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Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project

GUEST, Paul Slade 30 Mar 14 - 11:58 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 28 Mar 14 - 05:10 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 06 Aug 13 - 09:17 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 14 Jul 13 - 09:37 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 03 Jun 13 - 01:05 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 29 Apr 13 - 12:21 PM
Tattie Bogle 30 Jan 13 - 08:15 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 30 Jan 13 - 09:15 AM
Tattie Bogle 29 Jan 13 - 02:05 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 28 Jan 13 - 02:19 PM
Tattie Bogle 28 Jan 13 - 05:26 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 28 Jan 13 - 05:11 AM
Tattie Bogle 28 Jan 13 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 27 Jan 13 - 12:38 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 25 Jan 13 - 11:46 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jan 13 - 11:37 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 06 Jan 13 - 07:24 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 05 Jan 13 - 05:15 PM
DrugCrazed 05 Jan 13 - 03:58 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 05 Jan 13 - 10:01 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 29 Dec 12 - 05:46 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 24 Dec 12 - 11:28 AM
GUEST 24 Dec 12 - 06:15 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 11 Dec 12 - 05:15 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 08 Dec 12 - 08:53 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 25 Oct 12 - 01:26 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 25 Oct 12 - 08:34 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 15 Oct 12 - 04:48 PM
Lonesome EJ 12 Oct 12 - 03:00 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 11 Oct 12 - 05:57 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 04 Oct 12 - 05:49 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 01 Oct 12 - 05:28 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 29 Sep 12 - 04:39 AM
Kim C 28 Sep 12 - 03:45 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 26 Sep 12 - 06:21 PM
Kim C 26 Sep 12 - 03:59 PM
GUEST, Paul Slade 26 Sep 12 - 05:07 AM
Richard from Liverpool 16 Sep 12 - 07:32 AM
GUEST, Paul Slade 16 Sep 12 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 15 Sep 12 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 15 Sep 12 - 05:47 AM
Surreysinger 28 Jun 12 - 07:38 AM
Mary Humphreys 27 Jun 12 - 08:07 AM
Artful Codger 27 Jun 12 - 01:49 AM
Artful Codger 26 Jun 12 - 07:37 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 25 Jun 12 - 03:24 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 12 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 25 Jun 12 - 09:29 AM
Surreysinger 25 Jun 12 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Paul Slade 24 Jun 12 - 12:40 PM
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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 30 Mar 14 - 11:58 AM

I should have mentioned earlier that you can find the trues stories which inspired C#Merle's two songs over on PlanetSlade itself. Links below.

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs

Streams of Crimson Blood


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 28 Mar 14 - 05:10 AM

More fresh audio

Streams of Crimson Blood, by C#Merle
SoundCloud track
Plot: Burglar breaks into rich old couple's house and kills them both.

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by C#Merle
SoundCloud track
Plot: Drunken bully cuts his wife's throat in a fit of jealous rage. Bungles his own suicide attempt, and lives long enough to be hanged at Newgate.

C#Merle on his approach to tackling the two tracks:
"Streams of Crimson Blood was recorded using my homemade three-string bass, four-string licence plate guitar and a reggae drum track. The toast in the middle was added by my friend Cris Portillo. My vocal was a one-take effort but it seemed to work OK. Nathaniel Mobbs was recorded entirely on the four-string 'lowebo' guitar I built back in 2010, featuring a cone made by Mike Lowe of Texas, and it's tuned G-d-gg. I started by making a loop for the backing then improvising a couple of slide tracks to compliment the lyrics. Both tracks were relatively quickly put together - the reggae one only took about an hour."

You can find C#Merle, demonstrating his instrument-making skills and playing some more tunes on both YouTube and (in another alias) on SoundCloud .


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 06 Aug 13 - 09:17 AM

The new Jetsonics EP is out today, and I'm delighted to say it contains the first of our Gallows Ballads Project tracks to get a commercial release. Please head over to iTunes and look for Cruel Lizzie Vickers if you'd care to invest 79p (or 99c) in buying it.

