Sea Strands

by Tim Laycock

Price: £9.99
WGS376CD

A collection of songs and tunes all with associations to Dorset where Tim lives.

Tim has long been recognised as a sensitive interpreter of traditional song as well as a masterful writer of his own. He is a superb solo player of the duet concertina as well as being a member of The New Scorpion Band.

Tim Laycock vocals, duet concertina, melodeon, harmonica, percussion

Robin Jeffrey vocals, Victorian guitar, alto guitar, mandoline, laouto, percussion

Gabriel Laycock 12 string guitar

Colin Thompson fiddle and viola



1 The Bold Granadee/ Jack’s Alive


Robert and Henry Hammond collected Bold Granadee from Charles Greening of Nettlecombe, West Dorset in May 1906. The song is of course the Golden Vanity, but I love the succinct and pithy lyrics of Mr Greening’s version of the story. It seemed unfair to kill off Jack so early in the CD, so Jack’s Alive comes from the manuscript tune book of Benjamin Rose [ 1796- 1877], farmer , alehouse keeper and musician of Belchalwell in the Blackmore Vale area of Dorset.

2 The Night of Trafalgar [ Boatman’s Song]


This text describing the storm that hit the combined fleets after the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 was written by Thomas Hardy as part of his verse epic ‘ The Dynasts’. I wrote the tune. Dorset connections with the battle were strong, not least because Captain Hardy, Nelson’s captain on board HMS Victory, lived not far from Weymouth. The famous Dorset landmark Hardy’s Monument on the hill above Portesham commemorates the Captain. Three other Dorset men captained warships in the battle; Captain Digby in HMS Africa, Captain Bullen in HMS Britannia and Captain Grindall in HMS Prince.

3 Ricketty Robin/ Tipsy Bob


Two splendidly named dance tunes from Benjamin Rose. Maybe they were friends or neighbours! Benjamin wrote out his repertoire of tunes in 1822. We have only tantalising glimpses of his musical and social activities, but The Western Gazette of 1852 recorded a celebration at Rose’s Alehouse that went sour when the guests fired a salute with their muskets, and bits of smouldering wadding from the guns set light to the houses opposite!

4 Husbandman and Servantman.


Another song collected by the Hammond brothers in West Dorset, this time from William Miller at Wootton Fitzpaine near Charmouth. Farmer Miller had a splendid repertoire of mainly farming and drinking songs; this song can still be heard regularly in the Bridport area, sung by the Symondsbury Mummers as the last part of their Christmas play. Mr Miller’s version, with it’s different tunes for the Servantman and the Husbandman, suggests that it may have been sung and acted by two singers . The minor tune linking the sections is Marina Russell’s version of the same song. Thanks to Robin Jeffrey for being the servant.

5 The Turtle Dove.


This lovely song was included by Frank Purslow in Marrowbones, his first selection from the folk song manuscripts of the Hammond brothers that did so much to popularise the Dorset repertoire in folk clubs all over the world. Frank collated three versions of the song from different Dorset singers; one of them, Mr Bridle, lived in Stratton, just across the river Frome from where I now live.

6 Write Me Down.


One of the most important singers that the Hammonds found was Joseph Elliott, from Todber in North Dorset. Mr Elliott was aged 74 when the Hammonds called, but had recently remarried, and had a 9 year old daughter. He was working as a farmworker on the Pitt-Rivers estate, but in his youth had spent several years fishing on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. His repertoire consisted mostly of sea songs, but I particularly enjoy this version of ‘The Wedding Song’

7 A Glimpse of a Green Land.


This tune was written in Dorset, inspired by the memory of a days walking in the beautiful hills of Co. Antrim.

8 The Old Smith.


This remarkable song was written by Fred Rooke, based on a gipsy Faust legend. The smith is rewarded for his kindness to an old lady with three wishes. He asks that anyone who uses his hammer except himself will be unable to put it down; that anyone that sits in his chair other than himself will be unable to get out again; and that no-one will be able to take anything from his pocket except himself. With the aid of these extraordinary requests he is able to outwit ‘The Old Man’. Mi Duvel in the last verse means Heaven.

