Friday, October 31, 2008

Is Sex Important?

In spite of the enticing heading and stereotypical images, I now propose to bore you with some thoughts about gender-specific pronoun substitution.

This questionable activity has come up a few times within this club’s 'tween-performance banter.

Purists, regarding traditional song, would regard gender-pronoun substitution as unforgivable. These people would opine that the performance demonstrates the song and, only secondarily, the performer. To some extent I agree with that stance. There is ample evidence in the standard folksong collections that a man would commonly sing a song that patently has the supposed raconteur as a woman (and vice-versa.) I take as one example ‘All Things are Quite Silent’. Essentially, this is a woman’s lament. It was collected by RVW in 1904 from one Mr. Ted Baines. In reverse, Mrs. Russell of Upwey sang ‘One Night as I Lay on my Bed’ to Mr. Hammond in 1907. That song has to do with dreaming about a pretty maid. Neither of these songs would tolerate gender reorientation without becoming nonsensical. Both occupy my repertoire and, as a male (that's the body on the left without the bumps,) I have no embarrassment about singing what might be perceived as a ‘girlie’ song.

There are a few songs where pronoun substitution might work. Recently I played around with ‘I Live Not Where I Love’. Fine, substituting ‘her’ or ‘you’ for ‘him’ suffices until you reach the final verse. Then, damn it, it becomes clear that we have a woman addressing a man called Thomas. Actually, it can be done, but poor Thomas has to undergo extensive surgery to become Molly. Before being totally satisfied with the new scansion, you consult your dictionary and find that ‘swain’ is defined as ‘a young MALE lover’. Sort that out if you can! Finally, you go back to your source (Marrowbones, EFDS, 1965) and discover that Mr. Hammond collected the song from one Robert Barratt of Piddletown, Dorset in 1905. Then you wonder why you bothered in the first place. If it was OK for Mr. Barratt then, it has to be fine for me now.

Fortunately, there are those many folksongs that begin ‘As I walked out …' That’s brilliant! It is a device that places the gender-indeterminate singer in the position of observer. He/she can then continue reportage irrespective of any gender orientation of the context. It means that I CAN get away with singing Geordie. I often wonder whether this so-called floating verse really belonged to the song at inception, or was it later introduced by a politically-correct, gender-sensitive performer?

Most recently, we experienced this conundrum when one of our lady participants sang a Beatles’ song containing the repeated phrase ‘And I love her'. ‘Her’ became ‘him’. It was a charming performance. When it works (and, without any other manipulation, this did) pronoun-substitution complements the notion of ephemeral ownership by the singer for the duration of that performance. (You’ve heard me on that subject before.) Well done, Lynda and Paul.

Conclusion? If it works for the singer, and the song retains its original flavour and makes sense, well, OK. BUT – beware! Are we verging on parody here? My vitriolic opinion on parody has been hidden in a blog comment in an earlier post.

"But what about 'God Save the Reigning Monarch'?" you may well ask.

So, is sex important? What's your answer?
How was it for you, darling?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Banks of the Nile....

Whack up the volume and close your eyes...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beresford Greene Speaks (eighth fit)....

Hello Folks!

The number of times that I've had conversations about this beggars belief. As though I would have any answers! The fact is though, that I have sought, and listened to, advice for so long that I do have some things to say on the subject. First of all the quotes from others:-
A) Remember, no-body dies. {Meaning there's no real penalty if you do mess up}.
B) Use your imagination. See yourself in place, making a huge success of it.
C) We become fit at what we do. Practise Practise Practise!
D) Practice is only so good. It can make you seem stale by the time you achieve autonomy.
E) We don't just have to do. One can practise in the mind. See the instrument, the lyrics, your fingers. Hear your voice even
though you aren't actually singing.
F) Imagine yourself to be loved & adored by everyone
G) Don't use drugs. They will mask yourself from yourself but not the others.

My answers go something like this:-
a) I will die. Of shame and embarrassment, of bitter smallness & envy of those who don't. (Mess up).
b) I see only failure in my minds eye. I cannot twist my fate, not even in my mind.
c) Practise is boring me - so I will be boring everyone when I perform.
d) I will have to take the whole kitchen with me, to retain that familiar ambience. {OK so you practice in the bathroom}.
e) In my minds eye I see my future failure in advance. I will be standing there miming!
f) If everyone were to love me at once I'd get ripped to bits. Why I haven't always managed that even on a one to one basis!
g) I might as well be drunk. That way at least I won't remember it.

Practice in the kitchen will make you fit to perform - in the kitchen! Over practise will mean a loss of spontaneity. Nerves can rob you of your mind. If there just isn't an answer I will just have to find another hobby.
There now aren't you glad you asked me? You didn't! Someone did.

