wee dug by Joe Davie

 

Revenge

Revenge of the Folksingers

with
Alasdair Roberts - Olivia Chaney
Mairi Campbell  - Jim Moray

£10 + P&P
listen on Spotify
download at Apple Music

nu-folk in early music clothing:
traditional and original songs with old and new tunes from Scotland,
recorded in the Suffolk countryside at Aldeburgh

smileybest record of the summersad
Norman Lebrecht


Revenge of the Folksingers
Concerto Caledonia

Alasdair Roberts - voice, guitar
Olivia Chaney - voice, harmonium, piano, dulcitone, guitar
Jim Moray - voice, guitar
Mairi Campbell - voice, viola, violin
Pamela Thorby - recorders, glockenspiel
Clare Salaman - hurdy gurdy, nyckelharpa
Alison McGillivray - bass viol, cello, violone
Bill Taylor - bray harp, clàrsach
Nick Halley - percussion, dulcitone
David McGuinness - dulcitone, harpsichord, reed organ, melodica, bass guitar, piano

Recorded on 6 December 2010 in the Britten Studio, Snape
Parts of tracks 3, 5, 6 & 12 recorded in concert on 5 December 2010
Bass and violone recorded in Studio 1, University of Glasgow on 12 February 2011

Producer: David McGuinness
Recorded by Steve Portnoi
Mastering: Paul Baxter

Developed through an Aldeburgh Residency
supported with funds from the PRS for Music Foundation

Cover painting by John McLean

Instruments
nyckelharpa - Jean-Claude Condi 2006
hurdygurdy - Claire Dugué 2010
sopranino recorder - Moeck 2010
C soprano recorder ‘Ganassi’ - Fred Morgan 1992
B flat soprano recorder - Tim Cranmore 2009
G alto recorder ‘Ganassi’ - Michael Grinter 1996
F alto recorder ‘Rippert’ - Von Huene 1996
tenor recorder - Adriana Breukink 2010
bass recorder - Kung 2010
medieval clàrsach - Ardival Harps 2000, 26 brass & silver strings
renaissance bray harp - David Brown 1992, 29 gut strings
violin - Thomas Smith 1760
viola - Edward Lewis c. 1700
cello - anon. London 1715
bass viol - Reinhard Ossenbrunner 1986
violone - Renata Fink 1994
guitar (Alasdair) - Les Brown, early 1970s
guitar (Jim) - Epiphone Century 1965 with microPOG, DL-4 delay/looper, RV-6 reverb
guitar (Olivia) - Martin acoustic
harmonium - Calcutta style, anon
folding reed organ - Estey 1953
harpsichord - Alan Gotto, Franco-Flemish double
dulcitone - Thomas Machell & Sons c. 1920s
melodica - Yamaha P-37D pianica
glockenspiel - an old primary school one
bass guitar - Hohner B2A-Fl 1989
piano - Steinway D (lid closed)
percussion includes frame drum (tar) by Cooperman, a pandeiro made by a car mechanic in Rio, and a riq

Thanks to our families for letting us out to play; Bill, Dan, Kate and all at Aldeburgh Music; Shirley Collins; Catherine Bott; David Francis; Chrissy Pritchard; David Greenberg; Chris Norman; Svend Brown; Catherine Motuz.

1
The Foggy Dew
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Jim

There is no consensus on exactly what the ‘foggy dew’ of this song signifies, although some possibilities are suggested by Burl Ives’s imprisonment on obscenity charges in Utah for singing it. The setting by Benjamin Britten appears in volume 3 of his Folksong Arrangements (1948), and in that form it may have been the unconscious inspiration for Monty Python’s ‘Lumberjack Song’.

David dulcitone, bass guitar
Alasdair guitar
Olivia piano
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi viola
Alison cello
Pamela bass recorder
Bill clàrsach
Nick percussion

2
The Salley Gardens
(words W.B. Yeats, music trad. arr. Benjamin Britten)
vocal Mairi

The marriage of W.B. Yeats’s ‘Old Song Re-Sung’ to the air ‘The Maids of Mourne Shore’ was first made in 1909 by Herbert Hughes. Britten’s justly famous version in his Folksong Arrangements volume 1 (1943), is so complete in and of itself, that all we could sensibly do was assign it to our various instruments and listen to Mairi sing it.

Nick percussion
Bill bray harp
David dulcitone
Alison cello
Pamela bass recorder
Clare nyckelharpa
Olivia prepared piano, voice
Alasdair guitar, voice
Jim guitar

3
Bonnie Susie Cleland
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Alasdair with Olivia

I heard this sung by Maureen Jelks on the CD Old Songs and Bothy Ballads: Some Rants o’ Fun (Autumn Harvest, 2007), recorded at the fourth Fife Traditional Singing Weekend, which took place in May 2005 at the Fife Animal Park at Collessie. (Alasdair)

Alasdair guitar
Clare nyckelharpa
Bill bray harp
Nick percussion
Jim guitar
Alison cello
David reed organ

4
My Lord of Marche Paven
Galliard: Or Voy-Je Bien
The Trees They Do Grow High

(James Lauder / Nicolas de la Grotte / trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Jim

James Lauder and his viol-playing son John were musicians to Mary Queen of Scots, and Thomas Wode’s partbooks date this glorious paven, also known as ‘The Golden Pavane’, to 1584. While the younger Lauder stayed with Mary until her death, his father remained in Scotland, where he befriended the poet Alexander Montgomerie at the court of James VI. Montgomerie wrote his song ‘Lyk as the Dum Solsequium’, and possibly also many psalm settings, to this French galliard, from a 1569 book of four-part songs by La Grotte.

