Voice of the people - vol 13

They ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry - The joys and curse of drink. Running time: 75 minutes 52 seconds. The recordings are dated 1927 to 1995. Issued 1998. Edited by Reg Hall. Compilation, research and notes by Reg Hall. The recordings are mainly from the archives of Topic records but also from Columbia (John Griffin), Decca (Donald Cumming), Beltona (Willie Kemp) and from various private collections. There is a 42-page booklet (including covers) giving the words to all the songs. 14 pages are given over to biographical notes about the singers. All the songs are sung solo, apart from the instrumentals.

Essay and notes by Reg Hall.

The joys and curse of drink

The Performers


(ne Thompson) was born in Peter Street, Cork City in 1917 into a family who had been settled on and off in that city for two generations. Her maternal grandfather, Bob Thompson, an artisan union piper in his early days, was encouraged out of musical retirement at the turn of the century by the Cork Pipers' Club, and he achieved passing minor fame as the winner of the Feis Ceoil pipes competition in Dublin in 1897 and in Belfast the following year. Margaret's parents and uncles, with roots in street music, were musicians the urban working class tradition of the time and in in the 1920s her father played for the silent films and in a back-street dance hall in Cork City. Margaret first sang on the street with her father when she was fourteen, and two years later in 1933, after trouble with her stepmother, she took to the road on her own, travelling the country by bicycle, bus and eventually horse-drawn caravan. She had a tough hand-to-mouth existence, always on the look out for guards (police), singing to small appreciative crowds. at rural football matches and fairs and outside small-town shops and picture-houses. She taught herself the five-string G banjo, an instrument played in Irish music only by travellers, and she picked up her repertory of songs as she went. Sometimes she would learn an air and have someone write the words out for her, or she might take them from a newspaper. She kept up with the traditional songs that came out on records during the 1930s and she liked to please her public by singing their requests. Margaret was 'discovered' by Sean O'Boyle and recorded on location by Alan Lomax in 1951 and again the following year by Peter Kennedy for the BBC. In 1953 she was brought to London for a brief appearance in Lomax's BBC television program, Song hunter, and she stayed on, earning her living busking in the East end. By 1955 she was playing a few sessions a week and going round with a collecting bag in The Bedford Arms in Camden Town. There she established a relationship with the Sligo fiddle player, Michael Gorman, and they played regularly in many London pubs. In 1959, they were signed to an agent and, from a small hotel in Claremorris, Co. Mayo, they toured the dance halls of Ireland playing one-night stands. They were booked for similar tours in America, but by the mid 1960s they were back in London on bad times, playing occasional bookings in pubs.


was born in 1902 in the townland of Tenure, near the town of Drogheda, Co Lough, and at the time of the recording she and her husband Nicholas were working their farm at Hill o' Rath, near Drogheda. Her father, Pat Usher, had a large repository of songs which he sang constantly in the house and while working on the farm. He was considered in his community to be a fine exponent on the concertina and he played with energy and dash right up to his death in 1965 at the age of 94. He passed on much of his music, both dance tunes and songs, to his children and nephews. Mary Ann Carolan played the concertina after her father's model and she had a repertory of about sixty songs. After not having played or sung for several years, she began making music again in the mid-1960s.


There is no available biographical material on these musicians, except that they were living in either America or Canada. Judging by his style, whichever one he is, the accordeon player had not left Scotland very long before the recording was made. In the 1920s and 1930s the combination of accordeon and dulcimer was relatively common in Glasgow.


was born in 1887, one of an ironworker's seven children, at Quarry Bank, an industrial village near Brierly Hill in south Staffordshire. George attended the Board school from the age of three, and later on he worked for an hour during the school break each day pumping the bellows in a chain shop for a penny a week. At the age of thirteen he went to work for Noah Bloomer & Sons in the village. Starting in a chain-making shop at a wage of three shillings and sixpence a week, the money went up to eighteen shillings a week three years later, and then to a pound when he got married. He retired in 1959 at the age of 72, having worked for the same firm all his life and finishing his career as the superintendent of the proof house.