A new priest at his first mass was so nervous he could hardly speak. After mass he asked the monsignor how he had done. The monsignor replied, 'When I am worried about getting nervous on the pulpit, I put a glass of vodka next to the water glass. If I start to get nervous, I take a sip.'
So next Sunday he took the monsignor's advice. At the beginning of the sermon, he got nervous and took a drink. He proceeded to talk up a storm. Upon his return to his office after the mass, he found the following note on the door:

1) Sip the vodka, don't gulp.
2) There are 10 commandments, not 12.
3) There are 12 disciples, not 10.
4) Jesus was consecrated, not constipated.
5) Jacob wagered his donkey, he did not bet his ass.
6) We do not refer to Jesus Christ as the late J.C.
7) The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not referred to as Daddy, Junior and the spook.
8) David slew Goliath, he did not kick the ---- out of him.
9) When David was hit by a rock and was knocked off his donkey, don't say he was stoned out of his head.
10)We do not refer to the cross as the 'Big T.'
11) When Jesus broke the bread at the last supper he said, 'Take this and eat it for it is my body.' He did not say 'Eat me'.
12) The Virgin Mary is not called 'Mary with the Cherry'.
13) The recommended grace before a meal is not: Rub-A-Dub-Dub thanks for the grub, Yeah God.
14) Next Sunday there will be a taffy pulling contest at St. Peter's not a Peter pulling contest at St. Taffy's.

I hate to get too heavy, especially in print. {It is print isn't it? Maybe cyber-print-eh}. A word in my ear from Steve, the Regnum Club manager, even had me asking Brenda if she was guilty. Perhaps he thinks I have some influence. That's a first. It seems that there are those who have seen fit to bring their own drinks with them. We must consider the low costs to us of the room that we use. Yes I know it's easy to find fault. However set against the backdrop of past experiences, this venue is a peach! {More accurately a mushroom}. Only the (now defunct) Gribble Inn was better. The fact is that the Pubs & Clubs (♣ ♣ ♣) want to make a profit, & since they do this by the sale of drinks means that they are expecting us to buy! The Regnum Club isn't very different in that regard although the drinks cost a lot less than even the most spit & sawdust hostelry. It might be better not to bring your own refreshment, or at least don't wave it in his face.
Please, therefore, I beseech thee all, don't ask Steve for more than he really wants to give us.

I'd like to think that you would all want to join me in an overdue word of praise for our resident MC, David Crackers. Some will think that I'm being a bit of a creep, but he won't ever know what I have said. You see David is a writer who cannot read ordinary text. FACT! He is gifted on the one hand, while it is so that he does have another hand, it is also so that he can't spell with it. So sayeth Ken, (who says he knows about these things). For what David does so well & so prolifically, spelling is not an issue. This is because Crackers is a writer of songs. When his eyes alight on any kind of glyph he sees only the crotchets & quavers.
A word of appreciation for such an artiste is not out of place. Every week David brings his very own brand of enthusiasm to bear on the proceedings, thus extracting some of the most positive performances ever seen at a Folk Club anywhere. Neither does this emotional drain come cheaply for him. Sometimes this poor man is so exhausted after such a session that he is moved to crying. Sadly this is so. For a big man with an enlarged heart, he's real "♦" fella. A round of applause please!

What may come as a surprise to most of you is that I was once lined up to become a professional cricketer. With due respect to those North of Watford, or worse, this should be pronounced "CREEKEET." This is because the only County that really knows how to play it proper is Yorkshire. The fact that none of them will find this at all funny is evidence of the majesty with which they revere the game. I was telling Paul's sister about this just the other day when she was here on a visit. I also told her about the golden kerbstones that one finds down here. In fact I gave her a "♠" {To dig one up!}. I digress. The fact is that it turned out that I wasn't too good with the Willow, and was advised to get a job singing. Now I'm not one to boast but well really .....!

Did I FORGET to tell you? My mnemonic system {from last week}, fell apart when I diverted from Sainsbury's into Lidl. I managed to get Peas, Humous, Beetroot, Nuts, Hamburgers, & Flour. I never did manage to get the stuff home because the car broke down. It ran out of P for PETROL! ♫ ♪♪♪ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♪♪♪ ♫ ♪♪♪ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♪♪♪ ©

How many of you have seen the recent series of BBC programmes by Alan Yentob on the subject? I suppose you might expect me to know quite a bit about it. If you're not a guitarist perhaps you don't care. Even if you are, the "popular" nature might alienate you. I don't think that I want to be associated with all of it . No I would not. In truth, even though it was initially attractive when I was a lad, I do not favour the electric guitar as such. It's a beast that needs much taming. Without much doubt though, it offers one real gain: - Amplification without feedback.
A second advantage is that the signals can then be processed so that they no longer even sound like a guitar. I find very few of these "voices" truly attractive to my ear. However, the first hour of the programme contained at least one gem for me: - Cine footage of the great gypsy jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt. There is said to be only four minutes of black & white movie in existence. I had never seen so much as an inch of it. So it was fantastic for me to see Django in action after waiting all these years, Whoever said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" got it wrong. A movie picture of any guitarist is priceless and cannot be equalled by any number of words. I ♥ my guitar!
{I have some video of the Les Paul story & if anyone is interested I'll make you a DVD copy of it}.

