Off the Land

by Grannys Attic

Granny'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’

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.
Away To The South’ard
We came across this in Stan Hugill’s incomparable book Shanties from the Seven Seas. Hugill gives two sources for it: Davis & Tozer
Lacy House/Right Under The Bridge
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
False Lady
A variant of Child ballad 68
Sample not available
Horkstow Grange
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
Sample not available
The Death of Nelson
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
Sample not available
Rod’s (Mr Adams’ Schottische/Portswood Hornpipe/Steamkettle)
The Rod and the Mr Adams in the name of the first tune is Rod Adams
Sample not available
Poor Old Man
We learnt this from the Ian Campbell Group’s recording
Sample not available
The Coalowner and the Pitman’s Wife
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’.
After the Floods
One of Lewis’s tunes
Sample not available
Country Hirings
We learnt this one from Roy Palmer’s collection
Two Brothers
Child ballad 49

Folk Wales online

Mick Tems

Granny's Attic are three young lads from the city of Worcester, exceptional musicians and very fine harmony singers who play traditional music with punch, boundless vitality and with loads of attitude. They were nominated in the 2014 Young Musician Of The Year competition, and Jon Boden of the late lamented Bellowhead has acclaimed them as having �great tunes, great arrangement and great energy.� Meet Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, melodeon and anglo-concertina, George Sansome, guitar and Lewis Wood, fiddle and mandolin; apart from the trio's dazzling welter of age-old songs and ballads, Lewis composes some exquisite schottisches, hornpipes, jigs, reels and beautiful airs which are peppered throughout this album.

The opener is celebrated shantyman and author Stan Hugill's rip-roaring sea-song 'Away To The South'ard', quite a rarity in that nobody has picked it up � expect a rush of covers when everyone realises what a good job Granny's Attic have made of it. 'Lacy House' and 'Right Under The Bridge' proves that Lewis can proudly hold his head above the Cuttings, the Sweeneys and the tune-writers of this world, while the trio has created the well-known pot-boiler 'Horkstow Grange' into a stately work of beauty. Lewis, Cohen and George have moulded this album into a shimmering cascade of sparkling runs, with the instruments tumbling after each other � it's a fantastic and very exciting sound.

All the tracks � especially 'The False Lady', 'The Death Of Nelson', 'Rod's' and 'After The Floods' � have much to commend them. The closing opus, 'Two Brothers', tells a ghastly tale of sibling rivalry which leads to a most horrible murder; Lewis contributes two tunes which brings the whole shebang to a close. One small niggle: there's a strong South Midlands voice which does seem a tad forceful and pub-folkish when it's exposed alone. However, it blends in superbly in harmony � and that's what Granny's Attic are about, creating a unique, wonderful noise. Let's hope that we hear much more of them; these guys are very special indeed.

Fatea

Tony Birch

Such is the pace of music these days it sounds almost wrong to describe Granny's Attic as a young band; after all they have been together for six years, are in their early twenties and Off The Land is their second full album. What is certain is that Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (Melodeon, Concertina, Vocals), George Sansome (Guitar, Vocals) and Lewis Wood (Fiddle, Mandolin, Vocals) are folk musicians. Eight of the eleven tracks are traditional songs with the remainder being tunes or sets written by Lewis Wood.

The album opens with "Away To The South'ard", a 19th century shanty, and it certainly has an authentic feel to it. As the band reference in the sleeve notes to the album it's a very good effort from three Midlanders. There's a good nautical feel to the traditional "The Death Of Nelson", too; you can almost hear the slap of canvas and taste the salt. This traditional song about the death of a National Hero - and many more nameless sailors - could easily be sung as a dirge but it fairly bounds along. The triptych of maritime songs is completed with "Poor Old Man", a shanty about a horse; a sailor's tradition explained in the notes.

The remaining songs have their feet firmly on solid ground but staying with the theme of ordinary people trying to get a fair crack of the whip, as folk songs tend to do. We hear of the pitman's wife trying to persuade the mine owner that his misdeeds will be judged by a higher authority if he doesn't change his ways, or in "Country Hirings" farmworkers lamenting their poor wages and conditions, whilst the owner take the profits, and determining to remember come the next hiring day when they might get a chance to move on. It's a song that still echoes down the years.