‘The Trees They Do Grow High’, also known as ‘Long A-Growing’, first appeared in print at the end of the 18th century, but is likely to be considerably older.

Nick percussion
Pamela c soprano recorder
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi viola
Alison viol, violone
David harpsichord
Bill bray harp
Olivia dulcitone
Alasdair guitar

5
Swimming in the Longest River
(Olivia Chaney)
vocal Olivia
choruses Alasdair & everyone

These songs of mine were penned during 2010. I’d thrown ‘The King’s Horses’ to the black dogs of creative doubt years earlier, when teaching myself guitar and re-discovering traditional music. Early in the year I was prompted to finish ‘The King’s Horses’, which led me to try my hand at song-writing again. I was then reminded that I have two hands and to return to my first instrument, the piano, instead of pumping air through Indian harmonium bellows, much as I love the musical sparsity, physicality and sound that has lent me. So I have re-started a long journey and it was a huge privilege to explore ideas with these musicians in beautiful Suffolk whilst the snow fell around us (all week). (Olivia)

Olivia piano
Bill clàrsach
Clare nyckelharpa
Pamela bass recorder
Alison viol
David reed organ
Alasdair guitar
Nick percussion

6
Up in the Morning Early
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Olivia & Mairi, with Alasdair

As we were travelling one morning from Aldeburgh to Snape, Mairi looked out of the window at the snow on the fields and started to sing this; by our mid-morning tea break, the arrangement had taken shape.

The song appears as no. 140 in James Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum, vol. 2 (1788); in his friend Robert Riddell’s copy of the book, Robert Burns wrote ‘The chorus of this is old; the two stanzas are mine.’

Pamela glockenspiel
David dulcitone
Jim guitar/loops
Clare nyckelharpa
Alison viol
Bill clàrsach
Alasdair guitar
Nick percussion

7
The Sacred Nine and the Primal Horde
(Alasdair Roberts)
vocal Alasdair

A song of metaphysical enquiry with lyrics inspired by sources including The York Mystery Plays, Ronald Hutton’s Stations of the Sun, Mircea Eliade’s Patterns in Comparative Religion, and F. Marian MacNeill’s The Silver Bough. The melody is partly derived from the traditional Irish song ‘Phoenix Island’ as sung by Mary Delaney, a blind Traveller woman living in London in the 1950s. (Alasdair)

Alasdair guitar
Bill clàrsach
David reed organ
Pamela tenor recorder
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi viola
Alison viol
Olivia dulcitone
Jim guitar/pog
Nick percussion

8
Mack Beth
Sheugare Candie
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)

Alison chose these tunes (nos. 7 & 102) from the Blaikie lyra-viol manuscript. Andrew Blaikie was an engraver in Paisley in the early 19th century, and a keen collector of early ballads and songs. This book of tunes was compiled in 1692, probably around Glasgow, and while it was in Blaikie’s possession he somehow managed to lose it. Fortunately, before he did, both he and the Dundee merchant Andrew Wighton had made copies of a selection of its tunes.

Alison viol, violone
Bill bray harp
David harpsichord
Pamela c soprano recorder
Nick percussion
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi violin
Jim guitar
Alasdair guitar
Olivia harmonium

9
Psalm 124
The Freedom Come-All-Ye
The Red-Haired Boy
(words William Whittingham, Scottish Psalter 1635, music arr. David Peebles / words Hamish Henderson, music John McLellan / trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Alasdair
congregation everyone

This version of the metrical psalm text by William Whittingham, traditionally sung on Remembrance Sunday, is taken from the Scottish Psalter of 1635; the harmonies are by David Peebles, from the Wode partbooks made in St Andrews around 1570.

