ZOOM FOLK SESSION – Virtual Brampton

There are advantages to being virtual – we’d never find a room big enough to contain the 30 singers and musicians who joined us on 17th November!   A warm welcome to Dave Mason, joining us for the first time from Cincinnati.

The theme was ‘the sea and ships’.  Let’s start with the oblique and ingenious approaches: Terry Hiscock’s Falling more slowly was inspired by the shipping forecast; Shipyard apprentice (Phil) was based on the shipbuilding industry on the Clyde; Dave sang Neverland because it is ‘a place associated with pirates’; Sylvia’s Ar Li Mountain Girl linked to the theme because ‘the girl is beautiful like water’.  Jan, with her new ukulele skills, sang Octopus’s Garden and Mary recited the sad fate of Claude the Crab.

Perhaps surprisingly we only had two shanties: Hob y deri dando (Sam Simmons) and Padstow Farewell (Charlie).  Plenty of songs had their roots in history, from The Armada (Katy), through the 18th Century patriotic Heart of Oak (Ruth); the Napoleonic wars in On board a 98 (Richard) and The Death of Nelson (Adrian); the press gang in My Johnny was a shoemaker (Patsy and Bob).  Moving on to World War II, we sorrowed with Bill over Some Boats, about those who disappeared at sea, and laughed at Sam Millington’s tall tale about The Silloth Submarine.

Leaving wives and sweethearts is an inevitable concomitant of a sailor’s life, and was reflected in Chris’s Adieu, sweet lovely Nancy, Gerda’s Bold Privateer and Alan’s Leaving of Liverpool.  From there we move on to a shipboard love affair on the way to Canadee-i-o (Mick) and inconstancy (I wish, I wish – Anne) and the fleshpots that snare Jack Tar in The Old Town by the Shore – in this case Mombasa – by Mike.

Then there is the love-hate relationship that sailors have with the sea: the tragedies such as that of the Ellen Vannin (Sally Jones); the not-so-serious tale of incompetence and collision, Reach for the gin (Aitch); the places sailors hate to go (Bay of Fundy – Eleanor) and love to sail (Hills of Isle au Haut – Steve); and the boat songs such as Elaine’s Baidin Fheillimi and Ged’s Rathlin Island.  

And finally, thank you to our only instrumentalist of the evening, Sally Hardaker, who gave us the Trumpet Hornpipe and Out on the Ocean on whistle.

We next meet – still virtually – on 15th December at 8pm.  The theme will be ‘birds and animals’ – which can of course include reindeer, the ox and the ass, or the Carnal and the Crane if anyone would like to be seasonal.

November  Review