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Review: Walter Pardon - Research

Related thread:
Walter Pardon - which song first? (45)


Brian Peters 06 Jan 20 - 02:06 PM
The Sandman 06 Jan 20 - 02:34 PM
Brian Peters 06 Jan 20 - 02:45 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 20 - 02:50 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 03:11 PM
Raggytash 06 Jan 20 - 03:33 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 04:53 PM
The Sandman 06 Jan 20 - 04:55 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 06:57 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 07:23 PM
Jeri 06 Jan 20 - 08:00 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 08:40 PM
Joe Offer 06 Jan 20 - 09:22 PM
Dave the Gnome 07 Jan 20 - 02:57 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 20 - 04:15 AM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 20 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 07 Jan 20 - 05:33 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,jag 07 Jan 20 - 06:34 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 20 - 09:43 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 20 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 10:09 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 20 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 07 Jan 20 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 10:34 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 20 - 10:38 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 20 - 10:44 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 20 - 10:49 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 20 - 10:53 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 20 - 10:59 AM
The Sandman 07 Jan 20 - 11:00 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 20 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 11:20 AM
The Sandman 07 Jan 20 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 11:37 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 20 - 11:49 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jan 20 - 12:33 PM
The Sandman 07 Jan 20 - 12:41 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 20 - 01:29 PM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 20 - 01:46 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 03:10 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 20 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 03:44 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 20 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Jan 20 - 04:06 PM
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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 02:06 PM

To clarify an ambiguous response - yes, Dave, you are allowed not to like everything WP did, as far as I'm concerned!


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 02:34 PM

The point about source singers in any genre[ blues or trad] is that you get to the roots of the music


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 02:45 PM

One more response before I go back to my tax return:

”Hillery comments how carefully Pardon breaths at the ends of lines and at suitable pauses in his songs, and I too noticed this and thought somebody has taught him when singing to take a breath at the pauses. I think one of the online interviews with Pardon he mentions doing folk singing at school so this theory holds up... Indeed, nobody seems to have realised that he went to a Methodist Sunday School.”

What Dave Hillery says is that WP deliberately broke up the rhythms of his songs, sometimes by inserting a pause / breath in the middle of a line. Nowhere does he suggest that this technique might have been taught him at school. I was taught folk songs at school too, but this consisted of the class singing them in unison without any advice on such esoteric matters as breathing, and I’d be highly surprised if any such specialist tuition was going on in folk song classes at WP’s school. Taking a breath at a pause point is simply the natural thing to do. FWIW, I also attended a Methodist Sunday School, and the hymns we sang there were almost martial in their metre, so it’s counter-intuitive to suppose that a singing style characterised by broken rhythms would have been greatly influenced by hymn-singing. The most likely influences on WP’s style in singing traditional songs are the people he heard singing those same songs, but it’s possible – as Dave Hillery suggests – that he developed certain aspects of his style, such as the arhythmicity, deliberately to interpret the songs as he felt appropriate.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 02:50 PM

Like or dislike has never had anything to do with these discussions, but it has a great deal to do with the deplorable and confused state of today's folk scene
Whenever these discussions take place inevitably end up with the suggestion that those attempting to establish a meaning for folk is criticising all other types
You can't 'like' a definition into existence - a thing is what it is, whether it is to your taste or not
When we interviewed Ewan at great length, one of the last things he said was "I used to believe folk song would last forever, but now I have come to the conclusion that the only think that will kill it is is it falls into the hands of those who neither like it or understand it".
Prophetic words - this is exactly what is taking place here

Must go - a night of crap on television calls (unless I can find a copy of "All Is True" on our new film - system ( tat sounds interesting for those struggling to understand Shakespeare Steve)
G'night all
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 03:11 PM

Well it is twelfth night, Jim...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 03:33 PM

"Like or dislike has never had anything to do with these discussions, but it has a great deal to do with the deplorable and confused state of today's folk scene"

Utter bullshit Jim, you haven't been in a folk club in the UK for decades, you have no idea what happens in folk clubs in the UK.

You pointedly ignore all that is said and written about folk clubs in the UK "I know best" seems to be your attitude.

Once again.

Rule 1. Jim Carroll is right.
Rule 2. If Jim Carroll is wrong rule 1 applies.

I reiterate what I have posted before you are a complete and utter boor who has no concept of UK folk music today.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:53 PM

Thanks Brian. Just as I was reading the last few posts there was an advert for Intuit tax returns on TV. Just saying... :-)


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:55 PM

so if you do not likr the roots of the music you prefer a more commercialised form of the music, no one is stopping anyone from liking anything , however to dismiss and say i do not listen to source singers for pleasure is as silly as saying i do not like listening to more commercial aspects of the music for pleasure. for exampole i like istening to the singing postman as well as walter pardon i also like listenin to john kirkpatrick, but umlike some i do not make generalisations. but then the controller has a direct word with the almighty ,so i must be wrong


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 06:57 PM

Ok Brian and thanks for your views. It is correct that at no point does Hillery suggest that Pardon was taught that technique at school. It is also correct that neither I nor anybody else says that Hillery suggests it.

I distinctly remember being told at junior school to breath when singing at pauses such as commas and full stops. This isn't esoteric or else they would not teach it in primary schools. We were taught it as a school when we had 'hymn practice' - and it wasn't even a church school.

I was I think referring to page 291 where is says how Pardon breaths at pauses in the story. There is another example on p 292.

