FTX-408 - DORSET IS BEAUTIFUL
Village Traditions - Dorset
12 folksongs, Country Dances, Reels and a Christmas Mummers Play recorded at
Evershot, near Dorchester, in 1936. Includes singers: Andrew Curtis of Corfe,
Charlie Wills, of Bridport, Frank Hillier, of Okeford Fitzpaine, and a local
gypsy family, John and Carolyne Hughes. Bob Gale's song "Dorset is beautiful" and The Haymakers Band provide further variety. 15 years before the appearance
of the BODHRAN drum in Ireland, Dorset and Wiltshire had similar stick-and-drum
players like Alfie Tuck from Bridport who accompanies melodeon player, Bert
1. THE GREENWOOD TREE (Waltz) - The Drovers Band, Bridport - 1'11"
2. LAWYER LEE - Andrew Curtis, Corfe - 2'11"
3. Talk - village dances and playing the riddle-drum with a stick - 4'02"
4. FOUR HAND REEL - Bert Pidgeon (mel) & Alfie Tuck (stick & drum)
5. COLD WINTER'S NIGHT/ OLD FOLKS AT HOME (talk bef) - Carolyne Hughes/ BARBARY
ALLEN John Hughes - 7'14"
6. DORSET IS BEAUTIFUL (Bob Gale) - Derek Lawman with Chris Rooney (guitar)
7. THE BANKS OF THE SWEET DUNDEE - Charlie Wills, Bridport - 3'48"
8. MISTER DONE - Frank Hillier, Okeford Fitzpaine - 2'09"
9. SWEET ELLEN THE FAIR - Andrew Curtis - 1'57"
10. SPEED THE PLOUGH/ THE GOLDEN FARMER - The Haymakers Band - 2'30"
11. THE SINGING OF THE TRAVELS (Symondsbury Mummers Song) - Haymakers Band
12. EVERSHOT MUMMERS PLAY rec 1936: Act 1 - 13'32" & Act II - 3'01"
13. UP SIDES AND DOWN THE MIDDLE - Bert Pidgeon (mel) & Alfie Tuck (drum)
Recorded & edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax cassettes
#1. Peter Kennedy began his West Country recording sorties in Thomas Hardy
country around Dorchester. The first "Village Barn Dance" radio programme came
from Puncknowle (then pronounced "Punnel"), when dancers from Portisham (pron.
"Possum") showed their local Ring Dance.
#2 & #9. ANDREW CURTIS, aged 81 when recorded at his house in Townsend
Road, Corfe, was born at Puddle Mill, on the Isle of Purbeck. His father from
Swanage was a carter and Andrew started doing delivery work for the Post Office
at the age of 8. After that he did "every job on a farm", and then ran his own
threshing tackle, taking it round the farms. When he retired he made toys in
his tool shed.
#4 & #13. Like many others Peter encountered in both Dorset and Wiltshire,
Andrew had his own "Riddle Drum", a calfskin over a large farm sieve, which
was used to accompany local melodeon players. It was beaten with a double-ended
stick, then, particularly during step-dancing, it was vibrated by wetting the
thumb and running it across the head of the drum. (15 years later the same type
of drum started to be used by Irish players, and now, as "The Bodhran" it is
mistakenly regarded as a uniquely Irish folk instrument!).
#5. A complete tape of Carolyne Hughes' gypsy family can be heard on FTX-097.
While Peter was recording them in a field near Blandford, a rather drunken and
excited farmer was trying to move them off the land with his tractors. Carolyne
paid no attention and went on singing.
#6. Bob Gale used the tune of THE NIGHTINGALE SONG recorded by Peter Kennedy
from the Cantwell family for his composition, DORSET IS BEAUTIFUL (Copyright:
#8. More songs from FRANK HILLIER are on FTX-029.
#11. The final song of the Mummers at Evershot, as at Symondsbury, is a version
of THE SERVINGMAN AND THE HUSBANDMAN. The Symondsbury Play is given in full
on FTX-103. The performance of the play was usually followed by THE FOUR HAND
REEL and the local Country Dance, UP SIDES AND DOWN THE MIDDLE, often danced
to the sung chorus of a ballad: "The Pricketty Bush, the Pricketty Bush.
that pricks my heart so sore, if I get out the Pricketty Bush, I'll never get
in any more".