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Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking

Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 13 May 14 - 01:45 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 02:23 PM
Brian Peters 13 May 14 - 02:29 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 02:59 PM
Brian Peters 13 May 14 - 03:47 PM
GUEST 13 May 14 - 04:26 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 14 - 05:25 PM
meself 13 May 14 - 09:35 PM
Richard Mellish 14 May 14 - 04:56 AM
Brian Peters 14 May 14 - 06:24 AM
Brian Peters 14 May 14 - 06:40 AM
Lighter 14 May 14 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 14 May 14 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 May 14 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 14 May 14 - 01:10 PM
Vic Smith 15 May 14 - 09:26 AM
Lighter 15 May 14 - 09:51 AM
The Sandman 15 May 14 - 01:01 PM
Richard Mellish 16 May 14 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 16 May 14 - 07:06 PM
Brian Peters 16 May 14 - 07:54 PM
Bert 17 May 14 - 03:00 AM
Jim Carroll 17 May 14 - 12:39 PM
Lighter 17 May 14 - 01:00 PM
The Sandman 17 May 14 - 08:17 PM
The Sandman 17 May 14 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 17 May 14 - 09:17 PM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 03:51 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 06:20 AM
Vic Smith 18 May 14 - 06:23 AM
Brian Peters 18 May 14 - 06:56 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 07:26 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 07:35 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 07:55 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 08:32 AM
Vic Smith 18 May 14 - 08:39 AM
Lighter 18 May 14 - 10:36 AM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 10:49 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 14 - 01:01 PM
The Sandman 18 May 14 - 01:11 PM
Vic Smith 18 May 14 - 04:17 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 03:28 AM
Richard Mellish 19 May 14 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 19 May 14 - 05:44 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 06:04 AM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 06:42 AM
Uncle_DaveO 19 May 14 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,CS 19 May 14 - 10:09 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 10:14 AM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,John Foxen 19 May 14 - 11:03 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 11:25 AM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 11:50 AM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 12:23 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 12:34 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 12:35 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 12:38 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 12:44 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 12:50 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 01:05 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 01:20 PM
Vic Smith 19 May 14 - 01:37 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 02:49 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 02:52 PM
Richard Mellish 19 May 14 - 03:09 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 14 - 03:21 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 03:25 PM
The Sandman 19 May 14 - 03:31 PM
The Sandman 20 May 14 - 03:11 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 14 - 04:23 AM
The Sandman 20 May 14 - 04:43 AM
Richard Mellish 20 May 14 - 05:28 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 14 - 05:56 AM
Vic Smith 20 May 14 - 06:13 AM
The Sandman 20 May 14 - 06:51 AM
Brian Peters 20 May 14 - 07:26 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 14 - 07:39 AM
Vic Smith 20 May 14 - 08:45 AM
Vic Smith 20 May 14 - 08:58 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 14 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 20 May 14 - 03:50 PM
Jim Carroll 21 May 14 - 03:51 AM
GUEST,# 21 May 14 - 07:51 PM
Steve Gardham 22 May 14 - 08:46 AM
Jim Carroll 22 May 14 - 09:51 AM
Vic Smith 22 May 14 - 10:07 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 12:06 PM

For the last thirty-odd years Pat Mackenzie and I have been recording traditional singers in Britain and Ireland and a large part of that has been gathering information on what they felt about the songs they sang, how they identified with them and what they menat to their various communities (rural East Anglia, the west of Ireland and the Irish Traveller community).
We have been asked to give a talk on our work by the Irish Pipers Organisation, Na Píobairí Uilleann, which can be viewed live on this coming Friday, 16th May, on their website.   
PUTTING THE BLÁS ON IT
The talk will include experts from conversations with Walter Pardon (Norfolk), Tom Lenihan (West Clare) and Irish Travellers, 'Pop's' Johnny Connors (Wexford) and Mikeen McCarthy (Kerry)
In the course of putting the together, we tried to search out information of other source singers talking about their songs, without too much success.
The two best examples we could find were from early 20th century England and from America (where the best of this type of work seems to have been done.

"Cecil Sharp had heard that a song which he had not hitherto recorded was known in an out-of-the-way corner of England. Accordingly he rushed off to secure it. On arriving at the place he was told there was only one person who knew it and this was an aged woman. On arriving at her cottage he found she had gone out to work in the fields. After much difficulty he discovered her, engaged in gathering stones off the land. The day was bleak and there was a cutting wind; when the old woman heard Cecil Sharp's enquiry, she replied that she knew the song. 'Shall I sing it to you?', she said; and raising her old weather-worn face to his, taking the lapels of his coat in her hands, and closing her eyes, she sang 'The Lark in the Morn' in her quavering yet beautiful voice, while he rapidly made notes. When the song was finished, she gazed into his eyes in a sort of ecstasy, and, in perfect detachment from herself, exclaimed, 'Isn't it lovely!"
Cecil Sharp - a biography -AH Fox Strangeways, 1933

"I have a perfect mental picture of every song I sing. I have a perfect picture of every person I learned it from, very few people I don't remember. When I sing a song, a person pops up, and it's a very beautiful story. I can see Mary Hamilton, I can see where the old Queen came down to the kitchen, can see them all gathered around, and I can hear her tell Mary Hamilton to get ready. I can see the whole story, I can see them as they pass through the gate, I can see the ladies looking over their casements, I can see her when she goes up the Parliament steps, and I can see her when she goes to the gallows. I can hear her last words, and I can see all, just the most beautiful picture."
Texas Gladden, Virginia 1941

There has been some excellent work published on the background of the singers; John Maguire (Fermanagh), Eddie Butcher (Derry) Jeannie Robertson (Aberdeenshire), Tom Lenihan (Clare), and a number of excellent books on the singing traditions and lore of one community in Fermanagh, by American, Henry Glassie. And of course, the two excellent autobiographical accounts of Perthshire Travelling life by Betsey Whyte, but these include hardly anything on the songs themselves from the point of view of the singers.
It seems to me to be a huge black hole in our understanding of the song traditions – I wonder if we've been looking in the wrong places
I'd quite like to compile a list of reference to such information and would appreciate anything anybody would like to pass on.
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 13 May 14 - 01:45 PM

Jim, if you look on the Kist o Riches site (School of Scottish Studies/BBC and Gaelic archive) and search by singer's name, you'll find a list of relevant recordings -- some of which are spoken items rather than sung (and indicated by symbol).
Don't think there's a filter yet that will let you instantly access whether a comment is merely factual (where I learned this and from whom) or an opinion about the nature of the song itself, so you might have to trawl through the individual descriptions of each tape….

The best example of which I have personal knowledge (not on KoR) dates back to c.1961 when I was a guest at my teacher's house -- Norman Buchan -- when the guest singer was Jeannie Robertson. The big front room was full and I was trying to be unobtrusive by sitting on the floor halfway under the grand piano; Jeannie was on my left, standing with her back to the (empty) fireplace, and apologising for not being in the finest voice (though it wasn't apparent to anyone else in the room!).

She launched into 'Mattie Groves' and was three quarters of the way through the story -- the point at which the deceived lord offers his young rival a sword -- when she stopped, looked round the room until she clocked Norman standing by the door, and then said - addressing him directly - "Ye see, Norman, he wis aye a fair man." It was obvious to everyone in the room that she was absolutely in the heart of the story of her song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 02:23 PM

Thanks for that Anne - I'll follow it through when we get back from Dublin.
We have some remarkable stuff from Harry Cox, and some from Sam Larner, but it's all on unpublished recordings.
I always admired the Gower/Porter book on Jeannie, but was disappointed that it never covered what she had to say about the songs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 14 - 02:29 PM

Here's another explanatory backstory from Jeannie Robertson, from an interview by Herschel Gower quoted in Atkinson's 'The English Traditional Ballad'. She's talking about 'My Son David':

"The thing was that David was oldest and he was heir to everything, and the other brother was a very selfish, jealous brother. He wanted for nothin', he had everything too. But he didnae want that. He wanted to be the master, you see, o' the castle or fat ever it was. And he wanted to kill his brother and become master. So his mother likit David even better than fat she likit the other one. So when he tried to kill his brother, well of course it was a natural thing for David to fight to defend his sel'. So he killed his brother."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 02:59 PM

Brian:
We have an amazing statement from Wexford Traveller 'Pop's' Johnny Connors on the same ballad, which he refers to as 'Cain and Abel', and equates with the biblical story.
He then goes on to say that he believes that the casting out of Cain is the origin of Travellers first taking to the road.
We've included it in our selection on Friday - please try to watch it, I'd very much value your feed-back - or anybody's
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 14 - 03:47 PM

Here's another good one quoted in Atkinson's book. Herbert Halpert, on a version of 'The Unquiet Grave' from a singer in New Jersey, 1938 (Shakespeare, Abelard and The Unquiet Grave, Journal of American Folklore 1956):

'When I asked Grant the source of the song, he said: "Used to be an English settlement in Chatsworth. They came there about I86I, when the railroad first come in. [Some of their names were] Acres, Brooks, Eliots, Humphries. Fellow name of Elwagon sung that. He come direct from England." On 30 July 1939, nearly a year after I had first recorded the ballad, Grant dictated the following story which he said Elwagon had told to explain the song. He said that Shakespeare was a great lover. He married this woman. After he was married two or three years, there was another man fell in love with his wife, but she didn't care nothin' about him. This man hired four or five men to kidnap Shakespeare. They took him up into a room and castrated him. Well, his wife said it didn't make any difference to her, she wanted to live with him. He said no, it couldn't be; he couldn't live with her no longer because he wasn't a man. He coaxed her to go into a convent, and after a while she consented and went in. Two or three years afterwards he died-Shakespeare died pretty young. After he died, she got out of this convent. She used to go to his grave and pray for him to raise-she wanted to speak to him-see him. And this song was made up about that. This song is founded on fact.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 14 - 04:26 PM

6 posts and nobody has started an arguement about what you mean by a "traditional singer"! I thought that this was Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 14 - 05:25 PM

"argument about what you mean by a "traditional singer"!"
Early days yet!
We're leaving for Dublin in the morning, but please keep these coming - they're just what I had in mind.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: meself
Date: 13 May 14 - 09:35 PM

Helen Creighton published a number of singers' comments about their songs, in her various collections.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 14 May 14 - 04:56 AM

I am planning to watch the talk on line this Friday. But can it also be made available afterwards as a permanent resource?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 May 14 - 06:24 AM

I'll try to watch on Friday, Jim.

You should definitely read Carrie Grover's account of the vital importance of singing in rural Nova Scotia in the early 20th century. I'll send it (it's a bit long to past here) if you tell me whether your gmail address or the eirecom on is the best to use.

And here's more. Frank and Anne Warner were very keen to note down singers' comments, and I recommend their book 'Traditional American Folk Songs' if you can find it anywhere. Some of the best stuff is from Frank Proffitt. Here he is talking about 'Bolamkin' (aka Long Lankin):

"I want to say that I never gave much thought to Bo Lamkin's feelings until I too got to building. It seems he got angry because 'pay he got none'. I have had a occasion or two of this kind, not much I am glad to say. I don't claim that I had murderous intent, but how I would have liked to take a big stone hammer and undone the work that pay I got none for. Old Bo, if he had only done this to his work would have had my admiration very much. Perhaps we would not have heard of him, then, which perhaps would have been just as well. I like to think of just where the place is now where he built the fine castle. For I believe it really happened as all the old ballad things. The older folks wanted a fact, then they went all out in building a legend around it, but never to destroy the fact that planted the seed. They kept it intact and thank God for it."

Proffitt's backstory to 'Love Henry' (which he called 'Song of a Lost Hunter') is really quite strange. He says he's used some phrases of his own (oral process at work!), but the interesting thing is that there's an even more horrible story sitting behind his ballad:

"I wonder if this should be a ballad that would be known anywhere. In trying to recall the way the song went, it is possible I use a rhyming word of my own here and there. It was sung to me at an early age. As with many other ballads, a tale went with it, but only as I grew up I learned the tale, which gave me more insight into its meaning. It seems the hunter, Heneree, was lost, and he come upon this evil woman's castle. She had had the paths filled up to make young hunters lose their way except for the path leading to her lands. She was not a beauty - therefore her demands for bed sharing. As I remember, she had a hole dug where each time she would dispose of her unwilling lovers. However gruesome it may sound, she took Heneree to her bed to make love after stabbing him. This part may have been in the song too, but it was not of the kind to be sung to me in my early years. Only in the tale did these facts come out. I seem to remember there was a part of the song where she too was put in the deep hole, but this part I do not have words for."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 May 14 - 06:40 AM

In the introduction to 'Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians', Maud Karpeles relates an incident in which Cecil Sharp had explained to a mountain singer some of the history behind the ballad she had just sung, 'The Death of Queen Jane'. The singer replied:
"I always said the song must be true, because it is so beautiful".

Reminded me of your C# anecdote, Jim. Karpeles also quotes one singer as saying "Singing is a great power in the world - you are doing noble work".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 14 May 14 - 07:32 AM

Folklore: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 14 May 14 - 11:41 AM

Sara Grey has the story of a family sharing their version of Matty Groves -- possibly on a porch! -- in which the wronged husband shoots Matty with a six-gun after challenging him. During the subsequent discussion about who was right and who was wrong, the teenage son burst out with words to the effect that, if he had been Matty, he'd have been straight out the back door the minute he heard the first challenge…

(In which case, we might never have had a great ballad!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 May 14 - 12:06 PM

Sounds like she might have been talking about the version from Dillard Chandler of Big Laurel, North Carolina. I haven't got the text with me but AIRI the husband kills Matty and then shoots the wife. As the ballad has it "Took his special out. Gave to her a special ball".

Sara will be at Whitby again this year. If I can remember that far ahead I'll ask her.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 14 May 14 - 01:10 PM

Margaret Bennett and Kenneth S Goldstein recorded Newfoundland singer Jerome Downey in 1980, sadly he died early this year. His place in the social culture of Newfoundland has been well documented by Margaret in her book 'Jerome- Just one more song' published (book and CD)last year. It's the result of those recordings and the talking about the music and life in general they did over the years and puts the songs in the context of the singer,you can find it on the Gracenote Publications website or via my review on mustrad.org


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 15 May 14 - 09:26 AM

In the 25 years that I presented the BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme, Minstrels Gallery I recorded quite a number of long interviews with traditional singers, mostly from Sussex but also some from other places. I'm glad that I kept most of them. They include Bob Copper (quite a number of these) Scan Tester, Johnny Doughty, Gordon Hall, Bob Lewis, Ron Spicer, Belle & Alex Stewart, Lizzie Higgins and so on


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 15 May 14 - 09:51 AM

I wonder what one might discover about "folk criticism" by Googling phrases like,

"Whenever I sing *, I think...."

