Introduced by Carolyn Robson

The folk song collector George Gardiner collected over 1200 songs from the county of Hampshire in southern England during the period 1904–1908. In 1907, he collected about 164 songs from five women in the village of Axford near Basingstoke in the northwest of the county.

One of these women, Sarah Goodyear, gave him 41 of these songs, including one of my favourites, ’Abroad as I was walking.’ It is the common tale of a young woman who is seduced by an older man and falls pregnant. He is what is commonly termed a ‘bounder’ and blames her for her ‘wanton will,’ though she is just 14 years old. These days, it would have been a clear case of child sex abuse.

The song is an English version of the Irish song ‘Blackwaterside.’ I was a member of the trio Craig Morgan Robson, and we joined forces with the lovely Askew Sisters to record a CD of songs collected from these women, called ‘The Axford Five.’ So here I am singing this song accompanied by Hazel and Emily Askew.

"Abroad as I Was Walking" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

Abroad as I was walking down by some green wood side
I heard a fair maid singing ‘I wish I was a bride.’
‘I thank you pretty maiden for the singing of your song.
Tis I myself will marry you.’ ‘Kind Sir, I am too young.’

‘The younger you are the better, more fitter for my bride,
That all the world may plainly see I married my wife a maid.’
Nine times I kissed her ruby lips and viewed her sparkling eye
I catched her by the lily white hand one night with her to lie.

And all the fore part of that night we lay in sport and play
And all the latter part of that night I lay in her arms til day.
Til day, til day, til day, til daylight did appear
Then this young man rose, put on his clothes, said ‘Fare you well, my dear.’

‘What did you promise me last night as I lay by your side?
You promised you would marry me, make me your lawful bride.’
‘What I did promise you last night was in a merry mood,
I vow, I swear, I do declare, I’m not so very good.

Go home to your father’s garden. Go home and weep your fill,
And when you’ve thought on what you’ve done, you’ll blame your wanton will.’
‘My parents brought me up like a small bird in a cage
And now I am with child by you, scarce 14 years of age.

It’s other farmers’ daughters, to market they do go
While I, poor girl, must stay at home and rock the cradle o’er
And rock the cradle o’er and o’er, sing hush-ee lullaby
Was there ever a maid and a pretty fair maid in love, so crossed as I?’

Carolyn Robson is a singer and choir leader now living in the south of England, but originally from the northeast. Her repertoire consists mainly of Northumbrian and Scottish songs, as well as songs from Hampshire, where she runs 4 choirs. She was a member of the renowned a cappella trio Craig Morgan Robson. Carolyn also runs workshops and sings with Moira Craig. The duo have toured the US on numerous occasions and will be tutors at TradMad in 2021.

Introduced by Margaret Bennett

I’ve chosen a ballad I’ve loved for years: ‘The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow’ (Child 214).

As a student in the mid-sixties, I joined the Glasgow Folksong and Ballad Club, and among the unforgettable singers was an Aberdeenshire traveller, Davie Stewart. He played the accordion and sang with such conviction that I was transfixed.

Apart from a stint in the army during WW1, Davie spent his life as an itinerant worker, finally settling in Glasgow, where he was a street singer. Alan Lomax recorded him in London in 1957 capturing the passion that stopped folk in the street: Davie knew how to tell the story.

Listen to Davie Stewart, recorded by Alan Lomax in 1957:

Listen to Margaret Bennett, recorded at the Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh, 2018:

"The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

There was a lady in the north,
You’d scarcely find her marrow
She was courted by nine noblemen,
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.

Her faither had a young ploughboy
And him she loved most dearly,
She dressed him up as a nobleman,
And sent him off to Yarrow.

These nine noblemen sat drinking wine,
Drinking tae their sorrow,
That the fairest maid you ever saw
Was in the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.

“Well, did you come here tae play cards or dice?
Did you come here for sorrow?
Or did you come here to slay us a’
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow?”

“Well, I neither cam tae play cards or dice,
Nor did I come for sorrow,
But one by one as lang as ye stand
I will fight ye a’ in Yarrow.”

Well it’s three he drew, and three he slew,
And three he deadly wounded;
But her false brother John came running in
And pierced him through the middle.