Speaking of love, I have a new girlfriend. You'd think I'd have learned wouldn't you. But I've done it again. Fallen hook line & sinker for her. She is constantly in my thoughts. I cry with passionate admiration every time I see her. I call her "Mew." A younger woman too. A blonde yeah, but she ain't dumb. Nope! I am besotted, obsessed. Holly my cat, is furious, but only has herself to blame. "MEW" she mewed, "why MEW?" From being my most, {don't say only}, endearing & dedicated fan, she has taken another male escort. His name is Tennessee. He comes round to call more like a faithful old lapdog. He sings to her just as I used to. She sometimes sings with him, then they do "The Tennessee Waltz" together. She never did that for me. Then she abuses him wickedly. It is shameful at times. I did feel sorry for him; that is until he attacked my guitar picking fingers. The injuries threaten my whole career, let alone my relationship with Mew. I - L♥O♥V♥E Muriel Anderson!

"From a JACK to a KING"
"That's all Folks!"


1770 words

Being The 24th of October 2008....

A cardigan was originally a long-sleeved military jacket of knitted worsted , trimmed with fur or braid and buttoned down the front. They were worn by British Army officers during the Crimean War , and were named after James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of The Light Brigade. During the 20th century the style was adapted for sportswear, losing the collar, and became a popular item for home knitter.

You now know more about cardigans than you did prior to reading this posting...
Now, what did we get up to...?

Roslin Castle/The Hen's Larks Through The Midden/The Four Poster Bed: Bill 1:1
Moreton Bay: Colin
The Great Pretender: David
She Was Poor But She Was Honest: Joyce
Fever: Maggie
Mountains of Morne: John
My Flower, My Companion and Me: Eddie
Waltzing Matilda: Bill 1:2
Juila Clifford's Polka/Din Tarrents: Mick
Who's Sorry Now: Berry
The House of MacDonald: Ray
The End of The World: Lynda/Paul
I Recall A Gypsy Woman: Paul/Berry
The Nutting Maid: Bill 1:1
All Tomorrow's Parties: David
The Riddle: Joyce
Steal Away: Maggie/Colin
I'll Lay You Down Low: Eddie
The D-Day Dodgers: Bill 1:2
Blues Tune: Mick
What About Me: Berry
Your My Best Friend: Ray

Monday, October 20, 2008


We are approaching the 'eleventh hour on the eleventh day … ' you know the rest. Generally I find myself somewhat ambivalent about annual remembrance celebrations, but see this, listen and weep with me:

This is a performance of Coope, Boyes and Simpson, with a montage produced by someone called Ollie. (Appropriate permission for this post has been obtained.)
The lyrics are from a Shaker hymn adapted/augmented by John Tams. They are as follows:

Lay me low, lay me low, lay me low
Where no-one can see me
Where no-one can find me
Where no-one can hurt me

Show me the way, help me to say
All that I need to
All that I needed you gave me
All that I wanted you made me
When I stumbled you saved me

Lay me low...

Throw me a line, help me to find
Something to cling to
When the loneliness haunts me
When the bitterness taunts me
When the emptiness eats me.

Lay me low…

Now, here’s your homework:

I give notice that you are required to learn the words and familiarise yourself with the melody so that you may join me in singing this piece in anthemic glory when we meet on 14th. November.

The emotionally incontinent among you must provide supply own tissues.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beresford Greene Speaks (Seventh fit)....

Hello Songlovers,

Try to remember these prompts: - P - B - H - H - N - F. When I go to get petrol (that what the P is for), from Sainsbury's, there's a few items to remember. Brenda will be scathing if I forget anything, and equally awful if I buy other things! I'm supposed to be en-route NOW, not here BLOG writing "nonsense."

Just the other day we bought fruit at the local nursery. In particular, Plums & Apples I recall. I also recall Blackberries because we gathered these from the countryside and I got torn to bits. Brenda made a lovely crumble with some of it. After we had tucked in she said, "wasn't that nice?" I concurred because it was. Then she said "was the custard OK?" After some consideration I told her that I didn't have any custard on mine. A low level argument began. It seemed bizarre because I could not recall any custard. Finally I just had to get up and check. I found the custard in the fridge. Neither of us had had any custard!

Colin has sent me an advance of his latest BLOG posting that deals with this subject. As he acknowledges, I did issue a "paper" on this a while ago. (Mar 2005!). I did so for and on behalf of Mr Andrew Perry; for it was he that didn't like to be "interfered with" as one might say. For my own part I'd relish the prospect in most cases!

To be honest and absolutely up-front, I get a fair amount of joining in with my preferences for well known pop material. These days I don't get in the least bit phased by it, and rather look upon it as a compliment that the audience have at least recognised my interpretation! My first thought is to "entertain" if I can. Having said that, I wonder how one could reasonably object to people joining in with my fun. After all this is not a playing card suit, nay nor a big stick thing, THIS is a CLUB!

