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Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??

DigiTrad:
SHALLOW BROWN
SHALLOW BROWN 2


Related threads:
Recordings of Shallow Brown? (59)
(origins) Origins/Add Versions Shallow Brown (43)


Toots 05 Feb 01 - 08:37 PM
Sarah2 05 Feb 01 - 08:44 PM
SeanM 06 Feb 01 - 12:14 AM
English Jon 06 Feb 01 - 07:27 AM
Garry Gillard 06 Feb 01 - 07:28 AM
Garry Gillard 06 Feb 01 - 08:12 AM
Naemanson 06 Feb 01 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,JohnB 06 Feb 01 - 12:46 PM
Liam's Brother 06 Feb 01 - 03:07 PM
Bill D 06 Feb 01 - 10:27 PM
Rev 06 Feb 01 - 10:58 PM
Naemanson 06 Feb 01 - 11:18 PM
Ship'scat 07 Feb 01 - 05:41 AM
Learchild 07 Feb 01 - 03:15 PM
Jeri 07 Feb 01 - 05:44 PM
Naemanson 07 Feb 01 - 07:07 PM
Jeri 07 Feb 01 - 07:38 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 09:38 AM
Keith A of Hertford 06 Oct 09 - 09:53 AM
breezy 06 Oct 09 - 09:56 AM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 10:01 AM
Will Fly 06 Oct 09 - 10:53 AM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 10:54 AM
The Sandman 06 Oct 09 - 11:30 AM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Oct 09 - 11:33 AM
Passive Pancreas 06 Oct 09 - 11:38 AM
Tug the Cox 06 Oct 09 - 11:42 AM
Gibb Sahib 06 Oct 09 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 06 Oct 09 - 01:11 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 01:24 PM
The Sandman 06 Oct 09 - 01:32 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Oct 09 - 01:45 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 02:25 PM
Gibb Sahib 06 Oct 09 - 02:40 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Oct 09 - 02:42 PM
Gibb Sahib 06 Oct 09 - 02:43 PM
The Sandman 06 Oct 09 - 02:59 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Oct 09 - 03:09 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 03:18 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 04:06 PM
Dead Horse 06 Oct 09 - 05:50 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 06:02 PM
greg stephens 06 Oct 09 - 06:07 PM
Tug the Cox 06 Oct 09 - 07:28 PM
Will Fly 07 Oct 09 - 03:19 AM
davyr 07 Oct 09 - 06:32 AM
greg stephens 07 Oct 09 - 06:39 AM
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Subject: Shallow Brown
From: Toots
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 08:37 PM

I sing with the Tyneside Maritime Chorus, and we`ve been discussing songs such as the above. It`s a beautiful song, and great with a million harmonies, but, when you have a lot of people singing it, without the organisation of a director, it becomes laboured and long? I admit at festivals and big clubs I`m guilty!, but why do we spoil these songs? Any comments will be happily received, especially from Pat Thornton if you`re kicking about. I found your threads eventually, but whether or not I`ll do it again remains to be seen. Love to all you true trad folkies out there!xxxxxxxxx


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Sarah2
Date: 05 Feb 01 - 08:44 PM

Interspersed solos/duets/sectional parts to break it up?

Sarah


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: SeanM
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 12:14 AM

The group I was with most recently faced this problem with a few shanties... the only advice I can give is what seemed to work with us.

Rather than remain wedded to doing 'full' renditions of all available verses, just cull your favorites out and sing those. By doing this, you can also learn multiple verses and judge the audience response to longer versions of the tune. Don't be afraid to be conservative in how long the song goes, though. Better to serve up and leave the audience panting for more, rather than slog through 105 verses of "Paddy Lay Back" and empty a venue.

M


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: English Jon
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 07:27 AM

A lot of shanties have no real narrative flow, certainly no more than a couple of verses per subject. This is because they were work songs, and needed to be of variable length depending on the job.

Pick the best verses, keep a few in the bag for if the songs going down really well and drop them in if necessary. Also, bear in mind that sailors would often "chime in" with the odd verse, even if the song was led by a shanteyman. Apply this logic and you break up the song simply by using different voices.

Hope that helps.

Oh yes, we murder these songs because we enjoy singing them so much.

Cheers, Jon


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 07:28 AM

Just follow the lead of Coope Boyes & Simpson.

Garry


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Garry Gillard
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 08:12 AM

Oh, and Peter Bellamy sings it too.