As a child George went round the neighbours' houses with two or three pals singing carols before Christmas and wassailing on New Year's Day collecting a few pennies. His father had a repertory of country songs, which he sang to the children at home in the evening, and there was more singing in the fields and pubs when the family spent a few weeks hop-picking in Herefordshire. George considered himself to have been a good singer, and besides learning his father's songs he kept up with the latest popular songs from halfpenny song sheets and The News Of The World. He was well-known in his locality as a singer and was in demand for parties and socials, at which he was more inclined to sing popular songs than those of his father. [Ackt: Roy Palmer, Leader LEE4042 & George Dunn interview by Roy Palmer in Oral History, vol 11 no 1 (Spring 1983) & vol. 12, no 2 (Autumn 1983)]


was born in 1914 in the south-east London borough of Woolwich and lived for some time in the Ladbrook Grove area of Paddington. After being bombed out in the Second World War, she moved to the town of Lingfield and then to the village of Copthorne in Sussex. She was married twice and her first married name was Sanders. She learned song from her and father who sang at family parties. The family went hop picking in Kent every September and she recalled those as great times for singing and story-telling. she used to attend the music and singing sessions Ken Stubbs arranged regularly in The Cherry Tree at Copthorne and in pubs elsewhere, and she has occasionally been attending similar events ever since. [Ackt: Vic Smith, Veteran Tapes VT131CD; & Jim Ward]


was born at sea in 1895, but registered as if he had been born on a farm Cadder in Lanarkshire. On the death of his mother in 1905, he moved with his father and the other children to his grandparents' home in Doocastle, and he was eventually fostered out to a small farmer and his wife in Achonry, Co Sligo. He worked on the farm, and for a while, probably around 1902 to 1914, he stayed in Scotland, working in factories and as a rivet-boy in shipyards on The Clyde. Roughly from about 1910 until the late 1930s, he did seasonal farm work in Scotland, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk, and he first ventured to London in 1918. He was curb-laying in north London around 1930, when he suffered a serious injury to his arm and as a consequence returned to Co. Sligo. He married around 1916 and left his home and family around 1939 to live permanently in London. He worked as a porter at Liverpool Street and Waterloo stations and retired from the railway in 1955.

    Michael was brought up in one of the richest musical areas of Ireland around Tubbercurry in Co. Sligo, with music in his own home and the homes of his close neighbours. the now-legendary fiddle-players, Kipeen Scanlan, the McHughs, the Henrys and Tom & Pat Cawkey, were cousins of his father; the most famous of all Irish fiddle players, Michael Coleman was probably his second cousin. From the age of about ten, Michael was taught the fiddle in formal, but unconventional, lessons by Jamesy Gannon (b c.1840) of Crimlin, Chaffpool, who had learned from a tradesman fiddler, Blind Tom Haley of Greyfort. for a number of years, while still a lad, his musical partner was a much older fiddle-player, James Gannon's son Tom, and his other significant early partnership was with the fiddle players Denis Devaney and Sarah Ann O'Connor of Chaffpool. Michael, singer, flute player, stepdancer, and fiddle player extraordinary, was a remarkable musician among remarkable musicians. Social conditions were moving on in Co. Sligo in the 1930s, and Michael adapted to them to supplement his living. He and his brother Martin ran subscription dances, he taught the country-house dance repertory; he learned to read music so he could broaden his repertory from O'Neill; he modified Jamesy Gannon's teaching method to teach countless juvenile pupils of his own, he most successful pupil being Johnny Vesey from Ballincurry; he organised one of the first ceili bands in his area, which brought country-house dancing to the parish halls; and partnering a younger man, Gerry Wimsey from Tubbercurry on the flute, he carved up all the competitions at parish feises for miles around. In London in the late 1940s, he was one of the pioneers in playing Irish music in pubs in north London for West of Ireland immigrant workers. After leaving the railway at the age of 60, he played in such pubs in the evenings to supplement his pension, and, in the late 1950s, he formed a musical and personal partnership with the singer and banjo player, Margaret Barry. Michael's reel, jig, polka and hornpipe playing can be sampled on Her Mantle So Green (Topic TSCD474) and a comprehensive study of his music is proposed for a future Topic release; here, however, he displays skill and musicianship in the difficult task of accompaniment. [Ackt: Michael Gorman; Martin Gorman; Michael Gorman (nephew); Gerry Wimsey; Tony Martin & Tommy Healy.]

