Sleeve Notes for The Waiting by Issy & David Emeney with Kate Riaz
The send album from this trio and it contains some wonderful playing and singing as well as cracking tunes. Played on melodeon, cello and either guitar or bouzouki.
I began making up tunes almost as soon as I started learning the melodeon 10 or 12 years ago. There seemed to be a mystique surrounding the playing of traditional music that I didn’t understand (I’m a little wiser now but not much!) so I reasoned that, if I played my own tunes, no one could tell me I was playing them too fast, too slow, wrong key, wrong notes or even on the wrong instrument, although I expect there are plenty of people who think the melodeon is always the wrong instrument!
Many of the ditties are composed in my head whilst rambling the beautiful Mendip Hills where we live, and much of my inspiration has come from our three lovely girls, Flora, Martha and Agnes, who are a bit too cool to play this sort of music at this stage in their lives, but I’m optimistic for the future!
I am so grateful to David for his unfailing support and for liking the songs enough to want to sing and play them, and to Kate for bringing it all to life with huge skill and care - no such thing as just ‘bunging a bit of cello on’ for Kate!
Issy plays a Wheatstone English concertina and Castagnari melodeons in D/G, C/F and A/D.
David plays Fylde guitar and bouzouki and a Belgarth bodhran
Kate’s cello is ‘just a cello’ she says.
1 The Tree Men
- inspired by the legend of the standing stones at Stanton Drew in Somerset. In the absence of a devil fiddler we think Kate does a pretty good job as a demonic cellist!
2 Lark Rise
I had the pleasure of finding a suitable melodeon for ‘Alf’ to play in the BBC television Lark Rise to Candleford series - it comes from Ruth Askew’s wonderful collection - and teaching him which way up to hold it. I wrote this tune hoping the BBC would love it and use it - they didn’t!! However, Ashley Hutchins did like it and I recorded a version of it for his new Lark Rise Revisited album.
3 The Waiting
yes, I know that a song about a maid waiting on the shore for her long departed sailor sweetheart to return has been done before, but some songs just sort of write themselves and you can’t stop ‘em. In any case, I wrote it to go with The Bristol Sailor to reflect the other side of the story - is it just me or is there a hint of irritation in her words?
4 The Bristol Sailor
having been born and raised in Suffolk which is a little on the flat side, I instantly fell in love with the hills of Somerset when we moved here six years ago, and miss them greatly when away. I began to imagine how a sailor of old, at sea for years at a time, would develop a desparate longing for those hills, and his sweetheart of course.
5 Little Agnes
written for our youngest daughter when she was about four and a tiny scrap of a thing. The original title was Wee Agnes, but she was dreadfully upset because “wee is rude” (we never told her that I promise).
6 The Mole Catcher
A song from the West Country that Baring Gould obviously didn’t get his hands on and clean up!
7 The Bird Scarer’s Song
together with two other folkie chums Bernard and Elisabeth Coulter, we visit schools cunningly disguised in Victorian garb, and sing songs about what it would have been like to be a poor working child of the period. We call ourselves History Folk, by the way. Bird scaring was one of the less unspeakable jobs children did, but knowing how hard it is to get our three girls up for school in the morning, I was moved to write this sad little song.
8 May to Midsummer
- it does what it says on the box so to speak in that I started it one day in May and finished it one midsummers day.
9 Song for a young Man
- written for an exceptional boy whom we never knew. He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 15, and had been in love with our eldest daughter.
10 The Gypsy Countess
- the prequel to the song of the Seven Gypsies, or Raggle Taggle Gypsies. It’s a mystery to me why on earth the fine lady would leave her goose feather bed and all that to sleep on the cold open ground (I’ve done my fair share of festival camping too!). This song explains it all - sort of, although personally if I’d been her...!
11 Jenny Lind/The Reluctant Fiddler/The First of September
- two of my favourite traditional tunes. The second tune refers to our middle daughter Martha, a gifted but uninterested fiddler. Her occasional teacher John Dipper suggested all manner of bribery and corruption to persuade her to continue, but to no avail - the reluctance sadly proved terminal.