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EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection

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Mick Tems 19 Apr 17 - 11:48 AM
RTim 19 Apr 17 - 12:11 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 17 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 19 Apr 17 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,Peter 19 Apr 17 - 04:00 PM
Ross Campbell 19 Apr 17 - 05:05 PM
RTim 19 Apr 17 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 19 Apr 17 - 06:39 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Apr 17 - 07:24 PM
GUEST 20 Apr 17 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,bigJ 20 Apr 17 - 04:58 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Apr 17 - 05:42 AM
Anglo 20 Apr 17 - 08:13 AM
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Subject: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: Mick Tems
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 11:48 AM

Jo Cunningham, EFDSS Press Officer, sent me following Press Release:

New project brings major folk song collection to the UK

A new project to incorporate a pivotal collection into the world's largest online searchable database of folk songs and music has been announced.

The digitised collection of James Madison Carpenter, which has previously only been accessible by visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, will be added to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Digital Archive, thanks to a grant of more than £63,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Follow-on Funding Scheme.

Carpenter's work includes a wealth of traditional songs, ballads and folk plays, collected from performers in Scotland, England and Wales by the Harvard-trained scholar, mostly in the period 1929-35.

As well as more than 2,000 items of traditional song and 300 folk plays, it contains some items of traditional instrumental music, dance, custom, narrative and children's folklore.
The project is being delivered by the Elphinstone Institute, the centre for the study of Ethnology, Folklore, and Ethnomusicology at the University of Aberdeen, in partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society, which runs the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and Archive (VWML) at Cecil Sharp House in London.
A new learning resource for teachers will be created for the online EFDSS Resource Bank using a selection of material from the collection. EFDSS will also deliver a series of creative learning projects with young people, adults, and in schools to introduce the collection to a new audience.

The project will culminate in a celebration concert at Cecil Sharp House in March 2018 featuring material from the Carpenter Collection.

Laura Smyth, Director of the VWML, said: "The Carpenter Collection will be a fantastic addition to our digital archive with collected materials from the early 1930s – a period with little activity from English based collectors.

"It also features a large number of audio recordings, allowing us to get even closer to the original performances."

Dr Julia Bishop, leader of the James Madison Carpenter Collection Project, said: "'The Carpenter Collection has been hidden for so long. This is a wonderful opportunity to return it to the communities and places where so much of it originated."

THIS is fantastic news! I first became aware of James Madison Carpenter through a project and a production I was researching and writing, about Carpenter's recordings of the South Wales shantymen and tall-ship sailors, including Rees Baldwin, 13, George Street, Barry (who became mayor of Barry, the docks town); William Fender of Sydenham Street, Barry, later renamed as Coronation Street; Richard Warner of Cardiff, who first went to sea aboard the Oxford in 1877; Hebron George Mathias and James Garricy. I first contacted Edna Robinson, who lived in Barry and who was Rees Baldwin's daughter, and Edna's son, Jeffery Robinson, a university lecturer who was passionately interested in his grandfather's life. I traced Rees Baldwin's family, including Alistair and Angela Duthie, postmasters in the village of Wick, along the Glamorgan coast.

Carpenter recorded more than 50 shanties from the South Wales seamen, which were long-lost for all these years, but for a chain of incredible coincidences. When I toured in the US, I interviewed Professor Kenny Goldstein, head of the folk life department in the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who was following the Grieg trail of Scottish traveller folk song; he was told of this strange American called Dr Carpenter, who passed that way 40 years before. I interviewed Alan Jabbour, director of the folk life department of the National Library of Congress in Washington (who brought me lunch!) He was examining some letters to folk song collector Alan Lomax from Carpenter, telling him of his massive collection of shanties, folk songs and mummers' plays; Alan traced Carpenter to Booneville, Mississippi, where he was astounded to find Carpenter still alive and living in "genteel poverty". Carpenter was ready to sell his collection, which Alan bought for the Library of Congress. (Alan, an expert old-time fiddler, unfortunately died in January this year. Carpenter remained in Booneville until his death on July 4, 1984; he never married and left no children. He was also practically unknown in his chosen field of folksong and folklore studies, and no obituaries appeared in any of the relevant scholarly journals in Britain or in America.)


