Brian Dawson (folk singer)

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Brian Dawson (16 August 1939 – 22 November 2013) [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] was a British folk song collector, musician and singer.

British people citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies, and their descendants

The British people, or Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.


He was a member of The Meggies (founders of The Grimsby Folk Club in the 1960s), The Redwings, The Higgeldy Piggeldy Band, The Grimsby Morris Men, The Plowgild Folk Dance Group and The Broadside (with whom he recorded a number of albums). He was an expert in Lincolnshire dialect, [6] and the Lincolnshire folk song collecting of the Australian composer Percy Grainger. [7] [8] He was friends with folklorist and collector Ethel Rudkin, who inspired his interests in folk song and collecting. He helped in organising the Cleethorpes Folk Festival. [1]

Percy Grainger Australian composer, arranger and pianist

Percy Aldridge Grainger was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist who lived in the United States from 1914 on and became a citizen in 1918. In the course of a long and innovative career, he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. Although much of his work was experimental and unusual, the piece with which he is most generally associated is his piano arrangement of the folk-dance tune "Country Gardens".


During a performance at Howsham Village Hall on 9 November 2013 Dawson collapsed with a heart attack. He died on 22 November 2013, aged 74, at Scunthorpe General Hospital, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

Collected songs

The bulk of Dawson's folk song collection has not yet been published. There are a few references in the Roud Index:

The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of around 250,000 references to nearly 25,000 songs collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world. It is compiled by Steve Roud, a former librarian in the London Borough of Croydon. Roud's Index is a combination of the Broadside Index and a "field-recording index" compiled by Roud. It subsumes all the previous printed sources known to Francis James Child and includes recordings from 1900 to 1975. Until early 2006 the index was available by a CD subscription; now it can be found online on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website, maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS). A partial list is also available at List of folk songs by Roud number.

As Collector:

The Barley Mow is a cumulative song celebrated in the traditions of the folk music of Ireland, England, and Scotland. William Chappell transcribed the lyrics in his two-volume work The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855).

As Performer:



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Vaughan Williams Memorial Library library

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"The Twa Magicians", "The Two Magicians", "The Lady and the Blacksmith", or "The Coal Black Smith" 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.

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Steve Roud British compiler of folk songs

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"Jack Monroe", also known as "Jack Munro," "Jackie Monroe," "Jacky Robinson", "Jack-A-Roe," "Jackaroe," "Jackaro," "Jackie Frazier," "Jack the Sailor," "Jack Went A-Sailing," "The Love of Polly and Jack Monroe", "The Maid of Chatham", among other titles, is a traditional ballad of uncertain origin. American broadsides of the song date back to around 1830. The song is a staple of the folk rock repertoire and has been performed by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and more commonly, The Grateful Dead. In 1931, Florence Reece used this tune for her song "Which Side Are You On?". Also performed by Melora Creager of Rasputina on Ancient Cross-Dressing Songs.

"Six Dukes Went a-Fishing" is a traditional English folk ballad.

"A Sailor’s Life" is an English language folk song which describes the attempt of a young woman to find her lover, a sailor. Eventually she hears that he has drowned and mourns him.

"One Morning in May" is a folk song which has been collected from traditional singers in England and the USA and has also been recorded by revival singers. Through the use of double-entendre, at least in the English versions, it tells of a sexual encounter between a grenadier and a lady.

"The Banks of Sweet Primroses", "The Banks of the Sweet Primroses", "Sweet Primroses", "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning", "As I Rode Out" or "Stand off, Stand Off" is an English folk song. It was very popular with traditional singers in the south of England, and has been recorded by many singers and groups influenced by the folk revival that began in the 1950s.

The Bold Fisherman is an English folk song popular with traditional singers and widely collected in the early and mid 20th century CE. It has been frequently performed and recorded by contemporary folk singers and groups.

"The Miller's Three Sons" is an English folk song. It was published as a broadside in the middle of the 18th century CE, but no more recent printings are known. It was "reasonably widespread in England but hugely popular in North America".

William Taylor is a British folk song, often collected from traditional singers in England, less so in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the USA. It tells the story of a young woman who adopts male dress and becomes a sailor in order to search for her lover. Other names include Billy Taylor, Brisk Young Seamen, Bold William Taylor, Down By the Seashore, The False Lover, The Female Lieutenant; Or, Faithless Lover Rewarded, If You'll Get Up Early in the Morning, The Life and Death of Billy Taylor, My Love, Poor William Taylor, Sally Brown and William Taylor, and Young Billy Taylor.

The Lark in the Morning is an English folk song. It was moderately popular with traditional singers in England, less so in Scotland, Ireland and the USA. It starts as a hymn to the ploughboy's life, and often goes on to recount a sexual encounter between a ploughboy and a maiden resulting in pregnancy.

The Banks of Sweet Dundee is a folk song very popular with and frequently collected from traditional singers in Britain and Ireland, fairly common in North America, and also performed by revival singers and groups. A young woman escapes a forced marriage by shooting dead both the squire who is her intended husband and her uncle who attacks her.

"Early, Early in the Spring" is a British folk song that has been collected from traditional singers in England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States. It tells the story of a sailor gone to sea whose beloved promises to wait for him. When he returns she has married a rich man and he goes back to sea with a broken heart and a bitter attitude. In a few American versions the betrayed lover is a cowboy.

The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was one of the musicians who participated in the first English Folk Song revival, as well as using folk song tunes in his compositions. He collected his first song, Bushes and Briars, from Mr Charles Pottipher, a seventy-year-old labourer from Ingrave, Essex in 1903, and went on to collect over 800 songs, as well as some singing games and dance tunes. For 10 years he devoted up to 30 days a year to collecting folk songs from singers in 21 English counties, though Essex, Norfolk, Herefordshire and Sussex account for over two thirds of the songs in his collection. He recorded a small number of songs using a phonograph but the vast majority were recorded by hand. He was a regular contributor to the Folk Song Society's Journal, a member of the society's committee from 1904 to 1946, and when in that year the society amalgamated with the English Folk Dance Society he became president of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, a position he held until his death.


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  2. "The Poppy Folk Club". The Poppy Folk Club. 17 November 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
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  9. "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library :: Roud Folksong Index S137187 The Barley Mow". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  10. "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library :: Roud Folksong Index S164777 We're All Jolly Fellows". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  11. "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library :: Roud Folksong Index S321237 Farmer Giles". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  12. "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library :: Roud Folksong Index S150491 Johnny Poker". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  13. "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library: Roud Folksong Index S142384 The Derby Ram". Retrieved 30 December 2013.