Delighted to be one of three nominee’s for Female Artist of the Year in the Fatea Magazine Awards. I’m in the fine company of Kitty Macfarlane and Hannah Scott. The awards are nominated by the FATEA team and recognise excellence over 2018. The winners of the Fatea Awards will be announced during a two hour radio special, this year hosted by Blues and Roots Radio on January 11th at 8PM(GMT). Listen here: www.bluesandrootsradio.com

copy of female artist of the year nominee

Review here.

Following her debut album, Away From My Window, Aberdeenshire singer IONA FYFE looks across the Atlantic for her EP, Dark Turn Of Mind. Aside from Gillian Welch’s title track and Gregory Alan Isakov’s ‘If I Go, I’m Goin’, all the songs are traditional and have roots in the Ozarks and the Appalachians. ‘Swing And Turn’ comes from Jean Ritchie and uses the tune often associated with ‘Gypsy Davy’ and is a typical southern mountain song.

‘The Golden Vanity’ is found in variations all across the English-speaking world including Scotland of course. Iona’s version combines Child’s version with Cecil Sharp’s and she notes that it was recorded by Jean Ritchie more than fifty years ago. ‘Little Musgrave’ comes from Sharp and Jeannie Robertson in this version although it was known in print in the 17th century. Between these is ‘Let Him Sink’, an Ozark variant of ‘Farewell He.”

The EP is built on Rory Matheson’s piano which gives Iona scope for some powerful singing. Aidan Moodie plays guitar and adds perfectly judged harmony vocals while Graham Rorie adds more decoration on mandolin.
https://ionafyfe.com/

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Dark Turn of Mind

Written by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and released on Gillian’s 2011 album, The Harrow and The Harvest. It has since been performed and recorded by artists such as Chris Thile and Josienne Clark and Ben Walker.

Take me and love me if you want me
Don’t ever treat me unkind
Cause I’ve had that trouble already
And it left me with a dark turn of mind

Now I see the bones in the river
And I feel the wind through the pine
And I hear the shadows a-calling
To a girl with a dark turn of mind

Oh ain’t the night time, so lovely to see
Don’t all the night birds sing sweetly,
You’ll never know how happy I’ll be
When the sun’s going down

And leave me, if I’m feeling too lonely
Full as the fruit on the vine
You know some girls are bright as the morning
And some have a dark turn of mind
You know some girls are bright as the morning
And some have a dark turn of mind

Swing and Turn

An Appalachian song from the singing of Jean Ritchie, I first heard Swing and Turn (Jubilee) from Laura Cortese at Orkney Folk Festival in 2017. The song can be found in Jean’s own book “Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians as Sung by Jean Ritchie” reissued by the University of Kentucky Press in 2016. The song features on Mudcat Café, an online discussion group and song and tune database. Jean stated on the forum: “Jubilee is a Ritchie family gamesong, but I never did a copyright on it because it was collected from another source in the community – everyone around knew it. A lady named Marian Skein wrote it down at Ary, Kentucky and it was published by Lynn Rohrbough, Cooperative Recreation Service, Delaware, Ohio in 1939.” Lorraine Lee Hammond states that the tune for Swing and Turn (Jubilee) is a common tune of choice for the ballad, Gypsy Davy. In Jeannie Robertson’s “distinctly Scottish version of The Gypsy Laddies, the opening line of the verse is again the familiar musical phrase used by Jean Ritchie and Woody Guthrie.

It’s all out on the old railroad,
All out on the sea,
All out on the old railroad,
As far as I can see.

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee

The hardest work I ever done,
Workin’ on a farm,
Easiest work I ever done,
Swingin’ my true love’s arm

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee

If I had a needle and thread,
As fine as I could sew,
I’d sew my true love to my side
And down the creek I’d go.

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee

Coffee grows on a white oak tree,
And sugar runs in Brandy,
Girls are sweet as a lump of gold,
Boys as sweet as candy

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee
Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee

Some will come on Saturday night
And some will come on Sunday
If you give ‘em half a chance,
They’ll be back on Monday

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee

If I had no horse to ride,
I’d be found a-calling
Up and down this rocky road,
Lookin’ for my darlin

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee

It’s all out on the old railroad,
All out on the sea,
All out on the old railroad,
As far as I can see.

Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee
Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee
Swing and turn, Jubilee
Live and learn, Jubilee
Swing and turn
Live and learn

If I Go, I’m Goin

I first heard the song when it was featured on the hit American TV show, Californication (How very traditional!) If I Go, I’m Goin was written by Gregory Alan Isakov and released on his 2009 album, This Empty Northern Hemisphere and was rereleased on his 2016 album, Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony.

This house, she’s holding secrets
I got my change behind the bed
In a coffee can, I throw my nickels in
Just in case I have to leave

And I will go if you ask me to
I will stay if you dare
And if I go I’m goin shameless
I’ll let my hunger take me there

This house, she’s quite the talker
She creeks and moans, she keeps me up
And the photographs, know I’m a liar
They just laugh as I burn her down

And I will go if you ask me to
I will stay if you dare
If I go I’m goin on fire
I’ll let my anger take me there

Shingles man they’re shaking
Back door’s burning through
This house she’s quite the keeper
Quite the keeper of you

And I will go if you ask me to
I will stay if you dare
And if I go, I’m goin crazy
I’ll let my darlin take me there
And if I go, I’m goin crazy
I’ll let my darlin take me there

The Golden Vanity

The Golden Vanity is an oikotypical ballad which has been collected in Aberdeenshire, the Scottish Borders, England, Ireland, Canada and the Appalachians. The ballad dates back to 1685 when it was published in the Pepysian Collection at Magdalene College, Cambridge under the title “The Ballad of Sir Walter Rauleigh His Lamentation” or “Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing In The Lowlands” (1635). In later texts, no reference to Sir Walter Raleigh can be found. Tristram Potter Coffin states: “In America, Sir Walter Raleigh is no longer connected with the song, the ships have “Golden Vanity” and “Turkish Revelee” names which names which may vary with historical circumstances, and a more positive ending.”

The captain declares the ship is in peril and has come under threat by another vessel, usually French, Turkish or Spanish. The ship’s cabin boy offers to sink the foreign vessel, in return for rewards such as gold and the Captains daughter’s hand in marriage. The cabin boy successfully swims and sinks the enemy by boring holes in the ships side, then returns to The Golden Vanity. In some variants, the boy is rewarded and in others he is shot and drowned or taken aboard the ship too late and dies on deck. In select texts, he drowns and returns as a ghost to exact revenge and sinks the ship.

The Golden Vanity, otherwise known as The Sweet Trinity or Golden Willow Tree, features in Volume 5 Francis James Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The ballad has long been procured in the North East of Scotland and features in Volume 1 of the celebrated Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection. Reverend James Duncan and Gavin Greig collected “Ye Gouden Vanitie” from a manuscript written and sent by George F Duncan on 2nd May 1908 and is comprised of verses with an “eek-eedle-ee and the Lowlands low” refrain. George states: “I have a notion I have heard mother sing it. It is not entirely the same as any printed copy I have seen. I should have said that the music had come through Christie’s hands.” Version C is titled The Lowlands So Low and was collected from John Calder. “Bell Robertson traces the ballad back through her mother to the early years of the last century.” Versions found in the Greig-Duncan are all in the Doric vernacular. William Christie states in Volume 1 of his Traditional Ballad Airs that the air “was noted from the singing of a native in Buchan. It was long well known and may still be known to some in the three northern Counties of Scotland.”

 The ballad is found in the Missouri State Max Hunter Folksong Collection Archive. The ballad features in John Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads as well as Gavin Greig’s Folk-Song of the North-East –  which reinforce the notion that the ballad was ever-present in the ballad heartland of Aberdeenshire as well as in several countries. Several versions of the ballad feature on Tobar an Dualchais –  Kist of Riches online archive from contributors such as John Strachan (SA1952.026), Willie Mathieson (SA1952.008) and Lizzie Higgins (SA1970.022) and Jeannie Roberton (SA1957.44) The ballad was collected by Alan Bruford in Fetlar, Shetland in 1970 from Catherine Mary Anderson (SA1970.245).

