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Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project

GUEST,Paul Slade 09 Feb 12 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 10 Feb 12 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,999 10 Feb 12 - 01:45 PM
RTim 10 Feb 12 - 02:10 PM
Artful Codger 10 Feb 12 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,999 10 Feb 12 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 10 Feb 12 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 11 Feb 12 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Feb 12 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 11 Feb 12 - 06:29 AM
GUEST 12 Feb 12 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 12 Feb 12 - 02:15 PM
Artful Codger 12 Feb 12 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 12 Feb 12 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 13 Feb 12 - 04:47 AM
matt milton 13 Feb 12 - 08:39 AM
matt milton 13 Feb 12 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 13 Feb 12 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 13 Feb 12 - 09:23 AM
matt milton 13 Feb 12 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Feb 12 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,olddude 15 Feb 12 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 15 Feb 12 - 01:13 PM
RTim 15 Feb 12 - 01:32 PM
Artful Codger 15 Feb 12 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,olddude 15 Feb 12 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 15 Feb 12 - 06:20 PM
Charley Noble 16 Feb 12 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Feb 12 - 09:21 AM
matt milton 16 Feb 12 - 09:37 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 16 Feb 12 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,John Foxen 18 Feb 12 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 18 Feb 12 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,John Foxen 18 Feb 12 - 02:44 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 28 Feb 12 - 09:19 AM
RTim 28 Feb 12 - 10:40 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Feb 12 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 28 Feb 12 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 03 Mar 12 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 13 Mar 12 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 13 Mar 12 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 13 Mar 12 - 04:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Mar 12 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 14 Mar 12 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,CS 18 Mar 12 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 18 Mar 12 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 02 Apr 12 - 05:24 AM
KingBrilliant 02 Apr 12 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 02 Apr 12 - 10:14 AM
KingBrilliant 09 Apr 12 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 09 Apr 12 - 01:20 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 09 Apr 12 - 01:33 PM
KingBrilliant 09 Apr 12 - 02:05 PM
KingBrilliant 09 Apr 12 - 05:05 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 09 Apr 12 - 05:41 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 12 Apr 12 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 28 Apr 12 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 30 Apr 12 - 10:27 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 May 12 - 10:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 May 12 - 11:13 AM
Lonesome EJ 17 May 12 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 17 May 12 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 17 May 12 - 04:49 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 May 12 - 07:53 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 May 12 - 08:58 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 18 May 12 - 06:11 AM
Lonesome EJ 18 May 12 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 18 May 12 - 06:21 PM
Lonesome EJ 18 May 12 - 06:49 PM
Lonesome EJ 20 May 12 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 21 May 12 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 25 May 12 - 08:56 AM
Richard from Liverpool 27 May 12 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 27 May 12 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 19 Jun 12 - 07:00 AM
Mary Humphreys 19 Jun 12 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 19 Jun 12 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 24 Jun 12 - 12:40 PM
Surreysinger 25 Jun 12 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 25 Jun 12 - 09:29 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 12 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 25 Jun 12 - 03:24 PM
Artful Codger 26 Jun 12 - 07:37 PM
Artful Codger 27 Jun 12 - 01:49 AM
Mary Humphreys 27 Jun 12 - 08:07 AM
Surreysinger 28 Jun 12 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 15 Sep 12 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 15 Sep 12 - 10:30 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 16 Sep 12 - 05:24 AM
Richard from Liverpool 16 Sep 12 - 07:32 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 26 Sep 12 - 05:07 AM
Kim C 26 Sep 12 - 03:59 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 26 Sep 12 - 06:21 PM
Kim C 28 Sep 12 - 03:45 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 29 Sep 12 - 04:39 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 01 Oct 12 - 05:28 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 04 Oct 12 - 05:49 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 11 Oct 12 - 05:57 PM
Lonesome EJ 12 Oct 12 - 03:00 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 15 Oct 12 - 04:48 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 25 Oct 12 - 08:34 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 25 Oct 12 - 01:26 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 08 Dec 12 - 08:53 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 11 Dec 12 - 05:15 AM
GUEST 24 Dec 12 - 06:15 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 24 Dec 12 - 11:28 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 29 Dec 12 - 05:46 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 05 Jan 13 - 10:01 AM
DrugCrazed 05 Jan 13 - 03:58 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 05 Jan 13 - 05:15 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 06 Jan 13 - 07:24 PM
Joe Offer 24 Jan 13 - 11:37 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 25 Jan 13 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 27 Jan 13 - 12:38 AM
Tattie Bogle 28 Jan 13 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 28 Jan 13 - 05:11 AM
Tattie Bogle 28 Jan 13 - 05:26 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 28 Jan 13 - 02:19 PM
Tattie Bogle 29 Jan 13 - 02:05 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 30 Jan 13 - 09:15 AM
Tattie Bogle 30 Jan 13 - 08:15 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 29 Apr 13 - 12:21 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 03 Jun 13 - 01:05 PM
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Subject: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 09 Feb 12 - 07:14 AM

I've just posted free audio online for the first two of PlanetSlade's genuine Victorian gallows ballads. I'm hoping these will be just the beginning of a project that eventually brings all 16 of the ballads back to life as fully-performed songs.

These are the songs knocked out by jobbing hacks in London's Seven Dials slum and sold at public hangings while the condemned man was still dangling. Each song comes with full lyrics, plus my own research on the real crime that inspired it. All the lyrics are well over 100 years old. So far, the audio available covers:

Gallows Child: Original lyrics set to the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by The Hammond School's Nicola Andrew, and performed by the cast of the school's Christmas 2011 production of Oliver Twist. It's my own field recording from the show's run last month, made and posted on-line with their permission.
Audio: http://tindeck.com/listen/spbc .
Background: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-gallows-child.html .

Mrs Dyer, the Old Baby Farmer: A 1960 music hall recording by Elsa Lanchester, the actress who played The Bride of Frankenstein, and salvaged here from a long out-of-print vinyl LP.
Audio: http://tindeck.com/listen/gqqv.
Background: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-mrs-dyer.html .

If you'd like to help PlanetSlade bring its other 14 Gallows Ballads back to life too, why not set one of the song's public domain lyrics to your own music and record yourself performing it? I'd be delighted to use PlanetSlade as a central list of links to everyone's recordings or - if you prefer - post your track on-line myself. Bedroom musicians, pub performers, folk clubs and global megastars are all welcome to take part.

PlanetSlade Music already has exclusive free tracks from both Pete Morton and The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, so you'd be in excellent company.

Ideally, I'd like to have links to people performing all 16 of our British Broadsides up and running there, but whether I manage that or not is entirely up to you. There's no money in this for anyone - least of all me - but I think it's a worthwhile project nonetheless. If you agree, please help me spread the word. More details here: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-songs.html .

PS) PlanetSlade also has a new Murder Ballads essay up on-line today, covering Pretty Polly and it's 18th Century roots in The Gosport Tragedy. Find it here: http://www.planetslade.com/pretty-polly01.html .


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 08:41 AM

No takers? Oh well...


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 01:45 PM

Paul, don't give up so easily.

http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-songs.html


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: RTim
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 02:10 PM

I have been singing The Old Baby Farmer for years. I learnt it many many years ago
from my old late friend Dave Williams, in South Hampshire.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: Artful Codger
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 02:42 PM

Are you interested in other gallows songs as well, or only those associated with true stories and broadsides, and particularly those you've researched? For instancee, I sing a version of "The Footboy" (about a man who frames his footboy for theft and has him hanged because his daughter developed a fancy for the man), but to my knowledge any specific antecedents have been lost to obscurity, despite general similarities to some other songs.

I'll take a look at the other broadsides and see if one tickles my fancy enough to set. Do you mind if the lyrics are tightened up?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 02:44 PM

Ya got two good and knowledgeable people there already, Paul.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Pr
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 05:08 PM

Thank you, all three.

To 999:
You're quite right, and I'm very glad I decided to bump the post up to the top for one more go-round. Thanks for the encouragement, which is always welcome.

To Tim:
Is your version of Mrs Dyer (as I call it) available on-line anywhere? If so, I'd love to add a link to the relevant PlanetSlade pages pointing people towards it. Failing that, if you'd care send me a recording of it - and give your permission, of course - I'd be delighted to post it myself alongside the two existing tracks.

