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The Old Songs Podcast: Ep8 – ‘Hal-An-Tow’ ft. Lisa Knapp

A full hour-long podcast about the May song, "Hal-An-Tow", which is traditionally sung and danced on May 8th in Helston, Cornwall.

I’m writing this intro at 11:45pm on April 30th, desperate to get the podcast done in time for the very start of May. Why? You’ll see why over the next hour or so. In the traditional calendar, no month quite rivals this one. 

From the perspective of traditional song, it’s also the calendric home of one of my favourites. ‘Hal-An-Tow’, or Roud 1520 to give it its official numbers, is one of those songs that everyone involved in the traditional folk scene will know, but seems inexplicably unknown to the rest of the population. Why that is, it’s hard to explain, but this episode seemed like a great opportunity to help further its popularity. 

And who better to chat about it with than Lisa Knapp, one of my very favourite singers of any genre. Lisa’s 2017 album, Till April is Dead – A Garland Of May is something of a masterpiece – an extraordinary concept album that built on a huge amount of research that Lisa did into the subject of May and May traditions. 

There’s so much here to be getting stuck into – we’re discussing ‘Hal-An-Tow’, how Lisa made her album, and some of the incredible May traditions that exist in the UK. So we happily overran the usual hour or so that these podcasts last. Welcoming in the May, then, please get comfy and join me in welcoming Lisa Knapp to the Old Songs Podcast. 

Find out more about Lisa Knapp at here website, by clicking here.