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No 23

Phoebe Smith dies:

I'm very sorry to have to report the death of Phoebe Smith, at the age of 88, last Thursday 8th November 2001.

Phoebe was perhaps England's finest woman singer, and certainly the most memorable.  She was also delightful company, and Danny and I spent many happy hours with her and Joe and various family members at her home in Woodbridge and in several East Suffolk pubs in the sixties and seventies.

She was encountered by the folk song revival in the early 1960s and appeared at several festivals and numerous folk clubs thereafter.  She recorded an LP Once I Had a True Love (Topic 12T193) in 1969, and some of her songs have appeared in the compilations of Traveller singers Mike Yates produced for Topic in the seventies and eighties, as well as more recently in The Hidden English (TSCD600) and Voice of the People (TSCD651-670).  In 1998 Veteran published a CD of her songs, The Yellow Handkerchief (VT136CD).

Phoebe came from a large and extended family and contributed to its continuation in no small way - 7 sons, 30 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great-grandchildren.  They, and we, will all miss her.  The funeral is on Thursday 15th November, at St Andrews Church, Melton, Woodbridge, Suffolk at midday.

Rod Stradling -13.11.01

New Topic CDs available from MT

The new Topic CDs of The Copper Family and Michael Gorman are both now available from Musical Traditions Records at £13.50 and £16.00 respectively, including UK p&p.

The Lancashire Pace-Egg Play (book)

FLS Books, the imprint of The Folklore Society, has just published The Lancashire Pace-Egg Play, by Eddie Cass, 155x235mm, 256 pages, ISBN 09035 15229, £14.95 (p&p included).  This book combines a full historical and folkloric account with detailed information on contemporary performance and the revival tradition.  Full details were given in News 22.

The Folklore Society, University of London, Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB.
Cheques payable to Folklore Enterprises Ltd.

Musical Traditions Club dates - corrections:

King & Queen, Foley Street, London W1 - Junction of Foley Street/Cleveland Street.  Nearest tube Goodge Street.
Monthly, Fridays Information: Peta Webb - 020 8340 0530   or

Folkworks Pure Drop tour:

The shows will feature mainly solo and duet performances and is an ideal format to hear the individual artists involved.  The dates and venues are: Further detals from: Chris Pentney, Folkworks, 69 Westgate Rd, Newcastle on Tyne NE1 1SG.  Phone 0191 222 1717 x 204.

Cullerlie singing weekend 2002:

Advanced notice of the Cullerlie (Aberdeenshire) singing weekend; dates 28-30 June, guests to be announced.

New MT Ray Andrews: Classic English Banjo CD

Cover pictureI'm very pleased to announce that the CD from Ray Andrews, indicated as a distinct possibility in Geoff Woolfe's article, is now a reality.  Details and an order form can be found on our Records page, as usual.  Geoff's article has now been updated to reflect the complete booklet notes, but for a taster, here's the tracklist:

Shaeffer's Jig, Entrancement, Bluebells of Scotland, The White Coons, La Margeurite, The Kilties, Whistlin' Rufus, Hurdy Gurdy Gallop, Tune Tonic, Grandfather's Clock, Bonny Scotland, Annie Laurie, Banjo Vamp, Hornpipe and Jig Medley, Spanish Romance, Sailors Don't Care, Sports Parade, Mr Punch, Beat as You Go, Kaffir Walkround, Darktown Dandies, Minuet in G, Rugby Parade, Oh Lonesome Me, Niggertown, Just a Song at Twilight.

Willie McPhee dies

I'm sorry to have to tell you that Willie McPhee died a couple of days ago.  A cousin of the Stewarts of Blair, he was one of the last of the older generation of Scottish travellers.  Willie was born in 1910 and travelled around Perthshire earning his living as a tinsmith.  He was a piper, story-teller and singer and much of his repertoire was recorded by the School of Scottish Studies.  He was also recorded by Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger, and filmed by John Cohen.