9 John Barleycorn.


Another song from the repertoire of William Miller of Wootton Fitzpaine, who the Hammond brothers visited in April 1906, braving the hills of West Dorset on their bicycles. They also collected a version of John Appleby from Farmer Miller, and Henry Hammond wrote to his friend and fellow collector George Gardiner as follows: ‘ I am going to get John Appleby on Monday God willing; I am not bursting my kidneys but I nearly burst myself altogether by falling off my bike going down a steep hill on which I encountered a big stone which did ‘my ruin prove’. I have wrenched my left shoulder, and am just off to see Cooper medicus of Lyme Regis. My brother R is riding to Bridgwater today’…

10 Cider and Brandy/ A Trip to Bagshot.


These two tunes can be found on a handwritten sheet in the Dorset History Centre, with no indication as to who wrote them down and what they were used for.

11 The Bwoat.


This evocative poem is by the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes, and appeared in his second collection of poems ‘Hwomely Rhymes’ published in 1858. The scene is the river Stour in summertime around Sturminster Newton. ‘Clote’ is the local dialect word for the yellow water-lily. The setting is my own.

12 Death in the Nut.


The inspiration for this ballad is Duncan Williamson’s story of the same name, which I heard Taffy Thomas tell many times when we were touring together in village halls and storytelling venues. I thought it would work equally well as a song.

13 The Broadoak Wassail.


Broadoak Community Orchard is near Sturminster Newton in North Dorset. This song was inspired by one of the residents, a prolific old Belle de Boskoop apple tree, who lies on her side ‘Partially fallen, but still bearing fruit’. The Orchard also boasts a Dorset Warrior, and an exotic Orleans Reinette. Well worth a visit, especially in October for Apple Day.

14 Blackbeard’s Diamond.


This slipjig was written as part of the score for Stephanie Dale’s adaptation of the classic Dorset smuggling tale Moonfleet by John Meade Faulkner. The story goes that Colonel Mohune [Blackbeard], as governor of Carisbrooke Castle, persuaded the captive King Charles to give up the diamond, and then handed him over for execution. The ill luck that followed such a treacherous deed affects much of the story…

15 Farewell She.


This well-loved song comes from Marina Russell of Upwey near Weymouth. Mrs Russell must have had a hard life, raising eleven children and living on a labourer’s wages for much of the time; yet she gave the Hammmonds 102 songs, many of them with distinctive and beautiful melodies. It seems appropriate that the last song on this recording should come from such an inspiring singer.

1
The Bold Granadee/ Jack’s Alive
Robert and Henry Hammond collected Bold Granadee from Charles Greening of Nettlecombe
2
The Night of Trafalgar [ Boatman’s Song]
This text describing the storm that hit the combined fleets after the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 was written by Thomas Hardy as part of his verse epic ‘ The Dynasts’. I wrote the tune. Dorset connections with the battle were strong
Sample not available
3
Ricketty Robin/ Tipsy Bob
Two splendidly named dance tunes from Benjamin Rose. Maybe they were friends or neighbours! Benjamin wrote out his repertoire of tunes in 1822. We have only tantalising glimpses of his musical and social activities
Sample not available
4
Husbandman and Servantman.
Another song collected by the Hammond brothers in West Dorset
5
The Turtle Dove.
This lovely song was included by Frank Purslow in Marrowbones
6
Write Me Down.
One of the most important singers that the Hammonds found was Joseph Elliott
Sample not available
7
A Glimpse of a Green Land.
This tune was written in Dorset
Sample not available
8
The Old Smith.
This remarkable song was written by Fred Rooke
Sample not available
9
John Barleycorn.
Another song from the repertoire of William Miller of Wootton Fitzpaine
Sample not available
10
Cider and Brandy/ A Trip to Bagshot.
These two tunes can be found on a handwritten sheet in the Dorset History Centre
Sample not available
11
The Bwoat.
This evocative poem is by the Dorset dialect poet William Barnes
Sample not available
12
Death in the Nut.
The inspiration for this ballad is Duncan Williamson’s story of the same name
Sample not available
13
The Broadoak Wassail.
Broadoak Community Orchard is near Sturminster Newton in North Dorset. This song was inspired by one of the residents
Sample not available
14
Blackbeard’s Diamond.
This slipjig was written as part of the score for Stephanie Dale’s adaptation of the classic Dorset smuggling tale Moonfleet by John Meade Faulkner. The story goes that Colonel Mohune [Blackbeard]
15
Farewell She.
This well-loved song comes from Marina Russell of Upwey near Weymouth. Mrs Russell must have had a hard life
Sample not available

Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

It's good to hear Tim Laycock singing and playing on a solo album as opposed to his usual musical exploits with the excellent New Scorpion Band. The sub-title of this album is 'Folk Songs and Tunes From Dorset' and contains many songs collected by the Hammond brothers and tunes from Benjamin Rose.

