Notes on the tracks:
Roger Digby thought it would be a good idea to produce a limited edition CD for Roger and Bob's appearance at the English
Country Music Weekend 2001 and within 13 days it was ready. Since then it has been totally remastered and slightly altered for
For over 20 years Roger and Bob have worked together musically and programming events, including the Empress of Russia,
Islington, the first Clerkenwell Festival, The Bishop's Palace, Fulham, etc.
Roger's accompaniment on Anglo Concertina allows Bob his full idiosyncratic flow. Roger can almost 'read' Bob's expression and
mood as he is singing and produces a sensitive backing to all the songs. Apart from 5 tracks all the rest were recorded on June 8,
2001 by Simon Ritchie, nearly all in one take. They were then 'tweaked' in the current fashion. The result is all the spontaneity of a
live recording with the bonus of studio production.
This CD is yet another work-in-progress and while Roger and Bob feel it represents their act they will always be exploring and
developing their performances.
Bob and Roger felt that 'The Lass of Hexhamshire' needed a more introspective tune rather than the usual one which can often end
up as a highly technical instrumental performance where the words are secondary. This tune is usually associated with the Northern
Irish song, 'I know where I'm going'.
'You Came Back Down That Long Road' is Bob's view of the many songs that involve a returning male who encounters his beloved
after an absence of seven or several years. He tests her fidelity and after she passes he reveals himself as her true lover. While he
was away on campaigns in India, N Africa, etc. ,there were always camp followers who looked after the soldiers' laundry, sexual
needs, etc. Meanwhile his sweetheart, back home, was meant to be working (usually domestic), saving, and definitely not having her
sexual needs satisfied.
Sir Harry Lauder wrote 'I Wish You Were Here Again' after his only son was killed in the 1914-18 war.
The McPeake family of Belfast have been an influence on Bob ever since he met and got to know 'middle' Francie, as he was then
known, in 1962. Bob was at St Martin's College of Art in London but found time to bring the whole family over for their first
British tour in 1964. Anyone who heard the 6 of them play (three generations) will never forget the emotional impact they made.
One memorable night was when they played at the Elliott family's club in Birtley, Co. Durham - two legendary families together.
Bob sang at benefit concerts in support of Peter Seeger when he was brought before the Unamerican Activities Committee in the
late 50s, and later met him in London. Peter and Toshi brought him over for the 1963 Newport Festival.
Bob had also met Bob Dylan in London and New York before Newport and Peter's
private recording of Bob Dylan's 'Who Killed
Davey Moore?' sung for Bob as they sat talking about music is still one of Bob Davenport's treasured recordings.
Roger learnt the set of Hornpipes from Ray Andrews, a finger style banjo player from Bristol, who played them as a 64 bar tune
and cheekily called them 'the Bristol Hornpipe'. A posthumous CD of Ray's playing is currently in preparation by Geoff Woolfe of
When Bob and his then partner stayed with Frances and David Hawkins (who also appeared before the Unamerican Activities
Committee) in Boulder, Colorado, they climbed up the Rockies and looked over the vast plain - Bob said immediately that those
lines from the McGarrigle's song, 'Mendocino', came into his mind. (David
Hawkins's uncle, Horace Hawkins was attorney for the UnitedMineworkers Union during the Ludlow strike and massacre in 1914.)
Roger and Bob have been admirers of Richard Thompson's work for many years now. (Bob recorded one of his songs on a Topic
LP as far back as 1974). 'Down Where the Drunkards Roll' is a very different sort of 'Drinking Song'.
Bob heard the Freight-Hoppers at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1997 and from their CD 'Waiting on the Gravy Train' he decided
to sing 'Edmund in the Lowlands'.
Joe Wilson's song 'Come Geordie Haad the Bairn' shows an incredible sympathy towards women in a culture that was so completely
male dominated and still is in many parts of the North East of England (Northumberland and Co. Durham).
'Three Men Went a-Hunting' has words from Jack Elliott and a tune from Russia. Classical composers are always pinching our tunes
so Bob has taken one back. Incidentally, it is 35 years since Jack Elliott died
and almost two years to the day after his wife, Em, died.
'The Mountains of Mourne' is often seen as sentimental. This selection of verses reflects the intrinsic irony of the song; an irony
which permeates French's songs, for example, 'Slattery's Mounted Foot.'
Bob set William Blake's 'Jerusalem' to 'The Rose
Tree' because Blake would sing his poems to his friends and somehow a traditional
dance tune seems to catch the feeling of the poem rather than the orchestration Parry produced.
The best recording of 'September Song' is by the American actor Walter Huston, father of film director John Huston, but Roger
and Bob are trying at least to get the runners-up position.
'Geordieland 68' was first published in the literary magazine 'Two Rivers', run by Paul Durcan and Martin Green and this recording
is by Bill Leader forming part of an LP made with the Marsden Rattlers. The brass band was recorded at the Durham Big Meeting
in the mid 60s. Both Bill Leader with Leader and Trailer records and Tony Engle at Topic records have made oustanding
contributions to the recording of traditional music and it is 25 years since Tony Engle suggested a new tune for 'Hexhamshire Lass'
after hearing Bob's Columbia recording. ('Geordieland' is the drill sergeants's name for Northumberland and County Durham;
many people in both counties object to being called "geordies".)
'The Boldon Lad' out-take was recorded at a concert on Cosmotheka's home ground in the English Midlands. Sam Sherry and Bob
were support acts to Dave and Al Sealy (Cosmotheka) who topped the bill; their performance was as wonderful as ever and was
filmed there and used in 'The Boldon Lad', a documentary directed by John Tchalenko for the Arts Council.
The new CD was especially prepared for the weekend at the Museum of East Anglian life and the old photographs are for this
context. They all feature a member of Roger's family. The liner also has photographs of other singers, friends ,and influences.
The CD is most easily available by mail order, price £12 including postage, from Roger Digby, Hoppits, Fordham, Colchester,
Essex, CO6 3HR, U.K. (email RDigby@hoppits.demon.co.uk).
Bob's considerable output of vinyl recordings has been unavailable for a long time and collectors have been known to pay
remarkable sums for copies. A further CD, however, 'The Red Haired Lad' recorded with The Rakes in 1997 to mark their 40 year
association is available from Fellside Recordings, Workington, Cumbria CA14 3EW, U.K.
Bob also appears on 'Reformed Characters', the highly-rated reunion CD, recorded 1999, from 'Flowers and Frolics' where he sings
'Bill Bailey', 'After You've Gone' (with Peta Webb), 'Mr and Mrs Mickey Mouse', and Ray Davis' 'Sunny Afternoon'.
Roger Digby was a founder member of 'Flowers and Frolics' as was Dan Quinn who also has a new CD available which will
interest followers of the real thing in the contemporary performance of traditional music. Dan is joined by Anglo-player Will Duke
for their CD 'Scanned'. This and 'Reformed Characters' are available from Hebemusic, 87 St Andrews Rd, Portslade, Brighton,
BN41 1DD, U.K. both priced £12 including postage.