Monthly Archives: January 2018

Constant Billy

Last spring my friend Michael, who is a regular at the South East London Folklore Society, sold me a compact disc of recordings of William Kimber. William Kimber was an Oxfordshire Morris Dance & Anglo Concertina player who was a key figure in the 20th century Morris revival. Kimber first met Cecil Sharp in 1899 & they had a long association & friendship.

The CD was of old interviews with Kimber & archive recordings of his playing. I grew up in Wimborne, East Dorset, which has an annual folk & morris festival which was a calendar event when I was growing up. The tune Constant Billy leapt out at me. The song collector Kidson identified this tune as a late 17th century song popular with morris sides & very much a standard.

There are very similar Highland & Irish tunes from the 18th century so it is hard to give a definitive source. I like it very much & am putting an arrangement in my repertoire.

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How To Get To Play At Bermondsey Folk Festival 2018

Bermondsey Folk Festival 2018 will be on Saturday 8th September 2018 & is now into it’s 4th year. From small beginnings it is starting to flourish as a calendar event in the London Folk Scene. The headline acts for the day have been booked: Martin Carthy, Lisa Knapp, Circulus, Arfur Doo & The Toerags.

Now is the time to start programming acts who would like to have an opportunity to play on the day. This is why I am starting the Bermondsey Folk Club. Over the course of this year we will be having monthly singarounds at Shortwave Cafe, a lovely licensed venue in Bermondsey. The first singaround is on Sunday January 28th from 7-10pm & all comers will be welcome to play. The singarounds will be on the last Sunday of the month from then on & will be free, though I will pass a hat around with a suggested £3/1.50 concessions for organising & running the session. Regular attendees who want to perform in September will be scheduled a spot.

I will also be starting featured artist club nights from March with floor spots & support slots available. So even more opportunities to play.

I’m a folk musician myself & I get my gigs from people who have met me & I have a relationship with. In my opinion the best way to get booked is to get out & physically meet people & play in front of them. So if you want to come & play in Bermondsey you can: come down to the singaround & say hello!



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The Wanton Seed

This is a recording of A L Lloyd performing “The Wanton Seed”
I first encountered this song from the 2015 edition of “The Wanton Seed” book, a collection of English Folk Songs From the Hammond & Gardiner Manuscripts. This excellent collection has been a great source for helping me to build a repertoire & having grown up in East Dorset it was fun seeing the many familiar Hampshire & Dorset locations these songs were collected from. This song’s euphemism is obvious.

This is what A.L.Lloyd had to say about the song; “Some erotic folk songs, thought crude by genteel collectors, embody ancient ritualistic notions of love. Just as, at seed-time in primitive communities, peasants would be expected to copulate in the furrows to give good example to the plants, so too songs were raised conveying the magical idea that all natural phenomena are interdependent, and that the closest unity exists between the germination of grain and the amorous encounters of men and women. As in this genial song to be heard in Dorset pubs earlier in the present century, sometimes called The Chiefest Grain.”

I love this Nic Jones version. What a player!


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A New Year, A New Album


It’s 2018 & I’m recording a new album on Dharma Records. This one is going to be a collection of traditional British folk songs arranged for voice & solo acoustic guitar. I’ve spent the last few years building up a repertoire & in the upcoming weeks & months I will be blogging about the process of finding & arranging songs, the history of the ones I have chosen & about the composition of the guitar arrangements.

For the first time in many years I have a producer, which is something I am very happy about. A producer manages the project & exercises his or her taste & judgement on arrangements. The producer has control over how the record will sound. There’s a lot to this job & I’m glad to be able to concentrate on the performance alone.

A producer called Ian Carter has the reins of this project. He is best known in UK folk for his work producing & performing in an outstanding band called Stick In The Wheel & he has many other performance, writing, engineering & production credits to his name. I feel lucky.

So for the next month or so I am intensively rehearsing & we aim to record next month. More news soon…

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