We already have the band's live demo of the song, of course, but the studio production gives this new version a lot of extra punch. Think The Jam circa 1980, and you won't be too far out. The record's called EP Four, and a CD release is promised soon.

The band's written its own lyrics telling this true story of a Brixton housekeeper who beat her elderly employer to death in 1853. It was inspired by a genuine ballad sheet from that year which they found on PlanetSlade. Forgive my gushing about it, but its release marks another little milestone for the project and I genuinely think the song's a corker.

Jetsonics' website   
Lizzie's true story.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 14 Jul 13 - 09:37 AM

New video:

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County.
YouTube footage.
True story.

It's the full band in action this time, not just the core trio we saw earlier. They're playing the song live on stage at The Captain Lawrence Brewery in Elmsford, NY, on July 11, 2013.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 01:05 PM

More fresh audio.

Murder at Westmill, by Patrick Rose.
YouTube video.
True story.

Plot: Nine-year-old boy brutally murders his infant sister. Mother driven mad by the crime.

Patrick recorded this version of the 1848 ballad as his entry for Islington Folk Club's Trad2Mad2013 competition.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 29 Apr 13 - 12:21 PM

More fresh audio:

The Ballad of Mary Arnold, by The Blues Professors.
Soundcloud audio.
True(ish) Story.
Video.

Doc Bowling again, this time with a very different take on Mary's tale. He's playing here with a slimmed-down version of his regular band The Blues Professors, comprising Doc himself on guitar and vocals, Sophie Loyer on violin and Roger Chapman on cajon.

The tune he's chosen is borrowed from St James Infirmary Blues, and I recorded the performance at a dark and noisy pub gig near King's Cross on April 25, 2013. You can learn more about the band on Facebook.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 08:15 PM

Pardoned sir: not a hanging offence!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 09:15 AM

My mistake. Beg your pardon, m'am.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:05 PM

Thanks Paul (from MRS Bogle). Yes that was the same broadside that I found in Linlithgow Burgh Halls. As it was in a glass cabinet, I copied all the words down by hand!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 02:19 PM

Cheers, Al - though all I really did was nag people. It's thanks to you and all the other contributors that it turned out as well as it did.

I'm always game for another version of Nathaniel Mobbs, Mr Bogle, so if you should feel moved to tackle the song that'd be great. I've just found a broadside with the Peter McLean ballad you mention here. So I guess it was originally written and sold in much the same circumstances as our other ballads.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 05:26 AM

GIBBET! A pox on the all too helpful predictive text in iPad!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 05:11 AM

Well done Paul. Congratulations on seeing this through.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Jan 13 - 05:06 AM

I missed this thread until the last few days. Looks very interesting. Although it has already been done well by South County (very atmospheric melodica and slide guitar!) I'd be interested in having a go at Nathaniel Mobbs, as I spent nearly 7 yrs in Whitechapel in my long-gone student days. I looked up the location and Goodman's Yard is very close to the Tower of London.

It also reminded me of a poem I found on display in Linlithgow Burgh Halls - The Lament of Peter McLean, now lying under sentence if Death. Like Nathaniel Mobbs, it's written in the first person, and also includes advice to shun drink and other "evil passions". Peter McLean was the last man to be hanged publicly in West Lothian on 2.2.1857. The gibber had to be brought from Edinburgh and the executioner from London. Had been meaning to set this to music too.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Jan 13 - 12:38 AM

Didn't realise I'd played it that many times...!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 25 Jan 13 - 11:46 AM

Thanks, Joe - glad you're enjoying it.

I've just updated the PlanetSlade pages for this project too, which offer individual links to all the tracks here.

Now that we've got at least one recording of all 16 ballads I started researching back in 2010, I'm going to stop actively chasing new contributors. Anyone who still wants to take part is very welcome, though, as second, third, or even fourth versions of a particular ballad can often shed fascinating new light on the song.

The more musical genres we can pull into this, the happier I shall be. We've already got a couple of promising new contributions in the works. If the response in 2013 justifies it, I'll put together a Volume II compilation for Soundcloud again in January next year. In the meantime, let me repeat my thanks to everyone who's taken part already.

