“Fiona is travelling”: podcast series

Interviews with the people I meet, music from concerts I’ve been to and pub sessions I’ve played in, fascinating things I’ve found to share…. 

Kindly hosted on the Hannah Frank Art website!

I started travelling in May 2018 and have been interviewing people and recording music since then. Once I get a few more podcasts edited I’ll be sharing them far and wide: in the meantime they’re hosted on this website only, but I’d love to hear from you with comments and suggestions.  Please click here to sign up if you’d like me to let you know when new podcasts are published.   Thanks so much. You can also use the sign-up form to send me your comments/thoughts about the podcasts which I’d really appreciate! I promise not to spam you or share the addresses and you can ask to be removed whenever you like. If you prefer, email me directly at fionaistravelling “at” gmail dot com. Or contact me through facebook… 

Podcast no 5: ‘Getting to know the “Other”‘: an interview with Alan Bern, director of the Yiddish Summer Weimar and the Other Music Academy

Opens automatically if you click on the link above, or you can press ‘play’ on the audio feed below. (30 mins).


Alan (left) with the Yiddish Summer Weimar dance class and tutors, August 2018

I spent three weeks at the Yiddish Summer Weimar, hosted by the ‘Other Music Academy‘ at Weimar in central Germany, in August 2018.  I heard the director, Alan Bern, talking a little about the events in his life and how important he felt it was to get to know those people who were classified as the ‘other’, and so I asked if he’d tell me a couple of stories on tape.  The result was this fascinating half hour interview, which he squeezed in for me between playing for our dance class and a lunchtime meeting with another of the Festival team.  Well worth listening to, for  Alan’s ideas about giving people “creative control of their lives” and providing an alternative to consumerism and fundamentalism. The interview includes a ‘you can’t win’ story about contemporary antisemitism, a feel-good story about the Ku Klux Klan (!), the importance of getting away from the commodification, or ‘festivalisation’, of culture, and the background to the setting up of the OMA – the ‘Other Music Academy’. (OMA is ‘Grandmother’ in German, and the ‘Oma house’ is designed to feel like you’re going into your grandmother’s house, a place where you’ll feel safe and nurtured – and where culture can be transmitted and learned in a natural way. The horse’s head in the photo, below, greets you as you come into the house!)

All being well there’ll be more podcasts from the music and interviews I recorded at the Yiddish Summer Weimar in due course.  I’m editing as fast as I can, but I keep meeting more interesting people! help!

This podcast was recorded in Weimar in August 2018 and mixed at the OMA house, and completed in Prague at the very friendly DeskRoom coworking space.  Music includes: Alan playing a Kolomeikha for the Yiddish Summer Weimar dance class (with accompanying dancing feet); Alan accompanying Sveta Kundish singing a nigun after a volunteers meeting; an exerpt from the Eastern Music Ensemble final concert at the festival; and ‘The Tune’, played by Alan’s band Brave Old World, in Weimar in 2000, recorded by Alex Jacobowitz.



Podcast no 4.   “To be the best you can”: an interview with thatcher Matt Whelan.

There’s one thing I think that people don’t get any more – and that’s the physicality of a life.

We don’t go back to a job now for 20 years…. In the old days they had to get it done every seven years. The craft wasn’t at a very high standard – probably stemming back to the famine when we would have lost all the proper craftsmen out of the country, and I don’t think we ever recovered from that.

Opens automatically if you click on the link above, or you can press ‘play’ on the audio feed below. (20 mins).

Matt Whelan was the first person I interviewed when I started travelling and making podcasts in May 2018.  I saw this intriguing little scarecrow on top of one of his thatching jobs across from the cottage I was staying in in Kilmore Quay; I found a calendar celebrating his thatching career in the local community centre; and on his linked-in profile he was listed as “Matt Whelan – thatcher and part time philosopher”.  So I had a hunch he’d be a good person to interview, and I was very excited when he agreed to come and meet me near the harbour at the end of my stay (you can hear the sea birds in the interview!)   Turns out I was right.  Well worth listening – and learning.

