Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pray, Be Upstanding ...

Well done, Queenie!

  • Not a bad tune, eh?
  • Is it folk?
  • Is it traditional?
  • Does it matter?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Being Friday the 25th of May, 2012 ...

A warm, balmy evening:
We had to keep the doors open to create a refreshing draught.
A songbird in a neighbour’s tree seemed to enjoy the music and regularly accompanied in precisely the correct pitch!

Berry knows about birds: even without seeing it, he authoritatively declared that it must be a fringilla coelebs. (That’s a chaffinch to you and me; nobody argued.)

I Could Easily Fall in Love with You: Berry & Ken
Hey Jude: Paul
Bruton Town (Bramble Briar): Colin & Laura
Rare Old Times: Lynda
Stagolee: Roland
J'ai Deux Amours: Angela
Songbird: Elayne
Waiting for the Times to get Better: Mick & Marion
Somewhere Along the Road: Laura & Colin
Grey Funnel Line: Nigel
North Country Maid: Mave
Leaving London: Ken
Hold on Tight to Your Dreams: Berry
Battle of New Orleans: Paul
My Lover's Gone: Laura & Colin
Orphan Girl: Lynda
Liverpool Judies: Roland
Geordie: Colin
Things We said Today: Berry & Ken
Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone: Angela & Paul
The Ash Grove: Elayne
Peg and Awl: Mick & Marion
The Climber: Marion & Mick
Lord Franklin: Nigel
Waiting at the Church: Mave
Fan-Light Fanny: Ken
Crying, Waiting, Hoping: Paul
Clever Tom Clinch: Laura
Dancing at Whitsun: Colin
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face: Lynda
Five Years' Time: Angela
Scarborough Fair: Elayne
Your Are my Sunshine: Mick & Marion
Good Old Apple Wine: Marion & Mick
Pleasant and Delightful: Nigel
Our Singing will Never be Done: Mave

Let's all hope that Mave's closing contribution is prophetic!


I wrote that 'nobody argued', but Angela subsequently contended that it was a song thrush, (renowned for mimicry,) that shared our entertainment ...

turdus philomelos

If you follow this link - turdus philomelos - I think you'll agree.

Shame about that generic name: it has no relationship to vulgar Anglo-Saxon useage.
Philomela was an Athenian princess who, after being raped by her brother-law, had her tongue cut out so she couldn't tell of her defilement. Then, according to Ovid, she became a song bird. Her name in ancient Greek possibly translates as 'song-loving'.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Tribute to Robin Gibb ...

The New York Mining Disaster, 1941 ... never happened!

However, in 1966 we were all shocked at the news of the landslide of a spoil tip in Aberfan.

Barry Gibb wrote a plaintive song that was inspired by that tragedy. The song and title do not refer to that catastrophe: perhaps because it was first released for the US market.

(There's a better video on youtube here, but embedding is disabled.)

Of course, it came to my mind yesterday upon the announcement of Robin Gibb's death.

Is this folk music?
Perhaps not, but it could be.
Just luxuriate in Robin's fine tenor voice and harmonies.
This was music of our time.
Will our grandchildren be singing/playing it in 100 years from now?
Will they know what it's about?
If not, why not?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Being Friday the 18th of May, 2012 ...

So, what did happen in Dogsbody's absence?
 ... apart from this:

Lynda and Angela took charge of infrastructure and logistics, while Mike was cajoled into being MC at short notice.
Thank you to them, and to everyone else who undoubtedly contributed to the evening's proceedings.