Hamish Henderson’s celebrated ‘Freedom Come-All-Ye’ transcends its origins in the 1960 CND marches, taking an internationalist perspective on Scotland’s past military campaigns, and foreseeing the rise of the ANC and racial integration in Africa. Henderson wrote it to the retreat march by John McLellan of Dunoon, ‘The Bloody Fields of Flanders’, which is played here on the dulcitone, a celeste-like instrument invented and made by Thomas Machell in Glasgow. The dulcitone was marketed during World War I as ‘the fighting man’s piano’ because it would stay in tune when carted around the world. (David)

‘The Red-Haired Boy’ is an Irish tune which I first heard used as the melody for the song ‘The Roving Journeyman’, as sung by Paddy Doran of Belfast on Topic Records’ Jack of All Trades compilation LP. I learned that in Kentucky this tune is known as ‘Jerusalem’s Ridge’. (Alasdair)

Clare hurdy gurdy
David dulcitone, harpsichord, bass guitar
Alasdair guitar
Bill bray harp
Nick percussion
Pamela sopranino recorder
Mairi violin
Alison cello
Jim guitar
Olivia harmonium

10
Daddy Oh, I’m Hoovering
(Olivia Chaney)
vocal Olivia

Olivia dulcitone
Alison viol
Jim guitar/loops
Bill clàrsach
David harpsichord
Alasdair guitar
Pamela b flat soprano recorder
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi violin
Nick percussion

11
Delighted
The Lincolnshire Poacher
(David McGuinness / trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Jim

This well-known 18th-century broadside is introduced by a jig written to celebrate the birth of Nuala Sankey in 2006.

Nick percussion
David melodica
Jim Olivia’s guitar
Alasdair Jim’s guitar
Mairi violin
Pamela tenor and sopranino recorders
Alison cello
Olivia harmonium
Bill clàrsach
Clare hurdy gurdy

12
False Lover John
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Alasdair with Olivia

I heard this sung by Kevin Mitchell on Have a Drop Mair by Kevin & Ellen Mitchell (Musical Traditions Records, 2003). According to the booklet notes, Kevin learnt it from the singing of Corney McDaid of Inishowen, Co. Donegal, at a singing session in the Excelsior Bar, Buncrana in the late 1960s. (Alasdair)

Alasdair guitar
Mairi viola
Bill clàrsach
Jim guitar
Olivia harmonium
David harpsichord
Nick percussion
Pamela g alto recorder
Clare hurdy gurdy
Alison viol

13
OK, I’ll Count to 8
(Ivor Cutler / Benjamin Britten)
vocal Alasdair & Olivia

This song from Ivor Cutler’s 1983 LP Privilege is mashed up with the intro from Britten’s ‘O Waly Waly’ (Folksong Arrangements, vol. 3).

David piano
Pamela glockenspiel, mouse
Nick dulcitone
Bill eagle
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi viola
Alison cello

14
Laddie Lie Near Me
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Mairi

These ‘old words’ are given by Robert Burns as an alternative to another text by Thomas Blacklock in The Scots Musical Museum vol.3 (1790), no. 218. Burns gives ‘Laddie’ in the title, but ‘Lassie’ throughout the text.

Pamela f alto recorder
Bill bray harp
Clare nyckelharpa
Alison viol
David dulcitone
Alasdair guitar
Jim guitar

15
Losing What You Find
(Olivia Chaney)
vocal Olivia

Olivia piano
Bill bray harp
Clare nyckelharpa
Mairi viola
Alison cello
Pamela bass recorder
David harpsichord
Alasdair guitar

16
A Scots Tune
O Can Ye Sew Cushions
(trad. arr. Concerto Caledonia)
vocal Mairi, chorus everyone

This tune from Jane Pickeringe’s lute book, where it appears untitled, seemed the perfect frame for ‘O Can Ye Sew Cushions’, a conflation in Scots of two Gaelic songs. It first appeared in print given by Burns as no. 444 in The Scots Musical Museum, vol. 5 (1796), and was set by Britten in his Folksong Arrangements, vol. 1. The chorus may have been derived from one of the lullabies of the eich-uisge, the waterhorse of Celtic mythology.

Bill clàrsach
Alasdair guitar
David harpsichord
Clare nyckelharpa
Alison cello

17
The King’s Horses
(Olivia Chaney)
vocal Olivia
chorus everyone

Olivia guitar
Clare nyckelharpa
Bill bray harp
David dulcitone
Pamela tenor recorder
Mairi viola
Alison cello

When Bill Lloyd at Aldeburgh Music asked us if we would like to take up a residency there, my first response was ‘Why would we do that?’ I’ve never been altogether convinced by the ‘Let’s go off to the country to discover our true artistic selves’ concept of retreat, suspicious of the notion that you can enhance your work by ignoring the world around you. And why would we travel all the way to Suffolk to rehearse, when we can do that at home? But it didn’t take him long to convince me that this was a proposal loaded with potential, and within a few minutes I was enthusing about the possibilities of reconvening our 17th-century dance band, and developing work with some favourite singers, free from our usual constraints of short rehearsal periods, and, to be honest, of the world around us. Spurred by some less than thrilling performances of Britten’s folksong arrangements heard over the years (and also by Dudley Moore’s parody ‘Little Miss Muffet’), we came up with the idea of reclaiming some traditional songs from recital room culture, and of bringing folk singers together with our early music specialists to improvise on some common ground.

