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Countrystride #31: CUMBRIAN FOLK MUSIC and the Back o'Skiddaw

…in which we celebrate the folk music tradition of Cumbria on a virtual wander around the Back o’Skiddaw with local musician and academic Dr Sue Allan. As we amble from Ireby to Caldbeck, over airy Aughtertree Fell and alongside the tumbling Howk, we discuss hunting songs, learn about notorious horseman (and drinker) John Peel, delve into the history of fairs, dances and merrymeets, and sample the dialect verse of Robert Anderson, the Bard of Cumberland.

Carrock Fell forming the horizon as we descend into Caldbeck.
Sue in 2008 outside Todcrofts, Caldbeck.
Sue and the Ellen Valley Band, Ireby c.1978
John Peel painted by John woodcock Graves.
...and John Peel's gravestone in the grounds of St Kentigern's Church.
St Kentigern's Church, Caldbeck.
Singing legend – and the inspiration for Tweedie’s Bar - Micky Moscrop.

Roughton Gill, Caldbeck Fells.
The Howk, Caldbeck.
Sue today.

The Boat Band and Greg Stephens

Greg Stephens has been researching old Cumbrian tunes since the 60's. He plays with the Boat Band, who in 2001 recorded 'A Trip to the Lakes', an album of old tunes. They recorded it to celebrate the first Duddon Valley Folk Folk festival, held when the foot and mouth lockdown was eased at the end of that disastrous summer for the valley. The record was subsequently issued by Harbourtown Records in 2009 to enormous acclaim.  

The Boat Band has been playing since 1989, seventeen times at Glastonbury Festival, once at the St Kilda International Cajun Festival, and most points in between. Currently (May 2020) in lockdown like everyone else, but hoping to be playing again soon. In the Newfield Inn in the Duddon valley, or wherever.


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