|FORKED DEER -Public
Karen Mueller and Cathy Barton
Also called "Forky Deer" or "Fancy Deer", this is a
common American fiddle tune, perhaps related to or based on "Rachel
Rae," found in older Scots tune collections. Karen and I enjoy playing
hoedowns together when we find ourselves at the same festivals. She is
a fabulous, high-energy autoharp player. -C.B.
WILD MOUNTAIN THYME -P.D.
Sandy and Caroline Paton brought this lovely song from Ireland in the
late 1950s. Since then, it has become a favorite of folk music lovers
across the United States. During a "Songs From the Big Front Porch" workshop
at Old Songs '96, Bridget Ball, Christopher Shaw and John Kirk led a
packed Dutch Barn in singing this sweet song. It seemed like the rafters
and walls of the barn joined in the harmony! -B.B.
FARMER'S BOY -Public Domain
Ian Robb and Shelley Posen
One of the great, if implausible, English chorus songs, and a fond reminder
of my father who grew up on a farm in southern England before the first
world war, and sang or whistled the song incessantly when I was a kid.
Relearned with the help of Shelley, David Parry, and Lucy Broadwood's
English County Songs.
OLDHAM WHITE HARE -Traditional,
arranged by Brian Peters.
A stomping live take of a song I recorded in 1989, and learned from the
great Lancashire singer Harry Boardman. Hares are still hunted (not always
successfully, as the song relates) in the Pennine Hills near my home;
in winter you occasionally see the white-furred type. -B.P.
GYPSEN DAVEY -P.D., collected
by Cecil Sharp in Tennessee (1916, tune) and in North Carolina
This is one of the old ballads in which the down to earth lad does (or
doesn't) get his lady. The original goes back to a supposedly true tale
of a Scottish Lady Casillis who left her Laird for a gypsy. -C.L.
-settings by Mike Flynn.
Billy McComisky and Chris Norman
I got these two reels, which are in O'Neil's Book from Sligo flute player
Mike Flynn who lives in Queens, NY. -B.M.
A PAIR OF GEESE -©L&P
Berryman Lou and Peter Berryman
This song was inspired by a Midwestern folk tale, and appears on Lou
and Peter's 10th album, Double Yodel. For more information about these
Wisconsin songwriters, visit their website -L.B.
THE BRAMBLE AND THE ROSE -Barbara
Cathy Barton and Dave Para
Dave and I first heard this lyrical song from the singing of Jim Ringer
and Mary McCaslin, and over the years it is one of our favorites to sing
with Ed Trickett and with any audience. It's well known all over the
country now. -C.B.
AFRICA -Shape Note Hymn
led by Peter Amidon
The singing of Early American shape note hymns has long been a highlight
of the Old Songs Festival. Here Peter leads festival-goers in William
Billings’ setting from 1770 of an Isaac Watts text dating from
ROWDY SOUL -P.D.
I first heard this from Dillon Bustin, then added a couple of verses
from Mary Wheeler's book, Steamboatin' Days. It's a roustabout song from
the paddle-wheel days on the Ohio River. -S.P.
JOTAS ALISTANAS -P.D.
This is a dance tune made with three jotas. The jota (3/8 time) is the
most popular dance rhythm in Spanish traditional music. I’ve used
together two tunes from Zamora and one from León, all of them
from the Castilla’s bagpipe repertory. -E.A.
ARNOLD -Les Barker
The sexual experiences of adolescent armadilli have remained undocumented
for too long. Mr. Baker remedies this in a manner sad, tasteful and
THE CAMPAÑERO -P.D.
I learned this forebitter from Ewan MacColl. In 1972 he and Peggy Seeger
recorded songs and reminiscenses of Ben Bright, a retired Welsh sailor
living in London at the time, whose seafaring career had started in the
latter days of sail. The Campañero was one of his songs, one of
the many he had learned from the old-time sailors when he was a youngster
aboard square-riggers just before the First World War. -J.R.
THE TITANIC -P.D. George
The Titanic was the first song African American songster Huddie Ledbetter
(Lead Belly) learned to play on the 12-string guitar. The song involves
the legend that black prize-fighter Jack Johnson wanted to sail on the
ship but was turned down because of his color. -G.W.
SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT -Traditional.
Georgia Sea Island Singers
Doug Quimby, who, along with his wife, Frankie, celebrates 30 years as
the internationally acclaimed Georgia Sea Island Singers, powerfully
leads the audience in the familiar Swing Low Sweet Chariot. A distinguished
example of one of the many escape songs written by slaves bearing an
inherent “coded message” indicating that an opportunity to
pursue freedom is imminent. The fact that much of this repertoire has
become a part of mainstream American culture points up the vital contribution
that African American music has made to our nation’s history and
heritage. -Sandy Myers
THE DERELICT -P.D. Colleen
This was my Father's favorite 'gory' song. He learned it from a co-worker
one evening in a bar in the early sixties and recalled it from memory
on stage some 35 years later. I learned it from him in the true oral
MEISJE VAN SCHEVENINGEN / DE
WAARZEGGER -Traditional. Kat yn 't Seil
Traditional Dutch song in which you learn how a pretty fishmonger makes
the acquaintance of a rich gentleman and moves up in the world. The instrumental
piece comes form a Dutch music book from ca. 1700. The title "De
Waarzegger" means "The Fortune-teller." -MaritaKruijswijk
CALIFORNIA HUMBUGS -P.D.,
written by John A. Stone, circa 1850.
John A. Stone, better known as "Old Put," was the most prolific
and beloved of the California gold rush songsters. After discovering
gold, he used the money to support a group, the Sierra Nevada Rangers,
to travel the mining camps and sing only his songs. Here he sings about
the various characters out to defraud or mislead the miners. It is interesting
that the song is just as relevant 150 years later. -D.M.
SOUTHERN EXPOSURE -P.D.,
author: Josh White, Sr.
Josh White, Jr.
This was a title song of an album by the same name recorded in 1941 on
Keynote Records. The album was a series of work songs and protest songs.
My father used the melody of a known song, Careless Love, and combined
it with his lyrics to bring focus on the plight of the Black sharecropper.
AYE WAKIN' O -Robert Burns.
This song is attributed to Robert Burns although its roots are obviously
in the tradition. Burns was an important collector of traditional songs
and used some as a basis for his own writing. The key to understanding
the song is to realize that "Aye wakin" means 'always awake'.
It is nothing to do with walking; it is the old story of love giving
you sleepless nights. The chorus in English is roughly "Always awake,
awake yes and weary. Sleep I can't get none, for thinking of my dear." It
sounds better in Scots. -Pete Heywood
OH, SING TO ME OF HEAVEN -P.D.
This song was learned by Ginny from her Primitive Baptist sister, Mabel
Martin of Chilhowie, Virginia. Mabel has never seen any written music
-the tune she carried in her heart. -G.H.