A pleasure to be working with Bethan Peters, Natasha Lohan and Maria Ighoumrassi as art of Trinity Laban and Greenwich Dance at the National Maritime Museum…
This was a multi-layered dance and music piece that uses personal interpretations of both historical and contemporary notions of exploration as stimulus. As artistic facilitators we worked with community participants to create and develop their own movement and musical material interpretations of artifacts, memories and stories into a two hour piece based on the title ‘We may be gone some time’
When discussing the piece proposal with Bethan (choreographer), providing the context of the project and how it sits within Travelers’ Tails I was extremely enthusiastic about engaging musically with the era of the 18th C and using the theme of historical and contemporary exploration to generate original lyrics and music collaboratively with the participants. As previously mentioned due to the logistics of the piece structure it is likely that the musical element of the piece would consist only of vocals, therefore I suggested that using the form of Shanties could be a good musical starting point in terms of structure as well as making further links to maritime heritage. We used ‘All things are quite silent’ to begin the movement, and ended with ‘Leave her Johnny’.
My intention for the arrangement was to create a flowing but gentle up and down motion to simulate perhaps the movement of oars of a ship, or the ebb and flow of the sea; a symbolic nod to the tragic consequence of the story itself. The piano accompaniment creates a visual and harmonic struggle, representing the tie between man, wife and King. There is an instrumental, which I added to create a light relief and perhaps a sense of hope for this couple who reflected the plight of many around this time.
Leave her Johnny was simply performed A Capella as it would have been traditionally with myself taking on the main role of ‘caller’ and the rest of the performers joining in on the chorus. The song is about the end of the journey, when the ship has docked and the rats and crew are all gone.
Didn’t manage to record this one on video at the last gig, but did get a pretty recording though…
This is our version, inspired by one of my favorite British singers Liane Carroll, and her take on
“Take it with me’ by Tom Waits from the album Mule Variations. Hope you enjoy!
Jimmy Cannon vocals
Dorian Ford keys
Ben Bastin bass
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This is a really old song, in fact the earliest known account is from a broadside from the Samuel Pepys collection:
“The frightened Yorkshire damsel” dated 1689 about a girl being frightened into a mans bed by a ghost (his mate wearing a white sheet, luring her into his friends bedroom) or a monster, which goes under various names: bug-a-boo, bogilmaroo, and bogle bo. Bogey is the modern usage; perhaps the derivative of the ‘Bogey man’?
Another interpretation suggested by Robert Graves is perhaps it’s link to the Black plague, rife in Europe between 1346 and 1353.
James Reeves in ‘The Idiom of the People’, 1958, pp. 45-57. concludes that ‘foggy dew’ signifies virginity or chastity, and that in that version the girl’s sudden agitation was caused by an overwhelming desire for the young man.
As well as many interpretation and like most traditional folk songs being of the people and for the people, there are also many variations of melody and lyric, which influence any thoughts on the relative meaning, and I would like to put forward my own view based on the version that we sing below, which is that the phrase ‘foggy dew’ is in fact symbolic for depression or anxiety, which even today is renounced by many as trivial and not a genuine.
Please let me know what you think and indeed, if you have any more variations on the story…
Watch us perform A Foggy Foggy Dew here: https://youtu.be/SFcEwzKmRSA
When I was a bachelor, I liv’d all alone
I worked at the weaver’s trade
And the only, only thing that I did that was wrong
Was to woo a fair young maid.
I wooed her in the wintertime
Part of the summer, too
And the only, only thing that I did that was wrong
Was to keep her from the foggy, foggy dew.
One night she knelt close by my side
When I was fast asleep.
She threw her arms around my neck
And she began to weep.
She wept, she cried, she tore her hair
Ah, me! What could I do?
So all night long I held her in my arms
Just to keep her from the foggy foggy dew.
Again I am a bachelor, I live with my son
We work at the weaver’s trade.
And every sing time I look into his eyes
He reminds me of that fair young maid.
He reminds me of the wintertime
Part of the summer, too,
And the many, many times that I held her in my arms
Just to keep her from the foggy, foggy, dew.
I would normally ignore such posts as the recent Olympics ‘exposure’ with a frustrated “Just say NO” thought, but recently had a similar experience.