MICHAEL GORMAN (nephew)(singer)

son of Martin Martin, who appears singer is this series, and nephew of Michael Gorman, the fiddle player was born in 1917 in the small village of Tubbertelly in Co. Sligo. He travelled annually with his father to Yorkshire for the hay making and, for a couple of years in the late 1930s, he stayed on full-time, only returning home when he sensed impending war. He then worked on the railway in Swinford , Co. Mayo, until his uncle Michael sent for him the late 1940s or early 1950s to work for British Rail in London. He moved into the building trade for higher wages, and eventually met and worked for a building contractor in Hammersmith, Edmond Murphy, who was a fiddle player from Aclare in Co. Sligo! In the early 1960s, he moved to Manchester where he worked asphalting for Joe Kennedy from the tiny village of Doocastle, the home of his father's family. Michael was brought up in the tradition of playing at home, in the homes of neighbours and at subscription house dances. He fell under the influence of his uncle Michael, but he claims he picked up his instruments relatively unaided. He was first and foremost a flute player of exceptional quality with a large tone and great rhythm and drive, and he considered his fiddle playing to have been a side line. With the event of country feises in the 1930s and following a 'misunderstanding' with his uncle, he partnered the fiddle player, Packie Cooke from Tubbercurry, often in competition with his uncle and Gerry Wimsey, and if one duet didn't come first the other invariably did. The 1930s was the beginning in the west of Ireland, of organised bands playing in the parish halls for the new ceili and modern dancing.


'The 5th Avenue Busman' as he was billed on his records, was from around Ballaghadereen in the west of Co. Roscommon. During the 1920s (at least) he worked as a driver for the 5th Avenue Bus Company in New York. He was recorded extensively by several record companies for the Irish-American market, and though he made some dance-music records, his forte was the comic song with song verses interspersed with choruses of lilting and flute playing. His home area was flute country and he has a characteristic breathy and pulsating style. His recording of The Real Old Mountain Dew was issued in Britain soon after it was made and it sold very well in Ireland and among the Irish in Glasgow, London and Liverpool and other large towns with Irish populations. 


was born in 1922 at Ludlow in Shropshire. His father had moved from Yorkshire in 1903 for better wages, working in various jobs, including farm-work, quarrying, barbering and horse-dealing, until he became an insurance agent after the Great War. His mother was from South Yardley, Warwickshire, and was a seamstress before marriage. Fred left school at fourteen in 1936 with no job prospects save farming, and he was taken on by a farmer at three shillings and sixpence a week, an arrangement confirmed annually for three years at a hiring fair. During the war the method of hiring changed to six-month contracts and the Ministry of Labour classified Fred in a reserved occupation. He worked at about eight different places, living-in with the farmer's family like all the single workers. He did a wide range of tasks with horses and in arable and stock farming, and in 1953 he bought a two-room cottage (one up and one down) in Aston Munslow and thereafter worked as a casual farm-worker, taking jobs as and where he chose. 


was born in 1889, the son of a hotel-keeper in the small town of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire. He served an apprenticeship as a lithographic draughtsman in Aberdeen and later taught at night school for twenty years. At some stage in his life, he worked as a master printer in Clerkenwell in London, ending his working life back in Aberdeen as the head of a cardboard-box manufacturing firm. His introduction to traditional music was as a child in the kitchen of his father's hotel where the staff socialised with farm servants. He took part in Sunday school concerts in Oldmeldrum and union smoking concerts after he moved to Aberdeen, and his career as a semi-professional entertainer, 'The Cornkister King', took off after an incident in the church cafe chantant. His broad Buchan Doric rendered The Wedding O' McGinnis To His Cross-Eyed Pet was misinterpreted as a blue song by the minister and he was pulled off the stage, much to the outrage of the audience. 


