One of my favourite things about a folk festival is leaving with a new song. The Yass Irish and Celtic Music Festival was no exception this year.

I have gone to town with the reverb here, because Fiona Ross sang this beautiful ballad in the restored Lovat Chapel, which rings like a bell.

Here is some background for the ballad:

The tune is from a book published by William Motherwell, 'Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern' in 1827(?) and directly connected to this ballad.

I don't have footage of Fiona's performance, but it was in this style by Sheena Wellington:

The site for the festival:

The photos are from the performances that I (or my wife) attended over the weekend, unfortunately I didn't get a to see few acts.

Here are the details for the performers mentioned:

Stringline: https://www.facebook.com/Stringline-Folk-Band-1596175373962037/

Witches Leap:https://www.facebook.com/witchesleap/

Dixie Chooks:https://www.facebook.com/DixieChooks/

Jason & Chloe Roweth: https://www.rowethmusic.com.au/

Ann Poore: https://www.facebook.com/annpooremusic

Geraldine & Neil Brosnan: (don't have a site)

The Last Aurochs: http://thelastaurochs.com/

Bruce Watson:http://www.brucewatsonmusic.com/

Kathryn Clements: https://kathrynclements.com/

Fiona Ross: https://fionaross.com.au/

Shona Williams: (no link yet)

Suzette Herft: https://suzetteherft.com/

Lugh Damen: https://lughdamen.com/

My son (4) was fascinated when he saw the Wiggles version and told me all about it.

So I did some research and set the words to my own melody.

Here is a fantastic post on SingOut about the ballad with a selection of treatments and links to the analysis of the story:

Pictures from H.L. Stephens 1865 book:

Jury still seems to be out on whether this is an echo of ancient bird (or people) sacrifices, or a satire of current affairs in the 1700s.

The ballad is 494 in the Roud index.

Though Joni was singing this after Nixon's election. I'm sure many outside of America have been feeling the same way since January 2017.

Joni singing live on the Dick Cavett show in 1969:

Spooky men also did this in 2014:

This was a beautiful, heartwarming movie, such a shame is wasn't appreciated by more people.

A lovely version of this song by the One Voice Children's Choir:

Here is the official movie segment:

I love being able to show the kids that they can singing anything they hear and want to learn. So amazing to hear their voices grow.

Michael Rosenberg is one of those artists where you watch the album release countdown with anticipation and you click purchase on iTunes the moment the first single links get published. There is never a doubt about the quality of his writing, singing and production.

Here is the brilliant video for this song:

As an independent artist, Michael is also so generous with his time and talent, doing free (busking) shows wherever he travels and putting the audio from the whole album up on YouTube.

This song, and most of the album, feels so sad. One part of me just wants him to find a partner, but then would his songs about nappies, birthdays and anniversaries be as good? Of course they would!

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of singing the 'Better than Decent Girls' song that I wrote earlier in the year at the annual commemoration of the Irish Famine Memorial in Sydney.

Unfortunately I didn't get a recording of the performance, but here is the original upload:

Thanks to Barbara Barclay, who is currently researching the background of the girls that came from Mayo to Australia for sending me a link to this song:

The song was written by Rosalind and Steve Barnes, but I cannot find any online recordings of their version, just a link to some of their albums, e.g. Patterns in the Sand - 1992 most likely out of print.

Here is a beautiful version by Sean Keane:

And an acapella treatment by Iontach:

You can learn about the memorial here:

I have avoided recording a cover of Phil Och's interpretation of the Alfred Noyes 1906 poem, because it is just so great on its own.

Fortunately we added to our considerable collection of Julia Donaldson books for my son's 4th birthday and I realized that the 'Highway Rat' could be sung to the same tune Phil Ochs put to the Noyes poem.

You can find the book here:

Or this (probably unlicensed) reading:

The copyrighted text of the Highway Rat is used here under 'fair use' as a transformative work.

My Russian is woeful and I suspect I have mixed up my ноги and ножки (legs and feet), but I wanted to do one of Отава-Ё (Otava Yo)'s songs after listening to them this week.

This group are masters of their instruments and along with some fantastic produced film clips, also perform incredibly well live.

I highly recommend their 2015 'best of' album:

Evgeniy Leonov, the Russian actor, often sang this song:

My re-work of the google translation:

On the river, on the river, on that little river
Marusenka washes her white legs.

Marusenka washes her white legs,
White feet, blue eyes.

White feet, blue eyes.
Gray geese swim to Marusenka

Gray geese swim to Marusenka
do not fly, do not stir up the water.

Do not muddy the waters, do not wake my father-in-law.
my father-in-law might scold.

My father-in-law might scold.
He threw a tantrum and his wife scolded him

Who did you walk with last night Marusenka ?
Who did you walk with, who did you meet in the morning?

Where have you been Marusenka ?
You took a long walk and fell in love

You took a long walk and fell in love
The one she loved, she forgets forever

Any suggestions on the translation welcome, original Russian (Latvian?) for the Otova Yo version here:

Recording this for a wise old soul who recently set out on the highway.

This was written by Jimmy Webb and released in 1977. But didn't become famous until it was covered by The Highwaymen supergroup with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.

Here is Jimmy's version:

And the supergroup version:

I first heard this song on Alistair Hulett's Riches and Rags album.

It was written by John Kirkpatrick and appeared on his 1994 album, Earthling.

Short Mudcat discussion with lyrics:

Wikipedia covers John's extensive career in folk music, including a stint in Steeleye Span:

John's personal page (with a fine accordion/concertina collection):

Green Shoe playing Thomas Walsh's Inisheer at Yazzbar.


