Seeds of folk revival

Folk musician Bryony Griffith
Folk musician Bryony Griffith

The new edition of a unique set of classic folk song books have inspired a singing event in Sheffield village Dungworth this weekend.

The intriguingly-titled Wanton Seed Singing Weekend is aimed at anyone from complete beginners to experienced singers.

It came about because of the re-publication of folk song books Marrowbones and The Wanton Seed and a new omnibus edition, Southern Harvest, said musician Bryony Griffith.

The Huddersfield-based fiddle player and singer is an associate artist with Soundpost, which works to keep traditional music alive by taking it into communities and schools and running practical workshops.

Bryony will be joined in the weekend line-up by fellow musicians Jackie Oates, Paul Sartin, The Askew Sisters, Jack Rutter, Nick Dow, Steve Gardham and Bob Askew.

The festival feature practical workshops, singing sessions, talks, performances and one-to-ones led by the artists.

It’s a chance to sing your heart out, said Bryony.

She said: “There was a series of books published in the 1960s by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, called Foggy Dew, The Wanton Seed and Marrowbones and the Constant Lovers.

“That whole generation of folk singers had copies of them and learned their repertoire from them.

“That was great but they haven’t really stood the test of time. I’ve got the four originals I bought later and they’ve all fallen apart.”

The first editions were created by the late Frank Purslow from 19th-century traditional song collections.

Malcolm Douglas was asked to re-edit them and bring them up to date but realised it was a mammoth task, especially as nothing was online at that time, so they had to go through all the original manuscripts.

He brought in Steve Gardham to help him and they republished Marrowbones in 2007.

Sadly, Malcolm died from cancer in 2009 and Steve continued with the work, helped by Graham Pratt, who runs Sheffield Folk Chorale, who transcribed the scores.

They worked alongside Ron Day of the former South Riding Folk Network and Clive Boutle of publishers Francis Boutle published the new volumes.

Bryony said she got involved because she was asked to perform some of the songs at events to launch the new volumes.

That led on to touring and performing some of the songs, and now on to this weekend.

She said: “This weekend is really just to get a lot of people singing and talking, which is the aim of Soundpost events.

“You don’t have to be a singer. You can come and just listen to talks or if you’re an instrumentalist you can go to workshops on accompaniment.

“I will be talking about doing harmonies if you want to break the rules!”

As well as the workshop sessions and talks, there is a Saturday night concert.

Bryony said: “It is really lovely and relaxed. You don’t have to have any experience. It’s a lovely place to stay and there’s good accommodation around the area.”

Find out more and book at soundpost.org.uk/events/wanton-seed-weekend or at bryonygriffith.com