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Patrick Gainer - WV Song Collector

02 Jun 11 - 10:38 PM (#3164510)
Subject: Patrick Gainer - WV Song Collector
From: Kent Davis

Collector, author, singer, scholar, and founder of the West Virginia State Folk Festival, Dr. Patrick W. Gainer is quoted in many Mudcat threads and many of his finds are in the DT. I think it's time he had his own thread.   

He collected about 50 Child ballads in West Virginia. Here
are his comments about, and recordings of, a few of them. The ballads included here are:

#1      ("Riddles Wisely Expounded"/"The Devil's Questions"),
#2A   ("The Elfin Knight"/"Are Any of You Going to the Calhoun Fair")
#2B   ("Oh Where Are You Going"),
#4      ("Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight"/"The Six Kings' Daughters"),
#7      ("Earl Brand"/"The Seven Sons"),
#10A   ("The Twa Sisters"/"The Sister's Murder")
#10B   (introductory comments only, the singing is from his source, Maggie Hammons),
#11      ("The Cruel Brother"/"The Bride's Murder"),
#12A   ("John Randall"/"John Ellis My Son")
#12B   ("Johnny Randall")
#12C   (a children's version), and
#13      ("Edward"/"The Father's Murder")

I hope you enjoy them.


03 Jun 11 - 06:24 PM (#3164897)
Subject: RE: Patrick Gainer - WV Song Collector
From: Desert Dancer

Thanks for the tip, Kent. I had not heard of Patrick Gainer (or at least, not filed the name away).

That site is a wonderful resource.

~ Becky in Long Beach

03 Jun 11 - 10:06 PM (#3164970)
Subject: RE: Patrick Gainer - WV Song Collector
From: Kent Davis

Desert Dancer,

Yes, it is a great resource. It is nice to have those old recordings preserved and available.

His influence in a living one, though. His granddaughter Molly Waters and great-granddaughter Mary Shipley are at the West Virginia Folk Festival

every year, continuing his work. Mary Shipley was born long after Dr. Gainer had died (she's about 18), but she has learned many of the old songs from her mother and other relatives.   


04 Jun 11 - 07:02 AM (#3165108)
Subject: RE: Patrick Gainer - WV Song Collector
From: Brian Peters

Thanks for the link, Kent. You've mentioned Dr. Gainer's work on previous ballad threads, and this resource will be most useful.

04 Jun 11 - 11:35 AM (#3165198)
Subject: RE: Patrick Gainer - WV Song Collector
From: Kent Davis

Dr. Gainer was a great collector of Child ballads, but he collected other songs as well. One which would perhaps have otherwise been lost is "A Few More Months".

His informant, a Frank Kennedy of Gilmer County, WV, appears to be the sole source. I couldn't find the lyrics anywhere on the Internet. Here they are from Gainer's FOLK SONGS FROM THE WEST VIRGINIA HILLS (1975).


A few more months, a few more years,
A few more pray'rs, a few more tears,
It won't be long, a few more years,
Will hush my song, my earthly song,
When they shall lay me in the valley.

A little pain, a little joy,
Just less or more, it matters not,
Some mingling yet with earth's alloy,
And then forgot, Oh, soon forgot,
When they shall lay me in the valley.

Here is Dr. Gainer singing it:

In Dr. Gainer's book, when he refers to "'Uncle' Frank Kennedy", he uses quotation marks around the word "Uncle" indicating, I suppose, that Mr. Kennedy was not actually his uncle, but was commonly known by that title in the community.

I did find one independent mention of the song and of Frank Kennedy (but not of the words or the tune) in the eighth paragraph of this 1967 article, "Folksingers and the Re-creation of Folksong"

Does anyone have additional information about this?