Angela diligently documented the following musical doings:

Down Where the Drunkards Roll: Mike
I'll Fly Away: Angela
All Over the World: Lynda
Off to California: Roland
Now that the Buffalo's Gone: Les
Wild Mountain Thyme: Eddie
Medieval Feast: Lorna
The Bells of Rhymney: Tony
12-String Tune: Mick
Pilgrim Song: Jane
All of Me: Berry
If had a Hammer: Mike
Why There's a Tear in my Eye: Angela
Leaving London: Lynda
Universal Soldier: Les
Will the Circle be Unbroken: Eddie
Planxty Hewlett: Lorna
Itzikel: Mick & Mike
Where Have all the Flowers Gone: Jane
I Just Want to Dance with You: Berry
I'll be Your Baby Tonight: Mike
Liza up in a Simmon Tree: Angela & Roland
Farewell, Farewell: Lynda
Blow the Man Down: Roland
People are Crazy: Les
Galway Shawl: Eddie
Waltzing Matilda/Lord of the Dance/Click go the Shears/Captain Pugwash: Lorna
Kerfunken Jig: Mick & Mike
His Eye is on the Sparrow: Paul (in sartorial elegance!)
Compline Hymn: Jane
Heart of Hearts: Berry

So, what's a 'Simmon Tree'?

The American Persimmon (diospyros virginiana) bears fruit that is quite edible to humans, provided you don't eat them prematurely. The astringent tannins in an unripe Persimmon will turn your mouth inside-out for a small eternity.
You have been warned!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How far North? ...

Mike P’s back from the Shetland Music Festival.

Mike reports as follows:
Great music at the Festival inc. some (far too) late night bodhran banging by yours truly; wonderful coastal scenery (if you like that kind of thing!); seabirds; and good food. All interspersed with sunshine, wind, snow and hail to keep me on my toes, tho' probably better than the S coast!!

Here's a sample are some of Mike's photographic record:

Ferry for Unst

Tombolo beach

Tammie Nouries

Muckle Flugga - top o' Britain

Now, here’s an interesting snippet of folklore:
Muckle Flugga and nearby Out Stack, (the most northerly of the islands of Britain,) were formed when two giants, Herma and Saxa, fell in love with the same mermaid. They fought over her by throwing large rocks at each other, one of which became Muckle Flugga. To get rid of them, the mermaid offered to marry whichever one would follow her to the North Pole. They both followed her and drowned, as neither could swim.

No, Mike didn't take this pic!

... and the lesson is: never trust a woman with a tail!

... and here's a tune from Shetland:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Being Friday the 11th of May, 2012 ...

A sparse gathering this evening, but were we downhearted?

No ...
The company, encouraged by Angela, was as enthusiastic as ever, filling the hall with glorious music.
Some performers had to explore their memory banks to find four offerings.

It went like this …

Mon pѐre m’as donné un mari: Angela
It May Take a Thousand Years: Paul
Alexandra Leaving: Lynda
Just as the Tide was Flowing: Roland
Old Durham Road: Colin
Suds in the Bucket: Elayne
Donkey Riding/Winster Gallop/Young Collins: Lorna
On the Wrong Side of Midnight: Roger
There'll be no Sorrow There: Angela
I Don't Care where they Bury my Body: Paul
Amoureuse: Lynda
Blackwaterside: Colin
You Raise me up: Elayne
Rattlin' Bog/Bricks and Mortar: Lorna
Strange Affair: Roger
Bound for the Rio Grande: Angela & Elayne
Boulder to Birmingham: Paul
Strong Enough: Lynda
Louis Collins: Roland
Musical Lovers: Colin
Banks o' Doon: Elayne & Colin
Daisybell/After the Ball: Lorna
Midnight Special: Roger
Little Darling, Pal of Mine: Angela & Paul
Like a Bird on a Wire: Paul
Love Will Keep me Alive: Lynda
Rosin the Beau: Roland
Lowlands Away: Colin
If I Only had a Brain: Elayne
Blaydon Races, followed by something else: Lorna
(Roland and Lynda were observed to gyrate with considerable physical energy to that 'something else' ... oh, for a video-cam!)
Farther Along: Roger & company

Regarding Lead Belly and Midnight Special ...

The charming legend according to the gospel of Roger is that, in an unidentified US prison, on the night before release, a prisoner would be transferred to a particular cell. Through the window of that cell the inmate would be able to watch the approaching headlight of the midnight special - a train that heralded liberty.

Huddie William Ledbetter, (1888-1949,) became known in the American folk and blues world as Leadbelly, Ledbelly, or, as he wrote it: Lead Belly.
(Perhaps his given forename, Huddie, had sinister connotations even then!)

