Mudcat Café message #58290 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #9047   Message #58290
Posted By: Roger the zimmer
12-Feb-99 - 08:33 AM
Thread Name: Where are all the black country songs?
Subject: RE: Where are all the black country songs?
I was born in Birmingham (UK)though I've lived and worked elsewhere for 30+ years. I have a book called Folklore and songs of the Black Country vol 2 edited by Michael and Jon Ravens and published by the Wolverhampton Folk Song Club in 1966. I seem to have acquired it in the 1970s, long after I left, so must have picked it up second-hand or as a remainder. Inside is a flier advertising a record by the Black Country Three (Transatlantic TRA 140) which I never managed to track down. I'm sure I heard them sing on the BBC Radio at that time , and I think the Ravens were two of the three. I seem to remember on of their songs about pushing canal ("cut" to us!) barges through a West Midlands tunnel (Dudley?) by lying on one's back on the cabin and pushing with feet on the tunnel roof, called "Push, boys, Push"). I had one Irish grandfather (born in India of Irish parents and spending his adult life in Birmingham) who told me Pat and Mike stories and one Cheshire born grandfather (also spent his adult life in Birmingham) who told me Enoch & Eli stories. Stripped of the dialect element they were very similar! So now I can bore for England. My father still lives in Birmingham and at 80+ still supports West Bromwich Albion (Soccer) football team (triumph of hope over experience). The other thing my grandparents had in common was that when in funds and in drink they tended to come home with musical instruments they had bought off "a man in a pub". My mother remembers an accordian (which she could play, being an amateur pianist) and a set of bagpipes which she tried...My father remembers an "American organ", harmonium, various banjos etc. Whent they were out of work, often in the '20s and 30s, the instruments were sold on. And now to another thread- the only one I inherited was an italian mandolin, but it had been in the attic so long the glue had dried out. When we bought strings for it ( I would be about 10 or 11 and getting into skiffle) it disintegrated when we tried to tune it, the strips of wood of the "bowl" all came apart. So I never learned an instrument and the world was saved from cacophany: I can empty a room with flat singing, sharp whistling and my kazoo anyway. I met another West Midlander on holiday in the Caribbean last year and embarrassed our wives and mystified the other guests and staff by exchanging Enoch & Eli stories!