This is not any sort of emergency - but I'd like to get the future sorted out (and do the necessary work involved) well in advance. So your comments and ideas would be extremely welcome.
Rather obviously, passing the whole thing on to someone else to run is the most obvious solution. But this might be something of a poisoned chalice, in that there's really quite a lot of work involved - for very little return.
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 like to be considered for this position. 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.
Rod Stradling - 15.7.20
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.
Rod Stradling - 10.6.20
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
The track lists are as follows:
|CD One: Duration: 72 minutes||CD 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
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.
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.
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.
Anyway, the new MT Records releases concerned are:
Also - and importantly, re. the proposed Bob Cann and Charlie Bate CD - does anyone have a photo of the two of them together, please?
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!
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!)
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.
So - the ones I know about:
Any ideas, information, and particularly recordings, will be most welcome.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This Editorial and comments relating to it can now be found as Enthusiasm No.84
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 ........
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