To Artful Codger:
As far as this particular project's concerned, I think I'd rather keep things tidy by sticking to the 16 ballads already detailed on the site. If you'd like to tackle one of those, that'd be great. If not, feel free to drop PlanetSlade a line with the appropriate link to any other genuine old gallows ballad you may record and I'll be delighted to point people towards it on PlanetSlade's letters page. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

You can contact me via the link on this page: http://www.planetslade.com/contact.html.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 03:59 AM

http://tindeck.com/listen/ftwm

I should have said earlier that I'm also quite willing to come out and do a little field recording for this project.

I've got a mini-disc and a decent mike for radio interviews, which is what I used for the Pete Morton recording at the link above. Pete and I just found an empty dining room in the pub he was playing that night, and did the recording in a single take there.

I live in London, but I've already been as far afield as Hitchins and Chester in pursuit of these recordings, so distances like that are no problem.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 05:14 AM

Sounds like my sort of thing; put me down for The Silent Grove and maybe we might link it in with my Fiddlesangs project??

contact me directly: sean@sedayne.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 11 Feb 12 - 06:29 AM

Thanks, Sean - consider that track reserved for you. I've just dropped you a line now, so please check your in-box.

Sean, for them as don't know, is half of Rapunzel & Sedayne, one of the most critically-acclaimed acts in UK folk right now. You'll find more details of the duo and their album here: http://www.folkpolicerecordings.com/rapunzel--sedayne.html .


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Feb 12 - 01:47 PM

Would I be alowed to sing my own ballads wich my grand mother she had left me all her copyrights ballads like, bonnie glenshee ballads like that


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 12 Feb 12 - 02:15 PM

See my answer to Artful Codger above (Feb 10).


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Artful Codger
Date: 12 Feb 12 - 03:26 PM

Paul, I've done up a tune for "Streams of Crimson Blood", to which I added a refrain section for each verse, adding a touch more ..um.. color. Once I get it down a bit more, I'll make a low-tech home recording and send it to you.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 12 Feb 12 - 05:12 PM

That's great, Artful, thanks very much. I do want to keep the focus on the 16 songs listed, as I think it'd be easy for the whole thing to loose shape otherwise. I'll mark down your name against Streams of Crimson Blood, and I can't wait to hear it.

I put a copy of this appeal up on the No Depression board too, and that's netted a chap in Chicago who wants to tackle one of the ballads, so I think we might be in with a chance here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 13 Feb 12 - 04:47 AM

The chap in Chicago, whose name is Simeon Peebler, has opted for Mary Arnold. To sum up progress so far, then, we've got Gallows Child and Mrs Dyer already up there, plus these prospects:

Mrs Dyer - RTim (additional version)
The Silent Grove - Suibhne Astray
Streams of Crimson Blood - Artful Codger
Mary Arnold - Simeon Peebler

I've no objection at all to having several versions of a single song up there - in fact, it might be quite interesting to contrast the different approaches. If later contributors want one all to themselves though, they'll have to steer clear of the list above.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: matt milton
Date: 13 Feb 12 - 08:39 AM

They're all very interesting, and I love your site.

But you do notice the difference between them and traditional folk songs. There are plenty of clunky trad folk songs, but those broadsides really take the biscuit! Though part of the appeal of those broadsides is their very clunkiness, their bloody awful rhymes and terrible, clod-hopping repetitiousness. The author of the first, Mary Arnold, seems to know few words other than "dreadful" and "deed"!!

The ones that work best, for me, are the especially florid and bloodthirsty ones, because the crass, child-like doggerel of the words magnifies the coarseness of the subject-matter. I like the Liverpool Lodger very much, there's a lot of dark comedy to its rhymes.

On the other hand, I'd be interested to see if anyone opts to tackle 'The Gallow's Child', a sanctimonious piece of Christian-greetings-card drivel. I suppose you could adopt a "Tiger Lillies" type approach: sing it as if you were callously taking the piss. Actually, it would work quite well as a medley with "Murder at Westmill": both concern a 9-year-old child standing in the dock.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: matt milton
Date: 13 Feb 12 - 08:50 AM

aha, I see we already have a Gallow's Child. Yes, I can see how that would fit into a production of Oliver Twist!

Funny that they sang it to the tune of God REst ye Merry Gentlemen: that tune kept on popping into my head too, when I read through several of the ballads. I guess it's one measure of iambic quadrameter followed by one life of whatever you call a curtailed measure of iambic quadrameter.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 13 Feb 12 - 09:16 AM

Thanks for that, Matt, and I'm glad you like the site.

I agree that that The Hammond School's treatment of Gallows Child worked well. Partly, I think because it was for a Christmas show anyway (which made the tune doubly appropriate), and partly because it has exactly the same tone as Dickens' own more sentimental passages.

On the question of the printed sheet's sometime-clunky lyrics, I've already said to a couple of potential contributors that they should feel free to tidy up the words where that's needed to make them performable. The guys who wrote these things were not remotely precious about their work, and I'm sure much of it could benefit from the same folk process routinely applied to old ballads we learn from hearing them sung.

On that subject, my new Pretty Polly essay has lyrics for an 1850 music hall parody of The Gosport Tragedy, which mocks just the forced rhymes you mention on the old ballad sheets. Spelt out phonetically to mimic Sam Cowell's on-stage delivery, it opens with the lines: "Young William, he courted her to be his dear / And he by his trade was a ship's carpen - tier."


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 13 Feb 12 - 09:23 AM

Oh, and I forgot to ask, Matt: which one can I put you down for?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: matt milton
Date: 13 Feb 12 - 09:25 AM

well don't put me down for anything, as I rarely have time to do any recording, but if I do I think it'll be that there Liverpool Lodger.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 10:56 AM

Okay - here's my version of The Silent Grove. Hardly perfect, but I hope it'll do...

http://soundcloud.com/sedayne-fiddlesangs/the-silent-grove


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,olddude
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 10:58 AM

My friends
I really like British folk music. I have never heard a "gallows song"
can you give a newbie some examples

Thank you
Dan


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 01:13 PM

I've already dropped Sean - or Suibhne, if you prefer - a line to thank him for this recording, which is a real cracker. The fiddle-playing has a wildness to it which really conjures up the vision of demons swirling round Henry's head and pressing him on to the fatal deed. I've only listened to it three times so far, but the tune's already lodged in my head. Go and listen to it. Go and listen to it NOW.

I'm not sure whether you're after written lyrics or audio recordings, Dan, but you can find examples of both at the links I gave in my original post. I'm sure other people here will be able to point you to plenty of other gallows ballads you could sample on-line.

Right: we're off to a great start! who's next?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: RTim
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 01:32 PM

At last I was able to load my version of The Old Baby Farmer to my SoundCloud site.
See below.
http://soundcloud.com/tim-radford/the-old-baby-farmer

I also took the opportunity to load another Murder Ballad collected in the New Forest, Hampshire (my home county) called The Murder of John James.


Enjoy.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Artful Codger
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 03:06 PM

To olddude: A good place to start is to search for "goodnight ballads". The "good night" referred to is a prisoner's last night on earth before his execution. These ballads are usually related in the first person, as if reporting the miscreant's last words upon the gallows. Some famous examples:

The Flash Lad/Adieu, Adieu
Valentine O'Hara/Allen Tyne of Harrow
Captain Kidd


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,olddude
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 05:18 PM

Thank you, I am going to search and listen right now


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 06:20 PM

Thanks very much to Tim for making his version of The Old Baby Farmer available, which I'll link up to from PlanetSlade as soon as I can.

He sings it unaccompanied in a strong, resonant voice with a trace of his native Hampshire accent, and I'd encourage everyone give it a listen. Elsa Lanchester makes the mistake of turning the song into a joke half-way through, but Tim steers well clear of that error and his version's all the better for it. Great stuff.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 08:33 AM

Sean-

You've certainly done a fine job of delivering this chilling ballad to the 21st century. It's just the kind of song to "brighten up" a session!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 09:21 AM

Cheery indeed, Charley...

