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Fenten

A source for Cornish music publications

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September 2012

For The Love Of It!

St Aubyn Arms, Praze-an-Beeble  with the St Aubyn Singers    Thursday 23rd Aug 12

I’d spoken to John Barraclough after he’d heard me talk on the radio about the project (thanks Donna Birrell!)  and he’d invited us down to The St Aubyn Arms where singers have been singing for the last 30 years or so – or as they put it ‘there’s always been singing in the St Aubyn’  Their information puts it well:

As with many informal singing groups in Cornwall two things are linked – a choir and a pub.  For years members of Praze Male Choir sang informally in the St Aubyn Arms in the village after choir practice and in June 2005 at one of those post-practice sessions, the St Aubyn Singers were born’

We met John on the door step of the pub and were quickly introduced to Frank and Tony. Not long after the others arrived and the singing began. Apart from us there was one other man in our side of the pub and a couple in the other. Yet this was unimportant to the singers – they sang for themselves; for the tradition of singing; for whoever cared to listen and Sally and I were treated to something very special. There was such an array of songs;  extra local verses to Camborne Hill,  lovely solos from Geoff on Lily Of The Valley and Fields of Athenry;  old hymns mingling with Elvis and Everly brother’s songs and ones written by members of the group themselves such as A Yorkshireman in Cornwall and Tom Trevaskis. They also sang quite a few Harry Safari songs and I discovered that he was born and raised in Praze so that seemed fitting!

Tony in full voice!

In between the singing we heard many a fine story and tale especially from the group’s raconteur; Tony. But the main feeling I came away with was their deep love of singing. Tony in particular just sang one song after another and it reminded me of the way my father would sing and sing given the chance! Anything and everything would come tumbling out ; old Sunday school songs, victorian music hall ballads; wartime classics and folk songs from around the world. And that’s how I learned my love of singing.

We sing and the world’s cares go away, we sing and we can give voice to those feelings; we sing and connect ourselves to our past.

Thanks Boys!

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Women do it too!

Penzance Ladies Orpheus at the Cutty Sark,  Marazion 1st Aug 2012

Got to the pub before the singers (who were coming in after their rehearsal) and met some interesting characters at the bar – ‘Fred’ or so he called himself to us, bantered about us coming from the ‘darkest regions’ of ‘Druth and St Day and told us a few unrepeatable stories!  Later on it was clear he knew all the songs being sung and saw it as normal; except for the fact it was all women!

The bar staff and landlord were friendly and interested in the project and later on when we handed out a short questionnaire filled in some of them for the people propping up the bar and unable to write!

Soon the ladies came in along with their M.D – Stephen Lawry (yep, he of Mousehole MVC fame) and I introduced myself to Anne as we had only communicated by email. I discovered that this was a new thing for them and that it was only about the third time they’d come out for an informal sing in the pub. here was a different feel to the occaision, not least because there was less beer around! Cups of tea and coffee mingled with glasses of wine and most people were sitting but the ladies soon began pitching up the songs themselves without words and mixing the usual pub standards with some of their choir repetoire.

There seemed to be a bit of a ‘naughty corner’ where words got changed to something a little more suggestive than I’d heard before – exchanging hips for lips in Little Eyes for example!  I really enjoyed an all female version of Hail to the Homeland which  produced alot of giggling in the naughty corner too!

One of the ladies Annie, came from Ireland and sang a spirited Molly Malone and two others Rosemary and Gloria seemed to be the mainstays for pitching up and remembering words.  I spoke to them afterwards and they had strong memories of the singing at The Dock in Penzance and at the King William in Madron descibing them as ‘real social gatherings’ Sally chatted with one of the older members who is 68 and remebered at the age of 16 going to the pub in St Just along with other girls to have a sing – no age restriction then nor gender restriction with the singing either!

I wondered how the old boy regulars in the back bar would respond to the singing and realised alot were joining in and some of the feedback from the questionaires was really positive:  such as  ‘Lovely evening!’  ‘Just like the old days’ ‘Carry on tooting!’ and  ‘May it increase as it makes for a good night’

So good for you ladies : lets sing ‘one and all!’

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