Off The Land is a good title for the album because Britain is that combination of land and sea, and would not be what it is today without a combination of both.

The tunes written by Lewis Wood fit well into the album. They are certainly modern but with a genuine feel and understanding for music that stretches back into the past. An inebriated journey home is not a new phenomenon in folk songs but for "Lacy House / Right Under The Bridge" the inspiration was a journey by taxi rather than on horseback.

That is what Granny's Attic do so well. They are not just another trio playing music that has are around for years. They have a verve and enthusiasm, sprinkled with a good dose of youthful exuberance and humour, that makes these songs sound fresh and relevant still. It should also be noted that they are fine musicians and use their combined voices to good effect.

Whilst we are fortunate today to have many fine musicians who can fuse styles to excellent effect it is good see that the traditions of English folk are not being ignored, but carried forward with genuine appreciation and gusto. This is an excellent album that will appeal to a wide range of listeners and should do well. I was particularly impressed by the sleeve notes, which capture the character of the band as well as any of the songs.

"They would sing, dance and collect beer money - we like to see ourselves as bearers of at least two of those traditions."

The album is available to pre-order now, with a release date of 26th August, from Propermusic or all usual streaming services.

fRoots

David Kidman

This trio formed when at secondary school in 2009, and they've been steadily building up a following ever since, but the biggest step forward came when they reached the final of the BBC Young Folk Awards in 2014 � since which point, and most especially this past year, they've been proving a must-see attraction at festivals up and down the land. And they're still only just in their 20s.

Granny's Attic are Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (melodeon, concertina), George Sansome (guitar) and Lewis Wood (fiddle, mandolin); all three sing, and distinctively too.  Each of the trio has a very well-defined musical personality, yet they also work together completely assuredly as a team, as tracks like The Death Of Nelson and the set of hornpipes (Rod's) demonstrate par excellence. But it's also the incredible energy with which these lads put the music across. Each of the three is also well able to deliver a credible and accomplished solo performance without the group context. There's a particularly authoritative quality to Cohen's vocal delivery, a polished maturity beyond his years; his singing displays a tremendous assurance and an unmistakable natural presence. As a singer, George has much to offer too, with a very different timbre to Cohen's and a believably youthful (yet maturely considered) expressiveness.  Lewis is also an impressive singer, though it's probably his exceptional fiddle skills that get him noticed most.  

The bulk of the material Granny's Attic performs on Off The Land (their third release if you count an early EP) is solidly traditional in origin, the exceptions being three instrumental tracks containing fine tunes composed by Lewis (two more of his tunes surround Cohen's dramatic rendition of Two Brothers (aka Child Ballad 49) which forms the CD's finale). Other high points are especially fine accounts of Horkstow Grange, the Young Hunting variant False Lady and the broadside Country Hirings, all given a persuasive Granny's Attic collaborative treatment.  Clearly this is a band to watch.

www.grannysattic.co.uk

The Living Tradition

Dave Beeby

I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from this CD based on the one live performance I had seen   a very tired one at the end of a four day festival a couple of years ago. My wife had been raving about this amazing young trio for a while telling me that I must see them; even she was very disappointed. However before I got chance to listen to Off The Land I saw Granny's Attic at Derby Festival and what a transformation! Here was a band with attack, energy and a style all of their own. I was hooked and couldn't wait to hear the CD!

No disappointment here either   three extremely talented musicians who breathe new life to traditional songs. Horkstow Grange is a sit down with a good malt moment. There are two distinctive voices, with Cohen on accordion and concertina, whilst in Lewis they have a fiddler of some quality with an ability to write original tunes of some note  After The Floods is a real gem. George completes the line up with sympathetic guitar work. As Lewis is getting more confident singing, so is their harmony and unaccompanied work, as is evident on Death Of Nelson as well as in the live performance.