Tim's gentle and relaxed style of singing and concertina playing is well captured by Doug Bailey at the Wild Goose studios. He is ably accompanied on some tracks by the multi-instrumentalist Robin Jeffrey, his son Gabriel with his 12-string guitar and Colin Thompson's fiddle and viola.

There are some jolly tunes on here including the appealing 'Tipsy Bob' and 'Cider and Brandy' the latter beginning with a nice conversation between concertina and fiddle. The alcoholic theme is further reflected in the Dorset version of  'John Barleycorn'. Other songs worth a mention are the gentle 'The Broadoak Wassail' which is a tribute to an old Belle de Boskoop apple tree - 'Partially fallen but still bearing fruit' and Dorset versions of the more well known songs 'The Turtle Dove', 'Come Write Me Down' and 'Farewell She'. A new song to me is 'The Old Smith' which is a terrific story based on a gipsy Faust legend.

There is also a varied selection of other songs that have a maritime theme reflecting the title of this album and Tim's particular interest in this area of folk song. Of these 'The Night of Trafalgar (Boatman's Song)' is particularly interesting as it describes the storm that hit all the ships off Trafalgar after the famous battle.

The only song that I thought didn't work was his setting of 'Death in the Nut' which is a well known story teller's ballad and which, to be honest, I prefer to be told (preferably by Taffy Thomas who Tim toured with for many years) rather than sung.

Tim has written some useful and erudite background notes on the songs and tunes and there are some nice pictures on the cover. What more could you ask?



Mardles

Colin Cater

This latest offering from Tim combines self penned tunes and songs, with collected folksongs, poems by Dorset luminaries Thomas Hardy and William Barnes, and the wonderful The Old Smith written by Fred Rooke, for which song alone the CD is worth buying. All are performed in the impeccably sensitive manner that has sustained Tim through a long career as a professional folk musician. Within this compilation written songs stand four square with collected material; in any case folksongs like Write Me Down, The Turtle Dove and John Barleycorn are distributed so widely across England as to suggest common written origins and transmission - their art lies in what source singers in local communities both then and now through Tim do to them. Working with Taffy Thomas early in his career and with re-enactors more recently, Tim has never viewed folk as existing in a vacuum, so that songs like Death in the Nut from a Duncan Williamson story, and Broadoak Wassail, complement the older songs splendidly. Tim's tunes are a joy, particularly the slip jig, Blackbeard's Diamond, and he is ably supported throughout by Robin Jeffrey (strings), Colin Thompson (fiddle) and Gabriel Laycock (12 string). One small gripe sleeve notes printed in mauve on a beige background test the visually challenged (me!). But I'll listen to this CD lots, long after the notes are consigned to the jewel case. Good stuff.

Netrythms

David Kidman

It's been a very long time since Tim's last solo album (True Colours), but to be fair he's kept himself more than fully occupied with the New Scorpion Band, not to mention his active parallel career in the theatre as an actor/musician of some repute. For this new collection of songs and tunes with associations to Dorset (where he lives), Tim has enlisted the services of fiddle/viola player Colin Thompson (with whom he'd worked on the 2007 WildGoose disc of Hampshire Dance Tunes), fellow-New Scorpion Band member Robin Jeffrey (Victorian and alto guitars, mandolin, laouto, percussion), and Gabriel Laycock (12-string guitar), to flesh out the already quite sumptuous sound of his own duet concertina, melodeon and harmonica.

Tim, who's also an excellent singer by the way, has long been recognised as a particularly sensitive and thoughtful interpreter of traditional song with a winning way with original compositions in the idiom, while he has a real gift for researching and preparing for performance his chosen repertoire. Which in this case is a well-balanced hour-long programme that contains some surprises nestled in the midst of its partially-familiar tracklisting. This �courtly� version of Write Me Down, for instance, which comes from the singing of Joseph Elliott from Todber, North Dorset, and an unusually jolly-sounding John Barleycorn (which was, bravely, collected by the Hammond brothers whilst on a cycling trip!).

The Turtle Dove takes the �collated� version from the pages of Frank Purslow's Marrowbones volume, which itself was based around the brothers' manuscript collections, from which emanate several other songs with distinctive and beautiful melodies, notably the closing item on the disc (the delightful Farewell She, from the singing of Marina Russell of Upwey near Weymouth). Outside of the source material from the Dorset song collections, Sea Strands contains three of Tim's own settings: that of dialect poet William Barnes' evocative The Bwoat is as gently compelling as that of Hardy's The Night Of Trafalgar is melodiously stirring, and perhaps unexpectedly both of these eclipse the lengthier ballad Death In The Nut, which takes its inspiration from Duncan Williamson's story. The CD's menu also intersperses three life-affirming tune-sets that are full of enjoyable touches and neat textural contrasts.

