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Sleeve Notes for Off the Land by Granny's Attic

Off the LandGranny's Attic are a fantastic young folk trio who play the tradition with verve, energy and their own inimitable style. These three young men are all exceptional musicians, and fine singers and play a range of English, Irish and Scottish traditional music as well as their own compositions. Formed in 2009, out of a shared passion for folk music, they have been playing at clubs and festivals up and down the country, and have been heralded for their lively performances and maturity beyond their years in their delivery and selection of traditional songs.


Granny's Attic are Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (Melodeon, Concertina, Vocals), George Sansome (Guitar, Vocals) and Lewis Wood (Fiddle, Mandolin, Vocals).

They were nominated in the Young Musician of the Year competition in 2014 and  have been acclaimed by Jon Boden of Bellowhead as having

'Great tunes, Great arrangement, and Great Energy’

Track Notes

1 Away To The South’ard
Trad. Arr. Granny’s Attic

We came across this in Stan Hugill’s incomparable book Shanties from the Seven Seas. Hugill gives two sources for it: Davis & Tozer, and Harlow, suggesting that it was written by the former. It was well established as a capstan shanty by the early twentieth century. Some of the verses given in Hugill’s book were slightly questionable, so we added a few floating verses from other shanties. The word ‘cheerily’ means ‘quickly’, rather than ‘happily’. We’re not sure why anyone would want to go down South as quickly as possible, but we’re certain that they wouldn’t be happy about it… But what do we know, we’re just Midlanders.

2 Lacy House/Right Under The Bridge
Lewis Wood

Lewis brought these tunes to the band when we were staying in Hebden Bridge for a gig in 2014. The first tune is named after the house we stayed in. The second tune we named after an unnecessarily long—and slightly inebriated—taxi journey back from the gig. We won’t go into too much detail here, but buy us a pint and we’ll tell you about it.

3 False Lady
Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic

A variant of Child ballad 68, ‘Young Hunting’. Like all good ballads, some variants of ‘Young Hunting’ run to over 25 verses but we’ve opted for a more compact rendition here. We came across this variant in Bertrand Bronson’s The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads Volume II printed as ‘The Faulse Layde’, we’ve decided to correct the spelling (apologies to any traditional spelling purists). The song was collected from Thomas Edward Nelson of Union Mill, New Brunswick on 18th February 1929. The instrumental section features the traditional tune ‘William Irwin’s’, also known as ‘Barbara Allen’.

4 Horkstow Grange
Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic

This was collected from G. Gouldthorpe by Percy Grainger in Lincolnshire in 1906. Grainger included it in his famous Lincolnshire Posy arrangement for wind band, which George (in his classical guise) played with the Leeds University Symphonic Wind Orchestra in 2015. We decided not to feature his euphonium playing on the album – we’re sure his parents or any of his neighbours will tell you why. One ‘old miser’ (sorry Dad) got very excited at the mention of ‘Steeleye Span’ and played us ‘All Around My Hat’ for a whole week after he first heard us sing this.

5 The Death of Nelson
Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic

We came across this song in Peter Bellamy’s Maritime England Suite. Peter’s verses are an amalgamation of two songs; ‘Nelson’s Death’ collected from George Dunn of Quarry Bank in the Black Country, and ‘Nelson’s Monument’ from Harry Cox of Norfolk. We’ve taken the liberty of pilfering a verse—with a bit of a tweak—from Bert Lloyd’s rendition of ‘Nelson’s Death’ to conclude the song. We’ve seen this song called a few different things; our title does slightly give the story away but we thought it was better than ‘A New Song and Monument to Admiral Lord Nelson Detailing His Death and Victory On Board a British Man o’ War on the 21st October 1805’. That was a bit tricky to remember at gigs.

6 Rod’s (Mr Adams’ Schottische/Portswood Hornpipe/Steamkettle)
Lewis Wood

The Rod and the Mr Adams in the name of the first tune is Rod Adams, a promoter in Weymouth, Dorset. He’s put on some great artists (and us) and we have close links with that area as Lewis’s and Cohen’s grandparents live nearby. Portswood is the horrible/bizarre/slightly endearing area of Southampton where most of the students–including Lewis—live. It’s really nice. Honest. Doug Watt suggested we name the last tune ’Steamkettle’ after he noticed its references to ‘The Steamboat Hornpipe’.

7 Poor Old Man
Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic

We learnt this from the Ian Campbell Group’s recording, featured on the Topic compilation Sailor’s Songs & Sea Shanties. After the first month at sea when sailors’ wages were due they ritually dumped a stuffed horse overboard; this had its origins in an English village tradition involving men dressing as horses for pantomime. They would sing, dance and collect beer money – we like to see ourselves as bearers of at least two of those traditions.

8 The Coalowner and the Pitman’s Wife
Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic

This is one of the best known songs from the North East of England and was printed in A.L. Lloyd’s Come All Ye Bold Miners. Allegedly Lloyd wrote a few extra lines to bulk out the song which have now passed into the tradition (thanks for that Bert!). Cohen first heard this one sung in the slightly more unusual 6/8 rhythm at a folk club in Birmingham many years ago and has sung it like that ever since. The tune at the end is the well-known jig ‘Morrisons’.

9 After the Floods
Lewis Wood

One of Lewis’s tunes, written in the winter of 2015. Whilst he was writing it Scotland and the North of England were suffering from severe flooding, which Lewis was hearing all about in sunny Southampton. When an audience member suggested we name the tune After the Floods, we thought it seemed fitting (and slightly better than the working title ‘Slow tune in Eb’).

10 Country Hirings
Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic

We learnt this one from Roy Palmer’s collection, The Painful Plough. The words are from a broadside printed by Harkness of Preston, and the tune is ‘The Painful Plough’ from Sabine Baring-Gould’s Songs of the West. Up until the early twentieth century, labourers went to hiring fairs to find employment. As a result of the ongoing enclosures, farmers became more managers and employers rather than sharing the work of their men, often resulting in the labourers shouldering a disproportionate share of any burdens as described in this song. Whilst there may be fewer people earning their living off the land today, this is by no means an unfamiliar situation.

11 Two Brothers
Lewis Wood/Trad. Arr Granny’s Attic/Lewis Wood

Child ballad 49, a classic ballad of sibling rivalry and murder. The text is an amalgamation and tune is also something of an amalgamation. Cohen put together this song after finishing early in an A level music exam, perhaps the only half decent piece of music to come out of an A level music exam? We all have brothers but we’ve not made any plans to wrestle or stab them…yet. The two tunes either side were written by Lewis.