Wendy M. Grossman, the HTML Edition

Roseville Fair...

These files are MP3 versions of the songs on my 1980 album, Roseville Fair. CD copies with jackets and liner notes, albeit mostly home-produced, are available from CDBaby, so go there if you want to buy one. Otherwise, enjoy these MP3 versions; I've also got some more recently recorded MP3s here. I still intend to post the never-before-heard-publicly Lost Recordings of some tracks I made with Ed Trickett in 1978, the first attempt at what eventually became Roseville Fair. On all the tracks below, the personnel were: Wendy M. Grossman (vocals, guitar, banjo, concertina, piano, and foot) and Curly Boy Stubbs (guitar, bass). The album was produced by Paul Mills, then a producer at CBC and now an independent in Toronto, and recorded at Springfield Sound in a sort of bunker outside London, Ontario. The recording was engineered by Bob Leth, with assistance from Paul Steenhuis and Joe Finland. The cover artwork, which I hope to post sometime (9/27/04) was created by the Australian artist Lyn Stocks, with cover design and photograph by Chuck Garvin. The album was released as Lincoln House Records 68001. All selections are traditional and arranged by Wendy Grossman, copyright 1980 by Lincoln House Music, BMI, except for "Roseville Fair" (Bill Staines, copyright 1978 Mineral River Music, BMI), The Minstrel (Graham Pratt, copyright 1976 Folktracks and Soundpost Productions), and Turning Toward the Morning (Gordon Bok, copyright 1975). In downloading these tracks, you agree not to violate anyone's copyrights; you are welcome to listen to the tracks and make copies for personal use, but if you are considering some kind of commercial use, ASK FIRST. I do have the songwriters' permission to post these MP3s, but please do not violate their goodwill (or their copyrights).

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Original liner notes:

An itinerant musician's survival kit has to include such eclectic skills as knowing how to cut and butter an onion bagel while driving down the highway at sixty miles an hour, instant comprehension of the geography of any area one happens to find oneself in, weight lifiting, and finding new material. My replies to questions like, "Where do you find your songs?" are generally vague mumbles about "other singers, records, books," trailing off into a cloud of dust. In sheer gratitude for the number of songs I have begged, borrowed, stolen, and otherwise learned from other people, I'd like to be more specific here about my sources.

Roseville Fair us probably my current favorite of all of Bill Staines's songs, which is a hard spot to fill because I like so many of them. The Lark in the Morning is a fairly common Irish jig that I used to hear played on late weekend nights at the Unmuzzled Ox in Ithaca, NY. Seven Gypsies I got from Gordon Tyrrell of Halifax, West Yorkshire, by surreptitiously taping him one night at an English folk club (he has since recorded it). The False Young Man I found in Cecil Sharp's English Folk Songs Collected in the Southern Appalachians. A Scarborough Settler's Lament was given me by Wendy Price in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Sandy Glendenning, credited with writing the song in about 1850 in Edith Fowke's The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs, must have been from somewhere around Langholm in Scotland near the border, because when I sang there my host took me around and showed me all the landmarks mentioned in the song. I heard Graham and Eileen Pratt at the Islington Folk Club in London in October, 1977, and immediately asked them for The Minstrel.

Cameron Highlanders and Archie's March/The Gravel Walk were both learned off records of The Boys of the Lough, slowed down to half speed so I could catch all the notes. Bill Steele of Ithaca, NY, gave me a tape of Berkeleyite Janet Smith singing One Morning in May with someone else in harmony, saying it was Jean Ritchie's version of the song. I learned it, and was later told that, "Jean Ritchie's tune makes a great harmony to the one you sing..." (that's the folk process for you). Sir Patrick Spens was on a record of Nic Jones with a stunning guitar arrangement; the persent version came about following a suggestion by Jon Wilcox. "Archie's March" is to be found on a record of Archie Fisher as a break in the middle of a long ballad. I never did learn the correct title, though I'm sure it must have one. Turning Toward the Morning is a somewhat wry song of comfort by Gordon Bok that has stuck by me through it all.

Being one of the wordier people you're likely to meet, I am surprised to find that five years on the road leave me with little to say other than an awful lot of thank yous. To all the people who have ever given me a bed for the night, fed me a meal, taught me a song, or given me a swift kick in the right direction when I needed it, thank you, and I hope I can return the favor one of these days. To the people at Springfield Sound, thanks for making the recording process so comfortable. To Lyn Stocks for the front cover. To Paul Mills and Chuck Garvin, who've done a lot of work beyond the call of duty in helping to get this record out while I am pursuing my itinerancy, thank you is neither adequate nor meaningful. But thanks anyway.