Did you agree with what Hillery says about Pardon's avoidance of melisma by use of variation in rhythm and stress?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 06:59 PM

Ye gods.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:22 PM

Hoot, yes I know quite a lot about Ralph Peer, and I was not trying to 'educate' you, just to answer your question. I know you were involved in the Ballads and Blues club so it figures you would know a lot about blues.

Brian Peters: you have said several times that you cannot think what other sorts of questions the interviewers should have asked Pardon. But maybe this is putting the cart before the horse. The first thing is, what are the interviewers trying to find out?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:23 PM

@ Steve Shaw. You called?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 08:00 PM

Steve, you can't fix crazy.
You can spend your time trying to, but it's a waste.
With that said, I'll stop and go back to lurking.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 08:40 PM

It didn't take long to send a six-letter post, Jeri... :-)


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 09:22 PM

I brought up the "trained musician" comment in an attempt to find out the difference between source singers and money-making folksingers, and Steve Shaw chose to make fun of my serious question and attempted to waylay the discussion with a put-down. As did Dick Miles.

And I still don't have my question answered, and I think it is a very legitimate question that warrants exploration. What is it about a source singer that's different? I find it hard work to listen to source singers, and it demands my full attention. They're not good background music for doing other things, but I can go back to them again and again and learn new things. I don't have to think when I listen to most of the "folk revival" singers, and I find them unsatisfying when I go back to them again.

So, what is it about source singers? What makes them different? Why is it such hard work to listen to them, but so satisfying when I make the effort? Brian Peters has said some things in recent messages that come close to answering my question, but I'm wondering of the nature of the singing of source singers itself. There's something different about it, and I haven't been able to define it.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 02:57 AM

Maybe it is authenicity, Joe?

I've started a thread on types of folk music we like or dislike. Perhaps the reasons why we like or dislke them can be brought up on there rather than sidetrack Walter's thread?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 04:15 AM

"Well it is twelfth night, Jim..."
Actually it's Nollaig na mBan Steve (Woman's - or Small Christmas) when the women of the house can put their feet up and leave the men to do all the work

For the record, Walter developed his interest from having spent years of his youth sitting in the de-wheeled shepherd's hut in his garden with his uncles, particularly his Uncle Billy, listening to their singing
He possibly recognised some of the songs as being the same as those being taught from Sharp's 'Folk Songs for Schools', which is where he possibly picked up the term 'folk songs', but his quiet, personal interpretation was entirely his own
He once compared his uncle Billy's singing to that of Joseph Taylor when somebody played him the 'Brigg Fair' record

It is dubious to use the term 'style' when discussing singers singing outside a living tradition - what they did tended to be very personal - Water's uncles probably had a style - Walter didn't
I also believe that "good" and "bad" are too subjective terms to apply to our older generation of singers - that's what turns you on personally, which is not how you should judge the importance of people like Walter
For me, it boils down to what you remember after listening to a singer - if you remember the performance you know you have been listening to a competent to good singer
If you remember the songs and the stories they carried, then you have been listening to sa successful re-creative artist who has managed to capture your attention and imagination - the sign of a great artist
For me, our older singers are streets ahead of most revivalists - streets ahead
It is this that all singers should be aspiring to achieve

"utter boor who has no concept of UK folk music today."
We've been here before a hundred times Rag
A folk scene that has rejected folk songs and is unable to describe accurately what they have replaced them with is finished as a folk scene
Even if they had increased their audienes tenfold, that would be the case - the fact that the clubs have fallen from thousands to the low hundreds speaks volumes
This was put in a nutshell around twenty-five years ago when a club organiser refused to book Walter saying "We don't do that sort of thing- we're a folk club"
If anything, things have got far worse since then
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 05:28 AM

"Made fun...?" Presumably, you're referring to the exchanges that began on 05 Jan at 0827 PM. This is folk music, it isn't music that was ever spawned by trained musicians and that was the point really. I don't diss trained musicians (I listen to them playing Bach, Mozart and Beethoven all the time) but I reiterate that in my experience musicians with lots of formal training have some stuff they need to leave at the door if they want to get their feet under the table in traditional music (they could start with music stands and printed scores...). I didn't make fun of anyone but in that exchange and in subsequent posts I made my opinion clear about that particular facet of folk music. You chose to respond by gratuitously calling me a pretty stupid name. Bad move for a moderator I'd have thought. Move on. And please note that before you hit the delete button again this post is mainly here to address the substantive.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 05:33 AM

Joe,

Your post seems to suggest that you treat music as aural wallpaper.

Surely any music worth listening to should be given the bulk of if not

your full attention. Otherwise it could be described as easy listening.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM

Surely any music wo"rth listening to should be given the bulk of if not
your full attention"
A thousand amens to that
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 06:34 AM

... source singers ... all but a very few were singing from generations-dead traditions - remembering songs which had been remembered for them by their forbears Jim Carroll

I wonder through those generations how many times it relied on a Walter Pardon, who's own generation had by his account (but in Jim's words) "rejected folk song" to feel that they had worth and preserve them and get them into a 'performable' state. Or even a thinner connection of Walter's younger relative who also recognised their worth and got him to record them.

I appreciate the interest in how much of Walter's style came from the tradition but I find it more interesting that his account of the family's repertoire shows that his family tradition included many non-folk songs that some purists don't like in folk clubs.

