I really do love this sort of thing. Here we have a verse, which is related to a song from 17th century England, being included in a song about the legendary character John Henry. Such are the ways of the folk.
Mike Yates - 4.7.17
And I only Googled Jane because I wanted to find a date for my Abrams copy!
Kurt Gänzl - 29.6.17
Vic Smith - 14.3.17
I've been listening to a great LP recently that was directed by Roy Palmer. It's called The Streets of Brummagem and involves some very professional sounding singing and instrumentation as well as children joining in to sing the choruses etc.
I was wondering if anyone knows any more about this LP and its partner which was issued the year before in 1970 Birmingham Lads?
Both records are recorded in Mono by Charles Horrell and the one I have is a real pleasure. The Singing Tradition are mentioned and so this is even a Topic link because they recorded for Impact - the Topic subsidiary (on the album The Painful Plough). Perhaps this group is the answer to the question 'Who is the main performer?' Both of these relatively rare LPs are available to listen to in their entirety on Youtube.com
I'd love to hear, though MT, if anyone has any first hand knowledge about the record or what led to its recording and release.
Alistair Banfield - 12.2.17
I have been ordering MTCDs for years now and every time I've ordered I've had the good intention to write to thank you. But we know what yon broad, broad road is paved with.
I am hugely, hugely grateful for the insane amount of work you, and others, put in to Musical Traditions. Years ago I started with Steeleye and Fairport, then it was Carthy and Tabor, and now it's Voice of the People, Veteran and you.
For me, the best thing is the CDs you release. As you know, I now have nearly all of them, and they are a joy. I keep them in my office at work, where I can listen undisturbed when I have time. I can't claim that anyone has been reduced to tears by the music, however. My favourite, by some way, is the Lizzie Higgins. I find it hard to believe that any of your releases could sell only 30 copies.
Next comes the reviews. I get various magazines, but you cover things others don't. I got two Felmay releases for Christmas, and am in the process of getting the two books of songs about Napoleon. Thank you.
I do read all the articles, though I take my time. It may be months from when they are posted to when I read them. Much appreciated all the same.
In your New Year message to the nation, you encouraged people to contribute. The first time I went to Cecil Sharp House, in 1984, I was made to feel unworthy because I neither play nor sing; I am a mere consumer. I feel the same now: I know I should do something, but what? The level of scholarship in the MT articles is daunting - people work very hard on difficult to find sources, have tremendous background knowledge, and present it very well. I teach English at university here in Japan, and am expected to write. There are literally thousands of people here writing about English teaching, so I switched to writing about folk song. I've written half a dozen articles, but they are very much popularization for a Japanese readership, people who know nothing about the music. I would not dream of submitting them.
I've learned to read the reviews. They tend to go:
1. This is an essential CD/book.
2. to 9. These are all the things that are badly wrong with it.
10. Buy it immediately.
One result of this was the entertaining but undignified (on both sides) spat about the Elizabeth Cronin book and CD (nearly as much fun as Bearman vs Harker on Sharp). If it really has put him off doing another project, as he claimed, then that is a shame. Anyway, the point is that your contributors do not suffer fools gladly, and I fear I would be eaten alive if I put anything out there.
On another topic:
I've been a member of the EFDSS for a while now. I was already a member when I was made to feel very welcome by Malcolm Taylor when I spent a week at the VWML in 2005. The Society seems to be much better run than in the past, and the online resources are terrific - I could not write my little articles without the Roud indexes. I find the book reviews in the Journal invaluable.
That said, I fully agree with you about the new EDS. Not only is there nothing traditional, but the number of reviews has been greatly reduced, and the magazine has been designed. There are lots of elegant white spaces, so it looks good. It's just a shame the content has been halved. Nor, far from London, do I need a self-congratulatory page telling me about wheelchair access to Cecil Sharp House - that should be a footnote. There is now nothing there that is not covered by fRoots, Living Tradition and you.
But I will continue to remain a member because I think it's important to support the EFDSS in general.
This has become rather long. If you have read this far, thank you.
I look forward to your next 3 releases, and I will no doubt buy the Rounder NAT reissues at some point.
With great gratitude,
Simon Rosati - 1.2.17
I couldn't find a feedback spot on your website, so I thought I'd write an email after receiving the above CD set for my birthday a few days ago.
My mother grew up in Keady, Co Armagh, and is now in her 70s. She remembers well hearing Sarah Makem singing as a child, and tells happy stories of regularly being given sweets by Sarah, and of hearing her sing many songs (especially The Factory Girl). She also tells how Sarah organised musical events that were attended by many people in the area.
I found the CD online (I hadn't heard of Musical Traditions before), and she bought it for me.
