What a hoot - - -
Grunt and Groan and f’n f and rock and roll!
Grunt and Groan and f’n f and rock and roll!
Wow… I just finished listening to the whole thing. It was kind of funny but mostly just kind of… sad.
We joke about name-dropping around here but the way that Seamus Tansey was dropping his own name (in the third person) really took the biscuit. :-)
I have the feeling that he wouldn’t last five minutes here at The Session without transgressing the one simple rule we have around here: be civil. I could imagine that Sharon Langston, on the other hand, would make some excellent contributions.
The bit about Seamus Tansey’s book being sold in Sligo under the counter in brown paper bags was hilarious.
As for the whole purity vs. innovation thing, that just seemed to be a straw man to distract from the real issues of rudeness and viciousness.
Wow…after listening to that, I have no interest in buying anything HE has put out.
What a jerk.
"Well, she’s never heard of Seamus Tansey…well, that doesn’t say much for her right there." Yeesh.
Ah the poor lad can’t be the full shilling.
Séamus Tansey always seemed a bit mad to me when he was living in exile in Belfast. I’ve a few stories about him which would make you smile. Anyway, I haven’t read that book he wrote yet, but it seems he rubbed a few people up the wrong way. Allegedly he had to sneak out the back of a pub one night when Jean Michel Veillon heard he was in the neighbourhood and was threatening to knock his block off. Of course I could be mistaken…
Lol, Jeremy how do you know Mr. Tansey isn’t a regular here already? I mean, do we really know who Ottery is….?
He isn’t called Shameless Tansey for nothing…..
I knew Seamus Tansey. Ottery you are no Seamus Tansey.
Apologies to Lloyd Bentsen an’ dat bloke who was Bush the First’s VP ( Dan Quayle ….dat’s de feller). Mr. Potatoe (sic) head.
Whither Dan Quayle?
I need to know.
fame at last!
I personally don’t care if he’s lurking on here…a jerk is a jerk is a jerk…and he certainly doesn’t have MY respect.
Though I’m not sure to much for your thinly veiled dismissal of my flute playing there Geoff! I know I’m no S T but I can at least be civil between tunes ;-)
The most amazing thing I learned listening to Tansey ranting on that radio show is that flutes are even capable of playing in tune.
- and - and - and - - -
There are a number of mad folk in the tradition, ;-P, and though I can say that, not making excuses for myself, I’m glad I’ve never crossed swords with your man Tansy. Mind you, he’s one of those young-uns, short-fused, rude, inconsiderate and full of himselves and all his new fangled ways with the Irish music, and a bit too ‘Coleman-centric’ don’t you think… You’d swear he was Irish-American the way he was doing the fire and brimstone.
On another note, why blame Ottery, who says that ‘Jim Troy’ ain’t an alias, and he does play the flute…
People trying to reason with reminded me of the saying
"Never argue with an idiot, they draw you down to their level and then beat you with experience."
Ottery I was not making any reference to your flute playing (which is excellent) at all.. I was pissed last night after a particularly good party and I have absolutely no idea why I even wrote that at 2 in the morning. Good Grief! I hate to think what else I might have said. That’s me off the alcopops.
What the *!£k has Dan Quayle got to do with it?
I’m off for treatment.
Geoff, I was only winding you up, I realised what you meant, but could see the possible ambiguity in the way you wrote it and decided to pull your leg (I wasn’t totally sober myself)….
I thought the comments made by Seamus were absolutely outrageous and uncalled for. I can’t understand why a musician of his standard would want to make those type of comments and the end result is that he’s damaged his reputation. Fair play to Sharon for being so dignified and polite on the radio when I’m sure many of us wouldn’t have had the same level of self control if those accusations had been directed at us. I’m sure Sharon’s musical ambitions will prosper from this and I wish her all the best in the future.
The ‘letter’ seems to have been mainly generated from his anger over losing income. As one contributor to the show put it - going up to play in a concert set before a loud and boisterous audience with folk you’ve never met before, let alone played music with, Tansey is demented.
The ‘mad’, as in this case I mean Seamus, often come up with criticisms that fit better the muck slinger than the target they’re trying to hit. But, all said, Seamus Tansey gives proof himself that much of what it’s about to him is income, the coin. He’s obviously sold his soul, what else would motivate the rudness of him thinking he could just walk into someone else’s set without even a proper howdy and introduction, aside from ego, exaggerated self-worth and being looney - or pissed…
He owed them common courtesy and respect, not the other way around. You don’t demand such things, you earn them, and not just by your tricks with your instrument. I’ve known a number of talented assholes, and I don’t choose to play with such folk, buy their albums or attend their concerts. The good folk in our ranks outnumber the bad by a long shot…but the bad have this power to cast a huge and dark shadow over things…
3 quarters of the world are starving and the pair of them slinging keech at each other about whether he was flat or sharp. As Jeremy says…sad.
Seamus Tansey had a brief sojourn in the Northwest 15 years or so ago, I think he stopped with Sully in Macc.
I met him a couple of times at sessions and got the impression that he had a high opinion of himself and was very cash oriented.
I don’t recall him joining in much, he played a few set pieces on his own and clearly thought he was doing us a favour.
Still maybe this run in will make him think.
Oh man… that was brilliant! Does this sort of thing happen often on Irish radio? If so, then it’s high time I got one!
Except I’m not sure if they sell Irish radios down here. Might have to have one sent to me.
Conan, give us some of them stories you hinted at already! :-)
Hmmm. I think I’m going to be my usual self here and say something a bit different. I assure you, however, that it’s because I’ve given it some thought rather than it simply being a case of playing devil’s advocate.
First of all, I have to admit that my initial reaction to this was "what a wenker".
But I think it’s too easy to take the easy way out and avoid putting yourself in ST’s position, because you can say to yourself: "well I’ve already decided that he’s talking bull and being obnoxious, so I don’t even need to take on board or absorb anything else he has to say. He’s a jerk!".
