‘The gigging girl’: Archives Ahoy gifting; music from friends and 2 eggs from the hennies yesterday

Am sitting here after a bowl of cornflakes and banana listening to Nuala Kennedy playing Love at the Swimming Pool ( i love swimming so the title is super attractive). Nuala is a super-talented, young, intrepid, gorgeous Irish musician based in Edinburgh (mostly) who leads her own band and involves herself  lots of fantastic and imaginative music projects and also often plays at my mate Douglas Robertson’s House concerts.  Another  music mate from Australia who has lived in Edinburgh for years Dougie Hudson sent me lovely piece the other day: he is  founder member  of the group Baobab Tree  and teaches African dance at Dancebase.

One of the things i have amassed over the years since i worked  in Chile in 1971-3 is an archive of books on ‘la nueva canción Chilena’ (on which i wrote  my Oxford M.Phil thesis on and also my PhD Edinburgh on the group Karaxú) and  in other parts of América Latina – Nicaragua, Argentina, Uruguay, El Salvador; LPs; recordings; documents; interviews with leading musicains etc.  Plus i have the same for Cuba, even more enhanced really, as it has all the interviews for my as yet but ‘working hard at it’ unfinished book on Women and Music in Cuba, which i am at the moment attempting to get typed up from power points and presentation notes into something which might be publishable (with the help of a local friend Kate who is a whizz typist). I also have several thousand, maybe 5000+ CDs (and some LPs)  from radio and reviewing work and collected on world music from the 1980s with extensive Brazilian, flamenco, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Africa , Scandinavian, Euroepan sections and more. Plus i have all my BBC Radio Scotland Earthbeat radio programes (4 + years! ) on cassettes stored in  shoe boxes and numerous other radio programnmes and small radio series made for BBC World Service, Radio Scotland, Radio 3 and Radio 4 over the years including feature documentaries. Plus interviews with world music  musicians. Some of it is bound to be idiosyncratic even embarrassing but some of it is thrilling as people have died who are in interview etc or first time a song was recorded in Chile material case etc.

I am gifting the Chile material to the AMPUC archive at the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago. This  is poetic justice as i first taught in Chile at Escuelas Universitarias de la Frontera in my beloved Temuco otherwise known as there as the Universidad Catolica.  AMPUC have already made contact with the Culture Ministry  in Santiago and they have made contact with Cristián León, the cultural attaché of the Chilean Embassy in London, who has been in otuch by phone to say he will ensure safe passage through diplomatic means; so everything is moving apace just got to get it all sorted within the archive boxes which is already more than half done  and estimated and packed by local company  Bishop’s Move.

I am gifting my similarly amazing  Cuban archive as a personal legacy  to my French-Canadian colleague Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier.  Ali and I met in Santiago de Cuba when i was doing part of my Cuban women and music researching there and she too (on hip-hop) when she was PhD student of my Mancheter Professor mate Pete Wade.  We hit it off and have kept in touch and have since co-written a killer chapter ‘Recording the Revolution’ for a book being edited by Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski Thomas  called The Art of the Recording Studo (forthcoming Ashgate 2012).  what a great experience that was as Ali wrote brillaint half of it and really’ planned’ the structure (I just wrote its flow) and kept us to word count (I kept addding in) and  kept  me focused; kept my verbosity down – wish i’d done more co-writing!

The rest of my archive – over 5000 CDs and a beautiful Brazilian, flamenco, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, African, European, Scandinavian and more; plus my radio archive;  may go to Cardiff,  or Syracu, USA;  or elsewhere – I wrote asking for advice to the IASPM list which responded with extremely interesting, helpful, good exchange.

I think i have been so ‘anal’ as a collector out of the fact that when i left Chile after the 11 September 1973 coup d’état i left everything behind at the time; escaping from the atttempted brutal clutches of men from  the right-wing Patria y Libertad party, maniacs who scarily and terrifyingly  took things into their own hands post-coup  who decided to look for me as some’ foreign agent’, sent as a local teacher to ‘spread Marxism’ (copurses on poetry of War And Peace; Jesus Christ Super Star… James Joyce’s Dubliners; Family and Society in the UK and also ther USA: etc);   me going ‘underground’ at my friennd’s Teresa and Manuel’s flat (with partner Steve –  escaping  in other people’s clothes and with different ‘look’ hair do etc  Steve shaved his beard off. Another story, another day, folks….

Well we left almost everything behind, although actually a few months before we had packed quite a lot up and sent it home courtesy of a Brittsh guy who had a large allowance going back to the UK going by shipping freight). Still i became attached to collecting material objects as part of my work and have archived everything (roughly) –  i can always find things!  I have also spent a lot of money on buying books and discs over the years…anyway i hope it all finds a good homes and gets used and is made accesible.

Raining today just let the henny pennies into their run and they were clucking madly at me – they have apple and banana and greens from yesterday to peck at as well as their feed which is now in new feeders and water feeder. Thanks to my mate Lucy Richardson’ who got them for me and which hopefully stops them making such a mess as they tend to toss everything around willy nilly.  They gave me two eggs 2 yesterday! It was  a lovely sunny day and my friends  Simon (Mr Songlines) and Kate (Ms BBC radio) and their son Max (Mr Football Goalie) were here for 24 hours  and we lit the Mexican chimenea and cooked delicious little sausages and potaoes in foil and had lunch in the garden. Simon and i were able to check a lovely piece i have just completed for Songlines (which Simon edited beautifully as only so much energy a day)  on Venezuela’s El Sistema music social project, which is partnered in Scotland by Big Noise at Raplock, and to which Gustavo Dudamel and the Símon Bolívar Orchestra will come to play live with founder Abreu in June 21st midsummer 2012. Hope i am still here for that…

Last night my Australian journalist and music writer friend Jane Cornwell arrived for two days and we had delicious fish pie Kate had cooked and left for us and sticky toffee puding and lots of chat. Jane is writing an intrepid  a book! needs a place to go and write so maybe a Writer’s Retreat near Aberdeen friend and writer  Jenny Harper told me about once…

Meanwhile i have stuck all my review, cinema and other tickets since about 1999/2000 intoten  art books in date order – saved tickets over years them in shoe boxes too-  what a wonderful experience  doing that – i call the books ‘the gigging girl’ or ‘An Edinburgh Woman’s Life ‘ or ‘Just some of the culture i have enjoyed’ …

My mates Simon Frith and Ian Christie are co-editing my published work: chapters for books, articles and journals in newspapers  and such like, into an edited volume –  feels slightly egocentric but also good!

Have much enjoyed reading Guernsey Potato Pie and Potato Peelers Book Club; Secret Life of Bees; and the late  Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains – a poetic masterpiece – in recent weeks. Tabucchi just died – hope i meet him in heaven. Listening to Cooder and Bhatt Meeting by the River again now just sublime. A desert island disc. Oh yes that could be next project deciding on my ten discs for the island to take with me!


About Jan Fairley

I am an experienced and passionate ethnomusicologist working as an arts and music journalist and broadcaster, writer and editor as well as researcher, lecturer, radio presenter and producer. I have a breadth of organising experience at home and abroad. I am a fluent Spanish speaker. I love travelling and have worked abroad (notably Chile 1971-3 and again in 1994) and researched in Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Finland.
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