logo Editorial
September 2020


New MT Records release:

Catch It, Bottle It, Paint It Green

Songs from the Gwilym Davies collection:

A companion CD to the book of the same name

MTCD379 + 24 page integral booklet in DVD case.  £12.00

25 tracks, 64 minutes.

Gwilym Davies has been recording source singers in the UK and USA for nearly 50 years. This CD is a selection of 25 recordings and is a companion CD to his book, Catch It, Bottle It, Paint It Green, which can be obtained from Pegasus Publishers.  You can get to the CD on the MT Records website HERE.

Rod Stradling - 24.9.20


Musical Traditions Magazine

At long last, the future of the Musical Traditions Internet Magazine and MT Records is secure!  As you'll know, I've been worrying about this for a number of years, and have already taken some of the early steps.

Firstly, the Records; I didn't feel I could pass on all the work of making and selling the CDs to somebody else, particularly in view of the minuscule profits the company makes these days.  My solution has been to make all the records available as downloads through the gumroad.com platform.  The downloads comprise the complete, full-length sound files in MP3 format, plus the complete booklets in HTML format, with clickable links to the sound files as and where the song's text appears.  Compared to the physical CDs, these downloads are ridiculously cheap - just £2 for a single CD, usually of around 80 minutes duration.  Similarly £4 for a double CD and £6 for a 3-CD Set.  They sell quite well and produce a small regular income.  My daughter, Hannah, will look after keeping this service going.

Regarding the physical CDs; when the latest publication appears at the end of this month, I shall stop making CDs and gradually run-down the small stocks I keep 'on the shelf' over the next year.  If there are any left, I'll have a big 2-for-1 sale to try to get rid of the leftovers.  So that will be the end of 21 years of making some pretty damned wonderful and important music and song available.

You might think it strange that I'm stopping making MT CDs whilst doing a lot of work to ensure the continued availability of the Magazine.  Certainly the CDs have been very important, but I wouldn't want anyone to forget just how important the Magazine has been ... and don't just take my word for it:

I've repeatedly asked for someone to offer to take over the Magazine in various Editorials but, beyond several 'good luck with that' messages, I've had no takers.  It's an indication of how little we Brits value our own cultural heritage that only two people have bought all the MT Records CDs ... one is an Italian and the other, a German!  This latter gentleman has both the interest and the IT skills necessary, and his name is Reinhard Zierke.  Does that mean anything to you?  Maybe not, but I bet you've both used and marvelled at the splendid Mainly Norfolk website.  That's run by Reinhard, who's also a systems administrator at Universität Hamburg.  I approached him, only to find that he was about to contact me to offer to house the Magazine within the Mainly Norfolk website.  So Musical Traditions Internet Magazine will continue, in a very good home, and won't cost anyone anything!  Reinhard will continue to update it regularly whilst I continue to add material and, in due course, I will amend the DNS file to point to www.mainlynorfolk.info.

Then I just need to get new, personal, email addresses for Danny and myself.  I'll let you know about those when they're set up.

Job done!

19.9.20


New MT Records CD release

For some reason, I can't get my mass-mailout system working at the moment - so this is to inform you of a new release.

You can get to it on the MT Records website HERE.

The Old Out and Homer

Norfolk Melodeon Players

MTCD204   57 tracks, 60 minutes   £10.00

Four of the best melodeon players of their generation from North Norfolk: George Craske; Herbert Mallett; Walter Newstead; and Percy Brown.  Featuring hornpipes (of course) plus breakdowns, stepping jigs, tunes for the Long Dance, marches and lots of music-hall song tunes.

5.9.20


American Songs in the British Folk Repertoire

When Mike Yates and I published the 3-CD Set Wait Till the Clouds Roll By, back in May, Steve Roud wrote to us: So we did - or tried to.  It's now published as Article 329, 80Kb in size, and has 902Kb of photos and pictures.  And I have to say that it's mostly the work of Mike Yates - so it's very well-informed and interesting.  Do have a look.

25.8.20


MT Records & Magazine - the future

In March 2015, I wrote that I needed to think about how to ensure the continuation of MT Records & Magazine when I'm no longer able to do it.

As you will know, I have now made ALL the MT Records publications available as Downloads via the Gumroad website.  This brings in an income of, on average, some £50 per month.  The hosting of the complete Magazine and Records websites, via 1&1, costs £6 per month - so there's a profit to be made here!