It's good to hear young performers giving new life to songs we all grew up on, developing them to sound fresh whilst not asking the listener to `look how clever we are'! I admit I was wrong about them and, on the basis of this CD, I reckon they will have quite a future. After all, they are still only just in their twenties. www.grannysattic.org.uk

Shire Folk

Graham Hobbs

Granny's Attic are Lewis Wood (fiddle, mandolin, vocals), Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne (melodeon, concertina, vocals) and George Sansome (guitar, vocals). The trio met at school and discovered a shared passion for traditional music. Officially formed in 2009, they went on to be finalists in the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards.

This is their second full album and is a pleasing mix of well known songs like 'Horkstow Grange', 'Country Hirings' and Child Ballad No. 49, Two Brothers', along with some original tunes written by Lewis. For me, the pick of the three tunes is 'After the Floods'. The tune was written in sunny Southampton in 2015 at a time when Scotland and the North of England were suffering severe flooding. An audience member suggested the title and Lewis agreed it was better than 'Slow Tune in Eb', which was the working title!

I recently saw the band at the Derby Folk Festival and they have quickly developed a great act and have a fine mature rapport with the audience. What really stands out, other than their brilliant musicianship, is the voice of Cohen. His speaking voice is quite different from his singing voice as he adopts a very folky tone, not unlike Damien Barber of the Demon Barbers.

The album is well recorded and produced by Doug Bailey at his WildGoose Studios in Hampshire and with Granny's Attic it looks like Doug is onto yet another winner.

Around Kent Folk

Kathy & Bob Drage

Grannys Attic are an amazing trio who play traditional songs with verve, energy and their own inimitable style. These three young men   Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne, melodeon, concertina, vocals; George Sansome   guitar, vocals and Lewis Wood   fiddle, mandolin, vocals are all exceptional musicians and singers.

They perform a range of English, Irish and Scottish traditional as well as own compositions. Traditional includes 'Away to the South'ard' taken from Hugills Shanties from the Seven Seas; 'False Lady', a variant of Child 68   Young Hunting   the instrumental section is William Irwins also known as Barbara Allen; 'The Death of Nelson' from Pete Bellamy's Maritime England Suite and 'Poor Old man' learnt from Ian Campbell. From Bert Lloyd's Come All Ye Bold Miners we have 'The Coalowner and the Pitmans Wife' which leads into the jig Morrisons at the end. 'Country Hirings' from Roy Palmers The Painful Plough  words from a broadside and tune from Sabine Baring Gould. Child Ballad 49 'Two Brothers' is sequed between two tunes written by Lewis. He also wrote 'Lacy House/Right Under The Bridge'  two tunes about a house and gig in Hebden Bridge. 'Rods' is an amalgamation of three tunes 'Mr Adams Schottische/Portswood Hornpipe and Steamkettle'. 'After The Floods' written after hearing about the 2015 floods in Scotland and the North of England. Our favourite has to be 'Horkstow Grange'  a lovely version.

Having played together since school days they have progressed to clubs and festivals up and down the country. Great singing and playing with arrangements that are very energetic. They research their material carefully before' performing which is good to see.

R2 Magazine (now RnR)

Dai Jeffries

Granny's Attic were Young Musician of the Year finalists in 2014, having got together as a band in 2009 while still at school. Thus, they bring seven years experience to their debut album and I can't think of a better producer or label for them to turn to.

There seems to be a return to simplicity in the performance of traditional music these days, something I welcome, much as I admire musicians who push the envelope. You could imagine this album being recorded in the late 60s, but this is a deliberate return to basics. All the songs are traditional with three tune sets by fiddler Lewis Wood and it's on these that we are aware of the 21st century as the boys turn the wick up.

Off The Land opens with 'Away To The South'ard' from Stan Hugill   all the sources are vintage: Child, Grainger, Bellamy, Lloyd, Palmer   and followed by a couple of Wood's tunes featuring a delicate guitar opening from George Sansome. All three sing but the lead frequently falls to Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne who attacks a song like 'The Coalowner And The Pitman's Wife' with such relish.

This is a fine debut and I hope Granny's Attic really do well with it.