I occasionally guest at a fantastic jazz gig in Islington (where, incidentally, the band is paid reasonably well) and was informed about another venue that were looking to do a similar thing and would I be interested. I contacted the venue and started a rather frustrating and vague correspondence with the proprietor. I’m more annoyed with myself not to have nipped this in the bud sooner, but I was under the impression that the first performance (only one date was mentioned) would be a sort of audition, for they were offering me FOOD and DRINK… After countless emails and subtle attempts to find out what their budget was, It was clear that there wasn’t one! quote: “At this stage by way of payment we are only able to offer food and drink” I have since replied quoting my fee and a polite suggestion that she offers some kind of fee in the interest of morals and standards for all.
What concerns me is not only the naivety of some, but the ignorance of others and by others, I mean musicians. Yes YOU!! There is a difference between a gig for promotional purposes (I do them myself), and one where one party is no doubt gaining financially. We must stop doing these types of gigs for the sake of our industry. What we need is a Union, “one that will protect us from amateurs, protect us from unscrupulous employers, and protect us from ourselves” Joe Williams 1893.
Looking forward to playing at the Horniman museum next Sunday the 13th from 12.45pm.
I’ll be joined by Karen Street on accordion, Ben Bastin on double bass, Nia Lyn on vocals, myself on saxophone and vocals, Antonia Pagulatos on violin, and Tom Allan on trumpet.
We’ll be performing some Burton Bradstock arrangements as well as accompanying a couple of sets of Edwardian dancing. Should be fun!!
Lovely review from Gemma Boyd (Jazzwise)
The most thought-provoking music of the evening came from Burton Bradstock, comprising of Jimmy Cannon on vocals and Dorian Ford on vocals and keyboard. Taken from their album, All Upon A Lovely Summer’s Day, their unusual jazz-folk style combined the simple but memorable scalic melodies of English folk songs such as ‘Salisbury Plain’ with foot-tapping rhythms and compelling bassy vocal harmonies built up in a round. There was a refreshing rawness about ‘John Barleycorn’, with its bluesy bass figure and Cannon’s staccato inflections, and the audience particularly got into the groove of ‘Train Song’ with its yummy lyric, “Love is a basket of light.”
Folks, not only are we performing every Monday at the English Restaurant, we have been invited to play a couple of songs on the 24th Nov:
I’m very excited to announce that we, Burton Bradstock, have a new Monday night residency at The English Restaurant in Spitalfields!
We’re still keen to continue our random performances in and around London pubs, to which you might have been witness to, but this a wonderful opportunity to perform the wide canon of English Songs from here and over the pond and to invite guests.
The pub has been faithfully restored by Kay and Peter and lends itself perfectly to live entertainment, with a measure of good beer and excellent food. I feel like I’m writing a review for trip adviser or some such publication, but quite honestly having been there a few times, I feel qualified to offer my opinion. The staff are particularly attentive without being patronising or assuming, and there’s an open and inviting feel to the place.
So, if you fancy a cosy Autumn/Winter evening with some old songs to keep you company, come around 7.30pm on a Monday.
So, the continuation of our saga with one particular pub, is that we went in a couple of days ago as part of our weekly ‘flash duo’ tour around (so far) North London taverns with pianos to see if we could play a song. Last time we went in, and if you’ve read the previous blogs you’ll know that we’ve been into this particular pub a few times and received various vague responses, the chap behind the bar said that they’ll sort something out; but this time he skated over this and suggested that we spoke to the other manager.
For some reason (probably because we’re coming across as a couple of pretentious artists threatening his territory) this chap doesn’t like us, so by passing us on to the other guy, he can get rid of us.
Anyway, the other chap was very amenable and suggested that we send him any youtube clips that we had etc. This is fine, but couldn’t we have just played a couple of songs there and then, Would we have really of disturbed his customers (all 8 of them) by playing some folk songs on a piano at the end of the pub?
Of course, we all know that as soon as I send him the link to the album launch at the Pizza Express, he’ll say it’s not what they want… I did explain that we just want to play a couple of songs in the day time and only occasionally. Let’s see what he comes up with.
Here’s a pic of Dorian and I playing one song at the fabulous drum/coffee shop called tower 47 taken by Mark Dodds.