The Mysterious Disappearance Of Licorice McKechnie

Licorice McKechnie, a musician from the ’60s that performed at Woodstock, mysteriously disappeared around 1990, with no word since.

By Samantha Sanders

Counterculture figures from the ’60s have not been known to lead the most straight-arrow lifestyles, so when a woman who’d not just been at Woodstock but performed there seemingly drops off the face of the Earth, it might be tempting to dismiss the disappearance as just a free spirit following her bliss. But Licorice McKechnie’s trail didn’t go cold in the era of peace and love; she was last heard from in 1990, well after her days on stage had come to an end. Her last-known destination was the Arizona desert, but after that, the trail ends.

According to the blog Woodstock Whisperer, sometime in the early ’60s, McKechnie left her home in Edinburgh, Scotland, to marry fellow Scottish folkie, Bert Jansch. However, the wedding never took place. Yet, the young woman (who would have been somewhere between her late teens and early 20s) did end up connecting with a man named Robin Williamson, who’d assembled a new group called the Incredible String Band, which McKechnie promptly joined.

Though the Incredible String Band, led by Mike Heron and McKechnie’s then-boyfriend, Williamson, was a forerunner of British psychedelia music — and included fans such as Paul McCartney — their reception at Woodstock was lukewarm at best, recalls the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Thanks to some scheduling snafus, the band got bumped from their original performance date and were relegated to a slot on a heavier, all-electric day when fans were less than taken by their style of folk music. In fact, the band got left out of both the soundtrack and film that seemed to document nearly every moment of the iconic festival.

Though McKechnie has been lauded for her ethereal vocals and musical contributions on the organ, the Incredible String Band never seemed to stake out a firm place in the public’s musical consciousness. Like so many other counterculture figures of the time, members of the group, including McKechnie, also got briefly caught up in Scientology, which had a less notorious reputation then than it does now. Still, despite critical acclaim and a seemingly new spiritual outlook, McKechnie left the band (and Williamson) in 1972. By 1974, the remaining members disbanded and the Incredible String Band was no more.

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Carthy folk dynasty appeals for financial support after income ‘dried up’ during pandemic

January 14

The folk musician Eliza Carthy has asked fans for financial support to aid her parents, celebrated musicians Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, after their income from live performances “dried up” during the Covid-19 crisis.

Waterson has long been unable to perform owing to illness, Eliza wrote on the fundraising website Ko-Fi, and is currently hospitalised with pneumonia.

Eliza Carthy
Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band

“Right now the Carthy family, as many others, is struggling to survive the pandemic,” wrote Eliza, who moved closer to her parents 11 years ago in order to help care for Waterson.

“They urgently need funds to tide them over until the pandemic lifts and Martin and Eliza can return to touring and again become self-sufficient.”

Martin Carthy, 80, is one of the most influential musicians in British folk. He has released more than 40 albums as a solo artist, a member of Steeleye Span and the Albion Country Band, in collaboration with the late fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and with his wife and daughter as Waterson-Carthy.

In 2014, he received the lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He was named “arguably the greatest English folk song performer, writer, collector and editor of them all” by Q magazine, and inspired peers such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

Waterson, 82, is one of the original members of traditional group the Watersons and a collaborator with Richard Thompson and members of Pentangle along with her family members. She received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards lifetime achievement prize in 2016.

In December, UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak about “the devastating impact the growth of the omicron variant is having on the UK music industry”.

Many musicians have felt no choice but to postpone their immediate forthcoming tours given uncertainty over safety, including UK bands Wolf Alice and Blossoms, despite a lack of government support for cancelled events.

A UK Music report published in October said that one in three jobs in the UK music industry were lost during the preceding 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Martin and Eliza Carthy are due to play live throughout the UK this winter, with an intermittent run of dates kicking off in Durham on 27 January. Eliza wrote that she had recorded a new album during the pandemic, proceeds from which would also help the family.

More than 2,500 people had supported the Carthy campaign at the time of publication. “I am a long-standing folk traditionalist,” wrote supporter Stephen Lyons. “Where would we be without these two? Eh? Love to them.”

The famed producer Van Dyke Parks also voiced his support on Twitter: “I am asking all who can help to contribute. These two are the key to what’s left of Celtic culture –and innocence – in the UK. I admire Martin so … Let’s make this an end-game victory, as a folk dynasty appeals for financial support.”

Source: Carthy folk dynasty appeals for financial support after income ‘dried up’ during pandemic

Morris On “Cuckoo’s Nest”

TRADITIONAL LYRICS

From the recording Morris On, by Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, John Kirkpatrick, Barry Dransfield and Dave Mattacks.

  1. As I was a-walking one morning in May,
    I met a pretty fair maid, anon to her did say,
    “For love I am inclined, and I’ll tell you me mind,
    That me inclination lies in your cuckoo’s nest.”
  2. “Me darling,” says she, “I am innocent and young,
    And I scarcely can believe your false deluding tongue;
    Yet to see it in your eyes and it fills me with surprise,
    That your inclination lies in me cuckoo’s nest.”