Mike Yates - 13.10.01

Postscript to two recent reviews:

Firstly, anyone who was interested in the Revanant Records Charley Patton set that I reviewed the sampler for might like to know that the box-set will be released 22 October.  The catalogue number is Revenant RVN212CD.  As I expected, in the UK, Red Lick will be stocking the set and the normal selling price is £120.00.  They do, though, have an initial batch on sale at the special price of £99.00, on a first come, first served basis.

Secondly, Mike Yates, in his review of the wonderful Hobart Smith Portrait Series release (Rounder CD 1799) makes reference to Folk-Legacy Records 1963 album, Hobart Smith of Saltville, Virginia (Folk-Legacy FSA-17).  Folk Legacy have slowly started to re-release their back catalogue on CD, the first being Frank Proffitt of Reese, NC (FSA CD-1).  In the meantime, if you can't wait for the CD, other recordings, including that by Hobart Smith are available from them as custom made cassettes.  Full details are available on their website

Roger Johnson - 8.10.01

Australian Musicological Conference information:

National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia
2 to 6 October 2002, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Themes for this conference include: performance as research; music and society; structure and context; music and technology.  Lecture-demonstrations as well as papers will be accepted.

Plenary speakers include Prof. Suzanne Cusick.

Submission deadline: 1 March 2002

Contact:   Website http/

Swindon Folksingers' Club moves:

Swindon Folksingers Club has moved to a new home: at Gorse Hill Working Men's Club, Chapel Street (off Cricklade Road), Gorse Hill, Swindon, Wilts.  They meet on Fridays, 8:15 - 11:00.  Some furure guests of interest include: Contact: Ted Poole, tel: 01793 722335 or Eric Stott: 01793 521301

The Millen family CD launch at Tenterden Folk Festival

I should like to take this opportunity of drawing to readers' attention the launch of the CD In Yonder Green Oak by the Millen Family of Bethersden in Kent.  I came across them when conducting research into the role of the BBC in Kent when broadcasting its rural affairs programme Country Magazine throughout the 1940s.

The songs are described as 'glee singing' by the family themselves, are are sung in five part harmony.  Some of the repertoire is reminiscent of that of the Copper Family, although Dame Durden, which they perform, I can trace back to a newspaper account of 1905, and the versions of Sportsmen Arise, Mistletoe Bough and While Shepherds Watched, whilst shared, are also part of their family's tradition.  Examples of other songs include some of the plantation songs which also found their way into the repertoire of Charlie Bridger formerly of nearby Stone-in-Oxney (recorded by Mike Yates on Horkey Load).

The CD has been produced by Simon Evans, and is being launched at the Tenterden Folk Festival during the afternoon of Saturday 6th October at The White Lion, in the Saddlery, at 4.00 p.m.

George Frampton - 20.9.01

Reinstated articles:

Three more of the articles from the 'paper' version of MT have been reinstated here.  Firstly, In Pursuit of Polka Happiness... and a classless culture? by Charles and Angela Keil - from Musical Traditions No 2, Early 1984.  Also, since the musics they deal with are mentioned in passing in the Keil article, I've reinstated John Harrison's Damn Society! ... an Introduction to Greek Rembetika and João Dos Santos' The Gangster Reformed ... a study in musical parallels, which looks at the Fado of Lisbon and the Tango of Buenos-Aires as well as the Rembetika of Athens.

Honorary Degrees for Rowe and Carthy

The University of Sheffield announces the award of the degree of Doctor of Music to two outstanding representatives of English tradition, singer Martin Carthy and researcher Doc Rowe.  These degrees will be conferred in the Congregation in July 2002.

Doc Martin and Doc Doc Rowe, then!

22nd Cork Folk Festival

Takes place in numerous venues around Cork city from Thursday 30th August to Sunday 2nd September.

Check out for full details.