"song always reminds me"

"song * makes me...."

"I think what the song means is ..."

"my favorite song because"

Etc., etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 May 14 - 01:01 PM

I am more interested in singers and their singing,singers talking about the songs, I do find of interest, but what excites me about jeannie robertson is her singing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 16 May 14 - 05:12 PM

I went to the web page beforehand and saw that it gave the time as "20:30 GMT", which at this time of year would be 21:30 local time in both Ireland and Britain. So I went there about 21:20 local time tonight, only to find the talk already going on. I think it must have started at 20:30 local time.

I am very disappointed to have missed a large part of it, as presumably have others who planned to watch the webcast. I hope someone recorded it and can make it available in some way.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 16 May 14 - 07:06 PM

I watched it and found it very interesting. I wonder how many people watched it online. I am not sure if they keep the recordings in a viewable archive, but the conditions on the page say "no recording"...
Derek


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 May 14 - 07:54 PM

I'm afraid I missed it too - on the road. So here's another vote for some kind of replay.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Bert
Date: 17 May 14 - 03:00 AM

I have a very dear friend who claims that you are not a folksinger unless you can sing Matty Groves. I countered with, you are not a folk singer unless you can sing The Old Sow Song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 14 - 12:39 PM

Just back
We were told that ours, and other talks presented by N.P.U. are being prepared for putting up for re-listening, and maybe downloading in the near future - we have to transcribe Walter Pardon's sound-clips so they can do sub-titles, he was rather broad - we hadn't quite realised just how much.
I hope you are in a position to preserve the obviously valuable interviews you did Vic - there appear to be little enough of them.
Unfortunately Dick's attitude of not being interested in what singers had to say seems to have been widespread enough for us to know very little about our singing traditions - pity - we might have ended up with a larger number of better singers than we have.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 17 May 14 - 01:00 PM

Jim and others: I agree absolutely that the singers' associations and interpretations of their own songs are just as interesting and important as the songs themselves.

Especially since most people (including 'Catters) have a hard time putting those things into words.

Case in point. As an experiment long ago I asked Mudcat singers - clearly an articulate and opinionated bunch - what feelings they had about the obviously popular "Fiddlers Green" (I think it was that one.)

Responses: zero.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 14 - 08:17 PM

Unfortunately Dick's attitude of not being interested in what singers had to say seems to have been widespread enough for us to know very little about our singing traditions - pity - we might have ended up with a larger number of better singers than we have."
I did not say that, Jim why do you not read posts properly.
I said
"I am more interested in singers and their singing,singers talking about the songs, I do find of interest, but what excites me about jeannie robertson is her singing".
Jim, read properly before you make inaccurate comments, you make yourself look like silly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 14 - 08:26 PM

Jim Carroll, there is no evidence whatsover that listening to what singers have to say will result in a larger number of better singers, in my opinion listening to the singers, singing is what will result in having a larger number of better singers, your consistently inaccurate remarks, that you do not back up with facts, do nothing to give credibilty to your attempted scholarliness.
listening to what singers have to say is interesting but not as interesting or gripping as listening to their actual singing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 17 May 14 - 09:17 PM

Of course singers should be listening to source material as an example of best practice, but GSS shouldn't belittle the very useful information that comes from the discussion of approaches to songs by admired performers themselves.

IMHO, the point at issue is that a singer has to tackle a song with knowledge of its meaning/back story -- even when that seems to be partially or entirely of his/her creation.

I have heard enough source singers in live performance introducing their songs (Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Davy Stewart, Belle Stewart, Sheila Stewart etc.) to appreciate the importance of the perceived background of their material -- and to be aware of how that impacts on the actual delivery.

But I'm also aware that other singers will come to the same material with possibly different approaches, which should also be accorded validity… (Although I will persist with my efforts to link young singers to the sources of the songs.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 03:51 AM

Why do you always do this Dick?
As long as I have reading what you have had to say you have belittled the role of traditional singers and what they have had to say, while at the same time, paying lip-service to what wonderful people some of them were.
You once described some of them of considering themselves "gods" when I quoted an elderly musician's opinion on a younger fiddle player's performance - pretty well sums up your attitude to all of them.
We owe all our material to these people - without their passing their songs and tunes onto us, we wouldn't have had anything to sing and play - simple as that.
After half a century of listening to traditional singers, and four decades of talking to and recording them, I have long been of the opinion that virtually all of them bring to traditional songs something that is missing from most of the later generation of singers performances, a depth which has come from generations of having the songs as part of their lives.
We learn their songs - we should at least have the courtesy to show an interest in what they have so say - simple good manners, if nothing else.
They were not albums or song-books from which just to lift songs; they were, in our experience, intelligent and articulate human beings with a wealth of information and understanding which were happy to pass on to those who have the common sense to listen to and use it.
In my opinion, there is a ton of evidence to suggest that the younger singers who took the trouble to take more than the words and the tunes, turned out to be better singers and did the songs far more justice than those who didn't.
I have no intention of fouling up this discussion by entering into another one of your unpleasant harangues against traditional singers, I'd much rather benefit from reading more of the valuable information people have already taken the trouble to put up .
If you're not interested in what traditional singers had to say, feel free not to take part.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 06:20 AM

This is one of the old interviews with Walter pardon that we dug up while researching for the talk we gave
Jim Carroll

J C   If you had the choice Walter… if somebody said to you one night they were going to ask you to sing say half-a-dozen or a dozen songs even, of all your songs, what would be the choice, can you think offhand what you would choose to sing?

W P The Pretty Ploughboy would be one, that's one; Rambling Blade would be another one, The Rambling Blade would be two, Van Dieman's Land three, Let The Wind Blow High or Low, that'd be four, Broomfield Hill, that's five, Trees The Do Grow High, six, that'd be six.

J C Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W P Dash, yes, I think so.

J C Do you know in what way?

W P Oh, I don't know, put more expression in probably, I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type… the old folk song, they're not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there's a lot of difference in them. I mean a lot of these… some … it all depend what and how you're singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are… you don't do Van Dieman's Land… If there's a sad old song you don't go through that very quick. Like Up to the Rigs is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can't sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that's not worth hearing, well that's what I think anyhow.   And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in.

J C Alright; take another song; take something like Marble Arch and Maid of Australia, both of which are fairly amusing, anyway, would you see any difference in them?

W P Well yes, because there's a difference in the types of the music, that's another point.
You can tell Van Dieman's Land is fairly old by the sound, the music, and Irish Molly and Marble Arch is shortened up, they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you'd hardly start before you'd finish, you see, you'd only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that'd finish. You'd get that done in half a minute, and the music wasn't as good. Yeah, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by the old Broomfield Hill, that's an old tune; The Trees They Do Grow High, you can tell, and Generals All.
Nine times out of ten I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell an old… what is an old song. Of course that doesn't matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how Generals All finish, that got an old style of finishing, so have The Trees They Do Grow High, so have The Gallant Sea Fight, in other words, A Ship To Old England Came, that is the title, The Gallant Sea Fight. You can tell they're old, the way they how they… That drawn out note at finish.   You just study and see what they are., how they work., you'll find that's where the difference is.
And as that got further along; that's where I slipped up with Black Eyed Susan; I thought that was probably William the Fourth by the music, but that go back about to 1730, that one do.
Well a lot of them you'll find, what date back years and years, there's a difference in the style of writing the music as that progressed along, that kept altering a lot. Like up into Victorian times, you've got Old Brown's daughter, you see, that come into Victorian times; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter, I think you'll find if you check on that, that's right.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 14 - 06:23 AM

Jim wrote -
"We owe all our material to these people - without their passing their songs and tunes onto us, we wouldn't have had anything to sing and play - simple as that.
After half a century of listening to traditional singers, and four decades of talking to and recording them, I have long been of the opinion that virtually all of them bring to traditional songs something that is missing from most of the later generation of singers performances, a depth which has come from generations of having the songs as part of their lives.
We learn their songs - we should at least have the courtesy to show an interest in what they have so say - simple good manners, if nothing else.
They were not albums or song-books from which just to lift songs; they were, in our experience, intelligent and articulate human beings with a wealth of information and understanding which were happy to pass on to those who have the common sense to listen to and use it.
In my opinion, there is a ton of evidence to suggest that the younger singers who took the trouble to take more than the words and the tunes, turned out to be better singers and did the songs far more justice than those who didn't."


Excellent, Jim, as good a credo as one could hope for, for those who have loved and learned from traditional performers over decades.

It's just a pity that it is sandwiched between other comments that I fear could contribute to yet another of those Mudcat slanging matches. You say that you don't want "unpleasant harangues". Good, neither do most who post here - so rise above it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 May 14 - 06:56 AM

I've always enjoyed Jim's accounts of Walter Pardon's interviews, and have read that one before. For the benefit of non-melodeon players, when Walter talked about the ten-keyed accordion's bellows ending the song opened out, he meant that the melody could only be played 'on the pull', i.e. it was in the Dorian mode. He equated that mode with the antiquity of the song.

There's some good background on the (West Virginia) Hammons Family's attitude to songs, singing and life in general, in the booklet accompanying the double CD of Alan Jabbour's recordings. One of the things that struck me was that Maggie Hammons was not at all interested - rather annoyed, it seems - when visiting collectors got all excited about her version of 'Hind Horn' and told her it was an old British ballad, whereas she saw it as a piece of local tradition and American mountain culture.

Agree with Vic, it's too interesting a topic to spoil with a slanging match.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 07:26 AM

I said,
listening to what singers have to say is interesting but not as interesting or gripping as listening to their actual singing.
I am more interested in singers and their singing,singers talking about the songs, I do find of interest, but what excites me about jeannie Robertson is her singing".
That does not belittle anything.
My comments are being misinterpreted and misunderstood,what I said is crystal clear, there is no belittling of anyone, furthermore I have stated that I do find it of interest what traditional singers have to say.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 07:35 AM

"Agree with Vic, it's too interesting a topic to spoil with a slanging match."
Sorry folks won't let it happen again.
I've always thought that the best of this type of research was done in the U.S.
I came across a book in the ITMA library while we were in Dublin - 'Up a Wide and Lonely Glen' by Margaret(?) Stewart, on the Fetterangus Stewarts
Wonder if anybody has seen it and could comment on it?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 07:55 AM

The slanging is one directional from anne and jim,
Two posters are putting interpretations on my post that are inaccurate and untruthful. I am only interested in not being misquoted.
it is my opinion that the interpretation of the song is more important than the singer talking about it, that does not mean that the singer talking about the song is not of importance.,the background of the song it is of importance.
it is also my opinion, that it would be wrong to hold the background of the song to be more important than the delivery or how the song was sung, neither do i accept that the two are of equal importance, because as a musician and singer I would argue that performance of the music, is the MOST IMPORTANT thing., that does not mean that background to the song is unimportant, is that clear?
if one was to not accept, the above, it would be acceptable to book for a musical event or record a tone deaf or unmusical traditional singer who had something interesting to say about the background of the song, but whose singing was an embarassment.
,from a scholastic point of view knowing about the background is important, and is also important for singers to have background to interpret a song well, but once any tradtional singer steps in the direction of the commercial world or any kind of public performance, including amateur[non paid public entertainment] singing ability, and abilty to hold the attention of an audience becomes of more importance.
because one thing is more important, that does not mean that the other thing is unimportant, anne neilsen and jim carroll, am i making myself clear.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 08:32 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq1dBEuyNq8&feature=youtu.be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGoYfU2-A54
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwlOO8RG-og three vidoes illustrating different versions including one tradtional singer clarence ashley ,who has something interesting to say about the background of the song and himself and how he was always interested in show business and performing, which illustrates my point that traditional singer like every other singer consider the performance of a song, listen to what clarence has to say at 2 57 and what he has to say overall.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 14 - 08:39 AM

Jim wrote -
"'Up a Wide and Lonely Glen' by Margaret(?) Stewart, on the Fetterangus Stewarts
Wonder if anybody has seen it and could comment on it?


Actually, Jim, it's "Up Yon Wide and lonely Glen" by Elizabeth Stewart. Here is the review that I wrote on that publication for fRoots -

UP YON WIDE AND LONELY GLEN Travellers' Songs, Stories and Tunes of the Fetterangus Stewarts
Elizabeth Stewart with Alison MacMorland.
University Press of Mississippi ISBN 978-1-61703-308-7

The strong and varied traditional heritage of a small number of inter-related traveller families of north-east Scotland has been widely recognised as the richest in mainland Britain. One of the most important of these tradition bearers tells her story in this superb book.
Working closely with her great friend Alison, Elizabeth relates her family history, divided here into four sections. Three focus on central individuals; her mother Jean, a superb musician, accordionist and band leader, her aunt Lucy, recognised since the 1950s as one of the finest of Britain's ballad singers and herself as inheritor of both the musical and singing skills. The initial section looks back into the family's earlier history.
The narrative sections are interspersed with nearly 150 songs and ballads, dance tunes composed by Elizabeth for piano and by a wealth of stories, riddles and rhymes. The book also has many fascinating photos, mostly from family sources.
Elizabeth's descriptive powers are very strong and she evokes these strong characters in her family vividly. The narrative has a straightforward honesty without attempting to paint it in a favourable light; the section where she deals with her father's cruelty to her mother is heart-rending. However, that ability to bounce back from whatever ills or prejudices life throws at them that seems to characterise Scots traveller families shines through.
The richness of the songs is quite remarkable and seeing them in print brings back the impact of the first listening to her double album Binnorie(Elphinstone Institute EICD002), particularly the title track with the variation from the usual story where it is a whistling arrow rather than a musical instrument that betrays the murderer.
The lives and culture of Scots travellers have been well represented in books over the last four decades, but nowhere is there a better tribute to their way of life than in this book. The woman who first came to the notice of a wider audience through her singing on the Radio Ballad, The Traveller People, some fifty years ago can be justly proud of this contribution as can Alison MacMorland and all who have been associated with it.
Finally, it would be worth pointing out that Elizabeth, in concentrating on her own immediate family, has only given one aspect, albeit a very rich one, of the contribution of the extended Stewart family in this village. Personal experience tells that the culture of all the settled travellers of Fetterangus – Fishie – is as rich as anywhere in these islands.

* I would like to apologise for the complete lack of outrage and self-justification in this post.
* I would like to apologise further to any who may have been caused apoplexy by the mention of fRoots.
Vic Smith


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Lighter
Date: 18 May 14 - 10:36 AM

As Jim's and Vic's posts show, comments by traditional singers about their songs almost never include practical advice on how others should "tackle" a song.

What they do tell us is of more interest and significance than that. It's about their lives, their understanding of what they're singing about, their attitudes toward their music and their lives.

