Parallel Strands

by Martin & Shan Graebe

This album brings together two aspects of Martin Graebe:- his ability to write great songs in traditional styles and his skill and patience in researching the songs from the C19th collection of Baring-Gould. Many of the songs are recorded here for the first time since Baring-Gould noted them down and all the arrangements of Martins own songs are new. 

Martin Graebe - vocals
Shan Cowan - vocals
Paul Burgess - Fiddle
Jeff Gillett - Guitar and Mandola
Keith Kendrick - English and Anglo Concertina
Barry Lister - Tuba and Trombone
Paul Sartin - Oboe
Paul Wilson - Accordion & Percussion (Granite, Slate and Tom)
additional vocals - Doug Bailey, Lynne Heraud, Barry Lister and Pat Turner

Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould (1834 1924) was a pioneering collector of English Traditional songs and a mentor to later collectors such as Cecil Sharp. Though he was also a highly regarded writer and antiquarian, he regarded his collection of songs from the mouths of the ordinary people of Devon and Cornwall, made between 1887 and 1916, to be the crowning achievement of his life. While he published many of these songs during his lifetime in his two major collections Songs of the West and A Garland of Country Song, he acknowledged that because he had been obliged by the need to reach a wide audience, he had found it necessary to edit a number of the songs. Recognising that future students of folk song might be interested in the songs as actually collected, he gave his original Fair Copy (containing 202 songs) and his rough manuscripts to Plymouth Library. These manuscripts, together with a few others (including those sent to F J Child at Harvard) were the basis of study until 1992 when a chance discovery of a large quantity of previously unrecognised material was made. Since that time Martin, and more recently Shan, have been working on these manuscripts to index and transcribe them and to understand their significance. In the process of this research they have also discovered a number of lovely songs.



This recording has been a long time in the making. It has been on my To Do list for at least 5 years and I had done some planning for a solo CD but those plans had not been translated into much action. Two years ago I started to sing with Shan and we have both enjoyed performing a growing repertoire of songs from the Baring-Gould collection. When Doug Bailey invited us in the summer of 2004 to make a CD with Wildgoose Records, he wanted to do something that brought that traditional material together with my own songs. (Indeed, his provisional title for the CD was The Two Faces of Martin Graebe!) And so the concept of Parallel Strands was born.

Initially we thought more of the CD might be unaccompanied but we were very pleased to find that a number of musicians, some old friends and some new, were keen to help. Working with musicians in this way was new to us and, it has to be said, some of the things that we naively asked them to do were a bit of a stretch. It has been an real pleasure to work with them and to learn together - we are both grateful to them and awed by their talent. So, my solo, unaccompanied, traditional CD has grown a bit. A number of the songs are here recorded for the first time since Baring-Gould noted them down in the late 19th Century. In the case of my own songs the arrangements are all new. Shan and I have greatly enjoyed putting this collection together for you. We hope that you enjoy listening to it.

1.  Lavender Green (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan) Roud 3483

Baring-Gould heard this sung by Louisa Williams in West Devon.  She had only portions of the verses, and the tune that she sang it to was Bobbing Joan.  Baring-Gould completed the ballad from the set in the Roxburghe Collection of ballads.  Here and elsewhere it is known as Diddle, Diddle or The Kind Country Lovers and has a number of diddles scattered liberally throughout the verses.  Louisa Williams clearly believed life was too short for that many diddles and, in any case, we cannot see how they would have fitted this tune.  There is another song, My Dog and I which shares some of the verses but is extremely rude and confirms, as Steve Harrison suggested to us, that Dog was slang for the male member in the 17th Century.

Vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Mandola - Jeff Gillett, Anglo Concertina  Keith Kendrick, Fiddle  Paul Burgess, Accordion  Paul Wilson

2.   Stonecracker John (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe /Gillett)

There are images from literature that stick in the mind and, for me, one of those is that of the roadman whose identity Richard Hannay borrows in John Buchans The Thirty-Nine Steps.  Robert Hard, one of Baring-Goulds singers, ended his life as a stone-breaker on the roads.  This song is about work, its ephemeral nature and a mans pride in what he does.  Paul Wilsons percussion on this track uses a piece of Dartmoor granite as well as slate (though not Cornish).

Vocal  Martin Graebe, Guitar - Jeff Gillett, Percussion  Paul Wilson

3.   Tyburn Hill (Traditional)

Baring-Gould heard this song from Sam Fone of Mary Tavy.  It is a version of Jack Hall, a song about a burglar executed in 1701.  It was included in the repertoire of a singer called Ross in the 1850s and its popularity was such that it became part of the repertoire of many country singers.  Sam Fones take on it is, though, quite distinct from other collected versions.