John Johnson - Strange Creek Fiddling, 1947

After a couple of months scheduling delay, I'm very pleased to announce the UK availability of this new CD on the West Virginia University Press label John Johnson - Strange Creek Fiddling, 1947 (WVU Press SA-3).

Recorded on aluminium disk in 1947, these tunes are a stunning display of power and grace from one of the most celebrated Appalachian fiddlers, aged 31 at the time of recording.  24 tracks of blisteringly hot music and wonderful tunes.  Order your copy now from our Records page - only £12.00 inc UK p&p.

Shirley Collins' illustrated talk at Royal Oak

Royal Oak, Station Street, Lewes - Thursdays.  The newly refurbished pub and clubroom will be open in time for the start of their new season in September. An addition to the published preogramme:

  • September 20th at 8pm - Shirley Collins - In Praise of English Folk Music - £3.00

    Shirley's talk will span the two great folk music revivals of the twentieth century and will be illustrated by recordings and by John Watcham's concertina playing.

    Contact: 01273 478124 or 881316, E-mail

    Classic Calypso records:

    Kaiso Records (Mail Order) inform me that they have calypso from Mighty Sparrow ( 21 Volume Anthology), Shadow, Kitchener, Crazy, Lord Melody, Duke, plus more compilatons and rarities.

    Contact: Brendon David, Kaiso Records, 7-11 Kensington High Street, London W8 5NP. Tel: 020 7368 3393 E-mail:

    Eva Tagliani : la voce delle mascherate - booklet translation

    When this lovely CD was reviewed (and added to our Italian CDs catalogue), it was indicated that the accompanying booklet was entirely in Italian - but a translation was promised in the near future.

    Danny Stradling has now completed this challenging task and her translation appears as an Article in these pages.

    Bob Copper talk at C# House:

    Bob Copper will be giving his talk on collecting with the BBC in the 1950s at Cecil Sharp House on Friday 9th November, 2001.

    Entitled Songs and Southern Breezes: collecting days with the BBC in the 1950s, this illustrated talk will begin at 7.30pm and advance tickets will shortly be avaiable at £3.50p (£4 on the door).

    For further information please contact Malcolm Taylor at the EFDSS - E-mail: or Tel: 020 7485 2206

    ECDB CD rescued from oblivion:

    Not content with rescuing the amazing Rice Girls CD, Snatch'd from Oblivion Records have now made a grab at the English Country Dance Band's Barn Dance record, just as it was spinning down the plughole of history.  Available from our Records page at only £5.00, this is the only CD source of things like Sir Roger de Coverley, The Triumph, Haste to the Wedding, Dashing White Sergeant, etc.  Complete with all the original tune notes and dance instructions/diagrams.

    Customs and Traditions competition:

    After two years - in which it only attracted one complete (and spoof) attempt at answering all 50 questions - we have a Winner!  Derek Ward, of Shibden, Halifax, has just sent in a complete set of correct answers and will soon be the proud owner of the prize - a signed copy of We'll Call Once More Unto Your House, a rare publication on the Padstow May Day celebrations (published 1982).

    Doc Rowe's 'official' answers to the questions are now shown on the Competition page - for those of you interested in brushing up your Customs Trivia knowledge.

    I hope to have a new competition for Readers in place here in the next week or so ... and also hope for a rather more copious response!

    Joe Rae - The Broom Blooms Bonny

    MT is very pleased to announce yet another new CD release: Joe Rae - The Broom Blooms Bonny (MTCD313).  Eight 'big ballads', three traditional folktales and four songs, recorded by Mike Yates in 2001 - all in digital stereo.

    The CD and 20-page booklet are priced at £12.00 inc p&p, and can be ordered via our Records page. As usual, the CD's Booklet Notes appear as an Article in these pages.


    Rod Stradling - e-mail:    Tel: 01453 759475
    snail-mail: 1 Castle Street, Stroud, Glos GL5 2HP, UK

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