Recorded in Kilmore Quay, County Wexford in May 2018, and mixed on board the catamaran ‘Graceful Days’ moored in the beautiful Maddalena archipelago marine conservation area, Sardinia, in July 2018. Music: Mona Lisa Smile, words and music by Billy O’Dwyer Bob.
Lullaby for Jess: words and music by Matt Whelan himself: vocals Mary Whelan, guitar Nadia Gerber, piano Declan Cosgrove.  (“Three special and very beautiful people”). Matt says: “My son  turned to me on seeing his first full moon at two years old and said ‘look Dada, there’s a hole in the sky where the moon was’.  The rest just fell into place. (Thanks to Jon Bateman for ‘Graceful Days’ and recording the credits for me.)


Tribute to Peter Rankin
Not really a podcast: this is an interview by Hughie Parr on Preston FM with my brother in law, Peter Rankin, who died on 10th June 2018. He was leader of Preston City Council, an Honorary Alderman of the City, and has received tributes from all sides of the political spectrum.

Click on the link above or press ‘play’ on the audio feed below. (27 minutes, reproduced with permission).


Podcast no 3a. Preston Folk Club, 30 May 2018. (this is a LONG full evening, 1.5 hrs, not for the faint hearted!  Coming shortly a shorter roundup  of my musical travels which will be no 3). (Opens automatically if you click on the link above, or you can press ‘play’ on the audio feed below).  Recorded on 30 May 2018 at the Moorbrook,  Preston. This is a weekly Weds evening club in a tiny pub room.
Playing the melodeon was easily the best thing I ever learned when I was at Bath Uni in the seventies – it’s given me an ‘in’ in pub sessions throughout Britain and Ireland and helped me to make friends in every place I’ve ever lived.  In this podcast we hear the resident band at the Moorbrook (Tom Walsh, Dave Peters, Hugh O’Donnell and Neil Brook); and lots of club singers – with chorus songs and ballads (and me, playing a couple of tunes, too!)  There are some great singers – and also examples of how you don’t have to be a brilliant singer to lead a good chorus song at a friendly folk club.  Enjoy!  ( You’ll find the full playlist and acknowledgments here).  I recorded this, the last of four folky evenings in five days on my epic journey from Cape Clear Island to Preston, which took in music at Cape Clear, Dublin, Bampton in Oxfordshire, and Preston. (there should be another podcast from those other sessions, coming later…)

Tom Walsh, Dave Peters and Neil Brook – three quarters of the resident band at Preston Folk Club


Podcast no 2. May 2018.  “I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have to tell my story“. Of Goats and Votes. (17 mins)
(Opens automatically if you click on the link above, or you can press ‘play’ on the audio feed below). Activist and goatherd Vanessa O’Sullivan talks about how meeting goat farmer Ed Harper, and the deep relationships she was able to make with the goats on Cape Clear Island, saved her sanity;  and about the importance to her of the referendum which took place on 25th May 2018 – the day after the interview – which was to change the status of women’s rights over their bodies in Ireland .  Featuring “The Bold Tenant Farmer” sung by Ed Harper – a song written in Cape Clear Island.
A podcast by Fiona Frank, tech assistance Mike Carswell. Recorded on Cape Clear Island, County Cork, Republic of Ireland, 24 May 2018.

Below the 17 minute podcast is Vanessa’s full story in an hour-long unedited interview.  (Opens automatically if you click on the link, or press ‘play’ on the audio feed below).

and here’s the full unedited interview with Vanessa (52 minutes)


Podcast No 1: May 2018. “If you can climb a ladder and change a lightbulb, you can sail“. (6.30 mins)

[Click on the link, above – opens in new window – or press ‘play’ on the audo feed below]. Featuring Ralph Cochrane, Dawn Keyse, and Dermot Greer from Sailing Ireland with Fiona Frank.  Music by Brittany and Natalie Haas, recorded at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, May 2018.
A podcast by Fiona Frank. Engineering and technical assistance, Mike Carswell.
A Cosmic Coincidence Control Production (CCCP).  

(Click here for a version which may be more accessible for people with hearing difficulties, who can’t hear people talking over music clips. Thanks to my mum for the suggestion. Also opens by pressing ‘play’ in the audio feed below.)



In the pipeline  – interviews with Ed Harper, Goat farmer and singer, guitarist Tom Metcalfe, ‘sessions of England and Ireland’, Historic Weaving (and an amazing love story) with Jennifer Lauxman.

This podcast page is hosted on the website dedicated to the art of my late aunt, Glasgow artist Hannah Frank (1908-2008).  Feel free to share this podcast page with others, but please also go and have a look at the rest of the site and enjoy the art!  (and you can see my travelling blog here..)