Putting it simply, this is a wholly engaging disc, supremely well planned and performed, sympathetically recorded and well annotated: a veritable model of what a folk CD should ideally aspire to.

Shire Folk

Barry Goodman

This solo CD from singer, actor, storyteller, musician and playwright Tim Laycock is a collection of songs and tunes associated with Dorset, where Tim lives. A number are songs collected at the turn of the 20th Century by Robert and Henry Hammond, there are settings of poems by Thomas Hardy and William Barnes and two of Tim's own songs for good measure. Instrumental tracks include two sets of local dance tunes and two Laycock originals.

Tim tells a story well, and several of the songs on the CD demonstrate this talent, particularly "The Bold Granadee", a spirited version of the "Golden Vanity" story from Nettlecombe in Dorset, and "The Old Smith", written by Fred Rooke and based on the Faust legend. Tim's setting of Hardy's "Boatman's Song" (here called "The Night of Trafalgar") complements the vividly descriptive text admirably, while his reworking of "Death in the Nut", a story written by Duncan Williamson and often told by Taffy Thomas, is simply accompanied on duet concertina and completely engaging. Tim the actor doing what he does so well.

The Dorset dance-tune sets have a distinctly Hardyesque feel to them, while "A Glimpse of Green Land" evokes the countryside of the more distant Co. Antrim. The slipjig "Blackbeard's Diamond", written for a stage adaptation of "Moonfleet", is played here in a splendidly baroque arrangement, featuring Robin Jeffrey, Gabriel Laycock and Colin Thompson, who accompany Tim in admirable style throughout the album.

Tim's connection with his home county is constantly apparent in this lovely album of songs old and new, all underpinned by excellent musicianship. It's a pleasure to have a solo recording from Tim again, and one with such variety and sense of place.

EDS

Clive Pownceby

Over a long career, Tim Laycock has developed his skills in many spheres � playwright, singer/musician, storyteller, actor and, in recent years, as a leading light in The New Scorpion Band � surely one of the most engaging and accomplished groupings you'll ever hear.  Known primarily as a duet concertina player accompanying himself on mainly traditional songs, this latest CD is subtitled 'folk songs and tunes from Dorset' which wouldn't trouble the Trades Description Act, and those who might be looking for a radical reinvention of the genre will be disappointed.

His first record was released in 1978 and he's scarcely deviated since then from his metier in West Country songs, traditions and dialect. A Dorchester resident, it's hardly surprising that the works of William Barnes and Thomas Hardy have loomed large, represented on this release by 'The Bwoat' and 'The Night Of Trafalgar' respectively, with settings by Tim.  Joined by son Gabriel, Robin Jeffrey and Colin Thompson on guitars, fiddle and viola, here then is a recording that has much to offer anyone who doesn't want overdriven instruments and histrionic vocals as side orders with their folk music. This album, with Laycock's light, pleasing voice well to the fore, moves effortlessly through a selection which marries the well-trodden ('John Barleycorn' in a version from the Hammonds' informant William Miller) with the more arcane 'The Bold Granadee' variant of the Golden Vanity.  Elsewhere there are playful tunes such as the slip-jig 'Blackbeard's Diamond', and lilting songs, such as 'The Turtle Dove.'

It's a delight and overall the gentle ambience will propel you into a pastoral, sun-dappled landscape. That's not to say, though, that everything is gossamer-soft but, and this is assuredly a compliment, if this music were a painting I'd like to think it would be a Turner watercolour!

Taplas

Mick Tems

TIM Laycock has produced an appealing cameo of well-chosen songs and tunes with a strong Dorset flavour, enhanced with minimal but thoughtful and beautiful arrangements, led by his duet concertina. The actor, singer and collector has a perfect knack of transporting you to the county he loves so well and he paints an informative portrait of country life then and now.

The heart warming point about this CD is that he has done a great deal for Dorset's status in his research, his love of interesting historical facts, his song and tune-writing and his ability to restore and polish the songs and music. Listen to The Bold Grenadee coupled with Jack's Alive, Write Me Down, The Night Of Trafalgar and Farewell She.