When Tradfolk was invited to be the official media partner at this year’s FolkEast Festival, we immediately began wondering what we might be able to bring to what is an already wonderful event. We knew we had a few digital skills up our sleeves, not to mention some decent tech, and we knew it had to be something to do with traditional folk music (don’t we always? The clue is in the website’s name). So we set ourselves a challenge: could we persuade some of our favourite performers to step in front of our cameras, film them singing or playing a song or tune of their choice, and then edit and upload the footage so that the festival audience might have something to watch between sets? It wasn’t easy, but we got close.
In this article you’ll find…
- The Nutting Girl [Roud 509] | Jim Moray & Sam Carter
- Jack Hall [Roud 329] | Sam Carter
- Brighton Camp | Nick Cooke & Jim Moray
- Down by the Salley Gardens [Roud 32872] | Katherine Priddy & Sam Kelly
- Sweet Lemany [ Roud 193] | Hannah Martin
- The Tramp’s Philosophy [Roud 10672] | Jon Wilks
- Shallow Brown [Roud 2621] | Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith
- Banks of the Bann [Roud 889] | The Norfolk Broads
- The Rose Tree | Tom Moore & Archie Moss
- Scarborough Fair [Roud 12] | Knight & Spiers
- Cotillion | Leveret
- Minuett | Tamsin Elliott & Archie Moss
On Friday morning, we set off for the Blaxhall Ship, a legendary pub about a mile from Glemham Hall (the home of FolKEast) where Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy had once collected songs from traditional singers (watch out for an interview with Jim Moray, discussing the pub’s history, that we’ll be uploading in the next few days). After a few videos in the old singing room, we moved back to the festival site and found a dilapidated Victorian squash court with wonderful acoustics, which we came to think of as our studio for the remainder of the weekend.
Here, then, are the FolkEast X Tradfolk Sessions, recorded between Friday and Sunday (August 19th-21st, 2022), in chronological order. We hope you enjoy them and will consider subscribing to our Youtube channel. We have plans to do plenty more.
The Nutting Girl [Roud 509] | Jim Moray & Sam Carter
Jim Moray and Sam Carter of False Lights sing ‘The Nutting Girl’ [Roud 509] at the legendary folk pub, The Blaxhall Ship. The song is known as one of the pub’s anthems, and was sung by Cyril Poacher on Peter Kennedy’s film of the local singers, Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow, in 1955. Jim and Sam ran through the song once before singing it for our cameras, choosing to perform it unaccompanied in much the same way as it had been on the original field recordings. They are sitting on the original bench that many of the old singers used to sing from.
Jack Hall [Roud 329] | Sam Carter
Sam Carter was eating breakfast with melodeon player, Nick Cooke, while Jim Moray was talking to our cameras about the history of the Blaxhall Ship, but he eagerly took up the challenge of playing a song (despite it being barely 10am) once his toast had gone down. Sam knocked this version of ‘Jack Hall’ [Roud 369] out in a single take on Jim’s guitar, as though he’d been rehearsing it all morning.
Brighton Camp | Nick Cooke & Jim Moray
Seeing as we had Kate Rusby and False Lights’ esteemed box player in the room with us, we asked Nick Cooke if he had any traditional tunes up his sleeve. After the briefest of conversations with Jim Moray, the pair sat down and banged out this tradfolk classic, echoing the atmosphere of many a Blaxhall session from years gone by.
Down by the Salley Gardens [Roud 32872] | Katherine Priddy & Sam Kelly
Katherine Priddy Whatsapped us excitedly a few days before the festival to say that she’d be “sticking a traddy” into her FolkEast set, so we knew she’d be ideal for our video sessions. She arrived replete with Sam Kelly, and the two of them sat down and rehearsed an acoustic version of ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’ [Roud 32872], an Irish song with lyrics by W.B. Yeats, before knocking it out of the park almost as soon as the cameras began rolling.