Giving it a bit more thought - mostly in order to justify my approach to my wife last night who quizzed me about the ostensible jollity of the thing (though I agree with Paul about the psychotic element) I was thinking very much of the 19th Century street singer performing to a mixed audience in terms of age / social class so the song is merry enough for the dancing tots (whose concentration spans would have given up on the narrative by verse 4) but it carries the darkness at its core for the attentive adults, perhaps being made all the more appalling to the more sensitive Bourgeoisie by the brightness of the tune; beguiled by so subversive a dichotomy (and thus beguiled does the Dodger dip their pockets). You don't have to over egg these things in terms of pathos; the formulaic morphology (both in narrative as well as structure) works as basic reportage in an age when Broadside Ballads were mass media. Of course a more Grand Guignol approach would do just as well, but I've been immersed in Broadsides, Edward Gorey (interviews as well as books) and Poe all year, so maybe that's just where my head is at right now.

I think one thing we've lost these days is that crimes are reported, but we never get the full story, much less a song about them (though there were at least two going the rounds about Raoul Moat). In folklore, you still get stories, gossip, and jokes (in especially extreme cases). I remember barely legible photocopies doing the rounds in factories and offices, though these days it's more likely to be texts. People love crime drama - they revel in the details by way of a very genuine catharthis - they need the MMO to contextualise the horror - which is something the Gallows Ballads give us in spades.

Where's Pip on this one anyway? As our resident Folk Singing Criminologist one would have thought it would have right up his dark back alley...


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: matt milton
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 09:37 AM

"I think one thing we've lost these days is that crimes are reported, but we never get the full story, much less a song about them (though there were at least two going the rounds about Raoul Moat). In folklore, you still get stories, gossip, and jokes (in especially extreme cases)."

The closest thing to that these days would be the cult of True Crime. Websites, magazines and dashed-off "airport" paperbacks. The latter being very much a modern, novelistic equivalent of a broadside or a penny-dreadful.

I had to edit a dashed-off, hastily written True Crime book once and it was a very strange experience: having to find out all about serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, Peter Sutcliffe et al in order to fact-check and edit what had been written about them. A weird couple of months: I'd frequently feel quite literally nauseous. I remember doing the picture research for the book, and looking at these newspaper photographs online from press photographers of the crime scenes of the Sutcliffe murders: they were really well-constructed, beautiful examples of the photographer's craft, and you had to keep reminding yourself that they were documentary depictions of something truly horrible.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 10:39 AM

I've just written a piece about Pretty Polly, including comments from both Kristin Hersh and Jon Boden. They both remarked (quite independently) how that song benefits from the contrast between its gory subject matter and its very jolly tune.

My own view is that you can easily squeeze all the life out of these songs by approaching them in too pious a way. They were written in a spirit of cheerful vulgarity, and I think they're generally at their best when a bit of that attitude creeps into the performance too.

On Matt's point, I always wonder what it must be like for writers who produce a weighty tome on a particularly squalid murderer such as Fred West. Researching and writing a long, conscientious book on that subject - as Gordon Burn did in 1998 - means inviting West into your head for as long as a couple of years, and I don't suppose it's all that easy to expunge his presence afterwards.

I spent only a week researching and writing my own short Mrs Dyer piece, but even then I wanted to take my brain out and give it a good scrub with disinfectant and a wire brush afterwards.

Oh, and Matt? I realise I'm in danger of stepping over the line from enthusiast to stalker here, but if it's any help, I'd be delighted to come and meet you anywhere in the UK to record you doing The Liverpool Lodger on my BBC-approved mini-disc recorder. I could take care of everything from there and, as my Feb 11 Pete Morton link above shows, even this fuss-free method can produce surprisingly good results!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 12:52 PM

I'd like to have a go at The Unnatural Murder.
The story must be quite widespread as Camus based his play Le Malentendu on it and I seem to remember it crops up in L'Etranger.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 01:25 PM

That'd be great, John - thank you very much.

As I say in my background piece about this song, there are quite a few theatrical versions knocking around, including George Lillo's The Fatal Curiosity in 1736, Camus' play of 1944 and Donald Rawe's Murder at Bohelland in 1991. I think it's just one of those rattling good yarns that bobs to the surface every few decades, sometimes presented as fact, sometimes as fiction.

I've just looked up the L'Etranger episode you mention, and Wikipedia has this: "The plot of Le Malentendu partially resembles the article of a newspaper that the protagonist of The Stranger finds and excessively reads in his prison cell: the story of a man who became rich abroad and comes home to his village where his sister and mother have a hotel. He doesn't unveil his personality (in order to surprise them later), and books a room as a guest. Because he is wealthy, his mother and sister murder him while sleeping."

Perhaps Camus saw a real newspaper clipping like this, and took his inspiration for the play from that report? Mary Arnold seems to have produced some very similar press coverage, so that's certainly one route by which the ballad's tale may have been transmitted. It's one of those stories that's too good to check, and I bet the newspapers would have found a way of recycling it somehow.

I'm working on a new PlanetSlade page now to pull together links to all this project's new music in a single tidy list, but it's going to take a few days to get that organised properly, so please bear with me.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 02:44 PM

Re: The Unnatural Murder
I'll try to get something sorted in the next week or so.
If you need to you can contact me at
Foxenfolkmusic@gmail.com


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 28 Feb 12 - 09:19 AM

OK, the two new PlanetSlade pages are up there now. The first is a tracklist giving links to all the recordings received so far, and the second has a set of sleevenotes drawn from the contributor's own comments.

All we need now is some more of the promised recordings. Artful? Simeon? John? Any progress to report?

Oh, and Tim: would you consider adding a download button to your recording, as Sedayne has done on his own Soundcloud page? I'd love to add your track it to the personal GBP compilation I'm building up in my iTunes file, and I imagine quite a lot of other people would like to have that option too. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: RTim
Date: 28 Feb 12 - 10:40 AM

Paul - I have made the change you requested.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Feb 12 - 11:19 AM

Have you got anything left you'd like me to have a go at?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 28 Feb 12 - 11:52 AM

Thanks very much, Tim - that's much appreciated. I've just had a note from Simeon in Chicago too, who confirms he's cracking on with his version of Mary Arnold, so we're still ticking along nicely.

There's still loads of songs up for grabs, Al. You'll find links to all the 16 ballads' lyrics and stories here.

So far, no-one's offered to tackle these:
The Execution of Nataniel Mobbs (Whitechapel, 1853)
The Life & Trial of Palmer (Staffordshire, 1856)
The Liverpool Lodger (Liverpool, 1849)
Murder at Westmill (Hertfordshire, 1848)
The Murdered Maid (Devon, 1832)
Cruel Lizzie Vickers (Brixton, 1853)
Jones & Harwood (Surrey, 1851)
The Sister & The Serpent (Cambridgeshire, 1850)
The Foreigner's Downfall (Kent, 1857)

If you've got your heart set on one of the others, I've no objection to including two rival versions of the same song, so go right ahead. If you want a song all to yourself, though, those listed above are your best bet. I wouldn't presume to advise anyone which song to choose, so please just pick whichever one suits your style and interests best.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 03 Mar 12 - 08:52 AM

Streams of Crimson Blood

Many thanks to Artful Codger, whose splendid recording of Streams of Crimson Blood can now be heard at the Tindeck link above. He sings it unaccompanied, adding just the right touch of Victorian horror and melodrama to the tale in his delivery. Music copyright © 2012 by Robert Wahl. All rights reserved.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 04:45 PM

No more new audio to report just yet, I'm afraid – although I have received a work-in-progress demo of The Unnatural Murder which John and Margaret Foxen are hoping to finish ready for posting soon.

What I do have is an intriguing bit of trivia. Cassandra Clare is the author of the best-selling teen fiction series The Mortal Instrumemts and its prequel trilogy The Infernal Devices. The books follow the reliable Twilight formula of mixing supernatural creatures with hormone-soaked teen romance, and are shifting by the truckload as a result.

Book two of The Infernal Devices is 2011's The Clockwork Prince, and it's set in Victorian London. On page 191, we find this paragraph: "The carriage came to a stop at an unprepossessing corner. Across the street, the lights of an open public house spilled out onto the street, along with a steady stream of drunkards, some with women leaning on their arms, the women's brightly colored dresses stained and dirty and their cheeks highly rouged. Somewhere someone was singing 'Cruel Lizzie Vickers'."

Now, Cruel Lizzie Vickers is a title I bestowed on that particular song, the original sheet being simply headed "Horrid Murder". I posted my page about it in October 2010, by which time Clare must have been well on her way to completing The Clockwork Prince's manuscript, but it seems safe to assume from the title she's used that she found the song on PlanetSlade. I'm impressed she went the extra mile to find a real Victorian song for her characters to overhear at this point, and chuffed to see it score a passing mention in such a popular book.

