Posts tagged ‘Chris Wood’

October 12, 2013

Week 112 – Hare Hunting Song

Here’s one from the archive – from a demo tape I made c1995 with Chris Wood. You can find a later recording of the song (again with Chris on guitar and harmony vocals) on my now-downloadable-but-originally-cassette-only album Love, Death and the Cossack. As I wrote on the cassette liner notes

I have an ambivalent attitude towards hunting songs, but was won over to the Westmorland Hare hunting song by its gloriously pompous words.  Brave boys only need apply!

Inspired to learn the song by the Watersons’ version (under the title  ‘The Morning Looks Charming’) on their 1966 LP A Yorkshire Garland, I subsequently had the words from Roy Palmer’s English Country Songbook.

The song was collected by Frank Kidson in Westmorland in 1902, from a Mr. Cropper – and here it is from Kidson’s manuscript, now available on the EFDSS Full English site.

Hare Hunting Song, from the Kidson MSS, via the Full English archive.

Hare Hunting Song, from the Kidson MSS, via the Full English archive.

The song has also been collected in Cumberland and Yorkshire – from the singing of the famous Holme Valley huntsmen. But looking at the  Roud index it’s clear that this is not a peculiarly Northern song, a version also having been collected at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Frank Kidson’s handwritten note on the MS copy above led me to The Vocal Enchantress. Presenting An Elegant Selection of the Most Favourite Hunting, Sea, Love, & Miscellaneous Songs, Sung by Edwin, Bannister, Webster, Mrs. Cargill, Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Wrighten, &c. &c. &c. With the Music prefixed to each (1783). And here indeed is our song, in Part 1 pages 38-39.

Hare Hunting Song

Andy Turner: vocals

Chris Wood: guitar, vocals

July 20, 2013

Week 100 – Through Lonesome Woods

It’s the one hundredth week of the blog, so let’s celebrate with a rather lovely little traditional song, with a decidedly lovely guitar accompaniment from the perennially lovable Chris Wood.

I first heard this c1981 at the Heritage Society in Oxford, sung by Andy Cheyne, who had recently appeared on the Oxford scene. Andy immediately became a favourite at the club, as he had a range of really interesting songs with really interesting accompaniments. Mainly, he played acoustic guitar, but also had one of those electric guitars with a small speaker embedded in the body – a few years later Ali Farka Toure was shown playing one on the cover of Folk Roots.

Andy had had this song from Sam Richards and Tish Stubbs’ The English Folksinger, from where I also took the words. Andy recorded the song a decade or so later with Michelle Soinne on an excellent cassette-only release Fish Royal. Meanwhile, when Chris Wood and I started working up material in the summer of 1982, I’m pretty sure this was one of the very first songs to go into our repertoire. It was certainly one of my favourites, and when I came to record an album in 1990, this was always going to be on it. That album, Love, Death and the Cossack, was also cassette-only. And, retro-fans, I do still have a box of them knocking around the loft. But if you’d like a copy, you may prefer to download it from

Chris has subsequently recorded the song a couple of times, with the Two Duos Quartet, and with Jean-Francois Vrod. Chris learned it from me, as he has always acknowledged, although I seem to remember he’s changed the accidentals around a little.

'Through Lonesome Woods' from Henry Perkes, collected by George Gardiner. Image © EFDSS

‘Through Lonesome Woods’ from Henry Perkes, collected by George Gardiner. Image © EFDSS

Like last week’s song, this appears to be the only collected version of Roud number 3461.

Last week, a friend’s comment on ‘Master Kilby’ was, simply, “Poetry!” . Well so is this

Through lonesome woods I took my way
So dark, so dark, as dark could be
Where the leaves were shivering on every tree
Which don’t you think ’twas grief for me

Through Lonesome Woods

Andy Turner: vocals
Chris Wood: guitar

October 22, 2012

Week 61 – John Barleycorn

‘John Barleycorn’ was one of the first traditional songs I ever heard. That was the Steeleye version, which I soon discovered was pretty much the same as that printed in Fred Hamer’s Garners Gay. Like pretty much everything on Below the Salt, I learned that version at the time; and I’m pretty sure it was for a while in the repertoire of a group I sang with at University, The Paralytics aka Three Agnostics and a Christian.

In more recent times, I have recorded two different versions with Magpie Lane. First, on The Oxford Ramble Ian Giles and I sang the classic Shepherd Haden version. Then on A Taste of Ale I sang a version collected by Gwilym Davies in the 1970s. The Oxfordshire version should appear on this blog at some point, since it is, notionally at least, still in my repertoire. But the Devon version, like much of the material on A Taste of Ale, was worked up for the CD, then forgotten about (I can’t actually recall the tune right now).

If I was starting from scratch, and looking for a ‘John Barleycorn’ version to sing, I might well be tempted by the rather nice minor key version (another from Bampton-in-the-Bush) printed in the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. But here’s a version which I recorded on a demo tape with Chris Wood, circa 1985. This came from Peter Kennedy’s Folk Songs of Britain and Ireland. Kennedy collected the song from Bert Edwards of Little Stretton, Shropshire, and it’s similar to the way another Shropshire singer, Fred Jordan, used to sing the song.

The notes to this song in the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs say

It was perhaps inevitable that this song would attract the ritual-origins theorists  who claimed that it was all to do with corn spirits and resurrection, but it is now generally agreed that such notions were romantic wishful thinking and there is no evidence either for the theories themselves or for this song to be anything other than a clever allegory.

If we stick to what we do know…

Well if you want to know what we do know, you’ll have to buy the book. Even if you never learn any of the songs, it’s worth every penny for Steve Roud’s excellent well-informed and thoroughly commonsensical introduction.

John Barleycorn

Andy Turner: vocals, anglo-concertina

Chris Wood: fiddle, vocals

Recorded 1985 (?) by Bernard Brown