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Songs to avoid...

Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 03:38 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Mar 06 - 03:40 PM
Ernest 07 Mar 06 - 03:42 PM
fat B****rd 07 Mar 06 - 03:45 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 03:53 PM
Purple Foxx 07 Mar 06 - 03:58 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:02 PM
Purple Foxx 07 Mar 06 - 04:05 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:12 PM
Leadfingers 07 Mar 06 - 04:12 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Mar 06 - 04:14 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:18 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:20 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:22 PM
Emma B 07 Mar 06 - 04:32 PM
Santa 07 Mar 06 - 04:33 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:37 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 04:43 PM
Dan Schatz 07 Mar 06 - 04:50 PM
Joybell 07 Mar 06 - 04:52 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 05:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Mar 06 - 05:01 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 05:05 PM
Purple Foxx 07 Mar 06 - 05:12 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 05:19 PM
Micca 07 Mar 06 - 05:35 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 05:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Mar 06 - 05:40 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 05:46 PM
Bert 07 Mar 06 - 05:55 PM
Northerner 07 Mar 06 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,wordy 07 Mar 06 - 06:17 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 07 Mar 06 - 06:48 PM
The Fooles Troupe 07 Mar 06 - 07:19 PM
Leadfingers 07 Mar 06 - 07:45 PM
The Fooles Troupe 07 Mar 06 - 07:48 PM
The Badger 07 Mar 06 - 08:07 PM
The Fooles Troupe 07 Mar 06 - 08:14 PM
Maryrrf 07 Mar 06 - 08:27 PM
GUEST 07 Mar 06 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,thurg 08 Mar 06 - 12:14 AM
Purple Foxx 08 Mar 06 - 02:11 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Mar 06 - 02:13 AM
Northerner 08 Mar 06 - 04:42 AM
Northerner 08 Mar 06 - 05:24 AM
Purple Foxx 08 Mar 06 - 05:33 AM
Northerner 08 Mar 06 - 05:40 AM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 08 Mar 06 - 07:32 PM
Ernest 09 Mar 06 - 04:24 AM
Northerner 09 Mar 06 - 06:16 AM
Nick 09 Mar 06 - 07:23 AM
Northerner 09 Mar 06 - 07:53 AM
Once Famous 09 Mar 06 - 07:58 AM
Purple Foxx 09 Mar 06 - 08:06 AM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Mar 06 - 08:12 AM
Crystal 09 Mar 06 - 08:29 AM
Northerner 09 Mar 06 - 08:58 AM
Scoville 09 Mar 06 - 11:09 AM
Northerner 09 Mar 06 - 11:44 AM
Ernest 09 Mar 06 - 01:43 PM
Melani 09 Mar 06 - 02:50 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 10 Mar 06 - 02:26 PM
Purple Foxx 10 Mar 06 - 02:38 PM
shepherdlass 10 Mar 06 - 02:42 PM
Northerner 10 Mar 06 - 07:56 PM
Tattie Bogle 10 Mar 06 - 08:54 PM
Northerner 11 Mar 06 - 04:58 AM
melodeonboy 11 Mar 06 - 06:01 PM
Tootler 11 Mar 06 - 07:28 PM
Bert 12 Mar 06 - 02:58 AM
Northerner 12 Mar 06 - 05:48 AM
Greyeyes 29 Oct 08 - 07:34 AM
SPB-Cooperator 29 Oct 08 - 08:12 AM
Mr Happy 29 Oct 08 - 08:21 AM
Bat Goddess 29 Oct 08 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,oldnickilby 29 Oct 08 - 09:05 AM
quokka 29 Oct 08 - 10:11 AM
Northerner 29 Oct 08 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Norcsalordie 29 Oct 08 - 04:14 PM
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Subject: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 03:38 PM

Hello everyone! I'm a new Mudcatter! I've been reading some of your threads for a while and have finally taken the plunge and joined you.

I have a question to ask you.   I used to be a very keen floor-singer when I was younger but dropped out of the folk music scene for a very long time when I had some serious health issues (now resolved).

I started going back to folk music events in the summer of 2003, and back to folk clubs last summer. In January of this year I finally started singing again. I was very nervous initially but am being given a good reception floor singing in local clubs. Most weeks I go to three clubs, sometimes more.

I had completely forgotten all of my old material and have had to learn it all over from the beginning again. I really wasn't sure where to start, so I started right at the beginning with the songs I started out with - and that's 30 years ago. Because I hadn't sung them for so long they all feel fresh to me. I did wonder though if using songs from this period would be a bit old-fashioned, and if there were newer, more popular songs that I should be learning.

I started with "Martin Said to His Man". This went down really, really well. One club organiser asked me to sing it again. Then I followed up with "Wild Mountain Thyme", "Scarborough Fair" and "Loving Hannah". "Loving Hannah" also got a very enthusiastic approval from a club organiser. Next ones I intend singing are "Busk, busk", "Recruited Collier" and "Sorry the Day I was Married".   

