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Conversation about music for dancing and types of dances

Patsy Judge & Bride Judge

Conversation about music for dancing and types of dances / Patsy Judge & Bride Judge

Patsy Judge performs several examples of “cheek” or “gob” music (i.e., dance music performed with the voice only), simultaneously explaining where these tunes were most likely to appear within the set dance.  The examples appear in the following order: “There was an old woman” (jig), “Tatter Jack Walsh” (jig), “All the way to Connickmore” (single), “Haste to the wedding” (jig), “The girl I left behind me” (single), “Girls in the salthouse” (single), “Mother wouldn’t beat him” (single), “Irishman’s shanty” (single), “Pop goes the weasel” (jig), “Green grow the rushes-o” (reel).

The bonny hills of Scotland

Eta Nash

The bonny hills of Scotland / Eta Nash

The bonny hills of Scotland, song (On the bonny hills of Scotland where bluebells they do grow … ) Known as “The Paisley officer,” “India’s burning sands,” “The new recruit,” and “Bonny Scottish Mary,” among other titles, this song tells the story of a woman disguising herself so that she can go away to war with her true love. It ends with her death on the battle field.  In Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, Hugh Shields notes that the song is common in Canada and the northeastern United States. He speculates on the song’s Ulster origins, noting that the fullest references to the text are found in northern regions of Ireland (1981:97). 

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Bungle Rye

 Anthony Power

Bungle Rye / Anthony Power

Bungle Rye, song (As I went a-walking a fair London Street …) This early 19th-century broadside ballad is a warning about the dangers of female wiles. The protagonist is tricked into paying 20 shillings for a basket that he thinks contains a bottle of liquor. Instead it contains a baby, whom he christens John Bungle Rye.  In many versions of this song, the phrase “Bung yer eye” appears instead of “Bungle Rye.” Indeed, Kenneth Peacock includes this song in Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, under the title “Young Bung-’er’eye,” noting that “bung-yer-eye” is an old sailing term for strong rum or hard liquor (1965:895–6).

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Pinto

 Denis Nash

Pinto / Denis Nash

Pinto, song (As I was riding one evening 'neath the starlite western sky…) This song is better known as “There’s a picture on Pinto’s Bridle,” recorded by Hank Snow in 1939.

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The bleach of Strathblane

Mike McGrath

The bleach of Strathblane / Mike McGrath

The bleach of Strathblane, song (As I roved out one morning in May …) In this Scottish song, a young man proposes to a woman. Though she initially refuses, she relents when the young man threatens to propose to someone else. He, however, proves inconstant and leaves. The “bleach” refers to the hills around Strathblane where local women laid their laundry to dry.

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The fair Fanny Moore

Patsy Judge

The fair Fanny Moore / Patsy Judge

The fair Fanny Moore, song (Yonder stands a cottage all deserted and alone...) This murder ballad most likely has its origins in the Irish or English broadside presses, though it is much more commonly heard in North American contexts. Newfoundland song scholar Anna Kearney Guigné speculates that the song gained “new life in the New World through its dissemination by way of oral tradition in such contexts as the lumber camps alongside such media as print and recordings” (2016:122).  In other versions of this song, the wealthy suitor is named Randal and Fanny’s true love (a poor shepherd) is named Henry. In Patsy’s version of the song, the names are used interchangeably; it seems probable that this was simply a memory slip.

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The forest was covered in bushes

Patsy Judge

The forest was covered in bushes / Patsy Judge

The forest was covered in bushes, song (One night as the moon it shone bright and shone clear …) Elsewhere this song is known as “The False-hearted lover,” “A week before Easter,” and “The false bride.” It tells the story of a man whose sweetheart marries someone else. The protagonist witnesses the marriage and consummation before announcing that he will die of a broken heart. The text was published as a broadside as early as 1690; it was recorded widely during the 20th century.

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Mackenzie's dream

John Joe English

Mackenzie's dream / John Joe English

Mackenzie's dream, song (One night of late I chanced to stray, from a shore so far away ...) John Joe English learned this song from his uncle, John English. The protagonist of the song, Mackenzie, dreams of all the heroes of Erin standing together against tyranny.  At the end of John Joe’s performance, Aidan O’Hara speculates that the song’s origins might have been in the Young Ireland movement. The song is more widely known as the 19th-century Irish broadside ballad, “McKenna’s Dream.” John Joe sings the song in triple metre, a slowed-down version of the melody for “Suíl, a ghrá.”

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The scolding wife

Caroline Brennan

The scolding wife / Caroline Brennan

The scolding wife, song (I got married to a scolding wife about twenty years ago …) This broadside ballad is well known on both sides of the Atlantic (Guigné 2016:326). Though typically received as a comic song, it treats of a difficult theme: an abusive wife and the misery she brings on her husband.

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The schooner Mary Ann

Mike McGrath

The schooner Mary Ann / Mike McGrath

The schooner Mary Ann, song (Oh ye landsmen that live on the land, it's a little do you know …) Strong shipping links connected Newfoundland and New York during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This song tells the story of a smallpox outbreak on a ship travelling this route. In Songs of the Newfoundland Outports 3, Kenneth Peacock publishes the title of this song as “Bound down to Newfoundland” and observes that, though the subject matter might point to its being quite an old song, the reference to the Statue of Liberty dates its composition to after 1886 (1965:905–6).

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The schooner Annie

Caroline Brennan

The schooner Annie / Caroline Brennan

The schooner Annie, song (Young and old I pray make bold, and listen to my tale ...) Composed by Peter Leonard (1890–1964) under the title “Jim McCarthy,” this song recounts the story of a ship (the Annie) that left St John’s in 1915 with a cargo bound for Placentia Bay. The schooner was caught in a gale and, despite the best efforts of the crew, was eventually lost. The crew, however, was rescued by a passing ship, the Monarch.

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Brennan on the moor

Patsy Judge

Brennan on the moor / Patsy Judge

Brennan on the moor, song (It's of a fearless highwayman the truth to you I'll tell …) Probably of Irish origin, this broadside ballad tells the story of folk hero and highwayman Willie Brennan, who was tried and hanged in Clonmel in 1804. Some versions of this song place Brennan in the mountains near Limerick; other versions depict Brennan on the highways of North Cork and South Tipperary.  Patsy Judge’s version references the Comeragh Mountains, perhaps a nod to the ancestry of the people of the Cape Shore, whose origins were mainly in Ireland’s southeast.

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