Of course, many people think such comments are of no interest to anyone. That's their problem.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 10:49 AM

lighter, but you see, I never said that the comments were of no interst to me, so it is not my problem.
the problem, in this thread is that two posters Jim Carroll and anne neilsen were not reading my posts properly, and decided to start a slanging match, accusing me of saying things that i never posted and making inaccurate and untruthful remarks about my post,complete time wasting.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 14 - 01:01 PM

Some more - this time from 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, a Wexford Traveller who learned to read an write in prison while serving time for his activities.
Jim Carroll

Cain and Abel'Pop's' Johnny Connors
I'd say the song, myself, goes back to.... depicts Cain and Abel in the Bible and where Our Lord said to Cain.... I think this is where the Travellers Curse come from too, because Our Lord says to Cain, "Cain", says Our Lord, "you have slain your brother, and for this", says Our Lord, says he, "and for this, be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth".
"Not so Lord" says he, "this punishment is too severe, and whoever finds me", says he, "will slay me, "says he "or harass me".
"Not so", says Our Lord, says he, "whoever finds cain and punishes or slains (sic) Cain, I will punish them sevenfold".
And I think this is where the Travellers curse come from.
Anyway, the song depicts this, this er....
I call it Cain and Abel anyway; there never was a name for the song, but that what I call it, you know, the depiction of Cain and Abel.
Song; What Put the Blood


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 14 - 01:11 PM

Intersting, jim Carroll but not nearly as vivid or gripping as the actual musical rendtion, of my son david, by jeannie robertson.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykOBpsVMN1s
jeannie says it all in her singing


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 18 May 14 - 04:17 PM

Fascinating, Jim, what you quote about Johnny Connors and his regarding What Brought The Blood as being about Cain and Abel. Belle Stewart once told me that some of her "freens" (meaning relatives) thought that her ballad The Twa Brothers, a different fratricide ballad, was about Cain & Abel.

But your mention of What Brought The Blood reminded me of Jeannie Robertson and her Son David which, as you know, is her version of the same ballad. When Tina and I were first married we had no radio or television but we had a record player and we just about wore out our vinyl copy of her album What A Voice. We heard that she would be at the National Folk festival in Keele in 1968 on a rare visit down south, so we bought tickets straight away. She sang in one of the first concerts of the weekend and was called up again to finish the concert; she sang The Gallawa' Hills. I was so stunned by her singing that I walked out of the concert leaving my coat on the back of my chair. As we went back upstairs to get the coat, there was Jeannie standing on a landing gazing into the mid-distance. We plucked up the courage to talk to her and told her how much we had enjoyed her singing, particularly the song at the end. She gave us a good looking over with those black x-ray eyes and then she told us that she had planned to finish the concert with Son David but that she had changed her mind at the last minute. "My Son David wis aeways the sang that Ah sang tae my wee son that died and Ah aye think o' puir wee Jeemsie fin Ah sing yon. Ah wis feert that Ah wid brak doon so Ah didna' sing it. Ah'll sing it fir youse noo if ye like." Yes, we would like that very much! She took Tina's hand and held it throughout the slow stately singing of it. The emotional impact is something that I will never forget; poor old Tina cried throughout the song. After that we had quite a number of conversations during the weekend and she ended up inviting us up to Aberdeen, an offer that we took up for the first time the following year.

I've just had a look at the famed biography Jeannie Robertson: Emergent Singer, Transformative Voice (James Porter & Herschel Gower Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1995) and they quote a similar story about Jeemsie and Son David but there is also this piece relating to that ballad that refers to a visit to London for a television show (pages 50 -52) I'll quote it here –
We had wir breakfast in a very fine big posh place, the best of ivrything, an' then I met the two young ladies that does ye up. The director says, "I don't think you'll have tae do a lot tae Jeannie because her color's natural an ivrything, ye see." He meant to say my colour an my face an things wes natural an' things. But when it really came to be, it wes me that needed the most makeup.First thing, aa the red in ma cheeks had to be done oot because they said it would come out dark, show a dark shadow in ma face. This natural dark shaddas in here. That had to be aa painted out wi' a sort o' creamy colored paint. An' it wes a young lady with a little easel, an' little brush, an' a whole dose o' different colors. . . . After that, the lady for ma hair. Well, she took about a half an hour to do ma hair up. Ma hair, she thought, wes a bitty too high in the front. She lowered it down, ye see, an' then, I got the shock o' ma life, as I'd no grey hairs in ma heid at that time. . . . An' tae me, looking in the mirror, I lookit, it lookit tae me like ma hair wes completely grey at the front. An' this, I resented this bit, ye see. ... I says, "Ye've made ma heid grey. Whit ye daein' this for?" She says, "No, no. . . . you'll come out jet black . . . But we've got to do this to tone the color of your hair down a wee bittie, as it's jet black an' we've got to tone your hair down." An' then I turned round and I said, "God bless me," I said. "The man at television said I wes needin" little makeup. When it comes tae be," I says, "I'm the one 'at's needin' aa the makeup."
Well, when I lookit masel' i' the mirror, I said if I come out like this folk'll tak me for some Oriental body. I thought, I wes as like a Chiny or a Japany as ivir I seed. But funny, when I lookit into the monitor tube I wes a bitty amazed to see that I jist lookit ma natural sel'. Then when I lookit at masel' singing, I says, "O, God bless us aa, surely ma face is nae sae peetiful." ... I'd aa sweated, ye know, and I lookit at aabodies' faces, ye see . . . meaning as much, "Is that me really singing? Do I sing in front o' folk like that?" I wes singing "My Son David" and here wes me singing but ... ye didnae see ma hands or a'ing like 'at an' ma hand micht hae just been like 'at, but O, the peetiful face. ... I felt embarrassed tae start again. . . . But he said, "Jeannie, nivir mind that, that's your gimmick. Just you carry on the way you were doing before. Dinnae alter."
Jeannie's horror at her transformation into, in her eyes, an unnatural figure was followed by a request that was to have an even more radical effect on her singing:
There wes three heid young men an' they wes all ranging aboot the same age an' the one 'at wes on television with us, he came in aboot an' he said, "Now
Jeannie, ye'll have tae cut out three verses of 'My Son David.' Cut it down to six."
"Bless us ... it's a bitty sudden," I says. "Jeest at the minute 'at we'll be on television," I says, "in nae time an' I've tae cut oot three verses," ye see. . . .
An' then, it wes funny, it wes maybe the way I lookit or whit I did, he put his hand on my shoudder, ye know, he says, "We're very sorry, Jeannie, but we've got tae do this. In fact," he says, "it's a shame to cut out the three verses. . . . of such a lovely song an' it must hurt you to do this . . . We've got to do it for time. Could you do it?... You would know the best places tae cut out a verse, here and there. . . . But ye'll still have a wee whilie ... for to rehearse it over without the three verses."
Well, it wes funny. I cut out the three verses which I knew widnae be missed, an' then I sung it over, a matter o' twice. An' I had it—the six verses, ye know. So they were aafie well pleased. I mean it wes funny—jist wi' that understanding an kindness that this three fellas showed. ... It wes nae bother at aa. It was absolutely no bother. An' the heid chap wes tall, nice built, wi' aafie broon curly hair.
So the real Jeannie, under commercial demands, gave in under the pressure of a handsome young producer and a timed format. Her self-image was altered by a television monitor.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 03:28 AM

Thanks for that wonderful story Vic; we found again and again with singers we recorded that the songs they sang often went far beyond the actual story and had personal significance to their lives, such as this one of Jeannie's had to the death of her son.
We recorded the ballad 'Lord Randal', called by her, 'Buried in Kilkenny', from blind Travelling woman Mary Delaney, a singer with a huge and extremely varied repertoire of narrative songs and ballads.
She always had trouble pitching the song, but we eventually got a good version of it and had stopped asking her to sing it so we could pass on to the rest of her songs.
Mary was blind from birth and had brought up her sixteen children on the road, singing on the streets from an early age to supplement the family income.
When she was camped in East London, she decided to try to get some of the younger children an education, so they managed to persuade the Council to move her into a bleak, half-furnished flat in Hackney.
Unlike on a Traveller site, while the children were in school, she was by herself all day, so, being the sociable lady she was, she became extremely depressed - when we called we were always dragged in and kept for as long as we possibly could stay, just for the company.
One night she was particularly down and she asked us would we record 'Buried in Kilkenny'.
It was one of the most moving performances of any song I have ever heard - she poured all her misery into the singing, you could have walked on the atmosphere she created - it still brings a lump to the throat to recall that night.
Regarding working for the media, I had the opposite experience (sort of) than the one you give from Jeannie's book.
I had been asked to do a last minute interview on folk song for one of the London radio stations, Capital Radio, I think - a friend had chickened out on the morning of the live broadcast and phoned to ask would we take his place, so I grabbed an armful of records and drove to the studio, just off Oxford Street.
It was one of those tiny, pokey little rooms overlooked by a sound studio.
We sorted out half a dozen tracks to play and arranged a running order with the two young engineers.
Throughout the interview, the two lads chatted away in their box and took no real notice of the proceedings, except to respond to my prompts for the next record, right through to the end, for which I had chosen Sam Larner singing 'Butter and Cheese and All'.
The interviewer decided that we were running short of time, so he said he would have to fade out after a couple of verses.
The lads in the sound box put the track on, and it became obvious that they were totally smitten by Sam's singing, and when the signal to fade was given, they waved their hands in refusal, shrugged, and played the track through to the end - a magic moment!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 19 May 14 - 05:05 AM

Info from Na Píobairí Uilleann:

"All the lectures in our Notes & Narratives series are recorded and edited to be made available to subscribers and members on our website.

"Go to 'Source' - 'Video' - 'Lectures' "

There are several levels of subscription, starting with a basic level that is free, but you need at least the 20 euro per year level to view the videos of lectures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 19 May 14 - 05:44 AM

This is a wonderful thread, I love the stories, how can this sort of information not help with singing the songs?
Thanks for this.
X el


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 06:04 AM

Thanks for the info Richard
I wasn't joking about supplying sub-titles for the examples of Walter Pardon we used
One young woman in the audience was studiously taking notes throughout the evening, but when it came to Walter, she threw up her hands in despair.
Spent most of yesterday transcribing the sound-clips - these are two of Walter's
Jim Carroll

WALTER PARDON
10 PUTTING EXPRESSION IN.
J C   Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W P   Dash, yes, I think so.
J C    Do you know in what way?
W P   Oh, I don't know, put more expression in probably, I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type… the old folk song, they're not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there's a lot of difference in them. I mean a lot of these… some … it all depend what and how you're singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are… you don't do Van Dieman's Land… If there's a sad old song you don't go through that very quick. Like Up to the Rigs is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can't sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that's not worth hearing, well that's what I think anyhow.   And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in.
J C    But since you started singing them to people...
W P   That's right, that's right.

11 STROOK (following 'The Trees they grow so High')
W P   Right Jim, That's that one.
J C   Where's that Walter, where did that come from?
W P   Here.
J C   Is that your uncle Billy's?
W P   Yes, that was.
P M   Is that how Uncle Billy sang it?
W P   Yes.
P M   That's his tune, at that pace?
W P   Yeah, that now,it shouldn't be hurried through, yeah, that's about ow he used to sing it.
J C   Were they fuss about how the songs were sung Walter, the speed and things, if they heard somebody singing, they were fussy about it?
W P   Oh my, yeah, they's have, what they called the right strook.
J C   Right?
W P Strook, S, T, double O, K (sic); was always called strook
J C And that was the speed, was it?
W P Yeah, it was always sung fairly steady; well, a lot of them now, they are in too much of a hurry to get through a song; the same with playing, you see, fast as possible, no one'd keep up.
Well, I remember Dick playing a step-dance tune at Cromer.
Two of them step dancers say, "we can't dance to that, we can't get the steps in", that was right.
They step out that tune like that (demonstrates), they hit out a note.
That is right, they never did go very.... there, never did play a hornpipe all that quick, not as quick as all that.
They said again, they must play.... "you must play the right strook".
Well, that used be said about anybody who was very slow, I think I put that in the book, "Only two strooks, slow and stop", someone who was slow, you know.
That's an old Norfolk expression, strook, yes, that was an old expression used, died out now, I know I head that a good many times, strook.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 06:42 AM

elder girl, being able to sing well and interpret a story in a song, is something that will vary from performer, it would be a generalisation to make a blanket staement saying it does help or it does not, this is something that will vary from performer to performer, it may help some undertstand the song better,there may be some who can sing the song well without knowing the background.
I like to know something of the background of a song but it is not absolutely essential.
I enjoy singing willie of the winsbury for example, but the fact that the tune i use was put to the set of words by andy irvine and was originally the tune to false foodrage does not help me to sing the song better, or interpret the song better.
so I have given an example of background information that does not help me personally to interpret the song better.
so the answer to your question is it depends on the information, and the singer.
here is another example, the song tam linn, i was singing this song well and receiving applause and praise for singing it long before i knew it was a piece supposedly crafted by a l loyd, that information has not affected my ability to interpret the song better or worse, it makes no difference whatsover.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:01 AM

That quote from Texas Gladden, about being able to see all the characters and incidents in a certain song, reminded me of a class I took from Peggy Seeger.

A member of the class asked about why certain singers sang songs with their eyes closed. Peggy said she often did that too, "Because I want to watch the movie."

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:09 AM

Lovely thread Jim.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:14 AM

Last of Walter's examples
Jim Carroll

09 IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE
J C When you're singing at a club or a festival, who do you look at, what do you see when you're singing?

W.P   I don't see anything

J C You don't look at the audience?

W P No, that's why I like a microphone: I'd rather stand up in front of a microphone, than anything, 'cause that's something to look at. That's what I like, this sort of thing in front; you can shut the audience out.

J C   So what do you see when you're….?

W P   Actually what I'm singing about, like reading a book.
You always imaging you can see what's happening there, you might as well not read it.        

`P Mac   So you see what you're singing about.

W P   Hmm.

P Mac   How do you see it; as a moving thing, as a still thing, or… moving?

W P   That's right.
'Pretty Ploughboy' was always ploughing in the field over there, that's were that was supposed to be.

J C So it's that field, just across the way?

W P That's right?

J C   How about 'Van Dieman's Land' then?

W P   Well, that's sort of imagination, what that was really like, in Warwickshire, going across to Australia, seeing them chained to a harrow and plough, that sort of thing, chained hand to hand, all that.
You must have imagination to see it all, I think so, that's the same as reading a book, you must have imagination to see where that is, I think so, well I do anyhow.

P Mac   But you never shut your eyes when you're singing, do you?

W P   No, no.

P Mac   So if you haven't got a microphone to concentrate on, if you are singing in front of an audience, where do you look?