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: RTim
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 12:11 PM

Looking forward - and have for sometime, browsing through the collection - so much of it interests me.........


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 03:26 PM

Likewise. Various luminaries have been working on the critical edition for some time now and it will be great to see it come to fruition. I look forward to seeing the commentaries from those who have been studying it. A massive coup for EFDSS. Well done to all!


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 03:27 PM

RTim: Do you have a web reference for this please? I have only been able to trace a rough description of what the collection consists from the Library of Congress, but no sight of the material itself.

Thanks,

Chris B.


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 04:00 PM

As I read the press release it is announcing the start of the project not its conclusion which seems to be scheduled for next March.

I think you need to actually go to the Library of Congress in person to access the material at the moment.


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 05:05 PM

Catalogue available here:-

https://www.hrionline.ac.uk/carpenter/

Tantalisingly close! just needs that final link to the material itself.

Ross


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: RTim
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 05:52 PM

Ebor Fiddler - I don't think it will be available until 2018....They are only saying they have the money.........

Regards - Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 06:39 PM

Really pleased to hear about this.

Good to know that the Elphinstone is also involved.

Just hoping I have enough years left to get something personally pleasing out of the project.

Makes being a member and supporting the EFDSS once more recognisably worthwhile - not that I ever doubted that.


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Apr 17 - 07:24 PM

Delighted that this is at last surfacing
Bob Thomson told me about this not long before he went to America - I informed the Librarian at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - can't remember if Malcolm Taylor had started with them then
They ordered it - since then, it has been like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
A interesting story (I think so anyway) about one of Carpenter's singers, Ben Bright, recorded on the (Swansea?) docks in south Wales.
Charles Parker was crossing Tower Bridge in London one afternoon, some time in the seventies when he saw an escapologist freeing himself from a straightjacket
Charlie got into conversation with the escapologists assistant, who turned out to be Ben Bright, a retired Merchant Seaman.
After a while Charlie realised that Ben would be worth recording, so he passed the name on to Ewan and Peggy, who made contact and began to visit him in his digs in Wood Green, North London.
Not only did he have songs, but he told of how, in the thirties, he jumped ship in California and became a union organiser for the Wobblies (International Workers of the World - Joe Hill's organisation) - he worked alongside some legendary Union organisers, including T-Bone Slim and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
Part of Ben's story can be found in a small monograph Ewan and Peggy had privately published and distributed around the clubs they sang at.
Based on the information they recorded, Ewan wrote one of his best songs (in my opinion), Shellback, which featured in Philip Donnellan's documentary film 'Before the Mast'
Well into his seventies, Ben disappeared from his lodgings and got a passage as a deckhand on a ship heading for Australia.
The last Ewan and Peggy heard of him was a postcard they received congratulating them on the birth of their daughter, Kitty.
He had found a job (as a deckhand again) on a coaster sailing around Australia.
He can be heard on the Carpenter recordings singing 'The Handy Barque Companero'
A truly legendary man.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Apr 17 - 03:52 AM

I remember the escaplogost on Tower Hill. I should have paid more attention rather than just eating my sandwiches and getting back to work.


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: GUEST,bigJ
Date: 20 Apr 17 - 04:58 AM

The monograph was called "Shellback: Reminiscences of Ben Bright, Mariner" 44pp, published by History Workshop.

In passing, didn't Peter Kennedy (illicitly?) release some of Carpenter's recordings on his Folktracks label?


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Apr 17 - 05:42 AM

He did
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: EFDSS and the Carpenter Collection
From: Anglo
Date: 20 Apr 17 - 08:13 AM

I didn't know Ben Bright had recorded by Carpenter - great information. I knew of Ben from Ewan - Emily Friedman and I had dinner with Ewan and Peggy in the early 80s when were were visiting from the US, and I was talking with Ewan about the transition from sail to steam - I got so much good information that night, and Ewan gave me a copy of the monograph - and I did learn that version of the Campañero - from Ewan, though, not from Ben.


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