ARCHIE FISHER IN CONCERT, Saturday, February 11, 8 pm
Hollis Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, Cornell Arts Quad
Archie Fisher is a true legend in the world of Scottish folk music for songs both traditional and his own, which are considered classics. His warm, craggy voice and simple but masterful guitar have an inimitable spirit. Raised in Glasgow, he was influenced by his father’s broad love of ballads, vaudeville, and opera and by the lyrical music of the Outer Hebrides sung by his Gaelic-speaking mother. His attitudes toward music-making and politics were in part shaped by hearing the Weavers (Seeger, Gilbert, Hays, and Hellerman, not the Scottish tweed-makers). Moving to Edinburgh in the 1960s, he formed the Fisher Family band with his parents, sisters Ray and Cilla, and Artie Tresize; they made many treasured and influential recordings on the Folk Legacy label. Archie Fisher also hosted an Edinburgh music club where he played with the likes of Bert Jansch and Robin Williamson and penned songs performed by the nascent Incredible String Band and Steeleye Span. Involved in the Fringe Fest, he went on to run the Edinburgh Folk Festival (1988-1992) and hosted the beloved Travelling Folk traditional music program for BBC Radio Scotland (1983-2010).
It is no small sign of respect that the only songs the late great Stan Rogers recorded but did not write himself were written by Archie Fisher: Witch of the Westmerlands, Final Trawl, and Dark-eyed Molly. Archie Fisher’s discography since 1965 includes seven solo recordings and many with other performers, including Off the Map (1986) with Garnet Rogers. The two share a passion for open spaces, raising horses, and creating story songs with soul. The ballads on Fisher’s 2008 CD, Windward Away, breathe the wild beauty of the Scottish Borderlands.
In the early years, Archie Fisher collaborated and produced recordings with a fine roster, including Bert Jansch, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, as well as Silly Wizard. The UK has been his regular performing turf, but since the late1980s, he has toured Canada (and rarely the States) both solo and with John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, James Keelaghan, and Garnet Rogers. Despite his many awards, including the Tradition Bearers, Scots Music Hall of Fame, and MBE bestowed by Elizabeth II, he seems happy to stay below the radar. He considers himself not a celebrity but a low-key journeyman musician, and accepts friend Christie Moore’s advice: “You’ll never be famous because everybody knows you!” Throughout a deeply respected career of making and fostering music, Archie Fisher has remained a quiet giant. Please make him welcome for the first time in Ithaca.
Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar, Autumn Leaves Bookstore, Bound for Glory, and online at www.cornellfolksong.org/. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens; children 12 & under free. Cornell students $10/$12. Info: 607-279-2027 or website.
– Margaret Shepard