was born in 1905 into the family of a small farmer at Knockbrack on the outskirts of Milton Malbay, Co Clare. He eventually inherited the farm of about forty acres, marrying Margaret Vaughan from Letteragh, Kilmaley in 1938 and bringing up their own family there. Their household, as his parents' and grandparents' had been before him, was part of a small network of house-visiting that constituted the social life of his locality, and it was one in which singing, instrumental music and dancing were central to family and social activities. The itinerant artisan union piper Garrett Barry, who died in 1898, had been a frequent visitor to the house before Tom was born, and Junior Crehan, the fiddle player from Mullagh, was among a constant flow of visiting musicians and singers much later. Tom's father played the tin whistle and concertina, his mother sang and played the concertina and all his nine brothers and sisters played an instrument, having gone to their neighbour Hugh Curtin for instruction.


known as Curly, was born into a traveller family, the Stewarts of Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire. He is reputed to have played the chromatic button accordeon and the piano-accordion with equal skill. As a young man he earned his living in part at least, as a street musician, sometimes playing in The Castlegate, Aberdeen, on Saturday nights. He must have been one of the first generation of accordeon players in the 1920s who, benefiting from the technical advances in the construction of the instrument, were able to replicate some of the style of the pipes and the fiddle. The fact that he was one of the first may have prompted his musical partner Willie Kemp to have said that hew was the only man to have matched the technique of the famous Scottish violinist, James Scott Skinner. Curly made his first broadcast from the BBC studios in Aberdeen at the age of sixteen and he began recording Scottish pipe and dance tunes as a soloist in 1932. He formed a band in 1937 and continued working in music until 1951. after having been laid-off for eleven years through ill-health, he formed a Scottish country dance band with his son and daughter in 1962. [Ackt: Evening Express 30.05.63; uncredited, Grampian SK2009; & Press & Journal, 23.3.1972.]


was born in 1882; in or near the small town of Faringdon in Berkshire and later moved to Clanfield in Oxfordshire. For most of his working life he was a cowman. He also ran a small dance band which had bookings in the neighbouring villages. He played the drums in the band and sang in the breaks between the dances, and Francis Shergold remembers him taking his fiddle into the Catholic Club in Carterton soon after the war. His son lived in Bampton, and when Tom was an old man he sometimes played his one-man band in the street there on Whit Monday when the town was alive with visitors. John Baldwin wrote of him that he "tends to become very excited when singing, sitting in a chair and pumping the floor with his feet alternately, and similarly his knees with clenched fists."[ John Baldwin in Folk Music Journal (1969); Mike Yeats, Topic 12T285 & in Traditional Music (mid 1975), no 1; Francis Shergold & Frank Purslow.] 


was born in 1899 near Dundee, Angus, the son of a farm grieve. after elementary schooling, he went into farming as a ploughman. He was living at White House, a small farm between Bridge of Cally and Kirkmichael in Perthshire four miles from Blairgowrie, when his son was born in 1923. The family later moved to Maryfield just outside of Blairgowrie and then to Bendochy farm at Coupar Angus, Perthshire. He worked for thirty years on the estate of Lord Forteviot (owner of Dewar's Distillery), achieving the position of farm manager for the last fourteen of them.