Words are not adequate to say how happy these recordings have made me. I have listened to them pretty much non-stop since receiving them. And as you can imagine, when I played them to my mother, tears immediately came to her eyes - tears of joy. It brought her straight back to her childhood in Keady.
I cannot thank your organisation enough for making these recordings available. Please keep up the good work!
Noel Donnelly - 22.11.16
When I reviewed the Dust-to-Digital set 'Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937 - 1946' (book and CDs) for Musical Traditions last year I said that I would "eat my hat" if this remarkable set of recordings did not win some award or other.
I am more than happy to note that the set has just been awarded the prize for 'Best Historical Research in Recorded Folk or World Music' by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Again, I can only urge MT readers to check this set out. It really does deserve to have won this prestigious award.
Mike Yates - 16.11.16
Very interesting article that. Thanks very much for posting.
But it really doesn't read to me as if it were written in 2003 or 2004. There's nothing in the article that suggests to me it was written anything like so recently. Is it not more likely that Keith had simply transcribed something he'd written a long time before, and put it in digital form for posterity? I quote:
Instead, the 'contemporary' references are all to the 70s:
Great article though - as ever, many thanks for all the tireless good work. A reminder to me that I need to download a few more albums in your catalogue - I was delighted when you first set up the online store.
Cheers and all the best
Matt Milton - 8.11.16
This letter has convinced me that Keith clearly wrote this piece much earlier; probably in the late-Seventies or early-Eighties ... but I still have no idea why it was never published in MT. - Ed.
Rod Stradling has just forwarded your response to comments about Brian Rooney which appeared in my Musical Traditions review. I am more than happy (unhappy?) to concede that my statement about his decease was not just factually inaccurate but distressing to his family and admirers of his remarkable musicianship (of whom I am one). The cause of this was misreading an Irish Times article of 20 December 2014, which was loaned to me as an obituary! This is entirely my inadvertence, for which I am quite prepared to apologise. I am asking Rod to correct the mistake as soon as possible.
The tone of the piece, as you note, is studiedly provocative, inclining to affectation. This perfectly legitimate attempt to pitch beyond the impression of perfunctoriness which sometimes characterises reviews does, of course, invite response in kind. (On the unimpeachable principle that those who stick their neck out should expect to have their head bitten off). It certainly does not excuse factual inaccuracy.
So I am obliged to you for going to the trouble to point this out; and gratified to learn there are still some unreconstructed ethnomusicologists with us.
Andrew Bathe - 4.9.16
Thanks for being understanding and taking the letter in the spirit it was intended. I'd be quite happy for the change to be made and this correspondence to be taken off the website when it become redundant as a consequence of the slight editing of the article. I'll leave it to you and Rod to make the final decision on that.
We are always keen to see some lengthy, and sometime provocative, reviews rather than the sort of 100 word efforts you often get in the Guardian or Irish Times, and Mustrad is a great opportunity to explore a wider assessment of recordings, whether they are one 40 minute disc or over 7 hours as with this collection.
Incidentally, I entirely agree with your assessment of Amby Whyms having the Fahy style in his playing and bowing patterns - in fact the second tune identified as Paddy O'Brien's in the notes is one of Fahy's compositions.
Ken & Marya - 4.9.16
Dear Ken and Marya
It was useful to have the correct attribution of the tune Amby Whyms plays. I am privileged to have a private recording of Paddy Fahy playing in the back room of Moylan's in Loughrea and so have the chance to savour the distinctiveness of his playing. A case of a legendary figure whose recordings are not easily obtainable.
Andrew - 4.9.16
As 'unreconstructed twitching ethnomusicologists' (sic), we were surprised to read his comments about Brian Rooney. To suggest he has been mistitled Brian when it should be Bryan seems incredibly picky when Brian has released three CDs all under the name Brian. Putting that in perspective however was the statement that Brian had died in December 2014. This is just not true. It is well known that Brian Rooney had a heart attack mid 2014 and was incredibly lucky that other tests done at the time showed early signs of cancer. This was treated and he ended the year fit and well apart from a broken wrist! All this was documented in the TG4 programme An Godfather broadcast at the end of December 2014 and, I think, now available on YouTube. Brian played a concert at the All Ireland Fleadh in Sligo in August 2015. Quite a feat for a dead man.
We have lost enough musicians in the last couple of years without wishing any others into a premature grave. Could we suggest a correction to the review to rectify this unfortunate error. Tongue in cheek, we'd suggest it should be headed Erratum or Corrigendum.