Vocal  Martin Graebe, English Concertina  Keith Kendrick

4.   Peters Private Army (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan/Gillett)

Jeff plays The Rogues March to introduce this song which written after reading an account in Henry Mayhews London Labour and the London Poor of beggars pretending to be ex-soldiers or sailors to lend respectability to their appeal.  These Turnpike Sailors and Street Campaigners were very rarely what they pretended to be  -  but after knowing Peter and his band for several years Im more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Mandola - Jeff Gillett, Anglo Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle  Paul Burgess, Tuba & Trombone  Barry Lister, Percussion  Paul Wilson, 

5.   Tobacco (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

This song is a direct descendant of one composed by the unruly song-writer George Wither in about 1670.  There is an early manuscript of Withers song in Baring-Goulds papers and the lineage is clear  -  though a lot of the words are different!  Chappell, writing in 1859, talked of the songs enduring popularity, though he believed that the quality of the song had deteriorated as it had been re-iterated.  Baring-Gould collected it from  a number of singers around Dartmoor and I have usually introduced the version that we sing as coming from Anne Roberts of Scobbetor.  In preparing this recording we went back to the manuscripts and checked every song that we sing and hauled words and tune back as close to the original as we could.  In this case we found that, after having learned it in the Jolly Porter in Exeter more than 30 years ago I had changed it beyond recovery.  Looking back to George Withers original I can see that I am part of a long line.

Vocal  -  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan

6.   I had Two Ships (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

Baring-Gould collected this song in 1893 from John Woodrich of Thrushleton who told Baring-Gould This was sung by a woman  she was so drunk that she couldnt sing more than these two verses, and she sung em over and over  that then was no forgetting em.  This was out on the line by Tresmeare.  This must have been at the time when Ginger Jack was navying and the woman (whom Baring-Gould notes against the tune as a tramp) was probably one of the camp followers.  I have not found another version of this song though there is The Prisoners Song in the USA which was written in the Twentieth Century by Guy Massey and popularized by Vernon Dalhart.  Somewhere there is a common antecedent. 

Vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Mandola - Jeff Gillett, Anglo Concertina  Keith Kendrick, Fiddle  Paul Burgess

7. Sly Reynard / The Hunting Song Traditional / Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

We have put together a cantering Dartmoor version of the hunting song Bold Reynard the Fox (Roud 1868) using words given to Baring-Gould by Roger Hannaford with the tune that he got from Sam Fone.  We have then added one of my own songs which paints a slightly different picture.  I have never ridden to hounds and never had any ambition to do so.  It saddens me, though, that something that is so much a part of the fabric of our countryside and that is so valued by country people is being lost.

Vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan 

8.   One Night at Ten O Clock (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Gillett)

The mention of Admiral Rodney in this song dates it to the latter part of the Eighteenth Century.  Baring-Gould was given it by Sam Fone of Mary Tavy in 1892 and published an unnecessarily modified version in A Garland of Country Song.  Baring-Gould was not able to find a broadside or any other published version of the song.

Vocal  - Martin Graebe, Guitar  Jeff Gillett

9.   Maiden Under Willow (Traditional. Arr Graebe/Cowan)

Baring-Gould collected one verse and the tune for this cheeky little song from William Kerswell of Two Bridges on Dartmoor in 1890.  In the following year he collected a fuller version from William Nicholls of nearby Whitchurch which we have used to complete the song.  Baring-Gould also copied into his manuscript a published text of the song called The Shady Tree which was published in The Maid of the Mill Garland of 1770.  Mary Humphreys has another version of the song from Newfoundland which she calls Pride of the Season.

Vocal  Shan Cowan and Martin Graebe, Anglo Concertina  Keith Kendrick, Fiddle  Paul Burgess

10. Jack in the Green (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan/Gillett)

At Rockbeare, to the east of Exeter, is a Pub called The Jack in The Green that I used to visit in the 70s when I lived near there.  It deserved a song and this was it.  It has since become one of the most widely recorded of my songs and has often been attributed to the tradition.  That is, to me, very flattering and I would like to think that it indicates that I have captured the essence of the custom in the song.

Vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Guitar - Jeff Gillett, Accordion  Paul Wilson

11. Jacky My Son (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

This is a version of Lord Randal (Child 12, Roud 10) that was sent to Baring-Gould by a Miss Adams of Plymouth who had learned it in 1835 from her nurse.  Baring-Gould also collected this from John Woodrich in 1896.  On another visit to John Woodrich in 1905 he was joined by Cecil Sharp who noted the tune to the song again and came up with a rather different result.  Whether Woodrich had changed his tune or Baring-Gould didnt note it correctly in the first place, we preferred the earlier version.