Now, with COVID 19 likely to be with us for the forseable future, and me with 77 years on the clock, I think it's time to appoint someone to take over.  By this I mean just to continue paying the hosting fees and, perhaps, adding the occasional new Magazine items that come in.  There's no suggestion that my successor would continue to sell the MT CDs nor to make any new ones - although it would be nice if s/he did.

So, very simply, please let me know if you'd be interested this position - and to earn around £40 per month in the process.  I would hope that this wouldn't be needed just yet, but there's a deal of information to pass over in preparation, so it would be best if we were to start the learning process as soon as possible.

17.8.20


US Postal rates rise

On July 1st, the Post Office made a 'secret' change to some postal rates to the USA, raising them by 50%.  I say secret because I never heard anything about it, and nor did the folks at Stroud Post Office!

Not to all of the rates, but to Small Packets and above (ie. more than 25mm thick, or more than 2 CDs).  They have done this by creating a new pricing area called World Zone 3 applying only to Trump's USA.

Accordingly, to send a 490g Small Packet of 4 CDs to the US (as I have just done) cost me not £10.06, but £15.18.  Had I known, I could have sent these CDs in two Large Letters of 250g for £5.30 each (very similar to the previous £10.06), rather than paying a fiver more for a single Small Packet.  If you send stuff to the USA - be warned!

And to any prospective purchasers for the USA - if you plan to buy more than two CDs, don't do it via the website, but email me your order and I'll give you the cheapest postage rate available, payable via PayPal.

17.8.20


Horsham Songswappers late-1950s

I just received this amazing photo from Terry Potter - it's from an event at the Horsham Songswappers from the late-1950s, taken by Tony Wales.  It was rather over-exposed, so I've had to bring up the mid-tones - which is why the background is grey, not white.

Does anyone recognise any of the other faces seen in the photo?

Can't imagine many folk clubs, then or since, to have been able to present three of the area's top traditional performers at the same time - Scan Tester (concertina), a very young-looking William Agate (meloeon) and George Belton standing between them.  Which reminds me to remind you that we've just recently published the 'complete recorded repertoire' of George on A True Furrow to Hold MTCD378.

10.6.20


Labour of Love Database - new data

Since this was first uploaded last year, we've published several CDs, details of which are now included in the Labour of Love Database, sorted by MT CD name, now available here as a spradsheet.  Users can, of course, sort it in other ways as required.

If you don't have any spreadsheet software installed, I can strongly recommend the free WPS Spreadsheet and Writer software - available from: https://www.wps.com/office-free

9.6.20


Wait Till the Clouds Roll By (MTCD518-0)

As promised, part 3 of the Old World/New Word Trilogy is now available.  It is a 3-CD Set containing 79 tracks, of 222 minutes duration, plus a 52 page integral booklet in DVD case.

The track lists are as follows:

CD One: Duration: 72 minutesCD Two: Duration: 77 minutes
1. Johnny the Drunkard: Asa Martin
2. Get Away Old Man: Ernie Payne / Vernon Dalhart
3. Cruel Slavery Days: Fields Ward
4. Cruel Slavery Days: Mary Anne Haynes
5. Leaving Dear Old Ireland: Charlie Poole
6. The Bunch of Shamrock: Cecilia Costello
7. If There Wasn't Any Women ...: Fiddlin' John Carson   
8. If There Wasn't Any Women ...: Bill Smith
9. Kitty Wells: The Hill Billies
10. Kitty Wells: Cecilia Costello
11. Sailor Boy: The Carter Family
12. Your Faithful Sailor Boy: Daisy Chapman
13. Swinging Down the Lane: Carter & Young
14. Swinging Down the Lane: Chris Willett
15. The Gypsy's Warning: Vernon Dalhart
16. The Gypsy's Warning: Bob Hart
17. Wait Till the Clouds Roll By: Uncle Dave Macon
18. Wait Till the Clouds Roll By: Charlie Bridger
19. There'll Come a Time: The Blue Sky Boys
20. There'll Come a Time: Bill Elson
21. When the Frost is on the Pumpkin: Fred Jordan
22. Lamp-lighting Time in the Valley: Asa Martin
23. Lamp-lighting Time in the Valley: Cyril Poacher
24. Two Convicts: Levi Smith
25. California Blues: Gene Autry
26. California Blues: Derby Smith
27. Rock All Our Babies to Sleep: Jimmie Rodgers
28. Rock All Our Babies to Sleep: Doris Davies