Here's the Top Ten* tracks by number of Soundcloud album plays so far, together with a note of where I found that particular contributor:

1) The Old Baby Farmer, by Tim Radford: 140 plays (Mudcat)
2) Death of William Palmer, by Big Al Whittle: 101 plays (Mudcat)
3) Cruel Lizzie Vickers, by The Jetsonics: 87 plays (Mojo)
4) Jealous Annie, by Pete Morton: 83 plays (e-mail)
5) The Murdered Maid, by Kim Caudell: 73 plays (Mudcat)
6) The Sister & the Serpent, by Mary Humphreys: 68 plays (Mudcat)
7) The Monster, by Doc Bowling & Sons: 49 plays (e-mail)
8) The Silent Grove, by Sedayne: 45 plays (Mudcat)
9) The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County: 42 plays (No Depression)
10=) Gallows Child, by The Hammond School: 41 plays (PlanetSlade)
10=) The Liverpool Lodger, by Gerry Jones: 41 plays (Mudcat)

* Strictly speaking, it's a Top Eleven, as we've got that tie in tenth place.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jan 13 - 11:37 PM

I got an e-mail from Paul Slade today today, with a link to the Soundcloud recording of the Gallows Ballads Project.

It's good music, with lots of Mudcatters performing. Here's a link:

https://soundcloud.com/planetslade/sets/the-gallows-ballads-project


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 06 Jan 13 - 07:24 PM

New video. South County playing The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs - "Live at The Basement, Dec 2012". YouTube link.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 05:15 PM

Please do. The Jetsonics have written a splendid song of their own telling Cruel Lizzie Vickers' story, but no-one's used the original 1853 ballad's lyrics yet.

That's only one possibility, though - feel free to tackle whichever song you prefer. There's always plenty of scope for second, third or even fourth interpretations of a single ballad, in as many different musical genres as we can manage.

You'll find a link to the whole "album" to date in this 87-minute Soundcloud set.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 03:58 PM

I might have a crack at one of those not taken. Gore stories are the best ;-)

whoelse@patrickrosemusic.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 10:01 AM

More fresh audio.

The Monster, by Doc Bowling & Sons
Soundcloud audio.
True (?) story.

Doc Bowling is normally to be found fronting London band The Blues Professors, but here he's working with his sons Samson and Johannes to give Mary Arnold The Female Monster a soulful, jazzy work-out.

The trio took the original 1843 ballad sheet's lyrics as their starting point, adding their own music on keyboards and sax. Doc sings/speaks the horrific tale over this seductive backing, throwing in a scat section for good measure. It's one of the most imaginative treatments we've had for a GBP track yet, but there's no doubt it works.

For more information on Doc Bowling & The Blues Professors, please visit the band's Facebook page.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 29 Dec 12 - 05:46 AM

More fresh audio.

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County (full-band version)
Soundcloud audio.
Background essay.

This is the full-band treatment promised when I posted George's solo rendition on December 8 (above). The electric guitar, melodica and added female vocals bring a whole new level of mournful atmosphere to the song, I think. I've taken the earlier version off Soundcloud now to avoid confusion.

For information on South County, and a chance to hear more of their music, please visit the band's website.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 24 Dec 12 - 11:28 AM

http://www.fredsmith.com.au/

That last post was from me, of course, but I forgot to sign it. Here's the Fred Smith link I was trying to give earlier.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Dec 12 - 06:15 AM

More fresh audio:

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by Fred Smith
Soundcloud audio.
Lyrics & background.

Fred's Dust of Uruzgan was one of the albums of 2012 for me, using his Australian Foreign Office experience with the country's troops in Afghanistan to offer a soldier's-eye view of daily life in that particular war. "These are modern folk-rock stories by a writer of considerable talent," Mike Cooper said of the album in fRoots. "Acute, moving observations seen not from the armchair … but from the actual dust of Uruzgan's streets."

You can hear more of Fred's music on his own website here: http://www.fredsmith.com.au/. Mudcat won't let me post that last one as a "blue clicky" at the moment, so I'm afraid you'll have to cut and paste it for yourself.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 11 Dec 12 - 05:15 AM

More fresh audio.

