Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lewes Local Group Report - from Monday June 17th 2024

Ten singers came to our first session at the Lewes Arms (on June 17thand voiced appreciation of (in no particular order) the traditional pub in its central location; the characterful upper room with ample space and windows onto the street; the reserved sign awaiting us on the door; the excellent acoustics; the genial and helpful barman who found the mute for the speaker; the beer and the “proper” cider; and the tasty pickled eggs! 
With the surroundings having been declared as thoroughly fit for purpose, we then settled down to sing, with the usual mixture of old and new songs, looking ahead to future seasons and events. We warmed up with “Drink Me Brave Boys” then turned to songs about nature and rural pursuits (“All Among the Barley”, “One for the Rook” and “Oak Tree Song”),  quieter reflection (“All Things are Quite Silent” and “Life of a Man”),  love (“Hares on the Mountain”) and life at sea (“Littlehampton Collier Lads” and “They Won’t Let Us Go to Sea Any More”).
During the break we caught up with news including holidays, children, an upcoming marriage (congratulations to Celia who displayed amazing multi-tasking by sewing buttonholes on her husband-to-be’s wedding shirt while singing) and a recent bereavement. There was also discussion of upcoming events, particularly the Lewes Priory concert where we look forward to being led on stage by candle-carrying “monks”.
The second session continued with a song not sung for several years, “Stedham Oysterman’s Donkey”, a relatively new song, “Love and the Ball” (which concerns the local sport of stoolball) and “Parting Song” before closing proceedings with old favourites, “East Sussex Drinking Song” and “Thousands or More”.
A good evening all round. We already feel at home in our new venue and look forward to meeting any new singers who would like to join us in future.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Worthing Local Group Report - Thursday July 4th 2024

Whilst General Election voters were busy in the Barn on July 4th we met in the church next door for this month's session. After a slight delay to getting in and then to finding the lights for the church (with thanks to two church parishioners there at the time for their help in resolving this) we started the session.  From then on, with a short break midway for breath, chat and a sup or two, we sang our way through 16 songs, with a mix of options for our forthcoming event at East Clayton Farm (on July 27th) and requests from the floor (or on this occasion, pews).

Alan, and later Amaryllis, took the lead (Emily being needed elsewhere so unable to join us). Alan started off with Ale Glorious Ale", "Jim the Carter Lad" and "One for the Rook" before introducing a novelty song intended for use at the East Clayton Farm event (where they care for donkeys and do organised walks with them) - "Riding on a Donkey".  This was familiar to many, and with the help of having the words available from the SDFS Blog, we sang it though at a jaunty pace.  Alan smoothed out some of the pace and phrasing - and all agreed the structure for performance purposes would benefit from limiting the chorus to follow a pair of verses, and then to sing it twice at the end to conclude. (This revised layout will be updated on the Blog's 'Other Songs to Try' page.) 

Amaryllis then stepped in to lead us in "Old Adam" and "Rolling in the Dew", two of our 'classics', and although not often sung recently both were readily sung and enjoyed in their conversational parts by the men and women present.  Some fine tuning on the phrasing in the second of these  helped to unify us in the first line of the second verse, with 2 beats each to "may" and "go" - and Amaryllis suggested that "kind sir" in the women's response lines be sung with more mock reverence.  "Run of the Downs" came next and needed a little more guidance and focus to revive the tune accurately, including slowing the pace in the final verse to finish (without a chorus at the end). 

After the break, Alan resumed with "Lammas Carol", proposing and leading us in a bolder brighter rhythm which worked well. Continuing the more upbeat pace we gave the jolly "Three Drunken Maidens" another enjoyable airing, and the "Turnip Hoer" also went down well with the men's voices leading and the women supporting the choruses.  A little prematurely we sang the "Parting Song" before some more requests: the "Smugglers Song" and then the "Song of the South Downs" which was a bit of a challenge for those less familiar or a little rusty with it - but we managed all the verses nonetheless!  That left us with "Summer is A'Coming In Again" using all the original verses (including the latter ones inspired by the mummers plays traditionally performed in winter months by Morris dance sides) - before the evening closed with "Rolling Home".