Vocal  Shan Cowan and Martin Graebe

12. Honiton Lace (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

This was one of the first songs that I wrote.  I saw a letter in the Rougemont Museum in Exeter describing the life of a Honiton Lace-worker and wrote this song over the next couple of days.  The tune is based on a version of The Handsome Cabin Boy.

Lead vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, English Concertina  Keith Kendrick, Fiddle  Paul Burgess

13. The Maid and her Swain (Traditional, Arr Cowan/Gillett)

This lovely little song was one of several sent to Baring-Gould by Lady Lethbridge.  He says, in his note to the song, that he believes that the first verse is missing and he was not able to identify its source.  I have been no more successful, so far.  The tune that Jeff Gillett plays at the end is Richards Hornpipe is one of several collected by Baring-Gould from the fiddler William Andrew of Sheepstor.

Vocal  Shan Cowan, Guitar - Jeff Gillett

14. From Severn, By the Somme (Written by Martin Graebe)

For those whose grandparents were young adults during the Great War that conflict is a source of boundless fascination.  Polished brass shell-cases, faded photographs of men in uniform and cap badges from forgotten regiments decorated their parlours and led to questions, often not answered because of painful memories.  This song was written shortly after a visit to Northern France to look at relics of the conflict and to try to understand it better.  While I was there I became fascinated with the stories of some of the bit-part players who never left France and who were buried alongside the soldiers they had gone to support  -  Nurses, Clerks, Cooks, Entertainers, Missionaries and other trades, many of them, of course, women.  In the great Cities of the Dead they lie in honoured places.

Vocal - Martin Graebe

15. Rouse, Rouse (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

A wonderful Cornish carol sent to Baring-Gould from St Issy by Mr J W Yeale who had heard it sung when he was a boy some 30 years earlier.  Loose in the manuscript there is also a printed copy of another version of the carol sent to Baring-Gould by Lady Ingeborg Molesworth-St Aubyn who published it, together with a cutting from the West Briton describing how it had been collected in 1921 from Mrs Lobb of Penrose who had learnt it from her grandfather.  This is closer to the version of this carol that is still sung in Padstow.

Lead vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Anglo Concertina  Keith Kendrick, Fiddle  Paul Burgess, Accordion Paul Wilson. Tuba  Barry Lister, Oboe  Paul Sartin, Additional vocals - Doug Bailey, Lynn Heraud, Barry Lister and Pat Turner.

16. Laying My Life on the Line (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan/Gillett)

Small boys love to watch men at work and I was no exception.  I used to travel to school by train as a kid, often on my own, and the gangers working on the rails were of great interest.  This is another song about the nature of work, written several years after Stonecracker John.   

Vocal  Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Guitar - Jeff Gillett

Lavender Green
See description section for notes
Stonecracker John
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Tyburn Hill
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Peters Private Army
See description section for notes
Sample not available
See description section for notes
Sample not available
I had Two Ships
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Sly Reynard / The Hunting Song
See description section for notes
Sample not available
One Night at Ten O Clock
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Maiden Under Willow
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Jack in the Green
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Jacky My Son
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Honiton Lace
See description section for notes
The Maid and her Swain
See description section for notes
Sample not available
From Severn
Sample not available
Rouse Rouse
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Laying My Life on the Line
See description section for notes
Sample not available

Around Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

This CD brings together Martins ability as a traditional songwriter and his extensive research into the collection

of Sabine Baring?Gould. His songs Jack?in?the?Green and From Severn, by the Somme are often referred to

as traditional, which he finds a great compliment. He really is a wonderful songwriter.

Included from the S.B. Gould Collection are Tyburn Hill, Jacky, My Son, Rouse, Rouse and The Maid and the Swain ? sung touchingly by Shan. Both sing unaccompanied and their voices blend and harmonise perfectly.

Joined on some songs by Keith Kendrick (always a pleasure to hear), Paul Burgess and Paul Wilson amongst others.

The timekeeping is good and there is a delightful atmosphere overlaying the whole CD.


John Denny

Lynne and Pats voices are very different to each other but contrast very

well. Pat plays the guitar. The opening track is The Moon Shines Bright

(trad). It has the air of being a traditional Easter carol. Autumn is Down

is written by Pat Turner about working the land, harvesting the grain before

it rains again. It is sung very effectively as an a cappella duet. Odd Sock,

written by Lynne Heraud, is a neatly written song for the single person. It

is pleasing to see another poem by Keith Scowcroft put to a tune by Lynne

Heraud and Where the Seeds of Love Grew is an excellent example of his work.