I think that for ST this is about more than just the money issue. For him it’s a matter of principle. This incident is probably one of a long string of similar incidents that have annoyed him, and because this has been the "last straw", he’s gone apeshit and written this stupid letter.
I think his whole "straight-talking" front is bull, and I don’t think anyone (including the radio presenter) acknowledged this; I actually wish he’d be *more* honest! I don’t think he’s being honest at all, but I wish he would be, because he’d probably come across better as a human being.
I don’t think he was being honest with himself or any of us when he said it was about his "lost wages". I think that for him, it’s much more about the fact that Sharon didn’t know who he was. That’s going to have damaged his ego bigtime, for one thing. That’s why he reacted so full-on, because that’s the negative in him talking. Talking about himself in the 3rd person like that is laughable to us, but I think he was trying to make a point; he just didn’t express it very well.
I think that for him, the whole point to the music and is the line of traditional continuity. He’s seen this breaking down as he’s aged. He’s seen that young musicians are paying no heed to the older musicians as he would have done when he was younger, and instead they’re just playing all the Breton tunes off their Lunasa CDs, and then going and playing the same tunes in gigs with their band. That’s where the "you think you’re God’s gift!!" thing comes from. The problem is that ST doesn’t know how to effectively express that genuine anger and sense of loss. Instead of sitting down with young musicians and taking them under his wing, he’s resorted to spiteful letters and personal judgements because he doesn’t know any other way.
Let’s face it, ST’s use of language is awful. I can sort of see that he has a point, but that point is being undermined by the way it has been expressed.
Look at it from his point of view. To get to where he is (i.e. an extremely high level of musical proficiency) he has devoted years of his life listening to everyone who has come before him. He’s been in the wars, he’s been applauded, he’s been criticized, he’s been bitched about, he’s been a star, he’s been a failure, he’s been a laughing stock. But the way he sees it, he’s never lost sight of what he’s passionate about, which is the music.
He’ll be used to everyone knowing who he is by now. If he walks into a pub people of all ages/backgrounds are going to buy him a drink and ask him for a tune. Maybe that’s gone to his head. But, imagine if you were ST, and someone asked you to go on stage with this young lass and play. Say you did it. So you’re up there and this girl’s sitting up there with her box and she looks at you, and you can tell by her face she doesn’t know who you are. You think: "to her I’m just some old codger with a flute in my hand - well I’m NOT, God damn it!" And then you tune up and she says "you’re still flat", and you think "shit, what does ‘flat’ mean, is that up or down? I could ask her but then I’m going to look like a right tit, and then I really will be ‘some old codger with a flute in my hand’. Why can’t she just say ‘up’ or ‘down’ like my mates do?"
So what do you end up thinking? You come away assuming that she’s a) classically trained (because she knows all the jargon), and b) one of these "young" musicians, who obviously hasn’t done her homework (because she doesn’t know who I am!) Why is she on stage performing in front of all these people? Why isn’t it me in front of these people getting the respect and earning the money, when I’ve spent all these years working hard at my playing and learning from great players? Why is it so easy for her? Doesn’t it mean anything that I’ve been playing for years and am familiar with the playing of everyone who has gone before me?
Of course this all came out the wrong way. It came out as: "I lost a night’s wages" and "haven’t you heard of me?!" But really, I think ST was trying to say the opposite - that it’s not about "a night’s wages", it’s about "paying your dues and doing your homework". Perhaps he said what he said because a) he thought that if he put it in monetary terms people would understand his anger, and b) his use of language is poor.
I think that that’s why the whole issue of "tradition versus modernity" and "purity versus innovation" came into it. I don’t think that it was a distraction from the real issue of rudeness and outrage (which was what the whole radio program was about really). I think that it’s a fundamental issue for ST because he cares about his music, and he wants people to see why. In a way, that whole conversation summed up the so-called "war" between old skool and "new traditionalist!" musicians.
I have to say I’m disappointed that he was so rude. I think he handled the situation very badly indeed. However, I think he has a very important point that shouldn’t be dismissed just because he didn’t express it very well.
I think that we can all learn from both of their mistakes. Seamus could have handled it a lot better. He should have just played the tunes as is, and maybe had a private laugh with his mates afterwards about the fact that she didn’t know who he was, if he wanted to make himself feel better - not call her a "bitch". I think that if he wanted to make a point, he should have pulled her aside after the gig, and maybe given her some constructive criticism like: "go and listen to the playing of so-and-so". That’s enough to stimulate a young musician if they’re serious about their music - you don’t have to go over the top and send them letters.
On the other hand, I think Sharon *should* have done her homework. She *should* have heard of Seamus Tansey if she was to be serious about Irish music. ST’s point is correct, even though his approach to it was somewhat gauche [God I love that word! - had to get it in there somehow]. It’s fair enough to point out that the tradition is incorporating other stuff like Breton etc, but she shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the musicians who are doing that stuff seriously are people who *have* done their homework. They do know who Seamus Tansey is, and have heard him play, and have been playing for years in sessions, they know their tunes; in other words, they’ve "paid their dues and done their homework". This 21 year old woman, sweet though she is, comes across as not having paid her dues. ST was irritated by that and probably wanted to *help* her by making her see that she needs to do her homework first, and then do her presentation.
The sad thing is that Sharon’s probably an excellent player. But the message that ST would want to put across to her is that it’s not about how good you are, or how many gigs you’ve done, or what the punters want (did you hear Sharon’s telling reference to that?), it’s about the fact that you’re part of a continuum of traditional culture. The only thing is, the way ST expressed it, it sounds as though he’s advocating exactly the things that I’m guessing he’s against, especially with his conceited 3rd person references.
So, I think ST needs to apologise for the way he’s treated that young lady.
On the other hand, I think that young lady needs to pull herself together and understand why the man has been so heartfelt in his criticism of her. If she can get her head round that and deal with it, well then I think she’ll go far.
