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Sunday, 7 July 2019

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 3rd July 2019

A warm evening at "Ye Olde House at Home" saw a gathering of 30 singers enjoying a diverse selection of songs to hear and try. After launching with Thousands or More we took time to revisit a couple of songs not sung for a while, The Fields Lie Silent and All Among the Barley, with agreement to polish these for use at events later in the year. Emily then introduced a change of mood and pace with the first of the two pieces chosen for the SDFS to contribute to the “Big Sing” at the Southdowns Folk Festival in September, not a South Downs but a Sami song or “Yoik” from Finland, Ole leloila. Once we had picked it up as a group we extended the fun by singing it in multiple parts, a challenge but making a wonderful noise! After the break Dave W. brought us back to the UK with his solo rendition of The Green Man, leading many to suggest we should have a Green Man song, possibly this version, in our repertoire. Alan and Anne sang The White Cockade again which everyone enjoyed, before we moved on to the second of the "Big Sing” choices, another round or catch, Sing You Now After Me. Although not chosen from or for our usual SDFS repertoire they are great to sing and we hope they will go well at the folk festival after some more work on them before September. Following these vocal challenges we were “weary labourers” so chose to sing Rolling Home to conclude our lively evening. Looking forward to more work, and fun, at our next gathering in August!

Friday, 28 June 2019

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 18th June 2019

It is probably an advantage that Emily was running the Secret Shore project rehearsal in Worthing on the same night as our session because more than 16 round the tables gets rather too cosy.

It is good to have Cat back with us and, this month, Ruth joined us; both have confident folk-singing voices. We send our congratulations and best wishes to Adrian and Jane who got married recently and are enjoying a mini Honeymoon in Rye – well out of range of the South Downs.

Again, Tina planned a balanced evening starting with Country Life, On Sussex Hills, West Sussex Drinking Song and The Magpie then spending a little longer on three new songs interspersed with well-rehearsed favourites. We soon got the tunes to the Copper’s The Birds on the Spray and When Spring Comes In and even Our Captain Cried, All Hands with the To Be A Pilgrim twister melody and this month tackled the lower harmony to The Turtle Dove as well. Other songs were Song of The Sussex Downsman, Pleasant and Delightful, Hard Times of Old England, Rosebuds in June, The Bee Boy’s Song, A Smuggler’s Song, The Turmut Hoer finishing with Thousands Or More.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 20th June 2019

‘Twelve good men and women and true’ met in the Chichester Arms to further the maintenance of the local folk-song tradition. Only two canines were registered as present on this occasion.

Alan was officiating and managed to keep order for most of the time.

In order to ensure that we would be at our best for the following Sunday’s performance at the Weald and Downland Museum we practised a number of songs from the gig-list. We concentrated on those numbers that it was felt were sometimes our Achilles heel such as The Song of the Sussex Downsman and The Beeboy’s Song. Then we attended to others in the list and a few more that were nominated as being of either some difficulty or that could be sung in gusto or with joyous enthusiasm.

A lively linguistic discussion was continued into the use of auxiliary verbs shall and will. When to use which as a simple future or a more determined action to be? A rather practical approach was proposed as a useful ‘cop-out’ when in doubt i.e. the use of I’ll or he’ll etc.

We had another bash at Our Captain Cried All Hands and tried another song that could be used as an alternative to Rolling Home before wending our ways homeward. This was Come Stranger Come Friend. This rather lovely but partly sad song was a favourite of the well-known East Sussex folk singer and accordion player Ron Spicer, and of his father George before him.

As the new number was still awaiting a state of perfection we left, as oft times before, to the roaring of Rolling home.

Editor’s note: For those concerned about the use of shall and will I suggest using the following links:
https://www.lexico.com/en/grammar/shall-or-will
https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/shall
https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-modals_shall-will.htm
https://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/shall_will.htm

Saturday, 15 June 2019

SDFS at W&DLM Historic Life Weekend: Midsummer and Plant Lore

Update 19th June 2019: Please note we are now meeting at the earlier time of 10.30am, this is to allow singers to join the tour which starts at 11.30am if they wish to do so.
Update 18th June 2019: The set lists have been added below.
Sunday 23rd June 2019
Weald & Downland Living Museum, Singleton, PO18 0EU

Organiser's web pages:
Historic Life Weekend: Midsummer & Plant Lore
Programme for Sunday 23 June (pdf file)
Map (pdf file)

Apologies for the lateness of these details, those of you who have already contacted me are on the entry list.