W P   Down my nose, like that (squints).

P Mac   Yes, you do, yes, that's right, you do (laughter)

W P   That is so, have you noticed that?

P Mac   Yes

J C   Do the people in the songs that you sing, do they have their own identity, or are they people you know, or have known in the past?

W P   Their own identity, imagine what they look like

J C   You imagine what they look like?

W P   That's right, yeah.

J C   And when you sing the song, they're the same people every time; they look the same every time?

W P   That's right, yeah, that's right.
All depend what it's about, or the period.

J C   And they would dress in the period…?

W P   That's right, yeah.

J C   So where would you put 'The Pretty Ploughboy', what sort of period would you….?

W P   Lord Nelson's time.

J C   So they'd be wearing….?

W P   Yeah, in the last century.

P Mac Then what about a song like 'The Trees They do Grow High' or 'Broomfield Hill'?

W P   Oh, that'd go back, really, farther still, buckled shoes, that sort of thing (laughs).
That is right though.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 10:28 AM

walters approach was different from clarence ashley and sam larner.
09 IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE
J C When you're singing at a club or a festival, who do you look at, what do you see when you're singing?

W.P   I don't see anything

J C You don't look at the audience?

W P No, that's why I like a microphone: I'd rather stand up in front of a microphone, than anything, 'cause that's something to look at. That's what I like, this sort of thing in front; you can shut the audience out."
and please dont try and tell me clarence ashleyand larner were not trad singers


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 19 May 14 - 11:03 AM

Thank you for an excellent and extremely helpful thread Jim.
Have you any interviews with Sam Larner? I'd like to hear more about his approach.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 11:25 AM

"Have you any interviews with Sam Larner? I'd like to hear more about his approach."
We don't have any transcribed ones - we never met Sam (Pat saw him at The Singers Club before I met her), but we do have some recorded interviews MacColl and Parker did with him.
Will be happy to pass them on when we've digitised them.
The best example of Sam talking is to be found on 'Now is the Time For Fishing' - in my opinion, the best album of a traditional singer ever made.
We wanted to do a similar double CD of Walter - singing and talk - but sadly, Topic chickened out and issued A World Without Horses (and speech, it would appear!) instead.
Sam appears with Harry Cox in a film (they were filmed separately, they never met), 'The Singer and the Song' - don't know if it's still available.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 11:50 AM

this from Martin Carthy a man who has every right and in my opinion more than some others to talk about trad singersSam Larner

Personal Portrait No. 7

by Martin Carthy

This article in our series of portraits of singers and musicians from East Anglia includes a contribution from Martin Carthy, one of the most well-known folk singers of our times.

Sam Larner was born in 1878 in Winterton, Norfolk. Sam first went to sea when he was only eight, and signed on as a 'peggy' (cabin-boy) at 12. He learned many songs from his father and other fishermen and first performed in public at the age of nine, singing for pennies to coach parties passing through the village. Later, he sang at fishermen's smoking concerts in ports along the coast from Shetland to Cornwall, as the fishing fleet followed the annual migration of the herring. "We used to have some good old times when we used to come home from sea. We used to get in the old pub, have a pint or two around, give 'em the four-handed reel... A drink, a song and a four-handed reel. Round we'd go and up we'd go, and we used to have a rare old, good old time."


Martin saw Sam perform only once, when Sam was 80, but it made a lasting impression on him, as he recalls: 'I think the year was 1959 when I was seventeen. A friend had been booked by the writer and folk singer Ewan MacColl to sing at the Ballads and Blues in a long since demolished pub close to the Metropolitan Theatre Edgware Road in order to provide "something of a contrast" to a man described by my friend as Some Old Bloke With No Teeth. My friend's performance was as lousy as his judgement and Ewan turned to presenting his favourite English singer. My knowledge of traditional English singing was just about nil. Of songs I knew a little, most of which came from Sharp's Folk Songs for Schools. My idea of English music started with the Elizabethan church music of Orlando Gibbons and his contemporaries and continued from there. Beautiful stuff but quite distinct as I soon saw when Sam Larner stood up and sang. His impact was immediate and electrifying (and something of a contrast indeed). This was a man in command and utterly accustomed to performing. He pointed at his audience, he teased them, he pulled words out of the air. Ewan in turn teased information and stories out of him, laying out a banquet of this man who he so admired. The performance of O No John, which I thought I knew, was riveting and at the same time instructive of how to have fun with an audience. After a couple of verses he turned to Ewan and, looking very serious, asked "Am I to go on?" provoking raucous giggles from the audience. The straight face never cracked once as he asked the same question three or four more times before the end of the song. Apart from one other song - which I also had thought I knew - this is the only song I remember from the evening, but I took away an impression of someone absolutely at home with what he was doing, for whom every song was personal - and imbued with a passion which sent me home walking on air. The other song which I remember was the final song of the night, which I still think of as a masterstroke of programming by Ewan. The song was Sam's way with the Henry Martin story Lofty Tall Ship. What I heard back then as a terminally weird tune with apparently endless variations (in every single verse) was as exotic as anything I had ever heard and left my head spinning. Later I understood that that evening truly was a personal watershed, but immediately I knew that I had been privileged to have been in the presence of genuine greatness.'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 12:23 PM

so clearly Sam Larners approach was very different from Walter Pardon, which would indicate the foolishness of generalising from the particular.Davy Stewart was another very extrovert traditional singer,who was happy to busk cinema queues, singning herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjuODBw_KzoDavie Stewart

b. 1901    d. 1972

Davie Stewart was born into a family of travelling tinsmiths and hawkers in the Buchan area and was to follow the traditional traveller occupations of horse-trading, pearl fishing, casual farm work, rag and scrap iron collecting, hawking and, by the age of ten, busking as a street singer.

During the Great War, at sixteen, he joined the Gordon Highlanders and was wounded in action three times before he was transferred to a pipe band. He later went back to the travelling and busking life with accordion and pipes now supplementing the singing. A couple of years later he met up with another of the great traveller singers, Jimmy MacBeath and they formed a friendship that would last the rest of their lives. Sometimes, they travelled together, the one 'bottling' as the other performed, sometimes going their separate ways.

He moved to Ireland in the 1930s, where he married Molly, and returned to Scotland in the 1950s when he lived in Dundee.

In the early 1960s he moved to Glasgow living in Maryhill and Possilpark, busking cinema and football queues and tenement back courts. Having been 'discovered' by Hamish Henderson he was a major component of the 1960s folk revival in Scotland.
and next the dunne brothers who also busked
    Galway Advertiser
    News
    Old Galway

The Dunne brothers busking in Galway

Galway Advertiser, Thu, Jul 29, 2010
8

Busking is the practice of performing in public places for tips or gratuities. The earliest buskers in Galway were probably singers who would sing on the street, and then knock on doors in the hope of getting money or food. In the early 20th century, Johnny Doran and his family would move around playing in different places, including the races, and then in the evening outside the Imperial Hotel. Paddy Philbin, who later became a dancing master, would dance for him and they drew big crowds. Later came the Reaney brothers who played in various locations in Galway city and county.

Many families going to the races would place themselves at The Móinín with their flasks and sandwiches. Musicians often wandered playing in their midst and hopefully collecting.

The Dunne brothers were sons of John and Mary Dunne, members of an extended family boasting many famous musicians and singers. Christy, a bachelor, played the banjo. He had knobbly fingers and played with a thimble. Joseph played the fiddle and banjo, was married, and had children. Michael played fiddle and was married. They were known as The Blind Dunnes because they all had cataracts and appeared blind. In those days it was difficult to get a job with bad eyesight. They were Travellers who went all over the country from Cork to Donegal by horse and caravan, playing at fairs and football matches, stopping at towns along the way to busk. They were a fixture in Galway for many years during the races, stayed in Joyce's lodging house in Mary Street, and played outside Fallers in the morning, at Ballybrit in the afternoon, and outside the Oslo Hotel in the evening. They often sat in on sessions in Larry Cullen's pub in Forster Street.

People did not come to hear them in a formal situation… they had to bring their music onto the street and appeal to as many passersby as they could. They had gentle personalities, were very dignified and always appeared relaxed in their gestures, but their music was full of passion and heart and spirit… there was a kind of wildness and beauty and freedom about it… they were very connected with their music and their instruments, of which they were technical masters, whether delivering soulful slow airs or infectious dance music. They played when traditional music was at a low ebb.

You would recognise their music in the open air before you saw them. It cannot have been easy for them, standing for hours entertaining. They could not always see their audience, and sometimes the guards moved them on. But above all, they were outstanding musicians, an inspiration to some of the best traditional musicians of today. Christy helped to pioneer the playing of the banjo in Irish traditional music. They preserved, in a living oral context, important aspects of our native culture that had disappeared from the settled community. Dance music, often unpopular, was a small part of their repertoire but they kept it alive as a living working tradition.

If what they were playing was not bringing in money, they changed it. As well as traditional tunes and airs, they played popular songs like 'Red Sails in the Sunset' and 'Galway Bay', but they could also play classical pieces by Fritz Kreisler, Vittorio Monti, and Liszt, an amazing technical achievement. Theirs was a story of the genius of music flying in the face of adversity.

They eventually settled in Cork. Christy died in 1987, Michael in 1992, and Joseph in 1996, but they live on in the folk memory for many people who remember them with great affection.

We could not get a photograph of the three of them playing together. Our first image is of Joseph on fiddle and Christy on banjo, and our second shows Michael playing the fiddle.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 12:34 PM

So I have provided 3 examples of tradtional performers who were the complete opposite of WalterPardon.
I find their back ground interesting[ jim carroll and anne neilsen please take note after your ill informed earlier comments, attempting to suggest that i was not interested in the background of traditional singers]
3 traditional singers/musicians whose approach was the opposite of Walter Pardon,
Jim Carroll, your persistent quoting of Walter Pardons Attitude to performing and singing which could be misconstrued as suggesting that all traditional singers had Walters approach,
I feel, it needs for the sake of accuracy to be said and illustrated with my examples, to be a generalisation from the particular. here is a fourth example 4 to one. margaret barryMargaret Barry 1917-1989
By Ronan Nolan
THE raw, uncompromising voice of the street singer had to carry above the noisy chatter of the fair or football crowd. Ballad singer Margaret Barry rarely failed to gain attention with her gutsy voice, pronounced Cork accent and simple banjo accompaniment.
She was born in Peter Street, Cork, in 1917, into a family of travellers. Her grandfather, Bob Thompson, was an accomplished uilleann piper who had won the first Feis Ceoil in Dublin in 1897 and again in 1898 in Belfast. Both her parents and uncles were street musicians. She taught herself to play the five-string banjo and could also play the fiddle.
Her mother, Margaret Thompson, died when Margaret was only 12. Her father remarried. After a family row around 1933, Margaret started street singing and took off on her own, singing at matches and fairs.
The song collector Peter Kennedy first came across her in 1952: "She was then living in a small caravan with her husband, daughter and two grandchildren, in a sunken hollow by the roadside at Cregganbane, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh," he wrote in one of his album notes. "From there she used to travel on a bicycle, with her banjo slung across her back, with a piece of string, to the market squares, country fairs and sporting events such as football matches."
Kennedy first learned of her from Alan Lomax who had heard her singing Goodnight Irene at Dundalk fair in May 1951.Kennedy recorded Margaret Barry in 1952. Her remarkable version of The Factory Girl is on his Folk Songs of Britain and Ireland, issued in 1976. Margaret's singing of it is closer to the best English folk club standard than her usual street style.
In the early 1950s she moved to London and teamed up with County Sligo fiddler Michael Gorman. As well as sharing a residency in the Bedford Arms in Camden Town and being regulars in the Favourite pub on Holloway Road, the duo became a permanent part of London's thriving Irish-music-in-exile scene. Mairtin Byrnes, Bobby Casey, Jim Power, Roger Sherlock, Julia Clifford, Tommy McCarthy, Dominic Behan and many others enlivened the gloomy world of emigrant workers of the 1950s. Seamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Tony MacMahon and many others made stopover visits. Luke Kelly was schooling himself for the ballad boom.

Swapping banter
Reg Hall played piano at the Favourite sessions: "Several times during the evening, Margaret Barry got to her feet for a couple of songs, testing the tuning on the banjo and swapping banter with those nearby to cover her shyness.
"She stood with head held back and eyes focused somewhere in space and gave her very best performance as she did every time. What presence. What timing. The sudden shifts of tone through the range of her voice sent shivers down your spine, and in typical understatement somebody would mutter 'Ah, she's a fair auld singer, right enough.' As she broke into the tremolo banjo statement to round off the song, the hush in the bar-room was broken by whoops and cheers and a round of applause."
In his sleeve notes for the CD In the Smoke, Ron Kavana wrote: "There was a no-frills intensity to her performance that could instantly silence even the most boisterous heckler." He went on: "Although a gentle lady in private, in public she had the reputation of a woman you didn't mess with. A striking performer, she had a huge voice that needed little amplification even in the largest halls, and a strident no-frills banjo style."
She is best known for her versions of The Flower of Sweet Strabane, The Galway Shawl, The Turfman From Ardee, My Lagan Love and She Moved Through the Fair.
Ewan McColl brought Margaret, Michael Gorman and Willie Clancy to his Croydon home in 1955 and recorded two LPs - Songs of an Irish Tinker lady and Irish Jigs, Reels and Hornpipes.
She returned to Ireland in the 1960s and lived in Laurencetown with her daughter. She travelled to the USA where she played many concerts and festivals and at the Rockefeller Centre in New York. In 1975 she shared an album with fellow Traveller The Pecker Dunne. She had previously performed on TV in Britain and on London's Royal Festival Hall stage. In Dublin she could often be heard in the Brazen Head pub, one of the cradles of that city's ballad boom.
In the late 1970s her performances became rarer. She spent the last decade of her life in Banbridge, Co Down, and died in 1989. In 1999 I Sang Through the Fairs was issued on CD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 12:35 PM

Jim Carroll, four examples of the opposite of Walter Pardon


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 12:38 PM

Jim Carroll, four examples of the opposite of Walter Pardon"
So?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 12:44 PM

plus clarence ashley one who could not be described as a shy shrinking violet,5 to 1.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwlOO8RG-ogWalter and Daisy Bulwer
Recollections of the Shipdham musicians by members of their community

Walter during the 'English Country Music' sessions.
The music of Walter and Daisy Bulwer of Shipdham in Norfolk will be familiar to most Musical Traditions readers, as will the story of their 'discovery' by Mervyn Plunkett and the subsequent influential English Country Music recordings of the early 1960s.1. For an account of the lives and music making of Walter and Daisy Bulwer, together with a full account of the 1960s music sessions and subsequent recordings, as well as a discussion of Walter's fiddle style, see Reg Hall's booklet notes to the English Country Music CD, Topic TSCD607.1 Over fifty years after they stopped playing in public, and over thirty years after their deaths, they are still fondly and proudly remembered by residents of Shipdham and the surrounding area. It is largely the reminiscences of these locals that make up the information contained in this article.