However, I can still remember when I was so new & raw to performing, that any kind of interference would throw me into a nervous rage. So the reverse used to be true. Some of the songs I do are subject to my own very different interpretation, and in those cases it might not be so easy just to join in. The fact that musical things are hard for me to get together means that I have to swallow hard when other folk can do it without so much spent time. I do admit though, it can be wearisome if one had a very serious delivery in mind, when the additions are not truly embellishing. In the reverse situation, I am disinclined to add any instrumentation unless I am very sure that my input will enhance the original performance. That takes a more supreme confidence than I would normally possess. These decisions come from within the personality of each individual and is surely the reason why I sometimes quote Irish folksinger & builder, Paddy Brown (RIP), who used to say "Well yer takes yerself with yer wherever yer goes!"

A word to the wise:- While it is good to make a serious endeavour, it is not so good to take oneself too seriously in public. If one feels strongly that there should be no interference, perhaps we ought to borrow the phrase that I have heard Andrew Perry use: -"Please observe the performer's right to silence." I'd recommend a set of considered words such as "Please let me mess this up all by myself."

I wouldn't want people to think that our lives revolve entirely around our musical hobby. Oh no! We have also taken up dancing. Would it be that we're any good at it, but let us leave that aside. Last week we had a dancing date in Worthing. Before anyone else makes any cracks about never getting out of Worthing alive, {or as one "friend" reminded me, "Portsmouth for the Continent; Worthing for the Incontinent !!!!!!!"}, let me remind you right now that we did; and didn't. {Get out alive, and ... Stay awake there!}.
However, we were very late in setting off. In a bid to help our dire situation which needed us get togged up and to eat, I made some sandwiches. Brenda asked that I cut said sandwiches into quarters, which I duly did. Imagine how I felt when she said these were the wrong shape! It seems that Brenda has a triangular mouth! Square sandwiches are just no good to her. I just had to laugh at this pathetic emulation of Mrs Bucket.

Have you noticed just how many musicians, down through history, were apt to "do drugs?" I think I know one reason why this might be. The notes of the scale(s) are spread about the various instruments in a rather haphazard way. Well in a way that's hard to get a handle on. Drugs help out in many ways. If, as is likely, one plays a bad note, ("bum note" in musical parlance), whilst under the influence, it is so much less noticeable. That's my reason anyway. Do you know, or even want to know why it is that the said scales are so dispositioned? I could tell you, but it takes a while. Better to have some more drugs.

Not really musical but funny. I have just seen a report on TV where a "refuse disposal vehicle" caught fire en route to the council incinerator. The fire brigade were called and went to endless lengths the put out the blaze. First of all they moved the smouldering cart to open ground and emptied it. There they encouraged the contents to catch fire, very nearly ruining the £250,000 vehicle. At last they turned on the hose leaving the sodden pile to be collected by the council. Where did the council take it? Onwards & upwards to the local incinerator!

Q: - What is the difference between a banker & a pigeon?
A: - A pigeon can still put a deposit on a Porsche

I'm one of those poor unfortunates that knows what a DECIBEL is. Yeah I do. I know where it was born & why. Yeah I do. It's a measure of audio power dreamed up by the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. {A Scot by the way}. He wanted a way to express the volume measurement that would hide the truth from his customers. FACT! It does that really well. For an increase of 3dBs one needs to raise the actual power in Watts by ten times. Yeah that's right X 10. That also means that a tenfold reduction in volume will result in a fall of only 3dB. "Madam, it must be you. Perhaps you are deaf. Why your sound levels are only down 3dB. ". What a scheme. Could we apply it to money - I wonder? I think the banks are doing just that as we speak!

Now for the prompts:- P = Petrol, B = Bread, H = Honey, N = Newspaper, F = Fish, H = Ham. There I got it.

Have a good week and don't forget to go on Friday. I'm considering the many requests that I have received - NOT to go!


P.S. Photo taken at Itchenor, suggests there are at least three others! Have you seen them?

1266 words

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Eddie and his Lady of Autumn...

Being The 17th of October 2008...

 STICK WIGGLING! Are you a Water Witch? Do you have the gift of stick wiggling? It’s simple to find out. Leave your hat out in a field overnight. In the morning if you find it full of snakes you have what it takes to become a douser. Cut yourself a green fork of peach tree or witch hazel. Take one prong firmly in each hand. Walk slowly back and forth with the fork held out in front of you, parallel to the ground. When you cross an underground stream, forgotten well, or pocket of primordial ice the stick will twist violently downward. Commence digging!