The Murdered Maid, by Kim Caudell
SoundCloud Audio
Background.

Kim adds her own tune to the original 1832 ballad sheet's lyrics, singing them unaccompanied just as the sheet's first buyers must have done. By the time the nine short verses are done, Tom Johnson has been plunged into terrible poverty, accidentally murdered his own beloved daughter and been sentenced to hang for it.

To hear more of Kim's music, please visit her website here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 08 Dec 12 - 08:53 AM

More fresh audio:

The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs, by South County
Soundcloud audio
PlanetSlade background essay

South County's George Gierer has taken the original 1853 ballad sheet as a starting point, but written his own tune and lyrics from scratch. He's kept the essential points of the story - the drunken Nat Mobbs killing his wife Caroline in a fit of jealousy and then hanging for it in front of a huge crowd - and adapted the original ballad's chorus: "Oh what numbers flock to see / Mobbs die upon the fatal tree".

George has plans to develop the song further with the rest of the band, and we'll have more news of that soon. For information on South County, and a chance to hear more of their music, please visit the band's website.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 01:26 PM

I've just added an MP3 version of Alan's recording on SoundCloud too. You can find it here.

Like all the GBP tracks, it's free to listen to or download. Collect them all!

I've spoken to Kim C. this afternoon, and she's confirmed that she's still planning to give us her version of The Murdered Maid too, so that's good. Anyone else who wants to add a second version of one of the songs already covered is perfectly welcome to do so, of course.

The only two of our 16 songs no-one at all has recorded yet are Mary Arnold and Nathaniel Mobbs. We may have some news there very soon, though...


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 08:34 AM

More fresh audio.

Alan Rosevear sings The Murdered Maid on YouTube.

Read PlanetSlade's story behind the song here.

"I had a go at putting the words to a traditional murder ballad tune - usually used for Bruton Town," Alan says.

Thanks to him for tackling the song, and thanks also to John Stephens of Topsham Folk Club in Devon for passing on the lyrics to Alan for me. The 1832 sheet where I first found these lyrics places the real murder in Exminster, just a few miles from Alan's Exeter home, so there's a real local connection at work.

I hope Kim C. won't let this put her off doing her own version of the song as well. I'm sure I'm not the only one who still wants to hear it, Kim!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 04:48 PM

The Jetsonics played Cruel Lizzie Vickers live at The Scream Lounge in Croydon, Oct 6. Watch it on YouTube here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 12 Oct 12 - 03:00 PM

Love the Jetsonics' Lizzie Vickers. A cautionary tale of brutal murder that you can slamdance to...what a combination!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 11 Oct 12 - 05:57 PM

I've just up-dated the tracklist and sleevenotes pages again. Find free links all 14 of our Gallows Ballad Project recordings so far here.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 04 Oct 12 - 05:49 AM

More fresh audio.

This track's from Rick Marsland, who's tackled Jones & Harwood, the true story of an 1850 murder in Frimley, Sussex, which cost the local vicar his life.

Jones & Harwood, by Rick Marsland
Soundcloud audio
Background essay.

"A bluesy riff on a plinky 'guitalele' and plaintive echo-y backing vocals seemed to fit the mood," Rick says. "Hope you agree."


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 01 Oct 12 - 05:28 AM

There's much love for The Jetsonics track over on Mojo's message board, where verdicts include "fabtastick", "excellent stuff", "just what the doctor ordered" and; "I can't stop listening to this. Just can't stop it".

Geoff Wallis on the fRoots board is ranking it with The Jam circa David Watts ("by no means a bad thing," he adds), and Retro Man's reviewer calls it "an excellent brand new track".


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 29 Sep 12 - 04:39 AM

Kim C. just dropped me a line at PlanetSlade, which I thought I'd pass on.

"My husband (who is also named Paul) and I are historical re-enactor musicians," she says. "We put on funny clothes and do musical presentations at 18th & 19th century historic sites, mostly in the Southeast US. […] Over the years I've become quite fond of murder ballads, and I even made a Master's thesis out of the subject. It was just a tiny chip of ice off the berg, though. There's still so much more to learn and I'm always looking for new ballads to study."

