Tuesday, 7 July 2015

SDFS at N.T. Bateman's, Burwash, East Sussex, Sunday 2nd August 2015

Here's a message from John for all singers who are performing at Bateman's on 2nd August:

Dear Singers,

We have been invited to sing two sets for the event commemorating the centennial of the First World War at this fine 17thC house and gardens, that was the home of Rudyard Kipling and his family (My Boy Jack). Emily and Amaryllis will be leading us.

The site opens to the public from 11.00 hrs so we need to be there at the latest by 10.45 hrs. We will meet in the car park adjacent to the ticket office and then proceed in a group to our first set's location TBC. Our first set will commence at 11.15 hrs till 12.00 hrs and then there will be a break for various noisy events and the Heathfield Silver Band to perform their set. We then sing our second set at 14.30 hrs in the Mulberry Garden on the SW corner of the house.

If you still have poppies from last year's remembrance events then please wear them, otherwise the same combinations of dress as at last month's Alfriston event will be great.

There will be a practice session at the Beechwood Hotel on the 29th July from 19.30 hrs.

As it's quite a distance to the venue, car sharing has been suggested, as we will have parking allocated for us. So if you are volunteering for the day please when you email John Crane at southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com to confirm, please state whether you are able to give a lift to other singers, or would like a lift and where you are coming from, and then we may be able to match you up. I personally have two spaces available starting from Littlehampton.

I will not be able to reply to your email acceptances until next Sunday as I am at the Vernacular Architecture Conference in Cumbria, so bear with me until then.

Here's hoping that we can field a good turnout, as it will be our first National Trust site, with perhaps more to follow as the word spreads.

John C

Song List
  1. On Sussex Hills
  2. Old Adam
  3. The Nightingale
  4. Ha'nacker Mill
  5. All Things Are Quite Silent
  6. Hard Times Of Old England
  7. My Boy Jack
  8. Dancing At Whitsun
  9. Life Of A Man
  10. Thousands Or More
  11. Fathom The Bowl
  12. Rosebuds In June
  13. West Sussex Drinking Song
  14. Home Lads, Home
  15. Sussex By The Sea

Friday, 26 June 2015

Practice at the Beechwood for Bateman’s on 2nd August

There will be an EXTRA singing evening on Wednesday July 29th, 7.30 p.m., at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing.

Some extra time to prepare for our performance at “Bateman’s” on Sunday 2nd August 2015 – so if you’re planning to sing with us on the 2nd come and join us on the 29th too!


We now have a number of Performance Events booked and listed on our SDFS Diary Page – with thanks to John our Events Organiser for his hard work. In addition to these larger events many of our singers have expressed interest in singing at smaller or more local events and occasions, which may require fewer singers.

After discussions about how best to get these smaller events onto our programme (but leave John’s time free to focus primarily on the larger, Main, events) it has been suggested that the smaller occasions could be managed by the singer bringing the event to the SDFS’ attention, or by any other singer willing to take this on.

SO – If you have had an invitation, or have an idea, for the SDFS to perform at such an event – AND you or another singer are willing to manage the arrangements for SDFS to participate – then, providing there are no major clashes with an event already listed and enough singers are available, the event will be added to the others listed on our website.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO if you would like to add a small or local Event to the performance list ....
  1. Let John know the event details as soon as possible (you can contact him via the SDFS email address southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com), and please include a brief notice about the event which he will forward to Keith our Web Administrator to post on our website’s new “Proposed Events” page. (A prompt to this will appear on the “Latest News” page.)

  2. The notice must provide details of the event and the contribution the SDFS is being asked to make – name the singer who is leading on the arrangements, – and invite singers (from any locality) to respond to them if they would like to join in (giving a closing date for replies). (The SDFS email address can be given for replies, to avoid personal contact details being displayed, and John will forward the messages to the nominated singer in charge.)

  3. Please let John know the names of any singers volunteering who have not used the SDFS address for their reply, and also keep him up to date with plans and progress (so that he can maintain an overview of all our engagements for future planning).

  4. Once singer numbers are known by the given deadline another notice should be prepared and sent to John for Keith to post on the website, to confirm and share final plans if enough singers have volunteered or to cancel if insufficient interest. If the event is confirmed it will be transferred into the “Diary Dates” list.

  5. When choosing the songs for a small group of singers, tried and tested material will enable a more confident performance without needing to arrange extra rehearsals, and if for a more informal occasion a musical lead ‘out front’ may not be necessary.
Let’s celebrate the South Downs Songs whenever and wherever we sing!

