Tthe great Ian A. Anderson – erstwhile country-bluesman, cottage industry record label mogul, events organiser, broadcaster, folk music magazine editor (for 40+ years), the man who invented world music (or something like that), all round good bloke and/or cantankerous agitator for the betterment of the world and the fun we can have in it – is in financial trouble.
The banks are after Ian, personally, for £90,000 following the collapse of his magazine ‘fRoots’ (formerly ‘Folk Roots’) after an amazing 40-year run. Ian had propped it up with personal funds for more than a couple of years and despite a carefully planned and executed restructuring of the business, with the aid of a popular Kickstarter campaign a year ago, the contracting of the print publication world / change in the market was too great. Ian himself will admit that maybe he should have rolled the dice differently after the first £40,000 or so of debt, but he did his best to fight on and try to pull it back and we are where we are…
Back in the 90s, when I more or less made my living as a full-time newspaper/magazine writer, I always enjoyed contributing to ‘Folk Roots’ (later ‘fRoots’, because ‘folk’ was somehow a four-letter word). Ian was always up for ideas, always encouraging. When I wrote ‘Dazzling Stranger’, a book on Bert Jansch and the British folk world of the 1960s, Ian was a willing interviewee and source of cheery anecdotes.
I dedicated ‘Dazzling Stranger’ (published in 2000) to Karl Dallas, a great folk-music-chronicling forerunner not only to me but to Ian – a man who covered the British folk revival in print in the late 50s and 60s, and whose work then made the work of an archaeologist like me so much more feasible. (I’ve dedicated three subsequent books to other venerable or late writers for similar reasons.) I have no doubt that Ian’s own work in helping to chronicle folk and related musics in print so indefatigably from 1979-2019 will be a treasure trove to future writers – and his early 70s Bristol record label Village Thing locked down numerous fantastic recordings of people who might otherwise have struggled to find opportunities. I like underdogs – and I like people who champion them. 🙂
If you like the sentiments above and don’t like the idea of a man who’s given so much to help the careers of others, and give the world a bit of fun and artistry, being pursued in what should be his retirement by a shower of bankers, then see if you can give a fiver or two. If you’re already familiar with Ian or are involved in the acoustic music world, you’ll probably want to give more. (Then again, if you’re in the acoustic music world, you probably won’t have it to give…) Still, let’s do what we can!