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Tag: Brummagem

The Brave Dudley Boys [Roud 1131] | Folk from the Attic

This post is as much a tribute to one man as it is as history of ‘The Brave Dudley Boys’.

The more you delve deeper into traditional folk music in the UK, the more you encounter certain names – figures that may be little known outside the cannon, and sometimes no better known within it, but loom large over their own area of expertise. As soon as you start spending serious amounts of time with traditional and old songs from the Midlands, for example, you come up against the mighty Roy Palmer.

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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 in the 1950s by Marie Slocombe of the BBC Sound Archive, and again in 1967 by Charles Parker, the resulting recordings being released in 1975.

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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 to ramp up the Brummie-ness, but as with many of these old songs, doing so feels a little like you’re taking from some of its undeniable dignity. Deliberations! Who’d be a folk singer?

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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, the songs that really leap out out of the archives tend to be unrelentingly grim, or at the very least clothed in the thin veil of black humour. 

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