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Tag: Folk Song Stories

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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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 close to home, proximity-wise, as it gets for me. You see, ‘Colin’s Ghost’ [Roud 1600], was collected from a woman who was born and raised in King’s Norton, a mere stone’s throw (providing you can throw stones approximately eight miles) from the area I spent my formative years. I can’t rightly confess to having ever seen Colin’s ghost, but I can certainly imagine the lanes that the narrator speaks of (although she singularly fails to mention the drive-thru McDonalds that shone like beacon in the centre of King’s Norton whenever I passed through it as a child). 

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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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Shallow Brown | Folk from the Attic

‘Shallow Brown’ (Roud 2621) is a fascinating song for so many reasons. Is it a sea shanty? A slave song? Who is singing to who, and where in the world were they singing? There’s as much here to love as there is to be heart-broken by. Quite simply, another traditional folk song of fare-thee-wells and loved ones being transported over the sea that feels, in some ways, as prescient now as it ever must have done. 

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The amazing tale of Daria Kulesh’s Long Lost Home

Sit ye down, weary internet traveller, for I bring to you a tale of epic proportions. In the first weeks of this blog’s existence, I interviewed the singer-songwriter, Ange Hardy, to find out more about the story behind her song, ‘What May You Do for the JAM?’ Within a few hours of its publication, I received a message from Daria Kulesh, a folk singer of Russian origin, very sweetly explaining that she had a few songs with interesting stories, too, and that she’d love to tell me all about them.

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Ange Hardy: What May You Do For The JAM? | Folk Song Stories

One of the reasons I started the blog aspect of The Grizzly Folk website is that I’m fascinated by the stories that sit behind many of my favourite songs. Whether they’re old traditionals or brand new tunes, there’s nearly always a reason for their existence. And so I thought I’d try and dig about a bit and see what I could find. 

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