We will be assembling at North Cray (by the Market Square) at 11.00am 10.30am to sing there at 11.30am 10.45am or depending on the weather by the Mill Pond. Then again after 2.00pm at that or another location.

Emily will be selecting songs from the two sets that we sang at the Stansted Garden Show.

Entry is by named list but please wear your lanyards if you have them, if you wish to wear sprays of flowers in your apparel please do, or a turnip or two!

To have your name on the list for free entry please email me at southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com as usual.

Many thanks,

John C.


Here are the two set lists:

Set 1
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn [F]
  2. The Nightingale [A]
  3. Rosebuds In June [B]
  4. West Sussex Drinking Song [F]
  5. The Magpie [B]
  6. Twanky Dillo [G]
  7. Hard Times Of Old England [F]
  8. On Sussex Hills [A]
  9. Life Of A Man [B]
  10. The Turnip Hoer [B]

Set 2
  1. Country Life [E – A]
  2. The Bee Boy's Song [G]
  3. Pleasant & Delightful [B]
  4. A Smuggler’s Song [C#]
  5. Fathom The Bowl [D#]
  6. Song Of The Sussex Downsman [D#]
  7. Jim The Carter Lad [C#]
  8. Hares On The Mountain [F#]
  9. Thousands Or More [A]
  10. Ale, Glorious Ale [E]
  11. Jolly Good Song [B]

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 5th June 2019

Forty of us gathered for this month’s session. Chris H joined us for a while and started the singing with a solo performance of a song written by a local man in celebration of his social life and his drinking at “Ye Olde House at Home”! From there we went on to revisit the Maytime songs used at Michelham Priory (Hal an Tow, the May Day Carol and It is the First of May), and thereafter to run through some of the songs in the set planned for our next event at Stansted Park on Sunday (The Bee Boy’s Song; Ladies Go Dancing At Whitsun; Song of the Sussex Downsman and Hares on the Mountain). After a break Emily shared with us suggestions received from colleagues in Lewes and Chichester for songs we could introduce or revive for more regular use and possible performance at events. From these one not yet tried by us, The White Cockade, was sung by Alan and Anne, then Dave G led on When Spring Comes, already known to some from the Lewes and Chichester sessions. Littlehampton Colliers and Brave Eleven, also already known by a few singers from the Lewes sessions or from the Secret Shore singers repertoire, were discussed, but singing time was given instead to revive Jim the Carter Lad, Lark in the Morning and Searching for Lambs being songs already known to most of us. Thanks to all for their contributions to another good evening of song.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Local Group Report – Lewes – Tuesday 21st May 2019

Eleven singers arrived at The John Harvey Tavern for another evening of old songs. There was a quiz night taking place in the large room upstairs so I hope we didn’t give away any big clues!! Tina had planned to run through any Stanstead Garden Show set list songs that the group fancied airing and also told us of the six songs that the planning group had agreed upon for the coming year. Not surprisingly, the three May songs that were added at the last minute to our most recent performances, can now be rehearsed and learned confidently for May 2020! Even if they sound Cornish rather than Sussex, they certainly have been played and sung by local Morris sides! Our very own Caburn Hill and Brighton Camp are to be included, Birds on the Spray, The Turtle Dove (from Rusper)and also Our Captain Cried All Hands which was heard, recorded and modified somewhat by Vaughan Williams to create the tune for To Be A Pilgrim! Those who already know this hymn will find it awkward at first because the original tune leaps from the first line to the third which is then repeated before finishing with the usual fourth line.

So we sang through Pleasant and Delightful, Bee Boy’s Song, Rosebuds in June, The Mayday Carol, Hares on the Mountain, Song of The Sussex Downsman, Birds on the Spray, The Turtle Dove, Magpie, It Is The First Of May, Our Captain Cried All Hands, Hal an Tow, The Nightingale, Oak, Ash and Thorn, Brisk Young Ploughboy, East Sussex Drinking Song, finishing with Thousands Or More.

Local Group Report – Chichester – Thursday 16th May 2019

A small but lively group of 11 singers gathered to lift their voices and drink their beers. A new member, Bob the Dog, attended to join Stanley and  Buster in the ever-expanding canine component of folk singers.

Alan was in the chair for the evening and started the proceedings by reintroducing the birthday round to celebrate Buster’s birthday. ‘Buster we wish you many happy returns and the best of love on your day of birth’.