1. The Ship that Never Returned: Asa Martin
2. The Ship that Never Returned: Harry Upton
3. Will the Angels Play Their Harps: Bud Billings
4. Will the Angels Play Their Harps: Bill Smith
5. When You and I were Young Maggie: Fiddlin' J Carson
6. When You and I were Young Maggie: Danny Stradling
7. Break the News to Mother: Carson Robison Trio
8. Break the News to Mother: Bob Hart
9. He's In the Jailhouse Now: Jimmie Rodgers
10. He's In the Jailhouse Now: Derby Smith
11. The Drunkard's Lone Child: Spicer / Dalhart
12. The Little Old Log Cabin: Fiddlin' John Carson
13. The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane: Walter Pardon
14. The Birds Upon Tree: Charlie Bridger
15. The Strawberry Roan: Paul Hamblin
16. The Strawberry Roan: Wiggy Smith
17. The Wanderer's Warning: Carson Robison Trio
18. Riding Along on a Free Train: Wiggy Smith
19. Granny's Old Arm Chair: Frank Crumit
20. Granny's Old Arm Chair: Jack Smith
21. Come Little Leaves: Walter Pardon
22. Ben Bolt: Eleonora de Cisneros
23. Ben Bolt: Walter Pardon
24. Whistling Rufus: Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers
25. Whistling Rufus: Levi and Derby Smith

CD Three:. Duration: 73 minutes
1. You Taught Me How to Love You: Buell Kazee
2. You Taught Me How to Love You: Bob Hart
3. Twenty One Years: Frank Luther & Carson Robison
4. Twenty One Years: Caroline Hughes
5. Two Sweethearts: The Carter Family
6. A Group of Young Squaddies: Joan Taylor
7. Silver Threads Among the Gold: Richard Josè
8. Silver Threads Among the Gold: Bob Hart
9. I'll Be All Smiles Tonight: Carter Family
10. I'll Be All Smiles Tonight: Tom Newman
11. The River in the Pines: Gloucestershire Gypsy
12. The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee: Floyd City Ramblers   
13. Tennessee: Eddie Penfold
14. Mother, Queen of My Heart: Jimmie Rodgers
15. Home in Texas: Levi Smith
16. All Alone by the Seaside: Fiddlin' John Carson
17. In a Cottage By the Sea: Harry Upton
18. Waiting for the Robert E Lee: The Heidelberg Quintet
19. Waiting for the Robert E Lee: Harry Lee
20. Blue-Haired Jimmy: Horton Barker
21. The Blue-Haired Boy: Pop Maynard
22. Gentle Annie: Asa Martin
23. Gentle Annie: Billy Pennock
24. Two Little Girls in Blue: Bradley Kincaid
25. Two Little Girls in Blue: Cyril Poacher
26. The Volunteer Organist: George Belton

There are commercial recordings of American songs that have made it back to the Old World via 78rpm discs and/or printed music, together with how they sounded when taken up by the British oral tradition.  Quite a few of the songs here you probably never knew were American, nor could imagine what the 'original' sounded like.

As usual, it's available from the MT Records' website, priced just £20.00

2.6.20


An Old World/New Word Trilogy

You may have noticed that MT Records have been releasing a number of Anglo-American CDs in conjunction with Mike Yates recently.  We began with A Distant Land to Roam: 'Anglo-American songs and tunes from Texas to Maine' (MTCD516) in 2018.  This was followed, a year later, by Oh Listen Today ... : 'The Roots of American Old-Timey fiddle music' (MTCD517).  But, in the way of such things, neither Mike nor I realised that these two CDs would form the first two parts of what is now an Old World/New Word Trilogy - though even that is something of a misnomer, since it actually comprises five CDs!  Yes, Part 3 is actually a 3-CD Set (our third - the other two being The Brazil Family and Sarah Makem).

This 3-CD Set will be Wait Till the Clouds Roll By (MTCD518-0) and has the format 'American song available in the UK as a 78rpm disc', followed by how that song became absorbed into the tradition in the mouth of a British traditional singer.  There are a few deviations to this rule, so Mike has provided an Article explaining how it all came about - An Old World/New Word Trilogy is now available as MT Article 328, which also lists all 134 tracks and 95 singers/musicians appearing in this Trilogy.

