Notes for each of the tracks on 'Parallel Strands'


Lavender Green (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan) Roud 3483

Baring-Gould heard this sung by Louisa Williams in West Devon. She had only portions of the verses, and the tune that she sang it to was Bobbing Joan. Baring-Gould completed the ballad from the set in the Roxburghe Collection of ballads. Here and elsewhere it is known as Diddle, Diddle or The Kind Country Lovers and has a number of 'diddles' scattered liberally throughout the verses. Louisa Williams clearly believed life was too short for that many diddles and, in any case, we cannot see how they would have fitted this tune.  There is another song, My Dog and I which shares some of the verses but is extremely rude and confirms, as Steve Harrison suggested to us, that 'Dog' was slang for the male member in the 17th Century.

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Mandola - Jeff Gillett, Anglo Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle - Paul Burgess, Accordion - Paul Wilson


Stonecracker John (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe /Gillett)

There are images from literature that stick in the mind and, for me, one of those is that of the roadman whose identity Richard Hannay borrows in John Buchan's 'The Thirty-Nine Steps'. Robert Hard, one of Baring-Gould's singers, ended his life as a stone-breaker on the roads. This song is about work, its ephemeral nature and a man's pride in what he does. Paul Wilson's percussion on this track uses a piece of Dartmoor granite as well as slate (though not Cornish).

Vocal - Martin Graebe, Guitar - Jeff Gillett, Percussion - Paul Wilson


Tyburn Hill (Traditional)

Another song heard from Sam Fone of Mary Tavy. It is a version of Jack Hall, a song about a burglar executed in 1701. It was included in the repertoire of a singer called Ross in the 1850s and its popularity was such that it became part of the repertoire of many country singers. Sam Fone's take on it is, though, quite distinct from other collected versions

Vocal - Martin Graebe, English Concertina - Keith Kendrick


Peter's Private Army (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan/Gillett)

Jeff plays 'The Rogue's March' to introduce this song which written after reading an account in Henry Mayhew's 'London Labour and the London Poor' of beggars pretending to be ex-soldiers or sailors to lend respectability to their appeal. These 'Turnpike Sailors' and 'Street Campaigners' were very rarely what they pretended to be - but after knowing Peter and his band for several years I'm more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Mandola - Jeff Gillett, Anglo Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle - Paul Burgess, Tuba - Barry Lister, Percussion - Paul Wilson,


Tobacco (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

This song is a direct descendant of one composed by the unruly song-writer George Wither in about 1670. There is an early manuscript of Wither's song in Baring-Gould's papers and the lineage is clear - though a lot of the words are different! Chappell, writing in 1859, talked of the song's 'enduring popularity', though he believed that the quality of the song had deteriorated as it had been re-iterated. Baring-Gould collected it from a number of singers around Dartmoor and I have usually introduced the version that we sing as coming from Anne Roberts of Scobbetor. In preparing this recording we went back to the manuscripts and checked every song that we sing and hauled words and tune back as close to the original as we could. In this case we found that, after having learned it in the 'Jolly Porter' in Exeter more than 30 years ago I had changed it beyond recovery. Looking back to George Wither's original I can see that I am part of a long line.

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan


I had Two Ships (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

Baring-Gould collected this song in 1893 from John Woodrich of Thrushleton who told Baring-Gould "This was sung by a woman - she was so drunk that she couldn't sing more than these two verses, and she sung 'em over and over - that then was no forgetting 'em. This was out on the line by Tresmeare". This must have been at the time when 'Ginger Jack' was navvying and the woman (whom' Baring-Gould notes against the tune as 'a tramp') was probably one of the camp followers. I have not found another version of this song though there is 'The Prisoner's Song' in the USA which was written in the Twentieth Century by Guy Massey and popularized by Vernon Dalhart. Somewhere there is a common antecedent.

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Mandola - Jeff Gillett, Anglo Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle - Paul Burgess


Sly Reynard / The Hunting Song Traditional / Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

We have put together a cantering Dartmoor version of the hunting song Bold Reynard the Fox (Roud 1868) using words given to Baring-Gould by Roger Hannaford with the tune that he got from Sam Fone. We have then added one of my own songs which paints a slightly different picture. I have never ridden to hounds and never had any ambition to do so. It saddens me, though, that something that is so much a part of the fabric of our countryside and that is so valued by country people is being lost.