'Our music comes from the people with dirt under their finger nails." This comment of Will's to his son could well have been the subtitle of this series. Will played a two-row 19-key International accordeon, and his style dates from the transitional period between the relatively straight playing of the Wyper brothers and that of Jimmy Shand inspired by fiddle and pipes techniques. Ian told Douglas Scott: "Dad became friendly with Jimmy Watson when we moved to Blairgowrie. Jimmy was a grand old fiddler and the two men played the old traditional music for their pleasure. sometimes things cropped up where music was needed. Barn dances and harvest homes gave the two of them a chance to play in public." The area around Kirriemuir, Angus, was rich in fiddle players, Jim, Will, Geordie and Stewart Cameron, Adam Rennie, Angus Fitchet and many more, who among their other activities, took part in local competitive music festivals. Ian still marvels at the impression such fiddle talent made on him as a child at these events. At one such competition in Alyth, Perthshire in 1933, Will entered the accordeon section, coming third to Davie Raitt, a Dundee footballer, with second prize awarded to Jimmy Shand (later to become an international star of Scottish dance music). "To begin with my father and I played together with my sister Mary at the piano and my younger brother Bill on the other accordeon. We did dances with what folk came to know as William Powrie's Band." Ian had started fiddle lessons as a child with Adam Rennie at Coupar Angus, his father taking him into town on the cross-bar of his bike and the fiddle strapped to his back, and he later learned violin technique from James Ogilvie in Blairgowrie. Highly successful in competition, Ian won the first prize on the fiddle for reel and strathspey at the Perth Music Festival in 1933 at the age of ten, and repeated his success at both the Perth and Blackwater Music Festivals in 1934 & 1935. following the post-war explosion of interest in Scottish country dancing, Ian combined farming with work as a professional musician and went fully professional in the late 1950s, continuing to fulfill engagements at concerts and dances and on radio, television and records. [Ackt: Ian Powrie, Alan Dunsmore in The People's Journal, 14.2.53; Douglas M. Scott in Scots Magazine (September 1992) vol 137 no. 6. Tony Englr & Tony Russell, Topic 12T321 & The Ian Powrie Story, video, Lochshore VCLOC921.]


changed her name a number of times: in childhood she was Regina Christina Stewart, in adolescence Christina Jane Robertson, upon marriage Jeannie Higgins, and in the 1950s Jeannie Robertson. She was born in 1908 in the city of Aberdeen. Both sides of her family were travellers, who earned their living in the north-east of Scotland. Her father Donald Robertson (sometimes known as Stewart) served as a regular soldier in India and south Africa and nine months after Jeannie was born he died following an accident. Her mother Maria (ne Stewart), who later married James Higgins, was a hawker, selling wares from a heavy pack door to door in the city and surrounding countryside, and each spring the family as a whole travelled an established hawking route along the bands of the Rivers Dee and Don. At the outbreak of war in 1914, Jeannie's step-father was called up as an army reservist, and her mother opened a second-hand and general shop in the Gallowgate. After leaving school at fourteen, Jeannie had a number of jobs before running off to marry Donald Higgins, when they were both nineteen. They staying in Aberdeen except for periods in the summer months when they camped in the Banchory area and during the War when they lived away from the city in a horse-drawn caravan.

Jeannie learned about a half of her vast repertory of songs from her mother, who was regarded within her own community as a great singer, and many songs came from her traveller kin who sang as part of family life around the camp-fire at night. Thus, her three brothers and her daughter Lizzie Higgins became singers, while her husband and his younger brother Isaac were both pipers. Jeannie's family first crossed the Grampians for the berry-picking season in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, in 1913, and that was her first encounter with different singing styles and repertories. As a consequence of the dual association with this and her home area, she had material from two rich sources, the bothy and traveller repertories. 


was born in 1915 at Doonagore in Doolin, a small fishing village on the north west coast of Co. Clare at a time and place when Irish was spoken as the primary language. The son of a small farmer, he worked all his life on the farm with a side-line as a carter. He was brought up in music-making and dancing associated with the social custom of evening house-visiting. It is reputed that in his early days every house in Doonagore had a cheap concertina, and his mother, his aunt and his neighbour Patrick Flanagan were noted players on that instrument, while his father was a singer in Irish and English and an uncle was a stepdancer. Primarily a tin-whistle and flute player from childhood, Micho and his brothers Pakie (concertina) and Gussie (flute) played for house-dancing, and late in life their non-mainstream approach to Irish dance music proved attractive to aficionados and fans outside their own community. Micho was recorded for Radio irann by Seamus Ennis in the late 1940s and later by Ciaran MacMathna, anmd in the early 1960s he was introduced to the traditional-music scene in Dublin by Tony McMahon and taken up by Comhaltas Ceoltir irann, the Irish national organisation promoting traditional music. From 1969 onward, he made several concert tours of Britain, the continent and the USA, supporting professional performers including the Johnstons, Tom Lyons, Clannad & The Fureys, and the Russell family simultaneously attracted a cult following of mainly foreign back-packers  to see them in their home environment. Micho learned When Mursheen Went to Bannun from Seamus MacMathna who learned it from its composer Johnny Toomey from Glenlea, co. cork, and in the process changed the feminine Marysheen to the masculine Mursheen. [Ackt: Muiris O Rochain, Topic 12TS251; Gearoid O hAllmhurain, Free Reed FRR004; & Bill Ochs, Pennywhistler's Press PWCD80001.] 