You and me both, Kim, and as you say neither of us is likely to exhaust the subject anytime soon.

I've also heard from George Gierer of South County, who's been enjoying The Jetsonics track linked above. "I dig it. It's catchy," he says.

"I finished our song, and now need to bring it to the band," George adds of South County's Nathaniel Mobbs. "I'll send you a solo version soon. It's a mix of the Decemberists, Led Zeppelin and Louis Armstrong - I think. That's who I stole from anyway."


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Kim C
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 03:45 PM

Cool!!!!!! :-)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 06:21 PM

Dear Kim - I'd love to hear your version of The Murdered Maid, and to do so as soon as you have a recording you're happy with. Please drop me a line at the address below if I can help in any way.

paul (at) planetslade (dot) com


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Kim C
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 03:59 PM

Ooooh!!! Oooooh!!!!! Let me have a go at The Murdered Maid.

I'm sorry I missed this before - these are my FAVORITE KIND OF SONGS!!!!!! When do you want it? I'm busy the next couple weeks but will have time after that.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 05:07 AM

More fresh audio - and it's some of the best yet.

Cruel Lizzie Vickers, by The Jetsonics (Soundcloud page).

This is not only our first full-on rock treatment for a Gallows Ballads Project song, but also the first where the contributors have used the original sheet as a jumping-off point for their own original lyrics telling its tale. I think it sounds great: tight, powerful and with a very catchy chorus. If that's not bringing one of the old ballads back to vibrant life, I don't know what is!

Read the true story of Lizzie's crime here: Cruel Lizzie Vickers (1853)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 16 Sep 12 - 07:32 AM

Congratulations to Mary Humphreys for another excellent piece of detective work!


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST, Paul Slade
Date: 16 Sep 12 - 05:24 AM

I've just had this update from George Gierer: "After being stuck in the mud for a while, I believe I finally have the Nat Mobbs progression worked out...stay tuned."

And here's some more info on South County, George's band: http://www.southcountytheband.com/


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 10:30 PM

I have set down my thoughts and feelings about William Palmer, the Rugely poisoner here on this web page.

http://www.bigalwhittle.co.uk/lifehistoryandsongsof/id64.html


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 15 Sep 12 - 05:47 AM

Now that the Summer break's over, we're back with some more new audio.

The Liverpool Lodger on Soundcloud. Music and performance by Gerry Jones.

You'll find the true murder story which inspired this particular ballad here. Many thanks to Gerry for his singing, accordion playing and composition. He was also kind enough to send me the sheet music for his setting of the song and a few thoughts on his approach to tackling it, and all that will be up on PlanetSlade soon.

Elsewhere in the forest, The Jetsonics report that they've now completed work on Cruel Lizzie Vickers, and plan to add it to their live set in October. "We've been through about 4 versions of Lizzie and now we're very happy with it," the band's Adam Donovan tells me. "We're trying to sort out a way to record it a bit better than the 'plonk a digital recorder in the middle of the rehearsal room' way without going the full (expensive) studio route for you soon."

Meanwhile, Rick Marsland, an old mate of mine, has sent me the trial mix for his punk-folk performance of Jones & Harwood, which he's polishing up at the moment. We'll have audio for that soon, too.

And there's news from across the Atlantic. Simeon Peebler is currently in a Chicago studio working on an album, and contacted me recently to say he'll try and find some time to record Mary Arnold at the same sessions. South County, a rockabilly/country/blues band based in Westchester, is cracking on with The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs. The band's George Gierer tweeted me this morning to say: "I think I had a breakthrough tonite", and I've no doubt more news will follow.

To sum up, then, that's 11 of the 16 songs already up on-line as free audio (one of them in two different versions), four in various stages of work-in-progress and two still waiting for someone to adopt them. You'll find links to all the audio so far, a full menu to access the original ballad sheets and details of how to join the project at the many links I've already given in this thread.