Wendy Grossman
Ithaca, NY
July, 1980

More recently...

It's a good thing I wrote those liner notes, because rereading them I see I'd forgotten some of those sources. Since I moved overseas in 1982 (see the FAQ for the answer to questions like, "Do you still play music?") I've performed relatively little, and mostly not these songs. There's kind of no point in being an American singer living in Britain and singing British songs -- they've got British singers and musicians to do that.

I can add a few bits to the notes above, however. The tradition, if you don't know the name of a tune, is to call it after the musician you got the tune from -- hence Archie's March. It turned out, however, that "Archie's March" actually didn't have a name; to Archie Fisher, it really was just an instrumental break. The concertina used on Sir Patrick Spens and Cameron Highlanders was a very unusual model: a 64-key Wheatstone tenor-treble in perfect condition, found for me in an attic in Denver, Colorado by Dave Ferretta sometime around 1978, when he had a music store there (does he still, anyone?). Those who know concertinas may email me and tell me that tenor-trebles have 56 keys, and they'd be right. But this one had 64 -- it went down to A below C below middle C, which is why I was able to play those low drones. It dropped a few of the higher notes, but that was fine with me as I thought they were no loss. Really more of a baritone-treble. This concertina was stolen from a gate lodge I lived in from 1983-1984 in Annamoe, Co. Wicklow, in Ireland. If you ever see it, you'll know it's the one, as my name and my old Ithaca address are stamped on the wood inside the end (unless someone's sanded it off, which I can't believe). I'd love to have it back if anyone runs across it. Steve Dickinson, who now owns the Wheatstone name, tells me there's only about a six-year wait if I want to get a replacement made...

Also, in regards to Sir Patrick Spens, Nic Jones, who along with Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch probably defined what I think of as the "English guitar style", was in a terrible car crash sometime in the early 1980s. As far as I know, sadly, he hasn't performed in public since. Worse, his albums have gone into limbo as the company that owns the catalogue has failed to rerelease them on CD. A CD, "Unearthed", released in the early 2000s, contains previously unreleased material from before the accident, and I strongly recommend finding yourself a copy.

The banjo used on this album I still have -- it's the only one I've ever owned, and the only one I ever expect to own. It's a five-string frailing banjo made by Al Worthen of Old Forge, NY from an old Orpheum tenor banjo that I got from John Ellis in 1975, when he was still running what used to be known as The Guitar Workshop (John sold it at some point, and it got renamed the Guitar Works, but happily it's still there). One extra note about the version of The Lark in the Morning recorded here is that relatively few people play Irish jigs in clawhammer style. I only know of three: me, Howie Bursen, and Ken Perlman. I know I learned how from Howie at a banjo workshop he gave at Cornell sometime in the mid 1970s. I think Ken also learned from Howie, but doubtless someone will be along in a minute to correct me if I'm wrong. It is a little tricky to do, as you have to strum downwards twice in a row, but once you've got the "dead thumb" you have to have for clawhammer style and the rhythm of the jig going, it actually falls into place pretty well. Try it. Then listen to Dick Gaughan's instrumental album "Coppers and Brass"; his guitar playing gave me more ideas about playing Irish tunes on clawhammer banjo than anything else.

The guitar on this album was a little-known make, a Tama, which I also bought from the Guitar Workshop, in 1974. In 1985, I sold it to Bill Steele and replaced it with a jumbo Taylor, which actually sounds fairly similar but has much more bass (which is what I wanted). I play in many, many open tunings, which I will post here eventually.

It's also amusing to note the comment about slowing the Boys of the Lough records down to half-speed. That's something that's really been lost in these days of CDs and single-speed cassette players. Back when vinyl was vinyl and the sheep were all nervous, you could put a 33 1/3 rpm record on the turntable and play it at 16, or you could dub the thing onto tape at 3 3/4 and play it on a reel-to-reel recorder at 1 7/8. Invaluable for learning stuff. I hear the latest Creative Labs MP3 player lets you do this again, finally. Ah, technology.

It's nice to know, though, that even after all this time Phil Shapiro sometimes plays Seven Gypsies on his long-lived Ithaca, NY radio show Bound for Glory. Phil has the distinction of hosting the longest continuously running folk radio show in North America -- the show began in 1967!. If you're ever in Ithaca on a Sunday night, or near a Web browser, check out the show. Phil, together with Bill Steele, who still helps run the Cornell Folk Song Club (of which I am a former president, along with banjo player Howie Bursen, English duo John Roberts and Tony Barrand, and Peter Yarrow), made it possible for me to be around great folk music and musicians enough to be a folksinger. Long may both organizations live.

Wendy Grossman
August 12, 2000

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