If the music didn’t involve disputes like this, it wouldn’t be a living tradition. The day ST and Sharon kiss and make up will be the day the tradition dies. So whilst it seems awful and deplorable, we as a community should view it as, well, "just one of those things".
As one of the contributors to the program said you don’t turn up to a gig with people you haven’t met, 10 minutes before you’re due to go on, whoever you are.
well said Dow.
Very impressive analysis, Dow. Do you have slots available in your appointment book? I’m sure we could work out my problems in only four or five sessions.
Seriously, though, a very thoughtful assessment!
Dow, he’s well reknowned for being a contrary
auld b**lox, he didn’t even have the balls to
appologise to her when he released that she had no idea he was to join her on stage.
Many people have a fear of the way the tradition is going but they don’t act like that.
Sharon Langston doesn’t need to pull herself together, she seemed very much together for someone of 21 (- give her time to finish her homework !) the irrationalality and immaturity came from someone of an age that you’d think would know better.
Seara - how the hell do you do that ????
Sorry, that is "ST" is reknowned for being contrary - just in case there’s any doubt.
I could almost agree with your analysis, Mark, except that Tansey’s argument, listening to his own words, sounds too chauvinistic and flag-waving conservative to be reasonable. I wonder if he wouldn’t take us back to a time when women were discouraged or even prohibitted from playing the music, when outside influences were shunned (burn the guitars and zouks!), and when innovation was frozen onto vinyl by Coleman. Yes, such attitudes have been part of the tradition, but they represent only one faction within the tradition, and there are much healthier, inclusive attitudes represented by other brilliant players, including some of Tansey’s own heroes (notably Coleman and Morrison).
Also bear in mind that Sharon Langston says she’s only 21, and that she’s played music since early childhood. Even so, that’s only a decade and a few years. People with natural talent are often prodded onto a stage long before they’ve been on the planet long enough to bump into all the historical bits and pieces of the music they play, let alone incorporate it into their own playing. That’s not Sharon’s fault, nor is there any law that says you can’t play this music in public until you’re old enough and have passed an exam on "Historical Figures in ITM."
At the very least, Tansey’s tactics don’t seem to be winning him any converts to a more conservative approach to the tradition. I can imagine much more effective means of showing up and coming young musicians that there are dues to pay and encouraging them to pay them. I have to wonder, in all of Seamus’s experience within the tradition of public debate and dialectics, if he has never heard of Carl Rogers, Lawrence Susskind, David Matthews, and other proponents of constructive criticism and deliberative dialogue. If not, perhaps he should pay his dues before presenting himself as a critic and public figure in further debates….
Anyone who was on, he asked where they were from, one lady said Sligo, and that apparantly was enough for her opinion to be discredited.
Seamus Tansey should be honored for holding up the tradition of gifted musicians who are arrogant egomaniacs. There’s a long history of this exclusive and snobbish group who all believe they are the last ruminants of a dying breed. It’s not easy being a member of this group with all the abuse you must endure. Just try it for one day… see if you have what it takes to be an asshole — then you’ll appreciate the sacrifice and intestinal fortitude that Tansey had to muster in order to carry on with this tradition. Hats off to Seamus Tansy – arrogant asshole extraordinaire.
I find people who worship "famous" players annoying, and "famous" players who demand to be worshipped intolerable. There are plenty of humble, respectful, supportive and friendly musicians of a high level of accomplishment, famous or otherwise, that I would prefer to do my homework on.
Jack — "ruminants." Ouch! (I had to look it up in the dictionary.) Kinda fits in with the intestinal fortitude comment.
ru·mi·nant ( P ) Pronunciation Key (rm-nnt)
Any of various hoofed, even-toed, usually horned mammals of the suborder Ruminantia, such as cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and giraffes, characteristically having a stomach divided into four compartments and chewing a cud consisting of regurgitated, partially digested food.
that’s hilarious! (8^D
1. Characterized by the chewing of cud.
2. Of or belonging to the Ruminantia.
3. Meditative; contemplative.
"The Runminantia" What an incredible band name!
Ruminantia. My spelling is deteriorating…
or "ruminants of a dying breed" the album.
The problem with people like Seamus Tansey is that while fundamentally, I agree with him and we’d certainly have a lot of common ground, he expresses his views in such an arrogant and downright nasty way that I’m tempted to disagree with him out of spite.
It’s the same with politics. I know people who share my political views but they’re so arrogant and pig-headed that it makes me embarrassed to be associated with them in anyway.
I’m sure it’s the same with religion. An outspoken minority can, through their rudeness and intolerance, create nothing but bad feeling towards their cause.
What gets to me is that this approach is so counter-productive. There is no way that Seamus Tansey is ever going to win anyone over to his point of view if only ever expresses it in diatrabes and vendettas.
That’s why I felt that the whole purity vs. tradition thing was largely irrelevant. If the subject had been politics, sport or religion instead of music, the fundamental principle would remain the same. The guy behaved like an absolute and complete jerk.
Sure, he’s full of righteous conviction. But that in itself is not necessarily a positive thing. In fact, I would argue that it’s downright detrimental. In music, politics, religion, sport… when you come across someone who has a different viewpoint to yours, you can either shout at them, insult them and generally behave in a rude manner or you can sit down and talk about the issue without getting personal. I have a feeling that the second approach generally works better.
Seamus Tansey makes me want to bring an accordion/melodion/rain-stick/shakey-egg to a session just to get on his goat.
… his goat. A member of the Ruminantia.
I don’t think Seamus had any goal other than the obtaining the relief of venting his anger. He probably succeeded.
Sigh. When US Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton was still in office, under the Bush Administration, she attended cabinet meetings and would sometimes ask, "Are there any facts to support our position on this?" For which she says she was criticized for being disloyal.
I like what I heard on the radio the other day: When asked what he thought about Bush’s war in Iraq while Bin Laden remains at large, a long-time republican voter said, "Well, I admire the President for sticking to his guns, but his aim isn’t very good, is it?"