On the topic of the thread - the longer versions of the interviews provided by Vic Smith leave me thinking that the briefer accounts do a fair job presenting him the way he presented himself.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 09:43 AM

Joe wrote:
"So, what is it about source singers? What makes them different? Why is it such hard work to listen to them, but so satisfying when I make the effort?"

I think this question is worth considering. On the first part, I'd say that the easiest kind of music to listen to is that which sounds familiar. I seem to remember A. L. Lloyd reporting that schoolkids in the 1960s complained that English folk music sounded Chinese (anyomne have the exact quote?), so alien did it sound to their ears. By the same token, the music of the Beatles must sound very rough and structurally peculiar to a young listener to Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift. It’s no accident that many of today’s crop of younger singers are the offspring of folk music fans (though not necessarily musicians); they’ve grown up with that kind of music and are comfortable with it.

However, as we’ve discussed, a liking for ‘folk music’ does not guarantee enthusiasm for traditional singers like Walter Pardon. Why? Well, for a start, traditional singers almost always sang without accompaniment, while revival acts almost always use either instrumental or vocal harmony – it’s rare to find a solo performer offering nothing but unaccompanied songs booked at a club, or a festival outside of the old National, Whitby, etc., and even my old friend Roy Harris found it progressively harder to get bookings as an unaccompanied singer, despite his undoubted skills as a communicator and entertainer. The Scots revival is more tolerant of unaccompanied singing, mind you.

At least partly as a consequence of the lack of accompaniment, traditional singers often took their time and – like WP – sang in a rhythm to suit themselves. Revivalists tend to regularize rhythms, and feel a need to ‘get on with it’. Revival singers often practise hard at their art, refine the recordings they make on state-of-the-art equipment to the umpteenth ‘take’ and correct bum notes digitally where necessary, where traditional singers were often recorded on a first take on an old fashioned tape machine. Although some source recordings are musically superb, others (think Danny Brazil and his ruined voicebox) are challengingly rough. The revival product is more polished, generally more accurate, and more like commercial popular music.

Then we have the voices themselves. The old country singers used their own – often rural - accents, in contrast both to the transatlantic accents prevalent in popular music, and the self-conscious, sometimes quite mannered vocal styles of the revival. Most of them were not ‘putting on a show’ for an audience in the way that most modern revival performers do routinely (though see my earlier remarks about Sam Larner and Phil Tanner – or, come to that, Jeannie Robertson). Lastly of course, most traditional singers were of relatively advanced years by the time someone waved a microphone in front of them, and often simply sound like elderly people – although in a spirit of full disclosure, I feel I must confess that Walter Pardon was recorded at the same age I am now, and I’d still find it difficult to sing like him. I’ve also heard 40-year-old revival singers who, either deliberately or through long exposure to source recordings, contrive to sound thirty years older than they actually are.

One last difference is in repertoire. The revival has tended to favour racy narratives, dark gothic ballads and songs of social comment, where the old country singers were perfectly happy with songs that a modern urban audience might find bucolic or twee. ‘If I Were A Blackbird’ has been hugely popular with traditional singers but much less so in the revival.

Plenty of reasons there why a folk club or festival regular might find the likes of Walter Pardon difficult to get into. On the other hand I know several people who love traditional singing and can scarcely bear to listen to a revival performance. For myself, I know I shall never hear a rendition of ‘Henry Martin’ as thrilling as Phil Tanner’s and, when I got my Walter Pardon CDs down of the shelf the other day, hearing his voice was like welcoming an old friend to my fireside, although I never met him.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:08 AM

Pseudonymous wrote:
”Brian Peters: you have said several times that you cannot think what other sorts of questions the interviewers should have asked Pardon. But maybe this is putting the cart before the horse. The first thing is, what are the interviewers trying to find out?”

I didn’t say I couldn’t think of any other questions – I invited you to suggest ones that you’d have preferred, since you disapproved of the ones actually posed. What were the interviewers trying to find out? Well, as you pointed out in another post, collectors in the second half of the 20th century were attempting to correct the perceived omissions of earlier ones. So, they used sound recording equipment, tried to be more inclusive in taking down singers’ repertoires in their entirety rather than selecting the ‘folk’ songs, and they attempted to provide some context for the songs and singers within their community (earlier pioneers like Sharp and Baring-Gould did actually note down at least some material of this kind, but it’s often hidden away in lecture notes or diaries, etc.). Folk song collection in the late C20 began to lean towards sociological study.

In terms of context, I’d expect that the first questions a collector might ask regarding a particular song would be:

“Where, when and from whom did you learn that song?”
“On what kind of occasion would you, and/or the person you learned it from, perform the song?”
“Have you an idea how old that song might be?”
“Do you think you sing it in the same way that your source did?”

On a broader level, as biographical and family information would be useful, an account of upbringing and schooling, the singer’s working and social life, maybe remarks on the local community and it’s stability, migration in and out, agricultural practice (assuming a rural setting), seasonal customs, etc.

On a more personal level, it would be instructive to know why the songs are important to the singer, why did he or she take the trouble (as in many cases) to remember them or write them down, what emotional reaction the songs induce in the singer, and the extent to which they were valued – or not – by other family members and the wider community.

