FolkWorld #65 03/2018
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Cara: Live
»German Irish folk group Cara was founded in 2003 by Gudrun Walther (vocals, violin, accordion) and Jürgen Treyz (acoustic guitar). (The two have also launched the German folk music project Deitsch as well as its Celtic offspring Litha together with Claire Mann and Aaron Jones.) The fitting addition to Cara were at the beginning Sandra Gunkel (vocals, piano) and Claus Steinort (flute); Rolf Wagels at the bodhrán, in actual life a veterinarian, has become somewhat as a permanent guest. Within a very short time Cara played all over Europe, in the summer of 2007 they undertook the first of several US tours. Cara was twice honored by the Irish Music Awards, once as "Best New Irish Artist", second as "Top Group". Cara's line-up changed several times and soon included non-German band members, such as the Scottish violinist Jeana Leslie and the Irish piper Ryan Murphy. At the time being, Scottish composer Kim Edgar (vocals, piano) and German instrument maker Hendrik Morgenbrodt (uilleann pipes, flute) are on board. This year, Cara celebrates its 15th anniversary with a brilliant live album, which was recorded at nine locations between Crailsheim and Winterthur during 2017. The recordings show an ensemble that can compete internationally with the top groups, and in addition to its virtuosity and originality it can score with heart and soul. The 13 titles include some well-tried, some brand-new and previously unpublished pieces: instrumental sets consisting of compositions by contemporary trad musicians such as Niall Vallely or Charlie Lennon, as well as original compositions from the pen of Gudrun and Jürgen; traditional Child ballads (Kim composed new music for the lyrics of "Twa Magicians"), as well as Gudrun's topical observations in verse-form. "Time for a Song" sets the motto! In this sense: Prost! Cheers! Sláinte! For the next 15 years!« (Walkin' T:-)M)


Artist Video Cara @ FROG

Songs That Made History: German-Irish band CARA celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2018. By happenstance, the jubilee live album features three traditional ballads that Mr Francis James Child had already collected and published in his voluminous 19th century anthology, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.

The Twa Magicians

"The Twa Magicians", "The Two Magicians", "The Lady and the Blacksmith", or "The Coal Black Smith" (Roud 1350, Child 44) is a British folk song. It first appears in print in 1828 in two sources, Peter Buchan's Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland and John Wilson's Noctes Ambrosianae #40. It was later published as number 44 of Francis James Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads. During the 20th century, versions of it have been recorded by a number of folk and popular musicians.


Martin Carthy

Carthy / Swarbrick: Both Ears and the Tail
Martin Carthy


A blacksmith threatens to deflower (take the virginity of) a lady, who vows to keep herself a maiden. A transformation chase ensues, differing in several variants, but containing such things as she becomes a hare, and he catches her as greyhound, she became a duck and he became either a water dog or a drake. In the Child version of the ballad she does not escape, but in other common renderings, she does.


In ballads, the man chasing the woman appears more often in conversation that in fact, when a woman says she will flee, and the man retorts he will chase her, through a variety of forms; these tales are often graceful teasing.

Francis James Child regarded it as derived from one of two fairy tale forms.

In the first, a young man and woman flee an enemy by taking on new forms. This type is Aarne-Thompson type 313, the girl helps the hero flee; instances of it include "Jean, the Soldier, and Eulalie, the Devil's Daughter", "The Grateful Prince", "Foundling-Bird", and "The Two Kings' Children".

In the second, a young man, studying with a sorcerer, flees his master by taking on new forms, which his master counters by equivalent forms. This is Aarne-Thompson type 325, the magician and his pupil; instances include "The Thief and His Master", "Farmer Weathersky", "Master and Pupil", and "Maestro Lattantio and His Apprentice Dionigi".


The Roud Folksong Index lists 33 examples. though some are duplicates. Apart from earlier Scottish versions there are eight versions collected in the 20th and 21st centuries, five from England, three from Scotland, and one from Kentucky. The earliest was collected by Cecil Sharp in 1905.


