|Burns' Cottage (photo by Bethany Weeks)|
Being just three days before Burns' Night, the plan was to sing some Scottish songs. Unfortunately some present didn't seem to have their diaries quite in sync. Never mind, our themes are always optional.
Colin was MC and Mike started off proceedings with I'm A Rover And Seldom Sober (Roud 3135), which may not be related to Burns but is at least Scottish.
Richard's humourous Scottish Bottle O' The Best (Jack Foley) which advocates the drinking of whisky, was mirrored later by Mike's singing of John Barleycorn (Roud 164), which clearly prefers beer. Surprisingly, Robert Burns actually collected a version of the latter song, presumably implying a visit to England. For the record Mike sings the Somerset verses with the Gloucestershire chorus, to a German tune.
We were joined for the first time in a while by Paul, who usually entertains us with his indeterminately named guitar tunes but this time he dared to sing of some of his own songs, and they proved interesting. Then And Now had started as a tribute to a nonegenarian American blues-man who died in 2015, but ended up as a comment on the racial discrimination he may have experienced through the decades of his long life. Finally, She's Her Mother's Daughter was a love song directed at both his own daughter and his granddaughter.
We were also very pleased to make the acquaintance of Marianne, a first-time visitor to the club, with a fine voice for singing Scottish songs. Ae Fond Kiss is addressed to Mrs Agnes Maclehose with whom Burns had an unconsummated affair. The song was written after their final meeting and was sent to her before she left for Jamaica to be with her estranged husband. It seems that Burns put the relationship aside quite quickly, while Agnes held on to it for the rest of her life. Marianne's second and final song of the evening was Heather Down The Moor (Roud 375). This song too seems to have a Burns connection since he attributed Down the Moor to a Kilmarnock girl named Jean Glover, “who was not only a whore but a thief; and in one or other character has visited most of the Correction Houses in the West. … I took the song down from her singing as she was strolling through the country with a sleight-of-hand blackguard.”
Colin opted for a humourous take on Scotland with JW Hill's Scottish Holiday and Margaret Stoddart's Sellotape Pipers (I like the way, for the American audience, the link explains that "Sellotape is the Scottish word for 'Scotch Tape'").
Simon stuck to the theme, singing Burns' version of Ye Jacobites By Name and Geordie (Roud 90, Child 209), a version of which was collected by Burns.
Tom's Scottish contribution was The Corncrake (Roud 2736) and Steve G's was Bert Jansch's Caledonia - definitely not Dougie MacLean's song of the same name.
Away from the Scottish theme, Richard remembered the late Alan Mitchell's Marriott Edgar recitations with his own rendition of Uppards, Edgar's interpretation of Longfellow's poem Excelsior.
Lesley, Terry C and Phil were sadly without Scottish performances but nevertheless provided valid entertainment. Lesley's first was Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy (Roud 165). Phil's contributions included Pictures From Life's Other Side (possibly written by either John B Vaughan or Charles E Baer). And Terry provided the penultimate song of the evening in the form of Bill Caddick's John O' Dreams.
It was left to Steve G to finish off the evening which he did with Josh Ritter's Lawrence KS.
There's no official theme for next week's session but I'm sure something will come to us as we start to sing. Mike has suggested a theme for a future session which you might like to start thinking about. About two years ago we had an evening with a theme of "60's", so the suggestion is to have a theme of "50's" but bear in mind it is somewhat wider in nature than you might initially think: it can mean 1950s but it can also mean 1850s, 1750s, 1650s, and so on. Start thinking!
Here's a selection of songs sung during this session.
(Number of people present - 12 [+4], of which 11 performed)