I like Cupids Garden (trad.) and particularly the way Pat and Lynne sing

it. Nothing fancy, just well and simply done. Fair Maid of Islington (trad.)

is a tale frequently encountered of wild oats sown and reaped (in this case)

in a law court. It is nicely done. Regret, written by Lynne Heraud,

expresses a type of emotional courage needed to end a relationship. Bright

Fine Gold is an unusual traditional song about a get rich quick person not

getting rich enough fast enough, if at all.

The chorus of No More (Brenda Orrell) is one I could quite happily join

with. It probably will not change anything but the thought of no more war

has timeless appeal that could have been written at any period of the last

two hundred years. The record ends with the comically heart rending I Just

Want to be Like the Other Girls (Heraud). The writing style is reminiscent

of Keith Marsden at his whimsical best.

Lynne and Pat have produced a very listenable CD and I look forward to more

from them.

Dai Woosnam

Dai Woosnam

This CD arrived on my desk at the exact same moment we lost the great Cyril Tawney. And this proved to be of significance when it came to reviewing this CD. And here is for why.

You see, whenever a major figure takes his final bow, it is inevitable that we critics want to take our own retrospective view of that artiste's often considerable creative output. And in playing my Tawney albums, one LP got played more than the others: his wonderful 1971 album for Trailer �Down Among The Barley Straw�. This Tawney album has, on its cover, these words under its title: �Seduction songs from the Baring-Gould manuscripts�.

Now, the material on these two albums 34 years apart, does not overlap: the repertoire is completely different. But that said, it has this in common: both recordings were made from the standpoint of total respect for the lifetime works of the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould.

And lest you think that is stating the obvious, let me remind you that the said Reverend's long life (1834-1924) had moments in it that were not to everyone's cup of tea. Indeed it is fair to say that the last 34 years have been kinder to him, and his magnificent contribution to Folk Song collecting has been more widely accepted and acknowledged. But back in 1971, Baring-Gould was generally regarded as a narrow-minded Victorian who had committed the gravest of crimes in bowdlerising some of the finest songs he collected. Back then in 1971 at the tail-end of Flower Power and the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, this was seen as nothing short of �cultural vandalism�, and Baring-Gould was regarded by many Folkies as an arch criminal, and quite beyond the pale.

But just as Peter Bellamy did his bit to �rehabilitate� an even greater man's image (Rudyard Kipling)  an image that shouldn't have needed rehabilitating - so Cyril Tawney went to work on the Reverend. He pointed out that Baring-Gould was a product of his time, and was able to put his actions in context. And he was also able to show that contrary to popular belief, many of the �offensive� lyrics were indeed kept by Baring-Gould and not destroyed.

And thus we find ourselves today in 2005 and far different times. Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan when making this CD did not find themselves putting their heads up over the parapet (and thus inviting the Folk Mafia to take pot shots). Times are different. Old Sabine is a good guy now.

And Martin Graebe also deserves credit for his long research into Baring-Gould. Graebe is noted for his considerable knowledge on his subject. And these two singers met a few years ago at the �Baring-Gould Study Break�. Thus it is that this duo have been singing together for a goodly while now: and it shows. They have that blending of voices that rarely comes overnight.

This was originally planned as an �a cappella� album, but some musician chums asked if they could have some input. And the album is all the better for them. I particularly liked Keith Kendrick's fine concertina accompaniment.

Nothing on the album grated, and every track paid its rent on the CD. Ask me for a stand-out track and I have to give you an answer that may disappoint Sabine's true fans: Track 14, �From Severn, By The Somme�. It is one of several Graebe originals on this CD, written simpatico with the Baring-Gould collection (hence the album's title �Parallel Strands�). But it shows Graebe's abilities as a songwriter to the full.

A �must� for fans of Sabine Baring-Gould, and a strong �maybe� for others.