The song has been recorded (generally under the name "The Two Magicians") by a number of traditional folk artists, including A. L. Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, and John Roberts, as well as folk rock and folk jazz artists such as Galley Beggar, Steeleye Span, Spriguns of Tolgus, Pentangle, and Bellowhead. It is also popular among neofolk artists, and has been recorded by Current 93 (under the name "Oh Coal Black Smith") and Blood Axis.

Twa Magicians
 Listen to Twa Magicians from:
       Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar,
       Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (live), Steeleye Span, Steeleye Span (live)

 Watch Twa Magicians from:
       Bellowhead, Celtic Stone, Damh The Bard, Bob Fox & Stu Luckley, 
       Lady Maisery, Gareth Scott, Steeleye Span, Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer

Matty Groves (Little Musgrave)

Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention: By Popular Request

Fairport Convention

"Matty Groves" is a Border ballad probably originating in Northern England that describes an adulterous tryst between a man and a woman that is ended when the woman's husband discovers and kills them. This song exists in many textual variants and has several variant names. The song dates to at least the 17th century, and under the title Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard is one of the Child Ballads collected by 19th-century American scholar Francis James Child.


Little Musgrave (or Matty Groves, Little Matthew Grew and other variations) goes to church on a holy day either "the holy word to hear" or "to see fair ladies there". He sees Lord Barnard's wife, the fairest lady there, and realises that she is attracted to him. She invites him to spend the night with her, and he agrees when she tells him her husband is away from home. Her page goes to find Lord Barnard (Arnel, Daniel, Arnold, Donald, Darnell, Darlington) and tells him that Musgrave is in bed with his wife. Lord Barnard promises the page a large reward if he is telling the truth and to hang him if he is lying. Lord Barnard and his men ride to his home, where he surprises the lovers in bed. Lord Barnard tells Musgrave to dress because he doesn't want to be accused of killing a naked man. Musgrave says he dare not because he has no weapon, and Lord Barnard gives him the better of two swords. In the subsequent duel Little Musgrave wounds Lord Barnard, who then kills him. Lord Barnard then asks his wife whether she still prefers Little Musgrave to him and when she says she would prefer a kiss from the dead man's lips to her husband and all his kin, he kills her. He then says he regrets what he has done and orders the lovers to be buried in a single grave, with the lady at the top because "she came of the better kin". In some versions Barnard is hanged, or kills himself, or finds his own infant son dead in his wife's body. Many versions omit one or more parts of the story.

The name Musgrave originates in Westmoreland, a former county in the north of England now part of Cumbria.

Some versions of the ballad include elements of an alba, a poetic form in which lovers part after spending a night together.

Standard references

Early printed versions

There are few broadside versions. There are three different printings in the Bodleian Library's Broadside Ballads Online, all dating from the second half of the seventeenth century. One, The lamentable Ditty of the little Mousgrove, and the Lady Barnet from the collection of Anthony Wood, has a handwritten note by Wood on the reverse stating that "the protagonists were alive in 1543".

Collected versions

Child published 14 examples.

The Roud Folk Song Index contains 302 instances of this ballad, and shows that the ballad has been collected mostly in North America: 113 versions listed in Roud were found in the USA, with the bulk in North Carolina (24), the Virginias (24), Kentucky (23), New England (16) and Tennessee (9). In Canada, 18 versions were found, the majority in Nova Scotia. Scotland produced 9 versions, and England only 2. Cecil Sharp is listed as the collector for 22 of the versions.

A number of songs and tales collected in the Caribbean are based on, or refer to, the ballad.