Question: Are any of these really tired old chestnuts, that I should be avoiding? Are there any songs that I should avoid? Or do I simply sing them and see which ones go down the best?

I'm from the north-east of England and sing English songs. My parents were Scots and I also lived in Aberdeen for a year and love the songs from that area, so I sing Scottish songs as well.

Thank you all.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 03:40 PM

Sing 'em all, if you sing 'em well!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Ernest
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 03:42 PM

First of all, welcome to the mudcat, Northener!

Which songs to avoid? Perhaps those that are overdone like Wild Rover, Whisky in the jar etc.

But this may be the choice for my place (Berlin, Germany), not yours...

Good luck

Ernest


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: fat B****rd
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 03:45 PM

Welcome, Northerner. Glad you're better. What Clinton said.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 03:53 PM

Hello and thank you all! Seems that maybe I should be careful on some of the Irish ones... But if I like them, well hey, I should get up and raise the roof with them!

Thank you for your good wishes.

Diane


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 03:58 PM

Welcome Northener.
Chick Murray claimed he was passing the Rangers club one night when a man stopped him & asked him the quickest way to the Infirmary.
"Easy,said Chick,away in there & sing "Danny Boy!" "
Other than that sing what you wish.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:02 PM

Hi Purple Foxx! That's not in my repertoire either - though I went to a singing class last autumn and we sang it there. Along with "My love is like a red, red rose". Same catergory I think. They must have been good once.

I probably already know what the real old chestnuts are...


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:05 PM

Oh yes "Blaydon Races" is probably best avoided in Sunderland.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:12 PM

What a shame. It's quite an enjoyable song. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:12 PM

There is nothing wrong with 'the old chestnuts' except that some of 'em DID get done to death in 'the good old days' . But as we havent heard them for a while , they sound fresh again ! Sing what you feel comfortable singing , and have a good time


          Oh Yes - And Welcome to The Cat


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:14 PM

" nothing wrong with 'the old chestnuts'"

Only good swords
Become old swords

:-)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:18 PM

Thank you Leadfingers!

Now, I'm looking to hear someone sing "Band of Shearers" again...

I'm going up for a nostalgia visit to Aberdeen at the end of the month. Really looking forward to it. I'm only going to stop over for a day on my way to see a cousin in Turriff but I'll be posting details about it. There's a storytelling festival on. I'm really excited about it. I'm learning how to be a storyteller!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:20 PM

That's probably true Hammond. Many of these old chestnuts probably don't sound like chestnuts at all when they are sung by the right singer on the right occasion.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:22 PM

Sorry Clinton - I got your name wrong.

I go away to festivals occasionally. Do you think anyone would enjoy hearing about what I get up to? I go to both folk festivals and storytelling festivals.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Emma B
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:32 PM

Have you been to Festival at the Edge Northerner? - a wonderul mix of storytelling and music.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Santa
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:33 PM

In my opinion, you are right to at least consider avoiding real chestnuts, and a couple of the ones on your list must be borderline at best. Scarborough Fair perhaps, but it is a great song. Wild Mountain Thyme, but everyone does love joining in the chorus. Best kept for a closer, perhaps? Ditto Sorry The Day I Was Wed. But Loving Hannah is a beautiful song that hasn't been overdone, and Recruited Collier was last popularised by Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts, which is itself quite a long time ago now. I don't remember Busk, Busk, so that must be due for a revival.

In the end, however, it is better to sing a song well than worry about the audience having heard it too often before. If you can mix in a few songs that are newer to you and your audience so much the better, but this will come with time as you listen to other singers.

I suspect you know all of this anyway.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:37 PM

Hello Emma! No, I didn't have time to get to it last year. Maybe I'll get there this year.

Last year I went to the Beyond the Border Festival, the week's storytelling workshop at Bleddfa, Whitby Folk Week, the Lake District Storytelling Festival and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival - oh and part of Saltburn.

Beyond the Border has been put back to biennial this year, so Festival at the Edge might be a good alternative for me.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:43 PM

Thank you Santa. That sounds like good advice. I will also be able to tell from audience reactions which songs are the better ones to put into my more permanent repertoire again.

I will be able to add newer material eventually. At the moment, digging out my older material is a help in putting a repertoire together quickly and in giving me confidence.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:50 PM

I tend to think there are few experiences more powerful than hearing one of the "old chestnuts" performed in a new way, that makes them almost like a new song. The best of the old favorites are, as others have said, songs that last because they're good. That's what folk music is all about. I think they only become tiresome when the emotional connection gets lost - then it's just insipid.

But if you have a real present emotion coming through the singing, you might just revive a good song for a lot of people. I especially love to hear "chestnuts" thrown in a set with lots of less familiar songs - it helps to highlight just how good that old standard can be.