David Kidman

David Kidman

This CD proves a not entirely unexpected delight, but not exactly in the way I'd expected! It's one of those typically intelligently planned WildGoose products whose title is very carefully chosen to reflect the contents through multiple layers of meaning. In this case, the provisional Two Faces Of Martin Graebe title was jettisoned in favour of parallel strands, which refers initially to the two major influences on the singing of the two featured performers � i.e. Martin's own songs, and songs from the collection of the pioneering Victorian song-collector Sabine Baring-Gould � but, as the front cover design cunningly demonstrates, many other strands and connections are woven into the aural tapestry to connect past and present, contemporary performance and composition with tradition. And often virtually seamlessly too. Martin's probably best known as a writer of songs in traditional style, though many folks know his songs without realising their composed origin. Martyn Wyndham-Read has already, and memorably, recorded the brilliantly potent From Severn, By The Somme (perhaps the jewel in Mr. Graebe's richly adorned crown), but Jack-in-the-Green, Honiton Lace and November Drinking Song are but three of his other compositions which have gained wider currency. On Parallel Strands, the first-named pair of these are revisited from Martin's earlier (1975) Folktrax cassette (along with Peter's Private Army), and these, together with a further three fine compositions, make up Martin's self-penned contingent among the CD's 16 tracks. As a singer, Martin has an interesting voice, pleasing to listen to yet also intense in its own quiet, thoughtfully expressive way. Martin's other face is as the leading researcher, writer and expert on the work of Baring-Gould; since 1992, Martin, and more recently Shan too) has been working on indexing and transcribing the original Fair Copy and rough manuscripts of the 202 songs in the Collection (currently housed in Plymouth Library), and this activity has resulted in a number of songs being recorded for the first time since their original collection, several of which crop up on this new CD. These include some unusual versions of well-known ballads (Tyburn Hill's an intriguing take on Jack Hall, and Jacky My Son is a pre-Sharp collection of Lord Randal) and a more fragmentary version (Maiden Under Willow) of the song which Mary Humphreys recorded for her Sharp Practice CD as Pride Of The Season. It's not always clear from the booklet notes as to the origins of the tunes used, however. As for Shan, her involvement in the Baring-Gould collection has extended lately to an exploration of songs sung to Baring-Gould by women; on this disc, her own singing is confident, and characterful, personable and harmonious. I'm glad, too, that she also gets a lovely solo song on this disc (the all-too-brief The Maid And Her Swain). But in fact, the individual voices of Martin and Shan go together most persuasively, and it's a pity there aren't more acappella tracks on this CD. I understand that the original intention was to include more unaccompanied items, but a number of musician friends were so keen to help, and their contributions so well-judged� well you know how it is! For how can you resist musician friends like Keith Kendrick (anglo and English concertinas), Paul Burgess (fiddle), Paul Wilson (accordion, percussion) and Jeff Gillett (guitar, mandola)?! � inevitably, their various contributions are vital and enriching, and they're augmented even further on the wonderfully er, rousing Cornish carol Rouse, Rouse by oboe, tuba and four-piece vocal chorus. Just once or twice I felt the fulsomeness of the (admittedly limited in terms of scoring) instrumental accompaniment a little too fulsome and even slightly twee in impact, as on the quite jaunty I Had Two Ships, but for the most part I found the backings genuinely enhancing and relatively unobtrusive � even if I felt that on one or two songs (eg Laying My Life On The Line) a backing of any kind wasn't strictly necessary. Altogether, the 16 tracks comprising this collection of songs both old and new sit most comfortably together and complement each other winningly; it's abundantly clear that Martin really has the gift for composing in the tradition. A hint of slight preciousness is perhaps not entirely avoidable on lighter material such as Martin's fox-hunting saga Sly Reynard, but here the fun doesn't wear as thin as quickly as it might in lesser hands (read voices!). My main (again in context slight) reservation about some of the material on this disc is that the principle of composing in the tradition seems to been extended a tad too far when some of the tunes Martin uses audibly bear uncanny, and not entirely fortuitous, resemblance to those accepted on, or commonly associated with, other songs in the folk corpus (in this respect, Peter's Private Army carries overtones of Blackleg Miner, Maiden Under Willow of that Cornish bellringing song � you know the one I'm sure! � and Honiton Lace resonances of a number of different songs from Month Of January out). But all in all, this is a disc replete with accessible performances of often stimulating material that transcends mere academic interest, and whereby good songs and good company provide much that is abundantly charming alongside a modicum of deeper, more thought-provoking moments.

Derek �Giff� Gifford

Derek �Giff� Gifford

I first met Martin Graebe a few years ago at the National Folk Festival where he was lecturing on the travels of folk song collector Sabine Baring-Gould - in Iceland of all places! It was obvious then that Martin had extensively researched the life and times of that esteemed Victorian gentleman.