Walter William Bulwer was born in Shipdham on 4 December, 1888. The 1901 census lists him, aged 12, as 'scholar'. His older brother John Chamberlain (born 9 May, 1886) is entered as 'Post Office assistant', aged 14. Their father William died in about 1899 and their mother Alice is described in the census as 'dressmaker', aged 43, although she also ran a grocery and village shop, presumably in the large cottage (now known as Bulwer Cottage) where she continued to live in her old age with Walter and his wife Daisy, after she had retired and they took over the business sometime in the 1920s.

Daisy Bulwer, photo courtesy Chris HoldernessDaisy Dora Hart came from the neighbouring village of Bradenham, was born about 1892 and is described in the census as aged 8 in 1901. Hart is a very common surname in Norfolk and it is difficult to be absolutely sure who her family might have been. Of the Harts who were living in Bradenham in 1901, Mary Ann (53) and George (52; described as 'farmer') are the only likely people to have been her parents, but there are also Ellen (18 - 'domestic servant'), Katherine A (5) and Dorothy (5 months), as well as Sidney (23 - 'farmer's son'), Herbert (16 - 'yardman on farm'), George W (36 - 'journeyman baker'), William (62), Walter (17), Herbert H (16) and George (60), all described as 'agricultural workers', and George (32 - 'teamman on farm'). Even in that age of prolific child-bearing, it seems unlikely that Mary Ann was the mother of baby Dorothy, but she may well have been Daisy's. To confuse matters further, at least one Shipdham resident is convinced that Daisy was an orphan.

Whatever the uncertainty about her family, it is certain that she met Walter during the First World War. Walter was born with one leg withered and much shorter than the other one and he could only get about on crutches. Being unable to be in the armed forces, he was involved in war work in an engineering works in East Dereham, often walking the four miles each way on unpadded ash wood crutches, although he also often lodged in the town with the cousin of Steven Chenery, a Shipdham resident and close family friend. It was whilst he was working in Dereham that Walter and Daisy met and they were married on 22nd December, 1916.

From a very early age, music was a big part of Walter's life. His father had taught both him and his brother to play the violin and read music. His first public performance was on the chancel steps of Shipdham church, which Walter recalled later: "A farmer came up to me after the service and gave me a gold guinea for doing so well. I always treasured that". By about 1910 he was playing regularly for dances around the area and in 1935 Walter became leader of a regular dance band, called Time and Rhythm, based in the village and still fondly remembered by a great many people today. The band lasted until the mid fifties, with Walter mainly playing fiddle and Daisy piano. Other members included Reggie Rix (fiddle and mandolin), Horace Everett (fiddle and cornet), Mr Clements (drums), and Lily Codling (piano accordion). The band played a mixture of the old-time country dances, such as the Heel and Toe Polka and the Veleta, as well as the more recent dances of the day, and seem to have had a singer called Billie Wade for some of the time. In the village, they played regularly in rooms above Head's Hardware shop and sometimes above Riseborough's garage, which was also used as a cinema.

Lily Codling, photo courtesy Chris HoldernessLily Codling, the only surviving member of the Time and Rhythm band, who played with them as a teenager, recalls that, "We did have some good times. The best times we used to have really was at the garage where Ponder're now got (then Riseborough's). There was an upstairs room there; we used to go up there and play. And his favourite really was In And Out the Windows … We used to start off with a polka, The Dot Polka, 2. Lily Codling has also referred to this dance as The Blue Dot Polka. The tune for it is that now commonly known as Walter Bulwer's Polka No1.2 and finish up with The Heel and Toe Polka. And they was his two favourites, really. And The Girl I Left Behind Me…But I did enjoy quite a lot of time down there … The name of it was Can You Dance the Polka? One, two, three, he used to bang his old foot on the floor for the hop, one, two, three and a hop, and that was what Walter used to do. And Daisy used to clap her hands … All the schottisches, and there's another one they used to play, the Samba. Then we used to play where you used to have to go up and find a partner, then if there was someone without a partner, the one in the middle would touch someone's shoulder and you had to let them go and they danced on. That was a popular old dance then, as a matter of fact, in Bulwer's time. So everybody had a dance; you didn't have to sit there, but you all started off with a partner, but if you tapped somebody on the shoulder, they've got to find someone. They called that Shoulder Tapping…"

Lily Codling would mainly play piano accordion, but also piano on occasion: "But when Daisy didn't do it, I would do it…I remember there used to be two mirrors (in the room above Riseborough's garage); that weren't a very nice place because they used to do cars up there. But that was right near Walter's home weren't it?...I used to go down and practice with them". On one occasion, Lily was caught out, having used the pretence to be at the Bulwers' house for a practice to go out dancing: "Well then, one night we wanted to go out to a dance so I hung my music 3. By music, Lily is almost certainly referring to her accordion rather than sheet music, a term commonplace amongst older generation Norfolk musicians.3 up in the toilet, on the back of the door. They were outside toilets. Course, who should walk from Carbrooke? Tom did. (Her fiancé). He went in the toilet; my music fell down off the door. So he said to my mother, "Where is Lily?" She said, "She's gone down Mrs Bulwer's; they've got a practice on". He said, "Next time she goes, she'd better take her music!"

"Cause, if there was anything to go (tunes needed for certain dances), Walter would find it. He was wonderful. He used to know everything you could know, but he used to like the polka. I think he made more noise when he done the polka … He was good; he was a very good musician. When I used to play with him, Daisy played by music. I could read music and I could play by music, but whatever Walter played, I played with him, but I didn't have any music. But we used to put it up there, to make out I was playing, because Daisy didn't like it! Daisy played the piano, which I give her credit, I call her a musician … because she played what was written. I bet there wasn't a bit of music you could put in front of her that she couldn't play … She used to say to me, "Now, make sure!" because she was a bit sterner than him. "I'm playing in C, I don't want you goin' in F and G. I'm playin' in C". Cause, her style of music wasn't mine. I used to syncopate and vamp and Daisy was strictly music. No matter how many notes was on the music, Daisy wouldn't miss one … I have played the bottom (of the piano), she have played the top, and then she used to say to me sometimes, "I'm not havin' you up there!" I used to have to do what she told me! But he used to laugh and put his eyebrows up."

Walter was certainly a man given to jokes and good humoured tales, as Shipdham resident Willie Risden recalls: "And every time you saw him, you'd say, "How're you doing, Walter?" That was always, "Hot and dry" if that was summertime, or "Cold and hungry" if that was the winter. Walter Bulwer, photo courtesy Chris HoldernessAnd as regards to telling you the yarns, well, I'll leave it to you to decide what yarns he used to tell!" This jokiness was evident in public performances too. Two postcard sized dance band advertisement cards have survived, on the back of each is a long list, in Walter's handwriting, of first lines and aide memoirs of jokes and funny tales, presumably told at certain times of the evening, between tunes and dances. Also, as Lily Codling remembers: "But plenty of times, Daisy used to play with her old wool tammy on. Walter used to get the old violin stick and poke her hat. "Walter, stop it now!" And he used to look around, because he was a humorous old boy. Oh yes, he was lovely."

Because Daisy used to prefer to play from music, Walter used to paste medleys of tunes together for her onto boards, as Lily Codling recalls: "What he used to do for Daisy; what happened to them, I don't know;4. When Daisy died in 1974, the house was cleared and much stuff thrown away. Some artefacts relating to their lives were given to Gressenhall Museum, but sadly the sheet music was not amongst them.4 there'd be the music on, for her there, then the next tune, and the next tune, and they'd all be on a board. So instead of Daisy having to turn over, or find another bit of music, Walter'd got that all sussed out. That's what he done. I tell you what they had one night: there was Daisy, Daisy, Dickey Bird; there was about four. And you see, the sheet music then, that weren't right big like that is now, you know. He had some smaller sheet music than that. So, well, that's what he used to do for her. Only when they went to the dances, instead of Daisy having to keep turning over, picking up another bit, they could carry on … He knew what he was doing, like Daisy, Daisy, Dickey Bird, Bull and Bush. Nobody stopped dancing."

The Bulwers were certainly very active with their music making, but are also greatly remembered in Shipdham in their role as newsagents and shopkeepers. Having carried on this trade from Walter's mother since the 1920s, the pair ran a thriving business from their cottage. Walter would deliver newspapers around Shipdham and Bradenham in his black Austin 7, his walking disability not seeming to hamper him; with no kerbs he was able to drive up close to many houses and push the papers through from the car window. He was also adept at straddling low garden walls with his crutches, to take the papers from house to house. Daisy would deliver the papers to neighbouring Cranworth by bicycle, as Willie Risden recalls: Walter's Austin Seven, photo courtesy Chris Holderness"And I can see her now! Her old mac she had on, that had a band; when she took the cash bag off, the old mac had seen so many storms, and when she took that off that left that band around the waist."

Walter's car is fondly and vividly remembered by older Shipdham residents, being one of the few in the village at that time. Several people proudly recall that the number plate was VF9674 and Willie Risden adds: "But the car. I was telling you he had three engines put in it; he just used to wear one engine out stoppin' and startin' or changing gears, and of course the bodywork was still good, you see. And Sonny Hudson, who worked for Riseborough, was telling us the old bugger used to stand over him all the while, while they were changing the engine." Peter Woodcock remembers one winter accident: "In 1947 … that was a very severe winter. He was on Blackmer Row corner and he delivered the papers down Cranworth because that was too rough for Daisy, and he turned it over onto its side on Blackmer Row corner. He crawled out through the little canvas two-by-three sunshine roof…he crawled out of that and he come on his crutches down to Riseborough's to tell them he'd turned the car over. All he'd done was cut his nose. And Sonny Hudson went up there to the car, pushed it back onto its wheels, started it and drove it back to Shipdham. Hardly a mark on it!"

Daisy at the ice cream stall, photo courtesy Chris HoldernessAnother line was in ice cream and sweets, prompting a young Lily Codling to be a regular visitor: "He had a little old shop in the village, you see. His house, there was a little shop there. But all for a penny. Oh, you could go and get bagfuls. But I did spend a lot of time down Mr Bulwer's 5. Many older Shipdham residents, and Lily Codling in particular, pronounce 'Bulwer' as if it were spelt 'Bulver'.5 because he used to keep giving me plenty of ice creams…and Daisy used to say to me: "I've got you your lemon". She used to fill a glass of water, and squeeze the lemon in and put some sugar in. I thought that was quite a treat really! Cause they didn't have any family and when I used to go round there, he used to say to my mother, "Here come my adopted daughter!" I spent a lot of time with them. And she used to bake cakes and she'd give me a cake. She used to say to me, "When you come out of school, you come and see me again". Later on, every Saturday morning Daisy and Walter used to call at my mother's in Market Street, when they collected the paper money, they always had their cup of tea and one of my mother's cakes. Always stopped there. I can remember what he once done for me, as a little girl. There used to be whips and tops. He cut me one out and made me a top … and I'd spin it lovely."

Another sideline was cutting hair: "You'd get a short back and sides, that's what he'd give you if you went there - there was no sort of variation". And Walter was a skilled taxidermist, with the downstairs of the house filled with various stuffed animals: "He was telling me one day he was skinning an old harnser, which we know is a heron, and found a dead rat in it!" as Willie Risden recalls. Bulwer's shop/cottage 'decorated', photo courtesy Chris HoldernessA man of many talents, Walter was also very skilled with fretwork and may well have repaired instruments regularly, as a book on violin making and repairs once belonging to him forms part of the collection of Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse museum of local rural life.6. The book is entitled Violin Making and Adjusting, from Woodworker Series No 13, published August, 1909.6 In addition, there is the well-known story of him winning a prize for decorating his cottage for the coronation of George VI. Willie Risden again: "I remember, in the coronation of, that'd be George VI, he won a prize for decorating his cottage. And that was really decorated. That was from top to bottom. To see him go up a ladder, with one useful leg and the other useless, was a sight worth seeing. Not only done from the floor to the gutters, he done the gable as well."

One main line of work, which Walter kept up until late in life, was tailoring. He was highly regarded as a man who could mend garments so you couldn't see the repairs and the West Norfolk Foxhounds used to take their red jackets to him when necessary. Lily Codling again: "He'd alter clothes lovely; he was a good tailor. You wouldn't have to fit nothing much on. He'd only want to look at you. And I remember, when I'd finished with them, I would be about fourteen or fifteen then, I went in the Cranworth Dance Band, and we had to wear black and white. The three men who played in it wore white shirts, black trousers and bow tie … He said, "I'll make you a dress". I said, "You can't make me a dress". He said, "Yes I can!" He said, "Daisy've got some black dresses. I can cut them all to fit you". I said, "Well, I only want one". He said, "Well, I'd better make you two". Do you know what? He cut Daisy's dress up the side, and square neck, he made it a lovely job … And he said, "Now you'll have a white bow on yours", he said, "Here's your dickey bow". And he made a lovely little white bow … She didn't mind … No, she said, "I've had them a long while; they're long old dresses". But, you see, he modernised!"

Unsurprisingly perhaps for such a musically active man, Walter gave violin lessons in the front room of the house. One pupil was Alan Slaughter from the village, having twenty violin lessons when he was fourteen, in 1961. He went on to be leader of the Portsmouth Naval Band and eventually inherited Walter's best fiddle. This, sadly, was stolen from the naval barracks whilst he was ashore. Another pupil was Betty Jopson: "I received my first introduction to the violin from Mr Bulwer. As a little girl I was rather scared of him - he only had one leg. I also played their Collard and Collard piano and bought it after their death."

Walter's brother Chamberlain was an active musician, mainly connected with the church. He played various woodwind instruments and made several of his own, including a cello and several banjos. Although living at Wicklewood, not many miles at all from Shipdham, Walter and Billy Cooper during the 'English Country Music' sessions.he does not seem to have got together with Walter and Daisy to play music, at least not after he was married, probably because his wife disapproved of the dance tunes, although the brothers had certainly played together when younger. Regarding Chamberlain, Chloe Paul recalls that "There was a meadow in front of our house … and he used to live at cottages at the top. I know he made them. He used to make musical instruments. Oh yeah, you could be on our front meadow there sometimes; you could hear him playing. Yes, you could," but she has no recollection at all of the brothers playing together.