Lowlands Low was printed as a broadside for the Poet’s Box in Glasgow in 1877, with an earlier Bodleian Broadside printed in London between 1849 and 1862. It also features in Ford’s Vagabond Songs of Scotland. Duncan Williamson recorded The Golden Vanity on “Travellers’ Tales, Volume 2, Songs, stories and ballads from Scottish Travellers” in 2002. Ewan MacColl recorded “The Sweet Kumadee” on his 1964 Folkways release “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads Volume 2”

Jean Ritchie recorded the ballad on her 1961 Folkways album, British Traditional Ballads In The Southern Mountains Volume 1. Jean’s version, which she learned the from her mother, corresponds with Story Type A found in Tristram Potter Coffin’s The British Traditional Ballad in North America. The refrain “As she sailed upon the low, and lonesome low, She sailed upon the lonesome sea” seems to be typical of variants of the ballads recorded and collected in the Ozarks and Appalachian mountains and references The Merry Golden Tree, Weeping Willow Tree, or Green Willow Tree as the ship.

The version featured on my Dark Turn of Mind EP is an amalgamation of verses from the text featured as Version A in Cecil Sharp’s English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians and from Version B of Child’s Popular Ballads. Coffin states: “The Sweet Trinity in this country (America) does not really follow any of the Child versions textually, although there is on the whole a closer resemblance to Child B and C than to Child A.” The Golden Vanity is one of many classical ballads which ably showcases the global universalism of ballads.

There was a gallant ship, and a gallant ship was she
And the name of the ship was the Golden Vanity
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

She hadn’t sailed a league, a league but only three,
When she was overtaken by a Spanish gallee
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

Up spoke the captain, and up spoke he
Oh who’ll sink for me that Spanish gallee
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

Up and spoke, a little cabin boy
Sayin’ what will you give me, if I will them destroy
I’ll sink her in the low, the lowlands low
I’ll sink her in the lowlands low

I will give you gold, and I’ll give you a fee
I will give to you my daughter aye and married you shall be
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

He bent to his breast and away swum he,
He swum and sunk the ship of the Spanish gallee
Some were playing cards and some were playing dice
And the boy he had an auger and he bore three holes at twice
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

He bent to his breast, and back swum he
Right back to the ship of the Golden Vanity
Now throw me up a rope, and take me on my board
For I have been aye true, aye an true unto my word
I sunk her in the low, the lowlands low
I sunk her in the lowlands low

I’ll not take you up, the captain he replied,
But I’ll shoot you, and I’ll drown you and I’ll send you with the tide
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

He turned upon his back, and down went he,
Down, down, down to the bottom of the sea
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low
Sailin’ on the low, the lowlands low
She sailed upon the lowlands low

Let Him Sink

I found this song in the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, an archive of almost 1600 Ozark Mountain folk songs, recorded between 1956 and 1976. The collection is a joint project between the Missouri State University Department of Music and the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield, Missouri, where the permanent collection is housed. Materials on this website were transcribed and digitised from Max Hunter’s original reel-to-reel tapes and handwritten lyrics. Alternative titles for the song, #1034 in the Roud Index, include Adieu to Cold Weather, My Love is on the Ocean, My Love is Like a Dewdrop, Cold Winter, Fare Thee Well and Farewell He.

I collated verses from two texts found in the Max Hunter Folk Song collection and wrote the melody. Rest for The Weary (1484) was collected by Max Hunter from a singer named Reba Jenkins from Wheatland, Missouri on January 27th, 1973. The chorus that I’ve used for the song was taken from a two-verse text, Adieu to Cold Winter (0023) which was collected from Mr. Frank Pool in Fayetteville, Arkansas on 6th January 1958

The song is “considered to belong to the group of songs found in tradition as Farewell He, Fare Thee Well Cold Winter and so on; examples of which are known from Ireland, England and Scotland; and of course, America and Canada. (Mudcat) A Scots version titled Let Him Gang can be found in Volume 2 of David Herd’s Ancient and modern Scottish songs, Heroic Ballads. This dates from 1776, which suggests that the floating verses which feature in both variants of the song, may have originated in Scotland. Another version of the song features in Frank Kidson’s 1929 ‘English peasant Songs’ collection. The text also appears in Gardiner and Chickering’s 1939 collection, Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan. The song is featured in the Bodleian Library, with four variants dating between 1813 and 1850.

