By DAVID SPEAKMAN
For The Muncie Star (Page T-15)
Many savvy travelers have found they learn most about unfamiliar places by talking with the natives, especially about their holidays and celebrations.
At 4 p.m. today, Thistle & Shamrock host Fiona Ritchie gives listeners an opportunity for such intimate discoveries with Season’s Greetings from Scotland. In this festive hour of music and conversation, Fiona and several guests share memories and favorite music from two highlights of the Scots calendar, Christmas and Hogmanay, the Scots New Year.
Joining Fiona around the microphone will be singer-songwriter and guitarist Archie Fisher, harper Alison Kinnaird, traditional Gaelic singer Christine Primrose and singer and multi-instrumentalist Dougie MacLean. IN this Musicians’ Requests show, Fiona presents her guests’ favorite holiday sounds and finds out how their holiday rituals have evolved through the years.
“The celebration of the holiday season has really changed in Scotland since the second World War,” Fiona remarked. “Our guests will be able to give us that sense of Christmas past and present.”
“Scotland is known for its raucous, sentimental celebration of New Year’s Eve or Hogmanay,” she adds. “We’ll extract a few tales of unforgettable Hogmanays from our guests!”
If they won’t tell themselves, their families might. Listeners can expect a few choice recollections from Dougie’s parents, Anne and Rob Ritchie. The show’s guests hail from many different parts of Scotland, so their experiences illustrate how traditions vary by region.
On this program, Alison plays the season harp music she most favors, some of which dates from the clarsach harp’s heyday during the 17th and 18th centuries. During that time, itinerant harpers toured the homes of the gentry, exchanging music for food and lodging.
Singer Christine Primrose, who performed with Alison in concerts throughout Britain and North America, grew up with unconventional ideas about Christmas. She was born on the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, where the strict Free Church of Scotland frowned upon lavish celebrations of the season. Today Christine sings in her first language, Scots Gaelic, with a voice that often inspires listeners to write Thistle. In Season’s Greetings, Fiona offers selections from Christina’s first duo album with Alison.
Songwriter and singer Dougie MacLean, another guest on the holiday program and popular performer on Thistle, writes regularly about the importance of the land and rural culture. His parents, Dolly and Duncan, grew up and still live in rural Perthshire. During Season’s Greetings, the MacLean family recalls scenes from its rural Scottish Christmases. Dougie also conveys the new year spirit with Hogmanay fiddle tunes.
At 5:30 p.m. tonight Horizons host Vertamae Grosvenor interviews Queen Ida, one of the nations most popular stars of Zydeco, a unique musical blend created in Creole, black and Cajun communities in New Orleans.
Ida leads The Bon Temps Zydeco Band on vocals and button accordion, backed up by fiddle, triangle, guitar, washboard, bass and drums. The documentary features excerpts from one of the Bon Temps’ live performances. Queen Ida also reveals the highlights of her colorful career, including her job as a school bus driver and the Grammy award she recently won.
Next week, producer Greg Allen with his sound portrait, The Olymbites: Traditions in America, an aural journey into an extraordinary Greek-American community in Baltimore, Md.
During the 1940s, Bing Crosby was the world’s best-known performer. His easy-going conversational singing style was revolutionary. Its mark on the music world rivaled that of Elvis Presley. But, while “Bing Crosby is credited for inventing American popular singing,” and National Public Radio’s Susan Stramberg, “since his death in 1977, he’s been largely overlooked.”
This holiday season, Stramberg revisits the music of the man who brought the world the ultimate Christmas song, White Christmas. Irving Berlin penned it for Crosby, who introduced the song in the 1942 film, Holiday Inn.
This NPR documentary, which features vintage recordings, rare interviews with Crosby and conversations with singer Mel Torme and others, airs on WBST-FM 92.1 at 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.