It is no surprise, therefore, that this is a recording of a number of his collected songs as well as some of Martin's own compositions - and there's the rub - when I last chatted to Doug Bailey of Wild Goose about the two CD reviews I was completing he advised me not to read the sleeve notes of this one until after I'd listened to it. I can see (or hear!) why. There is no indication on the track listing on the tray of the CD of whose songs are which ( hence the CD's title, of course) and, unless they know Baring-Gould's collection inside out, I defy anyone to identify which are from the collector and which are Martin's own. Only the final song Laying My Life on the Line is obviously 'modern' both in terms of lyric and a rather bluesy tune and understated guitar accompaniment. The only one that I knew was Martin's was the excellent Stonecracker John which I have heard him and others sing before. A mark then of Martin's ability to write 'traditional' songs! Many of the collected songs are being given their first recorded outing so this CD acts as a collector's archive as well as for its own sake.

The performances are very well executed and Martin's clear, tonal voice is complemented delightfully on many of the tracks by Shan Cowan's subtle harmonies. The arrangements are also imaginative particularly on Jacky My Son. Martin sings solo on one of the most powerful of his own compositions the evocative From Severn, By the Somme.

Not content with just unaccompanied songs, Martin has enlisted the help of some fine musicians including Wild Goose 'regulars' Paul Sartin and Paul Burgess on oboe and fiddle respectively. Even me old 'mucker' Keith Kendrick gets a look in with his usual panache on both English and Anglo concertinas while Jeff Gillett adds tasteful guitar and mandola accompaniments on a few tracks. Barry Lister adds occasional 'interesting bits' with tuba and trombone as does Paul Wilson on accordion and percussion the latter of which includes granite and slate! Finally additional vocals from Barry, Doug and duo Lynne Heraud and Pat Tuner are provided on the Cornish carol, Rouse, Rouse.

So why not rouse yourself from reading yet another of Gifford's reviews in this edition of FolkNW and find time to order a copy of this superb CD from WildGoose


Jacqueline Patten

Parallel Strands is the culmination of many years work by Martin, bringing together two strands of his involvement in traditional music: his song?writing and his research into the songs collected by Baring Gould. Many people know his songs without realising where they come from, sometimes calling them traditional, a compliment for any contemporary writer. Some have travelled the world and been recorded by many performers. His research into, and promotion of, the songs collected by Baring Gould began in 1992 when a large quantity of previously unrecognised material was found at Killerton House in Devon. Since then he has devoted much time to the material which will be invaluable in years to come. Of late he has been joined by Shan in both performance and research.

Of the tracks on the album six were written by Martin while the rest are from the Baring Gould manuscripts. The sleeve notes give a concise background to each song. Most of them are sung by both Martin and Shan and all but one, `From Severn, By the Somme, are accompanied by an excellent group of musicians: Paul Burgess, Jeff Gillett, Keith Kendrick, Barry Lister, Paul Sartin and Paul Wilson. The diversity and talent of the musicians enhances the album greatly.

Collected a number of years before Sharps fieldwork, the songs from the manuscripts evoke the earlier period: at the same time the arrangements make them acceptable to a modern audience. I had to listen to the arrangement of Rouse, Rouse, a Cornish carol, several times before deciding that it is a good setting for this carol, still sung in Padstow, the rest of the songs I warmed to immediately. Martins compositions have a contemporary feel which lifts the album appropriately. A project undertaken with enthusiasm has produced an album that many will want to buy.

Folk Kernow


This is a deep venture that repays attention. Martins own songs so reflect the country life that the dividing line between them and songs collected by Baring?Gould is blurred. Result: a fascinating collection, roughly 50/50 of the 16 tracks being of each derivation. With another voice, female, and a small band of musicians, this is rich fare indeed. Track 15, the St. Issey

carol Rouse Rouse, is nothing short of magnificent.

Folk London

This CD from the leading expert on Sabine Baring?Gould features a mixture of songs from the B.G, collection and some of Graebes own songs, two of which have already become classics. (`Jack in the Green and `From Severn, by the Somme). Mostly he is in duet with Shan Cowan and their voices blend beautifully, as is evident from the very first song, `Lavender Green. Instrumental colour is provided by the mandola of Jeff Gillett, Keith Kendrick on anglo?concertina, Paul Burgess on fiddle and Paul Wilson on accordion. In his own songs, like Stonecracker John, Graebe performs with the passion and conviction one would expect of someone putting his own work over but a lot of the interest of this CD lies in the fact that many of the B?G songs are recorded here for the first time. These feature some currently unfashionable encomiums e.g. In praise of `Tobacco, returned as close to the 17th century original as possible, and `Sir Reynard (hunt, anyone?). One interesting oddity is a very strange and unresolved version of Randal collected from a Miss Adams of Plymouth and called Jacky my Son ? Graebe hints delicately in the notes that B?G might just have written the tune down wrong since his version differs so radically from Sharps. Cheer is provided by a joyous massed version of the Cornish carol `Rouse, rouse and the annotation to `I had two ships, which, according to John Woodrich was sung by a woman...she was so drunk that she couldnt sing more than these two verses (I think most of us have been there... ) in sum, a fascinating and accomplished CD worthy of a place on any serious collectors shelf.