The same applies to Tansey, eh?
I knew my "ruminants" reference wouldn’t get by the likes of yall. ;-)
1. What place does "innovation" have in this music?
2. Tansey’s behavior that night, three weeks after the event when he penned of the letter, and on the radio show confronting Sharon.
The first question can be (and is) debated endlessly here and in countless other forums.
Regarding the second point, TS is a pompous, arrogant prick. There’s no way to get around that.
Let’s not confuse his acknowledged tremendous ability to play music with something that really matters in this world. He can produce nice sounds out of a piece of wood… so what?
I have ultimate respect for musicians of that caliber (of any genre)… but at the end of the day, the most god-like musician is just a person of no more intrinsic worth than any of us… and worthy of no more deferential treatment of his opinions (excepting ITM, in this case) or actions. Any great ability (musical or otherwise) does not justify such incivility.
I admire Sharon’s ability to be deferential and apologetic when a case can be made to stuff that letter into the old git’s instrument and to shove that up his…
The discussion continues today, along with memories of Patrick Kavanagh…
The reason why I see something good in Dow’s post there, is because he took something good out of a rather negative interaction… I don’t think anyone - including Dow - is disputing the inappropriatness and general wrongness of a letter like that. That’s a given. But I believe that even looking at how such a strong reaction can be produced from a 10min meeting is a very interesting phenomina. It’s like learning something from a frog you stepped on. What a pity the frog (like the interaction) came to such a bad ending, but one could turn it into an educational experience.
I love the way the last thread lead to the fourth stomach. And I like the long alternate view of the Tao/Dow…
While I haven’t had the experience of knowing Tansey or playing with him, I have heard a tale or two. I’d like to hear more Conan. The general impression I’ve been left with, and that’s going to influence anything I feel about the argument, is that he’s one of those who feels there is ‘ONLY ONE WAY’ to play a given tune - his way. He’s that sort that don’t listen to those he plays with but feels that they should listen to him, and follow his lead, and if they vary, well, they’re just wrong. How can anyone so inclined know whether they are sharp or flat, up or down, when they are the center and all must tune to them, shouldn’t they? Now, I admit, that’s secondhand information, but while I’ve not been subjected to Seamus Tansey, I’ve experienced others in that club that Jack spoke about in the other thread, and the few accounts I’ve had of Seamus place him as a long time fully paid up member…
I hope that no one took my comment to be a jab at DOW (or anyone, for that matter). I was just ranting on (to nobody in particular) about people who buckle and kneel when faced with a talent person and say, "Well he’s just busy being a genius"… giving them special dispensation to be jerks (or worst).
Jamie, I thought you were off to the big island for a hoolie…
You need gollashes Jim, he’s a flute player, as are you. Don’t you wear those rubber over boots to keep your socks from wicking up the spit?
Seamus Tansey is a silly old fool, by his own admission he doesn’t know the meaning of the word "flat". This makes for very sad listening, and is certainly not representative of how the older well respected musicians would behave.
Need to clarify - as I’m bake in the kitchen again - ‘THE ONLY WAY’ to play something - because that’s the way Coleman or Morrison, or some other bit of vinyl, recorded it… Like being in print, it must be the right way, eh?
Well I don’t want to post anything that could be construed as libellous, although thanks to the fact I’m typing this in Uzbekistan I might evade the legal ramifications, should they arise. :¬)
Anyway, let’s just say Seamus didn’t exactly endear himself to the musicians in Belfast during his stay there. He was on the move from Sligo, where allegedly he wasn’t welcome either. Possibly the gardaí were involved, although I can’t substantiate the nature of his alleged charges. Hic!
Anyway, he did a bit of gigging with the McPeakes and would sometimes call to the house of another friend of mine , a piper, for a bath!That bit’s irrefutable, unfortunately.
Seamus’ playing, in my opinion, did little to improve the overall sound of the McPeake family; in fact criticism came from very surprising quarters!
I remember one cold and windy afternoon when Seamus and the members of the McPeake family were having their photo taken in Dunville Park, a small park on the Falls Road. The most well-known part of the park is an old fountain. The fountain has long been out of action, is filled with rainwater as well as old beer-cans and rubbish; it’s also full of vomit and urine courtesy of the odd local wino. Anyway, the photographer was lining up the group for the pic. Seamus was having trouble keeping his comb-over hair in place. So, quick as a flash, he dipped his comb in the fountain and smoothed his hair. Priceless!
As for other stories, I’ll tell you in person.
Just a reminder, as Jeremy has moved the various bits that had started with this recommendation, understandably. Today they continued the discussion amongst remembering Patrick Kavanagh and doing some recitation and singing…
While in town for a gig, Tansey joined a session I and a few pals were playing back home a few years ago. His reputation as a contrary hoor/ prolific letter-player was well-known to us. That said, it was fun to play with him — he was a great inspiration when I was first learning flute — and he was good company too, full of stories and comments about the tunes, though there was no doubt that, once he joined in, he led the session and we followed. As remarked previously in this thread, there is no mistaking his passion and commitment to the music he has played and promoted all his life. Trouble is, while he is still a giant to myself and other 40+ year olds whom he deeply influenced, he has been eclipsed by a generation of younger professional flute stars. He clearly has a hard time accepting it. The letter is a disgrace both for its relentless nastiness and its musical racism and I don’t see why Tansey would necessarily expect a 21 year old "melodeon" player to have heard of him. However, I would find it strange to meet a 21 trad flute player who had never heard of him.