“Oh go home, go home, you false young man,
Go tell your sister’s sorrow,
That her true lover John lies dead and gone
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

“Oh mother dear, I have dreamed a dream,
I fear it may prove sorrow,
That my true lover John lies dead and gone
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

“Oh, daughter dear, I have read your dream,
And yes, the blood proves sorrow,
For your true lover John lies dead and gone,
In the Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.”

Her hair being of three-quarters lang,
The colour bein yellow,
She wrapped it round his middle sae sma’
And she carried him hame tae Yarrow.

“Oh, mother dear, come and mak my bed,
Oh make it long and narrow,
For my true lover John died for me today,
I will die for him tomorrow.”

Originally from the Isle of Skye, Margaret Bennett is a singer, storyteller and writer. She studied Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and from 1984–96 was on the staff of the School of Scottish Studies. She now lives in Perthshire, sings at festivals both sides of the Atlantic, and teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Introduced by Martin Graebe

I heard this first as ‘Polly Von,’ sung by Peter, Paul and Mary in the 1960s, but that is an interpretation of a traditional song with many titles. Though widely found in England and Ireland, Roud lists more variants in the USA than from anywhere else.

This lovely version was collected by Sabine Baring-Gould from mine-worker Samuel Fone, of Mary Tavy, in 1893. Fone was his most prolific singer and a man who specialised in beautiful tunes, some learned from navvies he had worked with. I have ‘repaired’ verse 2. You can see the manuscript entry here.

Listen to Martin and Shan Graebe sing “The Setting of the Sun,” from their album Dusty Diamonds, Wildgoose Records, WGS359CD, 2008:

"Setting of the Sun" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Sung by Samuel Fone, Mary Tavy, 12 July 1893

Lyrics

Come all you young fellows that carry a gun
Beware of late shooting when daylight is done
For it’s little you reckon what hazards you run
I shot my own love at the setting of the sun.
In a shower of rain as my darling did run
All under the bushes a shower to shun
Her apron ‘bout her neck I took her for a swan
I shot the only maid I loved at the setting of the sun.

I’ll fly from my country I nowhere find rest
I shot my own true love as a bird on her nest
Oh curse that old gunsmith that made that old gun
I shot my own true love at the setting of the sun.
In a shower, etc.

O it’s son, dearest son, don’t you run away
Don’t leave your own country until the trial day
Don’t leave your own country till the trial is done
For shooting your own love at the setting of the sun.
In a shower, etc.

On a night to her uncle the fair maid appeared
Saying, ‘Uncle, dear uncle, of me be not afeard
With my apron ‘bout my neck in the rain I did run
He shot me as a swan at the setting of the sun.
In a shower, etc.

Martin Graebe is a researcher and writer and is best known for his study of the life and work of Sabine Baring-Gould. His book As I Walked Out: Sabine Baring-Gould and the Search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall (Signal Books, 2017) has received both the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award and the R. G Hoskins Prize. He and his wife, Shan, perform traditional songs together with a particular focus on the songs of Southern England.

Introduced by Cindy Mangsen

Child Ballad #239 exists in fragments, telling the story of Annachie and his love Jeannie, forced by her father to marry another man for his status and wealth. Jeannie tells her parents that if she marries the lord, she’ll refuse to share his bed and will die for her true love.

Sure enough, she dies on the very day of the wedding, which is also the day Annachie returns from his seafaring. He dies, of course, of grief. It’s a tear-jerker of a story, but when put to this beautiful melody (thank you, Nic Jones), becomes incredibly moving. Emily Friedman introduced me to this song, many years ago in Chicago.

Listen to Cindy sing “Annachie Gordon:”

"Annachie Gordon" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

Buchan is bonnie and there lives my love
My heart it lies on him, it will not remove
It will not remove for all that I have done
Oh never will I forget my love Annachie
For Annachie Gordon is bonnie and he’s braw
He’d entice any woman that ever him saw
He’d entice any woman and so he has done me
Never will I forget my love Annachie

Down came her father, standing on the floor
Sayin’ Jeannie’s trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so very much for thee
You must marry with Lord Salton and forget young Annachie
For Annachie Gordon is only but a man
Although he may be pretty, ah but where are all his lands?
Salton’s lands are broad and his towers they stand high
You must marry with Lord Salton and forget young Annachie

With Annachie Gordon I would beg for my bread
Before I’d marry Salton with gold to my head
With gold to my head and my gown swings to the knee
And I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie
And you that are my parents, though to church you may me bring
Ah but unto Lord Salton I will never bear a son
Oh a son or a daughter and I’ll never bow my knee
And I’ll die if I don’t get my love Annachie

When Jeannie was married and from church she was brought home
And she and her maidens so merry should have been
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
She’s gone to her chamber and she’s crying all alone.