Walter was adept at picking up tunes by ear, and delighted in medleys of tunes, effortlessly moving from one tune to the next, often in a long string of them. This was particularly true with polkas and hornpipes, where new tunes were more or less created from snatches of others, and popular song tunes interspersed with the dance tunes, as in a remarkable medley where he starts with a polka (the tune used for The Dot Polka dance), moves effortlessly into When I Was a Lad from Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, then into a snatch of Sailor's Hornpipe, before moving into several other bits of polkas and song tunes, before concluding with Golden Slippers.7. This recording is from Daisy Bulwer's own reel-to-reel recording of the rehearsal on 4th August 1962 of the music sessions that would eventually make up the English Country Music LP, loaned by Peter Woodcock and mastered onto CD-R by Paul Marsh, 2005. These recordings, together with the photographs and interview tapes and transcriptions, form part of the Rig-a-Jig-Jig archive of information relating to Norfolk's traditional music.7 This versatility was to be used to good effect whilst playing with the other visiting musicians in the music sessions that became the English Country Music recordings.

As well as playing the fiddle, Walter was able to play viola, cello, double bass, various kinds of banjo, mandolin and the drums, and the house contained a huge array of different instruments, including piano and organ played by Daisy. Walter could also play the saw, as recalled by Lily Codling: "Well, you know, an ordinary hand saw; he'd get that old hand saw. Now, how he done it, I'll never know; he used to play, and bend. He could play it … But he could do it, but he didn't do them polkas on it. Bulwer's stall at a village fair, photo courtesy Chris HoldernessHe used to do the old waltzes and things like that". He also delighted in singing comic songs such as Three Men Went Out Hunting and Little Baggy Trousers, they Need Mending.

Shipdham is a large, spread-out village and the annual village fair, always held on the first Monday in August, gathered large crowds together, a good opportunity for the Bulwers' confectionary and ice cream business. They seem to have been involved in music making at these fairs too, at what could be a lively occasion, as Sheila Crane notes: "They used to say East End and West End; they sort of used to nearly fight each other!" Another annual event at which the Bulwers played was the New Year's Eve dance. Shelia Crane again: "See, they used to have socials; always had an Old Year's Night and a New Year's Eve one … cause they used to dance the old year out and the new year in, you see. My dad used to ring the bells here in Shipdham and they would do the same thing, ring the old year out and the new year in."

In the very early part of the Twentieth Century Shipdham had ten pubs, several others having closed in the first few years of the new century. Of these ten, six had closed by 1938. Walter claimed to Reg Hall that he had played in all of these, sometimes with another player, Fiddler Brown. If that is the case, it seems to have been in his younger days, as no one spoken to recently can recall him playing in any of the village's pubs. Step dancing was very commonplace indeed, particularly in The Standard and The King's Head (known as The 'King Billy'), Lily Codling's father being a good dancer: "Well, the mouth organ my husband used to play and they got up on the table and done it. They used to have round tables with big old heavy legs on them. They used to get my father up, when he'd had a beer or two, get him on the table. He never fell off! He used to stand and tap dance. Sounded lovely! Such a lovely rhythm". However, the Bulwers do not seem to have been involved in the music making for this step dancing.

Walter and Daisy seem to have played across the middle years of the Twentieth Century mainly as part of the Time and Rhythm dance band. As well as playing regularly in the village at the venues previously mentioned, they were in demand for dances in village venues and country houses all across the area, such as at Letton Hall, where they played for royalty, as remembered by Tony Chilvers: "Well, yes, cause that was a big hall … General Gordon had that … when Edward VII used to come down here, when they used to have these shoots, them ol' shootin' parties, y'see; they played at them, didn't they?" Certainly the only dance band in Shipdham, their influence was wide, with engagements across a large area. However, there were other bands in the immediate area, as Lily Codling played with both the Cranworth Dance Band and Bert Panthorpe's Band of Dereham, for example. Also, interestingly, amongst the Bulwer ephemera at Gressenhall Museum is an undated poster advertising a fancy dress dance at Shipdham Assembly Rooms with the 'special engagement of Cecil Harley's London Dance Band' which came from their house. Clearly the Time and Rhythm Band wasn't the only one engaged to play in the village across the time of its existence, although how common visiting bands from outside were is impossible to guess.

The Bulwers retired from playing in public regularly in the mid fifties, when they were in their late sixties. However, they continued to play at home and many people in the village recall walking past their house in an evening, to hear them playing together in their front room, the 'Best Room', where all the instruments were kept. One person who knew them well at this time of their lives was Tony Chilvers, a regular visitor whilst a schoolboy and son of the licencees of The King Billy: "I know when I used to go to school she used to like Lemon Hart rum. When I went to primary school, I used to come home for my dinner every day … used to take this bottle of Lemon Hart rum, y'see, into the classroom; put it beside my desk. Well, Headmaster Parry, he said, "Tony, why have you brought a bottle of rum to school?" "That's going to Mrs Bulwer's after school". Well, you never thought nothing about it, did you?"

Walter died in 1968, aged 79. Daisy continued to live in the house. Tony Chilvers recalls visiting her when she was very old: "When I first went to work, when after Walter died, I still used to go down … I know I used to go up there and she'd have Top of the Pops so blooming loud and I used to knock on that window … trying to make her hear was unbelievable". Daisy died in 1974, aged 86. Both are buried in an unmarked plot, with no headstone, in Shipdham Cemetary in Pound Green.

Still fondly remembered by those of their community and a lasting influence, through the recordings of them, on a great many musicians of younger generations, the Bulwers have left a considerable musical legacy. To quote Lily Codling on Walter's reaction to all this, "What would he feel now, he knew all this come about?"

Chris Holderness - 25.8.06
Rig-a-Jig-Jig - A Norfolk Music H next walter bulwer


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 12:50 PM

Ted Chaplin

Personal Portrait No. 20

by John Howson

Ted Chaplin (1914-1998) was a larger than life singer from Suffolk. Katie and John Howson met him in 1981, and became firm friends, taking him on many outings across the country with the Old Hat Concert Party throughout the 1980s and '90s.


Ted was born in Eye but moved around central Suffolk quite a bit, living for some time in Barham, just north of Ipswich, where he worked as a horseman and farm manager, then in Bacton near Stowmarket where he operated a coal business for twenty years. After retiring he became a much valued and loved member of Tony Harvey's team of carriage drivers operating from Tannington Hall, and was a frequent sight driving a pony and trap around Dennington and Laxfield, where he was never averse to stopping in at the pubs!

Ted was never backward in coming forward, and indeed the first time we heard him sing was when the television cameras were rolling in Brundish Crown in 1981. Ted sang a lot in his younger days, but had a break for nearly thirty years, when it seemed no-one wanted to hear the old songs.

"Well we used to get down to old Redlingfield Crown: what else was there to do? There was an old boy there used to come and play the accordeon: Wallie Harpy ... one night his boss came in and we said 'Come on Wallie, strike up!' But he wouldn't play in front of his boss, so that's when we
started singing a song or two. The first song I ever sung in there was Nelly Dean, and I haven't sung it since!"

The song he sang in Brundish Crown was The Fella that Played the Trombone and was typical of Ted's repertoire. He had many funny songs, which he delivered in a very deadpan style, but the audience were never in any doubt as to his sense of humour! In a pub session he sometimes entertaining the crowd during an instrumental break by dancing with his coat hooked over his arm, like a partner. He learned most of his songs from hearing other singers: "I could hear a song once and sing it the next night," he said of his early singing days. He learned one or two items, such as Is Izzy Azzy Woz? and Fellas in Love, (or Knock at the Door) from recordings made in the 1920s, and also had some older songs such as The Herring's Head and The Oak and the Ash, which he had learned from singers in the Redlingfield Crown.

As a member of The Old Hat Concert Party Ted reached a new and appreciative audience across the country, and particularly relished his trips to Sidmouth and Dartmoor Folk Festivals, where he once ended up being the anchorman on a tug-of-war team, complete with a donkey he had released temporarily from its job giving rides round the field! Ted was never more at home than when in one of his local pubs: "I always reckoned to get three pints for a song: one to sing and two to shut up!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 01:05 PM

7 examples of the opposite of Walter Pardon.
So?
Jim, it means that when you post on here about traditional singers and you consistently only quote Walter Pardon, you are painting a picture which is not an accurate one,your posts possibly, accidentally or possibly deliberately, might accidentally give a misleading picture. you are probably unaware that i have spent a good part of my life, in the company of traditional singers, listening to their songs, and having an INTEREST in the background of their songs and singing ,and that i am not uniNformed, AND I AM INTERESTED IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE SONGS THAT TRADTIONAL SINGERS SING.
as a result of this I am not prepared to sit back and let you mislead people on this forum, and have provided seven examples of the opposite of Walter Pardon.
Jim, please do not ever try and misquote me or ridicule my posts.let me remind you that I am as informed as you are about traditional singers, I spent many hours and happy evenings in the company of tradtional singers in east anglia with John and Katie Howson.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 01:20 PM

Tony Harvey

Personal Portrait no. 12

by John & Katie Howson

This article in our series of portraits of singers and musicians from East Anglia is contributed by co-directors of EATMT, John and Katie Howson, who knew Tony Harvey as a singer and friend for nearly thirty years. When the East Anglian Traditional Music Trust was founded six years ago, there was no more natural person to invite to be the patron than Tony Harvey.

Tony was born in 1937 at Braiseworth, near Framlingham, and lived within a mile or two of this area all his life. His family owned and managed land and farms around the area, and Tony himself was interested in supporting old-fashioned concerns such as the small farm at Bruisyard where he held a memorable weekend of horse events and music in the mid 1980s. In the 1990s, when the historic King's Head pub in Laxfield (locally known as the Low House, and home to many an unscheduled sing-song or tune-up over the years) was threatened with closure, Tony was instrumental in reviving it as a traditional pub where music was always welcome.


We first met Tony around 1980, when Fred Whiting (see Personal Portrait No. 5) took us to Brundish Crown, where Tony would sing a song or two during the evenings of music, stepdancing and singing. He later introduced us to many other singers, and used to arrange sessions in the Hare and Hounds in Framlingham, where landlord Jimmy Finbow presided over a bar where the fixtures and fittings hadn't changed for decades.



Tony sang a wide range of songs, including ballads such as Caroline and the Young Sailor Bold. He enjoyed telling the tale of how he had learned this song from an old lady called Mrs. Wright in Tannington, who had learned it when a small child from the village shop-keeper Mrs. 'Besom' Bloomfield, who had then been in her eighties. Tony also had a couple of more light-hearted songs and sentimental songs such as The Convict's Song, which he had learned from Billy List from Brundish. Perhaps the song you were most likely to hear him sing was one evidently very dear to his horseman's heart: Rattling Old Grey Mare.



In the 1980s and 90s, Tony was a regular at the Old Hat Music Nights in Debenham Red Lion and Cherry Tree and Stradbroke Queen's Head and was frequently part of the Old Hat Concert Party on their outings around the country to the National Folk Festival, Sidmouth Folk Festival and Whitby Folk Week amongst others. The week in Whitby in the company of Ted Chaplin and Font Whatling was quite riotous and Tony enjoyed himself so much, that a couple of months afterwards, he invited us all to a thank you party on board a boat that cruised gently up the River Alde while we sang and ate to our heart's content! On another Old Hat Concert Party outing to the Chestnuts Festival in London, we had a coach load of people waiting outside Mendlesham King's Head at 9am on a Sunday morning. Time passed, still no sign of Tony and Ted Chaplin. Eventually, someone went into the pub, and there they were, two 'John Turners' (a half-pint of beer topped with a gin) on the bar in front of them, which were evidently not the first ones of the morning!



Tony was a most convivial man, a man of many interests and talents, and known to people in many different walks of life and in many regions of the country. He raised money for charities through sponsored horse-drawn drives through the centre of London and to Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria, judged horses at competitions all over the country, rode with all the mounted packs in Britain, had an incredible collection of horse-drawn vehicles including a number of beautiful Gypsy vardos, he attended society functions and hunt balls, and yet he was still at home in the pub in his traditional horseman's suit, with a beer in his hand and a song ready to be sung."
Jim, I remember singing in a pub in Suffolk in the 1980s and Tony came in[it was a pub in EARL SOHAM, Tony insisted on taking me back in his horse and cart to his house[ he was a wealthy man his house was like a mansion]I had to sing for him, he gave me a slap up meal and insisted on paying me 50 pounds, because he liked my singing and concertina playing so much,I thought he was a fine singer, and regard his kindness as one of the best compliments i have ever received.As far as I am concerned a compliment like that from a fine tradtional singer, is worth a hundred snide mudcat remarks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 May 14 - 01:37 PM

So?
Jim Carroll

Don't do it, Jim. There is nothing to be gained. Stick to the interesting stuff that you are providing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 02:49 PM

"Don't do it, Jim. There is nothing to be gained. "
Wouldn't dream of it Vic - but thanks anyway
Just finished this one of Tom Lenihan talking; Pat stumbled over the bit added to the end - we scanned it out from an early edition of Tocher.
Tom was an elderly farmer from West Clare; we recorded him for around 15 years and got several hundred songs from him.
Jim Carroll

TOM LENIHAN
12 PUTTING THE BLÁS* IN THE SONG
J C   What's the word you used Tom, blas, what…
T L   The blas, that was what the old people used to use
If you didn't put the blás in the song, whatever the b'ás means I do not know, but 'twas often said to me and I singing a song, "You puts the real blas in the song'.
The same as that now, 'Michael Hayes', 'The Fox Chase':

Sings:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp,
My rent, rates and taxes I was willing for to pay.
I lived as happy as King Saul, and loved my neighbours, great and small,
I had no animosity for either friend nor foe.

You have to draw out the words and put the blas in the song.
If you did the same as the Swedish couple **

Sings, speeded up:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp.

The blas isn't in that, in any bit of it.
You see now, the blas is the drawing out of the words and the music of it.

J C   What do you think you're passing on with a song Tom, is it a good tune, is it a good story or nice poetry, or what?
T L   'Tis some story I'm passing on with the song all the time
I the composition that was done that time, or the poets that was in it that time, they had the real stuff for to compose their song, they had some story in it.
As I tell you about 'The Christmas Letter', they had some story, but in today's poets, there is no story but the one thing over and over and over again, d'you see?

J C   Yeah.

T L   But that time they had the real story for to start off the song and…., the same as the song I'm after singer there, 'The Fair Maiden in her Father's Garden', well that happened sometime surel; the lover came back and she didn't know him, of course, but yet he knew her, and there he was, and that happened. for certain.
Michael Hayes happened, 'The Christmas Letter' as I say, all them old traditional stuff, that old mother that got the letter for Christmas from her family, all them things happened.
It was right tradition all along, and it was a story or something that happened.