Nice contribution LongNote. It is good to hear some balance and attempt at understanding to the discussion, as Dow/Mark offered. I’m sure Tansey’s playing has inspired many - from a distance removed by a less irrascible package - vinyl, tape or CD… It would be good to hear more positive stories about the man…as well as the dirt… We learn from our own mistakes, I would hope, and can also learn from those of others. While I can get a bit mad myself, meaning a lessening of ‘reason’, discussion for me is about seeking an understanding, and finding myself in the stories, good and bad, toward working on being something better. I know times when I’ve been in a bad way and taken things personally and over reacted to the situation, and even once or twice resorted to letters, even venomous, though never of the kind Master Tansey delivered. I was and am sorry for those lapses in consideration for others, and hope I never repeat those transgressions. However, life can sometimes put you in such a low that all you can do is growl and snap. Sadly others are not always aware of why you’re doing an imitation of a junkyard dog…
I’m a little bit disappointed that I’ve been misunderstood by some people. I want to emphasize that there’s no excuse for ST’s behaviour. Also I want to make it clear that in no way am I "bowing down to him", blinded by his genius.
In fact, to be honest, I’m not particularly drawn to his playing, and if he and I were in the same session, it’s not like I’d be asking for his autograph, or anyone else’s for that matter.
But that’s not the point. I think it’s of no value to use this thread for the sole purpose of venting our own anger at ST for what he’s done. It gets us absolutely nowhere. It’s much more valuable to try and put ourselves in both people’s shoes and understand why it happened.
Yes, ST is chauvenistic and flag-waving (as you put it, Will) but then so are many people of his generation. Irrespective of how arrogant or rude he’s been, you might as well see past all that and try and understand what he’s actually saying (which I think contradicts his words), otherwise there’s no point in even talking about him.
BegF said: "Sharon Langston doesn’t need to pull herself together, she seemed very much together for someone of 21 (- give her time to finish her homework !)"
She is very together, and she sounds like a lovely person. But I think you missed my point. I think she needs to give *herself* time to finish her homework.
You guys have been great. Both pro and anti ST. He may be the best flute player (or was, in my opinion) and in many eyes (or ears)…but the fact remains:
The Man Is A Bully.
He is a big bully who throws his weight around, and relishes the fact that he is the King by hurting other people. And fair play to the feisty lass to stand up to him. And a good job she did as well.
He has lost my respect. I will never buy his stuff again. Any note I hear him play will whisper of arrogance so I’ll leave my ears clean for other players to fill.
BTW, I’ve read your posts Dow, good man yersell, but ye can understand motives etc all you want. He could have been nice - but no, he’s a bully. Enda story.
I know them, professionally, and I never want to be one when I grow up…..
Yeah, Danny, I don’t think you’re wrong there.
PS I hope you don’t think I’m "pro ST"! (Perhaps I’ve brought that on myself for trying to bring some balance to the discussion). Ah well, yeah, he’s a bully. Poor Sharon…
Cheers, Dow. We’re finally agreed on something. :~}
And no, I didn’t think ye were pro-ST.
And not only that, that he came over…or rather established himself… as a bully, he was a sexist ph"cker as well.
However, though I’m a great believer in redemption, I believe yer man is irredemable, but not with impunity…hence my previous appellation of the "hórungshech porganoa" as being sad and somewhat squeezo-ish.
I agree Danny! I also think that he’s beyond help. And *that’s* why there’s no point in having a go at him, because whatever we say, he’s going to come out of it thinking "well at least I made a stand and stuck up for my beliefs".
I think that this is actually a positive thing for Sharon, not negative. She’ll be upset (and trying not to show it) now, but I think it’s important for Sharon to realise why she was on the receiving end of ST’s harsh words. Like I said, if she can get her head round that, then she’ll fly.
I may have missed your point because of the way you gave your point because you said "I think Sharon *should* have done her homework. She *should* have heard of Seamus Tansey if she was to be serious about Irish music"
This is what I disagree with.
On the "balance" issue…yeah sure, of course, I think most people who heard the interview would pick up on their being "something else" ST wanted to get off his chest.
I guess I don’t think it’s all that hard to understand what ST is saying—that we should respect our predecessors and the musical foundation they laid for us to follow. That any "serious" trad musicians should study that heritage and immerse themselves in it before tinkering with it.
No argument from me there. But my understanding of that musical heritage comes from people like Kevin Burke, Liz Carroll, Cait Reed, Felix Dolan, and Brian Conway—"stars" in their own right who nevertheless passed on a sense of the tradition that went well beyond the tunes to include qualities like generosity, humility, humor, and camaraderie.
All I’m saying is that Tansey’s sense of the tradition seems distorted to me because it apparently lacks or downplays these qualities. I agree that we have to pay our dues, but this isn’t rock and roll—commericalized and money/fame driven. A significant amount of the dues you pay to belong to the Irish trad community are social, interpersonal dues. It’s not enough to have musical chops—you have to polish your social graces too. As I was taught the tradition, sexism, bigotry, and arrogance weren’t part of it.
I have a hunch that plenty of Irish trad players have never heard of Tansey or Tom Carthy, Martin Rochford, Elizabeth Crotty, Joe Gallagher, Mick Hoy, Patrick Kelly, etc. I suspect that before our recording era, who’s names you might recognize mattered far less than knowing who you got your music from. If you didn’t get it from a Tansey or Hoy, no one would criticize you for not knowing who they were. At one point in yesterday’s radio program, Sharon Langstrom listed her teachers and influences. She knows and respects her musical heritage. While Sharon may have more homework to do, I’d say she’s already got her priorities clear and straight. She doesn’t need to get her head around Seamus Tansey’s anger and how skewed his understanding of the tradition is. That’s his problem.
BegF, by "doing your homework", I meant listening to the playing of the older generation who are regarded as having immersed themselves in the tradition. In this day and age, let’s face it, it’s not like you have to go out of your way and travel far and wide to find out who Seamus Tansey is.
I just think that if you’re not prepared to do your homework, what’s the point in playing the tunes? They’d just be a meaningless bunch of notes. I think you’d be missing the whole point of why they’re there.
