The latest of our attempts to find a tune that’s appropriately wintry but not so Christmassy that it’ll sound distinctly odd in May, here’s ‘Drive the Cold Winter Away’. An Elizabethan Carol and, under the name ‘When Phoebus Did Rest’ the tune for a Playford dance and now the Ewell Sessions Tune of the Month for December 2019. Wassail!
Oscar Woods was an East Anglian melodeon player from Benhall Green, near Saxmundham, Suffolk. He was inspired to play melodeon after hearing an old farm worker ‘Tiger’ Smith playing. The two later became playing partners, where Oscar also learned from other players, notably the Seaman family of Darsham.
A tune from the Hook/Hardy manuscript of Dorset tunes – this tune is taken from a manuscript of tunes given to the grandfather of Dorset novelist Thomas Hardy by one James Hook, the manuscript is believed to have originated from Hook’s father – either way there’s certainly some history to this one. This tune goes well with Wheaty session favourite ‘Paddy Carey’s Jig’ and was popularised by Andy Cutting and Chris Wood – which gives me an excuse to share this gem from the archives.
Maybe we can try both tunes out together in the Wheaty later in the month?
A tune I learnt a long time ago but forgot about until recently – this tune came to me via the playing and teaching of Ed Rennie waaaaaaaay back when I first picked up the squeezebox. Ed and I will be teaching absolute beginners melodeon at Towersey which is what brought it back to mind – anyway, ’tis a jolly little tune which seems to fit in well with the Green Man Sessions repertoire.
Let’s get this session season off with a bang, folks.
I will record and upload a melodeon version over the next few days, but in the meantime here it is a Regency dance tune.
Published in Playford’s Dancing Master, and commonly used for a dance of the same name this tune was requested by some of our session regulars after it was used as the tune for a solo jig by a certain local morris side.
A tune found in the Welch manuscript (Sussex, 1800) and in William Litten’s copybook manuscript (1800-1802). Although this is something of a session favourite favourite throughout the land it was just ‘one of those tunes’ until the new album from Matt Quinn and Owen Woods landed on the doormat. Their version of the tune is simply stunning – so good in fact that the tune jumped right to the top of the list.
To hear what Matt and Owen do with the tune check out their music on Bandcamp – a real treat for the ears.
Bacca Pipes – also sometimes known as ‘Greensleeves’. A lively jig used for the English jig of the same dance in which clay pipes are laid on the ground for the dancers to dance around and over. A deceptively simple tune, the key to this is the zip and drive you put into it.
To give you an idea of how this is danced, and there are many variants in existence, here’s the Outside Capering Crew dancing at Hastings Jack in the Green Festival, and an Australian take on the tradition from Hedgemonkey Morris.
This month we will be playing ‘Will’s Way’ to add to our steady-speed repertoire. This is a modern English tune written by Will Ward, sometime member of the Oysterband and Fiddler’s Dram. Fidder’s Dram enjoyed something of a smash hit in the ’70s with their record ‘Day Trip to Bangor’ – enjoy the earworm folks.
I’ve had a special request to include my chords with this one for a fellow melodeon player – here they are but, as ever, these chords are merely a serving suggestion. Enjoy learning this one and we’ll see you at the Green Man and play it through together.
Valentine – certainly a Cotswold morris tune but not as is often believed from Fieldtown (Leafield). The tune was actually collected from nearby Ascott-Under-Wychwood. The Ascott-Under-Wychwood morris tradition did not survive the First World War and today the tune is almost universally used for the Fieldtown dance although other variants exist.
Here’s an example – White Rose Morris dance The Valentine.
And and extra bonus – the tune turned into a song from the wonderful Jim Moray’s ‘Low Culture’ album.
December’s tune of the month – as a result of our poll on Facebook we have come up with this one – you guys voted to learn a tune that’s Christmassy but that we can also play at other times of the year – in other words a tune with more mileage that just December.
Personent Hodie – a medieval carol, still used today in both religious and secular settings. Most of you will probably have heard the tune – now it’s time to play it.