Category: Writing

The Gift Band Interview: Eliza Carthy on Norma Waterson, working at The Globe and Martin Carthy’s new version of ‘Scarborough Fair’

It’s a big weekend for folk music, especially if you’re in London and you’ve got a thing about The Watersons. On Friday, The Gift Band (made up, in part, of Norma Waterson, Eliza Carthy and Martin Carthy), release their latest album, Anchor, on Topic Records (you can order it by clicking here), and that’s swiftly followed […]

Adieu, Adieu [Roud 490] | Folk from the Attic

In investigating Birmingham songs, I’ve come to realise that two source singers in particular stand out. Perhaps the most widely known was Cecilia Costello, a Digbeth singer of Irish decent that may have acquired at least some of her repertoire following a spell working (not residing) in a Winson Green workhouse. She was visited twice […]

Iona Fyfe on Scottish folk music: carrying the tradition onwards

Iona Fyfe is sitting in a cafe in Glasgow, desperately trying to get her Skype to behave. “I’m a terrible example of a Millennial,” she says, apologising unnecessarily for having only spent 20 years on this earth. “I think I’ve only used this once in the last year,” she continues, giggling. There’s no need for […]

Martin Carthy: the Mega Interview

I pack the last of the chairs away and crawl out from the cupboard under the Whitchurch Folk Club stage, where Eliza and Martin Carthy have just performed. Eliza has a question regarding getting into London for a meeting the following morning. I see an opportunity. “Don’t drive,” I suggest. “Take the 10:15 into Waterloo. […]

Colin’s Ghost [Roud 1600] | Folk from the Attic

‘Colin’s Ghost’, eh? If there’s a more English sounding song title than that, I’ve yet to find it. And I have to say, I’m rather delighted to have found it on my quest through songs from Birmingham and the wider Midlands. I can go even further than that, too, because this song is about as […]

Ben Nicholls discusses ‘Franklin’, by Kings of the South Seas, and the pros and cons of a ship-based tour

It probably wouldn’t be too far from the truth to suggest that, for many of us, the first contact we have with traditional folk music comes via the sea. There can’t be many Brits that don’t know at least the first verse of “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor” (Roud 322), after all, […]

I Can’t Find Brummagem | Folk from the Attic

In last week’s blog post (‘John Hobbs‘) I wrote a little about the life-and-death decisions that must be made around singing in your own regional accent. Any conclusions I came to leapt eagerly from the window with this week’s song: ‘I Can’t Find Brummagem’. On the surface, it’s such a triffle that it’s hard not […]

John Hobbs (a wife-selling song) | Folk from the Attic

What a weird little song this is, and quite startling in subject matter, too. As is the wont of many people developing an interest in traditional folk songs, I recently began investigating the songs from the area I come from – Birmingham and the surrounding West Midlands. Hardly a glamorous place in times gone by, […]

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