The Lads O The Fair

I found this video over at the Scotianostra Tumblr so thought I’d add a bit to it.  The Battlefield Band has been part of my life for decades.  I particularly appreciated their sentiment of “Home is where the Van is…”

Happy Birthday local Bairn, Brian McNeill born on April 6th 1950 in Falkirk.

Brian was a founder member of the Battlefield Band, one of our finest Folk Groups. He also joined several other top Scottish Folk musicians including Dick Gaughan in Clan Alba.

Enjoy a little music on this spring day and have a great weekend.

In case you want to know the lyrics, here they are as best as I can tell…

Come, bonnie lass, and lie near me
And let the brandy cheer ye
For the road frae Fife to Falkirk’s lang
And cold and wet an’ weary
My trade, it is the weaving
At the bonnie toon o’ Leven;
An’ we’ll drink to the health o’ the fairmer’s dames
Who’ll buy my claith the morn.

CHORUS after each verse:

For ye can see them a’, the lads o’ the fair
Lads frae the Forth an’ the Carron Water,.
Workin’ lads an’ lads wi’ gear
Lads that’ll sell ye the provost’s daughter
Soldiers back frae the German Wars,.
Peddlers up frae the Border;
An’ lassies wi’ an eye for mair than the kye
At the trysting fair o’ Falkirk

Come, Geordie, lead the pony for the path is steep an’ stony
An’ we’re three lang weeks frae the Isle o’ Skye
An’ the beasts are thin an’ bony
We’ll tak the last o’ the siller
An’ we’ll buy ourselves a gill or two;
An’ we’ll drink tae lads who’ll buy oor kye
In Falkirk in the morn.

I’ll stand here an’ I’ll show ye, there’s the toon below ye,.
But ye’d best bide here in the barn the nicht
For the nichtwatch dinna know ye
Ma brither, he’s a plooman an’ I’m for the feein’ noo, man;
Sae we’ll drink tae the price o’ the harvest corn
In Falkirk in the morn.

O, the wark o’ the weaver’s over, likewise the days o’ the drover
An’ a plowboy sits on a tractor noo; too high tae see the clover,
The workin’s no so steady, but the lads are past the ready
For tae drink a health tae the workin’ man in Falkirk in the morn.

Monday Morning Music

banjo cowgirl

I can’t find any info on this photo.  I think is says Prairie May at the bottom?

A little cowboy movie music isn’t a bad thing.  Hollywood has produced some good music with the vast resources it has at its disposal.  Here is a link to My Rifle, My Pony, and Me / June Apple from the film Rio Bravo (the hot links will take you to lyrics).

If you know the Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin movie The Three Amigos (a family favorite around here) the first song reminds me of their homage tune Blue Shadows on the Trail.  Take your mind away from work stress, cowboy up, pick up the guitar, and dream of a life on the trails in the Old West.

Giddy-up!

The Unlikely Banjoist

A post I’ve been hanging onto; a bit off-topic, personal, and possibly without any point.

Banjo

My most recent banjo polished up and fitted with a new calfskin head.

I am an unlikely banjoist.  I got a very cheap banjo when I was 14 years old but didn’t find a teacher.  I took a couple lessons from uninspired twenty-somethings but didn’t get much from them.  Fortunately, this didn’t stop me.   There was even a old neighborhood guy who offered some help but it turned out he only strummed a tenor-jazz-banjo.  He may as well have played a ukelele for all that it mattered to me. So I learned by listening and from the few books I could find that suited my interest.

seeger_book_coverI don’t even know why I picked banjo particularly, but I did.  I was fortunate to be a latch-key kid from and early age, so when it wasn’t sports season, I cherished my solitary time after school.  I would often sit in the kitchen or on the back porch and plink around, playing old folk tunes.  I discovered Cecil Sharp and Francis Child and learned what I could about folksong of Western Europe and the British Isles.  I found this very old and diverse instrument adaptable to lots of styles of playing having found it’s way from 18th century plantation shacks to Victorian concert halls.

horn

My college instrument. Oh where are you now?

Coming from a classical music background helped.  My dark secret is the I spent three years in college as a music major.  I could read music and understood a little about musical structure so I spent time in the library digging through old folk music books and journals.  I never became great but good enough to not be ashamed to play in front of people and had about an hour-long proficient set of Irish, Scottish, Appalachian, and Ozark tunes in my repertoire.  Then life happened.  I gave it up (mostly) for over a decade while traveling and working like a dog and trying to be a good father but without playing an instrument, I think I lost a little of my identity.

FancyChair-Large

From the era of the “classic banjo.”

So the short story is that I’m back.  Making time to do something I love has helped my mind immensely.  I’ll never be Tony Trischka, Earl Scruggs, or Bela Fleck, but at least I have some music back in my life.

DSC_0002

View of the backside to show off the beautiful maple figure.

For those few who may be interested in the technical details of this machine.  My most recent instrument is roughly a Vega design with a White-Lady tone ring.  The tension hoop and arm rest are plain brass and the head is genuine calfskin.  The neck sports a Mastertone-style peghead taken from the diagram in Earl Scruggs’ classic banjo book.  The fingerboard and peghead cover are cocobolo.  The tuners are scavenged off my first banjo and are Keith planetary-type except one.  The D string tuner is a replacement as someone actually stepped on my old neck and broke one!  The replacement is a 5-Star from Stewart-MacDonald’s lutherie shop.  These days I could get online and order one instantly, but back in the mythical pre-internet era this actually took some phone sleuthing.

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