After posting last night about the Sudbury Colonial Faire, it dawned on me that I wrote a tune a number of years ago in homage to the fall festival. So, I spent the remainder of the evening dusting off the music and recording this trio entitled Autumn Faire.
The Sudbury Colonial Fair, often called the Sudbury Muster has been the muse for many composers including my friend Jason Malli. He wrote a tune called Wayside Moons, which we performed along with Autumn Faire in a fife solo five or six years ago. It was an interesting solo because the two tunes really have nothing in common aside from their inspiration.
As promised, here is the chart I arranged in 1999 for The Girl I Left Behind Me
Every year, on April 19th, the Sudbury Militia and Minute Company and the the Sudbury Ancient Fife and Drum Corps marches from the old Sudbury center to the North Bridge in Concord, MA in honor of the colonist that took up arms on that day in 1775 against the most powerful army in the world. For me, April 19th was on par with Christmas for excitement. I loved the way everyone dressed. I loved the smell of the black powder from the muskets and, most of all, I loved the music. The melodies of the fifes were infectious and it became my instrument of choice. Since I only heard fife and drum few times a year I was, on the eve of the march, as restless as most kids are the day before Santa shows up.
The first tune I can recall as a child is called ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’ and has the distinction of being the the first tune played every year to start our walk to Concord. I have recorded my arrangement of this tune with three voices to go along with this post. I will get the written music posted as soon as I can.
Here is what the march looked like this year:
My great, great uncle Stinson Davis, pictured above, was a sailor. He wasn’t just your average day sailor. He was the real deal. In fact, he was the last real deal.
A captain of three, four and five masted schooner ships during the waning age of sail, he spent years of his life carrying whale oil from the West Indies, coal from Portugal and hauling lumber out of Africa.
Stinson was one of those witty Yankee Mainers with enough salt and grit to live four years past the centenarian mark in spite of the fact that he was cast adrift twice after loosing his vessels at sea. He had two lives worth of stories and if I accumulate half the stories of one of those lives I’d have twice as many as anyone I know.
When I was fourteen I attended his hundredth birthday party. You think it is hard buying a gift for your dad’s birthday? What do you get someone turning one hundred? My father was wise and convinced me to do some research and draw him a big map of all his sailing routes. I spent weeks with colored markers and piece poster board charting his journeys. On the day of his birthday party, in some Grange hall near Five Islands, Maine I nervously presented my gift. He quietly looked it over. After a few moments, instead of a ‘thank you’, he began pointing out the routes I had missed, like the one that lead him a thousand miles up the Congo River. He began to tell me stories of his voyages, bouts of malaria, brothers lost at sea, The Maude Palmer, Cape Horn and the hazards of Cape Hatteras. I suppose I thought I was giving an old man a map to remind him of the places he’d been. Truth is, he didn’t need it.
Reflecting back to that day I think it is safe to say that my real gift to him was the wide eyed curiosity of a young boy. And in a way it was he who gave me the map. I pull out that map on days when life is hard and I ask myself this: Have I really been everywhere I want to go? If the answer is ‘no’ then it is time to start charting a course for my West Indies, even if it means that I will have to face the Hazards of Hatteras.
The following tune is the first one I wrote that I was every happy with. It is also the first of many that have titles that serve as my own reminders of my ancestry. I have included two mp3’s in which you will find three stylistic variations of the same tune.
The first recording was done by The Ancient Mariners and comes from a live album I co-produced with good friend Roger Hunnewell. Incidentally, that is me with outstretched arms at the top of the disc and no, I was not responsible for the artwork. The graphic work was a surprise to me! The second is from an unreleased recording that I did back in 2000. I was interested in combining both fifing style with Irish flute style onto one track. Lastly, here is the chart for this trio.
This track exemplifies everything I love about the fife. I learned this traditional tune from a John Renbourn album called Traveller’s Prayer, which is a lovely album. I added a couple of voices and recorded this back in 2000 at a studio called Melville Park just prior to my first child being born.
This and other recordings from that time period were my second failed attempt at recording a solo album. I believe I am now starting my third attempt. Anyhow, I’ve decided to publish music from those recording sessions under the internet album title of ‘Castaway’. The title feels appropriate to me since these recordings have essentially been cast away, never to be finished and now they will be Podcasted away. Anyhow, enough, here is Banks of the Bann:
Banks Of The Bann by baconworks