The 3-CD Set will be published in the next few weeks, but we thought this Article would be a nice little taster for what is to come.

20.5.20


2019/20 CDs now available as downloads

As before, the latest of the 110 CDs and CD-ROMs we've produced over the years are now available as downloads; they're the last four items on the Downloads page, and they look like this:

As they're all single CDs, the price is £2.00 each (or more, if you like).  And, as before, rather than waiting almost two years for them to appear, you're now getting them all, almost immediately.  This is because of the COVID-19 emergency, and the undeniable fact that neither you nor I know if we'll be able to deal with them after it's all over.

For those of you who may be new to the Download service, each comprises an HTML file of the complete booklet, within which are clickable links to all the songs or tunes as MP3 files.  Each Download comes as a ZIP file containing one or more HTML files, a 'sound' folder and a 'graphics' folder.  They can be un-ZIP-ed into a single destination (folder) on your device, and run from there.  Needless to say, all the MP3 sound files could also be copied to any other device you might wish to use.

Since downloads require no booklet printing, case covers, CDs, DVD cases or postage, they sell for a far lower price.  Compared to £10, £12, £16 and £20 for the 'normal' publications, the downloads of single CDs are £1.00 or £2.00, double CDs are £4.00, and 3-CD Sets are £6.00.  The facility exists to pay more than these low prices, if you'd like to!

They can be found, along with ALL the previous MT Records' CD publications, on the MT Records' Download page.

21.4.20


New MT Records release

I'm very pleased to be able to announce our second release of 2020, and the first of Spring and of the COVID-19 lockdown period.  Assuming you may welcome something new to liisten to while not going out!

George Belton: A True Furrow to Hold

George Belton was a great Sussex singer, who was born in Oxted, Surrey in 1898, the youngest of five.  He followed his father into farming and worked on farms in Surrey and Sussex, mainly with horses, throughout his life.  The second half of his life was spent on farms around Chichester and he lived in retirement at Birdham.

He had a sizeable repertoire of songs which were mainly learned from his parents and other members of his family, but others that he had 'picked up along the way'.  Traditional songs were the central part of his repertoire, but he also sang Victorian sentimental parlour ballads and Music Hall songs.

This CD is another of our 'complete recorded repertoire' releases, containing 27 songs - many of which are very full versions.

MTCD378 + 32 page integral booklet in DVD case. 27 tracks, 81 minutes.  It's now available on the MT Records' website, price just £12.00.

30.3.20


New MT Records releases

I thought it might be useful to let you know of several new MT Records releases being planned.  Only 'planned' at the moment because, when I went to the post office with six freebie copies of the first one just now, I was told that I should only be sending 'essential' mail now.  Before going, I had checked on the Post Office website to see if POs were still open - they are if they have the staff to open them, and the full gamut of services remain available - but there was no mention of 'only essential mail' being taken in.  I don't quite know what essential mail entails, but I would have thought that if they're allowed to open and and are providing the staff, then what's the point of restricting what can be posted?

Anyway, the new MT Records releases concerned are:

However, given my earlier experience at the Post Office, I wonder if any of them will actually be published this year if I can't post them to purchasers.  Pleased to say, regarding that, I was able to post two parcels today, with no complaints.

Also - and importantly, re. the proposed Bob Cann and Charlie Bate CD - does anyone have a photo of the two of them together, please?

25.3.20


A Life in Music

As you'll see from the piece below, we didn't have much of a Christmas and New Year in 2019.  What's more, it was almost a month before I felt really 'normal' again.  Not what one ought to expect after a bout of 'flu.  I imagine that this might be due to my great age - 77 next birthday, and it brought on what I suppose people mean when they say 'intimations of mortality'.  That and this country's utterly stupid decision to leave the Euporean Community as of last weekend.  I can think of no other reasons for my starting to work on this piece of writing.

It's not all new, quite a lot of it has appeared here and elsewhere in various forms, but I thought it might be a good idea to pull it all together into one place - just in case!  It's a fairly lengthy piece, and covers the 60-plus years of my life that I've been interested in, and involved in, music - mainly of the traditional kind.  Please don't assume that I don't enjoy other kinds of music as well - I certainly do - but traditional music has always been my main interest.