The first verse is a floating verse which also features in the Aberdeenshire love song, Bonny Udny.
“It was on a Sunday, my love and I did meet,
Which caused me on Monday, to sigh and to weep
O to weep is a folly, is a folly to me.
Sen he’ll be mine nae langer, let him gang, farewell he”

There are versions of the song from a male perspective titled “Farewell She” as well as a variant collected in Searsport, Maine which has similarities to the Scottish song, The Sands on the Shore. Vance Randolph collected the song in the Ozarks and it subsequently became popular amongst singers in the 50’s and 60’s
Listed as Roud #803, this song is another which perfectly exemplifies the universalism and similitude of songs and ballads which have been collected on both sides of the Atlantic.

I’ve renamed the song “Let Him Sink”, owing to the text of the chorus:
“If he’s gone, let him go, let him sink or let him swim
He don’t care for me and I don’t care for him”

My love’s on the ocean
He can sink or he can swim
He don’t care for me
An’ I’m sure I don’t for him
There’s plenty more without him
As nice young men as he
An’ I can find another
Since he’s gone back on me

If he’s gone, let him go
Let him sink or let him swim
If he don’t care for me
Then I don’t care for him

And away with cold winter
Adieu to cold frost
I’ll laugh and be happy
As the dear lad I lost
I’ll sing and be merry
As the whistling bird in June
For I can catch another
Before tomorrow noon

If he’s gone, let him go
Let him sink or let him swim
If he don’t care for me
Then I don’t care for him

The last time I saw him
T’was in the shady grove
He tipped his hat so gently
An’ offered me a rose
He thought that I’d accept it
But he could plainly see
I had grown cold
Since he went back on me

If he’s gone, let him go
Let him sink or let him swim
If he don’t care for me
Then I don’t care for him

But men they are deceiving
They think they know it all
They think we girls are stuck on them
Think we look at them at all
But they are quite mistaken
As you can plainly see
They don’t know the meaning
Of the world left

If he’s gone, let him go
Let him sink or let him swim
If he don’t care for me
Then I don’t care for him

His love was like a dew drop,
That falls upon the ground
It came on Sunday evening
And left on Monday morn
His love was in his pocket
His love was in his heart
To me he gave a little
To the other girls part

If he’s gone, let him go
Let him sink or let him swim
If he don’t care for me
Then I don’t care for him

If he’s gone, let him go
Let him sink or let him swim
If he don’t care for me
Then I don’t care for him

Little Musgrave

This version is an amalgamation of text from Jeannie Robertson’s Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard and Version A from Cecil Sharp’s English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. Sharp’s A Version was collected from Mrs Becky Griffin in Big Laurel, North Carolina on 17th August 1916. I got the melody from bothy ballad singer, Moira Stewart, who often sung the Matty Groves at ballad competitions in Scotland.

A classic murder ballad, Lady Darnell, convinces Mattie Groves (or Little Musgrave) to sleep with her. A foot-page is standing by and runs to tell Lord Darnell. Lord Darnell discovers Matty and his wife, and challenges Matty to a duel. Matty is killed, and the Lady states that she likes Matty better than Darnell and all his kin. In some versions, the wife is killed.