I guess what I’m saying is, we all agree that ST’s been a twat. That’s a given. But what have you to gain by deciding to simply ignore his contribution to the tradition just because you have a problem with his personality? For goodness sake, we’re all human - if we took that attitude about everyone whose personalities we had a problem with then we wouldn’t learn anything from anyone.
Dow wrote: "They’d just be a meaningless bunch of notes" I guess he’s talking about ITM on his Brit-box again.
And its circular waves for a moment calm the wind blown peaks into unulating waves…
Damn Will, what a lovely splash you’ve made, and dow skimmed right over it and landed with a plop in the mud on the other bank disturbing that old bull frog Jack Gilder, mud in the beard - "Harrumph!"… ;-)
Mr. Harmon, said with reverence, I’m going to have to find some of your books around here somewhere. I like the way you think and ‘plop!’…’whoosh!’
About choosing your listens, it’s not like there aren’t other fine flute players. I can understand how this could colour someone else’s pleasure of what Tansey plays. You would just naturally start to hear the tensions in the music refective of this kind of person, sadly. But there are tons of others out there to enjoy, and there are some, like Josie McDermott, who if that was all I’d ever heard, well, I wouldn’t feel cheated.
As far as Sharon goes, if I was amongst a living tradition my first choice would be to plug my ears in there first, with the living and the welcoming - with every spare opportunity I could muster. If in the process I missed buying a particular CD or travelling distances to catch a concert - well, my priorities are with those nearest who can teach and inspire me, the tradition immediately around me. I would also catch other opportunities when and where possible, when I wasn’t catching those living good examples of the sort Will mentions - learning to feel it, play it and do justice to those sources. And I’d also appreciate the pauses where I could catch a bit of it on the wireless or from recordings.
What you can’t get from recordings, too removed from the source, is that spirit mentioned above - "generosity, humility, humour, comaraderie" - and might I add also ‘patience, understanding and a hearty welcome to the fold’… Such things do rub off, but it isn’t carried by recordings. You need to rub shoulders and learn the context from the living, as some of us have been fortunate to do.
Sadly, bad habits and practices can also carry across. I’ve seen folks teach with impatience and then seen their students re-enact the same shortness in their practice and sharing, impatience with themselves and with other, a tension I prefer not to see propagated. However, there are ways to guard against picking up those traits, gained by experience and an already well established sense of humour and understanding, you can block out the likes of Tansey’s ire and self-possession, though it’s damned hard and the ‘dark side’ is damned powerful. If you’ve the strength of experience and character, and you like something he does, tune or turn, you can take it off the package, meaning a recording, and make it your own, work the humour back into it, squeeze out the Tansey from it, any tension you might find or imagine there, and take it for what it was before he ‘possessed’ it, a damned good tune or a quirky enjoyable way with it.
Sorry about the back splash…
Oh yeah, the personal - I am constantly frustrated with my own inadequacies, mainly a lousy memory, which I’ve had since a child. It can take hours or days for me to remember someone’s name. I only got the cert for this lack a few years back - I’m just left-handed and left inclined - I’m dyslexic. The ‘tag’ has meant a greater patience on the part of my wife, now she’s read the lit and seen me there. But remembering names, even folks I know or have known well, it really does bother me, but there’s not much I can do about it aside from tatooing everyone’s pictur and name somewhere on my body. Let’s see, Seamus Tansey? Oh yeah, have you got a mirror? Excuse me for a minute and apologies, I have to drop my drawers. I know he’s somewhere on one of these buttocks…
Sorry I did skim over Will’s post, basically because I don’t actually disagree with any of it. I just want to say that I don’t think Sharon *needs* to get her head round what Tansey has said, but I think that it can only be a good thing if she understood why the incident happened, rather than simply being pissed off about it and letting it bother her. I’m trying really hard to find positive things to say here :-)
Rumi Nant (a sufi valley in Wales)
You see, the problem I have with this thread is that, as far as I can tell, most of the people who have posted seem intent on seeing this as a simple case of "good versus evil". That’s such a Bush-Blair way of looking at things and it’s disappointing. Most of the above posts just state the obvious by slating ST and nothing else. But what’s the bloody point in that? Just simply slating someone makes you just as bad as they are. Flippin’ ‘eck people, think outside the square for a moment and stop being so bleedn *obvious* will you?! :-)
Let’s turn Will’s Bush/Iraq thing on its head. What if we were to view ST’s letter and comments as an "act of cultural terrorism"?
It’s a bit of an extreme analogy, but my point is that you can deal with a terrorist act either by being outraged and dismissing it as evil, and then hurling bombs/insults back at the terrorist (or indeed anything that stands in your way). Or you can ask yourself why the act was committed. Whether you like it or not, ST is a highly proficient musician who has a love for the music, so you’ve got to ask yourself: "why is he doing this stuff like writing poisonous letters and silly books?" I don’t think it’s because he’s the "dark side of trad". Think about the consequences of just passing someone off as "evil end of story". I think that he’s off on his own little mission and he’s just misguided and a bit mad, that’s all. His way of making a point is by committing an act of "cultural terrorism" rather than by sitting down and negotiating and building bridges. Like Jeremy said, it’s not a very constructive way of going about things. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect to try and understand the motives behind it.
Speaking for themselves with this title, both these lads have gotten stirred up trouble for themselves with various ‘others’. Jim has caused commotion with the ‘authorities’ as on concert with Comhaltas. But why would Tansey play with Jim, as Jim also likes bluegrass and old time music? Hypocrisy? - something that repeats itself often…
"I’m not going to listen to his music anymore" = "We’re not going to negotiate with the terrorists and listen to what they have to say"
"I’m not going to buy his CDs" = "We’re going to enforce sanctions on their country"
"I don’t respect him anymore" = "We don’t respect ‘them’ as people"
I’m just listening to the broadcast now and I agree that Tansey is extremely arrogant and opinionated whereas Sharon comes across as very pleasant and personable. That doesn’t mean that ST’s arguments are completely invalid. However, Dow’s "cultural terrorism" reference just about sums it up. All these terrorist organisations have valid points and grievances but they lose support support because of their actions.