It has six parts, plus a side-bar enabling the reader to navigate around the various interests, places and times.  It also has a graphics folder in which the numerous photos and graphics are stored.  It's available from the Articles page (No.327) or here, for a direct link.  I hope you find it interesting!

But, here's another thing - I now have two more CDs of traditional singers in the stocks for delivery this year: George Belton and Bob Cann & Charlie Bate.  That will be nice!

3.2.20


Season's Greetings and Review of 2019

Happy Christmas! Yes, it's that time of the year again, and remembering last years's problems with me being carted off to hospital for major vascular surgery at this time, I thought I'd get everything ready well in advance.  I spent most of a day writing, but somehow, it never seemed to get finished, and over-ran into the night-time.  I was writing on my lap-top computer on the pillow beside me.  Eventually, I fell asleep and, when I awoke, I couldn't find the bloody lap-top ... unsurprising, I realised later - because I don't own one!  Most of the previous day had been an hallucination, brought on by a 'flu-type bug, which, I realised, was not something I should be passing on to the rest of the family at Christmas.  So I got together all the presents to take them down to Bristol, where they all now live, and I should then keep well away until I was better.

Danny noticed that a lot of cars were passing me on the motorway, and tooting horns or flashing lights, as I was finding it very hard to concentrate on what I was supposed to be doing, and staying in the right lanes.  Daughter Hannah, bless her, took my car keys away, having seen me shivering and shaking in my seat, saying "You're not going anywhere in that car ... and I'm driving you home." - which she did.  I went to bed, where I continued to write this piece on my make-believe computer, only to be woken later in the day by Danny telling me that she was now suffering the same symptoms as me ... and so we bade farewell to Christmas 2019.  I am astonished how much I've been affected by this 'simple' bout of 'flu; knocked completely sideways, dreaming in a phantasy world for at least four days.  I now feel as if I'm a bit better, but this little message - four short paragraphs has taken me almost three hours to write, and almost every word began as a typo!

***

Now back to the mundane realities of life.  The Magazine has had a fairly lean year, even by current standards.  We've published just 6 new Articles and some 50 new Reviews in 2018, along with 2 Enthusiasms, 4 News items and 6 Letters.  By past standards, this is slightly more active than usual.  On the other hand, I appear to have written some 11 Editorials before this one ... which seems to be about par for the course.

On yet another hand, we have published two more CDs this year than I was expecting: a new one from MT Records: Charlie Bridger Won't you Buy my Pretty Flowers? (MTCD377) was followed by Songs of the North Riding (MTCD406-7) and, just recently, Mike Yates' Oh, Listen Today.  I have no idea if there will be any more.

No extraordinary rush of orders in November this year, but quite a few - 50 sales - nonetheless.  And December has been fairly busy, too - 37 sales - long may it continue!

With this my 23rd Review of the Year, I'd like to be able to end on a positive note - Joy, Health, Love and Peace! and all that - but, we haven't even begun the downward spiral yet.  This is a time to decide who your friends really are ... and keep them by you.  You will need them very soon.

(And I just noticed two more typos!)

5.1.20


New MT Records CD - MTCD517

Just in time for that Christmas present - Oh, Listen Today : The roots of American Old-Timey fiddle music.

Thirty tracks of vintage American Old-Timey fiddle music, with tunes that are derived from Britain and Europe.  Includes such well-known names as: Ed Haley, Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, Narmour & Smith, Emmett Lundy, The Red-Headed Fiddlers, Edden Hammons, and many others.

MTCD517 + 24 page integral booklet in DVD case, 30 tracks, 78 minutes.  Now available on the MT Records wesite, price £12.00.

A direct link to it is here.

7.12.19


Re: Singing Musicians

Thanks to Bernie Cherry, I now know that: So that's a start - nine musicians who were recorded singing - but a few more wouldn't go amiss.   And they're all male and English!  And I have no idea of the quality of the performnce or recording for any of these songs in red at the moment.  More names and details woud be most welcome.  Please help if you can.

1.11.19


A strange idea for a new MT Records release

Inspired, perhaps, by Mike Yates' rather unusual recent CD A Distant Land to Roam - songs that left the Old word for the New - I've been wondering about doing a CD of traditional Musicians who were also good Singers.  I know of a few (see below) but would welcome suggestions from readers of people who I don't know about ... or can't think of at present.  Rather obviously, there need to be recordings!

