An evening at the Jug of Punch folk club at The Crown, Station St., Birmingham
ALL over Britain folksong clubs are flourishing. Mostly held in pubs, where a filled glass soon abolishes inhibitions about joining in the chorus, these clubs feature resident singers, guests from other parts of the country and members of the club's audience, or 'singers from the floor' as they are often called.
Each of the hundred or so folk clubs in Britain has its own character and atmosphere, sometimes derived from the decor, but usually from the style and quality of the resident performers.
On this record, we have tried to capture the atmosphere on a Tuesday night at the Crown in Birmingham. The resident singers are the Ian Campbell Folk Group, whose blending of harmonic arrangements, instrumental accompaniment and the traditional style of singing is unrivalled in Britain at the moment.
Ian Campbell leads the group in most of the items on this record, and sings the eerie Scots ballad 'The Twa Corbies' (The Two Ravens) unaccompanied. Lorna Campbell's thrilling voice is heard in the Gaelic song 'The Boatman', and Dave Swarbrick leads the shanty 'A Hundred Years Ago', whilst his virtuoso fiddle gets underway in the opening two fiddle solos, and can be heard to good effect in 'Broom Besoms' and 'Jolly Beggar'. To complete the group Dave Phillips sings the high parts and plays guitar, John Dunkerley plays banjo and sings bass.
The guests from the floor this evening are Eileen Feeley who sings beautifully and quietly in the somewhat declamatory and decorated country style of Irish singers, and Mike and John Chapman — veteran folk club organisers — represent the dance instrumentalists, who, on a good night round off a ceilidh at the Crown with an impromptu dancing session.
Viva la Quince Brigada
The long battle of the Ebro in 1938, was one of the bitterest offensives of the Spanish Civil War. In its course, a song based on an Aragonese folk tune sprang up, called El Ejercito del Ebro, with the refrain: "Ay, Carmela!" Another song grew out of it, celebrating the 15th Brigade of the Republican Army which comprised the famous International Brigade. "Quince" is Spanish for "Fifteen". The refrain was altered to "Ay, Manuela" for personal reasons known to the author of the new text.
We Will Overcome
This song has become the anthem of the movement against race discrimination in the southern United States. It is an adaptation from a mid-19th century revival hymn that sprang to the attention of the world in the 1950s, when the Rev. Martin Luther King led the dramatic bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, and We Will Overcome, sung by the demonstrators surrounded by an angry white-supremacy mob, was heard on the nation's TV sets.
The Boys of Wexford
In the Irish rising of 1798, the Wexford rebellion makes a particularly stirring chapter. The gallant boys of Wexford were defeated at Vinegar Hill, near Enniscorthy on the 21st of June, but their memory and their song lives on. The words were made up not long after the event, but it was many years before they became attached to the present fine tune, which is that of a Gaelic song. The Snowy-breasted Pearl.
The Peat-Bog Soldiers
This anti-Nazi classic appears to have originated from a concentration camp near Dusseldorf early in the days of Hitler's rule. The inmates of the camp were mainly political prisoners, including many militant workers from the large Persil factory nearby, who organized themselves into a semi-clandestine choral and theatre group. The Peat-bog Soldiers, presumably an example of collective composition, was a powerful success, and became widely known outside the camp and beyond the frontiers of Germany already during the 1930s. It is a measure of the song's virtue that it has been not infrequently — but quite incorrectly — ascribed to Hanns Eisler.
The Balkans have a long tradition of partisan songs. Some are folk songs made by fighters who knew no other music and poetry, save that of their own villages. Others are mass-songs made by educated composers and writers, often in the manner of Russian revolutionary songs. Still others, including some of the best, are a synthesis of folk song and mass-song, like Doniovina, a song of the Titoist partisans of Central Yugoslavia. The curious instrument heard is a kind of rustic double-clarinet called a "diple".
The Cutty Wren
Some of the most ancient, most enduring and at the same time most mysterious English folk songs are those concerned with the attributes and sacrifice of monstrous animals. At the end of the 14th century, when peasant rebellion was in the air, the old magical song of the gigantically powerful bird (presented by a kind of folklore irony as a tiny wren) took on a tinge of new meaning. For here was the story of a great fowl so hard to seize, so difficult to dismember but so apt for sharing among the poor; and what did that suggest but a symbol of seignorial property?
The Campbells, based in Birmingham, have gained for themselves in the last two years, a firm reputation as Britain's leading folk group. They are, in a remarkable way, true to their material; they know and reaped its sources and they bring to it gifted musicianship and lively imagination. Above all, they enjoy their singing and playing and their audiences enjoy it too. In the past year, they have starred many times in B.B.C- TV's Hootenanny Show and A.B.C-TV's Hullabaloo series. They have given a series of sell-out concerts at leading venues throughout the country including the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. This year they were invited to attend the famous Newport Folk Festival in the United States.
The four songs on this album are all firm folk favourites. Drill Ye Terriers, (one of the first songs ever recorded incidentally), was popular in the United States round the turn of the century and is of Irish/American origin. Paddy on the Railway is perhaps its British equivalent, emanating from the Irish immigrant workers on the railways. Ian takes the solo on both these rousing numbers. In contrast Lorna sings the lilting Bahaman Bong The John B. Sails and a haunting Appalachian tune True Love Don't Weep. The four illustrate perfectly the Campbells' versatility, artistry and warmth which has made them in clubs, concerts and on record our number one folk attraction
This record is just what the title suggests. It contains five samples of the Campbells taken from their three L.P.'s and one of their singles on the Transatlantic label. Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A Changin' became a big hit for the Group and served to bridge the gap between their more tradition-oriented folk followers and their many pop fans. Cushy Butterfield, The Keel Row and the Instrumental Medley however, show the Campbell Group handling traditional material in their own unique way, the first of these tunes featuring lan, the second Lorna and the instrumental medley giving Dave Swarbrick, John Dunkerley and Brian Clark a splendid showcase for their talents. The Apprentice's Song demonstrates not only Brian's excellence as a solo singer but also Ian's talent as a writer of contemporary material.
In Hoggs Jacobite Reliques Highland Harry is mentioned as a popular song and air. The first three verses are by Robert Burns based on an old song, the other two are added by SutherIand.
The Earl of Moray On February 7th 1592 the Earl of Moray was cruelly killed by the Earl of Huntley at Dunibrissle in Fife to satisfy King James VIs jealousy of Moray, whom the Queen, more rashly than wisely had commended in the Kings hearing with too many epithets of a proper and gallant man (Sir James Balfours History Of Scotland).
Cam Ye Oer Frae France is one of many bitter satirical songs composed by the Jacobites a bout the court of George I or Geordie Whelps (Guelph). The goose referred to is Madame Schulenberg, Duchess of Kendal, Geordies mistress, and the linkin blad was the Count Konigsmark. The only other identifiable name is Bobbin John presumed to be the Earl of Mar, Commander In Chief of the English army in Scotland.
Highland Widows Lament — A well known and popular song (Hogg). In a troubled history the Highlands have known many ladies violently widowed and Lorna acknowledges this by omitting in this version all references to Charlie and the Jacobite cause. The tune is Gaelic.