The Jetsonics have already offered to do a modern cover version of Cruel Lizzie Vickers, and I'm going to drop them a line with news of the Clockwork Prince connection in a moment. All we need now is a time machine written into the plot, and one of Clare's future volumes could reveal it was them singing it outside her Victorian pub all along.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 04:49 PM

No more new audio to report just yet, I'm afraid – although I have received a work-in-progress demo of The Unnatural Murder which John and Margaret Foxen are hoping to finish ready for posting soon.

What I do have is an intriguing bit of trivia. Cassandra Clare is the author of the best-selling teen fiction series The Mortal Instrumemts and its prequel trilogy The Infernal Devices. The books follow the reliable Twilight formula of mixing supernatural creatures with hormone-soaked teen romance, and are shifting by the truckload as a result.

Book two of The Infernal Devices is 2011's The Clockwork Prince, and it's set in Victorian London. On page 191, we find this paragraph: "The carriage came to a stop at an unprepossessing corner. Across the street, the lights of an open public house spilled out onto the street, along with a steady stream of drunkards, some with women leaning on their arms, the women's brightly colored dresses stained and dirty and their cheeks highly rouged. Somewhere someone was singing 'Cruel Lizzie Vickers'."

Now, Cruel Lizzie Vickers is a title I bestowed on that particular song, the original sheet being simply headed "Horrid Murder". I posted my page about it in October 2010, by which time Clare must have been well on her way to completing The Clockwork Prince's manuscript, but it seems safe to assume from the title she's used that she found the song on PlanetSlade. I'm impressed she went the extra mile to find a real Victorian song for her characters to overhear at this point, and chuffed to see it score a passing mention in such a popular book.

The Jetsonics have already offered to do a modern cover version of Cruel Lizzie Vickers, and I'm going to drop them a line with news of the Clockwork Prince connection in a moment. All we need now is a time machine written into the plot, and one of Clare's future volumes could reveal it was them singing it outside her Victorian pub all along.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 04:52 PM

Apologies for the double post - could one of the mods please rectify it. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 03:07 PM

Okay I'll have a blast at the William Palmer song if no one else has nabbed it. I' ll record a version in about two weeks - my sister is coming to see me tomorrow - so I'll be occupied while she's here for a few days but I can rehearse it - record it when she's gone.


Does that seem okay?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 14 Mar 12 - 06:55 PM

Sounds great to me, Al - I'll mark The Life & Trial of Palmer down against your name, and look forward to hearing your recording very much.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 11:50 AM

What's left Paul?
I could record one of the untaken songs on my little Zoom but might have to ask advice of Mudcatter's for some guidance about tune as I only sing.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 01:02 PM

Hi, CS. The current state of play is as follows:

Now on-line
1.        Mrs Dyer (x2)
2.        Gallows Child.
3.        The Old Baby Farmer.
4.        The Silent Grove.
5.        Streams of Crimson Blood.

Tunes selected, recording on the way
6.        Mary Arnold.
7.        Jealous Annie.
8.        The Unnatural Murder.
9.        Cruel Lizzy Vickers.
10.        The Sister & The Serpent.
11.        The Murdered Maid.
12.        Life & Trial of Palmer.

Unclaimed so far
14.        The Execution of Nataniel Mobbs.
15.        The Liverpool Lodger.
16.        Murder at Westmill.
17.        Jones & Harwood.
18.        The Foreigner's Downfall.

Please drop me a line care of PlanetSlade or add another note here when you've decided which one you'd like to tackle. I'm trying to keep a central list of songs and contributors together so we know where we are.

There's lots of talented people here, so I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a collaborator. Failing that, why not add an existing ballad or hymn tune to one of the lyrics - as The Hammond School did with Gallows Child?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 05:24 AM

We have some more fresh audio, this time featuring John and Margaret Foxen performing The Unnatural Murder.

The lyrics are taken from the original ballad sheet, but the tune is John's own. He wrote it with Margaret's soprano vocals very much in mind, and adds his own guitar, fiddle and concertina to accompany her.

You'll find the audio at the Tindeck page here, and the background story on the PlanetSlade page here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 09:16 AM

I'd love to have a go at The Foreigner's Downfall if I may?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 10:14 AM

No-one's yet claimed The Foreigner's Downfall, KingBrilliant, so do go ahead and tackle it by all means. You'll find all the details here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 12:59 PM

I know its a murder - but its also a bit of a love story, so I've set it to the Nightingale tune (ish).

The Foreigner's Downfall


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 01:20 PM

That's just gorgeous, KB - definitely one of my favourite Gallows Ballads Project tracks so far. I'll get all the relevant links up on PlanetSlade next week and give it a plug on the other message boards too.

If you should feel like letting me have a few comments for the project's Sleevenotes page, please do and I'll post them up there with the others. My feeling is that people might quite enjoy reading why everyone chose their particular track and how they settled on the treatment used.

Elsewhere in the forest, Irene Shettle tells me her setting of The Sister & The Serpent went down well when she tried it out at a Guildford folk club recently, and promises a recording soon. The Jetsonics were planning to have their first bash at Cruel Lizzie Vickers over the holiday weekend, so things are happening there too.

CS? Big Al? Anything to report?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 01:33 PM

Oh, and one other thing, KingBrilliant. Would you object to adding a "Download" button to the song on your Soundcloud page as Tim and Suibhne have above?

I ask for selfish reasons as much as any, because I've been collecting all the tracks into a single album on my own computer's iTunes file. Other people might like to do the same.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:05 PM

Cheers for the kind comments Paul.
I am new to Soundcloud so didnt know about adding button - will hie me off & do it now.

Oh no! I am such twattage!!! I saw that download option thing & thought the big "x" meant it was selected, eeek - I sometimes wonder about my choice of career - don't think I should be let near computers....

Anyway - download option is there now.

Also - am loving RTim's Baby Farmer recording. I live a couple of streets away, and most days I cycle past Mrs Dyer's house & over "the clappers" (the local name for the weir from which she is said to have thrown the babies). Amelia Dyer is definitely still part of the local conciousness.

Looking forward to hearing all the songs when they are all up on the site.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 05:05 PM

Sleeve-note thing:

The Foreigner's Downfall is a murder ballad, but it is also a love song, a song of regret, and a song of exile. I like the fact that the song is written from Dedie's perspective, and that rather than focus exclusively on the harsh facts of the murder it dwells on his love for Caroline and the comfort he got from the drawings he made of the girls during his incarceration. It seems that he is resigned to swing on the gallows, and is more sorry for himself than remorseful for his crime. He draws comfort from the pictures, as if he feels that the girls are supporting him through his trials. It fascinates and chills me that he has love but no empathy. But a point in his favour: he has such a wonderfully singable name..
I chose to set the lyrics to the traditional tune of The Nightingale (ish) because that is also a love song involving a soldier, and because it is likely that the broadsides were sung to familiar trad tunes.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 05:41 PM

Thanks for that, KingBrilliant, and thanks for adding the download button too.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 12 Apr 12 - 04:35 AM

PlanetSlade's Tracklist page and Sleevenotes pages are both now up to date. You'll find links to seven GBP performances there so far, with (I hope) plenty more to come.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 11:14 AM

Pete Morton dropped round with his guitar this morning to record Jealous Annie at my kitchen table.

His performance uses the original 1848 lyrics, set to Pete's own music, and I'll have the audio up on-line next week. I've been listening to the minidisc all afternoon, and I can confirm it's another good 'un.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 30 Apr 12 - 10:27 AM

More fresh audio:

Jealous Annie, by Pete Morton.
Audio (Soundcloud).
Background (PlanetSlade).

Many thanks to Pete for doing this.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 May 12 - 10:30 AM

I've just finished doing a version of the William Palmer Song. I can't see an e-mail on your website to send it to you Paul.

al


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:13 AM

I've put it on myspace - if anyone's interested.

http://www.myspace.com/566916480


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 May 12 - 12:51 PM

Paul, I'd like to take a crack at Murder at Westmill (no pun intended).
Ernie


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 17 May 12 - 03:55 PM

Woo hoo! Things is moving again!

Dear Al - I'm DEFINITELY interested! You can reach me here: paul(at)planetslade.com. There's an e-mail link on this page too.