Seasonal songs are often our weakest as they are sung relatively few times during the year. Thus, we spent some time practising some of our May songs in an attempt to lodge them more firmly in our long term memories. Hal and Tow, It is the First of May, The May Day Carol, Searching for Lambs. Then we moved on to some songs that we felt were falling by the wayside but we enjoyed. The Sussex Wedding Song, The Constant Lovers, Our Captain Cried all Hands, Saucy Sailor, Old Adam. Then a few favourites such as Ladies go Dancing at Whitsun  (well it soon will be).

At Chichester we like to try songs that members bring to the table; not necessarily to introduce them to the central home in Worthing, but to sing and perhaps learn them for our own pleasure and fun.

Alan and Anne brought along a rousing song that is sung by folkies widely across the UK. Many versions can be heard. This particular version was taken from a book published in 1885. ‘A Collection of Ballads as Sung by The Peasantry of England’. The White Cockade. The group spent some time learning the melody and the interaction of voices in the refrains.  

Lynn introduced us to a rather lovely May Song that we might consider for next year, Singing in the May.

The evening finished with our local signature song, Rolling Home. Then that is what we did!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Local Group Report – Worthing – Wednesday 1st May 2019

May Day was duly celebrated in song at this month’s session with seasonal songs Hal an Tow, It is the First of May and the May Day Carol – and it was agreed to add these to the set planned for our performance at Michelham Priory on 5th May. The evening also included a Maytime song from Alan and Anne, and Emily’s noble rendition of The Fine Old English Gentleman. The latter being a song brought to her and our attention by Leigh, who shared with us its history and her family connection with the May Day celebrations in Petworth. In addition to these pleasures, we returned to the Michelham set and chose the Bee Boys Song, the Brisk Young Ploughboy, the Song of the Sussex Downsman and Hares on the Mountain to enjoy and to polish for the 5th. Meeting and greeting, notices and refreshments otherwise filled another sociable evening. So same time, same place, hope to see you again at Ye Olde House at Home on 5th June.

Monday, 6 May 2019

SDFS at The Garden Show at Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle

Update 4th June 2019: There has been one small change to the first set list. The third song, which was previously Rosebuds In June, is now Dancing At Whitsun.

Update 3rd June 2019: With regard to times for singing, they will be at the same provisional times as Firle i.e. 12.30pm and 2.30pm, to be confirmed on arrival on the day with Jane who organises it, meet by St Paul's Chapel by 12.00 noon.

Update 30th May 2019: The two set lists have been added below.
Sunday 9th June 2019
The Garden Show at Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle, Hants, PO9 6DX

We have been invited to sing a couple of song sets at this increasingly popular event which this year supports the community charity CancerWise.

There will be the usual two 35-minute song sets with preamble which will be held undercover if the weather proves inclement, but it was sunny and dry last year, so fingers crossed, otherwise outside at a site/s of our choosing when Jane gives me an update on the layout due to the increased number of stalls this year.

Entry will be by pre-issued pass, so please contact me by email southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com  by the cut off date below to show your intention of volunteering on the day to sing, so that these can be distributed at the Worthing meeting on 5th June. Members of the Chichester and Lewes meetings attending on that date can collect passes for their respective Singers, or let me know their names by the cut off date below and I can mail them out to each meeting organiser respectively for collection.

Cut-off date for volunteers, so I can give Jane the number of passes we will need, is 20th May. Please also wear your lanyards on the day for easy identification.

Apparel will be dictated by the weather but greens, blues, shades of cream/light yellow as usual if you have them please.

Song sets content and timings to be posted here as they become available.

John C.


Here are the two set lists:

Set 1
  1. Oak, Ash & Thorn [E]
  2. The Nightingale [A]
  3. Dancing At Whitsun [Bb]
  4. West Sussex Drinking Song [F]
  5. The Magpie [B]
  6. Twanky Dillo [G]
  7. Hard Times Of Old England [F]
  8. On Sussex Hills [A]
  9. Life Of A Man [B]
  10. The Turnip Hoer [B]

Set 2
  1. Country Life [Eb - Ab]
  2. The Bee Boy's Song [G]
  3. Pleasant & Delightful [A]
  4. A Smuggler's Song [C#]
  5. Fathom The Bowl [D#]
  6. Song Of The Sussex Downsman [C#]
  7. Rosebuds In June [B]
  8. Hares On The Mountain [G]
  9. Thousands Or More [A]
  10. Ale, Glorious Ale [E]
  11. Jolly Good Song [C]

Friday, 3 May 2019

Three Songs for May

These three songs are added to our repertoire for singing at Michelham Priory on 5th May 2019. Use the links below to download the lyrics:
Hal an Tow
It Is The First Of May
May Day Carol

If you will be singing at Michelham Priory, please see the updates to the set lists.