J C   When you sing a song like 'Farmer Michael Hayes', do you have some picture in your mind of what he looks like, his description and what…?

T L   That's right, you will, you'll have a description of Michael Hayes and when he went in and shot the agent and all that sort of that thing that goes on in the song

J C    But you have a picture of what the man looks like?

T L   What the man looks like, that he was a tough man, of course.
But where the story was entirely, how he brought his legs to the United States, and the whole country after him and…
And all the stories, 'The Colleen Bán' there again, is a story handed down, that happened.
J C   Yeah.

* Blas - Relish, taste, good accent (Irish)
** Reference to two visitors who had asked Toms advice on singing


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 02:52 PM

Whoops - premature whatsit!
Jim Carroll

TOM LENIHAN
12 PUTTING THE BLÁS* IN THE SONG
J C   What's the word you used Tom, blas, what…
T L   The blas, that was what the old people used to use
If you didn't put the blás in the song, whatever the b'ás means I do not know, but 'twas often said to me and I singing a song, "You puts the real blas in the song'.
The same as that now, 'Michael Hayes', 'The Fox Chase':

Sings:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp,
My rent, rates and taxes I was willing for to pay.
I lived as happy as King Saul, and loved my neighbours, great and small,
I had no animosity for either friend nor foe.

You have to draw out the words and put the blas in the song.
If you did the same as the Swedish couple **

Sings, speeded up:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp.

The blas isn't in that, in any bit of it.
You see now, the blas is the drawing out of the words and the music of it.

J C   What do you think you're passing on with a song Tom, is it a good tune, is it a good story or nice poetry, or what?
T L   'Tis some story I'm passing on with the song all the time
I the composition that was done that time, or the poets that was in it that time, they had the real stuff for to compose their song, they had some story in it.
As I tell you about 'The Christmas Letter', they had some story, but in today's poets, there is no story but the one thing over and over and over again, d'you see?
J C   Yeah.
T L   But that time they had the real story for to start off the song and…., the same as the song I'm after singer there, 'The Fair Maiden in her Father's Garden', well that happened sometime surel; the lover came back and she didn't know him, of course, but yet he knew her, and there he was, and that happened. for certain.
Michael Hayes happened, 'The Christmas Letter' as I say, all them old traditional stuff, that old mother that got the letter for Christmas from her family, all them things happened.
It was right tradition all along, and it was a story or something that happened.

J C   When you sing a song like 'Farmer Michael Hayes', do you have some picture in your mind of what he looks like, his description and what…?
T L   That's right, you will, you'll have a description of Michael Hayes and when he went in and shot the agent and all that sort of that thing that goes on in the song
J C    But you have a picture of what the man looks like?
T L   What the man looks like, that he was a tough man, of course.
But where the story was entirely, how he brought his legs to the United States, and the whole country after him and…
And all the stories, 'The Colleen Bán' there again, is a story handed down, that happened.
J C   Yeah.

* Blas - Relish, taste, good accent (Irish)
** Reference to two visitors who had asked Tom's advice on singing


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 19 May 14 - 03:09 PM

Some of the recent postings on this thread remind me of a Groucho Mark line: "Whatever it is, I'm against it."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 14 - 03:21 PM

Sorry folks - lost a document
We found this in an old Tocher some years ago - worth comparing with what Tom Lenihan had to say.
Jim Carroll


. . . Oh well, you hear songs sung in many different ways.
You some¬times feel that the people who are singing them have no feeling. . . They know the song and they just rattle through it, as you might say. Then you hear others who really show that they feel what they're singing. . .Oh yes, I always have to give as the words require. Some times a note may be short or a note may be long, according to the word that's used there, and very often there are hardly two verses sung in exactly the same way, on account of the words, because the, -syllables are different. . .   
Oh. . . . the old fellows, well some of them you see, some of them had the art of putting a taste on a tune. . . well, what I would call putting a bias on it, putting a taste on it. You know it's just like eating something that has no taste, and then you put something or. it to put a taste on it. . . Some would sing an air straight through   the bare notes as you might say, and the others would put little grace notes in. that made all the difference, that gave a taste to that air, instead of having it bare. They clothed it up in beautiful garments as you might say.
... I sing [the big songs] to myself because I know that people now¬days, very few. . .like the old big songs, but say fifty or sixty years ago, there were plenty of people who did enjoy that type of song and they would prefer it to anything else that you sang.    Nowadays they're much lighter in their choice.   
You see. it's- this "diddles" that they like. . .   
It's just the way things have gone. The present generation they seem to have lost taste for all these things. The old stories have gone. Nobody has any interest in tales nowadays, and the old songs have gone, because nobody has any interest in them.    They're too difficult for them to learn and they don't like them in any case. And it's a new generation, as you might say, that has grown, and you can't do anything to stop it. Even the language is suffering. It's deterior¬ating because they've lost their taste for good speech. Now the old ones were very particular in their speech, and they took pride in prope speaking, proper talking, and although very few of them had any education seventy or eighty years ago. . . their language was pure at that time,_ and they spoke quite grammatically. Now If you try to correct them in any of their grammar they just laugh at you. . .
SA 1967,'41/2 Recorded from Calum Johnston by Thorkild Knudsen in 1967.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 03:25 PM

Groucho Marx, Not Mark, Richard,I am not against anything, apart from being misquoted,with the following kind of infantile nonsense.Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson - PM
Date: 17 May 14 - 09:17 PM

Of course singers should be listening to source material as an example of best practice, but GSS shouldn't belittle the very useful information that comes from the discussion of approaches to songs by admired performers themselves.

IMHO, the point at issue is that a singer has to tackle a song with knowledge of its meaning/back story -- even when that seems to be partially or entirely of his/her creation.

I have heard enough source singers in live performance introducing their songs (Jeannie Robertson, Lizzie Higgins, Davy Stewart, Belle Stewart, Sheila Stewart etc.) to appreciate the importance of the perceived background of their material -- and to be aware of how that impacts on the actual delivery.

But I'm also aware that other singers will come to the same material with possibly different approaches, which should also be accorded validity… (Although I will persist with my efforts to link young singers to the sources of the songs.)

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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 18 May 14 - 03:51 AM

Why do you always do this Dick?
As long as I have reading what you have had to say you have belittled the role of traditional singers and what they have had to say, while at the same time, paying lip-service to what wonderful people some of them were.
You once described some of them of considering themselves "gods" when I quoted an elderly musician's opinion on a younger fiddle player's performance - pretty well sums up your attitude to all of them.
We owe all our material to these people - without their passing their songs and tunes onto us, we wouldn't have had anything to sing and play - simple as that.
After half a century of listening to traditional singers, and four decades of talking to and recording them, I have long been of the opinion that virtually all of them bring to traditional songs something that is missing from most of the later generation of singers performances, a depth which has come from generations of having the songs as part of their lives.
We learn their songs - we should at least have the courtesy to show an interest in what they have so say - simple good manners, if nothing else.
They were not albums or song-books from which just to lift songs; they were, in our experience, intelligent and articulate human beings with a wealth of information and understanding which were happy to pass on to those who have the common sense to listen to and use it.
In my opinion, there is a ton of evidence to suggest that the younger singers who took the trouble to take more than the words and the tunes, turned out to be better singers and did the songs far more justice than those who didn't.
I have no intention of fouling up this discussion by entering into another one of your unpleasant harangues against traditional singers, I'd much rather benefit from reading more of the valuable information people have already taken the trouble to put up .
If you're not interested in what traditional singers had to say, feel free not to take part.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 14 - 03:31 PM

I am very interested in what tradtional singers have to say, and i have quoted six of them that had a different approach to singing than walter pardon.
Richard, it is called providing a different perspective, it is not about being against anything.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 14 - 03:11 AM

Calum johnston is entitled to his opinion, in my opinion he is talking nonsense, he is generalising about a generation having lost a taste for all these things.
This is an example of a traditional singer giving background to songs that is just an ill informed generalisation, it reminds me of something equally stupid that Bob Roberts once said to me "the younger generation cant waltz any more, they have no civilisation"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 14 - 04:23 AM

Mikeen McCarthy was a Traveller; he was born on the Fairgreen in Cahirciveen, County Kerry in 1931, and spent the first twenty-odd years of his life travelling the rural south west of Ireland, mainly working as a tinsmith and horse-dealer, but he did a host of other jobs - it once took us around five minutes for us to record him to recite a list of all the jobs he did for a radio programme on him.
One of his main trades as a teenager was selling 'the ballads', the song-sheets that were sold around the fairs and markets of rural Ireland, mainly by Travellers, right up to the mid-1950s.
He gave us loads of information on the trade, and how he acquired the material that made up the contents of the sheets.
Ballad selling was probably one of the strongest influences on the circulation of traditional songs in Ireland
Jim Carroll

Mikeen McCarthy Ballad selling
M Mc   Well er, around where my father came from like, he was very well known as being a singer, not a singer now for his living like, but a fireside singer, we'll call it, and what we call ceilidhing now, going to houses.    Well they were very fond of that song where he came from, he'd be like the young people today singing, buying those records, you know.   But it got that popular around that area, travelled from parish to parish then, where he got it from I do not know.
So when I used be selling the ballads then like, and my mother, they used ask me, "have you any of your father's songs", you know, when we went in to where we were reared now, "have you the Blind Beggar, and I used say, no".   
"Why don't you get those printed", they'd say, "those are the songs you'd sell, and if you get them printed I'll buy about a dozen of them off you next time I meet you".   
So that's how I got them in print then myself. My father writes them out for me and I'd go in to the printing office then, then I'd get them printed.
Well they were the songs that did sing, and many a time after I went into the pubs after selling ballads like and things like that and I'd hear all the lads inside on a fair day now, we'll say markets and meetings, well when they'd have a few pints on them, 'tis then you'd hear my songs sung back again out of my ballads. (laughter)
J C       Where did you sell mainly, where did you sell your songs?
M Mc    Fair days now, inside the pubs.
J C       In Kerry, or would you travel out as well?
M Mc 0h, I'd travel away too, Kerry, Clare, all over, wherever there'd be fairs, and anywhere you'd go when the fellers'd be half steamed in the pubs, 'tis then they'd start buying them.   
You'd meet a feller from Kerry now, we'll say, you'd meet him in Clare. I might be selling ballads in Kerry later on and I'd meet the same bloke down there again.    We'd our customers like, they knew us. They new fellers then that'd be interested in the ballads, interested in singing. They'd have a buddy a good singer and they'd like him to learn a song, the way he'd sing it inside in the pub, or at home like.   Yerra, some fine singers there were and all.
J C      You say your mother would sell them as well, your mother used to sell them?
M Mc   Well she'd never hardly sell the songs that she wouldn't know, because she couldn't read, you see. But she'd sell the songs she used to know, But she knew them off by heart like.
J C    How would she get them written out, would she get somebody who could write to do it?
M Mc   Well the printing office we used to go to now, he knew us that well he'd have them all ready wrote out, so she'd want a gross of those songs, that's twelve dozen, twelve dozen of the next song, he knew her well like; "now Jane, I've The Wild Colonial Boy", for instance or "The Blind Beggar", we'll say, all those songs, "I've all those in print now".   They'd all be laid out on the counter then in all different colours, there'd be kind of pink, orange colour, yellow, and white, all that, you know, and they'd be all in bundles like. Well you'd pick and chose them, whichever one you want, threepence a dozen I think that, time, fourpence more times.
J C    How many would you sell of each song, what would be a good sale of ballads?
M Mc   Well, 'twould be a long day's selling like, and if it would be a big fair, d'you know, you'd sell... if you sold say two or three dozen of each among, you should sell at least a gross anyway, like, twelve dozen.
J C         That's in a day?
M Mc   Yeah, well maybe more, might sell more.   Often go into a pub then and you might have a three or four dozen going in and they'd be whipped because maybe one feller might take three ballad of the one song, four, maybe six, you know.    Well he'd ask how much you want and you'd say tuppence. Sure he might take four and he might hand you two bob like, or three bob, you know.   
They'd ask you to sing a song then and bejay, the kitty might go up, you might get ten bob for two or three ballads because everybody would throw in a bob or two, a couple of pence.    I wish I could, do it today; I know the money I'd be earning anyway.
J C    How would you sell them, you know, what do you, say there was a fair in, what would you do?
M Mc You'd go into a pub, only you'd have the ballads in your hand, you'd just walk over and you'd say, "would you like to buy some songs, some ballads".    They'd start looking at them then.    Well they'd take them all away like, they'd start reading them all then and picking them out.   
They'd ask you then, "could you sing that one for us, could we know the air of it".    "Yeah", I'd say; I'd sing it then. They'd buy me a bottle of lemonade or something and I'd sit down and I'd sing it and then often had to sing it maybe two or three times.    There'd be some girl maybe or some boy interested in it. Then they'd want to get into the air of it like.
J C         So you did in fact teach them the air.
M Mc   Yeah, you'd have to teach them the air and they'd have to go over the ballad then again and maybe I'd have to sing it again with them, you know. But they wouldn't want your time for nothing, oh, they'd pay you very well though, whatever you'd want to eat, or something like that, inside in the pub, you know.   
'Tis like the records now, it reminds me of the same thing Jim.   You'd get a hit ballad, so I'd get that in print straight away Jim, but 'twould just travel through our parish or through a town, from one town to another, and fair to another and you'd get the new ballad that would come out and you'd sell twenty times as much of that ballad as you would of the rest of them, when they come out new like,
The Blind Beggar sold very well now, that one.   All those songs now, The Wild Colonial Boy.   
J C       What would you say was the oldest song that went on to a ballad that you know?
M Mc   Oh, the Blind Beggar, I'd say, I'd say that was the oldest because at that time..... I'd meet an old man at that time of sixty five, seventy years we'll say and he'd be contradicting me about the song.    Actually that's how I put it right because the old timers was telling me. The printer might make a mistake and put the second verse where the third one should be or something like that, you know,    But you'd meet the old timers then inside in the pub and they'd contradict me, I'd have to rewrite it out there inside in the bar again and I'd have to go on again.
But I remember one day I was in Listowel Fair and I was selling ballads anyway.    So I goes into a pub, I was fifteen years of age then.   
Actually, I never wanted to pack it up, it was ashamed of the ladies I got, you know.   
But there was an American inside anyway, he wasn't back to Ireland I'd say for thirty years or something, he was saying.   
So I sang that song now, The Blind Beggar, and he asked me to sing it again, and every time I sang it he stuck a pound note into my top pocket.
He said, "will you sing again?"
So I did, yeah. The pub was full all round like, what we call a nook (te) now that time, a small bar, a private little bar off from the rest of the pub.   
"And, will you sing it again"?   
"I will, delighted" again, of course, another pound into my top pocket every time anyway.    And the crowd was around of course and they were all throwing in two bobs apiece and a shilling apiece and I'd this pocket packed with silver money as well.   
So he asked me, "will you sing it for the last time".   
Says I, "I'll keep singing it till morning if you want". (laughter )   
I'd six single pound notes in it when I came outside of the pub. I think I sold the rest of the ballads for half nothing to get away to the pictures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 14 - 04:43 AM

Does anyone have a recording or transcript of neilidh boyles speech on irish trad music where he referred to it as jungle music, do you have that one Jim, old chap?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 20 May 14 - 05:28 AM

Belated response to Dick correcting me:
"Groucho Marx, Not Mark, Richard,I am not against anything, apart from being misquoted ..."