Garry


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Naemanson
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 09:32 AM

I sing in a sea chanty group. There are 6 of us. We do a number of slow, beautiful chanties as well as plenty of high energy chanties. We find it helps to vary the lead singers.

In our group we use a lead singer with the rest of the group chiming in on the choruses (chori?) and refrain lines. In a single evening's performance you will hear every member of the group at least once and sometimes three or four times depending on the length of the set.

Also we break up the group into smaller groups and solo performers so the audience isn't continually bombarded with the "full Russian chorus" (this is a phrase we use about aourselves) throughout the set.

And we include, if we have time in an evening, poems and stories. And we have a pretty good patter between songs that keeps the audience educated, amused, and awake. Plus you should see our low tech special effects.

Here are a few tricks I learned in community theater. To keep the fresh edge in your voice do a few light exercises just before you go on stage. Try a few jumping jacks or push hard against a wall. Then push away from the wall and step out in front of the audience. That little bit will give you an energy that the audience can pick up and reflect back at you. done right that energy will bounce between you and the audience all night long.

Most importantly make sure the audience can see that you are out there having fun.

I think that is more than you asked for but it all contributes to keeping the slow beautiful songs bright and new.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 12:46 PM

To sing the songs better, stop listening to each others harmonies, that is what slows our group down. Oh yeah I remember now, That's why we were singing the song, for the harmonies. I guess it wasn't screwed up after all. JohnB


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 03:07 PM

Try looking at the lips of the lead singer. When he or she's finished singing a line of the chorus, it's time to move on to the next line. You might practice with just the lead singing the song a couple of verses/choruses so everyone should understand how long the chorus lines are supposed to last.

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 10:27 PM

when people get in groups, they often seem to speed up some songs...and drag out & slow down line endings on others. It seems to be some sort of attempt to 'push' for more feeling....hard to say. It can be very tricky to keep a song moving at it's proper pace. Shallo Brown is a pretty un-rhythmical song and needs a strong 'lead' to keep it moving..

(and trying to keep pumping shanties from being speeded up beyond any human ability to pump is a REAL trick!)


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Rev
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 10:58 PM

I actually perform two very different verisons of Shallow Brown. One is nice and slow, to which I accompany myself on guitar, and which sounds nice with the harmonies. I sing a melody that's pretty common in folk circles. I think it's the melody that Gordon Bok uses and maybe also Cindy Kallet. The other version I perform a cappella. It is more upbeat and rhythmic than the other. That's the version that I learned when I worked on the demonstration squad at Mystic Seaport, and I think we got it from Hugill. If I'm worried about the song getting bogged down and slow I just sing it nice and briskly and the harmonies still sound great, just a very different feel. If the mood is right though, the slow one can be extremely beautiful. Although many chanteys are quite slow, depending on the job they're being used for they can, and in my opinion should, be sung uptempo with as much gusto as one can muster. I'm glad to hear that there are so many people singing chanteys who take it so seriously. Keep the faith!

Rev


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Naemanson
Date: 06 Feb 01 - 11:18 PM

Oh, and there is another trick that our most experienced musician has tried to get us to use. Practice your songs with a metronome! Set a speed and learn to sing it at that speed.

As an aside, we all hate this exercize. But it works...


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Ship'scat
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 05:41 AM

Ahh Shallow Brown. The lore of our group included a Fast Shallow (starts with A Yankee boat ....) and a Slow Shallow (an ode to Juliana).

The fast shallow was in the category of a two pull halliard shanty with a vision of just enough time to set you hands between the two shallow.

The slow shallow was in our category of high callorie, fattening shanties in which we pruposefully milked the length and sweetness of the harmonies well beyond anything you could work to. I personnaly love those opportunities, particularly when it does represent a change/mix up with high energy (not nescessarily fast) shanties. Going between swet and sweat.

As to Dan's comments on "lip synching", we certainly used this within the group. For "conducting" audiences some of us resorted to more expressive body language to get communicate that its time to stop doing one thing and do something else. The odd broad jesture here and there can work wonders. Shantying without some kind of movement is, well just singing, not shantying. Moderation and minimalism are the watch words to keep it from looking really silly.