Dan Schatz


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Joybell
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 04:52 PM

Hello Northerner. The old songs have never gone away for some of us. In nearly 60 years of singing I've learned songs new and old, fashionable and forgotten. Sometimes the songs I sing become fashionable and over-done so I leave them aside for a bit, sing them at home, then come back to them.
Give every place they'll have you a try I reckon. If anyone tells you a song is unacceptable tell them you learned it from your family where it's a tradition. Welcome and Good luck.
Cheers, Joy (in Australia)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:01 PM

Thank you both. All of my songs will probably sound quite fresh because I have so much joy in standing up and singing them. At one stage I thought I would never be up and singing in a folk club again. So it is especially wonderful for me to be singing them. I suspect that will come over in my singing. And I can always rest them once I have sung them round my current clubs. And perform new ones!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:01 PM

I did wonder though if using songs from this period would be a bit old-fashioned...?

Surely "old-fashioned" is a very strange word indeed to use in a negative sense in the context of folk music.

It's a bit like apologising for using a round ball in a game of football. (Real football, that is.)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:05 PM

I couldn't really think of a good exact word to use. "Tired" perhaps, or "passe". Songs that sound dull through overuse. Songs that might also reflect how out-of-date I've become. I think my song selection does sound like I've put it together as a list of 70s favourites. Songs do go in and out of fashion I suspect.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:12 PM

I think possibly your concerned about your repertoire being cliched,Northener.
Don't be.
Most people will not have heard you sing these songs.
That automatically makes them something new.
Sing what you like & like what you sing & , most likely,your audience will as well.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:19 PM

Thank you Purple Foxx. Yes, that's right. Cliched is pretty close to what I was worried about.

I've been updating my CD collection so I'll gradually find out which songs have become more popular with today's folk club audiences. And I'm going to see a good number of folk performers, both at folk clubs and at festivals.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Micca
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:35 PM

Welcome Northerner, If I may contribute? sometimes a song that is a bit passé in one area may be "fresh and new" in another. I remember vividly at a song circle a few hundred miles from my normal stamping ground doing a song that was almost old hat in my local clubs and expecting EVERYONE to come in on the Chorus only to find that very few knew it and those not well enough to do it justice!!! I was slightly discomknockerated


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:39 PM

A good point Micca. I'm hoping to gradually introduce some of the songs that I heard during my year in Aberdeen. There's certainly some that aren't sung very often in the Tees Valley. And I'm expecting to be up in Scotland a few more times this year. May find some more good material.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:40 PM

It isn't really a matter of which songs are popular with today's folk club audiences. If anything it's the complete reverse of that.

You take note of which songs are being sung by other floor singers, or guest performers, in the places where you want to sing, and you leave those alone.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:46 PM

Hmm. I heard "Busk, busk" being sung by another singer at one of the clubs that I go to. It's one of my favourites. She also sang it far too slowly, in my opinion. Sounds like I should avoid singing it in that particular club and just sing it at the two others (she doesn't go to the others).

Is there any kind of etiquette at all? That if a singer sings a song regularly it is polite to leave it alone?

I do generally prefer not to tread on somebody else's song, but I have a few firm favourites.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Bert
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 05:55 PM

I love the old favourites but always include one or more songs that I'm sure that no one has ever heard before.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:05 PM

Thank you Bert. At the moment I don't know which songs will be unfamiliar to the other performers but I'm guessing that my Scottish material will be the least familiar, apart from songs like "Busk, busk" that has penetrated far from its source area.

My performing repertoire also includes stories. None of the other performers from the folk clubs in my area tell stories. So my story material immediately becomes unique in these folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:17 PM

Purple Foxx, thank you for another Chic Murray morsel. Loved the man. I have his autograph. Nobody seems to remember him today, but I can do a good impression.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 06:48 PM

Northerner, I'm happy to hear that you're singing one of our old family songs (Ritchie family of Kentucky), "Lovin' Hannah." I took this song back to the 'Olde Country' in 1952 when I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to spend a school-year in England, Scotland and Ireland, tracing the sources of our Kentucky family ballads and songs. It was a wonderful year, and my new husband and I met hundreds of traditional singers and heard thousands of songs! The "folk revival" hadn't begun yet, or was just about to begin...everyone wanted to hear songs from the USA, and loved the stories of our mountain family life. I did programs in London on the earliest TV (sometimes, fog filled the studio); David Attenborough did one of his first TV shows just with my doing family stories and songs of Kentucky. He told me recently that was the first time BBC had allowed him to do a TV show all on his own.

I sang "Lovin Hannah" for Jeannie Robertson in Scotland and for Elizabeth Cronin in Cork- they were two whom we visited and exchanged songs with. Before leaving, I recorded for HMV six songs on those small vinyls, and "Lovin Hannah" was one of the six. So, over the years, the song has spread all around again. Sandy and Caroline Paton, somewhere in the 60s or so, "collected" it from Jeannie Robertson. They asked where it came from; she replied, "Well I learnt that one from a wee record by Jeannie Ritchie!" They were astounded- thinking it had come from her own family.