The "Mark" was of course a mere typo, of which one finds many here. (One other board that I use allows one to go back and edit one's own posts. That facility doesn't seem to be abused, but it could be a double-edged sword, and I'm not suggesting it should be introduced here. In its absence, however, we have to put up with silly mistakes, our own and other people's.)

As for who's against anything: I accused no-one in particular. I say only that some of us seem to expend a lot of effort in disagreeing with what others have said, or our interpretations of what others have said. Healthy debate is fine and dandy (e.g. in the present context "Your experience tells you X, but mine tells me Y") but it too easily becomes heated.

But this isn't the first thread where that has gone on, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Meanwhile, we've also had a lot of interesting and relevant quotations, for which thanks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 14 - 05:56 AM

I do hope that the voices of the people who gave us the songs aren't going to be drowned out by this unpleasantness.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 14 - 06:13 AM

Jim,
These transcriptions of interviews that you have made with traditional singers are both very interesting and very important and I have found them to be fascinating and I think that we need to thank you for posting them here. You don't need me to tell you the importance of context and function in traditional song. Whilst others have just cut'n'paste items that are already readily available on the internet to those who are apprised of these things, yours are the result of your own investigations.
They ought to be widely available to scholars. Are they? If not, why not? Go to it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 14 - 06:51 AM

Vic, how information is obtained is hardly relevant, it is the importance of passing it on, there is an implied criticism of me in your comment, why? the providers of the information were credited, by posting them here, I am letting more people know the information.
I am also putting Jims research into perspective, by illustrating that other trad singers had different viewpoints about singing, I feel a balance is very important in ascertaining the truth.

my cut and pasteing has provided a balance, it would be inaccurate if people reading this thread,thought Walter Pardons views on singing and performing were indicative of ALL TRADiTIONAL SINGERS,i want people to have an overall accurate view of traditional singers and how they viewed their songs and singing.
"Whilst others have just cut'n'paste items that are already readily available on the internet to those who are apprised of these things,"
Vic, please explain what difference it makes whether the research is done by John and Katie Howson or Jim Carroll.
All research whether it is by John and Katie Howson, or Jim Carroll,or by chris holderness, or the anonymous provider of the video clip of clarence ashley.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwlOO8RG-og
Vic, I am pleased Jim started this thread and pleased he is sharing his and Pat Mckenzies research here. Vic remember it is JimCarroll and PatMcKenzie,
Vic, please stop this nonsense about cutting and pasteing, information is information and the more people who get informtion and a BALANCED view of traditional singers and how they regarded their songs, the better.Finaly I would like to thank JimCarroll and PatMcKenzie for their work and thank Jim for sharing it here


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 May 14 - 07:26 AM

Here's a section of Carrie Grover's account of singing in Nova Scotia in the late 19th century. Grover was born in Nova Scotia in 1878 and grew up with the songs of family members whose ancestry was tracable back to different parts of the British Isles. She moved to Maine at the age of 12, and made a collection of the songs she'd known as a child, which was published privately and included the version of 'Arthur McBride' that was spotted and made famous by Paul Brady. These excerpts are from her introduction, 'What I know about folk songs' - I'll send you the full text now I've found it, Jim.

"In the little town in Nova Scotia where I was born and where I lived until I was twelve years old, almost everyone sang or tried to sing these old songs and ballads. Neighbors were few and far between, books and magazines were scarce and we had to make the best of what we had. In all our little neighborhood gatherings, paring bees and old-time dances, the singing of a few songs was a part of every evening's entertainment. Often a singer knew only one song, which he was asked to sing on every occasion. If anyone had learned a new song, he was asked to sing it everywhere he went till everyone had learned it...

If a stranger came to house or to one of our neighborhood gatherings, it was considered a breach of good manners not to ask him to sing. The result was not always a happy one for so many people tried to sing who could not even carry a tune, or as one old fellow expressed it, "carried it a ways but dropped it before he got very far." Unfortunately these singers did not always pick up their tunes where they dropped them, but wandered on and off the tune from beginning to end...

Another way the songs were used in my family was as a sort of signal. We lived at the foot of a pond called Sunken Lake, which was nearly a mile long. The road seemed to wind around this pond, never far from the shore. A voice would carry a long way across the water and when father would be on his way home after delivering a load of wood or lumber, he would begin to sing when within a mile of home and mother, who would go out and listen when she thought it was about time for him to be coming, would hear him and have his supper ready when he got there."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 14 - 07:39 AM

Hi Vic
Thanks for that
The ones I put up here (one more to go) were those we used in our talk last week.
We spent twenty years talking to Walter and thirty with Mikeen - they both provided masses of information, as well as songs and (in Mikeen's case) stories, lore and information on Travelling life in rural Ireland.
Our West Clare collection is taken care of - it's housed in the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin, and the songs, fully annotated with texts and background information, are due to go up for public access on the Clare County Library website in the next few months, (along with an already available excellent collection of instrumental music)
The Travellers collection is also in ITMA, and will, in time, see the light of day, possibly in book form.
We are at a bit of a loss with Walter's recordings.
There doesn't seem to be enough interest in such collections of songs and talk in the UK, and certainly no financial backing to make it fully available.
Part of it has been housed in the British Library National Sound Archive for several decades, but they have chosen (I believe for financial reasons) not to include it on their current song web-site.
We would be happy to see it put up, but it really is beyond our control.
During the 'Celtic Tiger' boom years in Ireland, the arts establishments here were extremely generous with their support - we were among the beneficiaries of their help.
I don't thing the same applies to the U.K.
In the meantime, I'm happy to put up these interviews as long as people want to read them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 14 - 08:45 AM

Jim wrote -
"There doesn't seem to be enough interest in such collections of songs and talk in the UK, and certainly no financial backing to make it fully available."


My own approach has been to use long recorded interviews and to make them into multi-media shows with lots of slides of photos, scans from books, illustrations and maps etc. Fortunately, most of these interviews were undertaken in BBC studios so they are of the quality that can be used for sustained interviews, most of them are over an hour long. and then offer them to the various organisations that might show an interest. These have been folk festivals, traditional music weekends and, increasingly, local history societies - a very useful way of getting the message of traditional song beyond its core support. The next one that might be of interest to Mudcat followers is the Gordon Hall presentation which will be at this summer's Bradfield Traditional Music weekend.
I have not even thought about seeking arts funding backing for these presentations, though we have had considerable support from A.C.E. for the shows that Tina and I do with Shirley Collins.

There are also a number that I have transcribed in full and have had posted along with illustrations on Rod Stradling's Musical Traditions website. These include:-

Len Graham - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/l_graham.htm

Bob Copper - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/copper.htm

Reg Hall/Scan Tester - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/tester2.htm

Bayou Seco - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/bay_sec.htm

Johnny Doughty - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/doughty.htm

Gordon Hall - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/g_hall.htm

Bob Lewis - http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/b_lewis.htm

I would have thought that Musical Traditions would have been the ideal place for some of your interviews. I know that Pay and you worked with Rod on the lovely Around The Hills of Clare album.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 May 14 - 08:58 AM

Whoops! Could I get in before the typo-jumper and point out that Pay in my previous post should have read Pat.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 14 - 09:53 AM

"I have not even thought about seeking arts funding backing for these presentations"
We hadn't either, but when we realised we could, we received an extremely generous grant for employing somebody to musically annotate all our Traveller songs, something we were totally incapable of doing ourselves.
It was so generous, we were able to get the remaining 70-odd tapes of interviews we did with them transcribed and ready for publication.
In Ireland, if you wish to publish anything, you have either to pay a publisher yourself or get a grant in order to do so - this includes issuing CDs.
Two years ago, it would have been possible to raise the money - not now, thanks to the bankers (I think I spelled that right).   
Working as we did, we have never allowed ourselves to be put in the position of receiving money from anything we have issued publicly (we've been involved in issuing at least 6 albums of field recordings so far).
All the proceeds arising from sales (with the previous agreement of the singers) have gone directly to the singers, or, where this wasn't possible, to organisations like I.T.M.A., and at one time, to The National Sound Archive in Britain.
We still have a great deal of indexing and annotating to do; we thought that we'd manage it now our collecting activities have slowed almost to a standstill, but things always get in the way
Over the last couple of months we've been recording a 95 year old singer with a repertoire to die (we've sorted out six Child Ballads and a beautiful, long version of the only Irish example of 'The Girl With a Box on her Head' so far) and enough opinions on the song tradition to fill another shelf of tapes (I'm sure this will make one contributor to this thread very happy!!)
That we should all live long enough....!
I have responded to your thoughtful suggestions by PM Vic - thanks for taking the trouble.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 20 May 14 - 03:50 PM

Thanks to Jim for all the great sharing of his experiences with the source singers he and Pat have recorded -- and keenly anticipating a future sharing of his recordings of his 95 year-old informant!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 14 - 03:51 AM

Thanks Anne
Will pass on what we get
This is the last item we used in our talk.
We recorded quite a bit of information on how the songs were passed on between Travellers and the settled communities in South West Ireland.
Here, Mikeen McCarthy described how local people would gather around the caravan at night to listen to his father tell stories and sing songs.
Jim Carroll

06 FATHER SINGING AT WORK
J C When your daddy used to sing, how many people would you say at one time would come and listen to him?

M Mc Oh, there could be twenty, maybe more, maybe thirty, it depends, maybe there could be more than that again.    There'd be some round the fire in a ring, there might be another twenty standing on the road.   There wouldn't be any traffic at that time on the byroads in Ireland, d'you know.   They'd be all standing out along the road then.
My father was a musician as well, he used play a piano accordion, a tin whistle, mouth organ, anything like that, you know.   Then he used to have the little dancing dolls. He'd make a little dancing doll, he used to make them himself out of very hard wood, he'd make them exact and they'd be all put together like, with elastic. He'd have a piece of a board then and he'd put the board under him, in the chair, in between his two legs, like that like, and he'd have the little doll out there, he'd have another stick out of the back of it and he'd start off then, diddling with his mouth like and he'd start putting that little doll and it dancing away to perfect, same as an ordinary person'd be dancing.   
But those things, they must be born into him like, because they were things you couldn't learn like. I tried to learn, I couldn't, I must be stupid or something (laughter).

D T       You couldn't learn how to do it?

M Mc    Oh no, I couldn't, I could a little bit, but I'd be ashamed to do it. But you'd love to hear him there in the mornings.

J C   Where would your daddy do most of his singing, where would you say he'd sing more than anywhere else?

M Mc An' he working, always.   When he'd be working at his tinware like, a hammer goes very fast, faster than a blacksmith, 'twould remind you of a feller singing and another feller playing a kit of drums, he was kind of timing the song with the hammer like, that's the way I look into it now, I hadn't the sense of it that time like.

D T       Did he always sing while he worked?

M Mc   Oh yeah, always sing.   
And a group'd get together then, we'd have an open fire outside that time. He was very well known.
A group of farmers'd always come around then, young lads, we'll say, teenagers, they'd all come round to the fire 'cause there was no televisions that time, no wirelesses, things like that.   
All down then, it often happened they'd bring their own bag of turf with them. Around seven or eight O' clock in the evening and they'd know the time the supper'd be over and all this.    You'd see a couple of cigarettes lighting at the cross and you'd know they'd start to gather then, 'twould be like a dance hall.   
We'd be all tucked into bed but we wouldn't be asleep, we'd be peeping out through keyholes and listening out through the side of the canvas, we'd be stuck everywhere, and he'd know it you know.   
And the fire'd go on. One of the lads then 'd come up for the light of a cigarette or something, he'd be already after topping the cigarette, 'twas just an excuse, "could I have a light out of the fire Mick", they'd say to my father.
Sure, my father'd know, he'd know what he'd be up to, of course and he'd say, "'Tisn't for the light of a fire you came up at all now, 'tisn't for the light of a cigarette you came up for now" and he'd start to laugh.   
And bejay, another feller'd come and he'd say it again, "bejay, before I know where I am there'd be ten of you there".   
And bejay, the word wouldn't be out of his mouth and they would be coming up along, coming up along, and the next thing one feller'd shout to the other, "can't you go down and bring up a gual* of turf, and before you'd know where you are there'd be a roaring fire, 'twould band a wheel for you.   
So 'tis there you'd hear the stories then and the songs, all night, maybe till one o'clock in the morning.   And the kettle... the tea'd go on then, there'd be a round of tea and....   That's the way it'd go on.

*Gual - armful


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: GUEST,#
Date: 21 May 14 - 07:51 PM

For GSS

"Neil O'Boyle
Neil O'Boyle, (1889-1961), better known as 'Neillie'. He was born in Easton, Pennsylvania and grew up near Dungloe. Famous for his Donegal 'Northern' style of fiddling - brisk tempo and crisp staccato bowing. Also famous for his strong views on Jazz and Pop music, which he dubbed 'Jungle Music'. Only recorded 6 sides on 78.
(Thanks to the sleeve notes for 'From Galway To Dublin' - Rouder CD 1087)"

from

http://thesession.org/tunes/1091


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 May 14 - 08:46 AM

Great stuff, Jim! You are doing a marvellous job and we are all thankful that you are fit and well and willing to do it.

Can you list the Child ballads you got recently for us please?

I am in your debt greatly once again. I acquired a copy of Fowler and have read this marvellous book. I don't want to open old wounds especially here so I will email you with my impressions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 14 - 09:51 AM

Hi Steve
So far we've listed and are in the process of recording - Keach in the Creel, Katherine Jaffray, The Suffolk Miracle, Lord Lovel and Lord Bateman
In addition, The Constant Farmer's Son, The Alfred Raided Snow (Shipwreck song from Wexford), Girl with a Box on her Head (only version from Ireland) and a numerous specifically Irish songs.
Other possibilities, not yet fully discussed, are; The Cruel Mother, John Barleycorn, Captain Wedderburn, Tom Tadger....
His opinions on singing are fascinating, and the background that comes with it seems fascinating.
Off to see him in an hour or so.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Singers Talking
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 May 14 - 10:07 AM

Off to see him in an hour or so.
Jim Carroll


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