Audio on-line
Mrs Dyer - Elsa Lanchester
Gallows Child - The Hammond School
The Silent Grove - Sedayne
The Old Baby Farmer - Tim Radford
Streams of Crimson Blood - Rob Wahl
The Unnatural Murder - Foxen
The Foreigner's Downfall - KingBrilliant
Jealous Annie - Pete Morton
Death of William Palmer - Big Al Whittle
The Westmill Murder - Ernest Johnson
The Sister & The Serpent - Mary Humphreys
The Liverpool Lodger - Gerry Jones

Work in progress
Cruel Lizzie Vickers - The Jetsonics
Jones & Harwood - Rick Marsland
Mary Arnold - Simeon Peebler
The Execution of Nathaniel Mobbs - South County

Awaiting adoption
The Unnatural Murder
The Murdered Maid.

Any more for any more?


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Surreysinger
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 07:38 AM

Re Horkstow Grange and Percy Grainger - no correction needed Mary!
Herewith notes on George in which Grainger describes him

"Mr. George Gouldthorpe, the singer of Harkstow Grange (born at Barrow-on-the-Humber, North Lincolnshire, and aged 66 when he first sang to me, in 1905) was a very different personality. Though his face and figure were gaunt and sharp-corn ered (closely akin to those seen on certain types of Norwegian upland peasants) and his singing voice somewhat grating, he yet contrived to breathe a spirit of almost caressing tenderness into all he sang, said and did--though a hint of the tragic was ever-present also. A life of drudgery, ending, in old age, in want and hardship, had not shorn his manners of a degree of humble nobility and dignity exceptional even amongst English peasants; nor could any situation rob him of his refreshing, but quite u nconscious, Lincolnshire independence. "

Thanks by the way for prompting me to hunt something out ... Grainger's piece is beautifully florid as ever. He describes his particular singers as "kings and queens of song", and deems them superior to classical singers with their "monotonous mooing and bellowing" ... lovely stuff.

No luck with the Andrew Rose tune as yet :-) (I have been trying)


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 08:07 AM

John Kirkpatrick also sings Andrew Rose to the Wagon Train tune, so I am reliably informed by Anahata.
The song is based on events that took place in 1856-7. It is quite likely that the broadside for Andrew Rose stipulated a named tune, but I don't have the evidence.( A bit of research there for somebody.)The tune is definitely older than Peter Bellamy, but there is no knowing whether he put the song together first or John K. or whether he got it from Roy Palmer's researches.
Andrew Rose is printed with the tune ( very similar to that ) which I used for Sister & Serpent in Roy Palmer's Boxing the Compass book but there is no information about the source of the tune.
A similar tune is used for Horkstow Grange, recorded by Percy Grainger in about 1905-7 from George Goldthorpe - I stand to be corrected there.


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Subject: RE: Sister & Serpent/William of the Waggon Train
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 01:49 AM

Actually, Roud 1354 maps to two essentially different songs. Both are titled "William of the Waggon Train" in broadsides and feature the ubiquitous William and Nancy in the general situation of Nancy going to war with her lover. But they're different in meter and have no overlap in text or events. The apparently earlier one typically begins "Attend awhile, and do not smile young men and maids around", and jumps right into the pair going off to war, where they're both wounded and die, though not before Nancy can dash off a letter to a friend and seal it with her gore--nice touch. Most broadsides give the tune as "Bushes and Briers", but metrically this ballad doesn't fit the "Sister and the Serpent" pattern, so it's doubtful "Bushes and Briers" would be the "Waggon Train" tune of Paul's reference. For what it's worth, Sabine Baring-Gould collected another tune for this song (SBG/1/3/425), noting that it's a variant of "The Country Farmer's Son".

The other text typically begins "One lovely morning as I was walking, In the merry month of May," and deals only with their preparing to go to war together. It has the same metrical pattern as "The Sister and the Serpent". Here, most of the tunes collected are variants of "Rosetta and Her Gay Ploughboy", which (despite its jauntiness) was also used for the murder ballad "Eli Sykes". I posit that this is the actual tune meant.

The Baker/Collinson tune belongs to the "One lovely morning" text family, but is not of the Rosetta tune family. I hear a strong resemblance in the second half to Peter Bellamy's setting for "Andrew Rose & the Cruel Ship's Captain" in his Maritime England Suite. Any idea whether that was a traditional "Andrew Rose" tune, a borrowed tune from another song or a Bellamy original? It may furnish a clue as to the Baker tune origin.