When I read about the singers say Cecil Sharp met, and find myself thinking, “I wish he’d asked her such-and-such”, those are the kind of things I’d like to have known more about. You may notice that these are precisely the kind of questions asked of Walter Pardon by a variety of interviewers. So... over to you.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:09 AM

I agree with Brian Peters about Hillery's thesis; I have said it is good a number of times and if I had not started this thread asking for information on research on Pardon then who knows when and if Mudcat would have found out about it. He did it some years ago.

Brian is right that Hillery compares the singers, and he can do this not least because he is able to write about their singing as music. So he can for example discuss Pardon's approach to ornamentation in some detail. He can compare the modes Pardon and the others use for the same song. He can discuss Pardon's use of tune rhythms which do not fit the natural rhythms of the 'poetry' ie words of the tunes.

In contrast Jim Carroll at one point tried to convince me that Pardon did not use any ornamentation at all. I had to find a song and point him to the actual bit of it where this occurred.

I disagree about whether Walter had 'a style'. For example, this business of dropping down the scale at the end of lines is idiosyncratic and I do believe I have read that he said it was his own thing. On that basis, Walter himself believed that he had a style. Once again, Hillery has ideas to offer, in this case on the subject of style and I am somewhat glad to see that some of them confirm things that I had thought.

Having done a bit more digging I am certain that the Brown Pardon who was Parish Clerk in 19th century Knapton was Walter Pardon's great grandfather. He was born in Bacton and his wife in Suffield, both places in Norfolk. I have found three different Brown Pardon's and am guessing that they may be relatives, given how unusual the name is, but only information on Pardon's direct ancestor seems relevant here.

Brown and his wife Sarah may be found on the Knapton census returns for 1941, 61, 71 and 81. I'll look again for 51. The age column on the census allow us to estimate his d o b as 1813/14.

Another contrast brought out by Hillery is that between Jack Beechforth, and Walter in that for Jack some of his songs served specific social functions within the context. So for example he did both hunt and sing about it, at gatherings of huntsmen. In this case one gets some sense of a 'tradition', of the singing being part of the social context. Hillery comments that in the case of Pardon the songs do not seem specifically linked to Knapton, coming from outside it. He suggests that this is one reason that Pardon does not sing them using lexical and grammatical features of dialect, whereas Beechforth does.

I have been reading a piece Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie wrote about Pardon for an anthology. I do get exasperated at poor grammar and incorrect use of capital letters in published work, but am persevering nevertheless.

I read what Brian Peters writes with interest, though I do not always agree with him. Regarding his recent post, I do not think one can attribute all scepticism about the dogmatic positions and narratives of some folklorists to Dave Harker. NB I have not yet read him but the library are getting me a copy via their inter-library loan system. One of the first things I ever learned about folk song collectors was that Cecil Sharp altered the words to take out the rude bits. I was taught this by some grammar school boys who had been invited to bring their guitars to our youth club, so very early 1960s. As I understand it, Harker would call this 'mediation' and this is a valid term. As I have said, Hillier uses it in connection with 2nd wave revivalist research. Put simply, his point appears to be that the more involved a 'researcher' gets with his or her subjects the greater are the chances of 'mediation' ie the selection of bits and pieces of data that fit with the needs/interests/philosophy of the researchers.

To develop this last point, it is basic GCSE history to interrogate primary and secondary historical sources. Similarly it is GCSE English Language to read and assess texts critically, and this would include

critical reading and comprehension: identifying and interpreting themes, ideas and information in a range of literature and other high-quality writing; reading in different ways for different purposes, and comparing and evaluating the usefulness, relevance and presentation of content for these purposes; drawing inferences and justifying these with evidence; supporting a point of view by referring to evidence within the text; identifying bias and misuse of evidence, including distinguishing between statements that are supported by evidence and those that are not; reflecting critically and evaluatively on text, using the context of the text and drawing on knowledge and skills gained from wider reading; recognising the possibility of different responses to a text

For a sophisticated discussions of this sort of skill in the context of folk music, people might go to some of the work of David Atkinson, for example.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:15 AM

"anyomne have the exact quote?"
I've actually heard it quoted as 'Paki', which I have always taken to mean "exotic"
There is, of course, the story of Joe Heaney being booed off the stage at a Clancy Brothers concert in Dublin in the late fifties
Some source singers can be instantaneous 'easy listening' to those unused to the genre, others need to be worked at - folk song is by no means alown in this
I would have expected that those who get hooked up in folk song to the extent of wishing to sing it, come round to the value of what the best of the older singers had to offer - maybe not - their loss, as far as I'm concerned
As I say, like and dislike is subjective - you value a performer in relation to his art, not who likes or dislikes him
I dislike opera as performed drama (I'm partial to well performed arias as music), but I wouldn't dream of making value judgements on my dislikes

"his account of the family's repertoire shows that his family tradition included many non-folk songs that some purists don't like in folk clubs."
Leaving aside the provocative and misleading "purist" for a moment..... (I doubt if such an animal exists - certainly not here)
Walter recognised the unique value of his family's folk songs at a quite early age - that didn't stop him learning and singing the popular music of the time
He was quite articulate as to why he separated the two genres - far moreso than many of today's folkies
He began to list the traditional songs in a notebook when he returned home from the Force after the War - those lists do not include any of the popular songs he or his family may have sung
He fitted Jean Richie's description of her experiences perfectly - ask for old songs and you got everything - find the key to their traditional repertoire and "the beautiful old folk songs come pouring in" (in Richie's case it was asking "Do you know Barbara Allen")
There's nothing "leading" in that approach - it's a perfect formula for finding out if the old singers differentiated between their songs - there is no earthly reason why they shouldn't have - they are different

If someone browsed though our album collection they would find everything from Cont John McCormack and Billy Holliday to Mongolian throat singing
I would be pretty pissed off if someone said I couldn't tell the difference between them becase I happen to like them all
Definitions have s.f.a. to di with liking and disliking anything
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:19 AM

unlike his kids and their kids he was not a miner, but a garden labourer on a commercial plant labourer, so not quite ag lab like Pardon's family, but close. Moreover they were all Methodists as far as I knew. When I enquired, I was told by somebody that in all probability his parish clerk duties, this being a small place, would have consisted of digging graves. That figures, given his day job.