A few years ago (maybe 1996 or so) we went to a Mary Black concert and were invited to a pub for drinks afterward with her party. I told her about, "Lovin Hannah" being our family song and asked where she had it from...she said something like, "Oh, my brother had it from an old lady down the street from him..."

Well- that's a story of how the old music goes back and forth across the oceans; you may tell it to your audiences if you like!

Joy and blessings to you,    Jean Ritchie


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:19 PM

"Is there any kind of etiquette at all? That if a singer sings a song regularly it is polite to leave it alone? "

I was at an Accordion Festival. I was waiting my turn in the 'walk up and play' section, when a pair did the tune I was planning. But their version was so different, done on different instruments (banjo & hammered dulcimer vs my piano accordion), and differently paced, that I said 'what the hell' and did it anyway.

They came up to me afterwards, very impressed with my version. We both agreed that our renditions were so different that neither of us had any real problems 'stepping on each others toes' musically.

The tune "Ashokan Farewell" - originally deemed to be a 'violin solo' :-)

BTW, I now prefer to be earlier in the 'walk up and play' section...


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:45 PM

It does tend to be 'polite' NOT to do songs that are regularly performed at a club by one of the regular singers , unless your version is a totally different treatment , in which case I would check that they hadnt intended to do it that night , THEN do your version !
       One thing I notice round here - the number of local singers who are doing what amounts to a cut price copy of arrangements I did with a trio fifteen years ago !


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:48 PM

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - so they all say...


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: The Badger
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:07 PM

The choice of song, in most cases, doesn't matter if you enjoy singing it and the audience can see you enjoy singing it - they will go with you. Never bother to sing a song simply because you think it is the "correct" song to sing.
A lot of the "Oldies but Goldies" have not been sung for years and are now "Born Again" to new audiences who will enjoy them just as much as people did 20 something years ago.
The only caveat is avoid jingoistically political songs as audiences are far more sophisticated and informed.
welcome back Northerner.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:14 PM

Of course you can do such songs, if your audience suspects that you are being cynical... :-)

"God is on our side"... etc


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Maryrrf
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:27 PM

As long as your treatment of the song is fresh and you really enjoy singing it I think you can get away with all but the most obviously overdone songs which you probably wouldn't sing anyway - things like the ubiquitous "Wild Rover" - although there are some great versions of the Wild Rover that sound completely different from the well known pub song.   I'm glad you've come back to the world of folk music. Enjoy yourself!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 11:33 PM

Wonderful Tonight
Ride On
Colours
Leaving On A Jet Plane

... and any other codswallup from the Dave Kenningham song folder.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 12:14 AM

I would say if you feel like singing Wild Rover, go ahead and sing it. Some of us sophisticates have long been weary of it, but there will be plenty people in your audience happy to sing along ... unless you're in some hardcore folk club, in which case - don't sing it!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:11 AM

Slightly off topic I know but guest Wordy if you google "chic murray"
I think you'll like what you see.
"I was walking down the street putting one foot in front of the other,the way you do."
The man was a poet.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:13 AM

Talking about codswallop ... :-)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 04:42 AM

How wonderful to speak to you Jean! I'd heard of you, but have never seen you sing. Isn't the Internet wonderful?

I heard "Loving Hannah" when I was living up in Aberdeen - so obviously it's come from Jeannie Robertson. It used to be sung at the Aberdeen Folk Club. I admired Jeannie's singing so much, but never got to hear her sing as she had had a stroke not long before I came up. My sister had a record with a track of Jeannie singing "My son David" on it, that I had heard. Jeannie was in the audience at a concert that I went to.

However, her daughter Lizzie sang at the club quite often. And her nephew Stanley sang regularly at the club. Stanley was always very supportive of my singing. I had a wee get-together with some friends not long before I left Aberdeen and Stanley told us all one of his spooky stories. It was getting dark and he wouldn't let me switch on the light - so we were sat in the dark listening to him. All of a sudden he went BOO! I must have jumped a foot in the air!!!! I've never forgotten it.

I lost contact with my Aberdeen friends eventually. However in 2004 I was at the Whitby Folk Week and I bumped into Stanley again and I made up my mind that I was going to tell Stanley a story - to repay the compliment that he had paid me. And last year I did precisely that, at a storyround that he was leading. It was my first story (though not the first telling). And now I tell stories regularly.

I will be seeing Stanley again later this month as I am going to visit a cousin in the north of Scotland and will be stopping off in Aberdeen on my way there. Stanley has suggested a good storytelling event in Aberdeen that I can go to - he will be performing there. He has offered to introduce me to some of the travelling folk. I feel very honoured indeed - I have a great respect for the way in which the travellers have carried our tradition.

It's a pleasure talking to you. Thank you.