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Subject: RE: Sister and the Serpent: Waggon Train tune
From: Artful Codger
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 07:37 PM

The Roud number for "The Sergeant in the Wagon Train" is 1354. Searching on that at the EFDSS site turns up quite a few other versions of that song, most titled "William of the Wagon Train". I haven't checked other sources, and I'm surprised this song has heretofore passed under the Mudcat radar. I quite like the tune Mary found.

Kudos to Mary for her rendition, and for the lead.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 03:24 PM

I take your point, Al, but I think it's a tricky balance to strike. I certainly don't want to rush anyone unreasonably, but I do want to try and keep the project moving along a bit. in particular, I wanted to remind people that no one should think a song's been taken off the table just because someone else has already expressed an interest in it.

I have invited contributions on the Mojo and No Depression message boards, and had some people promise to contribute there. There've been no actual recordings from those sources yet, but I hope they will eventually add the odd full-band rock recording or bluegrass treatment to broaden out the mix a bit.

Ultimately, I'd love to find a record label interested enough to arrange a CD compilation of professional musicians adding their own music to the ballads and putting them out as a commercial release. With a bit of luck, that could produce just the sort of happy accident you mention, but it would need a label (or a club or a magazine) to get involved first. I've found a few people who like that idea in principle, but no-one's got any money right now, so it's hard nut to crack.

I could even see this idea eventually producing an album/event along the lines of that Rogue's Gallery compilation Hal Wilmer produced a while ago or the Cecil Sharp Project gigs we saw earlier this year. Without any contacts in the music biz, though, all I can do is put the lyrics out there and try to stir up whatever interest I can on forums like this one. I'm very grateful for all the contributions we get, and some of them have been very good indeed.

There will come a point when I let this go and just hope people will stumble across the lyrics on PlanetSlade from time to time and maybe do something with them if they feel like it. For the moment, though, I want to try and keep the project in people's minds and maintain whatever momentum I can.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 12:01 PM

Its difficult Paul. Most halfway competent folksingers could knock the lot off in an afternooon. But is that what you want?

To be honest I think some of the famous versions - Elsa Lanchester for example are pretty shit.

What you need is a proper artist to re-imagine them in the same way that Bowie did Brecht's songs. They were written quickly - so what is likely to work is someone understanding them and not giving too much thought to them - just doing them. Maybe getting one out of ten right. Looking for that happy accident.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 09:29 AM

Thanks, Surreysinger. I'd certainly still love to hear your version, and as you can see from Richard's note above, I'm not the only one. Thanks for taking this in the spirit it was intended, and I hope you get well soon.


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: Surreysinger
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 08:11 AM

Hiya Paul and Mary ... as the person who "claimed" the Sister and the Serpent, and thanks to health problems hasn't managed to get it recorded yet, I'm glad somebody has come up with the "proper" tune. I'll still have a bash at the tune I've come up with... but in the meantime won't listen to the real deal for fear of influencing myself (although I shall look forward to it). Sorry about the time taken Paul - lots of doctors' and hospital visits, and ensuing throat problems knocked a quick resolution on the head :-(


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Subject: RE: Musicians Wanted: The Gallows Ballads Project
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 24 Jun 12 - 12:40 PM

More fresh audio.

The Sister & The Serpent, by Mary Humphreys
Audio. (SoundCloud)
Background. (PlanetSlade)

The 1850 sheet containing these lyrics specified they should be sung to an air called "The Waggon Train", which I'd never been able to find - but Mary did.

"I found the Wagon Train tune on the EFDSS Take Six website - The Sergeant in the Wagon Train, collected from Mrs Baker, Maidstone July 1944 by Francis Collinson," she says. "It fits like a glove - perfectly suited to the doggerel verse of a goodnight ballad. We know Castle Camps very well - we go to a regular tune session there at the local pub - The Cock."

Many thanks, Mary - and an excellent piece of detective work on your part too.


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