Bert Jansch – In the Bleak Mid-Winter
Merry Christmas all.
Merry Christmas all.
It’s a mystery why some music you just fall for; why, even though I’ve listened to numerous musicians with guitars playing old folk songs, when I heard Sam Pulham’s EP The Merry Green Wood last Friday, (maybe it makes a difference when and where you first hear the music? The context? Maybe it made a difference that it was a slightly overcast morning, that I was tired and little hungover?), something in the music resonated with me.
Made a trip to Broadstairs, Kent:
It was the weekend of the week-long folk festival.
In The Chapel on Albion Street (a bar I’ve heard being disparaged but that I like for the fact they sell beer, very good cider and books) as well as discovering The Prodigy I bought this book:
I bought it for that title really. And the aforementioned cider might have, at first, influenced my decision, but my mind was made up when I saw this great photo inside:
Every time I listen to a live recording of Charlie Parr it sounds like the most fun you can have at a gig with just one man and a selection of guitars on stage. At its best Parr’s music – the fast stompers or the slower songs – deeply involve the listener with the characters that populate them: like the liquor store owner narrator of ‘Cheap Wine’, his customers: the old ladies who “ain’t no better than all these bums”, and the kid, in the wrong place, who “wasn’t so bright, drunk all the time”.
I’m allowing myself to be led by data this week. For according to Spotify this version by Richard Thompson of the traditional folk song ‘Shenandoah’ is my most played song of 2016. I’m not surprised. It does feel like I’ve listened to it quite a bit. That I was trying to learn to play it might have swelled the figures somewhat. But that aside, it has become one of those songs I return to repeatedly.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post from the folk festival in Broadstairs. I mentioned attending the sea shanties on the pier. This is one of the highlights of the festival for me. The set-up is this: a singer steps forward to take the lead on a song, everyone is invited to join in the chorus.
While sheltered from the wind and sun (no rain for the last couple of years at least), kids behind you defying the lifeguards by jumping off the pier into the swell, drinks being imbibed, there is something very affecting singing communally these sometimes centuries old songs. ‘Bully in the Alley’ was one of the songs we sang. It was led by Kimber’s Men who were this year’s guests.
modern, buoy us up
though I am faithless.
Denise Riley, ‘When we cry to Thee’