So - the ones I know about:


The lists above are drawn from Steve Roud's Folksong Index, and all appear to have been recorded - but Steve will only know of what collectors have told him.  There may be many other recordings made at folk clubs and festivals that have never been passed on to Steve.  For example, I can't believe that Bob Cann only sang four songs.

Any ideas, information, and particularly recordings, will be most welcome.

15.10.19


New MT Records '400 Series' release

Songs of the North Riding (MTCD406-7).  This release will make generally available a large number of recordings which were previously scarcely known about.  Of the 22 singers to be heard here, only Arthur Wood and Billy Pennock's names are likely to be remotely familiar.

In 1962 Colin S Wharton published his Leeds University degree thesis 'Folk Songs from the North Riding'.  This thesis was the culmination of his collecting in the North Riding of Yorkshire.  The finished work was 149 pages long and divided into five sections, according to subject matter: Songs of Love and Courtship, Songs from the Farm, Hunting Songs, Occasional Songs, and Songs of Sorrow.  This release contains almost all the recordings he made.

It's one of our rare '400 Series' releases (like the Pop Maynard and Martin Carthy ones - the latter being no longer available) with 2 CDs in a double jewel case, and fairly brief notes.

MTCD406-7   2 CDs, 67 tracks, 160 minutes   It's now available on the MT Records website, priced just £10.00

20.9.19


Labour of Love Database

I wrote that the Labour of Love Database might well be got together over a rather shorter time-scale than 100 years.  Well, a bit of spare time last week and the discovery of a far quicker method of entering the data, has resulted in the Labour of Love Database, sorted by MT CD name, now being available here.  Users can, of course, sort it in other ways as required.

If you don't have any spreadsheet software installed, I can strongly recommend the free WPS Spreadsheet and Writer software - available from: https://www.wps.com/office-free

19.9.19


MT Records - a Labour of Love

As I'm in the process of creating another CD-ROM of the entire published works of a well-known commentator on traditional music and song (particularly Irish), it has got me thinking about whether something ought to be done about documenting the MT Records output.  This has been partly prompted by the recent publication in MT Magazine of The Echoes of Erin Database: Irish traditional Dance Music recorded on 78-rpm records, by Barry Taylor.  This magnificent piece of work details recordings from about 100 years ago ...  I'm hoping that something similar on music and songs on CDs published by MT Records - possibly to be called the 'Labour of Love' Database - might well be got together over a rather shorter time-scale!

Interestingly, the Echoes of Erin Database includes the output of some 36 commercial record companies, active over a period of some 35 years (1899 - 1933), and lists 1,070 'sides' - meaning tunes.  MT Records is one single, non-commercial company, operating over 22 years, and has published recordings of some 2605 songs or tunes.  Admittedly, their records had only two 'sides' - my CDs can have as many as 40!

The following article on the history of MT Records is the first part of this considerable endeavour.  You can find it here as a PDF file.

13.9.19


Huge updated intro to Bert Lloyd interview

The very interesting interview with Bert Lloyd by Barry Taylor, published as Article 318, on 14.5.18, now has an enormous new introduction.  Barry felt that, as many/most of our readers are probably too young to have much of an idea about the folk scene back in 1974, it would be useful to explain the situation as it was back then.

He covers the relationship between Bert and Ewan MacColl, the clubs of the era, the Critics Group, the 'Policy' clubs, 'Folk Rock' and much else, in this fascinating new introduction.  It and the interview itself are very well worth a read by anyone with an interest in our music and song - even if you are in your seventies - and particularly if you're a bit younger.  A direct link to it is here.

13.7 19


New CD from MT Records: Charlie Bridger
Won't you Buy my Pretty Flowers? (MTCD377)

I'm pleased to announce MT Records' first release of 2019 - Charlie Bridger, of Stone-in-Oxney, Kent, was recorded by Andy Turner on 15th April 1983.  Charlie sang him 30 songs; 28 of which appear on this CD.  He's a lovely singer, with some terrific tunes to his songs.

A year later, Andy took Mike Yates to record him 'properly', and it is these recordings which appear on several Musical Traditions and Veteran CDs.  However, Mike's recordings (using different/superior equipment) sound quite different to Andy's, and Mike has agreed that a CD where all the tracks sound similar would be better (or easier to listen to) than one where a few of them sound radically different ... even if they are superior, technically.  So we have made this CD entirely of Andy's recordings, none of which have ever been published before.