Diane Taylor


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 05:24 AM

Thank you all! I can probably sing "Busk, busk" without any worries as I sing it in a different tempo to the other lady, and I think my words are also slightly different. In any case I will sing it only once in the club that she also goes to, and reserve it after that for the other clubs.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 05:33 AM

That seems perfectly reasonable, Northener.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 05:40 AM

Thank you Purple Foxx.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 07:32 PM

Diane, I'm happy to hear your latest news of Stanley. I think he's the one I met about two (or three?) years ago at a festival in Washington, DC. They had put me on an exciting program of Scotland-to-Appalachia, featuring songs, instrumental music and customs. Several Scottish folks, and of course fiddlers, banjoists, singers, etc. from the Appalachian mountain regions, sharing a culture. I met Stanley and we had a great time recollecting old memories from my visit to Scotland- they were only stories to him, as he probably had not been born then (1952-53). Lizzie was then a wee lassie- in our photos she appears to be about eight or nine, with pigtails.

Don't want to stray from your thread subject, so I'll just say that I love everybody to sing any of 'my' songs they wish! I told my story relating to Loving Hannah because I'm something of a folklore collector, and I myself always like to know a song's source and something of its travels and history. I'm not a scholar, but so far, in my long life and much rambling about the world I haven't found, outside my family and the small Kentucky Mountain community where my dad was born and raised, this particular version of Loving Hannah.
Handsome Molly is a close cousin, and definitely from the same root, but is a very different song- a fairly modern variant (more rhymical and accepting of instrumental accompaniment).

So- that's why I claim Loving Hannah as 'our family song.' It's like my having her for a sister- but not that I own her; not that no-one else can enjoy doing the song. I wish everybody would sing any/all of those I love and sing- and that when Im gone and they're being sung, then- a loving memory of Jean, that old lady from Kentucky, will run through the singer's mind- and in whatever Heaven I'm in by then I'll feel that thought, and enjoy the thank-you!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Ernest
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 04:24 AM

Jean,
since you are interested in "Loving Hannah"`s travels I can tell you that one of our local singers here in Berlin, Robbie Doyle (of the band Inish) is doing a terrific version of that song - and he is crediting you as his source, although I don`t know if you have ever met personally.
Apart from Robbie, I have never heard anybody singing that song here - which is a pity since it is such an fantastic song.
Thank you for sharing it with us!
Best wishes
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 06:16 AM

Hello Jean

Lovely to hear from you again!

Yes, that sounds like Stanley. He retired a few years ago. Occasionally he comes down to England to perform at a festival. I know he'll be pleased when I tell him that I've talked to you on the Internet, and about your memories of his family.

I will be delighted to tell everyone the origins of "Loving Hannah" when I sing it - and I'll make sure you get a special mention. I got my version from a singer called Janice Clark, who used to sing at the Aberdeen Folk Club (probably still does). She's a friend of the Robertsons. The tune is slightly different from your version, and one or two words differ too - that's simply because it has gone through the folk process. In 2003 I heard Jimmy Hutchison sing it at the Whitby Folk Week - it was the same tune that I use. I live in the north-east of England, so I'm doing my bit to spread it around!

I've got my train ticket booked now for my trip up north at the end of the month. I will be staying with my cousin in Turriff but will have a day in Aberdeen seeing an event at the Storytelling Festival that is on then. I will be telling everyone here on Mudcat all about it!

It's a pleasure to meet you. Thank you.
Diane Taylor


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Nick
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 07:23 AM

The last time I saw Bob Fox play he sang 'Shoals of Herring'. He said in his patter before singing it that it was a song that he had NOT sung for ages because he felt it had been overdone. Having not sung it for years he had realised though that it was perhaps now underdone and was too good a song not to be sung ...


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 07:53 AM

Maybe some songs simply need to be rested. When I sang "Martin Said to his Man" I found that there were people in folk club audiences who had never heard it before. And were glad to hear it for the very first time.

One song that really irritates me though is "The Black Velvet Band". I am taking guitar lessons and the teacher plays blues, not folk. He just loves "The Black Velvet Band" and we keep playing it. I am sure it was a good song, about 30-40 years ago when the Dubliners used to play it. Still is a good song really, but it will definitely NOT be going into my repertoire.

We have a singer who sings "The Wild Rover" at the folk clubs. He's a pleasant chap and he sings it well. We all do try to join in with him. But no, this won't be going in to my repertoire either.

"Shoals of herring" is a good song. I'm not saying it would be at the top of my list, but I wouldn't object to singing it - probably after several dozen others though.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Once Famous
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 07:58 AM

I virtually do nothing but old music. The old folk-country classuc Long Black Veil I always make a quip before I sing it on how hip I feel doing a song recently recorded by Dave Mathews.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 08:06 AM

Northerner, This is a very partisan question but as you are based in the North East have you considered any of the many fine songs of our region.
This may just be my own experience,but "Byker Hill" is a beautiful song that I have not heard sung live for a tidy while.
I know that it's written from a male perspective but the finest version I ever heard was by a Woman.
So how about it?
(There are of course many others if this particular example does not appeal.)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 08:12 AM

There's more than one version and tune for variants of "The Black Velvet Band".