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 16th June 2015

Twelve singers – Adrian, Angela B, Cat, Dave T, Dawn, John K, Judy, Mac, Margaret, Margo, Maria and Tina – gathered at the John Harvey Tavern. We didn’t sing beside the Ouse (maybe next month when we are doing less note-by-note learning of new songs and harmonies) but we posed for some photos outside in the last of the evening sun before heading back inside to the cosy downstairs Lewes Bar to start singing.

Photo courtesy of Margo

We looked back at the Sussex Day celebrations at Alfriston on Sunday which nine of us had attended (see separate report and photos) and looked ahead to the list of upcoming events, including some further singing opportunities over this side in Burwash and Haywards Heath. We were particularly excited to hear about plans hot off the press a few days ago for a possible 2016 singing trip along the coast on the ‘Waverley’, the oldest ocean going paddle steamer in the world.

Songs covered were My Boy Jack and Home Lads Home (which are likely to feature at the Bateman’s war themed event); Constant Lovers (including hammed-up music hall over the top scooping of notes and general woefulness); new songs Farmer’s Toast, Jim the Carter Lad, Pleasant and Delightful and They Won’t let Us go to Sea Any More; some new or newer harmonies for Rosebuds in June and Fathom the Bowl; an airing of an old favourite Three Maidens which has not been performed for a while; and East Sussex Drinking Song.

Any new singers are very welcome to join us in our sessions, third Tuesday of each month, just turn up with your voice and join in. Next few dates are 21 July, 18 August and 15 September.


Sussex Day Celebrations in Alfriston Village – 14th June 2015

Many of us arrived early to ensure a parking space and we enjoyed a wander around this beautiful village before our first sing at 1pm. Thank you very much to Tina for adapting our set list for the three different venues and setting us off on the right notes. The weather was kind and the National Trust Clergy House garden sheltered us from the wind and the Pentacle Drummers. True to her form, bright Phoebe came shining through the clouds during "Thousands Or More".

At 2pm we sang in the Parish Church and here was probably our biggest audience, although they didn't stay in the pews for long as they seemed to be trying to find a quiet place away from Eastbourne Scottish Bagpipers. Then a leisurely stroll up to The Star Inn to purchase a drink. I think we sounded our best here as Tina managed to sell five CDs. Then it was back down to The Tye where the Hunters Moon Morris were performing and the various stalls were set up.

It was a well-organised event but poorly attended. Unfortunately, there were other celebrations locally - Sussex Day, Magna Carta, Waterloo.... If we think we were too out of the way to attract an audience, then recall that none of the performers actually had a crowd larger than their own number even when in the middle of the Green. So don't feel forsaken or cast down, but rejoice that we could sing to our hearts' content in delightful settings.


Thanks to Peter B for the photos below.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Report From New Songs Working Party, 17th May 2015

The working party made up of the session leaders for the local groups (Alan Wheeler & Dave Garrard for Easebourne/Selham, Emily Longhurst for Worthing and Tina Cox for Lewes) met again at Emily’s house on 17th May, 2015.

In 2014 we were asked by the Committee to find 6 new songs and chose 13! This time we were looking for 6 songs and chose 11 so it’s been agreed we won’t repeat the exercise until 2017.

We previously had 39 songs so this takes our repertoire up to a round 50 songs, enough for a whole new CD in due course.

We chose the 11 songs based on:
  1. all the songs having to sound great in their own right,
  2. not being vetoed by any of us,
  3. having a local link and
  4. prioritising subjects less well represented in our existing repertoire, particularly regarding class/poverty; industries/occupations other than farming; the sea (with some coming from Chris Hare’s new “Secret Shore” coastal project); seasons other than summer; no more Copper or Belloc songs unless exceptional; songs written by/ about women.

The 11 songs we chose were:

Brave Eleven Written by a local woman regarding heroic deaths in an attempted rescue from a shipwreck off Worthing.
Farmer’s Toast Previously not included as we were unsure of its Sussex credentials. We’ve rechecked and it’s sufficiently widely spread and sung often in Sussex. A farmer gives thanks for his happy and fruitful life.
Jim The Carter Lad Generally sung everywhere including Sussex. About a carter lad who goes merrily about his carting while giving pretty girls the eye.
Littlehampton Collier Lads Song with obvious local connection and occupation which was popular along the South coast in the 19th century and was collected by Vaughan Williams.
Magpie A traditional chorus “One for sorrow, two for joy etc” is included in an unusual song from the 1960s folk revival which references the magpie as a mystical “devil’s bird” which brings both joy and grief.
Masters In This Hall For our Christmas repertoire. A carol written by William Morris, the Victorian artist, designer, writer, and socialist, set to an old French dance tune with a 16th century feel which tells of the poor bringing news of Christ’s birth to the masters.
Pleasant And Delightful Traditional. Popularised by Shirley Collins and others. Like “The Nightingale” but instead of a soldier we have a sailor who is leaving his pretty Nancy to go where the loud cannons roar and it also has blackbirds, thrushes and "larks who sang melodious at the dawning of the day".
Poor Frozen-Out Gardeners From an old broadside. About unemployed agricultural workers, winter and poverty.
Seasons Turn Around Written by Sylvia Watts, mid 1970s. Popularised around Sussex by Martin Wyndham-Read. Beautifully poetic, “gold autumn, green spring, blue summer and white winter rain”.
They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Anymore Written by a folk singer then resident in Hastings about EU quotas leading to the decline of the local fishing fleet.
Woodcutter’s Song Traditional. Praises woodcutters and 14 different types of wood – oak, pine, birch, chestnut, hawthorn, holly and many more.