Come to bed now Jeannie, my honey and my sweet
For to style you my mistress it would not be meet.
Oh it’s mistress or Jeannie, it’s all the same to me
And it’s in your bed Lord Salton I never shall be
Up spoke her father and he’s spoken with renown
All you that are her maidens, won’t you loosen off her gown
But she fell down in a swoon so low down by their knee
Saying, look on, for I’m dying for my love Annachie

The day that Jeannie married was the day that Jeannie died
That’s the day young Annachie came rolling from the tide
And down came her maidens and wringing of their hands
Saying woe to you, Annachie, for staying from the sand
So long from the land and so long upon the flood
Oh they’ve married your Jeannie and now she’s dead

You that are her maidens, won’t you take me by the hand
Won’t you lead me to the chamber where my love lies in
And he’s kissed her cold lips til his heart turned to stone
And he’s died in the chamber where his true love lay in

Cindy Mangsen writes: I am a singer, songwriter, guitar/concertina player who loves being part of the long chain!

Alex Sturbaum

This song was written in support of our friends working in health care and other essential fields during the COVID-19 pandemic, who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and healthy while being denied everything from basic protective equipment to hazard pay. We wanted to send support to our friends on the front lines, express outrage and frustration that they have been put in such an impossible situation, and hope for the day that we can welcome them back safely.

This song is also a call to action for those of us who are still financially secure – please check out the fundraiser mentioned at the end of the video, with clickable links available through the video on YouTube and Facebook.

Listen to Alex Sturbaum and friends sing “Stand Steady:”

Lyrics

It’s peel off your scrubs, stumble in through the door
Step into the shower and scrub yourself raw
It’s in at eleven, it’s back out at four
For there’s work to be done for the living
Ye who toil on the border between life and death
You’re fighting for those who are fighting for breath
It’s a battle that takes until little is left
And it’s fearful and seldom forgiving

Stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming

Behind gloves, behind masks, there’s a courage that dwells
When you head off to work in a world gone to hell
Do the job you were trained for, and do it as well
As you can with the tools you’ve been given
Politicians and ministers promise to serve
And to give us relief that we need and deserve
If any among them had half of your nerve
They’d have done more and done it unbidden

Stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming

So hold on to hope through exhaustion and fear
And we’ll go safe to ground till you give the all clear
And when this is all over we still will be here
In the bright shining light of the morning
When the bars are back open, we’ll buy you a round
Lift our voices in song, raise the roof with the sound
And we’ll join hands and dance till our feet shake the ground
To welcome the heroes returning

So stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming
Stand steady, my friends, in the darkest of times
Our love will go with you as you hold the line
When the hardship is past, we as one will entwine
And we’ll dance to a better world coming
I know there’s a better world coming

Alex Sturbaum is a songwriter and contra dance musician living in Seattle, WA. They perform with the bands Countercurrent, The Waxwings, and Gallimaufry, and produce the Vashon Sessions. Their second solo album, Loomings, comes out this month.

Introduced by Andrew Calhoun

This lyric to “Galla-water” is taken from David Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scots Songs (1769), p. 312. Herd was an excellent collector who did not manipulate/correct the source material, but he did not publish the song melodies.

The song was next published as #125 in Volume 2 of The Scots Musical Museum, with the lyric poorly adjusted. The SMM’s musical editor, Stephen Clarke, only printed the A part of the melody, a move typical of this indolent character through whom so much of the Scots song tradition, including the bulk of the songs of Robert Burns, has unfortunately been filtered. Clarke was in fact a church organist from Durham, England.

The full tune I sing here, “Braw Lads of Galla-water,” was published by James Oswald in book 8 of The Caledonian Companion in 1756. Burns wrote a new version of the song using the same first line for the publisher George Thomson, but it does not match the quality and mystery of the old words. The shifting perspective in the lyric is well supported by the contrasting musical parts.

