After a Covid hiatus last year, Princeton Traditional Music Festival is back Aug 20-22 in Princeton, BC. Rosaleen will be MCing a workshop on traditional ballads from the Child collection on Sunday 10:30am, sharing the Museum State with fellow balladeers Bevan Bartlett, John Bartlett, Jasmine Fiona, Rika Ruebsaat, and Penny Sidor. Rosaleen and husband Dave will have their own concert as well.
Rosaleen and Davel have a concert on Saturday the 17th of August at 10 am, and Rosaleen will be participating in the Ballad Workshop on Sunday the 18th of August at 11 am. Both on the Museum Stage. See you there!
Rosaleen and Dave will be at Water Valley Celtic Festival this weekend, June 15th 2019 (early this year!) Rosaleen and the Balladeers will be starting things off at the upper floor of the Old Schoolhouse at 9 am with traditional story-songs. Then Dave and his clarinets will have their own set on the lower floor of the Old Schoolhouse at 9:45 am. Rosaleen's next set "Traditional British and Canadian Songs" is at 11:15 am at Papa Luigi's Restaurant.
Later in the summer we are looking forward to Princeton Traditional Music Festival, Aug 16-18, in Princeton, BC.
I’ve just returned to British Columbia after a very enjoyable time performing at Water Valley Celtic Festival. Held every year near the solstice at this tiny hamlet tucked away in the green fields between Cochrane and Cremona, it packs into one day a wealth of musical (and artistic) talent. I have been attending ever since 2013, the year after my two CDs - Sheath and Knife and Serpent’s Knee - came out.
I usually do two sets - one of Child ballads from the CDs with John Leeder on mandolin and banjo, one of other folksongs (and sometimes the odd ballad) from a wide range of sources in Britain and, North America. Recently my partner Dave has been contributing clarinet accompaniment as well.
This year we were privileged to perform the ballads set in Water Valley Church, which has wonderful acoustics. This venue is much in demand! The ballads I chose this time were “The Lass of Lochroyan” and “Lizie Lindsay” from the second CD and “Burning of Auchindoon”, “The Broom of Cowdenknows” and “The Lowlands of Holland” from the first.
“The Lass of Lochroyan” (also known as “Lord Gregory” is about a young woman trying to gain admittance to her lover’s castle. She is turned back into the storm by his evil mother, but when he realizes what has happened he sets off in search of her - and the ending is left undisclosed. I learned this song (and “Burning of Auchindoon”) from the singing of English folk-singers June Tabor and Maddy Prior.
“The Broom of Cowdenknows” is a long tale of seduction set to a jaunty tune, which seems to end happily despite being about rape and a bunch of people who cheerfully lie to each other throughout. I remind my audience that ‘broom’ is a golden-yellow flower growing profusely on the Scottish hills and moors, and that when it is mentioned in Scottish songs sex is usually in the offing.
“The Lowlands of Holland”is an English press-gang song, sung by a woman whose husband has just been dragged off to serve in the British Army (or perhaps Navy) on his wedding night. It has a beautiful tune.
“Lizie Lindsay” is an elopement song where a well-heeled young woman gets more than she bargained for when she follows her truelove into the Highlands of Scotland - her anguished query “Are we near hame now?” after tramping over steep mountains elicits a cheerful “We are no near hame, bonnie Lizie, Nor yet gone the half of the way!”, but eventually she is rewarded by finding that he is not the poor son of a shepherd and a milkmaid that he pretended to be, but the local laird. So she gets love and status after all.
And “Burning of Auchindoon” - which takes less time to sing than to explain - is a revenge ballad against the Earl of Huntly, who owns Auchindoon, by supporters of the Earl of Murray (or Moray), whose murder is the subject of another Border ballad, “The Bonny Earl of Moray”.
Singing this last one is wonderfully exhilarating, but it takes it out of you! Dave and I had to hurry over right away to another location for our folksong set. We started this with a ‘high lonesome’ love lament from the Appalachians, “Pretty Saro”, one of Jean Ritchie’s songs. Our second song was “Linden Lea”, not a folksong but a musical setting by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams of a poem by Dorset poet William Barnes. It has a lovely tune and is basically a hymn to apple-trees, spring and autumn, and the simple life. It became so popular in England that Vaughan Williams said he made more money from it than from all his symphonies put together.
Then we performed “Walsingham”, an Elizabethan lament for lost love sung by a man on his way to the religious shrine at that location, and, after that, an Irish version - “Johnnie of Hazelgreen” - of a better-known Scottish ballad ((yes, it is a Child one) called “Jock o’ Hazeldean”, which ends with wedding bells after some rather unconvincing misunderstandings.