Sweet Lemany [ Roud 193] | Hannah Martin
We chatted to Hannah Martin about ‘Sweet Lemany’ [Roud 193] in a recent episode of The Old Songs Podcast, and her unaccompanied version of the song was beautiful. So we were delighted when Hannah rocked up on Saturday at our makeshift studio and sang it again for our cameras as the afternoon light shifted around her.
The Tramp’s Philosophy [Roud 10672] | Jon Wilks
I usually try to avoid including my own music on the Tradfolk website, but the previous night I performed this song at a singaround and I was asked by a couple of people what it was. ‘The Tramp’s Philosophy’ [Roud 10672] is a rare traditional number collected in the Black Country by Phil Drabble, so I thought – with your kind indulgence – I’d do the song a favour and give it a little exposure here.
Shallow Brown [Roud 2621] | Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith
On a busy Saturday afternoon when we had three of four artists queuing up in the viewing gallery above the squash court, Jimmy Aldrige and Sid Goldsmith showed up to the FolkEast X Tradfolk sessions with a couple of songs for consideration. After a little deliberation, they plumped for this heartfelt version of ‘Shallow Brown’ [Roud 2621], a sea/slave song collected in Portsmouth in 1907. Listen carefully and you can hear the festival in full swing in the background, making Jimmy & Sid’s concentration and performance all the more extraordinary.
Banks of the Bann [Roud 889] | The Norfolk Broads
One of our favourite moments from the FolkEast X Tradfolk Sessions was this performance of ‘Banks of the Bann’ [Roud 889], sung in perfect four-part harmony by the Norfolk Broads in a single take. The cameras were still in place following Jimmy & Sid’s performance, and the Broads simply lined up, hummed a collective note to a tuning fork, and then set off. The whole thing was done in under five minutes, and the mini audience in the viewing gallery heard one of the performances of the festival.
The Rose Tree | Tom Moore & Archie Moss
With Sid Goldsmith and the Norfolk Broads watching from the viewing gallery above, this was another single-take performance. As Tom Moore and Archie Moss talked through their choice (‘The Rose Tree’ – a Morris tune from Bampton), we shifted the chairs and the lights around a little and made ready. Again, it was all over in little more than five minutes. That’s what you get when you work with the pros.
Scarborough Fair [Roud 12] | Knight & Spiers
There are moments when you feel truly blessed to be doing this job, and this was one of them. Knight & Spiers were originally put together in 2016 as a duo by the organisers of FolkEast, and they initially held their rehearsals in this very room. Perhaps that’s where some of the magic in this performance comes from, but it’s more likely to be the simple fact that these two musicians are able to read each other like well-worn books, and that they’re at the very top of their game. We challenge you not to listen to the tone and texture of Peter Knight’s violin playing here without weeping. ‘Scarborough Fair’ [Roud 12] never sounded anything like this before. Exquisite.
Cotillion | Leveret
From one extraordinary performance to another. Leveret arrived on Sunday afternoon, just as Knight & Spiers vacated the premises, explaining that they hadn’t played together for three months. Almost by way of a rehearsal for their triumphant gig at Moot Hall later that evening, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and Andy Cutting casually took their seats and launched into the traditional tune, ‘Cotillion’, continuously building the song until the walls sang it back to them. One take; all done. Magical.
Minuett | Tamsin Elliott & Archie Moss
The last of our FolkEast X Tradfolk sessions came courtesy of Tamsin Elliott and Archie Moss (appearing for the second time in 48 hours). As Tamsin explained on her Instagram channel shortly afterwards, “The Minuett is from Thomas Bray’s Country Dances, notated in 1699. We’re definitely not playing it at a minuet dance tempo, but you could try a swinging three-time bourrée to it if you have a willing partner. I go a little off-piste halfway through, but that’s how folk tunes evolve, right?”
Want the songs lined up in a playlist for your listening pleasure? Here you go…
Our huge thanks to FolkEast for inviting us to their glorious festival this year. We can’t wait to re-open our FolkEast X Tradfolk Sessions again in 2023. Get your tickets now!