THE POWER OF THE PENDULUM! Can’t find peach trees or witch hazel in your local enchanted forest? Make a pendulum! T.C. Lethbridge found that by hanging a weight on the end of a string many things could be found below-ground just by walking paces about his garden and observing the pendulum’s motion. Different string lengths find different things. Shorter lengths find metals: brass, copper, lead. Slightly longer may uncover truffles, sweet potatoes, rare purple carrots. At forty inches Lethbridge’s pendulum located death. He further reported that strings over forty inches in length began to pick up the shapes of unseen dimensions.

GOLD DOODLEBUG! To turn your water dousing stick into a gold hunter simply hang a gold ring from the end of the stick. To find buried treasure split the end of the stick and insert coins of various metals. Try swinging a pendulum over a map of your hometown to find out who’s thinking about you and who’s thinking about lighting fires.
DIAMOND PENDULUMS! On the internet one find diamond pendulums for sale (only £27.18!) that supposedly can connect you to ‘Universal Intelligence”. These pendulums have been “reviewed by the leading trade journal as ‘THE MOST RESPONSIVE PENDULUM’”. 

So, that's several entertaining pastimes one could indulge one's self in before next Friday night...
(I'd try to avoid the forty inch string if I were you...)

In the mean-time let's examine this weeks remains....

People Get Ready: David
Ruby Tuesday: Lynda
The Last Minstrel Show: John
Who Do You Think Your Fooling?: Yvonne/Mike
The Night Is Young: Eddie
Summertime: Brenda/Berry
Smile: Berry
Once I Had a Sweetheart: Jane/Dave
When You and I Were Young, Maggie: Paul/Berry
A Place In The Country: Bill 1:1
Twa Corrbies: Colin
Brave Wolfe: Roger
Love Hurts: Lucy/Paul
Reason To Believe: David
Sealed With A Kiss: Lynda/Paul
Working In The Mill: John (new)
Peggy Gordon: John
Till The Stars Fall From The Sky: Yvonne/Mike
The Grey Funnel Line: Eddie
Solitude: Lucy
All of Me: Brenda/Berry
I Like The Way You Look: Berry
Sweet Jane: Jane/Dave
Every Time We Say Good-bye: Paul/Roger
Peggy and the Soldier: Bill 1:1
Good Ale: Colin
Love Letters: Lucy/Roger

Now let's hear it for collaborations...!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Delicate Art of 'Joining In'...

Last week one of our stalwart performers expressed some anxiety that his request that a certain section of our ad-hoc orchestra should not join in might be perceived as ‘rude’.
I admire that sensitivity. It was not rude, at all.
Indeed, the solo performance was most enjoyable and would not have been complemented by any accompaniment.

There is probably some unwritten etiquette involved here.
It’s a difficult one, and I know that Berry circulated his thoughts thereon in a pre-blog era. (They occupied three sides of single-spaced A4, if I recall correctly.)

If a performer says, “Please join in,” then that is clear permission to do so.
If it is obviously a chorus song, then joining in is almost obligatory.
However, beware!
How often have you tried to join in a chorus and found you seem to know different words?
Then, you have those PhD choruses that unexpectedly change and catch everybody out.
Remember, the performer is ALWAYS right!

There’s also harmony. I like that, but you have to be sure, not only of the words, but of the melody the singer is using.
I have been wrong on countless occasions with this.
You need to watch the performers lips to get the phrasing right.

As far as instrumentalists are concerned, it is important to establish what key the primary performer is using.
If it’s Berry in C-flat, don’t even try!
Assuming you don’t get dismissive looks from the performer, and that your spouse doesn’t kick you under the table, a tentative and quiet initial insertion is advisable.
Watch out for the affirmative nods or, otherwise ... any disapproving body language of the performer.

It strikes me that we at CFC have moved away from ‘jamming’.
In our singaround format we have to recognise that, for the duration of a performance, a performer is claiming temporary ownership of the piece. I’ve said something like that before.

Now, who was that idiot who ruined my song by playing in 7/4 time, with wrong notes, in the wrong key, on his concertina?
Oh, that must have been me!


Monday, October 13, 2008

Emerald Dew of the Morning - Bill1.2

Now who here remembers 5 Penny Piece I wonder...?

Beresford Greene Speaks (Sixth fit)....

Another BLOGGING week has passed dear souls. The Autumn seems set to be and water vapour is everywhere again. The chill in the air reminds me of Friday evening where the purists would rather be cold & hungry than apply the services of the very noisy air conditioning. What is to be done? Suggestions that we sing louder are not well received by those with quieter voices. I have some serious suggestions: -

1) Those who arrive first and set up the tables, should also switch on the big wall blower thing so that the room is positively warmed through. Then see to it that it is not turned off, despite the increasing temperature, until we actually start the sing-around. This procedure needs to be repeated in the interval.

2) We bring a couple of electric fires to supplement the heating during the "quiet" period. Now it just so happens that we do have one suitable unit right here at home. However, we are, on most occasions, fairly well loaded, already bringing Brenda's keyboard, with all of its accoutrements, and at least one guitar. With the parking being what it is,.... OK I'll do it - BUT one heater isn't going to be enough. Please, someone, bring another electric heater. (NOT a blower fire - oh dear must I forever deal with ..... !).