From Wikipedia:
'Ledbetter's volatile temper sometimes led him into trouble with the law. In 1915 he was convicted "of carrying a pistol" and sentenced to do time on the Harrison County chain gang from which he escaped, finding work in nearby Bowie County under the assumed name of Walter Boyd. In January 1918 he was imprisoned a second time, this time after killing one of his relatives, Will Stafford, in a fight over a woman. In 1918 he was incarcerated in Sugar Land west of Houston, Texas, where he probably learned the song Midnight Special.'

Who wrote the song?
It is widely regarded as traditional, although lyrics appearing in the song were first recorded in print by Howard Odum in 1905. It was probably not written by Lead Belly, as John and Alan Lomax once attested, although Lead Belly seems to have added a few stanzas of his own in various recordings.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Being Friday the fourth of May, 2012 ...

Who has heard of Frank Crumit?

Frank Crumit, 1889-1943.

Steve treated us to two of Mr Crumit’s compositions followed by an impromptu rendition of Abdul Abulbul Amir, that I only knew as a rugby song.

Barry, sporting some new facial hirsutes, made one of his occasional visits to the club and sang a song that alluded to a leaky nose.

That’s not all … Greg, accompanied by a charming newcomer, Kelly, sang his self-penned composition that included the verb ‘osculate’.

You have to admire such poetic erudition!

Otherwise there were several songs about walking out in May that led to folkie-metaphorical ‘sport and play’, two deaths and only one song that mentioned a train.

Believe me, it was all good clean fun …

Grenadier and the Lady: Colin
Girl from the North Country: Paul
Towersey Fair: Laura
Piper to the End: Lynda
Spotted Cow: Roland
Beard Song: Angela
Sloop John B: Les
Lover's Heart: Elayne
Blowing in the Wind: Margaret
Repeat after me: Greg & Kelly
Tower Bridge Song/Two Brothers: Tony
Angelina Baker: Barry
I'll Find Out on my Own: Melanie
Man Who Sells Insurance: Steve
I'd Sooner Go Hedging: Mave
Feet Don't Touch the Ground: Kelly & Greg
The Night I Appeared as [the Scottish play]: Ken
May Song: Colin, Ken & company
I Don't Wanna Be: Paul (citation needed)
Black Jack Davey: Laura
Butter and Cheese and All: Roland
The Parting: Lynda
No Telephone in Heaven: Angela & Paul
May it Be: Elayne
Bill Cheatham: Les
Long Live Love: Margaret
Lovely Big Lips: Greg & Kelly
Education: Tony
Cindy: Barry
Everybody's Talking: Melanie
Song of the Prune: Steve
I've Never Seen a Straight Banana: Mave
Indian Tea: Ken
On the Rock Where Moses Stood: Angela, Paul & company

Be warned:
Do not google-search that word 'osculate'!
Apart from some very unsavoury images it provides this mathematical equation about an osculating circle ...

So, that's how it's done!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Radio Folk ...

I rarely listen to Mike Harding’s Folk on 2 on Wednesday evenings. Often I find the material he presents is a bit too modern/contrived/over-orchestrated for my personal taste.
I had a delightful surprise yesterday evening.

Mike featured the Irish Band, The Chieftains, and interviewed Paddy Maloney throughout the broadcast.

Paddy’s Irish brogue and spontaneous laughter were so engaging that I went to ‘listen again’ on R2’s website.

There were some brilliant songs and tunes, and Paddy’s commentary was both erudite and entertaining.
(I want that recording of Dolores Keane singing Bonaparte's Retreat, but I can't find it on Amazon.)

The programme is essential listening for any 'folkie': well produced, great music and it is how ‘radio folk’ should be.

So, did you miss it?
You can hear it again at  but hurry -  it’s only available for download until next Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day ...

So, you thought The Floral Dance was traditional?

Now, hasn't Sir Tel aged well?

Lyrics and tune were composed in 1911 by 'Katie' Moss, (1881 - 1947,) although she acknowledged a nod to an old Cornish melody.
Otherwise this is known as The Furry Dance, annually performed to celebrate spring in Helston, Cornwall.