The track list is as follows:
Three Maidens a-Milking Did Go;  I'll Take you Home Again, Kathleen;  Won't you Buy my Pretty Flowers?;  Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?;  Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue;  The Folkestone Murder;  When You and I were Young, Maggie;  The Mistletoe Bough;  The Birds Upon the Tree;  Wait 'til the Clouds Roll by, Jenny;  Playing on the Old Banjo;  O Who Will o'er the Downs so free?;  The Veteran;  In the Spring Time;  Old Farmer Giles;  A Boy's Best Friend is His Mother;  The Brave Ploughboy;  Little by Little, and Bit by Bit;  The Gypsy's Warning;  Your Own True Sailor Boy;  The Zulu War ;  That Old Fashioned Mother of Mine;  The Ship that Never Returned;  Good Old Jeff;  That's How you get Served when You're Old;  The Jolly Waggoner;  Trafalgar Bay;  Jenny Lind Polka.

MTCD377 has 28 tracks, 80 minutes duration + 28 page integral booklet in DVD case   £12.00  A direct link to it is here.

7.7 19


Further thoughts on Before the Broadside

I don't know just how relevent this may be - or how interesting you may find it - but I thought I'd do a bit of research on songs that don't appear to have had a Broadside provenance ... provoked by having recently heard (again) the lovely Forsaken Mermaid (Roud 466), which I felt was certain to be out of the oral tradition rather than from a printed original.

Accordingly, I did a search in the Roud Index for English songs without the word 'Printed' in the 'Format field'.  This resulted in an astonishing sum of 28047 returns which, once duplicates had been removed, gave a total of 5142 such different songs.  Clearly this doesn't mean that 5142 English 'folk songs' do not have a printed original source - simply that some of them may not.  To find out more requires a good deal extra research.

Clearly, those songs with the highest Roud numbers are those most recently added to the Index, and so should be less likely to have a Broadside provenamce.  Unsurprisingly then, the ten highest Roud numbers of my 5142 have no history of Broadside publication.  Conversely, for the ten lowest Roud numbers: The Two/Three Ravens/Crows (Roud 5); The Two Sisters (Roud 8); The Cruel Mother (Roud 9); Lord Randall (Roud 10) have no history of a Broadside publication, and False Lamkin (Roud 6) has only two such entries.  Roud's earliest entries seem to have all been old ballads and so it's not surprising that they had no history of Broadside publication.  If we try ten in the middle of the range (around Roud 12880), we find all ten do have history of Broadside publication, although one of these has only a single songster to its name.

What does this tell us?  Very little that was unexpected.

  1. Most Broadside publications can be dated, at least roughly.
  2. But it seems that many accounts of songs being heard in the oral tradition do not mention anything like a definite date.
  3. Broadside publication offers printed verification at a time when oral collection was rarely being carried out.
  4. The same applies, generally, to written Manuscript sources.
  5. At the same time - do we really know how complete a picture of the situation Steve Roud's Folk Song Index paints?
  6. Most of my new MT CD publications require Steve to allocate a new number to at least one song he's not encountered before.
As I said in my initial piece, whether a song existed in the oral tradition before its appearance as a written record is something that we will never know - for all the reasons given there.

1.6 19


Before the Broadside

In the beginning was the word ... so we're told.  But is that true?

Victor Grauer was one of the team which worked with Alan Lomax on his Cantometrics project back in the '60s.  He wrote 'I've recently become interested in Cantometrics again thanks to certain new developments in genetic anthropology.  Many things which had puzzled Lomax and myself about the distribution of musical styles worldwide are now making sense, thanks to the ability of these researchers to reconstruct some of mankind's earliest migrations from strands of DNA'.

One of the results of this work on the 'Out of Africa' theory, currently being explored in the field of genetic anthropology, has been the suggestion that the sung music of the Amazonian Pygmies and Kalahari Bushmen may well be part of the remains of the original culture of homo sapiens and - even more interestingly - may well have developed before speech.  Groups of homo sapiens began leaving Africa almost 300,000 years ago, and would have taken their sung music with them.  And we know, from the work of the Cantometrics project, that almost every subsequent human settlement has had its own folk songs.