Ken Ricketts & Marya Parker - 4.9.16
this is a comment on the authorship of the two Sleepytoon songs Sleepytoon (Roud 3775, GreigDuncan3 356, Ballad Index RcSlepTn) and Sleepytoon in the Morning (Roud 9140, Ballad Index RcSlee2).
According to Greig/Duncan Volume 3 page 623 the author of Sleepytoon G/D #356 B is William 'Poet' Clark. It is rather unlikely that Clark wrote both Sleepytoon songs.
Therefore I believe that Mike Yates mixed both songs up and that his comment on Sleepytoon in the Morning "Reg Hall's comment that Morris wrote the piece is incorrect" in http://www.mustrad.org.uk/vop/notes56.htm#655 (cited in RCSlee2) is incorrect, and that George Morris is indeed the author of Sleepytoon in the Morning.
Best wishes, Reinhard Zierke - 24.7.16
I'm having difficulty checking on the pedigree of the tune to Jessie o' Dunblane (there are various spellings). The text, it's known, is from Robert Tannahill and appeared in 1808. It was set to music by a friend of Tannahill, R A Smith, in 1816. That much seems clear.
But there's one reference to the Thomas Hardy 'Puddletown' manuscripts that give a date of 1800 for the tune. If this is accurate, maybe Smith used an older tune; but he is adamant in his writings that he composed it.
Is there anybody who can help me solve this puzzle?
Roly Brown - 29.4.16
Don't know if you happened to see the attached photograph which appeared in The Courier and Advertiser on 22 March 2016, sent in by a Michael Mulford from Cupar, Fife.
According to the caption the photo was taken in Blairgowrie in 1928 and the people are four generations of the Powrie family including box-player Will and his five year-old son Ian, who became a famous fiddler, along with grandfather and great grandfather. Will and Ian feature on some of the tracks in The Voice of the People series as well as on the Ythan Music Trust CD, Sook and Blaw.
Jim Black - 24.3.16
Fred did catalogue his collection and stored the catalogue on a hard drive, but this has been difficult to access. Gill wants to honour Fred’s intentions by giving the collection to another institution, but without the full catalogue she can’t give the details that a library or archive would require. She has made enquiries with booksellers and record dealers to help dispose of the collection, but she feels her best way forward is to offer the collection to the people who can best appreciate it; Fred's fellow lovers of folk and traditional music. So she plans to hold an open house at Fred’s where people can come and choose what they want and in exchange make a donation to charity.
The open house will be over two days Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March 2016 at 2 Orchard Grange, Moreton, Wirral CH46 6DZ.
For what it is worth we have just had an email from Dr Mike Brocken which sheds some light on the University of Liverpool’s decision. We were puzzled that Fred should have been so confident that his collection would be accepted there, be properly looked after, and made publicly available.
Mike was a colleague of Fred's at the Institute of Popular Music (IPM) in Liverpool University over 10 years ago when the Institute was flourishing and it had a positive archival policy; taking in material from Robert Shelton and Karl Dallas amongst many others. It seems that funding for the archives, and for the IPM itself has been much reduced since then, while Mike has moved on to Liverpool Hope University where he runs courses on aspects of popular music. So Fred presumably had good reason to believe that his collection would be well curated whenever it was that he made his will, but changes inside Liverpool University occurred afterwards of which he may not have been aware.
Sadly a familiar story of universities and especially libraries losing their funding. I hope Malcolm Taylor won't mind me quoting/paraphrasing him: "If you want to bequeath your collection to a library, ideally you should also provide for the transportation, housing, shelving and cataloguing of it" - but of course few can afford to do this even if they thought of it.
Peta Webb and Matthew Edwards - 12.3.16
I thought you would be interested to know of friend Brian Miller's latest project to make available online some rare 1920s field recordings of Minnesota traditional singing that he uncovered at the Library of Congress.
Brian is doing more and better research on occupational music of his home area than anyone else I'm aware of here in the US.
He's raising funds for the project - you can check out a video and learn more about it here.
Dave Ruch - 6.3.16
I've just been listening to the musical examples accompanying Article MT291, The Dancing Davies. Just for the record, the third track, credited to Percy Brown as Soldier's Joy / hornpipe, is actually Soldier's Joy / Navvy on the Line, played by me.
Reg Hall - 6.3.16
Now corrected in the article - Ed.
As regards Brian's other comments about the ballad, I can add that the southern English Gypsy, Levi Smith, knew a single verse of the ballad (though without a tune) and that Hamish Henderson recorded a fragment from the Scottish Traveller Andrew Stewart, this latter being available on the CD Hamish Henderson Collects - volume 2 (Kyloe Records CD110).
Mike Yates - 23.2.16
Brian Peters - 23.2.16
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