I'm going to try your myspace link now, but I'm not a member, so I'm not sure if it'll let me in or not.

Dear Lonesome EJ - Murder at Westmill is completely unclaimed so far, so it's all yours. Please drop me a line at the same address if I can be any help.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 17 May 12 - 04:49 PM

Actually, that Myspace link seems to work fine whether you're a member or not, so I'd encourage everyone to nip over there and have a listen to Big Al now. It's very nice work indeed, Al, with some lovely little guitar flourishes. Thanks so much for doing it.

I've tweeted this new addition with the appropriate links to my modest collection of Twitter followers and plugged it on the usual handful of message boards. I'll get the link up on PlanetSlade itself in the next few days. If there's anything you'd like to tell people about why you chose this particular song or the approach you took to covering it, please just let me know, and I'll add your comments to the project's Sleevenotes page forthwith.

Finally, would it be possible to add a download button to this song on your Myspace page, as others here have done with their Soundcloud contributions above? I've been building up a personal GBP compilation in my iTunes file, and I imagine quite a lot of other people would like to have that option too.

Don't want a lot, do I? Seriously though, Al, thanks again for doing this - I really am chuffed with the result.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 May 12 - 07:53 PM

I'll do my best - although I don't find Myspace terribly easy to use.

NaturallY I will cooperate anyway I can

al


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 May 12 - 08:58 PM

The Westmill Murder on Soundcloud


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:11 AM

Thanks very much for that - it's another good 'un. I particularly like the harmonica break, which I would call Dylanesque if it weren't for the fact that you play the thing so much better than he does.

I'll get the links up on PlanetSlade in the next few days. Would you prefer to be credited there as "Lonesome EJ" or "Ernest Johnson"? Whichever option you prefer is fine with me, so please just let me know.

Also, would it be possible to enable the download option on that Soundcloud page? They have a really confusing tick-box on the upload form which makes it look like that option's switched on when it isn't. I'd sooner rely on the Soundcloud link, as I think people are more accustomed to using that site, and it's that bit better designed than most of its rivals.

I ask about the download option because I'd like to give people the chance to collect all the Gallows Ballads Project tracks on their own iTunes file and keep them together as one tidy package. That's what I've been doing - with the help of your Mediafire link - and I imagine others might like to do it too.

Thanks so much for doing this. I'll set about plugging your track on the three other message boards I've been using now - that's fRoots, Mojo and No Depression.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 18 May 12 - 02:33 PM

Updated and downloadable new Soundcloud link

Murder at Westmill

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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:21 PM

We've also created a Soundcloud page for Big Al's Death of William Palmer recording, which allowed us to add a free download option there too.

Death of William Palmer
(Soundcloud version)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:49 PM

View the Youtube video at

Murder at Westmill


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 20 May 12 - 10:48 PM

Please disregard the previous Youtube link. I realized the vocal was way too high in the mix, and the new version can be heard at The Murder at Westmill

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 21 May 12 - 04:59 AM

Gallows Ballads Project.

The PlanetSlade page above is now updated with links to all ten of our free, downloadable recordings so far.

The current state of play is this:

Now On-line
Elsa Lanchester: Mrs Dyer.
Hammond School: Gallows Child.
Tim Radford: The Old Baby Farmer.
Sean Breadin (Sedayne): The Silent Grove.
Rob Wahl: Streams of Crimson Blood.
Foxen: The Unnatural Murder.
KingBrilliant: The Foreigner's Downfall.
Pete Morton: Jealous Annie.
Big Al Whittle: Life & Trial of Palmer.
Ernest Johnson: Murder at Westmill.

Promised Soon
Simeon Peebler: Mary Arnold.
The Jetsonics: Cruel Lizzy Vickers.
Irene Shettle: The Sister & The Serpent.
Elisa Flynn. The Murdered Maid.
Cowboy Slim: Jealous Annie.

Unclaimed So Far
The Execution of Nataniel Mobbs.
The Liverpool Lodger.
Jones & Harwood.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 25 May 12 - 08:56 AM

I've just run Andy's message through Google's Spanish to English translator, which produces this:

"yes yes, the 'golden earrings' are the most espuetndos! Dutch beat gods agree, its better days were in the 60 and did not taste at all radar love, of course. but they made some very real things in the evenings year 60 (and, like the 45 in the year 1970 as well) I can not mention all these years the songs I like, because they are so many! my favorite hurry hurry hurry now this, from my awful spanish 1968.please excuse, it've Been A Long Time since i had to write or say something in That language (and sorry For all those years, my keyboard does Have the n with with swung the little dash above it). thanks for commenting!"

(I think he may have the wrong forum.)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 27 May 12 - 12:41 PM

Paul, I'm still tempted to take you up on your suggestion that I cover The Liverpool Lodger. Only reason I haven't said yes absolutely is because I'm massively busy with work until July and I need to make sure I have time to work out a tune, do a proper recording (rather than my usual slapdash efforts) etc. But if it's still not taken then, I might stick my hand up, I just don't want to stand in the way of someone who can do it better and in a more timely fashion.

Will be interested to see what Irene Shettle makes of The Sister and the Serpent. I live in Cambridge at the moment, and I think if I was going to try any other song, it would likely be that one! Did you ever track down the tune The Waggon Train? Or has Irene Shettle managed to track it down?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 27 May 12 - 01:10 PM

Hi, Richard. I do have someone else working on The Liverpool Lodger at the moment - another Liverpudlian as a matter of fact - but please don't let that put you off.

We've already got two versions of The Old Baby Farmer up on the site, and it's possible that we'll get another Jealous Annie too. Personally, I've got no problem with that at all, as I think it's often quite interesting to compare and contrast the way two different artists treat the same set of lyrics and the same story. Let a thousand flowers bloom, that's what I say.

The Sister & The Serpent's original 1850 sheet, for them as don't know, suggests its lyrics be sung to an air called The Waggon Train, which I've never been able to track down. I don't know if Irene ever tried to trace it or not, but she did tell me she was using a tune of her own for the recording.

I'd still be very interested to know more about The Waggon Train if any Mudcatters can shed light on it. The tune intended must have already been popular by 1850, and suitable for the lyrics here: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-sister-and-serpent.html


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 19 Jun 12 - 07:00 AM

Just to be clear, any of the 16 songs is available to anyone who wants to tackle it, whether or not someone else has already nominated it or even done a recording.

With the best will in the world, I'm sure some of the people who've already offered to do songs won't get a chance to tackle them in the end. It's been well over three months in some cases now, and I don't want anyone to feel those songs have been taken off the table for good.

Personally, I think it's quite fun when we get two "rival" versions of the same song, as that offers a chance to compare and contrast different approaches.

I've yet to receive recordings of any song on the list below, so please consider them all still up for grabs. And I'm still very much hoping all the offers already in will materialise, of course. I hope no-one will think I'm being ungrateful or impatient here, but I want to be be sure we keep the project moving.

Mary Arnold
Cruel Lizzy Vickers
The Sister & the Serpent
The Murdered Maid
Nataniel Mobbs
The Liverpool Lodger
Jones & Harwood

Full lyrics and background stories here: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-songs.html


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 19 Jun 12 - 01:14 PM

As I live in Cambridgeshire I should like to have a go at the Sister &the Serpent, even though I see someone else has claimed it.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 19 Jun 12 - 02:28 PM

Please do, Mary. I hope we'll get the other version in due course too, but that just adds to the fun as far as I'm concerned.

You''l find the full lyrics for The Sister & The Serpent, plus my own research on the true story that inspired it here: http://www.planetslade.com/broadside-ballads-sister-and-serpent.html

If I can be any help, you can always reach me here: paul (at) planetslade (dot) com.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 24 Jun 12 - 12:40 PM

More fresh audio.

The Sister & The Serpent, by Mary Humphreys
Audio. (SoundCloud)
Background. (PlanetSlade)

The 1850 sheet containing these lyrics specified they should be sung to an air called "The Waggon Train", which I'd never been able to find - but Mary did.

"I found the Wagon Train tune on the EFDSS Take Six website - The Sergeant in the Wagon Train, collected from Mrs Baker, Maidstone July 1944 by Francis Collinson," she says. "It fits like a glove - perfectly suited to the doggerel verse of a goodnight ballad. We know Castle Camps very well - we go to a regular tune session there at the local pub - The Cock."