Musicians in traditional music and early music share a fascination with the culture of the past, but they generally choose different music to explore, and different methods of exploration. Folk musicians have inherited material which is in a constant state of flux, and continues to change under their own stewardship as part of an ongoing oral tradition. Historical music specialists, on the other hand, work with notated records of the music of the past, which don’t change very much, if at all: the musicians’ aim is to bring these artefacts to life with a combination of artistry and research, and any re-fashioning of the original material is a happy by-product of the process, rather than an essential part of it.

But in recent times these two approaches have moved closer. Historical field recordings from the last century now play an important part in many folk traditions, and as source material these recordings don’t change. Also, it would be naïve to suggest that everyone who now plays, say, a baroque violin professionally has developed their technique entirely from the study of historical sources, when most have learnt orally (or aurally) from the example of the previous generation of musicians, following in a modern tradition of sounding the past.

The traditional music and early music communities have both to some extent been sidelined by the mainstream, and both have had to shake off the stigma of a beard-and-sandals image. So it’s no surprise to discover that they have on occasion come together very successfully, in England most notably with Dolly Collins’s arrangements for David Munrow’s Early Music Consort in the late 1960s, and in the following decade with Philip Pickett’s importing of renaissance instruments into the electric Albion Dance Band, both of these projects featuring the ever-pioneering Shirley Collins.

However, many attempts to bring together folk and classical music of whatever sort founder, because the process accommodates the working practices of classical musicians: their contribution is generally mediated through an arranger, so that they can continue their habit of reading what’s put in front of them. What made this project different for us was that with a whole week of rehearsal there was time for everyone in the room to start from the same point: a blank page, a song in the air, or some notation to be improvised around, developed or discarded. As the snow continued to fall around us in Snape, we luxuriated in its ideal working environment and freedom from distractions, with additional inspiration coming from the volumes of Britten’s folksong arrangements that we found in the library.

The morning after our concert in the Britten Studio, we returned to record this album. Other than a few short sections taken from the live performance, and some bass overdubs a few weeks later, all of the music was recorded in a single day. We even finished before 5pm, as some of us had a train to catch.

© David McGuinness 2011

1
The Foggy Dew

Now I am a bachelor, I live all alone,
I work at the weaving trade,
And the only thing I ever did wrong
Was to woo a fair young maid.
I loved her in the wintertime
And in the summer too,
And the only thing that I ever did wrong
Was to keep her from the foggy dew.

One night she came to my bedside
When I lay fast asleep.
She leaned her head against my bed
And she began to weep.
She sighed, she cried, she nearly died,
She said ‘What shall I do?’
So I hauled her into bed and covered up her head,
To keep her from the foggy dew.

Now I am a bachelor, I live with my son,
We work at the weaving trade.
And every time I look in his eyes
He reminds me of the fair young maid.
He reminds me of the wintertime
And of the summer too,
And of the many, many times I held her in my arms
To keep her from the foggy dew.

Roud 558

2
The Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her did not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she placed her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

W.B. Yeats

3
Bonnie Susie Cleland

There lived a lady in Scotland
Hey my love and ho my joy
There lived a lady in Scotland
Who dearly lo’ed me
There lived a lady in Scotland
She fell in love with an Englishman
And bonnie Susie Cleland’s
To be burned in Dundee

The father to the daughter came
‘Would you forsake your Englishman?’

‘I’ll no my Englishman forsake
Though ye maun burn me at the stake

‘Oh, bring to me a bonnie wee boy
To take the tidings to my joy

‘Oh, gie to him this richt-hand glove
Tell him to find another love

‘Oh, gie to him this gay gold ring
Tell him I’m going to my burning’

Her father, he’s put up the stake
Her brother, he the fire did make
And bonnie Susie Cleland
Was burned in Dundee

Child 65, Roud 45

4
The Trees They Do Grow High

The trees they do grow high and the leaves they do grow green,
It’s a cold winter’s night that you and I have seen.
It’s a cold winter’s night, you and I alone have been,
O my bonny boy is young, but he’s growing.

Father, dearest father, you’ve done to me more wrong,
You’ve gone and got me married to a boy that is too young.
For he is only sixteen years, and I am twenty-one,
O my bonny boy is young, but he’s growing.

Daughter, dearest daughter, I’ll tell you what we’ll do,
We’ll send your love to college for another year or two,
And he will have the finest silk all for to tie his shoe
To let the ladies know that he’s married.

The trees they do grow high down by the college wall,
There I saw four and twenty men all playing at the ball.
There I spied my own true love, the palest of them all
O my bonny boy is young, but he’s growing.

For at the age of sixteen, he was a married man,
And at the age of seventeen the father to a son,
At the age of eighteen years the grass grew over him:
Cruel death has put an end to his growing.

I’ll buy my love some flannel, and I’ll make my love a shroud,
With every stitch I put in it, the tears come rolling down;
With every stitch I put in it, the tears come rolling down,
Cruel death has put an end to his growing.

