Most fans assumed it couldn’t happen, but this morning Marry Waterson announced the re-release of a true classic: Bright Phoebus – Songs by Lal and Mike Waterson will see the light of day once again on August 4th (and can be pre-ordered in a variety of packages here).
There’s a tendency for young(ish) people in the UK to scoff at Morris Dancing, dismissing it as a rather embarrassing pastime better left to the elderly and/or inebriated. Given this unfortunate presumption, it’s surprising to find that it continues to exist – which makes the longevity of the Bampton Morris tradition, and others like it, even more intriguing.
This is how folk music should be heard.
There’s a sense among reviewers of Big Machine, Eliza Carthy’s new album on Topic Records, that this collection marks the artist’s coming of age moment. I’m not sure how she must feel about that herself. I imagine she’s lost count of the number of times people have said that of her latest albums over the years. From Anglicana through Dreams of Breathing Underwater and ever-onward, Eliza Carthy must’ve come of age more times than her years naturally allow.
On a visit to the Cecil Sharp House library earlier this month, I came across a rather wonderful book called The Sounds of History: Songs and Social Comment by Roy Palmer. I must have been in something of a naughty-minded disposition, as I quickly found my way to the chapter on ‘The Sexes’ – a discourse on intimacy as portrayed in traditional song – and was delighted to learn of a sadly forgotten pastime known as “night visiting”, a hobby so popular that it seems to have become a genre of its own.
Not a folk song in the traditional sense, I must admit, but something that fits in with the 60s and 70s style perhaps – the point at which the folk and singer-songwriter genres crossed over. I wrote this the morning after Donald Trump’s victory. For various reasons, I’d taken myself off to a little hut in the middle of Norfolk nowhere and, feeling an unpleasant sense of the inevitable having taken place, this tune found its way out.
Not enough wassailing is done in this day and age, in my opinion. It’s a lost talent, overdue a comeback, and this year I intend to get right back into it. There’s no time to lose, either – wassailing is best enjoyed over the festive season, and come late January, wassailing is rarely found for neither love nor money.