Textual variants and related ballads

Variant Lord/Lady's surname Lover
The Old ballad of Little Musgrave and the Lady Barnard Barnard Little Musgrave
Mattie Groves Arlen Little Mattie Groves
Matty Groves Darnell Matty Groves

Classic English and Scottish Ballads
Mathie Groves (Child No. 81)
Dillard Chandler, vocal

Roud 52; also known as "Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard", "Little Mathie Grove", "Matty Groves"; from FW 2309, 1964; recorded by John Cohen, August 1963, Madison County, North Carolina)

»"Matty Groves" is a ballad that Child found printed in Samuel Pepys' collection. The first printing found was by Henry Gosson, who operated in the early years of the 1600s (Child 1956, II:242-43). It remains a popular ballad to this day. The British folk-rock group Fairport Convention released a version of it in 1969. It has also appeared on many other folk albums.«

»Dillard Chandler (1909-1992) was also from Sodom, North Carolina. Among his neighbors were the Wallin Family (Berzilla and Doug). In 1967, John Cohen mad a documentary film called The End of an Old Song that focused on Chandler, investigating his life and his storehouse of songs. Chandler knew many of the old ones. Cohen began to promote Chandler's music, getting Folkways to release a full album of his music in 1975. Chandler later moved to Asheville, North Carolina.«

Dillard Chandler
»After recording Chandler's performance, Cohen remembered that the other men present (Leo and Doug Wallin with Dillard) remarked on what they would have done in Mathie's position; "one said he would have fought harder, another said he would have killed Lord Daniel, and the other said he would have snuck out the back door" (Cohen, notes to FW 2309).«

"Classic English and Scottish Ballads from Smithsonian Folkways (from The Francis James Child Collection)", Smithsonian Folkways, 2017

Some of the versions of the song subsequently recorded differ from Child's catalogued version. The earliest published version appeared in 1658 (see Literature section below). A copy was also printed on a broadside by Henry Gosson, who is said to have printed between 1607 and 1641. Some variation occurs in where Matty is first seen; sometimes at church, sometimes playing ball.

Matty Groves also shares some mid-song stanzas with the ballad "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (Child 74, Roud 253).

Other names for the ballad:


There is an allusion to the ballad in Beaumont and Fletcher's play The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1613); this is the earliest known reference.

Al Hine's 1961 novel Lord Love a Duck opens and closes with excerpts from the ballad, and borrows the names Musgrave and Barnard for two characters.

Deborah Grabien's third book in the Haunted Ballad series, Matty Groves (2005), puts a different spin on the ballad.

Field recordings

Martin Simpson

Martin Simpson: Prodigal Son

Martin Simpson

Film and television


In the film Songcatcher (2000), the song is performed by Emmy Rossum and Janet McTeer.


In season 5 episode 2, "Gently with Class" (2012), of the British television series Inspector George Gently, the song is performed by Ebony Buckle, playing the role of singer Ellen Mallam in that episode, singing it as "Matty Groves".

Musical variants

In 1943, the English composer Benjamin Britten used this folk song as the basis of a choral piece entitled "The Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard".

The Big Musgrave, a parody by the Kipper Family appears on their LP Fresh Yesterday (DAM CD 020) (1988). The hero in this version is called Big Fatty Groves.

Frank Hayes created a talking blues version of Matty Groves called "Like A Lamb To The Slaughter," which won the 1994 Pegasus award for "Best Risqué Song."

Other songs with the same tune

Little Musgrave
 Listen to Matty Groves (Little Musgrave) from:
       Cara, Conor Doherty, Fairport Convention, Fairport Convention, Linde Nijland, Planxty,
       Lissa Schneckenburger, Martin Simpson, Martin Simpson (live), Deirdre Starr, Hedy West

 Watch Matty Groves (Little Musgrave) from:
       Eva Abraham, Bill Callahan, Conor Doherty, Fairport Convention, 
       John Wesley Harding, Nic Jones, Jimmy Kelly, The Kennedys, 
       Kirsty Leonard, Christy Moore, Planxty, Martin Simpson, Strangelings  

Hedy West

»I find the ballad intensely tragic because its characters knowingly pursue ruin by insisting on unbending truthfulness.« (Hedy West)

Hedy West: Ballads and Songs from the Appalachians

Hedy West


»I was first drawn to this song by its length. The first verse appealed to me because I too went to Mass to look at girls.« (Christy Moore)

Planxty: Live 2004


The Lass of Roch Royal (Lord Gregory)

The Lass of Roch Royal (Roud 49) is Child ballad number 76, existing in several variants.