Many thanks, Mary - and an excellent piece of detective work on your part too.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Surreysinger
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 08:11 AM

Hiya Paul and Mary ... as the person who "claimed" the Sister and the Serpent, and thanks to health problems hasn't managed to get it recorded yet, I'm glad somebody has come up with the "proper" tune. I'll still have a bash at the tune I've come up with... but in the meantime won't listen to the real deal for fear of influencing myself (although I shall look forward to it). Sorry about the time taken Paul - lots of doctors' and hospital visits, and ensuing throat problems knocked a quick resolution on the head :-(


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 09:29 AM

Thanks, Surreysinger. I'd certainly still love to hear your version, and as you can see from Richard's note above, I'm not the only one. Thanks for taking this in the spirit it was intended, and I hope you get well soon.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 12:01 PM

Its difficult Paul. Most halfway competent folksingers could knock the lot off in an afternooon. But is that what you want?

To be honest I think some of the famous versions - Elsa Lanchester for example are pretty shit.

What you need is a proper artist to re-imagine them in the same way that Bowie did Brecht's songs. They were written quickly - so what is likely to work is someone understanding them and not giving too much thought to them - just doing them. Maybe getting one out of ten right. Looking for that happy accident.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 03:24 PM

I take your point, Al, but I think it's a tricky balance to strike. I certainly don't want to rush anyone unreasonably, but I do want to try and keep the project moving along a bit. in particular, I wanted to remind people that no one should think a song's been taken off the table just because someone else has already expressed an interest in it.

I have invited contributions on the Mojo and No Depression message boards, and had some people promise to contribute there. There've been no actual recordings from those sources yet, but I hope they will eventually add the odd full-band rock recording or bluegrass treatment to broaden out the mix a bit.

Ultimately, I'd love to find a record label interested enough to arrange a CD compilation of professional musicians adding their own music to the ballads and putting them out as a commercial release. With a bit of luck, that could produce just the sort of happy accident you mention, but it would need a label (or a club or a magazine) to get involved first. I've found a few people who like that idea in principle, but no-one's got any money right now, so it's hard nut to crack.

I could even see this idea eventually producing an album/event along the lines of that Rogue's Gallery compilation Hal Wilmer produced a while ago or the Cecil Sharp Project gigs we saw earlier this year. Without any contacts in the music biz, though, all I can do is put the lyrics out there and try to stir up whatever interest I can on forums like this one. I'm very grateful for all the contributions we get, and some of them have been very good indeed.

There will come a point when I let this go and just hope people will stumble across the lyrics on PlanetSlade from time to time and maybe do something with them if they feel like it. For the moment, though, I want to try and keep the project in people's minds and maintain whatever momentum I can.


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Subject: RE: Sister and the Serpent: Waggon Train tune
From: Artful Codger
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 07:37 PM

The Roud number for "The Sergeant in the Wagon Train" is 1354. Searching on that at the EFDSS site turns up quite a few other versions of that song, most titled "William of the Wagon Train". I haven't checked other sources, and I'm surprised this song has heretofore passed under the Mudcat radar. I quite like the tune Mary found.

Kudos to Mary for her rendition, and for the lead.


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Subject: RE: Sister & Serpent/William of the Waggon Train
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 01:49 AM

Actually, Roud 1354 maps to two essentially different songs. Both are titled "William of the Waggon Train" in broadsides and feature the ubiquitous William and Nancy in the general situation of Nancy going to war with her lover. But they're different in meter and have no overlap in text or events. The apparently earlier one typically begins "Attend awhile, and do not smile young men and maids around", and jumps right into the pair going off to war, where they're both wounded and die, though not before Nancy can dash off a letter to a friend and seal it with her gore--nice touch. Most broadsides give the tune as "Bushes and Briers", but metrically this ballad doesn't fit the "Sister and the Serpent" pattern, so it's doubtful "Bushes and Briers" would be the "Waggon Train" tune of Paul's reference. For what it's worth, Sabine Baring-Gould collected another tune for this song (SBG/1/3/425), noting that it's a variant of "The Country Farmer's Son".

The other text typically begins "One lovely morning as I was walking, In the merry month of May," and deals only with their preparing to go to war together. It has the same metrical pattern as "The Sister and the Serpent". Here, most of the tunes collected are variants of "Rosetta and Her Gay Ploughboy", which (despite its jauntiness) was also used for the murder ballad "Eli Sykes". I posit that this is the actual tune meant.

The Baker/Collinson tune belongs to the "One lovely morning" text family, but is not of the Rosetta tune family. I hear a strong resemblance in the second half to Peter Bellamy's setting for "Andrew Rose & the Cruel Ship's Captain" in his Maritime England Suite. Any idea whether that was a traditional "Andrew Rose" tune, a borrowed tune from another song or a Bellamy original? It may furnish a clue as to the Baker tune origin.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 08:07 AM

John Kirkpatrick also sings Andrew Rose to the Wagon Train tune, so I am reliably informed by Anahata.
The song is based on events that took place in 1856-7. It is quite likely that the broadside for Andrew Rose stipulated a named tune, but I don't have the evidence.( A bit of research there for somebody.)The tune is definitely older than Peter Bellamy, but there is no knowing whether he put the song together first or John K. or whether he got it from Roy Palmer's researches.
Andrew Rose is printed with the tune ( very similar to that ) which I used for Sister & Serpent in Roy Palmer's Boxing the Compass book but there is no information about the source of the tune.
A similar tune is used for Horkstow Grange, recorded by Percy Grainger in about 1905-7 from George Goldthorpe - I stand to be corrected there.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Surreysinger
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 07:38 AM

Re Horkstow Grange and Percy Grainger - no correction needed Mary!
Herewith notes on George in which Grainger describes him

"Mr. George Gouldthorpe, the singer of Harkstow Grange (born at Barrow-on-the-Humber, North Lincolnshire, and aged 66 when he first sang to me, in 1905) was a very different personality. Though his face and figure were gaunt and sharp-corn ered (closely akin to those seen on certain types of Norwegian upland peasants) and his singing voice somewhat grating, he yet contrived to breathe a spirit of almost caressing tenderness into all he sang, said and did--though a hint of the tragic was ever-present also. A life of drudgery, ending, in old age, in want and hardship, had not shorn his manners of a degree of humble nobility and dignity exceptional even amongst English peasants; nor could any situation rob him of his refreshing, but quite u nconscious, Lincolnshire independence. "

Thanks by the way for prompting me to hunt something out ... Grainger's piece is beautifully florid as ever. He describes his particular singers as "kings and queens of song", and deems them superior to classical singers with their "monotonous mooing and bellowing" ... lovely stuff.

No luck with the Andrew Rose tune as yet :-) (I have been trying)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 05:47 AM

Now that the Summer break's over, we're back with some more new audio.

The Liverpool Lodger on Soundcloud. Music and performance by Gerry Jones.

You'll find the true murder story which inspired this particular ballad here. Many thanks to Gerry for his singing, accordion playing and composition. He was also kind enough to send me the sheet music for his setting of the song and a few thoughts on his approach to tackling it, and all that will be up on PlanetSlade soon.

Elsewhere in the forest, The Jetsonics report that they've now completed work on Cruel Lizzie Vickers, and plan to add it to their live set in October. "We've been through about 4 versions of Lizzie and now we're very happy with it," the band's Adam Donovan tells me. "We're trying to sort out a way to record it a bit better than the 'plonk a digital recorder in the middle of the rehearsal room' way without going the full (expensive) studio route for you soon."

Meanwhile, Rick Marsland, an old mate of mine, has sent me the trial mix for his punk-folk performance of Jones & Harwood, which he's polishing up at the moment. We'll have audio for that soon, too.

And there's news from across the Atlantic. Simeon Peebler is currently in a Chicago studio working on an album, and contacted me recently to say he'll try and find some time to record Mary Arnold at the same sessions. South County, a rockabilly/country/blues band based in Westchester, is cracking on with The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs. The band's George Gierer tweeted me this morning to say: "I think I had a breakthrough tonite", and I've no doubt more news will follow.

To sum up, then, that's 11 of the 16 songs already up on-line as free audio (one of them in two different versions), four in various stages of work-in-progress and two still waiting for someone to adopt them. You'll find links to all the audio so far, a full menu to access the original ballad sheets and details of how to join the project at the many links I've already given in this thread.

