FOLK SESSION – Howard Arms, Brampton


The Brampton folk session met on 16th April in the Howard Arms. A warm welcome to Eric, joining us for the first time. 


Our theme was ‘Crime and Punishment’, so the body count mounted steadily through the evening.  We had plenty of murders and executions: infanticide reared its head in the Weila Wail (Anne) and in Chris’s story of the wicked giant who ate children (and was transformed into The First Midges, thus still eating human beings to this day!) Eric, showing the proper devious approach, suggested that As Tears Go By fitted the theme because it may be about murdered children. 


Women were victims rather frequently: Tom Dooley (Ros) is to be executed for the murder of Laura Foster; Little Sadie’s killer is sentenced to 41 years in gaol (Eric); Bonnie Susie Cleland (Phil) was ‘burned in Dundee’ for loving an Englishman. One moral to be taken away from the evening’s entertainment was ‘Never shoot a talking bird, it may be your shape-shifting sweetheart’, be it the raven in Crazy Man Michael (Ros) or the quail in Bela Calha (Katy). On the other hand, William Taylor’s fiancée took terminal revenge for being jilted (Chris) and Eric’s Fire on the Mountain mentions the ‘men shot down’ in the gold rush.


Not all crimes involved murder: Adrian on melodeon played Smash the Windows; Long Meg and her Daughters (Anne) are turned to stone for witchcraft; Liz celebrated the exploits of the Lincolnshire Poacher; Chris worked deception, ‘murder of ducks’ and theft into his story of Nanabush and the Roast Duck Dinner; Anne warned against Disobedience (by parents!) in AA Milne’s poem. Liz’s highwayman bids us Adieu, Adieu as he faces execution; whereas Adrian’s highway robber (Whisky in the Jar) is sanguine about escaping custody. Chris and Adrian each gave us a different version of Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn, all of whom stole from their customers and came to unpleasant ends.


‘Punishments’ included transportation – to Australia in Phil’s Black and Bitter Night and Liz’s Jim Jones, and to Virginia in Anne’s Gone to America. Adrian lamented I Wish There Were No Prisons; Phil grumbled humorously about being Back in Durham Gaol and Ros’s protagonist languishes in Birmingham Gaol (Down in the Valley). More serious was the fate of the innocent man sentenced to Twenty-One Years on Dartmoor (Liz). Most sombre of all was Ros’s song about the Peat-Bog Soldiers, written for the victims of the first concentration camp in Germany. 


We next meet on Tuesday, 21st May at 8pm in The Howard Arms, Brampton. The theme will be ‘Farming’ (so: anything referring to farm animals; harvest; ploughboys; sowing; mowing; crops etc. With plenty of wiggle-room for being devious if anyone wishes!)  ALL WELCOME!