Phil's Folk Singing Page

I think I first discovered that I was interested in folk music when I started looking around for new songs to sing when we went to the pub after a Sealed Knot battle. Of course I had been interested in folk music before then, I just didn't realise it. Like everyone else, of course, we sang folk songs at school, although the only one in particular that I can remember (apart from Nursery Rhymes) is 'The Lincolnshire Poacher'.

I also remember singing songs with my Dad (and my sister) when going on long car journeys, either on holiday, or to visit family in Gloucester. I don't know why we never sang at other times, but I guess I grew up thinking that these sort of songs were for when you were in the car. I still sing in the car, but usually when I am on my own, on the way to/from work. The songs I remember singing with my Dad (and I still remember all the words) were:

I also remember my Dad singing 'My old Man's A Dustman', and a version of 'The Twelve Days Of Christmas' which had the hero deliving items such as washing machines, instead of the usual turtle-doves, french-hens etc...

Anyway, back to The Sealed Knot. I joined in 1991 and on a muster weekend we would generally all go to one of the local pubs and have a bloody good, boisterous, sing-song. There were a couple of songs related to The Civil War, but mostly they were general folk songs. Here are a few that I remember that we used to sing a lot (and I still know all the words):

There were a couple of others, which I can't remember all the words to such as

I loved singing these songs, especially when we had a big group of us, and most of us knew the words. Other people had their own songs too, especially Mark Kent who knew loads of stuff. I decided to try to find some new songs to sing, and this is how I discovered Folk Music.

The first folk club, I ever went to was The Old Pack Horse in Loughborough. I can't remember how I found out about it, probably through the library. I went along with Mark Kent, and if I recall correctly I sang 'I'll Be Hanged' (which I learned from a Rolf Harris record) and something else (can't remember, sorry). I think Mark sang 'The Keeper'. I remember being very nervous, but quite pleased with myself. Singing in a folk club, especially one like The Pack Horse, where everyone keeps quiet while you perform, is very different from a drunken Sealed Knot Sing-song where you are with all your mates.

I soon became a regular at The Pack Horse, and I also started going to other folk clubs. In particular King William IV in Thurcaston on a Sunday night. The atmosphere here was very different to The Pack Horse being more of a session where everyone joins in, although it would still (usually) go quiet if I sang a ballad. One of the first ballads I learned to sing was 'The Unquiet Grave' which I learned off a Dubliners record.

It was also around this time that I started learning the tin whistle and then later the concertina. It was at The King Bill where I met people like Edward Reeve, Rose Gorringe, Bill Morrison & John MacDonald, and lots of other local characters. Bill Morrison also ran a folk club at The Forest Rock in Woodhouse Eaves, on a Tuesday night, and I soon became a regular here too. After Bill emigrated to New Zealand, Dave Gooder and I took over running the club. We kept it going for a year or so, but unfortunately we weren't getting enough people coming along, and reluctantly after a couple of weeks where no-one showed up we packed it in.

Back to The Sealed Knot, around this time I met John Bradburn who also played tin whistle, and various other instruments. We started getting together for regular music practices on a Thursday night in Castle Donington. Also around about this time, I discovered that a friend of mine from work, Martin Wildig, used to play violin when he was at school. Eventually I persuaded him to get it out, and come along to the practice sessions with John on Thursdays. Martin was a much better musician than me, and picked up the tunes that we were struggling with really quickly. I also dragged Martin along to The King Bill a few times where he met Edward and Rose and was drafted in to play for Anstey Royale Chalfont, a Ladies Morris dancing team which Rose danced for and Edward played Melodeon. Edward also roped Martin and I in to join his band called The Acme Dance Company.

Anyway back to the singing. I still attend a number of local folk clubs, but not as often or regularly as I used to.

To be continued...

Here is a list of some of the songs I sing, in no particular order.

If you hear me singing something else, let me know and I'll updated the list.

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