KC King, The Boarding Party


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Learchild
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 03:15 PM

Hi toots - Maritme Chorus eh! See you at the Bridge some time? wonder who you are? Are you 'doing' the folk and fun weekend up at Hadrian Lodge in a couple of weeks? maybe we could experiment with all these great suggestions then.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 05:44 PM

To interject a bit of thread creep, I'm in awe over this woman, or the guy who originally wrote the song about her. From what I know (which isn't much) Shallow Brown was the same as Sally Brown, and there are a gazillion songs about her. I've also heard that there was a real honest-to-goodness Sally Brown. The version of Shallow Brown I know has to have one of the top tunes in folkdom as well.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Naemanson
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 07:07 PM

Jeri, I don't think I've heard you do Shallow Brown. do you do the fast one or the slow one?


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Feb 01 - 07:38 PM

It's slow, and I don't actually know the whole thing. (Should have said the one I'm most familiar with.) I'm fairly sure it's the same slow one KC referred to above, since I (sort of) know it from a Boarding Party tape.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 09:38 AM

Kate Barfield sings it well

Shallow Brown


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 09:53 AM

I halve the number of verses by pairing them up.

A single line repeated is less interesting anyway

Except for 1st verse which comes back as last verse.

Oh I'm bound for to leave her,
Bound away for to leave her.

Ole masser goin to sell me
Sell me to a yanky

Sell me for a dollar
Big gold Spanish dollar

sell me for a sailor
Shipped on board a whaler

Fair thee well Juliana
Loved you well Juliana

And I'm bound for to leave her,
Bound away for to leave her.

It works for me.
keith.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: breezy
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 09:56 AM

mmmmmm

I must have some of the timing wrong or else the conga drums are getting in the way.

Much prefer Rum and Shrub's version

Tempo is O K though

IMHO


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 10:01 AM

Does the phrase "must have some of the timing wrong" have meaning in the context of singing a folk song like Shallow Brown? (Discuss)
Or, to put it in the words of the immortal Rudyard, there are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, and every single one of them is right.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 10:53 AM

Can't hear any timing problems - sounds fine to me.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 10:54 AM

I


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 11:30 AM

well it depends what you mean by well.

I have heard OTHER Shanty groups,sing this EQUALLY well .
Kate has a good voice sings in tune and her diction is ok.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 11:33 AM

You?


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Passive Pancreas
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 11:38 AM

8 years of discussion heh heh heh. Some conversations never end do they? Lol


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 11:42 AM

There are loads of verses for this song. Some are recogsiably about a sailor going to sea, and missing his woman, others clearly from a woman's point of view, being left behind and fearing being sold before her lover returns with money to buy her freedom. A friend and I sing these verses alternatively, with a narrator singing the first and penultimate , and both proragonists doing the last one.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 12:55 PM

FWIW the rhythm in the Boat Band clip sounded just fine to my ears.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:11 PM

rhythym for what?no it wouldnt be powerful enough for A WORKING shanty,but its alright if you like that kind of thing.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:24 PM

We were just singing it on stage. Now, if we had been tugging our mainbraces or fothering the futtock shrouds we would have been doing it very differently, possibly with a substantially different rhythm(or another set of verses, for that matter).


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:32 PM

I have given it 4 stars.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:45 PM

Greg, I didn't realise that you were putting up your own bands version til just now. I imagine other posters didn't realise that by not agreeing with your comment, that they would be offending you.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:25 PM

Not offended, Crow Sister. In fact I dont think anybody's been particularly critical. Anyway, criticism is what I hope for! There are many different rhythmic approaches you can take to Shallow Brown. I am very interested in the song, it is the one I have worked with with many young rappers and DJs recently; the possibilities, in the lyrics, tune and rhythms of the version we use, are just staggering. MC Meistro in Manchester, to take one example has deconstructed, this in some very ingeniouis ways, expanding every line into a new story using other rappers in a kind of viral way. And the use of the Bahamian brass band style in the version I put a link to gives another set of connections.
A very suggestive song, and strong enough to take whatever any of us throw at it.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:40 PM

It's fairly ridiculous to expect a precise "working" rhythm to a song when no work is being done with it. It's like if you're dancing with no partner and someone says, "you're not holding him/her tightly enough."   See, the specific work at hand at a specific moment will basically determine the rhythm and tempo, so if people were working why singing it, naturally they would fall into the "correct" rhythm. In other contexts it is very difficult, if not absurd, to mime that.