the son of a one-time game-keeper and shepherd, was born one of seven children at Andrew's Knowes, Canonbie, Dumfriesshire in 1897, on the Scottish side of the border with England. The family moved into Cumberland around the turn of the century and back to Scotland three years later. Willie left school at eleven and went to work on a farm at Stobbs near Hawick on a twelve-hour day from six in the morning until six in the evening (or later if there was enough light) for seven shillings a week plus his keep. At the age of nineteen, he married Frances Thompson, the daughter of a Canonbie ploughman, and from that time until his retirement in 1968, he worked in a number of locations on the Scottish side of the border as a shepherd, supplementing his living when times were rough by general farmwork. In 1953 he moved to Fifeshire. He was brought up with singing and dance music in his family and as a child he heard singing at sheep shearings, fairs and sales, when the fiddle was played at night for dancing. His father was a singer but Willie sang mostly his mother's songs, and all his siblings were singers and/or musicians, his elder brother Tom playing the fiddle, accordeon, mouth-organ and Jew's harp, and Willie was self-taught on the fiddle as a youngster with a repertory of dance tunes. He frequently sang within his own communities (bearing in mind that he moved around from time to time following work opportunities) at shepherds' suppers and similar events. His wife was also regarded as a good singer and accordeon player and together they appeared in local amateur dramatics. In 1953 he was 'discovered' by Francis Collinson was first recorded him and he was subsequently recorded by Hamish Henderson. In 1961, Willie began to receive invitations in folk-clubs and festivals, which gave him a new lease of life as a singer. [Ackt: Hamish Henderson in Alison McMorland, Herd Laddie O The Glen (Tryst, 1988)]


was born in 1925 on Filton Common, near Bristol. He and his family were always on the road until fairly recently. He has had ten children and claims to have over a hundred grandchildren. He is now settled on a caravan site in the village of Elmstone Hardwicke in Gloucestershire just outside Cheltenham on the way to Tewksbury. He has done all sorts of seasonal work, such as hop-picking, pea-picking and selling pegs, and he knows a lot about horses and making wagon wheels. He served in the Army in Europe during the War and he still makes a few pound ferreting rabbits and collecting wild mushrooms. He learned songs from his father, grandfather and other members of his family. As a kid, he sang The High-Low Well in a pub in Ducklington, Oxfordshire, at Christmas-time and went round with the hat. He collected one and ninepence - his father had the shilling for beer and he had the ninepence! [Ackt: Gwilym Davies; & Paul Burgess.]


was born in 1906, the son of a farm labourer, at Little Chart near Ashford, Kent. He left school in Kennington at fourteen and worked on local farms, becoming a under-herdsman after a couple of years. He soon took on jobs as a herdsman in the area between Dover and Deal on the east coast of Kent, and moved on to Biggin Hill midway between Sevenoaks and Croydon just before the War. In 1940, he took a job as a cowman at Selsfield in the parish of West Hoathly in the Sussex Weald, and after retirement he continued working as a part-time game keeper. His parents and grandparents were singers and, although he learned some songs from them, he learned most from his father-in-law, Arthur Appleton of Dover. Coming Home Late and The Barley Mow were two of his father's. Mervyn Plunkett, living at the time in West Hoathly, met George in 1955 and arranged for Peter Kennedy to record him for the BBC in The Cherry Tree, Copthorne, the following year. The recordings were featured in one edition of the radio programme, As I Roved Out, together with those of Pop Maynard. George started getting around to music nights in villages near his home, first organised by Mervyn Plunkett and then by Ken Stubbs. Since his youth he had been in his element singing in a pub, and in informal public bar audiences, it is reputed, never failed to warm to his extrovert way of putting a song over. [Ackt: Mike Yeats, Topic 12T235; & George Frampton in Byegone Kent (January 1995) vol.16, no 1.]


was born around 1901 into a family of travellers in the North-East of Scotland. His paternal grandfather had been a hawker and tinsmith and his father Robert Stewart carried on the same living with some horse-trading, dealing in rags and scrap metal and sometimes signing on for the herring fishing out of Peterhead and Fraserburgh. From the age of four until he was nine, Davie attended school in Aberdeen during the autumn and winter months, spending the spring and summer on the road with his parents.