3) Bring a hot water bottle - with the hot water already in it!.

4) If anyone does get cold, they must be encouraged to speak out and not just sit there suffering for our art.

5) Make sure that you have some warm clothes, jumper, coats, socks etc. Wear trousers. (Boys especially). Remember the old adage, to strip off is more alluring that total nudity - especially in my case!

Now if you didn't find the forgoing musically instructive, let me return to my more usual offerings. To sing in the right key is vital to most singers if they are to get the best out of their voice. More correctly, I suspect I mean in the best "REGISTER." No matter that the guitar doesn't play easily in your key. Get it done with a capo if necessary. In my case, because I have a very restricted voice range, it is important to the very semi-tone.
Some of you will know that I cheat a bit to get there, by altering the tuning of my guitar to suit. The reason that I do that is primarily as given above, but there are some winning spin-offs to the way that I do it. Last week some of you will have seen me give away a hand-out on this very subject. Whilst I could reproduce that right here now, I will decline to so do - unless there is a sudden demand for it. However, I have a few copies in my music bag - just ask me for one.

Moving on then. Sometimes I do get a little cheesed off with interruptions don't you. It isn't just the telephone either. Our musical endeavours are frequently interspersed with washing & ironing. These are 21st century musts that oughtn't. No one needs a shirt to be ironed unless dressed for dinner. A lot of my shirts are positively wrecked by ironing. Neither do they need to be washed so frequently. After all I am not doing much now. I am a retired gentleman of independent means. What do I want with beautification?

I received some SPAM the other day on the subject of love songs and the human condition. At the risk of being accused sexist, I wonder if you know the following. When it comes to heartbreak men just aren't the same as the girls. One way to describe this difference is the two hearts. A woman's heart, on the inside, is very tender. It is sensitive and empathetic. ...But women whose hearts were broken, recover in half the time it would take most men. A man's heart is totally different. The inside of a man's heart is even more sensitive than a woman's. Around his heart are walls of steel, like doors that slide open and shut, and only open for special occasions. These doors open when he is interacting with his children or the woman he loves, or perhaps in a spiritual moment. When those doors are open, a man is extremely vulnerable. During those vulnerable times, if someone hurts him or makes fun of him, those doors shut up very quickly. This is why men do not like to open up much - it's just too scary. When a man's heart is injured, he does not have the recuperative power of most women.

This vulnerability is what makes it so difficult for a man to sing in public and from his heart, so to speak. This is the reason he may prefer comedy stuff and children's nursery rhymes. This might be the reason why, if ever he gets started, he does not want to be interrupted by washing and bloody ironing!

Colin has mentioned PRS. This is another old chestnut that rears its head from time to time. It threatens to spoil the Folk Club style. It is a scheme to see that the original composer gets a reward for the use of his material. I think it was to stop other "professional" artistes making a spin off that was all their own. For "Professional" read one who sells his self professed expertise for reward. (i.e. money).
We don't do that - do we? Eh? I would always want to argue that we just publicise the work - for nothing! Ought they to pay US for that then? Some of these songs, especially the "traditional" folk stuff is like that parrot. Deceased! It just ain't seemly to expect payment forever & ever. In that regard there is some agreement, since copyright does run out - eventually. It can be renewed though I don't know the ins & outs of it. {Fifty to 100 years from the death of the composer maybe}.
Why is it that I can't build, say, a wall, a piece of furniture, an electronic gadget, and ask for a royalty on it for 100 yrs? That would beat the pensions black hole would it not?

GLOBAL WARMING WARNING! {Try singing that for this weeks vocal exercise}.
Brenda has just told me that she has braved the pain & had her assets frozen! Yes, she's put her money in the deep freeze. She was prompted to do this when she heard about the Icelandic bank that has refused to allow any more withdrawals. The commentator said it was in meltdown!
Not funny though is it. I think it rather looks as though the schemes & hopes of the many will be scuppered by this Sub-Prime fiasco. Ever wondered what "sub-prime" actually means? It means those borrowers with loan repayment delinquency. Well who's the delinquent here?

Coming soon:-
CUSTARD & DEMENTIA It's all on the increase!
Dancing & the triangular sandwiches
Solvency in kind
Cold & hunger

If I recover, I'll see yer Friday. Be there or be ......?


Being The 10th of October 2008...