Danú: Buan


A woman comes to Gregory's castle, pleading to be let in; she is either pregnant or with a newborn son. His mother turns her away; sometimes she tells her that he went to sea, and she goes to follow him and dies in shipwreck. Gregory wakes and says he dreamed of her. He chases her, finds her body, and dies.


Alternate titles of "The Lass of Roch Royal" include "Lord Gregory", "Fair Anny", "Oh Open the Door Lord Gregory", "The Lass of Loch Royal" "The Lass of Ocram", and "Mirk Mirk".

The New-Slain Knight has, in some variants, verses identical to those of some variants of The Lass of Roch Royal, where the woman laments her baby's lack of a father.

Also Child ballad number 216 ("The Mother's Malison") is almost identical to "The Lass of Roch Royal" only in a reversed manner, telling the story of a young man looking for his beloved.

Literary Influences

The Northamptonshire poet John Clare wrote a poem "The Maid Of Ocram, Or, Lord Gregory" presumably based on an Irish version of the ballad. Clare was influenced by Gypsy travellers and may have heard folk songs and ballads from them.

"The Lass of Aughrim," an Irish version of "The Lass of Roch Royal," figures prominently in the story "The Dead" by James Joyce.

Early Printed Versions

This ballad was printed as a broadside ballad under the title "The lass of Ocram". J Pitts of Seven Dials, London published it sometime between 1819 and 1844. It was also published by Catnach, also of London, and Collard of Bristol.

Collected Versions


Sliotar: Crew of Three


The Roud Folk Song Index lists 12 versions collected from traditional singers from Scotland, 4 from Ireland, 1 from Canada and a massive 82 from the USA, with 30 from Virginia. However, many of these are based on the "Who's gonna shoe your pretty little foot, who's gonna glove your hand" motif. For example, the version listed for Charlie Poole, entitled "When I'm Far Away" from North Carolina goes as follows:

Who's gonna smoke the old clay pipe? x3
When I am far away

followed by

Who's gonna be your little man?

Who's gonna glove your little hand?

Who's gonna shoe your little foot?

Who's gonna kiss your little lips?

There are longer versions, notably Jean Ritchie's "Fair Annie of Lochroyan", which fairly accurately tells the story, ending with a quatrain:

Then he took out a little dart
That hung down by his side
And thrust it through and through his heart
And then fell down and died.


Field Recordings

There are recordings of 7 versions on the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist of Riches website—three by Scottish traveller Charlotte Higgins, and one each by John McEvoy, a 13-year-old Isla St Clair, Stanley Robertson and Cathal O'Connell.

There is a version by Irish singer Elizabeth Cronin on the Cultural Equity website.

Lord Gregory
 Listen to The Lass of Roch Royal (Lord Gregory) from:
       Cara, Jane Cassidy, Danú, Orion, Sliotar

 Watch The Lass of Roch Royal (Lord Gregory) from:
       Cara, The Corries, Jesse Ferguson, Janene M, Fiona Kelleher,
       Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Samhradh Music 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [,,]. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Date: February 2018.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Cara, (3) Martin Carthy, (5) Steeleye Span, (6) Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, (7) Fairport Convention, (8) "Classic English and Scottish Ballads from Smithsonian Folkways (from The Francis James Child Collection)", (9) "Dillard Chandler: The End of an Old Song", (12) Hedy West, (13) Planxty, (14) Danu, (15) Sliotar (unknown/website); (4) "The Twa Magicians", (11) "Matty Groves", (16) "The Lass of Roch Royal" (by; (10) Martin Simpson (by Walkin' Tom).

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