Creativeworks London.

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PLUS.. Song Collectors TRANSCRIB-ATHON 2014!

Sunday 27th April @ The Proud Archivist, Dalston 11am – 3pm. FREE

There will be free training from 11am to 11.30 on how to index and transcribe the recordings of the Song Collectors archive. The rest of the session will be a fun and social atmosphere where we collaboratively transcribe as much of the published recordings on our website as we can. If you can’t make it in person, but would like to be a remote transcriber on the day, email with ‘Transcribathon 2014’ in the subject and we’ll get you involved!

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