Mike Everett

This is an absolutely gorgeous album from a duo that Im ashamed to say I didnt know before listening to this. This is a mix of songs written by Martin or collected by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould. I hadnt realised that I was already familiar with one or two of Martins songs like Honiton Lace and Jack in the Green and had incorrectly assumed that they were traditional! What finer tribute can there be for a contemporary folk song?

Many people will know of Baring-Gould as a hymn writer, with Onward Christian Soldiers being one of his better known hymns. Some will know that he was the inspiration for Pygmalion from his time as a curate in Horbury (of Rushcart fame) where he met the mill girl Grace Taylor, sent her away to be educated and then married her. However, it was as a collector of folk songs from Devon and Cornwall that Baring-Gould himself was most proud.

Martin and Shan have been researching and working on a large collection of material that only came to light in 1992. This is producing some wonderful songs, a number of which are on this album. I must admit to preferring the tracks when Shans voice is to the fore but thats just personal taste. Another album with a talented collection of backing instrumentalists and vocalists, including Keith Kendrick, Paul Burgess, Pat Turner and Lynne Heraud, which just goes to show how well thought of Martin and Shan are by their fellow folk musicians.

Shreds and Patches

Chris (Yorkie) Bartram

Reason number one to buy this CD - Most of the songs are from the lost collections of the great Victorian collector, Sabine BaringGould.

Reason number two - The overall presentation is beautifully sung and superbly recorded.

Reason number three - The musical accompaniments rank among the finest I have ever heard.

When our esteemed editor asked me to review this CD, I accepted for several reasons, not all honourable! For a start, I know Martin and Shan as part of a group of singers and musicians with whom I have had some very enjoyable sessions but I have not always considered their singing as my sort of thing. However, they do sing some unusual songs and I thought this CD might be an opportunity to learn some of them (Not the most honourable reason for reviewing a CD, I know). Martin is a leading expert on the songs collected by Baring-Gould and, more recently, Shan has also been involved in researching manuscripts that were only fairly recently discovered in Plymouth. Their approach to folk music is very different to mine. Their singing style is precise and beautifully articulated with clear diction; in pub sessions they rarely forget the words or stumble over tunes; they always treat the songs with the utmost respect - all in all, not my sort of thing at all! But I like them as people and I love meeting anyone who is passionate about traditional music. Im not an academic or a musicologist but I believe we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who do such research on our behalf.

So I am very pleased to say that, on listening, I thought this was a really enjoyable CD. I use an mp3 player to listen to the best tracks from the dozens of CDs in my collection. As space is limited, I am quite ruthless about the selection - most CDs are represented by three or four tracks. This one achieved 11 out of 16. The singing is wonderfully easy to listen to; the words and tunes are allowed to speak for themselves with hardly any interpretation by the artists (You know, all that egotistical listen to me stuff you get from so many singers). The songs are given pride of place - thats why my reason number one is about the songs - and thats the highest recommendation I can think of for any CD of traditional music.

And the backing musicians are superb. Jeff Gillett is a singer/guitarist whom I have heard in pub sessions for many years but, to be honest, never given much attention to. This is, in part, due to my own prejudices about guitar accompaniments to traditional songs but also because he doesnt do anything that attracts ones attention. However, on a recording, this lack of flashy, attention-grabbing stuff is a very great asset. His style is so subtle and unobtrusive, Id played the CD several times before I noticed it. But once you notice it, his playing is utterly magical. I would recommend that anyone who wants to accompany traditional songs on any musical instrument should listen to this. For me, this was a truly delightful surprise. I was less surprised by the contributions of Paul Wilson, Paul Burgess, Barry Lister, Keith Kendrick and Paul Sartin (with additional vocals from Doug Bailey, Pat Turner and Lynn Heraud) as these are all well-known as top-rank musicians. Put them together; get the wonderful Doug Bailey to record and mix them and you have the most fantastic backing band.

As I said at the start, the musical arrangements are among the finest I have ever heard.

Look at the WildGoose website for a full tracklist. Very highly recommended.

Sing Out


Many know the name of Cecil Sharp, but fewer know that of his song collecting mentor Sabine Baring-Gould. Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan resurrect some of his work on this fine English traditional music album. The vocal style may remind some of the Copper Family, but most listeners are going to hear a passel of unfamiliar songs destined to be added to repertoires.  

