I sang live with The Rankin Family last night, at Massey Hall, in Toronto. They were on stage of course, while I was sitting in Row K, left-centre orchestra. We sounded great together. It was one of those terrific occasions where everyone was singing along, so Linda didn't have to dig me in the ribs with her elbow to shush me. It was an event, a party, a love-in, a ceilidh in the kitchen. The Rankins had the joint jumpin'. We were hootin' and hollerin', and dancing in the aisles. They did old and new material and Linda and I agreed it was one of the best concerts we had ever attended. What incredible talent and sound. The sisters, Raylene, Cookie and Heather have voices like bells, with tremendous range and power. The evening started off with Dawn Langstroth, Ann Murray's daughter. She sounds a bit her mum, but has a great voice of her own and is a pretty good songwriter. She was followed by Seth Lakeman from Dartmoor, U.K. His singing was more howling, but his fiddling was mesmerizing. His closing number was a combination of foot-stomping and frenzied fiddling that sounded like a wild North-Atlantic storm crashing ashore at his native Cornwall. Seth is also known as 'The Troubadour of the Moor'.
Speaking of south-west England, some of the research I have done for my family history book focussed on Exmoor in north Devon. Some of Linda's ancestors came from Barnstaple and Brayford, on the west side of Exmoor. I mentioned these places to an English friend and he said they were very close to his home village. I told Linda the name of the place, but she doubted very much that any relatives of hers would have come from a place named Much Piddling in the Bog. I myself have ancestors who once inhabited the moors of western Lancashire at a small and scurrilous crossroads named Diddling on the Moor.
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