|The title page of an edition of The Sacred Harp|
Chico made an appearance at the club for the first time in 10 or 15 years according to his memory. We were certainly entertained by his songs: Roll along, Seaman's shuffle (a ragtime tune) and 21st century troubadour (download sample). Let's hope we see him at The Bridge before the next decade starts.
Terry isn't anywhere near as rare a visitor to the club as Chico, but this time he was missing his usual companion: his classical guitar. It was therefore from a slightly different repertoire that we hear him sing on this occasion. Terry sang The Dutchman by Michael P Smith, John Willie's ferret by the Oldham Tinkers, and Lamorna. The last song, appearing to be about a place in Cornwall, seems to be derived from a 19th century broadside providing words to a song called Down to Pomona, which is set in Manchester.
Another, not yet quite regular, to appear was Paul who played his own tune, Kerry time and, when it next came round to him, an improvised guitar piece.
Derek started off the session with Harbour le Cou which is a Newfoundland song (Harbour Le Cou is a fishing village on the southwest coast of Newfoundland near Port aux Basques).
Richard pointed out that when he sang The banks of the Don it was about a river in Canada (the song was collected from OJ Abbot who learned it around 1890 in Ottawa Valley), not the one in Yorkshire. Colin however made up for that quite quickly by singing George Hill's Red and black which includes the line "From Don, from Rother and from Dearne, came fire and filth and a wage to earn" (download George Hill singing the song).
It is understood that Lesley's singing of No half measures by Alistair Hulett implied nothing about Richard's secret habits: "He just can't seem to lay off the bottle...".
Colin sang Brian Pearson's Song of the leaders. The song is about the peasants' revolt of 1381 which was a reaction to a number of issues but in the end the trigger was the attempt to collect the poll tax. Mike pointed out the apparent irony that it was a descendant of Geoffrey Lister, named in the song, who set up RA Lister and Co, agricultural equipment manufacturers of Dursley and that the company was very slow to recognise the unions.
Possibly the oldest song of the night was sung by Richard: Babylon is fallen (Roud 13968), which was apparently sung by Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. It was later exported across the Atlantic where it was eventually adopted into the shape note tradition and eventually into the Sacred Harp. The current tune was written by WE Chute in 1878.
The session was brought to a close by Colin singing Dougie MacLean's excellent Feel so near which gave us a last chance to join in.
Here's a selection of these songs plus some others sung during the session.