Anyway, it was worth listening for the quote "She plays the basses like milkin’ the tits of a bull". That made me smile. :-)
"What are you? Pro-Seamus Tansey?!" = "You’re appeasing the terrorists!"
Danny I’m surprised that you of all people should be all like: "he’s a bully, will never buy his stuff again, he’s lost all my respect" etc. I reckon you must be a closet Bush/Blair supporter :-D
As Treebeard in "Lord of the Rings" said "I’m not altogether on anyone’s side as nobody is altogether on mine" or similar. :-)
The irony here is, of course, that I’m having a go at people for slating Tansey, and I’ve probably insulted him the most on this thread, including calling him a "cultural terrorist". Well, I wouldn’t be me if I wasnt’ a complete hypocrite :-)
"Shameless Pansy" :-D Oh dear, I think I’d better shut up now.
The Best of Seamus Tansey: Irish Traditions Flute, 1971
Easter Snow: Seamus Tansey, 1997
REVIEW, The Listening Post:
Jigs, Reels and Airs: Seamus Tansey
Seamus Tansey with Eddie Corcoran
Sligo Ceili: Seamus Tansey
The Phantom Shadows of a Connaught Firelite: Seamus Tansey (3 CDs)
Seamus Tansey & Jim McKillop: To Hell with the Begrudgers
Seamus Tansey: Words and Music
Seamus Tansey: King of the Concert Flute, 1970s w/Charlie Lennon on piano
The Coleman Country Ceili Band: Alphie Dineen, Seamus Tansey, Seamus Horan, John Watters & MAry Mulholland
Guest artist: Battlefield Band: Across the Borders (live)
in collections: Happ to Meet Sorry to Part (various artists)
Music From The Coleman Country Revisited (various artists)
While he isn’t and has never been a flute player whose style and content I’m fond of, in the nature of someone who religiously follows those American-Irish 78s and their supported stars, and I just haven’t ever been able to get into his music, his output is impressive, whatever his temperament. My lack of appreciation for his way with the music has nothing to do with his irrascibility and rudeness. However, I do like Jim Mckillup’s way with things, his ‘devil’ being more of a trickster…
Catherine McEvoy in an interview -
Catherine: "The Sligo/Roscommmon style could be described I suppose as flowing, but yet rhythmical. The Sligo style makes use of the breathing to phrase the tunes, of course depending on the individual player as well. There is also a lot of use made of ornamentation, e.g. short rolls and long rolls. Take for example the playing of Roger Sherlock or Seamus Tansey - rhythmical and flowing with lots of rolls. Another good example of Sligo flute playing is John Joe Gardiner (1893-1979) who came from near Ballymote, Co. Sligo."
and when asked for ‘tips’ for beginners and the more experienced, she gives as #5 of 7:
"Make sure you tune the flute correctly when playng with others."
- some of Seamus Tansey’s teenage memories -
phantom’s shadows of the wren:
myself at times
That’s more than enough from me, being on a roll it seems - anyone else want to contribute to this list?
Will said the other day that he was "shaking" whilst reading something. Can’t remember what it was about. Ta for your list ‘c’ - have had a browse thru’. That Wren boys thing’s very floridly written isn’t it?
Oh I remember, oops :-#
Remember what - don’t leave it hanging, anything that makes Will shake is worthy of a repeat to see how it affects others…
Nah I’ll get meself into trouble. Change the subject quick! I can be irascible but mostly when I’m drunk. Otherwise I’m quite phlegmatic. Yay that’s 2 of my favourite words in 1 thread - I’m on a roll!
I actually submitted a new discussion re the above but it was moved here. Although I referred to this topic, I had meant it to be a lighthearted discussion about comments and put downs in general based on the experience of members here. It was nothing really to do with Seamus Tansey or this thread. I’m not sure why the discussion was closed off but I suppose the boss knows best.
Now I see that the discussion is back where it was. I’m not going daft, really! :-( At least, i hoope not. :=)
John, you seem to have grown a second nose.
Yeah - I like ‘phlegmatic’ and phlegm, something about the ‘ph’ and ‘gm’ combintation… But I’m still curious about what magic put the shakes into Will…
Sorry you were moved John, sounds like a worthy start to a discussion, and I would have thought that ‘lighthearted’ would have held it higher up in the posts than here as we descend.
It’s ok. Jeremy has just contacted me. He thought I hadn’t seen the original thread and deleted my other discusson in error. It’s all sorted. :-)
Coming in a bit late on this one … I tried to listen to the show and didn’t make it to the end - I have a low tolerance for people shouting each other down at the best of times and it wasn’t doing good things for my blood pressure! But …
I don’t think anyone’s addressed something that puzzled me a bit - apologies if it’s been covered, but (unless I missed something) this gent heard a tiny bit of SL’s playing, had two abortive tuning attempts then took his bat and went home for the night. Approx. 10 mins in SL’s company?
I’m hanged if I can see how that qualifies him to think he’s inside this girl’s head and knows all about her playing style and where it’s come from, and that all young people would rather be playing rock’n’roll etc. etc.
So what he was saying might have been OK had it been expressed civilly and had his assessment of the girl been accurate, but I can’t see how it can have been (except by accident/coincidence) given the amount of time spent with her.
He may have had a general point, but the point might have been utterly irrelevant to that actual situation. I think I’d need more than that amount of time and playing experience with someone before being that certain of what was inside their minds.
