AWR has spent many hours editing the tracks and then compiling sleeve notes to accompany the disc. They are printed here rather than as an expensive booklet (more money to St. Kents!) and there is space for more information than would normally be available. Personal profiles of many of the artists featured are available to read on the website (under the heading “Profiles!).
The Tynewydd Sessions Volume One
Late in 2015, Rhyl Folk Club started recording their Friday night sessions. At first, it was just an experiment but the idea gained some favour among the musicians and, a year later, it’s an established part of our activities, providing our blog with the “track of the week” feature.
With a year’s worth of session recording under our belts, the biggest problem was deciding which tracks to shortlist for the CD. In hindsight (and not being the one who had to make that choice), it’s a good problem to have.
Somewhat surprisingly, nobody gets hanged, transported, press-ganged or senselessly murdered on this album (the body-count is zero). There are none of the usual, quaint innuendoes and not one foll-di-roll-di-dildo (other nonsensical refrains are available). Actually, put like that, it’s not much like a Rhyl Folk Club Friday night at all.
The album is suitable for vegetarians (NB Track 12 does mention herring) and no endangered animals (whales, bunnies, foxes or all the chickens in the garden) were harmed in making it. The manufacturer is a carbon neutral company, so trees were planted in the Rift Valley to offset the carbon cost of production. BandCDs are an amazingly environmentally friendly supplier.
1 Winterlude was written by recently honoured Nobel Laureate, Bob Dylan. Its the 4th track on his 1970 album, New Morning, which pushed Led Zeppelin III of the number 1 position in the UK album Charts.
2 Hard Time Killing Floor Blues was written by Nehemiah “Skip” James. Taking it’s theme from the Great Depression, it was first recorded in 1931, sung by Skip in a falsetto voice. Skip also sang it at the Newport Folk Festival in the early 1960’s. More recently, it was covered for the sound track to the film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. Jeff declined to do the falsetto voice, citing too many traumatic memories of ‘serious’ talks with Janet.
3 Beeswing was written by Richard Thompson and appears on his 1994 studio album, Mirror Blue.
4 Hobo’s Lullaby was written by Goebel Reeves and first recorded by him in 1934. Reeves actually was a hobo from his U.S. army discharge in 1921 until 1931, when Rudy Vallee heard him sing and got him a recording contract. The story goes that Reeves expected to be paid $3.50, which he thought was fine. He was shocked to find out it was $350!
5 Airport Story was written by David Jones. Jones, a Liverpudlian, toured for a while in a band called Foggy but even Google doesn’t know any more.
6 Driving Wheel was written by Canadian songwriter David Wiffen and first recorded, in 1970, by Tom Rush for his eponymous album.
7 Who Knows Where The Time Goes? Written by Sandy Denny and recorded as a demo in 1967, the song was actually first released in 1968 by Judy Collins as the B side of the first ever recording of Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell’s classic).
Sandy recorded the song with Fairport Convention for the 1969 album Unhalfbricking. It became her signature tune and, in 2007, was voted “Favourite Folk Track Of All Time” by listeners of BBC Radio 2.
8 Northwest Passage was written by Stan Rogers and recorded in 1981 for his album of the same name. The song has become an unofficial national anthem in Canada.
Mountain Oyster Band
9 Northumbrian Tunes is an arrangement of traditional tunes transposed for Alan Collins’ recorder and accompanied by Rick Harding on guitar and Delora Harding on bodhran.
10 King Cotton was written by Mike Harding in 1980. This is what he has to say about it:
“In Newcastle and Durham it was Old King Coal who shaped the lives of the people, while in Lancashire it was King Cotton. This is not an historical song. The people with dust in their lungs and twisted bodies can still be seen walking the streets of the cotton towns and the houses are still strung along the sides of the valley, jerry-built, tumbling grey worms with smoky backs. A London visitor once complained to a Lancashire mill owner that the houses he built weren’t fit for people to live in… “Ah built t’ factory for ’em to live in”, the mill owner replied. “Ouses is nobbut fer sleepin’ in”. I wrote this song after a long walk along the Rossendale valley one rainy, smoky November afternoon.”
11 When You And I Were Young, Maggie was originally a poem written by George Washington Johnson and published in his collection, Maple Leaves, in 1864. James Austin Butterfield set it to music in 1866.
Johnson was a school teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, and ‘Maggie’ was Margaret Clark, one of his pupils. They married on October 21st,1864. Maggie died of tuberculosis the following May, aged just 23 (Johnson was 26).
Although the poem is to Maggie, it is more fanciful than biographical.
12 The Bergen was written by Jez Lowe (published by Lowe Life Records) for his 1986 album, Two A Roue. He sang this version when he visited the club, back in July. The Berger (not Bergen) was a Finnish vessel, working out of London in the 1800s. It was wrecked in the Tees Bay, while trying to sail home to Finland through a 10 day storm. Jez found the story after seeing a gravestone of one of the crew in Hartlepool with the inscription The Bonny Barque The Bergen. His song is from the point of view of a woman back in Finland, who dreams that something terrible has happened to her lover.
Alun Rhys Jones
13 Down Too Deep was written by Dougie MacLean and released on his 1989 album, Butterstone.
14 How We Love was written by Beth Nielsen Chapman and appears on her 2010 album, Back To Love.
15 Ribbon Of Darkness was written by Gordon Lightfoot (yet another Canadian) in 1965. It’s on his debut album, Lightfoot!. Marty Robbins had a No. 1 hit (Billboard country charts) with it in 1965 too.
16 Like A Sad Song was written by John Denver for his 1976 album, Spirit. He released it as a single too. It became his 8th No. 1 in 3 years in the Billboard Easy Listening chart. Mel’s version, 30 years later, is just as easy to listen to. After the running joke about John Denver songs at the club this year, it’s fitting that he’s represented on the CD.
17 Supermarket Wine was written by Mickey MacConnell. It was the 1st track on his 1st album, Peter Pan & Me. He describes the launch as one of the high spots of his life. All his musical friends got together and bought him a beautifully restored 1965 Morris Minor to mark the occasion. In 2004 Mickey said that he still drove it up to Galway races every year on a sentimental journey. Sweet.
18 The Beggar was collected by Cecil Sharp and Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould. As to it’s origins, that’s a long story. If you really want to know, ask AWR.
19 Matt Hyland is a traditional song, most probably originating in Mourne, County Down. Although the oldest extant printing is by Armstrong of Liverpool in the 1820s, it didn’t appear in print in Ireland until 1864. It is also considered a part of the American folk canon.
20 Felton Lonnen is a traditional tune, originally for Northumbrian pipes, arranged for concertina by Alistair Anderson. Historically, the tune was played either as a slow air or as a fast jig. Anderson’s arrangement includes both. Lonnen, or Lonnin is a dialect word for lane. There is an accompanying song in the same dialect. Until the mid-nineteenth century, it was often sung as a nursery rhyme.