I live in a former mining village (the mine closed in 1980). My wife once overheard a conversation between two old locals after a funeral - they were grumbling about the quality of gravedigging these days, people didn't make them deep and square enough. The reason they had in mind was that gravediggers used to have mining experience. If you want a good-sized hole dug fast and accurately, you don't get a council flowerbed guy to do it, that's a miner's job.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:34 AM

@ Jack. I suppose when you are digging in a commercial nursery your aim is to get things to spring into life, whereas when digging a grave that is the last thing you want.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:38 AM

Dammit, I was just going out to buy some vacuum cleaner bags, and there's another post to respond to:

"I do not think one can attribute all scepticism about the dogmatic positions and narratives of some folklorists to Dave Harker. One of the first things I ever learned about folk song collectors was that Cecil Sharp altered the words to take out the rude bits."

There were certainly spirited disagreements amongst the early song collectors, but Harker's was the first to stick the boot into the methods of all of them. However, Sharp, Baring-Gould and others had little choice but to bowdlerize songs for publication, given the mores of the time, but unexpurgated copies survive in Sharp's notes, at least. Unfortunately Harker chose to exaggerate the extent of Sharp's editorial tampering by simply inventing examples that didn't stand up to scrutiny (read C. J . Bearman)

"As I understand it, Harker would call this 'mediation' and this is a valid term. As I have said, Hillier uses it in connection with 2nd wave revivalist research. Put simply, his point appears to be that the more involved a 'researcher' gets with his or her subjects the greater are the chances of 'mediation' ie the selection of bits and pieces of data that fit with the needs/interests/philosophy of the researchers."

Even if one accepts Harker's concept of 'mediation', I would disagree with Hillery's rather throwaway remarks about it in the context of the 'second wave' of collection. According to Harker, 'mediation' consisted of placing the collector between the source and the intended recipients (i.e. the bourgeoisie), so that the falsification of the source material could not be challenged. In this view, for instance, Sharp's reluctance to use sound recordings (to which he actually had several coherent objections) were part of a cunning plot to prevent independent analysis of his allegedly unreliable notations. I think a lot of this stuff is conspiracy theory, but even if you believe it, the greater transparency and attention to context of the 'second wave' runs counter to the narrative of mystifying and obscuring the original source material. I don't follow the logic that a researcher who spends more time with his source is therefore more likely to misrepresent the material - quite the opposite, I'd have thought.

"For a sophisticated discussions of this sort of skill in the context of folk music, people might go to some of the work of David Atkinson, for example."

I am indeed familiar with Dave's work (he's one of my oldest friends), but he's primarily a textual scholar working with printed sources. He's not a field collector, though some of his work (e.g. The English Traditional Ballad) uses the work of collectors, as well as his own research into historical context. Methinks you're comparing apples with oranges here!


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:44 AM

Here is a link to the booklet notes of the Walter Pardon double album realeased in 2000 Put a Bit of Powder on it, Father on the Musical Traditions label (MT CD 305-6)
You can read them by clicking here.

A lot of information in these notes have already been revealed in the articles copied here are in other posts in this thread, but there is some additional information which has not been included here.
The headings of the various sections of the notes are as follows:-
[Track List]
[Introduction]
[Walter Pardon]
[In his own words]
[Song tunes]
[Recorded legacy]
[Knapton Drum & Fife Band]
[Personality]
[The Songs]
[Discography]
[Repertoire]
[78rpm Listing]
[Credits]
The booklet is written with the meticulous care and detail which typifies the work of Mike Yates.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:49 AM

An incisive review of these albums by Roly Brown can be read by clicking here.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:53 AM

An article on Walter's melodeon playing by Chris Holderness under the title Haste To The Wedding dates from 2010 and can be read
by clicking here.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 10:59 AM

An article on The Socio-Political Songs of Walter Pardon again by Mike Yates dates originally from being published in the magazine, Musical Traditions No 1, Mid 1983 is available to be read on the Musical Traditions website. Read it by clicking here.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 11:00 AM

What is it about a source singer that's different, quote joe offer. depends on how you look at it, from a musical point of view it depends on the source singer some were better singers than others, but all of them are about the roots of the music.
as for making fun of joe offer, i dont need to , he does it himself unwittingly, reminscent of the controller in thomas the tank enginewith the addtion of sanctimonios twaddle


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 11:15 AM

Re Lloyd's schoolkids:
"anyone have the exact quote?"
I've actually heard it quoted as 'Paki', which I have always taken to mean "exotic"


I thought it might have been 'chinky' (apologies all for racist language), meaning 'exotic' certainly, but also perhaps signifying the unfamiliarity of modal scales.