Don't get me wrong ; I happen to be VERY interested in the practical aspect of chantey singing, including determining realistic rhythm/tempo. I really am! However, I think there is a logical fallacy in a lot of judgements about stage performances. What's more, I think it sometimes gets to the point where people hold this "not correct for work" card over performances like some sort of power play. One can see how a lot of entertainment-based renditions have been ridiculous in style, so as to inspire grunts and sighs about how the performers are fairly clueless. But that has also become a sort of default charge against people who are NOT clueless and -- *gasp* -- maybe decided for one reason or the other, as the situation called for, to do something different.

Certain rhythms, yes, just DO NOT work for chantey tasks, but there are other styles where the rhythm, though you can't dance a jig to it, nonetheless maintains and organizes the labour quite well. It is like the rhythm of breathing, and I think "Shallow Brown" is one of the chanteys that CAN be interpreted in that way. The actions don't occur at precise time points because the effort lasts over a certain interval of time; even at the lowest tempo, it's not really possible to swing a sledge hammer with precise metronomic regularity!


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:42 PM

That was my fault. I totally misinterpreted your last post as a sarcastic reaction to some of the responses! Just goes to show what I (don't) know about shanty speak.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:43 PM

greg,

In connection to your note -- I think the "fast" version of Shallow Brown (mentioned earlier in the thread, a style popular in some circles only tho, I think) is really good to "rap" on -- I've done it myself on long car rides, haha

Gibb


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:59 PM

Greg,I prefer it unaccompanied with vocal harmony.
there was absolutely nothing wrong with the percussion[but imo],it didnt add much.
I also thought,that if you were going to use brass,you could have used more improvisation,imagine what Satchmo or other jazzers would have done
the brass playing was good,but [imo]could have been much more adventurous,as regards improvisation.
when I hear Brass instruments used in the Folk world,Generally speaking,[not the case with your band]I am made aware of the gulf in standard between folk players and jazz players.
likewise when I hear jazz players trying to play traditional tunes,it becomes obvious that they are out of their depth with the genre.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 03:09 PM

Lovely. My kind of folk music. Wish I could have made the 20th anniversary gig.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 03:18 PM

GSSD:I think Satchmo and the post-1923(say) jazzers produced fabulous innovations, and feature hugely in my record collection! But I think the timeless quality and space in the pre-lapsarian pre-Satchmo New Orleans players, and the Bahamian brass street bands, had absolutely the airiness that I wanted for this tune. And I also wanted to emphasise the origin of this song in the Caribbean. SO we played our hommage to a style that never existed except in our heads! There you go. That's where we were when we did it in 1989, and re-played it last week in that video clip. But I am very sure that in five years time we will be doing Shallow Brown very differently again. It is a continuous thread in my head, that tune and those words!
PS The Clarinet and the first trobone were improvising. The trumpet and second trombone were playing a fixed line.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 04:06 PM

More to Good Soldier Schweik: interested in your suggestions. If you go to Will Fly's Video clip thread with clips from this concert, you could have a listen to this line-up playing Magic Island Merengue, in a much more improvised style(sort of Haitian with N Orleans overtones). Tell me what you make of it, on that thread(or this as you wish). Thanks a lot for giving this some critical attention.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Dead Horse
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 05:50 PM

Just to be bl**dy awkward, I always sing "Challo" iinstead of Shallow for the slow version.
I think Challo refers to colour, but not too sure, will have to read Uncle Stan agin :-)
The hard CH sound is really noticeable when I do it this way, as opposed to the often drawn out "ssssssssh" of the more popular chorus.
I doz it cos I likes it. So there!

P.S. Greg, glad ya didnt do Shallow Brarrn at CSH last week.
We could nivver have danced ta that! :-)


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 06:02 PM

Dead Horse: "I doz it cos I likes it. So there!"
The perfect philosphy for folk, in fact the only viable one. Good on yer.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 06:07 PM

Also to Dead Horse: we were under very strict instructions from the management at C# House: no deviations from cajun country into the more esoteric realms of our repertoire! And he who pays the piper....


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 07:28 PM

Dead Horse, Challo and Shallo are identical in pronunciation. Challo as in french... Chanteuse, charlotte, etc, shallo as in English, Short sharp etc.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Oct 09 - 03:19 AM

Challo is fine - as in C Charp House...


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: davyr
Date: 07 Oct 09 - 06:32 AM

In fact, "shallow" means "half-dressed" or "near naked". In Victorian London, beggars often worked "shallow" in cold weather so as to elicite sympathy from potential benefactors.


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Subject: RE: Shallow Brown - how to sing it well??
From: greg stephens
Date: 07 Oct 09 - 06:39 AM

I'll bear that in mind when we perform it next!


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