Roud 31

5
Swimming in the Longest River

Prodding in the dark for affection,
Night will hide sleepy woes
Hazel hair sleek as an otter’s
Amphibious creature, friend or foe

Gave him a book on Freud’s lectures,
Only book he read, ’least that’s what he said,
‘Don’t deny erotic pleasure’
Page well-thumbed, found the line he needed

Freud never got to beloved Egypt
Fled the Nazis and not his fears,
They say the longest river there
Is denial, is denial

(We’re all swimming in that river,
I would oft’ come up for air
But lately my lungs have expanded
That, or I’ve developed gills)

Prodding in the dark for affection,
Night reveals sleepy woes
Hazel hair sleek as an otter’s
Ambiguous creature, friend or foe

Olivia Chaney

6
Up in the Morning Early

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving fairly;
Sae loud and shill’s I hear the blast,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are cover’d wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it is winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Up in the morning’s, &c

verses by Robert Burns

7
The Sacred Nine and the Primal Horde

In the graveyard, down in the graveyard
I stooped to drink the sacramental wine
All for to lay upon the wounds of our dear saviour
Well, I thought to gather up the sacred nine
I thought to gather up the sacred nine

Hollyhocks and hellebores
To lay upon his open sores
The dogwood and the briar-rose
To lay upon him in repose
The amaranth and tormentil
To speed his blood and see him heal
The centaury and celandine
To lay upon his open shrine
And last of all the mistletoe
Bane of oak and Baldur’s woe
With mastery of every foe
In whichsoever land he go

Strike the bray harp, strike up the bray harp
Strike the harp and let the wires breathe
Strike up the harp and raise your tiny voices
In Homeric hymns to mitochondrial Eve
Homeric hymns to mitochondrial Eve

Gazing waveward and ever waveward
Well, I stood upon the sacramental shore
All for to crowd around the tomb of our dear saviour
I thought to gather up the primal horde,
I thought to gather up the primal horde

The chandler his tallow,
The farmer his fallow,
The fletcher his feather,
The cobbler his leather
Taverners and hostellers
And every trade now lost to us
Singing:

‘Sleeping lord, oh sleeping lord
Father of the primal horde
Once adored, now ever more
Ever more forsaken
Must we too, oh must we too
Eventually lie down like you
On bed of rue and never more
Never more awaken?’

Alasdair Roberts

9
Psalm 124

Now Israel my say, and that truly,
If that the Lord had not our cause mainteinde,
If that the Lord had not our right susteinde,
When all the worlde against us furiously
Made their uproars, and said we should all dye,

Now long ago they had devoured us all,
And swallowd quick, for ought that wee could deeme,
Such was their rage, as wee might well esteeme:
And as the floods with mightie force do fall,
So had they now our life ev’n brought to thrall.

The raging streames most proud in roaring noise
Had long ago ov’rwhelmed us in the deep.
But loved bee God who doth us safely keep
From bloodie teeth, and their most cruell voice,
Which as a prey to eat us would rejoice.

Even as the bird out of the Fowlers gin
Escapes away right so it fares with us:
Broke are their nets and wee have scaped thus.
God that made Heaven and earth is our help then:
His Name hath saved us from those wicked men.

William Whittingham, Scottish Psalter 1635

The Freedom Come-All-Ye

Roch the wind in the clear day’s dawin
Blaws the clouds heilster-gowdie owre the bay
But thair’s mair nor a roch win blawin
Thro the Great Glen o the warl the day
It’s a thocht that wad gar our rottans
Aa thae rogues that gang gallus fresh an gay
Tak the road an seek ither loanins
Wi thair ill-ploys tae sport an play

Nae mair will our bonnie callants
Merch tae war whan our braggarts crousely craw
Nor wee weans frae pitheid an clachan
Murn the ships sailin doun the Broomielaw
Broken faimilies in launs we’ve hairriet
Will curse ‘Scotlan the Brave’ nae mair, nae mair
Black an white ane-til-ither mairriet
Mak the vile barracks o thair maisters bare

Sae come aa ye at hame wi freedom
Never heed whit the houdies croak for Doom
In yer hous aa the bairns o Aidam
Will fin breid, barley-bree an paintit room
Whan MacLean meets wi’s friens in Springburn
Aa thae roses an geeans will turn tae blume
An a black boy frae yont Nyanga
Dings the fell gallows o the burghers doun

Hamish Henderson

10
Daddy Oh, I’m Hoovering

This house is too social
Constant coffee kitchen confessional

We’re in luck, the sun pours in
Seize the moment, retreat within

Gladioli and hoover in each hand
March to my bedroom, make amends

Feel so childish, ageing child
Only clean up when a pretty boy comes ’round
Curse my laziness, lack of technique
As I suck up sea-shells once romantically plucked

Swallowed accidentally
By this tired, failing landlord’s machine
Knitwear folded behind closed doors
Lamps will improve woodchip on the walls
I was once spoilt by you
Now I ramble with something to prove

Preparing for love
Repairing for love
Preparing for lust
Preparing

Woke up with bruises on my legs
Bad circulation, that’s what he said

It’s all broken, life can be a bitch
When you’re running on old, upheld promises
You are there, but are you here?
Like a saint might you re-appear

There you are but are you here
Like a saint might you appear

This house is too social
Coffee at the door, too conversational
They’re in luck, the sun’s pouring in
I seize the moment retreat within

Olivia Chaney

11
The Lincolnshire Poacher

Well as I was bound apprentice
in famous Lincolnshire,
It’s well I served my master
for all of seven year,
Till I took up to poaching,
as you shall plainly hear,
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night
in the season of the year.