I'm glad I'm not the only aficionado of Mongolian throat singing, Jim - I'm afraid my treasured recording of Altai-Hangai is a bit of a room-clearer around these parts.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 11:20 AM

Thanks for your answer to my question, Brian. I take what you say about song collectors.

As it happens, one of the points I made in my first post was that we do not have the answer to one rather sensible question in respect of Walter Pardon. I believe this to be true because I read it on MUSTRAD. That question is 'Where, when and from whom did you learn that song?'. Indeed, on MUSTRAD somebody writes that Walter tended to tell different people that he had the same song from different sources.

And this is not the only case of a lack of clear information. For example, I have just read that Pardon had over 200 songs, with a solid base of some 100 complete songs.

Whereas on MUSTRAD { http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/pardon2.htm } it says "As a result of all this work we now know the titles to 182 songs that Walter knew. A small proportion of these songs were only known as fragments, usually of one or two stanzas, but the majority were known to him as complete songs, about 70 of which would probably have been considered to be 'folksongs' by Cecil Sharp. Of the remaining hundred or so songs, most were either parlour ballads or else were from the late Victorian Music Hall."

So I would suggest, with respect, that there is some disagreement about how many songs Pardon knew and of these how many were fragments. This is before we even get started on where he learned them, and the question, likely to be a very vexed one, about such matters as whether a particular song was 'folk' or of dung-heap origin! Isn't it odd that such an issue is open after all the hours and hours of tape recording?












But I was being more specific: I was thinking about the extract


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 11:36 AM

the other importance of source singers is that we would not have the material without them asnd the collectors


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 11:37 AM

Hello Vic Smith

Thanks for your posts. However, my opening post to this thread gave a more or less exhaustive set of references on Pardon including films and online interviews etc. and the MUSTRAD material has already been mentioned. I say this to save you wasting valuable time posting links to stuff already on the 'table'. That said, I am sure everybody appreciates your contribution, especially in posting material referenced but not available elsewhere such as the articles.

Hello Brian

Apples and oranges. Not really. Perhaps I did not make my point clearly enough. I was referring to Atkinson's discussions of 'texts' generally, and ways in which these can be interpreted. I was saying that he was applying, in the context of the 'literature' on folk song, including the songs themselves, the reading skills which youngsters in schools should be beginning to develop. I mentioned these skills to suggest that one cannot blame Harker for all the scepticism relating to the narratives and ideologies of folk revivalists, including those who have over the years packaged/presented Walter Pardon for public consumption.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 11:49 AM

" I say this to save you wasting valuable time posting links to stuff already on the 'table"
Somewhat arrogant - eh what
Vic is gathering together a useful bunch of references for those who wish to (and are capable of) learning more about Walter and there is much, much more to be yet uncovered
Bill Leader, with the help of Dave Bland and Karl Dallas, recorded some invaluable information from Walter on their first meeting - as yet unexplored widely
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 12:33 PM

"those who have over the years packaged/presented Walter Pardon for public consumption."

There hasn't been any 'packaging'. WP has been presented as what he was: an accomplished traditional singer with a significant repertoire. He's been treated no differently in any significant respect from other traditional singers who were recorded and interviewed during the second half of the 20th Century, except in that the material is more substantial. No amount of nit-picking about the number of songs he sang, whether he learned a few from books or (shock, horror) records, whether he sang in the same style as his Uncle Billy, how he remembered the songs in the interim, whether he went to Sunday school, whether he was tutored in breathing, whether Knapton was 'cut off' from the outside world (who exactly claimed it was, BTW?), and whether he used melisma or not (I'm with Hillery on that one) makes a blind bit of difference to the fact that he was a very distinguished traditional singer. In (apparently) trying to find reasons that he was something less than that, you are holding him to a far higher standard than would any modern specialist in the field, or indeed Cecil Sharp himself.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 12:41 PM

good post,Brian.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 01:29 PM

When we asked Walter how many songs he sang that didn't come from his family or immediate neighbours and friends he replied - only one, which in fact was 'The Soldier and the Sailor' which he sought out because the one he had heard locally was "obscene"
He latter added to this by putting a tune to Thomas Hardy's 'Trampwoman's Tragedy'
People who spend time trying to prove long-dead singers told lies need to get themselves a new hobby
It is not surprising that folk song study is in the mess it is if this is what constitutes "research"
Good post indeed Brian -
Incidentally, regarding Knapton being 'cut off'
Walter's Grandfather went to sea and no doubt brought songs back with him
One of Walter's neighbours, Harry Sexton, travelled as far as Middlesborough and brought songs from their - that's where Walter's 'Steam Arm' came from
The thriving town of North Walsham was within walking distance
Knapton really wasn't beyond the outreaches of civilisation, in fact it was within easy reach of the Press Gangs as early as the mid 19th century
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 01:46 PM

Here is a text scan of the article on Walter Pardon by Mike Yates which appeared in Folk Roots in October 1985 (No.28). The second part of the article in this issue is the piece on The Knapton Drum & Fife Band and is exactly as linked to in my post of 07 Jan 20 - 10:44 AM so I have not scanned it here. The article mainly covers ground that has already been posted in this thread, but there some different thoughts and facts:-

