The photo above is one of Bob’s and was borrowed from his weblog. Click on it to visit his site
Crews from three Scottish Coastal Rowing clubs, Boatie Blest, Newhaven and Portobello this week dressed up in old fashioned clothes, assembled on the beach at Porty and sang the traditional dreg songs as recorded and noted in the 1930s by US folklorist James Madison Carpenter.
The result was captured by BBC radio programme-makers – you can hear it here, for as long as the BBC keeps it online. The relevant segment starts at 1:18:45, and in it US folklorist Bob Walser explains how the songs work.
There’s also some video here.
Academics from Edinburgh Napier University including Graham Weir recorded the singing. There’s a sample here.
Bob found the songs while studying Carpenter’s material, and it was originally his dream that they should be sung in their proper setting by authentic voices.
He and the rowing clubs organised it all to coincide with Bob’s visit to Scotland to perform at the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival at Portsoy last weekend.
Bob seems more than delighted with the results – his weblog makes it clear that it was a great night with lots of singing.
There’s a report also at the Scottish Coastal Rowing website.
I’m so glad it all came off. I couldn’t be at the event, but did manage a small contribution of my own.
When Bob asked whether I could tell him anything about the dreg songs I couldn’t help directly but suggested local rowers might be interested in learning and using them. I’d already had a communication from coastal rower Osbert Lancaster in the old Firth of Forth oyster fishery area enquiring about rowing songs… So I put the two gentlemen in touch and they got to organising. The rest, as they say, is hard work by Bob and the clubs to bring it about, a memorable night of singing, a good story… and history. Fabulous stuff!
We’re delighted to be able to report that the influence of the splendid Scottish Coastal Rowing Project based on designer Iain Oughtred’s St Ayles skiff seems to have spread to the USA.
What’s happened is that WoodenBoat magazine is sponsoring its local High School to build a St Ayles skiff, and that there may be St Ayles skiff building projects in the area in the near future – Alec Jordan, the brains behind the original project tells me he’s waiting for confirmation.
This is just another amazine achievement in what has been an amazing story over a period of about a year, and a huge amount of credit is due to Alec.To read the WoodenBoat magazine story, click here; there’s more to read also at the WoodenBoat forum.
Editor Pete Greenfield has sent us his preview of the September/October issue of Water Craft magazine.
Click here to subscribe to this excellent publication!
Here’s what he says about the next issue:
‘In our September/October 2010 issue – in good newsagents from 26 August – you’ll find….
•Some 16 years designer Nigel Irens launched his radical 30ft (9m) lugger named Roxane. Now Dick Phillips has built a not-so-conventional gaff-sloop version in wood and Peter Goad has sailed her….
•Did you see the BJ17 at the Beale Park Boat Show? Bart Jan Batts asked Nigel to redesign his 3-masted 17’ (2.2m) King Alfred School Expedition Boat– with a Roxane-style lug rig. Kathy Mansfield sailed her.
•And talking of 17-footers, Alice Driscoll says the new water-ballasted BayRaider 17 from Swallow Boats is two boats in one.
•Designer Paul Gartside presents home builders with full plans and offsets for an easy-to-build 9ft (2.74m) tender.
•It’s less than a year since Alec Jordan launched his first kit-built 22ft (6.7m) St Ayles skiff for the Scottish Coastal Rowing Project. Now as many as 22 are in build, and six community groups have completed – and raced – their own boats.
•And, talking of Scotland, did you know that when Robin Hood wasn’t up there riding through the glen, he was surfboating in Wales? We didn’t either. And when Ridley Scott’s new film Robin Hood needed a fleet of mediaeval surfboats, Mark Edwards’ Bridge Boathouses had to make them without chopping down Sherwood.
Plus the best of the Beale Park Boat Show, Water Craft’s own Amateur Boatbuilding Awards and all our regular features.’
Once again, Water Craft offers excellent value – the tender plans alone will be worth ten times the cover price. Get your subscription now!