Strange events stop the cogwheels of reason and plunge us into the silver lake of dreams...
In our own time a strange event which is widely known but none the less a cause of wonder, provides proof of the existence of an upper sea overhead...It occurred on a feast day in Great Britain, while the people were straggling out of their parish church after hearing high mass. The day was very overcast and quite dark on account of the thick clouds. To the people's amazement, a ship's anchor was seen caught upon a gravestone with a rope attached that stretched upward into the air...The people were advancing various opinions on the matter to each other when they saw the rope move as if it were being worked to pull up the anchor. Since, being caught fast, it would not give way. A sound was heard in the humid air as of sailors struggling to recover the anchor they had cast down. Soon, when their efforts proved vain, the sailors sent one of their number down; using the same technique as our sailors here below, he gripped the anchor-rope and climbed down it, swinging one hand over the other. He had already pulled the anchor free, when he was seized by the bystanders...
 He then expired in the arms of his captors, suffocated by the humidity of our dense air as if he were drowning in the sea. The sailors above waited an hour, but then, concluding that their companion had drowned, they cut the rope and sailed away...   
(Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia, 12th century)

The above bears no relation to the events at the C.F.C...
I just like it...

Amongst the evenings gruntings, squawkings and twangings I'm convinced I heard the following:

Please Help Me I'm Falling: David
The Old Durham Road: Colin
The Sleepy-Time Blues: Mike
Mrs. Casey/Jocky To The Fair: Bill 1:1
Fiddler's Green: Ray
Blackwaterside: Anne
Hey Baby: Berry/Ken
The Very Thought of You: Brenda/Berry
Out of the Blue: Mick
Les Joies d'Amour (The Joys of Love): Jane/Dave
Hold The Past With Love: Roger
Don't Call Me Louise: Mike
High Holiday: John
The Man In Green: Antony
The Old Lady of Padstow: Mave
While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping: Ken
A Rustic Lesson: David
Ama Pola: Brenda/Berry
Whiskery Bob: Mike/Yvonne
?: Mike
Leaving Nancy: John
Somebody Stole My Gal: Berry
Banks of Green Willow: Bill 1:1
The Fields of Athenry: Ray
Black is the Colour: Jane/Dave
Dark Eyed Sailor: Antony
The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood: Anne
The Merry Blacksmith/The Banshee: Mick
Further Along: Roger

I'm sure you'll all want to send your best wishes to Gerry Flintoff who recently suffered a heartattack and wish him a speedy recovery...

Friday, October 10, 2008


Mike expresses a preference for the solo output of Mr. P. Simon...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beresford Greene Speaks (fifth fit)....

Dear Regnum Revellers,

I thought I might start a new strand to the Folk music discussion for this submission. It happened that this very week one of my lovely songs was described as "pathetic." Usually when people use this word in my hearing they are speaking about me. This time, however, it was about my material. I feel OK about that just because I didn't write a single word of it.

It set me thinking though. I suppose it could be levelled at us all that this hobby where we "express" & "deliver," straining every sinew to become entwined, if only for a while, with the sentiments of the stuff we are singing about, might render the persona unto the "pathetic" category. Yet how many times have I heard it said that one can't expect to render an authentic rendition if one has not had personal experience of a situation?

So in order to extend my art, I have, over my lifetime, submitted myself to the distress of the things that I sing about. That woe you hear from me is genuine. I have suffered dreadful rejection in all its forms. Being so damned naturally attractive, this hasn't always been easy. I have had to contrive of methods that would make me repugnant. Why even as we speak, I am amputating several fingers so that I may play a truly authentic version of the "One Finger Boogie." I have, from time to time, even enlisted the help of one Ken Hobbs. How is that for dedication? Working in a latrine helps. It is mucking out on the human scale. Mixing it up, living with it. Feeling it. Dare I say it... tasting it! Are you prepared to suffer such indignity for your art?

There is just one of my secretes. Another is my ability to reach a top note. I put all my notes on the highest shelf and then dispense with the step-stool. This is one way of extending one's range - so to speak. Normally I would charge money for these tips but to you, dear club members, they come absolutely free at the point of delivery.

To return to my main theme. I would agree with the label "pathetic" for a song such as a blues for David in the key of E with a repetitive verse such as: -

"I woke up this morning & found I was in bed
"I woke up this morning & found I was in bed
"I woke up this morning & found I was in bed
"I woke up this morning & found I was in bed"

The music for this would remain in a single key throughout with a foot-thumping back beat. If we dissect the structure of the lyric first , we will find absolute meter, assonance, & good scansion in abundance. The alliteration is perfection. My what a rolling, sonorous, thunderous language English is when it comes to poetry & verse. It even works out well for riddles where the "blood of the earth" is oil. {Or more correctly motor spirit (petrol)}:-

I drink the blood of the Earth,
and the trees fear my roar,
yet a man may hold me in his hands.

The answer: A chainsaw

Now let's embellish the music. We might employ the haunting tones of a harmonica. We would deliberately pick a completely enharmonic key for this. Then we would get the player to "express" the sound by whatever method he could muster. There would be much hand-curling, facial excruciation, sucking & blowing. In fact stagecraft. The result must be no less than the sound of several strangled ducks.

My songs aren't nearly as bad as that example. I am singing about my swinging unfair life experiences where nobody loves me. I am also recalling those few & far between times when the earth moved. I am passing on to you for your consideration, and your commiseration, the hurts & passions of my particular existence. If you can't and haven't yet seen that, I will sing to you no more. Only the believers need remain.