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

Martin has a long established and well deserved reputation as a singer and writer of songs in the traditional style. Indeed Martin was a regular on the Exeter folk scene back in the 70s and early 80s and at the long defunct Sunday club at South Tawton. In recent years Martin has become the leading authority on the work of Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould in preserving the songs and music of the South?West, and particularly of Devon from the late 19th Century and early twentieth century. Since meeting Martin a few years ago at a Baring-Gould study week, Shan has also undertaken much valuable work in researching BaringGoulds sources and transcribing his collected songs.

I rarely play a new CD a second time immediately after the initial hearing, but I was so taken with several of the tracks that I couldnt delay hearing them again. Though Pd not heard Martin perform with Shan before, nor with accompanying musicians, rd expected a quality performance, but the choice of material, the delivery, the harmonies and the accompaniments (by Jeff Gillett on guitar & mandolin, Keith Kendrick on concertina, Paul Burgess on fiddle, Barry Lister on brass, Paul Sartin on oboe and Paul Wilson on accordion) all combine to make a truly impressive album.

The CD brings together some of Martins best compositions, such as Jack in the Green (inspired by the Rockbeare pub of that name) and From Severn by the Somme, and material from BaringGoulds collection that in some cases has not been heard for over a century. Apart from a little difficulty in catching the lyrics on Peters Private Army, the clarity of the vocals is excellent, and the accompaniment, where used, sympathetic and complementary, even unorthodox as in the use of granite and?slate slabs for the percussion on Stonecracker John. Ive always been attracted by the song Tobacco (Is An Indian Weed), whose origins go back to the Seventeenth century, but I dont think Martin and Shans duet could be bettered - a capella at its best! Their voices blend so well in harmony too on Jacky My Son a gentle yet strangely moving version of Lord Randall. I like the linking of the traditonal Sly Renard with Martins tongue-in-cheek Boxing Day hunting frolic.

I could write enthusiastically about many of the other tracks on this album. Maiden Under Willow, One Night at Ten oClock, and The Maid and Her Swain, followed by a guitar rendition of one of William Andrews hornpipes, all stand out as worthy tributes to Baring-Goulds work and to the efforts of Martin and Shan in breathing new life into the songs. But dont just take my word for it and buy the CD and give yourself a treat!.

Canadian Folk Music

David Gregory, Athabasca, Alberta.

Martin Graebe is the leading scholarly expert on the life and work of the late Victorian clergyman, novelist and folksong collector Sabine Baring?Gould. He has also written (and performs) his own songs in the English acoustic folk tradition. His partner, Shan Cowan, is a very fine singer of both traditional and contemporary material. On this CD they have come together as performers to showcase both aspects of Martin's work, hence the title Parallel Strands. So we find on the CD eight songs composed by Graebe and nine traditional songs collected by Baring?Gould in the English West Country during the 1880s and 1890s.

Two of Baring?Gould's most prolific informants were John `Ginger Jack' Woodrich of Thrushleton and Sam Fone of Mary Tavy, both hamlets on the fringe of Dartmoor. Fone is represented here by "Tyburn Hill", a variant of the execution ballad "Jack Hall", and "One Night at Ten O'Clock''. Woodrich was the source for "I Had Two Ships", which Graebe believes shares a common antecedent with "The Prisoner's Song", popularized between the wars in the USA by Vernon Dalhart. He also sang "Jacky My Son", a version of the traditional ballad "Lord Randal" (Child # 12), and it is included here, as are such other traditional songs noted by Baring?Gould as "Lavender Green", "Sly Reynard", "Maiden Under Willow" and "The Maid and her Swain". "Rouse, Rouse", although it also falls in the `traditional' category, is a Cornish carol, while "Tobacco", a popular and much reprinted broadside from the Restoration Era, was probably composed by the poet George Wither circa 1670.

The only one of Graebe's own songs with which I was previously familiar was "Jack in the Green", but on the evidence of this CD he is obviously a versatile and accomplished songsmith. 1 like his songs about different ways of earning a living: "Stonecracker John" about road?building, "Laying My Life on the Line" about railway track maintenance, and, above all, "Honiton Lace" about the life of a Devon lace?worker. But the stand?out song for me is undoubtedly "From Severn, By the Somme", a moving ballad that Graebe sings unaccompanied about a nurse killed in Northern France during the Great War.

There is a myth that English traditional music has less vitality and worth than Scottish or Irish folksong. This CD should help dispel that myth. Although difficult to find, it is well worth the search.