We'll be back in the Barn for our next Worthing session on August 1st - hope to see you there.


Friday, July 5, 2024

Please Note - Revised Plans for our Extra Sing on Highdown Hill - Saturday July 6th 2024

The 'summer' weather is playing tricks on us again, so, with apologies for any disappointment, plans for a second attempt to meet for an open-air 'social sing' on Highdown Hill have once more had to change.

Angela has kindly offered her garden as an alternative and more sheltered setting for the session to go ahead on Saturday July 6th - with arrivals from 10.00a.m. to start singing at 10.30 (finishing at about 12.30 to conclude the session by 1.00pm).

If you've already submitted your name to the list of attendees for the Highdown plan you should by now have heard from Angela personally by email - but if not and you are interested in attending her garden session, please contact us on the "South Downs Folks Singers" email ( to let us know and we will send you more details.

Space in the garden is obviously more limited than on Highdown - so if wanting to attend, please let us know as soon as possible (and by 6.00pm today July 5th) to have a chance of securing a place. 

Even if summer has taken a break - the SDFS will keep on singing!

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Reminder - Worthing Local Group session - July 4th

Don't forget - it's a Polling Day on Thursday July 4th - and the Barn where we usually meet will be in use for the General Election - so we will be meeting next door in the Church.

Please access our session by the Church's front door - NOT via the Barn - arriving from 7.15pm for a 7.30 start.

See you there!


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A Song to Try - Extra verse to Twanky Dillo

Here is another verse to Twanky Dillo to try:

"Here's a health to the farmer, and likewise his kin
To his toil and his labour and all he brings in,"

The added verse has been added to the lyrics on the Songs and Recordings page which you can get to by this Link

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Song to Try - Riding on a Donkey

A song offered by Alan - a version of the popular shanty 'Riding on a Donkey' with lyrics written by Alan.  It was supposed to be lucky to have a donkey at weddings. Also if you had a donkey amongst your kine (i.e. cows), you were supposed to get more milk from the cows.  Also, if your cows are attacked they'd run, but the donkey would stand his ground making a frightful noise.

Here are the lyrics: Lyrics

Here is the tune: Tune

Monday, June 17, 2024

Reminder for Local Group Sessions - June 17th - June 20th - and July 4th 2024

Just to remind everyone.... there are some changes to our Local Groups meetings in the next few weeks.

This evening Monday June 17th - our Lewes Group will be meeting at their new venue "The Lewes Arms" in Mount Place, Lewes.  Thank you again to our new hosts and have a good evening.

Then on Thursday June 20th - for this month only our Chichester Local Group will be joining forces with other folkies at "The Three Moles in Selham" for a special evening (starting at the earlier time of 5.00pm and with us performing a set there at 5.45pm).  

(NB There will therefore be no Local Group Report from Chichester on the Blog news page in June - but we'll resume when back at the "Chichester Inn" as usual for our session in July.)

Then moving on to July, on Thursday July 4th - our Worthing Group will moving next door again from the old Sussex Barn into the modern beautifully painted church (to make way for the Barn to be used as a polling station for the General Election).  We'll resume at the Barn for our August session.

(You'll find full details of these meetings and future sessions on the Welcome page, the New Singers page and the Diary Dates page of this Blog, as well as in earlier posts on this News page.) 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Worthing Local Group Report - June 6th 2024

In total a valiant 27 singers joined us and stayed the course of our session at the Barn (and then the Church) this month.  Our singing was delayed by finding the Barn had been set up with tables, chairs and refreshments which we learned were there to follow a special D-Day commemorative service already underway in the adjoining church.  Some late arrivals to their congregation were able to explain this and kindly interceded for us with others in the church.  

