Letters From Quotidia The Postcards edition 14
Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, the Postcards edition, number 14, a podcast by Quentin Bega where you will hear Banter, a traditional Irish folk group from Sydney’s outer west, present four tunes and songs drawn from the traditions of the English-speaking world. And, as always, Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.
St Anne’s Reel: When we emerged from our self-imposed torpor a few months ago and started, in desultory fashion, to play music together again, we found ourselves quite rusty and found that the WD-40 that overcame this problem was the expedient solution of slowing down whenever we commenced a hazy tune. Our innate competitiveness, however, invariably resulted in the tune gradually acquiring momentum (sometimes to the extent that it eventually flew apart under centrifugal forces!) All good fun… [insert tune]
McClory: Another immigrant song. Written by Pete St John about three interwoven strands of recent Irish history: the need to leave Ireland to find work, sectarianism and how friendship can overcome religious differences. One of our favourite songs, first heard from the singing of Jimmy Moore with Claddagh here in Sydney in the 1990s. Unlike McClory and the persona of the song, we haven’t returned to Ireland, apart from visits, and as we get older, the song seems to improve- like a good wine. [insert song]
Cross Me Heart: A much requested song from audiences when we play(ed) in Western Sydney- and not only by Dubs, or, indeed, the Irish! The changes in streetscapes, manners and economic circumstances is a worldwide phenomenon, I’m sure. Often, a returning visitor to the British Isles will remark something to the effect- You know, you wouldn’t recognise the place, now! Songs like this have a way of articulating these feelings better than we could ever express. [insert song]
Whiskey on a Sunday: The song, written by Glyn Hughes around 1960, is also known as The Lament for Seth Davy, who died in 1902. Seth Davy was a Jamaican who performed in the square near the Bevington Bush Hotel. In the photograph above he can be seen with his dancing dolls entertaining a bunch of kids. The dolls were attached to a plank which he controlled by striking the plank with his hands.
I first heard the song in 1968, by Danny Doyle, who had a hit with it in Ireland. At that time, I was living between Belfast and the Glens of Antrim. I thought it was about Ireland, what with the mention of buttermilk and whiskey. But, when I started to sing the song a few years back I did a bit of research and discovered the true origin and context of the song. You are never too old to learn the truth about something!
Again, this is a lockdown version of the song. While I really rate the Band-in-a-Box and Real Band software as well as the n-Track recording app, I still prefer standing with my guitar onstage with Jim, my brother-in-law playing the mandolin, Mark, my nephew playing the fiddle and good friend Sam the Man, playing the bodhran. Our appearing in front of a pub or club crowd is still months in the future, I fear. In the meantime… [insert song]
Our next postcard will be a songs only affair, alas. The pandemic has disrupted lots of things on this earth, among them being the fact that I have not been able to record many of the tunes in our repertoire that have yet to be set down in more permanent form. Jim will sing a song he learned in the bars of Belfast during the troubles in the early 1970s, Sam will sing about a Spanish Lady, and I will sing a song about drovers. So join us in Quotidia where we will again explore the world of folk music.
Credits: All written text, song lyrics and music (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.
Technical Stuff: Microphone- (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter)
Microphone (for many of the songs) Shure SM58
For recording and mixing down 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used
Music accompaniment and composition software– Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2020 as well as- for some 20 of the songs of year 2000 vintage- I used a Blue Mountains, NSW, studio. Approximately 48 Banter folk songs and instrumentals recorded live (“in the round”) with a ThinkPad laptop using the inbuilt mic.