Audio on-line
Mrs Dyer - Elsa Lanchester
Gallows Child - The Hammond School
The Silent Grove - Sedayne
The Old Baby Farmer - Tim Radford
Streams of Crimson Blood - Rob Wahl
The Unnatural Murder - Foxen
The Foreigner's Downfall - KingBrilliant
Jealous Annie - Pete Morton
Death of William Palmer - Big Al Whittle
The Westmill Murder - Ernest Johnson
The Sister & The Serpent - Mary Humphreys
The Liverpool Lodger - Gerry Jones

Work in progress
Cruel Lizzie Vickers - The Jetsonics
Jones & Harwood - Rick Marsland
Mary Arnold - Simeon Peebler
The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs - South County

Awaiting adoption
The Unnatural Murder
The Murdered Maid.

Any more for any more?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 10:30 PM

I have set down my thoughts and feelings about William Palmer, the Rugely poisoner here on this web page.

http://www.bigalwhittle.co.uk/lifehistoryandsongsof/id64.html


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 16 Sep 12 - 05:24 AM

I've just had this update from George Gierer: "After being stuck in the mud for a while, I believe I finally have the Nat Mobbs progression worked out...stay tuned."

And here's some more info on South County, George's band: http://www.southcountytheband.com/


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 16 Sep 12 - 07:32 AM

Congratulations to Mary Humphreys for another excellent piece of detective work!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 05:07 AM

More fresh audio - and it's some of the best yet.

Cruel Lizzie Vickers, by The Jetsonics (Soundcloud page).

This is not only our first full-on rock treatment for a Gallows Ballads Project song, but also the first where the contributors have used the original sheet as a jumping-off point for their own original lyrics telling its tale. I think it sounds great: tight, powerful and with a very catchy chorus. If that's not bringing one of the old ballads back to vibrant life, I don't know what is!

Read the true story of Lizzie's crime here: Cruel Lizzie Vickers (1853)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Kim C
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 03:59 PM

Ooooh!!! Oooooh!!!!! Let me have a go at The Murdered Maid.

I'm sorry I missed this before - these are my FAVORITE KIND OF SONGS!!!!!! When do you want it? I'm busy the next couple weeks but will have time after that.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 06:21 PM

Dear Kim - I'd love to hear your version of The Murdered Maid, and to do so as soon as you have a recording you're happy with. Please drop me a line at the address below if I can help in any way.

paul (at) planetslade (dot) com


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Kim C
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 03:45 PM

Cool!!!!!! :-)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 29 Sep 12 - 04:39 AM

Kim C. just dropped me a line at PlanetSlade, which I thought I'd pass on.

"My husband (who is also named Paul) and I are historical re-enactor musicians," she says. "We put on funny clothes and do musical presentations at 18th & 19th century historic sites, mostly in the Southeast US. […] Over the years I've become quite fond of murder ballads, and I even made a Master's thesis out of the subject. It was just a tiny chip of ice off the berg, though. There's still so much more to learn and I'm always looking for new ballads to study."

You and me both, Kim, and as you say neither of us is likely to exhaust the subject anytime soon.

I've also heard from George Gierer of South County, who's been enjoying The Jetsonics track linked above. "I dig it. It's catchy," he says.

"I finished our song, and now need to bring it to the band," George adds of South County's Nathaniel Mobbs. "I'll send you a solo version soon. It's a mix of the Decemberists, Led Zeppelin and Louis Armstrong - I think. That's who I stole from anyway."


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 01 Oct 12 - 05:28 AM

There's much love for The Jetsonics track over on Mojo's message board, where verdicts include "fabtastick", "excellent stuff", "just what the doctor ordered" and; "I can't stop listening to this. Just can't stop it".

Geoff Wallis on the fRoots board is ranking it with The Jam circa David Watts ("by no means a bad thing," he adds), and Retro Man's reviewer calls it "an excellent brand new track".


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 04 Oct 12 - 05:49 AM

More fresh audio.

This track's from Rick Marsland, who's tackled Jones & Harwood, the true story of an 1850 murder in Frimley, Sussex, which cost the local vicar his life.

Jones & Harwood, by Rick Marsland
Soundcloud audio
Background essay.

"A bluesy riff on a plinky 'guitalele' and plaintive echo-y backing vocals seemed to fit the mood," Rick says. "Hope you agree."


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 11 Oct 12 - 05:57 PM

I've just up-dated the tracklist and sleevenotes pages again. Find free links all 14 of our Gallows Ballad Project recordings so far here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 12 Oct 12 - 03:00 PM

Love the Jetsonics' Lizzie Vickers. A cautionary tale of brutal murder that you can slamdance to...what a combination!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 04:48 PM

The Jetsonics played Cruel Lizzie Vickers live at The Scream Lounge in Croydon, Oct 6. Watch it on YouTube here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 08:34 AM

More fresh audio.

Alan Rosevear sings The Murdered Maid on YouTube.

Read PlanetSlade's story behind the song here.

"I had a go at putting the words to a traditional murder ballad tune - usually used for Bruton Town," Alan says.

Thanks to him for tackling the song, and thanks also to John Stephens of Topsham Folk Club in Devon for passing on the lyrics to Alan for me. The 1832 sheet where I first found these lyrics places the real murder in Exminster, just a few miles from Alan's Exeter home, so there's a real local connection at work.

I hope Kim C. won't let this put her off doing her own version of the song as well. I'm sure I'm not the only one who still wants to hear it, Kim!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 01:26 PM

I've just added an MP3 version of Alan's recording on SoundCloud too. You can find it here.

Like all the GBP tracks, it's free to listen to or download. Collect them all!

I've spoken to Kim C. this afternoon, and she's confirmed that she's still planning to give us her version of The Murdered Maid too, so that's good. Anyone else who wants to add a second version of one of the songs already covered is perfectly welcome to do so, of course.

The only two of our 16 songs no-one at all has recorded yet are Mary Arnold and Nathaniel Mobbs. We may have some news there very soon, though...


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 08 Dec 12 - 08:53 AM

More fresh audio:

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County
Soundcloud audio
PlanetSlade background essay

South County's George Gierer has taken the original 1853 ballad sheet as a starting point, but written his own tune and lyrics from scratch. He's kept the essential points of the story - the drunken Nat Mobbs killing his wife Caroline in a fit of jealousy and then hanging for it in front of a huge crowd - and adapted the original ballad's chorus: "Oh what numbers flock to see / Mobbs die upon the fatal tree".

George has plans to develop the song further with the rest of the band, and we'll have more news of that soon. For information on South County, and a chance to hear more of their music, please visit the band's website.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 11 Dec 12 - 05:15 AM

More fresh audio.

The Murdered Maid, by Kim Caudell
SoundCloud Audio
Background.

Kim adds her own tune to the original 1832 ballad sheet's lyrics, singing them unaccompanied just as the sheet's first buyers must have done. By the time the nine short verses are done, Tom Johnson has been plunged into terrible poverty, accidentally murdered his own beloved daughter and been sentenced to hang for it.

To hear more of Kim's music, please visit her website here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Dec 12 - 06:15 AM

More fresh audio:

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by Fred Smith
Soundcloud audio.
Lyrics & background.

Fred's Dust of Uruzgan was one of the albums of 2012 for me, using his Australian Foreign Office experience with the country's troops in Afghanistan to offer a soldier's-eye view of daily life in that particular war. "These are modern folk-rock stories by a writer of considerable talent," Mike Cooper said of the album in fRoots. "Acute, moving observations seen not from the armchair … but from the actual dust of Uruzgan's streets."

You can hear more of Fred's music on his own website here: http://www.fredsmith.com.au/. Mudcat won't let me post that last one as a "blue clicky" at the moment, so I'm afraid you'll have to cut and paste it for yourself.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 24 Dec 12 - 11:28 AM

http://www.fredsmith.com.au/

That last post was from me, of course, but I forgot to sign it. Here's the Fred Smith link I was trying to give earlier.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 29 Dec 12 - 05:46 AM

More fresh audio.

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County (full-band version)
Soundcloud audio.
Background essay.

This is the full-band treatment promised when I posted George's solo rendition on December 8 (above). The electric guitar, melodica and added female vocals bring a whole new level of mournful atmosphere to the song, I think. I've taken the earlier version off Soundcloud now to avoid confusion.

For information on South County, and a chance to hear more of their music, please visit the band's website.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 10:01 AM

More fresh audio.