Paddy Tunney's parents were from adjoining farms that straddled the Donegal-Fermanagh border, one farm in the the Irish Free State and the other in Northern Ireland. born in Glasgow in 1921, he was shortly afterwards taken home to his father's family farmstead. He attended technical school on Ballushannon, co. Donegal and went to work as a forester for the Ministry of Agriculture.


in Drayton, a village in Somerset ten miles east of Taunton, are among the few surviving groups who perform what is claimed to be a custom of some antiquity. Cecil Sharp, the folk-song collector, noted twelve versions of the song in Somerset, which points to the custom having been widespread. Sharp witnessed the Drayton team on the evening of January 5th, 1909 in a ceremony that took only a few minutes. Twelve to fifteen singers (presumably men) assembled in a semi-circle with 'The leader advanced a step or two and greeted the family and the household'.

track 1
John Barleycorn

Recorded by Bill Leader & Mike Yeats in a private room in The Bay Malton Hotel, Oldfield Brow, Altringham, Cheshire, 1966; Topic 12T150

track 2
Two Hundred Years A-Brewing

Live broadcast from WFMT radio station, Chicago, Illinois, 9 October 1961

track 3
The Merchant's Son

Recorded by Hamish Henderson in the home of James Ross, Edinburgh, probably 1955, but possibly 1962; Topic 12T293

track 4
My old hat that I got on

Recorded by Mike Yeats in the singer's home. Clanfield, Oxfordshire, 5 August 1972; as All For The Grog on Topic 12TS254

track 5
The Real Old Mountain Dew

Recording studio, New York, 3 February 1927; matrix W143392-2; Columbia 33145F.

track 6
Coming Home Late [Child 114]

Recorded by Mike Yeats in the singer's home, Selsfield, West Hoathly, Sussex, 19 August 1972; Topic 12T235

track 7
Piper O'Neill

Recorded by Bill Leader in his own home, Camden Town, London, 3 November  1967; Topic 12T183

track 8
Bold Doherty

Recorded by Roly Brown in the singer's home, Hill O'Rath, near Drogheda, Co Louth, 1978; Topic 12TS362

track 9
The Bottom of the Punchbowl/ The Teatotaller - Reels

Recording studio, Boston Massachusetts, December 1934; matrix 39051A; as The Punch Bowl/ Triumph on Decca F5473

track 10
When I was a Young Man

Recorded by Gwilym Davies & Paul Burgess in the singer's caravan at Elmore Hardwick, Gloucestershire, 11 August 1995.

track 11
I'm Often Drunk and Seldom Sober

Recorded by Hamish Henderson in Dundee or Edinburgh, 1955; Topic 12T293

track 12
When Mursheen went to Bunnan

Recorded by John Tams and Neil Wayne in O'Connor's bar, Doolin, Co Clare, January 1974; Topic 12TS251

track 13
When Jones's Ale Was New

Recorded by Tony Foxworthy in the singer's home, Aston Munslow, Shropshire, 1974; Topic 12TS233.

track 14
The Bonnie Wee Lassie Who Never Said No

Recorded by Hamish Henderson in the singer's home, Aberdeen 1953; Topic 12T96

track 15
WILLIE KEMP, voice, CURLY MacKAY, piano-accordion
The Tinkers' Wedding

Recording studio, Edinburgh c 1938; matrix M727; Beltona 2324

track 16
The Cow That Drank the Poteen

Recorded by Bill Leader in his own home, Camden Town, London, 1965; Topic 12T165

track 17
Young Maria [Laws P30]

Recorded Mike Yeats in the singer's home, Lingfield, Surrey, probably 1975 (possibly 1974); Topic 12TS285

Last updated on 25/01/2008