Because he’s a cultural terrorist, and nothing else mattered to him than the fact that she didn’t know who she was - that’s the point, not her playing/technique, which would be irrelevant to him. As long as he knew that she didn’t know who she was, that would be enough for him to make a judgement of her and categorise her as "the enemy", regardless of her playing ability/style. He would have taken her as a symbol of all the young people who pay no heed to the playing of the older generation, and of all the young people (female probably) who have ever irritated him. So in a way, what he’s saying is far more a sweeping judgement of "people of her kind", using her as a symbol, than something against her personally, because like you say Tish, how can it be after just 10mins? It’s like the terrorist thing again - like kidnapping a Western journalist as a "symbolic Westerner", whether or not that individual actually agrees with his/her government.
who *he* was
So what I’m saying is that if Sharon was to view the situation like this, she’d realise that the whole thing wasn’t even about her at all.
In a way we should be almost feeling sorry for the man. I think he feels cornered and threatened. I mean, what’s going on inside his head must be hilarious. He obviously has a problem with women (remember his famous quote about female flute players and brain tumours?), but let’s face it, can you imagine that he would have had much success in wooing women throughout his life? I mean look! http://www.folkworld.de/20/e/seamus.html — not to mention his combover :-O
I don’t think this incident is something to get angry about. It’s mostly just funny, I think. The funniest aspect of it is that it probably came as a shock to ST that the letter found its way to RTE. It’s like: "This horrible letter has just arrived on my doorstep. Hmm, how can I get my revenge? Ooh I know, I’ll have it read out on the radio". I mean seriously, it’s hilarious. Good on Sharon!
Errm … female flute players and brain tumours? Do tell, Dow …
Dow wrote: "Let’s turn Will’s Bush/Iraq thing on its head. What if we were to view ST’s letter and comments as an "act of cultural terrorism"?"
I can see this, but only if Tansey represents the terrorism that the US is exacting on the people of Iraq. The people of Iraq just want their country back, like Sharon wanted her gig. Seamus, (like the US) comes along with all of his assumed superiority and launches a hate letter, (illegal invasion) against Sharon even though world opinion is against it. Now, finding there was no good reason to do it, he still defends his actions as though they were right.
LOL, nice one Jack! (tho’ I’m so used to reading certain words and names in the same context that I kept reading "Sharon" as "ShaRON" :-)
Jack, I didn’t think you’d get the point of my references to "culture" - you are in California after all :-D
It’s true… we have no culture here. Why do you think I took up ITM?
Because you couldn’t afford yet another boob enlargement, so you decided that the answer was to start some serious beer drinking instead.
How about this then?
Seamus IS the tradition (or at least one strand of it).
The tradition is not, per se, necesarily PC.
It is just not a question of morals or the ethical high ground ….
You are all engaged in playing music which may NOT fit in with other aspects of your world view (just look at some of the issues thrown up by ‘rebel’ songs on this board).
If the purest strand of the tradition you purport to to love is represented by someone who is mysoginist/reactionary/racist, where does that leave you?
… Just a thought.
I listened to the whole hour of the Liveline archive.
Although I found ST’s behavior unacceptable, his willingness to come on the air, discuss his ‘nastygram’ and present his view of the alleged behavior young woman box player, Sharon Langston, had some merit in and of itself.
I was delighted by the politeness and patience evident during the broadcast. I could imagine the twinkle in the eye of the curmudgeonly woman who ~agreed~ with ST. Even ST himself, while not agreeing with SL, politely listened while she presented her take on the events. There were almost no instances of raising of voices, shouting matches, trying to talk over someone to silence their point, (like we do on radio here in he USA).
But why does everyone need to know of Seamus Tansy (one of his main points) or any other specific individual musician? If the young woman has been learning and playing ITM in Kerry since age 4, she really doesn’t need to know anyone except her mentors and her peers. Wouldn’t that make her music equally authentic and traditional, even at age 21?
I also liked her comment that even though she was from Kerry, she would never start a performance with slides and polkas!
Someone recruit Sharon Langston for The Session, please! In the menatime, let’s start a campaign to mail shakey eggs to Seamus.
Here’s my read on it.
Seamus was told "you’re flat."
Unfamiliar with the musical term, he took it to mean something along the lines of "you suck." This, together with his misunderstanding that he was expected but not welcomed (no microphone, etc.) led him to believe that Sharon was snubbing him, and was indeed a young person with all of the ugly traits he went on to describe in his angry letter.
Given all that, maybe it’s not surprising that he stomped off in a huff. Then came the letter designed, not to make any serious debating points about the way the music is going, but only to vent his spleen. The comments about the right hand, Breton music, and so on were just gravel he scooped up to fling at the enemy.
Finally, he was cornered on the radio, and couldn’t find the fortitude to say "I misunderstood and I was way out of line. I’m sorry."
I listened to the whole broadcast. I simply cannot believe that an experienced musician didn’t understand the word ‘flat’ in the context of tuning an instrument. Everything he said was just an excuse to put down young Sharon Langston, just because he had a bad and unpaid gig as a result of his own petulant actions.
Seamus has a long history of verbally upsetting all kinds of people by his ‘tell it like it is’ style, and more recently, in his book and recorded radio broadcast.
Some years back he was asked to write a 2-page article for Irish Music Magazine, where in the process of describing traditional Irish music, he berated and belittled many musicians (usually the highly talented, technical and progressive ones) who dared to play and record anything else but the ‘pure drop’. His language was similar to what was heard in the recent readio interiew, using words like ‘mongrelised’ and ‘tortured zombie’ to describe the ‘impure drop’. I’m sure the editor of Irish Music had the good sense to edit out any musician’s names mentioned by Seamus (and there’s absolutely no doubt he mentioned many).
All very well, but it kind of highlights the unfairness (in the eyes of Seamus), that it’s perfectly OK to say nice complimentary things about musicians (whether they are subjectively true or not), but whenever you speak your mind and say bad things, you are all wrong.
I think Seamus is a very good musician, but he is too narrow-minded and selfishly biased to be a truly great musician. The reality is that you cannot take his musicianship away from him - but he actually is just a sad, jealous and bitter old man, with or without his music.
And - he’ll never change.
I reckon Tansey misheard her and thought she said "You’re fat" . - :)
He wouldn’t have been able to dispute that, though. :-)