CECIL SHARP, PROBABLY the finest twentieth century folk song collector, had pretty fixed ideas when it came to defining precisely just what constituted a folk song. Interestingly, when we look at Sharp's large collection we see that the bulk of his songs seem to stem from the world of the nineteenth century broadside printers, who flourished most strongly during the period 1815 to 1875. In other words, the songs which Sharp collected in the first and second decades of this century, and which he often considered to be quite old, were, in fact, only about fifty years old in the form that he was hearing them. Very often his singers would have been born during this broadside printing boom.
Walter Pardon was born in the year 1914, ten years before Sharp's death. He is undoubtedly the finest living English traditional folk singer, and possesses a voice and repertoire that would have warmed Sharp's heart. Not surprisingly most of his 150 or so songs came to him from his Uncle Billy Gee who was born in the mid 1860s.
Walter is from the tiny Norfolk village of Knapton and today lives in the same red brick cottage which had previously housed his parents and Uncle Billy. Hardly anyone outside of his immediate family knew that Walter was a singer until the early 1970s, when his nephew, Roger Dixon of Fakenham. heard him sing The Dark-Eyed Sailor at a Christmas party. Roger gave Walter a cassette recorder and asked him to record a few songs onto it. In the end the cassette, with about twenty songs safely committed to tape, was forwarded to Peter Bellamy. Peter's amazement on hearing the tape was well expressed in his notes to Walter's first album:
"The village of Knapton lies two miles inland from Mundesley, in the heart of the gentle north-east Norfolk landscape of field, pasture and woodland - the archetypal setting in which one might hope to find traces of tradition. Few people, however, would have dared to expect that in the 1970s even this ideal pastoral scene could yield a singer with the vocal abilities and richness of repertoire of Walter Pardon."
WHO INDEED COULD have expected a singer with classic ballads such as The Gypsy Laddie, The Broomfield Wager or Lord Lovel, stirring broadside ballads such as A Ship To Old England and Balaclava or fine lyrical pieces which include I Wish, I Wish and The Saucy Sailor?
"Billy had most of 'em", says Walter. "He worked on the golf course as a groundsman and when times were bad he'd be laid off. That would be in the 1920s. We'd sit of an afternoon in one of the sheds. He'd keep a bottle ofsomething or other under the floorboards and he'd get that out and we'd sit there, the two of us, him singing and me listening. And that's how I got most of my songs." Walter believes that Uncle Billy in his youth had sung in a number of pubs in North Walsham, especially in the Mitre Tavern, and that he had picked up most of the pieces during Saturday night singsongs.
Of course Walter had shown the ability to learn songs at an even earlier age. The following lines, originally from the pen of George Cooper, come from his days at the village primary school.

'"Come little leaves' said the wind one day.
'Come o'er the meadows with me and play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold,
Summer is gone and the days grow cold.'
As soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call
Down they came fluttering one and all.
Over the brown fields they danced and flew
Singing the sweet little songs they knew."

WHEN HE WAS FOURTEEN Walter was apprenticed to a carpenter in the village of Paston and he remained in this part of Norfolk for most of his life. The only exception was during the war years when Walter was sent to Aldershot. He spent four years in the army and remembers, in 1944, hearing a radio performance of Harry Cox singing The Banks Of Sweet Dundee. "I never met Harry, though he was only born twelve miles away. Never met him. Never met Sam Lamer either." Walter, though, had previously heard of Harry Cox. In the mid 1930s one of the family had bought Harry's 78 rpm record of The Pretty Ploughboy/Down By The Riverside. This was at a time when Walter would cycle into North Walsham, or take the bus to Norwich, to order instrumental 78s by performer such as William Hannah or the Wyper Brothers. Even today Walter has a stack of 78s piled high in one of his bedrooms and he can still be coaxed into playing some of the tunes on his own melodeon.
Unlike Uncle Billy, Walter was never a pub singer. Indeed his only public singing was at family gatherings at Christmas. "I liked The Dark-Eyed Sailor. It seemed alright to me and nobody else wanted to sing it." Like many other gatherings of singers, each performer had his, or her, songs which nobody else would perform. Tom Gee would sing The Bonny Bunch Of Rosesor The Dandy Man, Bob Gee's song was Jones's Ale, while Walter's mother would sing Grace Darling, a song about the famous 1838 lifeboat rescue. "Father never was a singer. Nor his father either." According to Walter most of his generation had little time for the old songs. "They ridiculed the old men just tell 'em to shut up. And that's the truth."
SO WHY DID WALTER learn the songs? What made him different? Talking with Walter one gains the impression that Uncle Billy was the catalyst. They were clearly very close and Walter absorbed much of Billy's love for singing, together with the songs themselves, from hearing Billy sing. There was never any conscious effort made to learn the songs. Billy would not teach Walter line for line. It was rather like the old mountaineer's saying about climbing mountains. The songs, like the mountains, just happened to be there. It is also, I think, important to remember that the pace of life was somewhat different fifty years ago. I once asked Walter's cousin, Hubert Gee, what was the biggest change that he had witnessed during his life. As we looked across the meadows Hubert told me that he had never envisaged a world without horses. All the fields about us had been worked through the seasons with teams of shires. The lane that we were standing in had always been filled with the sounds of wheels and hooves. I think that to Hubert the horse represented a world that was steady and fixed in its pace. As he said, a man who walked behind a horse-drawn plough or harrow, day in and day out, must surely have had time to think. It's a sentiment that many traditional singers have expressed to me in one way or another. Nowadays we are all filled with a haste that leaves little time for contemplation.
In 1975 Bill Leader recorded and issued Walter Pardon's first album of songs. The following year Bert Lloyd invited Walter to join a group of British singers and musicians who had been invited to join in the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations in Washington, and Walter's second album appeared a year later. There were television and radio interviews and invitations to sing in various folk clubs and festivals. Over the years Walter has accepted his new found position with a quiet modesty and grace, and many a folk world self-publicist could learn a thing or two from him on this subject.
During the late 1970s I spent a considerable time with Walter, recording as many other songs as he could remember, and some of these recordings were issued on two further albums. His memory, at times, can prove to be quite amazing. One morning I mentioned the poaching song Thorneymoor Woodsto him. Walter had heard it sung years ago, but said that he had never learnt it. I left Walter at lunchtime to do some shopping and when I returned an hour or so later I saw that Walter had written out seven eight-line stanzas to the song, and that was a song that he had never learnt!
THE BULK OF Walter's songs are what Cecil Sharp would have called folk songs. There are also many late nineteenth and early twentieth century Music Hall items, mostly humorous songs such as Cock-a-Doodle-Do, Naughty Jemima Brown or Old Brown's Daughter which Walter sings so well. He has also been the source of a handful of rare songs which record the early activities of what is now the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers.
Nowadays Walter tends to limit his public singing to the summer months. The winter cold is beginning to get to him and he does not like to return late at night to a cold cottage. If you have never heard Walter sing then look out for him. He is a rarity these days. He is also, to my way of thinking, a national treasure. Long may he continue to be so.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 02:55 PM

