Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Deaths to note: Liam Clancy & Bess Lomax Hawes

I was sad to hear of the death of Liam Clancy, the last remaining member of the extraordinary Irish band - The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. There were many nights in the Village of the 1960s and 1970s that would not have been the same without Liam, Tom, Paddy and Tommy Makem at the Lion's Head and the old Limelight. No matter how popular they became the Clancys were never too big to join us late at night. The alcohol didn't hurt either. As we all know the music was an integral part of the politics of those years and the Clancy Brothers were a very important part of that music. Culture and politics are never really separable. They taught us a whole new way to hear Irish music and to think about Irish politics.

Although I wasn't as familiar with Bess Lomax Hawes as with Liam Clancy, anyone who sang with Woody and Pete deserves to be remembered. She was part of the Almanac Singers in the 1940s with Woody, Milard Lampell, Pete, Arthur Stern and Sis Cunningham. For those of you who are knowledgeable about ethnomusicology, Bess Lomax Hawes was the daughter of folk song collector John A. Lomax and the sister of Alan Lomax.

Both Liam Clancy (and the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem) and Bess Lomax Hawes should be remembered as key parts of our movement.

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