There are also four of our songs chosen in April 2014 which are not yet equally known across the three local groups and have not been widely performed. These are Christmas Now Is Drawing Near At Hand, Constant Lovers, Coppers’ Christmas Song and My Boy Jack.

We agreed to start teaching these songs in the local sessions in the following order, with a view to beginning to perform them from the 2016 summer season onwards. In due course Alan, Dave, Emily and I will provide sound recordings of these new songs (and written notes for anyone who would like them).

Up to September 2015:
  1. My Boy Jack (this was lower down, but has been moved up so we can sing it at Bateman’s on 2nd August as it is based on a Kipling poem)
  2. Constant Lovers
  3. Farmer’s Toast
  4. Jim the Carter Lad
  5. They Won’t Let Us Go To Sea Anymore
  6. Pleasant And Delightful
September to December 2015:
  1. Littlehampton Collier Lads
  2. Woodcutter’s Song
  3. Masters In This Hall
  4. Coppers’ Christmas Song
  5. Christmas Now Is Drawing Near At Hand
From January 2016:
  1. Brave Eleven
  2. Poor Frozen-out Gardeners
  3. Seasons Turn Around
  4. Magpie

Tina Cox

Friday, 12 June 2015

Sussex Day Celebrations at Alfriston Village, Sunday 14th June

All singers who have confirmed their attendance at this event should now have received an email from Tina with the final details and a parking permit. Anybody else still wanting to come should contact Tina on 07795 335646.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Harmony Workshop on Saturday, 11th July

For those of you who might be interested we'll be holding a Harmony Workshop on Saturday the 11th July. We'll be offering and practising harmony lines, both high and low, for many of the songs, firming up some you might already know and adding some new ones.

The songs we sing all only have their melody lines written down, so the harmonies we are adding are purely for variety and pleasure and are completely open to evolving as you choose. Usually at the monthly practices there isn't particular time to focus on the harmonies, so a day to concentrate on them should be most fruitful.

It will run from 10 til 4 at the Beechwood Hall Hotel in Worthing. There will be breaks in the morning, afternoon and at lunch-time, but still plenty of time for loads of singing. Come along and learn some new harmonies, or enjoy really getting to grips with the ones you already sing!

N.B. We’ll be in the downstairs “Aga Suite” at the Beechwood and space will be more limited than at our usual gatherings to sing. So if you want to confirm a place at the workshop please let us know via the SDFS email address southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com – or be first in the queue on the day!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Local Group Report – Lewes Tuesday 19th May 2015

The John Harvey Tavern gets even better as the weather gets warmer and perhaps next month we will sing outside across the River Ouse.

At our May meeting, Tina introduced us to two new songs that we will start to learn for 2016 performances. Then we ran through those from our repertoire that we will sing at Alfriston. We are really looking forward to an event at this end of the county.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Workshop Solo CD Tracks

Recently Alan W passed a CD to me containing solo singing tracks that were recorded at the end of the original HLF workshops, with a suggestion that I make them available to everybody here. I had not heard any of these recordings previously and most probably some of you haven't either. You can download these tracks as mp3 files using the links below. Unfortunately there is no information regarding the song titles or the names of the singers, so if you can help with any of these please either leave a comment or email southdownsfolksingers@gmail.com.

Track No01.mp3
Track No02.mp3
Track No03.mp3
Track No04.mp3
Track No05.mp3
Track No06.mp3
Track No07.mp3
Track No08.mp3
Track No09.mp3
Track No10.mp3

If you would like to download all the tracks together in a single zip file, go to this page. In the upper-right corner you will see a blue 'Download' button. Click this and then select 'Download as .zip'. You will then be asked if you want to create a Dropbox account, but you don't need to do this, just click on 'No thanks, continue to download' at the bottom.

Keith D