Regarding Knapton being cut off. I am glad that Jim has changed his view on this.

I have been trying to show that it was not. The reason for this is a bit a read in a piece by, guess who, Jim Carroll. 'When Walter was growing up, the roads were not made up which meant outside influences were relatively few'. As I said, having read a book on Knapton before encountering this, it struck me as being a little off beam

It would appear that two of Pardon's ancestors went to sea. For above, Jim says his grandfather did.

And in the article I am referring to, the one in the Munnelly memorial book that Jim has mentioned on MUDCAT, Jim states that it was Pardon's great grandfather, the Brown Pardon about whom I have written who went to sea. So if this is true and they both did, we have to rethink all we have read about most of his relatives being farm labourers, as at least two significant ancestors appear to have been sailers.

Thanks you all.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 03:08 PM

Background: in the piece A Simple Countryman JC/PM report that Pardon told them about this great grandfather, Brown Pardon. The yarn goes that
Brown cheeked a farmer and after that nobody would employ him and his family had to go into the work house while he want to sea. Now I have done research to check what I can (often a good move with stories and yarns, a lot of the ones my family told and believed turn out not to be historically accurate) and I have laid out on this thread what I have found out, the name and birthplace of Brown Pardon and his wife, their residence at various census dates. Pardon said his father said that his grandfather liked it in the workhouse because it was warm and he was fed. It would not be true, as far as I can make out, that nobody would ever employ his again, as he was the parish clerk. Moreover at the census dates I have told you about he was living with his family at Knapton. This explains why I got interested in Brown Pardon.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 03:10 PM

And now Jim is saying that the grandfather (John, wife Mary Ann) was also a sailor. Interesting if true.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 03:29 PM

That's a lovely account by Mike. We don't always agree but I really like what he has written there and wouldn't argue with any of it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 03:36 PM

I also agree with Brian Peters that information on the broader community would be useful, which is why I wrote and posted on this thread information about Knapton, having read a book all about 20th century Knapton.

I have posted info from this book (edited by Gillian Shepherd, google for details) on this thread. This is the book where I found out that Walter went to Methodist Sunday school; they listed the people who did, presumably from records. It is where I found out that the significant Labour Movement person Arthur Amis (born in Trunch) was closely linked to Knapton Methodism via his preaching on the circuit. He started his life as a cowman at Mundesley, immediately joining the Nat Union of Agricultural Workers. He helped to marshal their forces in the general strike. In 1958 he became the first secretary-agent for the North Norfolk Labour Party, serving Edwin Gooch MP and Bert Hazell MP. One of the people interviewed in the book about Knapton was a niece of Amis, and said (though she might be biased) that he was one of the 'most favourite of all the local preachers'.

So I think I have made a reasonable contribution on this thread to the question of the background to Knapton.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 03:44 PM

I think the interview with Karl Dallas mentioned above is perhaps the one you can listen to online via the British Library Reg Hall collection. The sound quality is not good. I have alluded to this, so it is not true to say it hasn't been touched on, it is the one where he talks about 'bawdy' songs. I think I have referred to it several times. But if Jim is referring to some other Karl Dallas piece then of course it would be interesting to listen.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 03:51 PM

This is a very informative thread. There can be no question that Walter and his contribution to the folk scene were and are highly valued by singers and researchers alike. Whether one likes his singing or not is of very little consequence in the overall scheme of things. All source singers are different and have made differing contributions. Personally I can't think of a single one for whose contribution I am not deeply grateful, and that goes for all of the people who gave up their time and effort to record them.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Jan 20 - 04:06 PM

Another fascinating piece from Vic Smith.

Despite the bluntness abuse and rudeness I have faced on this thread, I am glad I started it as it has been interesting.

One thing it might be useful to do would be to put together a full reference list, citing all the films, interviews in the public domain, articles and the PhD thesis as a basis for future reference. This is one of the things I had in mind when I started the thread with a list of stuff I had encountered and asked people to supply any additional sources.


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