Well as me and my companions
were setting of a snare,
’Twas there we spied the gamekeeper,
for him we did not care,
’Cause we can wrestle and fight,
me boys, jump out anywhere,
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night
in the season of the year.

Well as me and my companions
were setting four or five,
In cocking of them up again,
we caught a hare alive,
We caught a hare alive me boys,
I dare not tell you where,
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night
in the season of the year.

Well success to ev’ry poacher
that lives in Lincolnshire,
Good luck to every poacher
that wants to sell a hare,
Bad luck to every gamekeeper
who will not sell his deer,
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night
in the season of the year.

Roud 299

12
False Lover John

False lover John, he courted me
For every hour in the day
He courted me to such a degree
That I hadn’t one word to say

‘It’s fetch you of your father’s gold
And some of your mother’s money
And steal the keys of your father’s stable
Of thirty steeds and three’

She’s taken of her father’s gold
And some of her mother’s money
And stolen the keys of her father’s stable
Of thirty steeds and three

Then mounted on a milk-white steed
Rode on by the light of the moon
Until they came to a riverbank
And there they did get down

‘It’s lie you here, Miss Michaleen
This night along with me
For seven king’s daughters I have drowned here
And the eighth one you shall be

‘But first take off your silken gown
And leave it on dry land
For it is too fine and costly for
To rot in the salt sea strand’

‘Then turn you round, false John’ she said
‘And turn your face from me
For I’d never agree that any man
A naked woman should see’

So false lover John, he’s turned around
To view the green leaves on the tree
She flung her arm around his waist
And flung him into the sea

‘Lie there, lie there, false John!’ she said
‘Lie there instead of me
For you thought to drown me as I was born
And steal my clothes away’

Then mounted on a milk-white steed
Rode on by the light of the moon
Until she came to her father’s castle
And there she did get down

She put the horses back into the stable
The money where it lay
There wasn’t a knight in all the hall
Missed Michaleen away

Up spoke the noble parrot
From his cage wherein he lay
Saying ‘what did I tell you Michaleen
Before you went away?’

‘Oh, hold your tongue, you little parrot
And tell no tales on me
And your cage will be of the glittering gold
Instead of a hazel tree’

Up spoke the noble king
From his room wherein he lay
Saying ‘what disturbs my pretty Polly
Who prattles so long before day?’

‘The cats they are at my cage door
All for to worry me
And I was calling on Michaleen
To scare them all away

‘But maids they are young, they do sleep sound
And can’t be wakened by me
So lie you down, my noble king
The cats are all scared away.’

Roud 21, Child 4 (as ‘The Outlandish Knight’)

13
OK, I’ll Count to 8

Give me the good things of life!
Such as what?

An apple off a tree
A lady with a weary smile
A mouse that’s wild and free
A muscly man with evil breath
A soup stain on my knee

I’ll have to pause to think of more.
OK, I’ll count to 8.

A beauty queen with great big hips
An errand boy with liver
A greedy girl with sticky hands
A liner in the river

I’ll have to pause to think of more.
OK, I’ll count to 8.

A baby falling out its pram
An eagle being sick
A sandwich made of mouldy jam
A burglar with a bridge

I’ll have to pause to think of more.
OK, I’ll count to 8.

I cannot think of any more.
OK, I’ll count to 8.

Ivor Cutler

14
Laddie Lie Near Me

Lang hae we parted been,
Laddie my dearie;
Now we are met again,
Laddie lie near me.

Chorus: Near me, near me,
Laddie lie near me;
Lang hast thou lien thy lane,
Laddie lie near me.

A’ that I hae endur’d,
Laddie, my dearie,
Here in thy arms is cur’d,
Laddie lie near me.

Chorus: Near me, near me, etc.

collected by Robert Burns

15
Losing What You Find

Be mine to keep
Finders seek
Hide, hide win
This tidy mess we’ve found ourselves in

We were on our way to a city in the sky
When I lost you in the crowd
Flailing in this abyss
You left me nowhere to hide

Be mine to keep
Finders seek
Hide, hide win
This tidy mess we now find ourselves in

Up I turned a symphony, serenading pride
Troops return, headphone mutes announcement confines
And no, I’ve not learnt my lines nor read the time
You said I’m blessed, it’ll work out for the best

‘Too much mind,
Not enough heart’
Well where are these woods?
Beauty branches, love leaves me blind

So I looked to the runway, frost-bound, full
My eyes squint in the light
Apple-pink dawn, planes swoop low,
I had no strength to fight

Be mine to keep
Finders seek
Hide, hide win
This tidy mess we’ve found ourselves in

Olivia Chaney

16
O Can Ye Sew Cushions

O can ye sew cushions or can ye sew sheets,
Or can ye sing balalulow when the bairn greets?
O hee and haw, birdie, o hee and ho-ree,
O hee and haw, birdie, my bonnie wee doo.