    Chorus:
          Some like a girl who is pretty in the face,
          And some like a girl who is slender in the waist;
          But give me a girl that will wriggle and will twist.
          At the bottom of the belly lies the cuckoo’s nest.
  3. “Then me darling,” says he, “if you see it in me eyes,
    Then think of it as fondness and do not be surprised,
    For I love you, me dear, and I’ll marry you I swear
    If you let me clap me hand on your cuckoo’s nest.”
  4. “Me darling,” says she, “I can do no such thing,
    For me mother often told me it was committing sin,
    Me maidenhead to lose and me sex to be abused,
    So have no more to do with me cuckoo’s nest.”
    Chorus
  5. “Me darling,” says he, “it is not committing sin,
    but common sense should tell you it is a pleasing thing,
    For you were brought into this world to increase and do your best,
    And to help a man to heaven in your cuckoo’s nest.”
  6. “Then me darling,” says she, “I cannot you deny,
    For you’ve surely won me heart by the roving of your eye.
    Yet to see it in your eyes that your courage is surprised,
    So gently lift your hand in me cuckoo’s nest.”
    Chorus
  7. So this couple they got married and soon they went to bed,
    And now this pretty fair maid has lost her maidenhead;
    In a small country cottage they increase and do their best,
    And he often claps his hand on her cuckoo’s nest.
    Chorus

When Beatniks Begat Hippies Begat Punks

Ed Sanders of The Fugs bridges the gap between 3 very influential, uniquely American subcultures – Beats, hippies and punks

By Alan Bisbort

For the past four years, I have taught a course at the University of Connecticut-Waterbury called “Beatniks vs. Hippies? No Contest!” One of the pleasures of teaching it is finding new ways to examine these two uniquely American subcultures and to find the links between them. Because they do exist. The links, that is.

And, of course, some of those same links can keep right on going into the future, hooking up with the punks and then beyond, possibly even to those enigmatic hipsters currently running up the rents in Brooklyn.

And then there are the people who had their feet in several camps, people I call “floaters.” Allen Ginsberg was one of those. After the Beat Generation ran its course, he could be seen working with Bob Dylan. And, after that, he recorded with The Clash, among many other punk-era artists.

Ed Sanders is another one of these people. He was, in fact, partly the inspiration for my college course in the first place. For those who weren’t around when Maynard G. Krebs morphed into Wavy Gravy and then into Johnny Rotten, it’s nice to talk with someone who was. Ed Sanders was there.

A poet, journalist, musician, publisher and raconteur who bridged the Beats and the hippies (and the punks; his band, The Fugs, pointed the way to punk), still continues to create innovative and challenging work today. He has, in fact, written a great deal about the “hippies” (in The Family, his bestselling book about Charles Manson) and beats (in his poetry and memoirs like Tales of Beatnik Glory and the hugely entertaining Fug You). But he never could see that it mattered what you called people on the literary and artistic fringe in those days. He told me about a time when Allen Ginsberg came to his apartment in New York.

Here’s a partial exchange from our conversation:

AB: People tend to think the Beat generation sort of petered out and was replaced, or subsumed, by the hippie generation. Which really wasn’t true, especially in New York. It seemed all the same people walked forward into the hippie scene, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs, etc. The Beat sensibility brought an active rather than passive sensibility, or infusion, to the hippies.

ES: They brought some good writing, too. Hippies could be pretty vaporous in their literature. You know, I figure it must have been around February 1967 that we began to see the changeover. Instead of someone sneering at you and calling you “a dirty Beatnik,” they were now calling you “a dirty hippie.” I remember when Allen Ginsberg came over to our house on Avenue A around this time and said, “Now I guess we’re going to have to be hippies.” Miriam wasn’t even sure what he was talking about. It was a mysterious switch over. It went from tire-soled sandals to Merlin curved-toe shoes and gowns, and men wearing necklaces, which was a big deal for a man. Suddenly you have to wear a necklace, toe ring or go barefoot in the street, and burn incense. It was pretty strange. But the Beats ultimately prevailed. There are still conferences on the Beat Generation where young people come dressed all in black.

One way to get a bead on Ed Sanders is to watch this legendary episode of William F. Buckley’s Firing Line on which a drunken Jack Kerouac, clearly headed to an early grave, admits the hippies were better than the Beats. Ed Sanders was invited on the show as the token “hippie,” though he cut his teeth as a Beat (see above). The entire episode of this show is grimly amusing, especially if you fast forward whenever the insufferable Buckley is speaking.

The rest of my Ed Sanders interview appeared, in part, in Ugly Things magazine and, in whole, at Literary Kicks, the website devoted to all things Beat and pacifist.

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