THE NEWslETTER OF TIGERFOLK
November 2017 Edition
Just as I was setting out for last month’s club night I learned of the passing of Tom Paley; although he was 89 and had not been in good health for a while it was still very sad news. However the legacy that he has left us is immense and for once the word legend has not been used spuriously in all the glowing tributes that I have read in the last few weeks.
I saw Tom on a number of occasions and three times really stand out for me; the first was back in 1972 when he played at Birtley Folk Club and he was just getting over a cold so in order to keep his voice and throat in trim he had two halves of a lemon which, just before his next song, he bit into. This had a profound effect on some of the audience, Pete Elliott in particular, who recoiled from that action almost tasting the bitterness themselves. No matter, it had the desired effect as he turned in a really good night. Some years later he was at The Barleycorn Club in Newcastle which was then situated in The Barley Mow right on the banks of the River Tyne and in true form Stefan Sobell had again discovered a quirky pub in which to hold his club as the lounge was no bigger than the average size living room in a domestic dwelling. We’ll revisit this club later. But the most memorable time has to be back in 1994 when he was guest at our own Traditions at the Tiger.
Tom was the last guest that Roy Harris had booked prior to his moving to Cardiff and he was due to appear on our birthday night. A couple of months before that Bob Dylan has released “World Gone Wrong”, his second album entirely of traditional songs, and two of the tracks “Love Henry” and “Jack – a- Roe” were credited to Tom as the source singer. This of course did his profile no harm at all and soon the UK folk media were all over him and a spin off from this was that we had a packed room for his performance. A fine performance it was too as he mixed American traditional songs, blues, dance tunes on the fiddle and a duet with Brian Golbey to round off the night which was enjoyed by all present. On the way out he was stopped by John who ran the bar at The Tiger, and who was to die most tragically a year later, who was obviously up to speed with the Paley phenomena, asking how it felt to play a pub room after having influenced a superstar like Dylan only for Tom to relate the story about the Barleycorn and I could say “I was there”.
On the way back to our place he talked most engagingly about his early days in the UK and the great help that he had received from Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger and the reasons that he had left USA to live in Sweden. Enjoyable and informative as that was it was the following morning that things really got going. He had mentioned that he was booked on a National coach out of Nottingham Victoria for Golders Green and it was essential that he caught it as he had more interviews lined up from the Tuesday onwards; once again he expressed a certain amount of puzzlement over all this attention and I mentioned the Dylan album to which he replied that he hadn’t even seen whatever there was about it that would have rekindled all this interest in him. That prompted me to get out my copy and show him the sleeve notes which he promptly devoured adding his comments as he went. While clearly appreciative of Bob’s nod towards him regarding the songs, he stated that he wasn’t aware of Dylan learning the songs directly from him but no matter… Then something quite special happened; he began regaling us with tales from the early days in Greenwich Village and his first experiences of Bob Dylan; how he thought he wasn’t a great guitarist, or a great harmonica player and certainly not a great singer but there was something that set him aside from all the other wanabes around at that time and therefore he was very keen to support him. This support continued after he had left the Village scene for the concert stage and many who he had left behind felt that he had sold out. Tom’s response was that he was still doing something positive with the music, as opposed to the Kingston Trio (the bête noire of The New Lost City Ramblers) who he claimed couldn’t sell out as they had nothing to sell!
When a man of this knowledge is in full flight you are not going to stop him for something as trivial as a bus timetable as the tales kept flowing. During all this the postman called and back in those days people wanting to publicise their gigs sent letters and photographs and the latest batch from The Swamp Club arrived. Cajun Music – that set him off on another track as he commented on what he knew of that of that exciting musical genre which at that time was very much in vogue. As the clock was marching on towards eleven I did venture about his bus time and he needed to check as he said that his friend Charlie had made the booking; Charlie turned out to be none other than Charles Shaar Murray the respected rock critic and while I don’t always agree with his opinions he is never less than readable; this, of course, sparked off another conversation.
Having finally looked at the bus ticket it stated the departure time was twelve noon and it was now past eleven! Knowing how congested the road between Long Eaton and Nottingham can become I suggested the train only to find there wasn’t one before noon so the car would have to do. Somehow we battled our way into Nottingham and not being too familiar with the one way system (I’m still not) I dumped it in the nearest car park and, carrying all his instruments between us, we made it to Victoria in good time; although he did remind me that the guys who picked him up, John Bloor and Andy Leith, had parked directly at the bus station. His coach stop was right beside a vending machine owned by the Hero Group who had just bought the company for whom I work out a couple of years previously and about whom the jury was very much out! Bugger me but he could talk at some length about Hero and their products as well!
Among the recent tributes there are stories of him touring both home and abroad right up to just a year or two when it became too much; which of course begs the question why didn’t we think of having him back in the meantime?
At least we can say that we booked him and therefore in some small way we were part of a life that is not spurious to say was legendary.
Sunday 5th November 2017
NIAMH PARSONS & GRAHAM DUNNE
At the end of January this year I was lucky enough to catch an evening in the company of these two at the famous Goilin Singers' Club in Dublin (see the link to the Goilin on out Links page). They were launching their latest CD - which I'd already had since the very first moment it became available last year; this is a magical combination of Graham's intricate and highly individualistic guitar playing with Niamh's legendary, ethereal voice. Niamh's choice of songs is unerring as ever; years of professionalism condensed into every track: I particularly recommend The Men that God Made Mad and The Road to La Corunna, and to hear these songs performed live is an opportunity that few venues in the UK can offer you - they spend more time in the States than over here. But, hey, Niamh is an old friend of the club by now - would we turn up the chance to get hold of her? You're kidding!