Hee-o, wee-o, what would I do wi’ ye?
Black’s the life that I lead wi’ ye,
Mony o’ ye, nothing for to gi’ ye,
Hee-o, wee-o, what would I do wi’ ye?

I’ll place yon cradle on yon holly top,
And aye as the wind blew, the cradle will rock.
O hee and haw, birdie, o hee and ho-ree,
O hee and haw, birdie, my bonnie wee doo.

Roud 5527

17
The King’s Horses

Thought once I had a King;
Wore an invisible crown,
Sometimes spoke truth,
Mostly knew to say the wrong thing at the right time,
Faithfully I played the clown

All the King’s horses,
And all the King’s men,
Could not put my heart
Back together again

Fall, fall away,
Time heals, or so they bravely say,
Well all this time I feel,
Silence holds you real

Still I play the courtier;
Your courtier in the wings,
Chasing shadows,
Clutching precious things

All your pretty horses
And all these men,
No they won’t,
Oh they can’t put my heart together again

Counting crows in the sky,
Wondering if I
Could fall from great heights,
If your wisdom was my pride

All the King’s horses,
And all the King’s men,
No they won’t,
Oh they can’t put my heart together again

All the King’s horses,
And all the King’s men,
Could not put my heart
Back together again
No they won’t, they can’t put my heart together again

Olivia Chaney

Child numbers from Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston: 1882-1898)
Roud numbers from Steve Roud’s Folksong Index available at www.efdss.org

The Salley Gardens (Britten) © Copyright 1943 by Boosey & Co. Ltd.
This arrangement © 2011 by Boosey & Co. Ltd. Reproduced by permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.

OK, I’ll Count to 8 (Cutler/Britten)
© 2011 by the Ivor Cutler Estate and Boosey & Co Ltd. Lyrics reproduced by permission.

photos by Steve Portnoi, Liz Kobes, David McGuinness
Revenge DSC 0097 lunchbreakin the session lunchbreak: Nick Halley, Jim Moray, Bill Taylor, David McGuinness, Olivia Chaney, Alison McGillivray, Mairi Campbell, Alasdair Roberts, Clare Salaman, Pamela Thorby
 
Revenge ConCal aldeburgh sessionrecording Psalm 124
 
Revenge IMG 1369 stage setsetting up the stage in the Britten Studio
 
Revenge concert JimAlasdair, Jim, Olivia
 
Revenge IMG 2237 Clare gurdy tuningClare re-tuning the hurdy-gurdy for maximum effect

 

smileyFolksong is a subversive art, the caustic wit of the deprived. This album subverts the varied British genres, though not by subjecting them to radical politics or wilful distortion. This is a much more subtle process on traditional instruments, altering existing arrangements to take the ear by surprise with unexpected conjunctions.

The opening number, Foggy, foggy dew, exemplifies the acuity of this improvisatory approach. A song that is usually droned in smoky dens opens with a pluck of what I think is a nyckelharpa [it's a dulcitone - Ed.], stating the singing widower’s solitude before other instruments add dimensions, dark and light, to his lament. The Salley Gardens takes sarcastic liberties with Benjamin Britten’s famous arrangement, listing bray harp and dulcitone in its instrumentarium. The third track, Bonnie Susie Cleland, is unbearably tragic yet delivered deadpan, as if tragedy is innate to Scottish life.

The performers are members of Concerto Caledonia and the voices are pitched to perfection, midway between rough trade and concert flourish. Track by track, the album exerts an ever more insistent traction. The recording was made in Aldeburgh, the morning after a concert residency. Any background noise you might hear must be the ghost of Peter Pears. Best record of the summer, so far.sad winkwinkwinkwinkwinkNorman Lebrecht, La Scena musicale

smileyOne of the most interesting albums, I think, of the last 12 monthssad
Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2

smileyBridging the gap between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture – a gap previously filled by the likes of Anthems in Eden, the 1969 album by Shirley and Dolly Collins with David Munrow’s Early Music Consort of London or Philip Pickett’s work with The Albion Band – Revenge Of The Folksingers marks an inspired collaborative meeting of minds between the Scottish early music group Concerto Caledonia, under the direction of David McGuinness, and folk music innovators Alasdair Roberts, Olivia Chaney, Jim Moray and Mairi Campbell.

A weeks’ residency in Snape gave those involved the opportunity to explore common ground, before recording; working from scratch on both traditional and original songs and tunes from Scotland, as well as drawing on Britten’s folksong arrangements found in Aldeburgh’s library. The results are richly textured, free-spirited, light of touch and joyously eclectic. Musically, the wealth of talent is unquestionable: subtle layers, gentle brilliance. The production glows with warmth.

