I've posted a few of the songs that will be on the CD here:
We're not too far from completing it now.
Track 1. Where the Wild Wall Barley Grows/Allie Cain's Rant
While on Tour in the 60's & 70's I noticed how many bomb sites there were around Northumberland, and that the only thing that seemed to grow on these was Wild or Wall Barley; the grass that I used to pull the head off to throw at my friends and it would stick to their jumpers.
Allie Cain is a charming and friendly young lady living on the Isle of Man. We met whilst our morris side was on a dance tour back in 2011, and Allie and I sat and chatted into the early hours in the boys common room of the local school where we were staying.
Track 2. Tom Schonfeld
Tom was a caretaker for Honeywell Computers when I worked there as a computer engineer.
I liked the name so much that after reading Terry Coleman's book 'The Railway Navvies' and I began to write songs around their culture, I used his name for the main character in the song.
Track 3. The Seeds of Love
The first song collected by Cecil Sharp when he overheard his gardener singing it.
It's written in flower symbolism which we still use today without realising.
Red rose is love, violet: modesty, lily: virtue, pink (carnation): courtesy, rue: regret/rue, thyme: chastity.
The gardener in the song is also the singer's conscience.
Track 4. Car ny Ferrishyn/ Car ny Rankee
Two Manx tunes for dance. The first means Faerie Dance and the second Dance of the Stranger but the stranger is assumed to be a Frenchman since the French weren't too popular on the Island at one time.
Track 5. Unknown Shore.
A poem written by Elizabeth Clark Hardy (1849-1929) in Winsconsin USA. She was a well known poetess and her poem has been read at the funerals of two presidents.
Having been moved by the poem I found a tune came to my mind, and it fits beautifully with Janice Miller's emotive singing.
Track 6. Abbey Boswell's Lurcher.
The legend of a lurcher owned by a Romany King. A story which was given to me by Fred Rooke who translated many Romany myths and legends and inspired me to writing songs based on them.
Track 7. Double Figure Eight/ Bodmin Riding.
Two traditional English tunes played in a very English style.
Track 8. The Bitter Withy.
A tongue in cheek story about Jesus.
Part of the story dates back to the 13th cent. A time when few people could either write or read, and none could read a Latin bible, so they made up their own 'parables'. This song is a Carol, though not the Christmas type and was popular for a long time since it 'cocked a snook' at the snooty Lords. A class never too popular with the commoners.
Track 9. The Recruiting Sergeant.
The most likely origin is from a broadsheet ballad. It's supposed that the redcoats whistled this song while marching in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) or more likely in Australia. It's believed the tune was picked up and used later as the melody of Waltzing Matilda.
Track 10. Totters Reel/ Jenny's Chickens.
I wrote Totters Reel for a friend nearly 40 years ago. Jenny's Chickens is traditional Irish.
Track 11. The Signalman/ McKelvie Bailey's Reel.
The Signalman is an air written by Janice Miller in memory of her father whose lifetime job was a signalman. He was a very gentle man.
McKelvie Bailey's Reel is known by another title I believe, but I learnt it from Brian McKelvie Bailey who was the whistle player and flautist in the traditional Irish group The Irish Country Four.
Audrey & I would arrange their UK tours and they and their partners stayed with us in our two bed flat in South London.
It was a lot of fun and a lot of music.
Track 12. The Squire & the Gypsy.
Another song inspired by Fred Rooke's writings based loosely around the idea of a Romany Gypsy becoming nobilty, though I doubt this would ever have been a real aspiration.
Track 13. Smith's Hornpipe/ Miss Brown.
Two Irish hornpipes from Kerr's collection book 2.
Track 14. Robin Hood.
Adapted from Child Ballad No. 139. 'Robin Hood's Progress to Nottingham'.
Track 15. The Burning Stuble Fields.
An engimatic love song which I wrote in the 70's for a lost friend.
Track 16. Denis Murphy's Reel/ Jim Seeries.
The first tune was the nearest I could get to a tune I listened to many times in the sound Library of the EFDSS. The original was played by Denis Murphy from Waterford, and despite slowing down the tune to 1/4 speed, I still couldn't work out what he was doing.
It was exceptionally well played, and this is just a poor shadow or the original.
Jim Seeries is another from Kerr's collection.
Track 17. Romany Rye.
Another song about Romanies written 30 plus years ago. I intended many of these songs to be part of a roadshow, so the style of this one fitted the theme at the time.
Track 18. Whistling Jacket.
Taken from Fred Rookes legends that a Romany can hunt hares without traps, snares or a gun.
During my time living in Castle Ashby village, I met many poachers who had extraordinary methods of outwitting the keepers, and I have tried this way myself but have never come closer to a hare than about 20 feet. I believe they sense your presence through your footfall, so I have my doubts about the credibility. But who knows? Romanies have always been very resourceful.
Track 19. Mona's Delight/ Blue Eyed Stranger.
The first is a traditional Manx dance tune named after Mona Douglas (18 September 1898 – 8 October 1987) who was a reknowned Manx folklorist, dramatist and author.
The second is an English dance tune which Don Alison amusingly refers to as 'The Blue Hydrangea'.
Track 20. Appleby Fair.
Appleby Fair is the annual gathering of Romanies and travellers every first week in June at the Town of Appleby, Cumbria for the trading of horses. It's another song inspired by Fred Rooke.
Track 21. Loco Whistle.
I felt the need to write about the railway navvies from the perspective of the wife left behind, as the labourer turned navvy followers the higher pay and the next stretch of line.
The song had lain dormant waiting for a female voice to sing it, and this was the first song that Janice Miller & I worked on. Her singing is exactly what I had been hoping for, and the whole arrangement satisfied a 35 year dream.
Thank you Janice.
Track 22. Daunse Voirrey/ Wireless Ridge.
Daunse Voirrey translates from the Manx to 'Val's Dance'. A dear friend who is also Manx and the choreographer for Old Mother Redcaps.
I wrote Wireless Ridge out of respect for the soldiers who took part in the battle for the Falklands Isles there.