Sunday 1st October: 2017
Mat Green and Andy Turner
It was a splendid way to start October – or any month for that matter. Sheila, our MC for the evening, started with some apologies from friends who had wanted to be there but couldn’t be, so fearing our numbers would be reduced we formed a convivial circle. As we proceeded this continually expanded to accommodate a good crowd. Club residents John, Corinne, Dave and Sheila contributed before Mat and Andy gave a taste of the excellence to come. The dance music that was conjured from fiddle and concertina was glorious and the set also included the lovely song Lark in the morning.
The second half had floor spots from Sam Stephens, Dave Walters, Phil Hind, John Whitelaw and Bill Wilkes before Mat and Andy returned with an energetic performance to enthral all. Not surprisingly for these seasoned Morris musicians there were abundant dance tunes, of great variety and from all parts of the country, with knowledgeable reference to origins and sources. They seem to like the tunes from a Mr Pyle (?), and now so do I. Despite the warnings of the story Sheila had given us earlier, Andy switched to melodeon for some of this set.
Our third half was just Mat and Andy and a joy. Often songs and tunes were linked and sat nicely together. All jolly fellows that follow the Plough, followed by the “New Speed the Plough”, for example, or The Barley Rakings followed by the Kirtlington tune Maid of the Mill. I had been tempted to get up and dance all evening but Mat himself danced a very lively Princess Royal while playing the tune on the fiddle without missing a note or a step. No-one minded when Andy followed this with an unaccompanied Sheffield’s apprentice while Mat got his breath back.
To those who sent their apologies I send my commiserations. You missed a really grand night.
As I Walked Out
Sabine Baring-Gould and the Search for Folk Song in Devon and Cornwall
Last month in my reflections on Whitby Folk Festival I mentioned a presentation by Martin Graebe. Now if any of you know Martin you will be aware of his passion for Sabine Baring-Gould and this admirable talk was, as you might have already guessed, all about S B-G. Not only were we introduced to the life and times of the aforementioned Squarson but were also entertained with some fine singing by Shan and Martin of some songs collected by the man himself. There was, however, more to this morning session because looming into view just over the horizon, through the sea fret, was a ship which contained copies “As I Walked Out”. However, due to the harbour at Whitby being on the small side, print runs, tides and things administrative not being in favour, we could only peruse a pre-launch copy and as is the way of these things, then had to wait for a knock on the door from the postman with our personal copy of the book.
Over the years both Sheila and myself have taken more than a passing interest in S B-G and have delved into his life. Other biographies and writings by him have been read and visits to Lew Trenchard have been made to pay our respects. So it was with great anticipation that I started to read. Both the Prologue and Foreword are testimony to the respect that Martin has not only from the family of Sabine Baring-Gould but also from other academics in this field. But it is the Introduction “Baring-Gould and Me(a Journey Towards Obsession) that sets the tone. Martin Graebe is as engaging in his writing as he is in his presentations and singing. He has an easy style that carries you along with him on his journey through all aspects of his subjects life. We are taken all over the continent with a young lad that certainly wasn’t normal for the times and I would suggest would still be abnormal today but his experiences helped set him on his course through life. Thus we are guided along through the decades and all over the country where his calling and his life took him and, as time went on, not only him but his family as well. From university to teaching to preaching to fatherhood to land management to collecting and running through as a constant, to his writing his life is laid before us.
A busy man was our Sabine and compassionate too. This comes across when he talks of his relationships with his singers, be they the meetings when he was out collecting on horseback all over his beloved south west in all weathers calling at remote farms, cottages, homesteads and inns or back at home. Sure, he was the man in the big house but singers were invited up there and many an evening was spent by the fire in chair and on settle with pots to hand and songs in the air. His collecting is the mainstay of the book and this is examined in great detail alongside his collaborations especially with Frederick Bussell and Henry Fleetwood Sheppard. We have fascinating details of the places and more importantly the singers, from whom S B-G collected but, because Martin is who he is, further information is to be found within the covers of this book that he has uncovered about the singers not only from written sources but also from their families. Correspondence with other collectors along with descriptions of joint collecting trips and visits are all covered and give glimpses into the sometimes acrimonious relationships. But his passion was for the song and its promotion with costume concerts of “Songs of the West” being staged and which, over the years, in various guises, were performed not only in the south west but also in London, all over the country, Scotland and North America
It has been levelled at the song collectors and not only from this period that they sanitized some of the songs they collected. No-one would deny that this was so but Sabine was assiduous in keeping his original notations and Martin has covered this aspect of his collecting. A comprehensive appendix covers the manuscripts in great detail as well as there being constant reference to them within the main body of the book. As you would expect there is a selection of songs included and I would hazard a guess that some of the versions found here will soon be heard more frequently than in the past.
As I Walked Out is enjoyable, captivating and a delight to read.
It would look lovely wrapped in paper under a tree festooned with lights and decorations, especially if it had your name on it!
Copies of As I Walked Out can be obtained on line but signed editions can be ordered from Martin firstname.lastname@example.org
And Finally……after two months of total purgatory with Long Eaton and Sawley being cut off from the rest of the world by various roadworks all happening together the traffic lights on Tamworth Road (from A50 exit into Long Eaton) have now gone; or at least at the time of writing they have gone.
However the lights on Fields Farm Road should anyone going to Tigerfolk use that one are still there and anyone approaching the club from Nottingham be warned that there are lights outside Chilwell Retail Park.
Going home anyone going via M1 from junction 25 be aware that the slip road southbound is single lane.
And that is all before we even mention HS2
SEE YOU AT THE STUMBLE INN!