Welcome to Week One of A Folk Song a Week.
I’m beginning with possibly my favourite song to sing, from one of my favourite records, The Roving Journeymen by the Willett Family. The Willetts – Tom and his sons Chris and Ben – were English gypsy singers recorded in 1962 on a caravan site near Ashford in Middlesex, by Bill Leader and Paul Carter. This song was sung by Tom – at 84 years of age, not the strongest singer, but still a singer of enormous character, and with some great songs. The Roving Journeymen was, I believe, the first full-length Topic LP to feature English traditional singers, and had a major impact: it was chosen by several of the contributors to Musical Traditions’ Ten Records that Changed my Life feature. Although it’s never been released on CD, you can get it as a digital download from Amazon, iTunes and the like; and this track is included on Volume 2 of Topic’s monumental Voice of the People set.
Riding Down to Portsmouth