Our Initial perplexity and uncertainty gave way to watchful patience and chatting whilst we waited in the Barn for the service to conclude at 7.50pm.  After this time, and with clarification and apologies for the oversight from our hosts, we were offered use of the church itself for the rest of the evening.  So we duly swapped the Barn for the Church, and the teasing refreshments for enjoyment of our songs instead - and again enjoyed the ornamented surroundings and uplifting acoustics of the larger space next door. 

Once resettled we sang without a break to make the most of the time left and overall lost only about 20 minutes or so from the total time we would usually spend singing in the Barn.  A brief notice from Henny about the Parham event on June 16th gave Emily and Amaryllis time to confirm the songs they had in mind for the session (augmented in his absence by another couple suggested by Alan). Then (better late than never) we launched into our singing - and by the time we finished all these songs were ticked off their combined list with another in addition. 

We started with “Brisk Young Ploughboy” and the “Smugglers Song", the latter trying out the accompanying sound effects of horses' hooves suggested by Amaryllis.  A couple of old favourites “Rolling in the Dew” and “Come Write Me Down (Sussex Wedding Song)” were given another airing - sung by all on this occasion as would be done at open air events if without an adequate balance of male and female singers in the group.  Similarly “Hares on the Mountain” was revived and polished for more confident use at our events - with a reminder from Amaryllis to sing the repeat line in the verses as a softer echo.  “The Cuckoo” was sung again and the timing of each line considered to give it a stronger pace but still gentle sound, and it too is benefiting from more frequent use and our growing confidence in singing it.  

In more jaunty mood we sang “Jim the Carter Lad” and then "Sussex by the Sea” (using the alternative verses written by Amaryllis), before resuming a gentle tone in “Come Stranger Come Friend” which Emily guided us through line by line for the benefit of singers less confident in singing it.   Last but not least we concluded the evening with “Rolling Home” - never a South Downs song as such but by adoption an old favourite and enjoyed by many of us. 

So in spite of the disrupted start to our session, all was not lost and we succeeded in both singing for our enjoyment and in working on improving our rendition of the songs for performance at public events.  And a bonus by circumstance was the interest we had from church members who heard our singing, and in one instance joined in and in another may join us in the future.  

NB - Our next session on July 4th will again be in the Church, making three in a row, when the Barn is a polling station for the General Election.  See you then - and, or, back in the Barn when the dust has settled by the first of August! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Update – Lewes Local Group – New venue from Monday June 17th 2024

We are pleased to announce that from Monday June 17th 2024 the new venue for the Lewes Group will be The Lewes Arms, 1 Mount Place, Lewes BN7 1YH.

Meeting time will continue to be arrival from 7pm onwards, singing 7:30-10pm.

All welcome at any time. 

Lewes Local Group Report – Monday May 20th 2024

Nine singers came along to this open-air session. While looking into a new permanent venue, we met first at Fuego Lounge for coffee and chat before making our way to the nearby Railway Land Nature Reserve, where we sang at what we call “The Magpie Tree” where we had previously met during Covid. 

We focussed on songs for the upcoming event at Amberley Museum and tackled the following:

“Come Stranger, Come Friend”“Fathom the Bowl”, “Pleasant and Delightful”, “Summer is a-Coming in Again”, “Oak and Ash and Thorn”, “The Magpie” (none audible today sadly), “Hal an Tow”, “The Cuckoo”, “Ladies Go Dancing at Whitsun”. We ended with “Thousands or More”, which most of us know by heart, which was just as well as by that point fading light stopped play.

Although we had a shorter session than usual to allow for the later start and earlier finish, we had a balance of voices and made a good sound with the various harmonies, and it was good to enjoy the open air. As one singer later wrote, “Thanks for yesterday's open-air session, which was pleasant with a modicum of delight, if latterly a little too cool for 'delightful'.”