Repertoire ranges from spruced-up old familiars to heavyweight newcomers. All the standards are given a vigorous shake out in the fresh air: The Foggy Dew is imbued with torch-song elegance by Moray; The Salley Gardens is made snowflake-fragile by Mairi Campbell’s vocal and Bonnie Susie Clelland is rendered gut-wrenchingly painful in tender duet between Alasdair Roberts and Olivia Chaney.

Then, from the leftfield, comes Ivor Cutler’s quaint OK, I’ll Count To 8 ‘mashed up’ with the intro to Britten’s O Waly Waly. And still then, some staggeringly good original songs. Roberts’ gloriously gothic lyricism shines in his ‘song of metaphysical enquiry’ The Sacred Nine & The Primal Horde. And Olivia Chaney has the Midas touch, both as vocalist and as a songwriter of substance: songs of denial (!) Swimming In The Longest River or of Levi Stubbs’ Tears humanity in Daddy Oh, I’m Hoovering. Beautiful.sad

fRoots - November 2011

smileyWilfully provocative as the title may be, it’s not entirely fatuous, perhaps a tongue-in-cheek reflection of the mutual suspicion that tends to lurk in the great divide between folk song and art music.

While various celebrated composers – Benjamin Britten, George Butterworth and Ralph Vaughan Williams among them – drew prodigiously on English folk song and helped to put it back into circulation in the process, the spiritual chasm between musicians who follow the dots and those who play instinctively tends to be a gaping one.

With some success, Dolly Collins notably attempted to knit these two opposing cultural mindsets in the 1960s with both her sister Shirley and David Munrow’s Early Music Consort, but the camps have rarely met since. All of which only adds fuel to this intriguing experiment.

Previously applying free-thinking early music elegance to everything from Robert Burns to Frank Zappa, Astor Piazzolla and the Buzzcocks, Concerto Caledonia – under the direction of David McGuinness – now turn their attention to the folk tradition. Co-opting four of the brightest young guns in the new folk army – Jim Moray, Alasdair Roberts, Olivia Chaney and Mairi Campbell – they decamped to Suffolk for a week to revive and reclaim an alliance between folk music and classic instruments and arrangements.

Mostly it works, too. Hearteningly free of the clichéd stylisation often associated with both corners, it encompasses enlightened treatments of some well-worn warhorses like The Foggy Dew, The Salley Gardens and Lincolnshire Poacher alongside fresh self-written material and the occasional enticing curve ball such as the Roberts/Chaney duet OK, I’ll Count to 8, which entertainingly marries an Ivor Cutler ditty to the intro of Britten’s O Waly Waly.

It’s an album that certainly marks the blossoming of the classically trained Chaney, who’s fully embraced folk music to emerge not only as an outstanding singer but an exceptional songwriter. Sung with appealing vulnerability over measured string accompaniment, her Daddy Oh, I’m Hoovering is a heartrending study of kitchen sink desolation, and her even starker The King’s Horses, which closes the album, confirms her arrival as a major talent.

Oddness abounds, but the revenge is very sweet.sad

Colin Irwin, BBC Music

smileyIt's a dangerous thing to categorise Concerto Caledonia, whose loose make-up of personnel allows it to cross musical borders with an ease of conscience that is always refreshing, and occasionally a shade anarchic. Classical or traditional? This CD - a result of a residency last winter in the isolated charm of Aldeburgh - is an enigmatic as the title suggests. Artistic director David McGuinness explains a process that saw him draw together his "17th-century dance band", vocals included, take a cursory look at Aldeburgh legend Benjamin Britten's folk song arrangements, toss them aside (apart from The Salley Gardens, rearranged for the disc) and come up with arrangements of their own - from settings of Burns to Hamish Henderson and featured singer Olivia Chaney - as well as traditional pavans and galliards peppered with tinkling orchestrations. It's well-tempered fun, as you'd expect from McGuinness and his wacky pals.sad
The Scotsman

smileyThis CD is the result of an unusual collaboration and residency. The folk musicians Alasdair Roberts, Mairi Campbell, Olivia Chaney and Jim Moray met the early-music group Concerto Caledonia for a week of improvising, surrounded by "volumes of Benjamin Britten's folksong settings". The entire CD was recorded in a day at the end. The material ranges from traditional to newly written, with some less than reverential nods to Britten. The harp-heavy arrangements sometimes veer close to all-purpose Celtic doodling; elsewhere there is a real sense of different traditions finding common ground.sad
The Times

smileyFrom settings of Burns to Hamish Henderson, this arresting collaboration unites period instrument specialists and some of the leading lights on the UK folk scene to explore each others homelands and the disputed borders in between with enthralling and occasionally raucous results. In the notes, Concerto Caledonia leader David McGuinness refers to "reclaiming some traditional songs from recital room culture" which is where the Revenge of the Folksingers title comes from. So what you get in this repertoire is a combination of the early music instruments and Scottish compositions  - it's great!sad
footstompin.com