Rosaleen Gregory | Sheath and Knife

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Folk: British Folk Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Sheath and Knife

by Rosaleen Gregory

Traditional British Child Ballads sung a capella or tastefully arranged with traditional instruments.
Genre: Folk: British Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Burning of Auchindoon
2:21 $0.99
2. The Gypsy Laddie
3:50 $0.99
3. Sheath and Knife
5:45 $0.99
4. Thomas the Rhymer
7:09 $0.99
5. Clerk Saunders
4:36 $0.99
6. The Broom of Cowdenknows
8:00 $0.99
7. The Silkie
3:39 $0.99
8. Fair Annie
6:55 $0.99
9. Young Benjie
4:10 $0.99
10. The Lowlands of Holland
3:50 $0.99
11. The Trumpeter of Fyvie
5:43 $0.99
12. The Well Below the Valley
4:44 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I have been singing traditional songs and ballads for over 50 years. Most I learned from songbooks; some from LPs and, later, CDs; a few from other singers. The songs on this CD are to a very large degree my own arrangements, both textually and musically. My gratitude nevertheless goes out to a long list of present-day and earlier revival and source singers whose interpretations have inspired me over the years to continue singing: Anne Briggs, Hedy West, Joan Baez, Sandy Denny, June Tabor, Frankie Armstrong, Anita Best, Moira Cameron, Rika Ruebsaat, Paddy Tutty. Thank you all of you.

Musicians on Sheath and Knife:

Rosaleen Gregory - Vocals, Guitar;
John Leeder - Octave Mandolin, Banjo;
Derek Lofthouse –Irish Flute crafted by Terry McGee, “Canto” Hurdy-Gurdy by Wolfgang Weichselbaumer, Northumbrian
Smallpipes in G by Richard Evans, Northumbrian Smallpipes in F by Colin Ross, Border Pipes in A by John Burke, Whistle in A by Michael Burke.

Track Notes:

1. Burning of Auchindoon - Child #183(Willie Macintosh) 2:21 Vocal (V) & Border Pipes (BP).
An act of revenge against the Earl of Huntly (to whom Auchindoon belonged) by supporters of the Earl of Murray, whose murder is the subject of another ballad, “The Bonny Earl of Murray”. These events took place in 17th century Scotland.

2. The Gypsy Laddie - Child #200 3:50 V, Guitar (G), Octave Mandolin (OM) & Hurdy-Gurdy (HG).
My favourite version of this well-known ballad of enchantment and elopement. As it sometimes has a happy ending, and I don’t have many of those in my repertoire, that’s how I sing it.

3. Sheath and Knife - Child #16 5:45 V, OM, BP & Whistle.
A heart-breaking tale of illicit love. Is it only the arrival of the baby that forces the issue? Broom, whose bright golden flowering bushes cover Scottish hills and moors, has a strong link with sex in this and other ballads, including (for example) “Hind Horn” and, of course, “The Broom of Cowdenknows”, #6 on this CD. Broom is not to be confused with gorse, which is equally golden and prolific and grows in similar areas, but is, alas, extremely prickly. By the way, “Hind Horn” is on my second Child ballad CD, Serpent’s Knee.

4. Thomas the Rhymer – Child #37 7:10 V, G, OM & Flute (F).
Thomas the Rhymer, alias Thomas of Ercildoune, was a 13th century Scottish seer, but whether he got his celebrated gift of prophecy from this meeting with the Queen of Elfland is hard to say. The Eildon Hills, including the Eildon Tree and Huntlie Bank, are located not far from the ancestral home of another weaver of word magic, the poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford, who lived there in the early 19th century and himself hunted for traditional songs and ballads.

5. Clerk Saunders – Child #69 4:37 Vocal, A cappella.
One of the most powerful ballads I know. As with Tristan and Isolde, this ‘deep’ and ‘heavy’ passion leads inexorably to an ‘honour killing’ and death.

6. The Broom of Cowdenknows – Child #217 8:00 V, OM, F & Northumbrian Smallpipes (NS). Everyone in this ballad cheerfully lies to everyone else, but without apparent ill effects. The ‘bucht’ where the action begins is a sheep-fold;’yowes’ are ewes; and for the significance of ‘broom’, see #3, above.

7. The Silkie – Child #113 (The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry) 3:39 V, G & F.
In Gaelic folklore, ‘silkies’ are seals that inhabit the frigid waters around the Shetland Islands but sometimes come onto land, take human form, and father half-human children, as in this story. The tune is by Dr. James Waters.

8. Fair Annie - Child #62 6:56 V, OM & HG.
A celebration of sisterhood and some mixed emotions – is Lord Thomas shamed by Annie’s loyalty into a better attitude by the end of the story? Best just to tell it and not delve too deep - I don’t find any simple explanations here.

9. Young Benjie – Child #86 4:10 V, A cappella.
A grim revenge story, featuring the folk belief that the victim will reveal the murderer at midnight on the night before burial. The word ‘stout’ seems to have several meanings; Benjie is stubborn, (‘bone-headed’, one might say), while Marjorie fights death by drowning with a pluck born of despair.
A “linn” is a waterfall, or the pool below it.

10. The Lowlands of Holland – Child #92 (Bonny Bee Hom) 3:50 V, Banjo & NS.
Strictly speaking, this is a broadside ballad, perhaps originally forming part of a longer narrative ballad but now standing by itself as one of numerous 18th and early 19th century laments for lovers forced into active service by the notorious ‘press-gangs’ whose job it was to round up the ‘cannon fodder’ needed to keep Britain ‘mistress of the seas’.

11. The Trumpeter of Fyvie - Child #233 (Andrew Lammie) 5:44 V, OM & NS.
A dark domestic tragedy based, allegedly, on true events occurring in 17th century Scotland. Andrew Lammie is Lord Fyvie’ s trumpeter, not of sufficiently high social standing to wed his daughter. The couple fall in love, with tragic consequences when Andrew is forced to leave her alone to the tender mercies of her family.

12. The Well below the Valley – Child #21 (The Maid and the Palmer) 4:44 V, G, OM & F.
Incest and infanticide - wanton promiscuity or horrendous sexual abuse – again the story is best just told as it is. This is an Irish version, and when the young woman speaks of her interlocutor as ‘a man of the noble fame’ she is placing him as a singer or poet who, like Thomas the Rhymer, is gifted with second sight, so that he not only knows about her past, but can predict her future too.



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