of the best gifts Iíve received in recent years is the book
"Celtic Tides: Traditional Music in a New Age," written by
Martin Melhuish, the Celtic Cafeís Writer of the Month for
September. We believe that the bulk of the Celtic Cafeís visitors
are relatively new Irish dance fans who, like me, are only
now discovering Celtic music as a result of the connection
between the shows and traditional music. "Celtic Tides" serves
as a "primer" of sorts, with excellent information and wonderful
photographs of most of the artists who have been featured
at our website or discussed through our mail lists. I consider
it an indispensable reference book that is fascinating and
most enjoyable to learn from, covering virtually all the established
Celtic artists from so many different regions.
After receiving the book from a Celtic Cafe friend, I rushed out and purchased the CD "Celtic Tides" which is the companion to the "Celtic Tides" video documentary. Itís one of my favorite CDs, and you can see why by looking at the track list.
Who is responsible for this "primer" on Celtic music, and what is his background? Pretty impressive, indeed! Martin Melhuish is an author, producer and entrepreneur who has worked in the music and broadcast industries for three decades.
Starting out as a musician and the founder of a number of music magazines in Canada, his home since emigrating from Penzance, England in the late í50s, Melhuish has written for a myriad of music publications and dailies covering the music and entertainment beat over the years. A former Canadian editor of the music trade magazines Billboard, Amusement Business and Performance, he is the past managing editor of The Record, Canadaís Weekly Music Business Newspaper and past founder/editor/co-publisher of CONTACT, The Essential Canadian Music and Entertainment Industry Directory. He remains the music editor of Marquee Entertainment Magazine (Canada), distributed nationally through the National Post newspaper.
As an author, Melhuish has written a number of books on the music scene including Celtic Tides: Traditional Music In A New Age; Wired For Sound: A Guitar Odyssey; Heart Of Gold: 30 Years Of Canadian Pop Music; and Oh What A Feeling: A Vital History of Canadian Music, as well as authorized biographies on Canadian rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive and British group, Supertramp, the latter which Billboardís Rock and Roll Readerís Guide called "endlessly fascinating" and "an almost flawless tribute."
A Gemini Award-nominated writer in Canada for his work in television, Melhuish continues his association with Toronto/Nashville-based Hallway Entertainment, a leading producer of feature length, music-based entertainment programming for TV, as head writer/producer. During his association with Hallway, he has worked on award-winning bio-flicks profiling artists like The Band, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Engelbert Humperdinck, Roy Orbison, The Mamas and the Papas, and Chet Atkins as well as on the feature presentations Celtic Tides; Wired For Sound: A Guitar Odyssey; and Tower Of Song: The Canadian Music Hall Of Fame, among others, broadcast on networks like A&E, PBS, The Learning Channel and Bravo in the U.S. and the CBC, MuchMusic and Bravo in Canada.
"In all the years that I have been writing, I can t remember a project that came together as spontaneously as Celtic Tides," Melhuish tells the Celtic Cafe, referring to the book and TV production of the same name that also spawned a CD, DVD and home video distributed by New York-based World Music label, Putumayo Records. "The TV production came first, spearheaded by Greg Hall, president of the Nashville-based TV production company, Hallway Entertainment, and Chip Sutherland, the manager of Canadian Celtic group, The Rankin Family. A call to my publisher at the time suggesting a companion book, which would provide a basic history of Celtic music, was met with an immediate positive response and, within the month, I set out on a voyage of discovery, first to the Celtic Colours International Festival on the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada and then on to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, my birthplace in the southwest corner of England. In the end, the book reflects my observations from that trip and features interviews conducted by myself and the TV productionís director Mark Hall with a wide range of Celtic artists. The inclusion of the first comprehensive discography of Celtic music and a relatively complete guide to international Celtic music festivals is for the most part thanks to my sister, Christine Broster, who put in hours of research and became somewhat of an expert in the field along the way."
Melhuish, who admits to having a wide range of musical tastes, laughs when he recalls a conversation recently in which someone suggested that this "Celtic thing" has run its course. "Some course," I replied. "This is music that has been handed down over generations without the benefit for most of its history of the recording process we have today."
In his book Celtic Tides, Melhuish makes that same point: "Celtic music is as improvisational as jazz and, in the hands of a group like The Chieftains, as glorious as a symphony orchestra. It has the power to rock and roll, though most of the traditional instruments are acoustic. Many of the lyrics and melodies have a history thatís centuries old, a heritage that has been handed down over the generations by word of mouth. Letís see if Candle In the Wind has that kind of staying power.
"The Celtic legacy has survived and today flourishes with the descendants of an enigmatic people - outsiders - for whom music, dance, and storytelling are often treasured as highly as life itself."
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