Flying Cat Music is proud to present Scottish folk icon Archie Fisher in concert in Phoenicia on Sunday, September 28, at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The show begins promptly at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 7:00. Admission is $18 or $15 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
“Archie Fisher is one of the most influential folk artists of his time, called everything from a folk father figure to both the James Dean and Frank Sinatra of folk music.” according to wearefolk.net, while Scotlandmusic.com calls Archie Fisher “a household name in Scotland.” In fact, his old friend Ireland’s Christie Moore once told Archie, “You’ll never be famous because everybody knows you.” So it came as no surprise when The Boston Globe ran a story about Archie Fisher titled “It just seems like he invented Scottish folk” in February 2010.
Archie Fisher was then in the midst of his first U.S. tour in over ten years. At the time he mused, “I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends and meeting up with new ones… I am constantly aware that this could be the last time when I set out on another musical adventure.” Fortunately that wasn’t the case in 2010, but any opportunities for American audiences to see this Scot folk master perform are at best infrequent and always highly cherished by those long enchanted with Archie Fisher’s music.
Archie Fisher could hardly be more respected at home. He was the popular host of a weekly Scottish BBC music show for 27 years and among the first six inductees into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. In addition, Archie is a recipient of the MBE, a prestigious honor, nominated by his peers, and bestowed by Queen Elizabeth. The Hall of Fame notes, “As a guitarist, Archie – along with Martin Carthy and Davey Graham – was among the earliest steel-string players in British folk music, devising a mix of new tunings and inventive picking that has influenced generations of successors. The range of his talents has led to collaborations with such legendary names as Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem, Silly Wizard, Bert Jansch and Tom Paxton.” They go on to add, “He stands as a linchpin figure between that music’s rural past and its largely urban present; between the Celtic and American folk-song traditions, both old and new.”
Another seminal Scottish musician Bert Jansch, founding member of the groundbreaking folk band Pentangle once said, “The only three people that I’ve ever copied were Big Bill Broonzy, Davy Graham and Archie Fisher.” Upon Jansch’s death in 2011, his obituary in The Guardian explored the start of Bert’s career, noting his time spent at the Howff folk club where Archie Fisher and the founding members of the Incredible String Band, among others, all congregated in the early 1960s, writing “Soon, Jansch had become resident unofficial caretaker at the Howff, spending much of his time developing his playing skills, with the Scottish singer Archie Fisher as a significant influence.”
While his place in music history is assured, we are fortunate that Fisher’s talent burns brightly in the present. Music critic and songwriter Jerome Clark, whose own songs have been covered by Emmylou Harris and Mary Chapin Carpenter, observes, “In some sentimental place in my mind, I imagine the nation of Scotland has a voice. That voice sounds a whole lot like Archie Fisher’s, a burry baritone that seems to rise up out of that North Atlantic landscape as naturally as the wind.” Scotsman.com praises Archie Fisher for his, “exquisitely articulate, intimate vocals and fluent guitar fingerpicking,” while the St. Paul Pioneer Press states, “Fisher’s quietly poetic ballads…haunt like a shadowy specter.”
Though his career spans over fifty years, Archie Fisher has released only six albums of his own while taking part in several others, including a 1986 joint release with Canadian folk singer Garnet Rogers with whom Archie toured this Spring. Word has it that Fisher is recording once more, this time at a studio in our region. There may be songwriters more prodigious than Archie Fisher but few have left as indelible a mark with their work. His “Witch of the Westmerlands” and “Dark Eyed Molly,” for example, were the only two songs recorded by the legendary Canadian Stan Rogers (Garnet’s brother) that Stan had not written himself.
The internationally renowned Canadian music festival Summerfolk described it well when they said of Fisher, “Archie Fisher lives at the intersection of Traditional and Modern folk music. You can tell because so many of his songs are mistaken for the work of that other great songwriter, Anon.”