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Crystal
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 08:29 AM

Busk Busk is a fab song! I always think that if you sing what you love even the horiest old chestnut will sound good (with the possible exception of the Wild Rover!)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 08:58 AM

Hi Martin!

Hello Purple Foxx. Yes, I could do songs of the North-East, though I do think that there are some that are better sung by a man. There's "Here's the Tender Coming", which is a pretty one, that I haven't heard live in a long while. "Byker Hill" - I think I've got an old LP with Martin Carthy singing it - yes, that's a possibility.

Hello Foolstroupe. Other versions of "The Black Velvet Band" - I shall investigate. Though there's a possibility that my mind would revert to the older one that I already know. It would certainly give it more life.

Hello Crystal. I will probably sing "Busk, Busk" next week. I've just about got it off.

Thank you all for the suggestions!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Scoville
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 11:09 AM

Depends on where you are (what your audience is tired of hearing), but it also depends on what you do with what you're playing. There are tunes I hate and tunes I think are good but am sick to death of hearing, but that doesn't mean that there can't be good renditions of them.

I used to do open mics with a guy who had a great voice, lovely guitar style, and repertoire of good songs, but played the same set every month. Yawn. Conversely, I thought I'd shoot myself if I ever heard "Whiskey Before Breakfast" again but then a friend loaned me a CD that had on it a novel arrangement, and suddenly it sounds like a great tune again. I'd rather hear an interesting (this does not mean "gimmicky", it just means you aren't trying to do it just like everyone else does it) version of not-my-favorite-song than an uninspired plod through an otherwise decent one. We have a lot of plodding around here. Drives me insane.

I'm not a particularly skilled musician--no fancy arrangements here--so my rule was always that I had to have at least 50% new stuff at every open mic, and that any old stuff 1) had not been played recently or 2) was a demonstrated crowd-pleaser. (I was only playing 4-5 song per set--obviously you can't do this with large sets.) I tried to find songs that were distinctive and that other people weren't playing into the ground. I was amazed at what people knew and didn't know, and what people wanted to hear that we never played. I got up one night and did "Engine 143", which none of my music buddies here know, and suddenly half the audience was singing along.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 11:44 AM

There's some good points there Scoville. So far I have sung unaccompanied or told stories. I am learning to play the guitar but am not yet at the standard where I would play it in public.

I have told/sung the same stories/song at the different clubs, but have tried to avoid using the same material at the same club. If I have nothing that I feel is worth offering then I sit and listen and continue learning. If I sing a song at a club on a Monday, then yes, I am likely to use it another club on a Thursday or Friday following that. There are several performers like myself who go to these same clubs and we follow this same procedure. We all get to know each other's repertoire! I don't mind this as it helps me to become familiar with more songs. Most of the non-performers seem to go to only one club though. I have repeated one song at the same club, but it was a request from the club organiser.

I have noticed that one performer keeps a notebook to note down which material he has used in a club. That helps him to avoid using that same material at that club for a decent interval. I need to follow his example.

One difficulty I am finding is that my singing seems to be more popular than my storytelling. I enjoy being able to please with my songs! But I love my stories too and want to reach an audience with them also. I only started learning storytelling last year and I probably don't sound quite as good yet as someone who is very experienced. I intend going to some storytelling workshops this year to learn what I can do to improve. It's possible though that the spoken word just isn't as popular with some of the audience as singing. I am looking for further advice on this, probably from a fellow storyteller. I'm not a bad storyteller, just a learner!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Ernest
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 01:43 PM

to Martin Gibson:
Even Mick Jagger sang "Long Black Veil" - on the Chieftains album of the same name( since I know you are not much into irish music I thought I might tell you, pardon me if you knew already).
Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Melani
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 02:50 PM

Just always play to your audience, and everyone will have a good time.

It's interesting how songs go in and out of fashion. At our chantey sing, "The Sloop John B" used to be considered a really dorky song, but there is one very sweet person who really likes it and sings it every time. As a result, it has now become quite popular and is sung with great enthusiasm--all because the singer is such a nice person.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:26 PM

Will you define, "Northeast" for this colonial? I ask because when I was in England during my Fulbright year(1952-53) I became acquainted with Alfred Williams, who had been quietly collecting his local songs for years and had published a good-sized volume, FOLK SONGS OF THE UPPER THAMES. Just before I left for home,he presented to me a copy of this lovely book- but I have not seen nor heard of anyone else who knows of him or his fine collection.

In his introduction, he says he means, by Upper Thames Valley, "that part between Oxford, Abingdon, and Wantage on the one hand, and Swindon, Purton, and Cirencester on the other." Yes, I could of course look on a map and answer my own question, but this is more fun, is it not?


