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Roots guide goes back to its drawing board

Plans to publish a comprehensive new guide to the UK folk scene this summer have been abandoned - but some of the material compiled for it will be published on the Internet.

Root Source was heavily promoted by the English Folk Dance & Song Society, which said it would be a vastly improved replacement for the long-established Folk Directory. It was due out in May.

Malcolm Taylor, the Society's librarian, was working closely with editor Alan Bearman on the project. Malcolm told The Donkey: "The decision was down to me.

"It was going to be double the size of the existing book and the logistics had not been worked out as well as they could have been.

"We could have done it, but in my view and Alan Bearman's view, to get it absolutely right, probably we were being a little bit ambitious in aiming to get it out that quickly.

"We've delayed it until later in the year to try and get it right."

It'll probably now appear around December. Besides all the familiar listings of morris teams, folk clubs, festivals and performers, it is to include articles by leading figures on various aspects of the folk movement.

Malcolm said it was important for Root Source to establish itself successfully from the outset. "If we really want it to be bigger and better we need to get it right," he said. "Once we've got it right, we'll have the thing up and running and it will be easier in future."

There's also been a re-think on the wisdom of planning to launch it in May - when the festival season is already under way and some of the key events in the traditional year have passed. A report in the EFDSS magazine, English Dance & Song, said that a summer launch would have meant missing out on advertising revenue - though there was no explanation about how that flaw was missed in the first place.

"In my view May was an odd time to do it," said Malcolm. "We used to bring out the Folk Directory in December or January, but it has slipped to February. I think that's as far as we'd want it to slip.

"If we aimed to bring it out in May it could slip even further." Even a small delay on a May publication date would seriously undermine the value of the work.

Thousands of entries had been submitted for the directory, including several hundred from traditional dance teams. They may well have to be revised for later publication.

But EFDSS is to salvage at least a small part of the work that's been done, by publishing information from Root Source on its web site.

"We're not sure how it's going to come out," said Malcolm. "I have all the information on my PC at the moment.

"Certainly in the first instance we are going to make available the festivals list. Originally we wanted to publish that list in English Dance & Song but we didn't get it together."

Some of the articles written for Root Source may also appear on the web site.


2000 Simon Pipe, Mark Rogers, The Outside Capering Crew

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