Listen to Andrew Calhoun sing “Braw Lads of Galla-water:”

"Braw Lads of Galla Water" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

Braw braw lads of Galla-water (braw – fine)
O braw lads of Galla-water
I’ll kilt my coats below my knee
And follow my love through the water.
Sae fair her hair, sae brent her brow, (brent – smooth)
Sae bonnie blue her een my dearie,
Sae white her teeth, sae sweet her mou, (mouth)
I aften kiss her till I’m wearie.
O’er yon bank, and o’er yon brae, (brae – slope)
O’er yon moss, amang the heather, (moss – bog)
I’ll kilt my coats aboon my knee (above)
And follow my love through the water.
Down amang the broom, the broom,
Down amang the broom, my dearie
The lassie lost her silken snood, (symbol of maidenhead)
That gart her greet till she was wearie. (made her weep)

Andrew Calhoun is a gigging singer-songwriter/folk artist since 1975. He’s founded and managed Waterbug Records, Inc. from 1992–2019. In 2012 he received the Lantern Bearer Award from Folk Alliance Region Midwest; in 2014, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Woodstock Folk Festival. He’s currently (2020) at work on a Robert Burns songbook called “Glorious Work,” which will have 328 songs based on research into their original tunes and texts.

Introduced by David Jones

“The Lincolnshire Poacher” has been referred to as the unofficial county anthem of Lincolnshire. It is said that the song was a favorite of King George IV and dates back to the American Revolution (1776).

The tune has been used as a quick march by several British regiments, including the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, who are known as the “Poachers.” It was also used by some New York Regiments during the American Civil War.

On a personal note: This was a song we sang at school. I first sang it when I was 10 years old, so I have known it for 75 years. It was a great relief to sing this song after “Who is Sylvia,” “Nymphs and Shepherds,” and other arty-type songs which were commonly sung in school singing classes. You may remember Jean Redpath talking about songs sung at British schools. She was very funny.

Another factor in its favor is that it has a good tune and is easy to sing.

Listen to John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing “The Lincolnshire Poacher:”

"The Lincolnshire Poacher" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

Well I was bound apprentice in famous Lincolnshire
Full well I served my master for more than seven year
‘Til I took up a-poaching, as you will quickly hear
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

As me and my companions were setting of a snare
‘Twas then we spied the gamekeeper, for him we did not care
For we can wrestle and fight, my boys, and jump o’er anywhere
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

As me and my companions were setting four or five
And taking of them up again, we caught a hare alive
We caught a hare alive, me boys, and homeward we did steer
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

We put him over our shoulder and then we trudged on home
We took him to a neighbor’s house, and sold him for a crown
We sold him for a crown, my boys, but I dare not tell you where
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

Good luck to every gentleman that lives in Lincolnshire
Good luck to every poacher that wants to steal a hare
Bad luck to every gamekeeper that will not sell his deer
Oh, ’tis my delight on a shiny night in the season of the year.

David Jones: a South East Londoner, born in 1934, has been singing the old songs for many years. Earliest remembered folksongs are “The Lincolnshire Poacher” and “The Farmer’s Boy,” learned at school in the mid-1940s. He has sung in the USA more than anywhere else, but has made forays back to the UK, to Australia, and to parts of Europe. He has sung solo, and with a number of groups, and, on the way, has recorded several albums of folksongs. Now, he lives in Leonia, NJ, Gateway to the Golden West, with his wife Louise, and tries to be involved as much as possible with the NYC folk music scene. Has appeared in a number of NYC theater productions to favorable reviews. Last local performance was as Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

Introduced by Sara Grey

The tune and text is a variation of “Buffalo Skinners” from Woody Guthrie but Woody’s version is more likely derived from this version. This is one of my favorite songs – so plaintive such a common theme.

I heard this version from Roscoe Holcomb; it’s ironic the way songs can move in opposite directions. We doubt Roscoe ever travelled west – someone probably had migrated back to the Southeast and he heard it there.

Listen to Sara Grey and her son Kieron Means sing “The Hills of Mexico,” from their album Better Days a Comin’:

"The Hills of Mexico" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

When I’s in old Fort Worth in eighteen eighty-three
An old Mexican cowboy come steppin’ up to me
Sayin’ “How’d you like, young feller, and how’d you like to go
And to spend another season with me in Mexico?”