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Purple Foxx
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:38 PM

Yes it is more fun kytrad I define North East England as North of the River Tees, South of the River Tweed ,east of the Penine hills and of course west of the North Sea.
That probably requires a map as well.
Will "The right hand side of the English side of the England/Scotland border" help? :-)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: shepherdlass
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:42 PM

Kytrad, from all that's gone before in this thread, I think we're reasonably safe defining the North East as the area between Berwick and Teesside, particularly centred round Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham. Hate defining things like this, though, because someone's bound to tell me I'm wrong.

As for whether songs can become too hackneyed to play ... maybe it depends on how you do them? I didn't honestly think I could ever be surprised by "Dance to your Daddy" and then along come Nancy Kerr and James Fagan with a cracking arrangement that puts a completely new twist on it. Also, I know Jim Moray's a bit in the doghouse on Mudcat at the moment after some unwise comments in the Folk Britannia programmes, but his version of "Early One Morning" communicates words that had been rendered meaningless by a century or so of schoolkids being force-fed it as a singalong.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 07:56 PM

Hello Jean

I live in Middlesbrough; that's just south of the Tees.

That book sounds vaguely familiar. I used to borrow or read books on folk-songs from the library when I studied for my first degree, so possibly I read it then. I used to look for the words of favourite songs.   

I sang "Loving Hannah" tonight at the Globe Folk Club, Guisborough. It went down just fine. I was telling the audience about this folk-singer from Kentucky - they were absolutely fascinated!

Tomorrow night I am involved with a different type of folk-music. I am in an Afro-European drumming circle (we play djembes) and in the evening we are playing at a function to celebrate the retirement of a local doctor. I find that the African immigrants are still very close to their own folk-music - it is very refreshing.

I hope that you have a pleasant weekend.

Diane Taylor


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 08:54 PM

Hi Northerner,
To us north of the Tweed you're a southerner, and the term North-east usually refers to Aberdeenshire, Moray, Nairn, etc, but don't let this comment upset you (said with tongue firmly in cheek!)
Have you ever been to any of the Both Sides the Tweed festivals? One of the strongest points is the mingling of songs from both sides of the border between England and Scotland (even if we did ask for an interpreter for BOTH English and Scots of one of the Geordie singers last year!)
I agree with previous posters that it's OK to do some of the "old chestnuts" but also good to mix in some contemporary stuff or lesser known traditional songs or your own material, and don't feel obliged to do all chorus songs.
I think the best policy is to do songs you enjoy and believe in and it will show in the performance.
Good luck
TB


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 04:58 AM

Hello Tattie Bogle!

My parents were Scots!!!! Lots of good Northern blood here!!!!!

Yes, I've plenty of good festivals to explore. My next jaunt is up to the north of Scotland for a few days to see a cousin in Turriff. I will be stopping off for a couple of days in Aberdeen and will be going to one of the events that is on for Aberdeen's storytelling festival.

I haven't been to any of the Both Side of the Tweed Festivals yet, but yes I think it should go on my to-do list.

Thank you for your advice. I am concentrating on the older material in my repertoire at present as they are easier for me to learn. If material is lesser known though I wonder if I should hand out a songsheet or two? It's very disconcerting to sing a chorus song as a solo! I will be moving on to lesser known material eventually; it's just a matter of knowing how to tackle it.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: melodeonboy
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 06:01 PM

"Wild Mountain Thyme" is indeed a little cliched, but has the advantage of being a rip-roaring chorus song with plenty of harmony possibilities.

"The Wild Rover" (poor thing) has been sadly overused and has had the soul nearly stripped out of it, but in the hands of an expert - such as Clive from The Old House At Home Acoustic Music Club in Maidstone, Kent - it can take on a new lease of life. His version, using the singing style and music of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World", is nothing short of brilliant.

Under no circumstances should you (or anyone else, for that matter) attempt to play "Streets of London". This song was naff to start with, and if anyone plays it within a fifty-mile radius of Sittingbourne, Kent I have sleepless nights. Actually, if you're playing it in the far north it probably won't affect me (but it could scar you for life!).


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 07:28 PM

Hello Northerner. I live in Middlesbrough and was born in Aberdeen. I mostly play tunes, but have recently started singing - though it's not something I overdo :-) I was one of those who was told he couldn't sing, but then went on a weekend workshop for the "tone deaf" (Almost no one is, BTW) and that gave me confidence to give it a go.

What clubs do you go to? I go to Caedmon Folk classes at the Sage on a Tuesday night, so my collection of tunes such as it is has become seriously infected by the Northumbrian repertoire. I also go to Thirsk on a Thursday night - a very easy going group with an eclectic mix of stuff. I have to ration what I do as my wife has been known to mutter about never seeing me and maintaining domestic harmony is important :-).