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan


One Night at Ten O' Clock (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Gillett))

The mention of Admiral Rodney in this song dates it to the latter part of the Eighteenth Century. Baring-Gould was given it by Sam Fone of Mary Tavy in 1892 and published an unnecessarily modified version in A Garland of Country Song. Baring-Gould was not able to find a broadside or any other published version of the song.

Vocal - Martin Graebe, Guitar - Jeff Gillett


Maiden Under Willow (Traditional. Arr Graebe/Cowan)

Baring-Gould collected one verse and the tune for this cheeky little song from William Kerswell of Two Bridges on Dartmoor in 1890. In the following year he collected a fuller version from William Nicholls of nearby Whitchurch which we have used to complete the song. Baring-Gould also copied into his manuscript a published text of the song called The Shady Tree which was published in The Maid of the Mill Garland of 1770. Mary Humphreys has another version of the song from Newfoundland which she calls Pride of the Season.

Vocal - Shan Cowan and Martin Graebe, Anglo Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle - Paul Burgess


Jack in the Green (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan/Gillett)

At Rockbeare, to the east of Exeter, is a Pub called 'The Jack in The Green' that I used to visit in the 70s when I lived near there. It deserved a song and this was it. It has since become one of the most widely recorded of my songs and has often been attributed to the tradition. That is, to me, very flattering and I would like to think that it indicates that I have captured the essence of the custom in the song.

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Guitar - Jeff Gillett, Accordion - Paul Wilson


Jacky My Son (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

This is a version of Lord Randal (Child 12, Roud 10) that was sent to Baring-Gould by a Miss Adams of Plymouth who had learned it in 1835 from her nurse. Baring-Gould also collected this from John Woodrich in 1896. On another visit to John Woodrich in 1905 he was joined by Cecil Sharp who noted the tune to the song again and came up with a rather different result. Whether Woodrich had changed his tune or Baring-Gould didn't note it 'correctly' in the first place, we preferred the earlier version.

Vocal - Shan Cowan and Martin Graebe


Honiton Lace (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

This was one of the first songs that I wrote. I saw a letter in the Rougemont Museum in Exeter describing the life of a Honiton Lace-worker and wrote this song over the next couple of days. The tune is based on a version of 'The Handsome Cabin Boy'.

Lead vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, English Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle - Paul Burgess


The Maid and her Swain (Traditional, Arr Cowan/Gillett)

This lovely little song was one of several sent to Baring-Gould by Lady Lethbridge. He says, in his note to the song, that he believes that the first verse is missing and he was not able to identify its source. I have been no more successful, so far.  The tune that Jeff Gillett plays at the end is 'Richard's Hornpipe' is one of several collected by Baring-Gould from the fiddler William Andrew of Sheepstor.

Vocal - Shan Cowan, Guitar - Jeff Gillett


Rouse, Rouse (Traditional, Arr Graebe/Cowan)

A wonderful Cornish carol sent to Baring-Gould from St Issy by Mr J W Yeale who had heard it sung when he was a boy some 30 years earlier. Loose in the manuscript there is also a printed copy of another version of the carol sent to Baring-Gould by Lady Ingeborg Molesworth-St Aubyn who published it, together with a cutting from the West Briton describing how it had been collected in 1921 from Mrs Lobb of Penrose who had learnt it from her grandfather. This is closer to the version of this carol that is still sung in Padstow.

Lead vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Anglo Concertina - Keith Kendrick, Fiddle - Paul Burgess, Accordion - Paul Wilson. Tuba - Barry Lister, Oboe - Paul Sartin, Additional vocals - Doug Bailey, Lynn Heraud, Barry Lister and Pat Turner,


Laying My Life on the Line (Written by Martin Graebe, Arr Graebe/Cowan/Gillett)

Small boys love to watch men at work and I was no exception. I used to travel to school by train as a small boy, often on my own, and the 'gangers' working on the rails were of great interest. This is another song about the nature of work, written several years after Stonecracker John.  

Vocal - Martin Graebe and Shan Cowan, Guitar - Jeff Gillett