Not quite 1000 Years of Popular Music at The Old Ship


As usual at the Old Ship, we filled the dining area. Then more people arrived, so we all breathed in and managed to fit them in. We had a lovely evening and heard some songs we hadn't heard before or for some time.

Many of us had had the pleasure of seeing Richard Thompson's fantastic 1000 Years of Popular Music show on the Monday. We couldn't quite manage 1000 years, but did cover a few centuries with our usual mix of traditional and contemporary songs and tunes. Unlike Richard Thompson, who'd sung in English, French, Italian and Latin, we only managed English and Scottish.

As always, the evening started with Dick - this week with Drink Old England Dry. With its mention of Wellington, Dick's version of the song probably dates from the Napoleonic era. There have apparently been later versions from the Crimean War and the Second World War, with words adapted to the foes and heroes of the times. As a contrast in more ways than one, he later sang WC Fields' Fatal Glass Of Beer, from 1933. The full original film is now available online. His other song was Ben Hall, probably 19th century.

John from Norfolk had parked his lorry on the A404 and was taxied to and from The Old Ship by Karen. It was great to hear his 3 songs, finishing with Bill Caddick's Cloud Factory, which I think was written in 2006. The cloud factory apparently refers to Ironbridge power station.

Not having been at our Xmas celebration. Fred sang Numba One Day Of Xmas - a Hawaiian version of Twelve Days of Xmas that came complete with hand actions. One version of the song can be found here. He later amazed everyone again by playing another complex tune on his willow flute.

Stuart had spent some time recently discussing drilling projects in Aberdeen with some Scottish cementers. This doesn't sound like compelling conversation and, as Stuart said, having it conducted in a foreign language made it especially 'interesting'. Reflecting on this, he sang a Scottish song about friendship. Perhaps as an antidote, Delia followed with Adieu to Old England and later added Generations Of Change.

For the second week following, Steve sang a new song. This time it was the unaccompanied Unison in Harmony, which he'd learned from Coope, Boyes and Simpson. It's a really good song that suits Steve voice very well. I suspect he's hoping for harmonies at some point. As he was somewhat restricted for space, his guitar also stayed by his side for Country Life.

At Karen's request, Dave F sang his own song Gone Too Long For Returning. This is a tremendous song that we don't hear often enough. His first song had been Master Kilby, best known by Nic Jones. Simon sang A Calling On Song (see Simon's comment) and The Year Turns Around Again. This is from John Tams' music for the highly recommended production of Warhorse currently playing at The National, but transferring to the West End in March. Unusually, Alison stuck to English for The Good Old Way. Rosie and I think this talented trio needs a name. We suggest Fenner-Diegan-Fenner with reference to the Motown greats Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Richard was tucked away in a corner, and waited patiently for his turns, at which he sang Ramble Away and The Parson & The Suckling Pig. At a break in the proceedings he was accompanied by Roger in an impromptu rendition of the slip jig The Kid On The Mountain.

Rosie and I tried out You Go To My Head, best known from Billie Holiday's 1938 version. This gave a rare outing to the dusty end of my fretboard. We moved forward a few decades with Joan Armatrading's The Weakness in Me from 1976. We also played The White Petticoat (a tricky 18th century jig) and Out On The Ocean. As these weren't a great success, we fell back to the 'easy polkas' (Teahan's Favourite/Maggie In The Woods) next time around.

Roger is lining up a St Patrick's event in Henley, so Karen and he dug old The Rare Old Times, having started with Where Are You Tonight. Roger also led the musicians in the Seven Stars.

Monday's 1000 Years show had missed out a notable songwriter - Mr Thompson himself. John C remedied that with Down Where The Drunkards Roll (1974). He finished the evening request with another request for Karen - Kris Kristofferson's Casey's Last Ride (1970).

We're at The Pegasus next week. This is the same place as TJ O'Reilly's but has relaunched as a gastropub and reverted to it original name. The food and beer are both excellent. We'll be in the main bar and the TV will be switched off! They plan to put on music in the bar on Wednesdays and, if this week works, we'll make this a monthly venue. Please try to come along and make the evening a success.

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  1. Just a point of clarification. I used the Steeleye lyrics but wrote new music to The Calling On Song. I wanted to write a kind of atmospheric processional that had the troupe approaching the audience and then going into the distance;hence the fade in and fade out that we do. Hope you like it! Simon

  2. Thanks for that Simon. It works really well.