PM me if you want to comare notes.

Tattie Bogle, I spent some time in Thurso many years ago. I have never quite been able to think of Aberdeen as truly "North East" since :-)


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Bert
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 02:58 AM

If you picture a map of England, the North East is up the top, on the skinny part, on the right hand side. The Upper Thames Valley is out to the left of London in the fat part of England.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 05:48 AM

Hi again Bert!

Hello Tootler

There's nothing in Middlesbrough itself, but quite a number of other activities locally.

In Stockton-on-Tees get along to Ron Angel and co at the Sun Inn, Knowles Street, Monday nights. Good atmosphere and some great choruses. They're particularly strong on sea shanties!! Tomorrow night is Singaround night so get along to it if you can! Fiona Harley has a monthly folk club at the Pot and Glass, Egglescliffe; it's on this week though am not sure if I'll be going this time or not. On Thursday there's the Cutty Wren Folk Club at the Duke William, Skelton, run by the incomparable John Taylor. Fridays there's the Globe Folk Club, Guisborough, a newish club but coming along nicely. Once a month there's one at Stokesley, at the Railway Hotel I think it's called - it is another really good singing folk club. There are others locally including two at Hartlepool, one at Saltburn (a couple of sessions there too, that might appeal to you), and The Wilsons over in Wolviston on a Thursday night, the Wellington I think it is, plus another at Guisborough on a Sunday night. Full details if you get a copy of Trevor Lister's Folk Roundabout.

If you want something a bit different, there's a drumming circle in the trade union building (can't remember its full name), Borough Road, Middlesbrough, on Mondays 5-30 - 7.30 pm. Djembes! You don't have to own one as they are provided. I go there before going on to Stockton. Very friendly and we do the occasional gig. Did one last night, helping out at a doctor's send-off party over in Great Ayton. Johnny, our lead singer was in fine form so we had African songs, and a Kurdish man there gave us a Kurdish folk-song too! I'm hoping that the Tees Valley World Drummers, will be at the Nature's World Folk Festival this year. It's a fun thing to do and you're welcome to join us, along with your missus!!!


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Greyeyes
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 07:34 AM

An interesting anomaly, kytrad writes above "when I was in England during my Fulbright year(1952-53) I became acquainted with Alfred Williams, who had been quietly collecting his local songs for years and had published a good-sized volume, FOLK SONGS OF THE UPPER THAMES. Just before I left for home he presented to me a copy of this lovely book- but I have not seen nor heard of anyone else who knows of him or his fine collection."

Alfred Williams died in 1930.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 08:12 AM

Many years ago I was MCing at a singers night - and kicked off the evening with a couple of 'songs from the bottom of the barrel'. Everyone else picked up on the theme and it was one of the best nights we had.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Mr Happy
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 08:21 AM

In the autumn. I regularly do 'The Ripe & Bearded Barley' which is from the Alfred Williams collection


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 08:43 AM

I need to acquire a copy of "Folksongs of the Upper Thames" -- I was introduced to it when Jeff Warner started singing "Joke and Push About the Pitcher" and gave me a photocopy of the page.

There are a lot of singers out there today (in the US at least) who have never heard of Frankie Armstrong, Shirley Collins, Bob and Ron Copper, even Louis Killen and others.

If they are not currently recording or being played on the "folk" shows (which seem to tend towards contemporary singer-songwriters anyway), they're unfamiliar with the singer, the purer arrangements, and a lot of the songs. That means a lot of material is "new" again.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: GUEST,oldnickilby
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 09:05 AM

If you are looking for A W's F S U T there is a great site for old books , ABEBOOKS. Sorry I am not a techy so cant do the blue clicky


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: quokka
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 10:11 AM

A relative, maybe?


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: Northerner
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 12:24 PM

Interesting to see a thread that I started come back up again. The lyrics from the book "Folksongs of the Upper Thames" are available online. Sorry not sure about that blue clicky thing. http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getfolk.php?id=1

Not sure that I ever bought this but seem to remember reading it when I first started out. That makes a lot of sense because the library providing the online copy is probably the library that I borrowed the book from.

Songs come back into fashion. I have found that some of the songs that I sung when I started out had gone out of fashion but are becoming popular again.

I've finally managed to see some wonderful singers that influenced me when I started, like Frankie Armstrong.


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Subject: RE: Songs to avoid...
From: GUEST,Norcsalordie
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 04:14 PM

Once you get out of the folk clubs and into live music pubs with predominantly general public rather than folkies, the old favourites come into their own. That's when you'll get a pub full of happy people glad to hear something they know and can join in with - we count our success on the number of smiling faces. With all due respect to all you lovely people if we had to rely solely on folkies we would be back on the 9 to 5

We are often asked for wild rover, whiskey in the jar, dirty old town etc and if that's what they want then that's what they get - but it doesn't stop us writing our own material and seeking out the obscure


Drunken Sailor amongst others


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