Canadian folksong collector Helen Creighton collected quite a few songs in Southern New Brunswick from an informant of Irish extraction, Angelo Dornan. A few years ago I discovered a song of his called “A New Broom Sweeps Clean”, a conversation between former lovers where the girl announces that she is breaking the relationship off to go with a new love. This unleashes a verse denouncing the fickleness of young women, and the whole song goes to a lovely melody which turns and twists on itself just like the young man’s tortured mind.
We ended our set with Otto P. Kelland’s rousing tribute to Newfoundland, “Let me fish off Cape St. Mary’s”. At Water Valley there are bound to be exiles from that province now living in Calgary, and it is a good audience participation song to end - or begin - a set.
In August Dave and I are off to Princeton, B. C. for the traditional music festival there, which takes place this year from Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 20th, and is one of the best traditional music fests anywhere. And admission is free!
I’ll be doing a concert with Dave and his clarinet on Sunday and participating in the Ballad Workshop the day before. We haven’t fixed on everything for the concert yet, but I think we’ll start off with “Let me fish off Cape St. Mary’s” and include another English ballad as well as a couple of English and Scottish folksongs. And I know already that my a cappella ballad contributions in the Workshop will be highlighting female resourcefulness (and orneriness (is that a word??)) There is so much talent at Princeton, one cannot help being inspired. Hope to see some of you there!
The website administrator (Fiona) was remiss in not posting in advance about Rosaleen and Dave's appearance at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival (August 19 to 21) this year, but they did go and had a very successful concert, without the technical problems that had plagued Dave's clarinet the previous year. Thus he was able to play his arrangement of Chinese folk songs "Spring Winds on Tea Mountain". Rosa and Dave also did "Know ye the land?" (collected by Phil Thomas), "Wild Rippling Water", "Golden Apples of the Sun"(W.B.Yeats), and "The Last Battle" (about Louis Riel's last stand).
Rosaleen also participated in a ballad workshop: 'There were only four of us, but there was a really good variety of songs. I did "Lord Bateman" (for the first time at Princeton, I think) and then went out on a limb and did Bobby Gentry's ""Ode to Billie Joe" - not traditional! but to my mind definitely a ballad, and a tragic one too. I've been wanting to do it for years but haven't previously had the nerve. Someone came up afterwards and said they'd always considered it a ballad too and they were really glad I did it. For my third I did "The Water is Wide" - also cheating, although it is apparently part of a longer Scottish ballad called "Lord Jamie Douglas". Anyway, people liked it because many knew the verses and sang along.'
'There were many good acts at the festival including Lyn Pinkerton and her singing partner Stoney Bird, who always do really unusual historical/political songs. Unique material well presented and right up Dave's street! Also a group called Digital Do's, who played old English country dances, and an extended family of five grownup sons and a daughter plus Mum and Dad who played and sang a variety of their own songs about life. They were called the McKentys and had been home-schooled and lived a true hippy communal life-style.'
It was extremely hot, 39 in the shade, and Rosa and Dave were glad to retreat in the evening to an air-conditioned ranchhouse with their wonderful hosts - Jerome and Thomasina. Dave and Rosa were flattered by the request for a final extra gig - a relaxed Sunday brunch set at Thomasina's cafe.
June 18 2016, Water Valley, Alberta, Canada.
Apparently this will be the largest Water Valley Celtic Folk Festival yet, so there should be all sorts of good acts to listen to.
I have two sets in the mix: one with John Leeder on banjo and mandolin and Dave Gregory on clarinet which features ballads from the two CDs. For this set we are calling ourselves "Rosaleen and the Balladeers" (!)
The other set is non-Child-ballad stuff done by "Rosaleen and Dave".(O.K., there might be the odd ballad there too).
Once again, it's almost time for the wonderful Princeton Traditional Music Festival.
Rosaleen will be participating in the Traditional Ballad Workshop on Saturday August 15 at 12-1 pm on the Museum Stage, and performing in concert, with some help from husband Dave, on Sunday August 16 12:12:30pm, again on the Museum Stage.
An audience member recorded this live performance of Rosaleen singing "The Trumpeter of Fyvie" with Dave's clarinet accompaniment at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival.
Rosaleen's schedule at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival is
(1) Concert (with Dave on clarinet) 10 to 10.30 Sunday morning August 17;
(2) Participating in Ballad Workshop 12.30 to 2 p.m. same day.
Rosaleen's next performance is at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival in Princeton, British Columbia August 15-17 2014. Schedule to follow. This will be the second year with husband Dave Gregory on clarinet accompaniment. Never heard folk songs done with a clarinet arrangement? We hope to see you there!