is something I am beginning to listen to with ever greater frequency. There is no need to worry, dear readers, I have not yet entered the world of badly-patterned wooly jumpers and holding my ear (a la 1970's folk in the UK). I have always had more than a passing interest in Irish folk, probably due to early exposure to the Pogues, a band I still listen to frequently, but my mother's taste in Scottish folk (the sanitised version from the White Heather Club, Kenneth McKellar, et al) always left me rather cold - I'm sure that there must be a multitude of delightfully anti-English/drinking/heartache songs from North of the Border. American folk (or roots)entered my life through my rather tragic love of country & western - not Garth Brooks, but Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, Bluegrass, etc - and of course, there is once again an absolute mass for me yet to discover. This week, however, has had a decidedly Central/East European bent - my journey around the M25 on Sunday was accompanied, rather ironically, by a CD of Gypsy music, ranging from ancient (I would assume) tunes from Rajastan to the very latest stars of the Roma scene in Hungary. Couldn't understand a word of it, of course, but all of the songs possessed a delightfully mournful quality tempered at times by the sheer joy and virtuousity of the musicians. This evening has been a collection of Czech bardic songs (thanks to Janochka). Again, I don't understand much of it. Indeed, the only words I've recognised have been 'Strada' (not in the Italian sense, I would imagine) and the usual internationalisms of 'revolutsia', etc (sorry, I have no ability to transcribe or spell from Czech). Utter bliss, and reminiscent of Okudzhava/Vysotskii (excellent multilingual site). Anyway, he may be Vladimir Merta, but I was not told, and the label on the CD was most obscure.