Lord, I had no employment, back to him did say
“Well, accordin’ to your wages, accordin’ to your pay.”
“I will pay to you good wages and oft times, too, you know
If you’ll spend another season with me in Mexico.”

Now with all this flatterin’ talkin’ he signed up quite a train
Some ten or twelve in number, some able bodied men
And our trip it was a pleasant one, and we hit the western road
And we crossed the old Peace River to those hills of Mexico.

It was there our pleasures ended and our troubles they began
Well, a lightning storm did hit us and made our cattle run
And we all got full of stickers from the cactus that did grow
And the outlaws they did rob us in those hills of Mexico.

Well I went up to that cowboy, and I gave to him my hand
And he gave me a string of horses, so old they could not stand
And I nearly starved to death there, and I mean to let you know
That I never saved a dollar in those hills of Mexico.

Oh they put me on a steamboat and back to home did go
Well the bells they did ring, and the whistle it did blow
Well the bells they did ring, and the whistle it did blow
Far from the God-forsaken country that they call Old Mexico.

Sara Grey is a fine American singer, banjo player and song collector, who is immersed in the song traditions of both sides of the Atlantic. Her love affair with traditional songs for over 60 years has given her an incomparable knowledge of songs and ballads and how they have moved and evolved. She wants to gather the songs and pass them on to future generations so that they will have the pleasure of hearing and singing them just as she has. After living and singing in Britain for more than 45 years, Sara has returned to her native New England and is living in Maine with her husband Dave. She continues to tour actively, mostly with her son Kieron Means. See more about Sara at her website.

Introduced by Dave Para

Like John Roberts & Tony Barrand, Dave Para loves this “Crawn” version of the widespread carol “I Saw Three Ships.” It was collected in 1895 from a Humber estuary boatman on the east coast of England, and ultimately published by Baring-Gould in his Garland of Country Songs in the same year.

It finally makes sense out of the puzzle of why three ships appear in the Christmas narrative at all. Legend has it that the skulls (“crawns” = “craniums” = “crowns”?) of the “Kings” or “Wise Men” were taken and lodged in the cathedral at Cologne.

Dave thinks of this more as a pilgrim carol than a Christmas song, so here it is in March.

Listen to Nowell Sing We Clear perform “I Saw Three Ships,” from their Hail Smiling Morn album:

"I Saw Three Ships" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

Traditional English

I saw three ships come sailing by,
I saw three ships come sailing by,
By, by, by,
I saw three ships come sailing by.

I asked them what they’d got on board,
I asked them what they’d got on board,
Board, board, board,
I asked them what they’d got on board.

They said that they had got three crawns,
They said that they had got three crawns,
Crawns, crawns, crawns,
They said that they had got three crawns.

I asked them where they was taking them to,
I asked them where they was taking them to,
To, to, to,
I asked them where they was taking them to.

They said they was going to Koln upon Rhine,
They said they was going to Koln upon Rhine,
Koln, Koln upon Rhine,
They said they was going to Koln upon Rhine.

I asked them where they was bringing them from,
I asked them where they was bringing them from,
From, from, from,
I asked them where they was bringing them from.

They said they was coming from Bethlehem.
They said they was coming from Bethlehem.
Beth, Beth-e-le-hem.
They said they was coming from Bethlehem.

I saw three ships come sailing by,
I saw three ships come sailing by,
By, by, by,
I saw three ships come sailing by.

I saw three ships come sailing by.

Dave Para and his late wife Cathy Barton played and sang a lot of traditional music from Missouri and the Ozarks and did a couple of albums of Civil War music from Missouri with Bob Dyer. They were members of the Missouri Folklore Society since its revival 40 years ago. Loman Cansler often attended and sang at MFS events, and Becky Schroeder helped him put his collection at Western Historical Manuscripts, State Historical Society of Missouri. Dave continues to play throughout the US.

Introduced by Mark Gilston

I performed my first public concert at the Yellow Door Coffeehouse in Montreal in 1971. When I was putting together my set list, I noticed that two of the songs contained lyrics about ears which had been isolated from their owners’ heads. “The Cat Came Back” had the line, “Next day all they found was Freddy’s own right ear.” “Perrine” had the the line, “The mice they chewed and chewed and only left an ear.” I was also familiar with the song, “Jackknife” from the Unholy Modal Rounders, which begins, “I was cleaning my jackknife when you did appear. I had a fight with you; I cut off your ear.”