Roud 52, the ballad features in Alexander Whitelaw’s 1845 collection ‘Book of Scottish Ballads’ under the title Lord Barnaby. This Scottish version is localised to Angus and mentions Dundee. Jimmy Hutchison recorded Mattie Groves in 1988 with a melody similar to that of Jeannie’s. (SA1988.112) The antagonist of the ballad goes by several names depending on the ballad variant and region is was collected in. Titles include Barnard, Barnaby, Darlen, Darnell, Danal, Donal, Arnold, Arlen, with ‘Lord Daniel’ appearing in some North American versions,

The Kist o’ Riches archive features two versions sung by Aberdeen singer, Jeannie Robertson from 1960 and 1962, where she sings “Lord Donal ain’t at home”, which is unusual for Jeannie’s vocabulary and more typical of versions collected in America. The ballad can be found in Emily Lyle’s ‘Scottish Ballads’ under the title Wee Messgrove, and was “taken down by Thomas McConechie, Kilmarnock and copied by (William) Motherwell. Although the ballad was widely known in Scotland and has remained current there up to the present, it appears to be of English origin and the lines ‘Ever as the lord Barnet’s horn blew, Away, Musgrave, away!’ are quoted in Beaumont and Fletcher’s play ‘Knight of the Burning Pestle’ dated c. 1611.”

Jean Ritchie sang ‘Little Musgrave” for Alan Lomax on 2nd June 1949. The Roud Folk Song Index features 300 entries of this ballad, with most variants being collected in North America with 113 versions from the USA, 18 versions from Nova Scotia, Canada, 9 versions from Scotland and 2 from England.

Said to be a border ballad likely originating in the North of England, Matty Groves has been recorded by several artists worldwide. The ballad was printed on broadsides as early as the 1660’s, with three copies at the Bodleian Library Broadsides collection. One version, from the collection of Anthony Wood, has a handwritten note stating that “the protagonists were alive in 1543’. ‘A lamentable ballad of the little Musgrove and the lady Barnet’ was printed in London between 1663 and 1674. The ballad features in Volume 3 of Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry in 1845.

One day one day one holyday,
The first one of the year
Little Matty Groves has went to church
The Holy Word to hear, to hear
The Holy Word to hear, to hear

Lord Darnell’s wife was standing by,
She cast her eye on him
Go home with me, little Matty Groves
A wedded wife to be, to be
A wedded wife to be

I can’t come home, and I won’t come home
I cannot spare my life
But by the rings upon your hands
You are Lord Darnell’s wife, his wife
You are Lord Darnell’s wife

It’s if I am Lord Darnell’s wife,
Lord Darnell’s gone today
He’s across the waterside
He’s gone over there to stay, to stay
He’s gone over there to stay

But the little foot-page was standing by
And hearing what was said
He swore Lord Darnell he would know
Before the sun was set, was set
Before the sun was set

He ran till he came to the riverside
He bent his breast and swam
He swam till he came to the other side
And he picked up his heels and ran and ran
Picked up his heels and ran

When he came to Lord Darnell’s haa
He tinkled at the pin
Lord Darnell he was ready there
For to rise and let him in, him in
To rise and let him in

Oh is my bower a falling down,
Or does my castle burn
Or is my lady lighter yet
Of a daughter or a son, a son
A daughter or a son

Oh no your bower’s not fallin’ down
Or does your castle burn
But little Matty Groves he sleeps tonight
Keeping your lady warm, her warm
Keeping your lady warm

Then Lord Darnell took his men
And lined them in a row
The orders that he gave to them
That ne’er a horn should blow, should blow
That ne’er a horn should blow

Matty Groves he was laid down
He took a little sleep
And when he woke Lord Darnell,
He was standing at his feet, his feet
He was standing at his feet

Rise up rise up, Little Matty Groves
Rise up as quick as you can
It shalln’t be said in old Scotland
I slew a naked man, a man
I slew a naked man

Oh, I can’t get up, and I won’t get up
I cannot spare my life
For you have two swords by your side
And I have ne’er a knife, a knife
And I have ne’er a knife

It’s I’ve got two swords by my side
They cost me from my purse
And you can have the very best
And I shall have the worst, the worst
And I shall have the worst

Matty struck the very first blow
He wounded Darnell sore
Lord Darnell struck the very next blow
Little Matty struck no more, no more
Little Matty struck no more

Then Lord Darnell took his wife
He sat her on his knee
Sayin’ who do you like best of all
Little Matty Groves or me, or me?
Little Matty Groves or me?

Very well I like your rosy cheeks,
Very well I like your skin
But better I like little Matty Groves
Than you and all your kin, your kin
Than you and all your kin