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Sleeve Notes for Heirlooms by Chris Sarjeant

HeirloomsIn popular usage, an heirloom is something, perhaps an antique or some kind of jewelry, that has been passed down for generations through family members.

In a reasonably short time, Chris has built a strong reputation as a live performer, appearing at a number of the country’s leading folk clubs and venues, in addition to this, Chris has worked as a performer for several years as part of leading music charity Live Music Now and is in high demand in London where he lives, as a teacher, most recently tutoring in folk performance at Goldsmith’s College.  

Chris Sarjeant - Vocals/ Guitar/ Harmonium/Piano
Jonny Dyer - Accordion
Issy Emeny - Melodeon
Pete Flood - Percussion
Keith Kendrick - Concertina
Jackie Oates - 5 String Viola/ Vocals
Vicki Swan - Nyckelharpa/ Double Bass
Benedict Taylor - Strings


Chris is a young singer and guitarist steeped in the folk music tradition of the British Isles. Chris’s father, Derek Sarjeant was an early pioneer of the British revival, a performer, promoter and collector of folksong who made a number of radio and television appearances during the 1960s.

Chris initially set out to train as a professional pianist, a path which led to him spending  four years in Manchester studying at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.  It was whilst up north that Chris began rediscovering the sounds of his childhood and before long, a hankering for nostalgia developed into an obsession with the music of the folk tradition.

Since making the decision to devote himself to folk music, Chris has steadily built acclaim for both his guitar playing and for his vocal interpretation of English song and for his modern yet sympathetic arrangements.

2012 will see the release of Chris’s debut album, ‘Heirlooms’, and will feature several of the current movements leading instrumentalists including Jackie Oates, Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer, Keith Kendrick and Pete Flood in support.  

The title, ‘Heirlooms’, is a reference to songs that Chris performs now, passed down and cherished by successive generations of his family, and to the traditional passage of folksong in general.

Track Notes

1 Bonny Labouring Boy
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/BT

This version was learnt orally by my father one night at Chichester Folk Club.

2 Coast of Barbary
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/PF/KK/JO

This version I learnt from the recording made by Peter Bellamy on his 1979 album, Both Sides Then.

3 Lord Marlborough
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/JO/VS

John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) was a pre-eminent military and political figure during the reigns of Queen Anne and George I, in fact, to some historians, he is the greatest British military commander to have ever lived. He died of a stroke at his still unfinished, Blenheim palace in Oxfordshire. This song is a highly romanticised eulogy imagined as Marlborough's final words.

4 Once I Loved a Maiden Fair
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS

A song printed initially as a dance tune in Playford's “English Dancing Master” of 1651 although the original words still remain. My arrangement is influenced by Dave Swarbrick's mandolin variations.

5 Chilbridge Fair
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/IE/PF/JO

My father learnt this wonderfully euphemistic song from his friend John Pearse in the 60s and recorded it on his 1974 album - Folk Matters.

6 Farewell Dearest Nancy
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/BT

Lyrically, this is the version as recorded by Martin Carthy (without the final repetition of the first verse), the piano arrangement was inspired to a degree by Sharp's own settings.

7 Our Ship Lies in Harbour
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/JD/PF/VS

The main body of the song came from the Lucy Broadwood collection. I felt the story was somewhat incomplete and so added a couple of verses from the Bold Dragoon.

8 Coal not Dole
Words - K. Sutcliffe - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/JD

Kay Sutcliffe, whose husband lost his mining job in 1984, wrote these powerful words around a popular contemporary political slogan. The melody I took from Swan Arcade's acapella version.

9 AB Hornpipe/Mrs Bolowski's
K. Tickell - arr. C. Sarjeant CS

My arrangement of Kathryn Tickell's brilliant Northumbrian Pipe hornpipe and reel.

10 Rambling Robin
Trad. arr. C. Sarjeant CS/IE

I learnt this Yorkshire song from my mother who sang it on my parents final album, The Streams of Lovely Nancy.

11 Haymaking
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS

Again this popular Sussex song came from my parents

12 Streams of Lovely Nancy
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/KK/JO

Recorded by my parents as the title track on their final album. This is a beautifully poetic and at times, abstract Dorset version.

13 Bay of Biscay
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/JO/VS

This version came from Tim Hart and Maddy Prior on their 1968 album Folk Songs of Olde England Vol 2 and I had fun trying to trace a solo melody through their expert duet arrangement.

14 Wanton Seed
Trad - arr. C. Sarjeant CS/PF/VS

I grew up (like many others), listening to Nic Jones and this is my own modest tribute - Nic recorded The Wanton Seed on his 1977, and sadly currently unavailable album, The Noah's Ark Trap. 'Miles Weatherhill', from the same album was also an influence on the instrumentation