This all got me to wondering, were there many songs with missing or dismembered ears or other body parts? Thus began a collecting journey with many delightful finds and surprises. The next October, I heard Barry O’Neill sing “Shearing in a Bar” with “Two blows to clip away the wig… I also took an ear.” And at the same festival, I was introduced to the parody of “Captain Kidd,” “My name it is Van Gogh, lend an ear, lend an ear.”

I eventually compiled many of my best finds onto a CD entitled “Lend Me an Ear.” One of the songs which I had first heard in England in 1976 was “The Trooper and the Tailor.” But locating the version I had heard proved elusive. I discovered that versions had also been collected in the Catskill Mountains of New York and I conflated a couple of texts with the English melody and chorus which I found particularly delightful.

Listen to Mark sing the song accompanied on English concertina:

"The Trooper and the Tailor" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.

Lyrics

Traditional English – arranged by Mark Gilston © Copyright 2005

There was a fair lady in London did dwell,
For style and for beauty no one could excel,
And she had a husband who loved her right well,
And her husband, he was a bold trooper.

Refrain:
Ti in the Ti – I
Ta loo rum ta lie,
(repeat last line of verse)

There was a young tailor who lived there close by,
And on this fair lady he casted his eye;
He swore he would have her, or else he would die,
For he did not admire the bold trooper.

The tailor, he came awhile after ‘twas night
To seize on his jewel, his own heart’s delight,
Saying, “Ten guineas I’ll give to lie with you tonight,
For I hear that your husband’s on duty.”

“Oh yes, little tailor, you’ve guessed very right,
My husband’s on duty, oh, this very night;
But if he comes home, he’d give us a great fright,
For you know that my husband’s a trooper.”

So the bargain was made and to bed they did run,
They hadn’t been there long before fun had begun;
The fun being over, sleep swiftly did come,
And they had no more thoughts of the trooper.

The trooper came in in the midst of the night,
He rapped on the door, which gave them a great fright;
“Oh hide me, oh hide me, my sweet heart’s delight,
For I hear the bold knock of the trooper!”

“There’s a three-cornered cupboard behind the old door,
I’ll hide you in that, you’ll be safe and secure;
Then I will go down and I’ll open the door
And I’ll let in my husband, the trooper.”

She tripped down the stairs and she made a great din.
With compliments and kisses she welcomed him in;
“But for compliments and kisses I care not a pin:
Come light me a fire!” said the trooper.

“The fire is all out, and there’s no fire stuff,
So come to bed, darling, you’ll be warm enough!”
“There’s a three-cornered cupboard, it’s old and it’s rough,
And I’ll burn it this night,” cried the trooper.

Oh husband, dear husband, it’s not my desire,
for to burn a good cupboard to light you a fire,
For in it I keep a game-cock, I admire.”
“I’ll see your game-cock,” cried the trooper.

So he went to the cupboard, he opened the door:
And there sat the tailor all “safe and secure!”
Grabbed the nape of his neck, yanked him out on the floor,
”Is this your game-cock?” said the trooper!

He kicked and he cuffed him, and beat him severe;
With his own pair of shears he cut off his right ear –
“Now for this night’s lodging you’ve paid very dear!”
And away ran the poor cropp-ed tailor.

Mark Gilston was born and raised in New York City. Both of his parents were steeped in the folk music revival scene of the 1950’s. He grew up listening to 78’s and LP’s of American, Russian, Spanish, Caribbean and Israeli folk music. Learning guitar and taking piano lessons starting at age 5, he was constantly immersed in music. In his youth, Mark gained a love of traditional American ballads and Old-Time songs and instrumentals from recordings and from his father, who often sang the old ballads which he had learned in his youth in Appalachia.

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Folklore, Mark went to graduate school at SUNY Binghamton studying ethnomusicology and ended up settling there until 1994.

Mark has been giving concerts and leading workshops since 1971. He interned at the Library of Congress archive of Folk Song, and has worked as a researcher for Alan Lomax. He has published numerous articles and books on music and folklore. Mark is also a multi-instrumentalist with an international reputation in English concertina and mountain dulcimer. He won the prestigious National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in 2016. Mark has 14 CDs on the Ramble Creek and Creative Engineering labels. “The Trooper and the Tailor” is on Mark’s second CD, Lend Me an Ear.