While Dave Van Ronk, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Lightnin' Hopkins galvanized the formative days of the epochal '60s folk scene on this side of the Atlantic, Great Britain had -- I mean has -- Martin Carthy. A distinctive, earthy singer, dedicated folklorist, fine guitarist, mentor, and songwriter, Carthy was crucial to the development of the Brit folk scene -- his influence extending to a couple of Yanks spending time over there in 1965: Paul Simon (on whom Carthy bestowed the basis of Simon & Garfunkel's version of "Scarborough Fair/Canticle") and Bob Dylan (who turned Carthy's take on the traditional tune "Lord Franklin" into "Bob Dylan's Dream"). He was also a founder of Steeleye Span, a spin-off of Fairport Convention that itself became a seminal U.K. folk-rock outfit.
In 1972, Carthy married fellow folk- singer Norma Waterson and by the '90s, with their punkish daughter, fiddler, and singer, Eliza, had formed Waterson:Carthy. Make no mistake, these are mos def not somber folk revivalists; there's nothing to "revive" here. In the hands of Waterson:Carthy, traditional music is a vibrant, evolving art form.