So I think it's fairly clear that humans have sung for their own pleasure for countless centuries.  This would be one of the reasons why printers have, since the sixteenth century, been making a living providing us with songs and ballads to sing.  Would they have done so if there had not been singers to buy them?  Would they have printed the words 'To be sung to the tune of .......' if such a song did not already exist?

Research on dance and drama have found that what went on in the Royal and Noble courts soon found its way into the countryside, albeit in simplified forms.  And the same happened to the minstrelsy of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  Songs were sung by ordinary people for their own enjoyment - even if no written record of it exists.

It should be clear to most thinking people that an ordinary person of the lower classes, from the 1801 Census until fairly recently, had just three pieces of information about them available to historical researchers: their birth; marriage; and death.  Prior to that, virtually nothing.  Unless they fell foul of the Law, or did something quite remarkable that resulted in a written record of some kind - that was it!  It should also be clear that most of the ordinary singers of songs would not, as singers, find a place in a written record of any kind.  This, of course, is one of the problems with 'history' ... most of it relies on the written record, and such records will only describe extra-ordinary events.  And if singing for one's own pleasure and the entertainment of one's friends were as normal for most ordinary people as I firmly believe they were ... then there was nothing extra-ordinary about it, and thus little in the way of records of it.

Accordingly, I find myself a little irked by this new fashion of saying "This song dates from it's first printing by so-and-so printer in 1650."  The admirable Steve Roud was by no means the first to float this idea but, since the success of his recent book Folk Song in England and its widespread coverage in the Media, this view seems, more and more, to be taken as gospel.  To be fair, Steve never quite says this in his book, but careless reviewing (and careless listening) has resulted in this view becoming commonplace.

Clearly, an historian can only 'prove' that a song dates from the discovery of a 'first known' written record, but common sense demands that something similar must have preceded it.  Exactly what that 'something similar' may have been is open to conjecture - we just don't know.  Sadly, that is the fate of so much of the history of the ordinary people of the past (and, probably to a considerable extent, the present) - we just don't know!

11.4.19

This Editorial and comments relating to it can now be found as Enthusiasm No.84


Back again!

To all my friends who sent messages of 'goodwill/get well' over the past week or so - thank you so very much.  I am now home, eating real food, and just had one of the best showers I can ever remember!  For those who didn't get the gruesome details, I just had open Triple A Surgery.  Initially, I'd not realised just how serious this was but, as I was told in hospital, "It's just half an inch away from open heart surgery!"

Despite all the lies dished out by the Daily Mail and its ilk, our experience of the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cheltenham General Hospital, and its Vascular Surgery Department at St Lukes Wing, Guiting Ward, has been just as superb as we had expected.  Due to the high levels of mind-altering drugs washing through one's system in these circumstances, I can't pretend to remember everyone's names, but my sincere thanks go to the guys in charge, Misters Cooper and Wilson, plus a whole host of Doctors in various specialisms, plus teams of superb nurses led by Edrianne, Lisa, Em, Anna, Lucy, Hayley (and probably several others in the first couple of days when details were very unclear).  It's also very worth noting that it took just one month, to the day, between referral by the scanning team, and the actual surgery!  The National target time is eight weeks.  Also, being so local, my lovely Danny found it fairly easy to get in to see me every day ... along with various friends.  Made every new day worth waiting for!

Someone told me that Steve Harrison, in his work in the Health and Education departments at Manchester University, was one of those who were responsible for the design and implementation of the annual aneurysm scanning programme for men over 65 in the UK.  This was undertaken because an aneurysm has no obvious side-effects - so you don't know you have one, until it bursts ... after which there is only a 12% survival rate!  If it was true that Steve was involved, I'm only sorry that he didn't live long enough for me to say to him "Thanks,Mate - you saved my life."

Although I feel fine, and am not in any pain (at the moment!) I'm obviously not at the top of my game yet, everything is very tiring, and I suspect that planned outings to Music @ St Marks and the Rosslare Singing Weekend will have to be put on hold for 2019.  Sorry to miss those of you I'd hoped to see there this year ... please make my apologies to other attendees.

Now attempting to answer 167 emails ........

11.1.19


Correspondence:

Rod Stradling, 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK
E-mail: rod@mustrad.org.uk
- or, if you don't mind the fact that he's getting a bit deaf ...
Phone: 01453 758519 or Mobile: 0793 099 1641

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