I will pass on these wise words of advice for Paul Damper:- One cannot hope to sing & do justice to a song like "From a Jack to a King" without one had first visited Monte Carlo or Las Vegas. Then at least one would learn to get a move on if not to run.

It all started with cruel parenting & my name:- Beresford

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/Joan of Arc....

Here's Jane and David...


Go Leonard...!

Being the 3rd of October 2008...

I want to illustrate the advantages of modern technology...
Specifically the wireless router that is allowing me to enter this week's listing whilst lying in bed with my feet on a nice bed warmer (who tells me she doesn't mind the smell and is glad to be of service...)

Now a piece of advice for the coming cold season...
As we all know the heating system in the room cannot be described as a sympathetic to addition to an evening of singing and playing...
There are two alternatives available to us:

01) Dressing for an arctic expedition...
02) Massive amplification...

What I suggest is a visit to your nearest available musical instrument boutique and the purchasing of an amplifier of sufficient power to overwhelm the air conditioner accompaniment...
I further suggest that one should consider a rating for one's amplifier of around 300-500 watts...
(One might also take the precaution of purchasing some form of hard-hat to protect ones self from the bits of masonry that will inevitably fall from the ceiling during the performances of some of our more 'enthusiastic' members)...
Problem solved...

For those of you who enjoy lists...
Here's a list...

Somewhere Along The Road: David
As Tears Go By: Les
I want To Marry A Lighthouse Keeper: Yvonne
It's A Mystery: Mike
Rose Of York: John
Cordal (A Samba): George
The Unquiet Grave: Anne
When We Were Good: Berry/Ken
Colours: Mike
From A Jack To A King: Paul/Berry
Leaving On A Jet Plane: Lynda/Paul
Die Schauinslandseilschwebebahnschaffnersuniformknöpfe stammen aus Llanfairpwchgwyngychgogerychllllantisiliogogogoch: Ken
I'll Take You Dancing: Mave
Fathom The Bowl: Colin
Withered And Died: David
Smile: George
I'll Never Find Another You: Les
A Scary Spider Song: Yvonne
Constant Companion: Mike
Who Will Sing Me To Sleep? : John
Bushes And Briars: Anne
Fools Paradise: Berry/Ken
Drifting Without You: Mike
I Can't Stop Loving You: Paul
Banks Of The Ohio: Lynda/Paul

I'm now going to do some Olympian sleeping...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Colin Asks "Precisely what is a traditional folksong...?

Precisely what is a traditional folksong?
Discuss in not more than 2000 words (single-sided A4, double spaced, with appropriate references.)

There are two key words to be considered: 'traditional' and 'folk'. They are not necessarily the same thing.

Considering 'folksong', there is a wide spectrum of perception.

The exhaustive definition adopted by the Folk Music Council in 1954 includes the following phrases:
'musical tradition'
'oral transmission'
'rudimentary beginnings'
Anonymous authorship is another consideration, although not part of FMC's definition. Such anonymity is assumed in many quarters. In these days of widespread literacy and sophisticated recording and communication technology, I question the validity of 'oral transmission'. It could be said that this notion went out of the window when Cecil Sharp (GBHHN) started writing things down over half a century earlier. To his dubious credit, he did decline to document a plethora of music-hall type songs that were in circulation at the time.

At an alternative extreme (and perhaps more realistic these days,) I read in a national newspaper a response to the question 'what is folk music?' 'Well it's what you hear in folk clubs.' Now, of course, this couldn't be more different. In today’s folk clubs, in addition to what may be intuitively received as a traditional folksong, you are likely to hear contemporary pop, the personal contributions of a singer/songwriter, songs that originated in the Edwardian music hall, jazz, a Child ballad, and to join in a Wesley hymn, all within the space of one evening. Such is the diversity of taste in folk club participants.

Then we have the throw-away remark commonly attributed to Louis Armstrong (GBHHN too): 'All music's folk. After all, I ain't heard no horse singing it!'

Considering 'traditional', where do we go? It is traditional for folk to join in Land of Hope and Glory at the last night of the proms. This is an orchestrated piece written by Thomas Arne (marginal blessings on his holy name). Does that make it a folksong? Maybe it is the occasion and the performance that are traditional, not the song. What, also, of the bygone age when people rushed out of the cinema in anticipation of a rendition of God Save the Queen? (Well, '... King', if you're as old as Beresford!)

Is Berry sufficiently aged to be traditional?

Well, there you are, that's an introduction for this project.
Before Ken criticises, I point out that using the contraction 'folksong' instead of 'folk song' reduces your word count.
Bear in mind that you are only qualified to contribute if you've digested, cover-to-cover, A. L. Lloyd's almost-unreadable tome Folk Song in England (Panther, London, 1969.) A high-fibre diet, supplemented by milk of magnesia and liberal doses of senna, is almost obligatory. In my case some would advocate colonic irrigation!