Posts tagged ‘Keith Summers’

February 19, 2016

Week 235 – The Lobster

Percy Ling - photo by Doc Rowe

Percy Ling – photo by Doc Rowe

I received a comment recently on a post from October 2011, from the great granddaughter of the song’s source, the Suffolk singer Percy Ling. That reminded me that I know another of Percy’s songs, learned like ‘Underneath your apron’ from the Topic LP Singing Traditions of a Suffolk Family.

This has the potential to be easily the rudest song on this blog but, Percy being a man of great taste and discernment, he manages to avoid using any offensive words. Which is more than can be said for the seventeenth century version found in Bishop Percy’s Folio (c 1625-40), and quoted in full in this Musical Traditions article by Steve Gardham.

I think it’s also worth noting that Percy Ling provides, in verse 2, one of the great non-rhyming couplets in folk song – one of those cases where the singer seems to go out of their way to avoid an obvious rhyme. And, needless to say, I do exactly the same.

The Lobster

November 8, 2014

Week 168 – The Fellow Who Played the Trombone

Jimmy Knights. Photo by Keith Summers? from Musical Traditions.

Jimmy Knights. Photo by Keith Summers? from Musical Traditions.

More smutty innuendo from East Anglia.

I think I first heard this sung in the early 1980s by Dave Townsend, although I remember that Ramsbottom, who were going at around the same time, also used to do it. I learned the song, as I assume Dave had done, from the Topic LP Sing, Say and Play – a companion album to The Earl Soham Slog, featuring traditional songs and dance music from Suffolk recorded by Keith Summers.

The singer of this song was Jimmy ‘Holy Jim’ Knights, born in 1880 in the village of Debach, and  recorded by Keith in 1975 at his home in Little Glenham. You can read about Jimmy in Chapter 4 of Sing, Say or Pay, Keith’s survey of East Suffolk Country Music, reprinted on the Musical Traditions website. And you can hear Keith’s recordings on the British Library Sounds website. The songs available include two recordings of ‘The Fellow Who Played the Trombone’, and there are interviews with the singer – then well into his nineties but sounding very much full of life. Go to and search for Jimmy (‘Holy Jim’) Knights.

The song itself was apparently written in 1896 by the music hall performer Walter Kino.

The Fellow Who Played the Trombone

July 27, 2013

Week 101 – Come and be my little teddy bear

For Carol, with love.

I learned this from the singing and playing of Suffolk fiddler Harkie Nesling, on the Topic LP The Earl Soham Slog.

The song was also included on the Veteran CD Good Hearted Fellows. Mike Yates notes

The term ‘Teddy Bear’ was first coined sometime around November, 1902, when American President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt was hunting in Mississippi. He had failed to shoot
anything, so friends captured a bear, which they tethered to a tree, and invited him to shoot it. Roosevelt’s reply: ‘Spare the bear. I will not shoot a tethered animal,’ soon became common knowledge and later that month Clifford & Rose Michtom of Brooklyn produced a soft bear which they called‘Teddy’. I would suspect that Harkie Nesling’s tune and short text probably date from the period 1902 up to the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, a time when Teddy Bears were very much in vogue and millions were sold in Europe and America. At least one other similar piece can be dated to 1907: this is Be My Little Teddy Bear by Vincent Bryan (best known for writing In the Sweet Bye and Bye) and Max Hoffman. Sadly, though, this is not the song that Harkie sings.

(from Bear)

You can hear Keith Summers’ recording of Harkie Nesling singing this song on the British Library website.

You can hear a 1907 recording of that other Teddy Bear song, sung by Ada Jones and Billy Murray, at

Come and be my little teddy bear

Andy Turner: vocal, C/G anglo-concertina