The Monster, by Doc Bowling & Sons
Soundcloud audio.
True (?) story.

Doc Bowling is normally to be found fronting London band The Blues Professors, but here he's working with his sons Samson and Johannes to give Mary Arnold The Female Monster a soulful, jazzy work-out.

The trio took the original 1843 ballad sheet's lyrics as their starting point, adding their own music on keyboards and sax. Doc sings/speaks the horrific tale over this seductive backing, throwing in a scat section for good measure. It's one of the most imaginative treatments we've had for a GBP track yet, but there's no doubt it works.

For more information on Doc Bowling & The Blues Professors, please visit the band's Facebook page.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 03:58 PM

I might have a crack at one of those not taken. Gore stories are the best ;-)

whoelse@patrickrosemusic.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 05:15 PM

Please do. The Jetsonics have written a splendid song of their own telling Cruel Lizzie Vickers' story, but no-one's used the original 1853 ballad's lyrics yet.

That's only one possibility, though - feel free to tackle whichever song you prefer. There's always plenty of scope for second, third or even fourth interpretations of a single ballad, in as many different musical genres as we can manage.

You'll find a link to the whole "album" to date in this 87-minute Soundcloud set.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 06 Jan 13 - 07:24 PM

New video. South County playing The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs - "Live at The Basement, Dec 2012". YouTube link.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 11:37 PM

I got an e-mail from Paul Slade today today, with a link to the Soundcloud recording of the Gallows Ballads Project.

It's good music, with lots of Mudcatters performing. Here's a link:

https://soundcloud.com/planetslade/sets/the-gallows-ballads-project


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 11:46 AM

Thanks, Joe - glad you're enjoying it.

I've just updated the PlanetSlade pages for this project too, which offer individual links to all the tracks here.

Now that we've got at least one recording of all 16 ballads I started researching back in 2010, I'm going to stop actively chasing new contributors. Anyone who still wants to take part is very welcome, though, as second, third, or even fourth versions of a particular ballad can often shed fascinating new light on the song.

The more musical genres we can pull into this, the happier I shall be. We've already got a couple of promising new contributions in the works. If the response in 2013 justifies it, I'll put together a Volume II compilation for Soundcloud again in January next year. In the meantime, let me repeat my thanks to everyone who's taken part already.

Here's the Top Ten* tracks by number of Soundcloud album plays so far, together with a note of where I found that particular contributor:

1) The Old Baby Farmer, by Tim Radford: 140 plays (Mudcat)
2) Death of William Palmer, by Big Al Whittle: 101 plays (Mudcat)
3) Cruel Lizzie Vickers, by The Jetsonics: 87 plays (Mojo)
4) Jealous Annie, by Pete Morton: 83 plays (e-mail)
5) The Murdered Maid, by Kim Caudell: 73 plays (Mudcat)
6) The Sister & the Serpent, by Mary Humphreys: 68 plays (Mudcat)
7) The Monster, by Doc Bowling & Sons: 49 plays (e-mail)
8) The Silent Grove, by Sedayne: 45 plays (Mudcat)
9) The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County: 42 plays (No Depression)
10=) Gallows Child, by The Hammond School: 41 plays (PlanetSlade)
10=) The Liverpool Lodger, by Gerry Jones: 41 plays (Mudcat)

* Strictly speaking, it's a Top Eleven, as we've got that tie in tenth place.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Jan 13 - 12:38 AM

Didn't realise I'd played it that many times...!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 05:06 AM

I missed this thread until the last few days. Looks very interesting. Although it has already been done well by South County (very atmospheric melodica and slide guitar!) I'd be interested in having a go at Nathaniel Mobbs, as I spent nearly 7 yrs in Whitechapel in my long-gone student days. I looked up the location and Goodman's Yard is very close to the Tower of London.

It also reminded me of a poem I found on display in Linlithgow Burgh Halls - The Lament of Peter McLean, now lying under sentence if Death. Like Nathaniel Mobbs, it's written in the first person, and also includes advice to shun drink and other "evil passions". Peter McLean was the last man to be hanged publicly in West Lothian on 2.2.1857. The gibber had to be brought from Edinburgh and the executioner from London. Had been meaning to set this to music too.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 05:11 AM

Well done Paul. Congratulations on seeing this through.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 05:26 AM

GIBBET! A pox on the all too helpful predictive text in iPad!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 02:19 PM

Cheers, Al - though all I really did was nag people. It's thanks to you and all the other contributors that it turned out as well as it did.

I'm always game for another version of Nathaniel Mobbs, Mr Bogle, so if you should feel moved to tackle the song that'd be great. I've just found a broadside with the Peter McLean ballad you mention here. So I guess it was originally written and sold in much the same circumstances as our other ballads.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:05 PM

Thanks Paul (from MRS Bogle). Yes that was the same broadside that I found in Linlithgow Burgh Halls. As it was in a glass cabinet, I copied all the words down by hand!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 09:15 AM

My mistake. Beg your pardon, m'am.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 08:15 PM

Pardoned sir: not a hanging offence!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 29 Apr 13 - 12:21 PM

More fresh audio:

The Ballad of Mary Arnold, by The Blues Professors.
Soundcloud audio.
True(ish) Story.
Video.

Doc Bowling again, this time with a very different take on Mary's tale. He's playing here with a slimmed-down version of his regular band The Blues Professors, comprising Doc himself on guitar and vocals, Sophie Loyer on violin and Roger Chapman on cajon.

The tune he's chosen is borrowed from St James Infirmary Blues, and I recorded the performance at a dark and noisy pub gig near King's Cross on April 25, 2013. You can learn more about the band on Facebook.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 01:05 PM

More fresh audio.

Murder at Westmill, by Patrick Rose.
YouTube video.
True story.

Plot: Nine-year-old boy brutally murders his infant sister. Mother driven mad by the crime.

Patrick recorded this version of the 1848 ballad as his entry for Islington Folk Club's Trad2Mad2013 competition.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 14 Jul 13 - 09:37 AM

New video:

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County.
YouTube footage.
True story.

It's the full band in action this time, not just the core trio we saw earlier. They're playing the song live on stage at The Captain Lawrence Brewery in Elmsford, NY, on July 11, 2013.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 06 Aug 13 - 09:17 AM

The new Jetsonics EP is out today, and I'm delighted to say it contains the first of our Gallows Ballads Project tracks to get a commercial release. Please head over to iTunes and look for Cruel Lizzie Vickers if you'd care to invest 79p (or 99c) in buying it.

We already have the band's live demo of the song, of course, but the studio production gives this new version a lot of extra punch. Think The Jam circa 1980, and you won't be too far out. The record's called EP Four, and a CD release is promised soon.

The band's written its own lyrics telling this true story of a Brixton housekeeper who beat her elderly employer to death in 1853. It was inspired by a genuine ballad sheet from that year which they found on PlanetSlade. Forgive my gushing about it, but its release marks another little milestone for the project and I genuinely think the song's a corker.

Jetsonics' website   
Lizzie's true story.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 28 Mar 14 - 05:10 AM

More fresh audio

Streams of Crimson Blood, by C#Merle
SoundCloud track
Plot: Burglar breaks into rich old couple's house and kills them both.

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by C#Merle
SoundCloud track
Plot: Drunken bully cuts his wife's throat in a fit of jealous rage. Bungles his own suicide attempt, and lives long enough to be hanged at Newgate.

C#Merle on his approach to tackling the two tracks:
"Streams of Crimson Blood was recorded using my homemade three-string bass, four-string licence plate guitar and a reggae drum track. The toast in the middle was added by my friend Cris Portillo. My vocal was a one-take effort but it seemed to work OK. Nathaniel Mobbs was recorded entirely on the four-string 'lowebo' guitar I built back in 2010, featuring a cone made by Mike Lowe of Texas, and it's tuned G-d-gg. I started by making a loop for the backing then improvising a couple of slide tracks to compliment the lyrics. Both tracks were relatively quickly put together - the reggae one only took about an hour."

You can find C#Merle, demonstrating his instrument-making skills and playing some more tunes on both YouTube and (in another alias) on SoundCloud .


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 30 Mar 14 - 11:58 AM

I should have mentioned earlier that you can find the trues stories which inspired C#Merle's two songs over on PlanetSlade itself. Links below.

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs

Streams of Crimson Blood


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