Flute: Bridget
Bouzouki: Michael
Cajon: Troy
Guitar: Daniel

Join us in Yass for the Irish & Celtic Music Festival, 14-16 September.

I've just finished watching the brilliant Netflix series, Alias Grace, based on the book of the same name by Margaret Atwood.

You can read several interesting posts discussing the historical event:

This song, sung by Anne Briggs, is used with the closing credits:

Pentangle also did a version:

It is an excellent pairing as both the song and the book discuss the relationship between young women and the men who take advantage of them.

Robin Hood was one of my favourite Disney animated movies as a child. Roger Miller sung the part of the rooster/minstrel, but Phil Harris sang this song ("The Phony King of England").

I had the idea to re-write the words for Mr Trump.

Checking for existing duplicates, as one does when writing parody, I found this version by Eleanor:

Here is the original version from the film:

From Game of Thrones, probably could do with a few more verses.

A version from the TV show was sung by Matt Berninger from 'The National' for season 2 - here:

In season 4 there is a version by Sigur Ros:

This song isn't by Tommy Makem, but was sang by both his mother, Sarah, and his aunt Annie Jane Kelly.

There are two songs by Annie captured by Peter Kennedy in the recording from 1952 here:

This 1977 film gives an incredible insight into the music that would have been in Tommy's house as he grew up:

Sean Keane does an excellent version:

I cannot find any reference to who (or what) Tommy wrote this beautiful song about. I do know that 'Gentle Annie' is one of the names for the Irish Goddess Anu.

Tommy's wife of 37 years was Mary.

Note that this is not the Foster & Allen, or the Australian song of the same name.

Tommy's voice in this recording is so masterful and resonant.

The video starts with a powerful recitation of the Patrick Kavanagh poem, On Raglan Road (which Luke Kelly made famous as a song).

A great cover here by DalyJohnM:

While searching for another filk song I found this brilliant song by Cat Faber from 1994. Lyrics here:

You can find many of Cat's other beautifully written and performed songs on her page here:

Here is the Leslie Fish version that I found first:

Cat's version here:

Cat won the Pegasus award in 1998 with this song.

I have borrowed Leslie's change from humans to men (after all, I don't think any bits of the bible were actually written by women) and added plural to god for good measure.

The Murrumbidgee is the second longest river in Australia and winds through almost 1500 kilometers of New South Wales. The Yass River joins the Murrumbidgee at Lake Burrinjuck, about 15km from where I took the photos last week.

John Warner wrote the song cycle, Yarri of Wiradjuri, which tells the story of how a local Indigenous man saved the lives of many Europeans during the Gundagai flood of 1852. Yarri (and Jacky) finally got a statue in 2017:

This song features in the song cycle, usually sung by Margaret Walters. Lyrics for the many of John's songs are available here:

Here is a performance by Ecopella, unfortunately not attributed to John:

The song appears on Margaret's album, Power in a Song:

The Wheelers & Dealers do a nice version here:

This Cicely Fox Smith poem has already been sung in a few forms.

I had always assumed that the tow-rope girls was some crude euphemism, but in this case the poem is about the sailors imagining their loved ones (mother, sister, sweetheart) pulling them home by the ship's tow-rope.

Here is the poem:

This version by Kimber's Men is clearly derivative, but with different verses:

This version is closer to the poem:

I have missed the first verse of this by accident:

Oh, a ship in the Tropics, a-foaming along,
With every stitch drawing, the Trade blowing strong,
The white caps around her all breaking in spray,
For the girls have got hold of her tow-rope today.

A Mudcat thread on the 'bone in her mouth' bit (also not a euphemism):

Something about this song just seemed to suit the global political mood this week. Here is Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance with the original version:

It sounds like Brendan sings over an entirely unrelated chord progression. I have no hope of achieving that level of coordination so have 'folkified' the song a bit.

I'm not sure if this song is a general criticism of the American Dream, or a reference to a specific novel or event. The album, Toward the Within, was released in 1994.

I only heard snippets of this song when watching the Vikings TV series (one of my favorite shows, being a distant descendant of Rollo).

Here is the Fever Ray original:

I can't take credit for the musical adaptation of this Cicely Fox Smith Poem. I first heard this arrangement sung by the Roaring Forties, but it also appears in slightly different form on this mudcat thread:

The song is sung by the Sheringham Shantymen to a different tune with a different chorus and, incorrectly, attributed to 'John' in the intro here:

If anyone knows the origin of this arrangement, please let me know.

I first heard this traditional (1840s broadside) English ballad sung by the Wheeze and Suck Band.

The song refers to a muster (not defeat) of the Royal Horse Guards, probably under George IV if the 1840s date is close to when it was first written.

The location of 'Salisbury Plain' is one of several variants.

MainlyNorfolk detail here:

Mudcat Thread here:

The Wheezers version is very close to the version here by Robin & Barry Dransfield:

Something very special happened in Australia last night. Grant Denyer, who had recently had his show on Channel TEN cancelled, won the Gold Logie (our equivalent of the US Emmy Awards).

All thanks to brilliant comedian Tom Gleeson's efforts to rally the Australian people.

Here is the Hard Chat interview:

And Grant's acceptance speech:

What a great guy! What a fantastic story in these grim days.

Even after 4 or 5 takes, I'm not really happy with this cover. There is something about the magic that happens when Emily and Amy sing and play together that seems hard to capture.

I'm posting anyway because I love the wisdom in the lyrics and power in the performances of Indigo Girls.

Original version here:


Created 4 months, 1 week ago.

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Folk singer/songwriter Daniel Kelly from Australia.