John Conolly’s evergreen Fiddler’s Green seems to have been largely forgotten among folkies (they probably sang it a bit too much decades ago) but it’s still popular with working boat folks including fishermen around the creeks where we keep our little boat. This recording… well, it’s not perfect but I’ve been trying out some new equipment and it seemed a shame to waste this take!
Where is Fiddler’s Green? Who knows, but the Wikipedia tells me it’s a ‘legendary imagined afterlife, where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing, and dancers who never tire’. It sounds like one of the better folk or maritime festivals, or – as Chris Brady points out in the comments link below, like a fishermen’s do in a Norfolk pub thirty or forty years ago…
The Mainly Norfolk website has a page of information about the song.
PS – Here’s another song for those who enjoy this important aspect of our cultural heritage. This time it’s a story song designed to warn young sailors that there are many false friends offering broad smiles and warm who are only too keen to take their money while it lasts – and will quickly turn them away when it runs out…
It’s something Norwegians do, apparently! And it has a wild quality that seems more plausible than some of the restrained stuff we hear from time to time.
The East Anglian Film Archive has some cracking stuff. Here’s a 1979 film in which local fisherman and legendary lifeboatman Shrimp Davies talks about life and work around the beaches of Cromer in Norfolk, and finishes up with some singing and stepdancing in a favourite pub. We’ve seen the last bit before, but the rest is new and it’s all interesting.
Here’s how the archive describes the short film:
‘Shots of the streets of Cromer, guided by Henry ‘Shrimp’ Davies. He shows Cromer town centre, Bob Davies’ Crab Shop, and the bust of lifeboatman Henry Blogg. He walks down to the beach to the crab boats which gives clear views of Cromer and its major buildings, including the Church and the Pier. A stills sequence, compares various scenes of Cromer in the 1970s with how they appeared in 1890. There seems to have been very little change. An interesting feature from this sequence are the bathing machines sitting on the beach. Crab boats are winched onto a trailer and then pulled up the beach by tractor and the crabs unloaded. There are shots of children playing on the beach and of a Punch and Judy man setting up. Concludes with shots of the interior of the Bath Hotel. Fisherman are singing and step-dancing to the accompaniment of Percy Brown on the accordion.’
I’d call that accordion a melodeon, but it’s still a great thing…
Btw, I love this photo of Blogg.
While we’re looking at the EAFA’s material, there’s a fabulous piece of 1902 footage showing herring drifters returning to port and Scottish fisher lassies on the Great Yarmouth’s quays, and a 1930s piece showing bad weather at Clacton in Essex – including a paddle steamer leaving Clacton Pier, probably in order to take holiday makers home to London despite the storm.