Every grain of sand is a small balance weight on the other side
Pete Seeger - Frequently
We who labour in the arts
We who are singers
We who are actors
We who are artists
We must remember
That we come from the people
Our strength comes from the people
And we must serve the people and be part of them
Robeson - Sunday May 18th 1952,
Two very important statements from two highly intellectual Americans who, in their time, refused to budge from their principles, despite much hardship forced upon them by the governments of their time. I met them both. In the summer of 1958 when I was 17 years old I was too young to fully comprehend the majesty of the moment. But left speaking alone with Robeson for however long it might have been did leave a lasting impression on me; and it is a moment in my life I will treasure to the day I die. We talked about the civil rights movement and the time he had spent, especially in the deep south when accompanied by Pete Seeger, when campaigning for Wallace who was standing on a third party ticket. Robeson spoke to me as an equal. My age and innocence did not matter. He did not treat me as an inferior being.
As you will well know I'm planning to stand in the election on May 7th to be a member of parliament. "World Peace Through Song". I don't for one micro-second expect to get there and I don't expect for one nanosecond to get my deposit of £500 back. But I'm 74 this year and I won't get another chance. I'm already undergoing ridicule and astonishment from some quarters. But at least when I'm nearing death I can say to my children and grandchildren that I was a grain of sand on the balance weight. I was aware that my generation was leaving behind me a planet, not to mention a country, that was facing huge dangers from every direction. However small it might have been I did do something. Some people I know really quite well will be unable to say that, unless of course they change tack; and they have plenty of time to do that. I cannot imagine being near to death and saying to my grandchildren "Well yes I could have done something. Indeed I was in a position to do something; but you know in real honesty I couldn't be bothered. I know that part of the mess this planet is in is down to me but I just didn't have the strength or the ingenuity to do anything about it. Sorry about that, do your best with the mess I've left you; goodnight."
I realised the importance of the song Seeger wrote (Quite
early morning) the moment I heard it way back in the late 1960's; but I wasn't
sure that changing the song, re-titled 'Darkest before the dawn', to
represent a sailing ship attempting to cross the travails of modern life was a
particularly good idea despite the support of Seeger himself. But I
couldn't have been more wrong, the response to my last Ramblings has been
overwhelming. So I would like to thank the following people
On top of all this it transpired, during January, that the
exclusive magazine 'Voices' an American publication of The Journal of New York
Folklore has picked up on my song about Pete Seeger (Just another folksinger)
and has given it a full page mention in the Spring-Summer 2014 Volume 40: 1-2
issue. A quite beautifully packaged magazine it is available from
Oh. And by the way. The concert Kimber's Men did in
January to raise funds for The Square Chapel Theatre in
Fixture List for Kimber's Men and
Jan 30th (KM) The Fleece, Boxford,
Jan 31st (KM) White Lion, Heptonstall,
Feb 7th (KM) Coronation Hall,
Feb 20th (KM) St
Feb 21st (KM)
Feb 21st (KM) Catsfield Village Hall,
Feb 27th (KM) The Pound, Corsham, Wiltshire.
Feb 28th (KM) Village Hall, North Bradley, Wiltshire.
Mar 13th (KM) The David Hall,
Mar 14th (KM) Spring Arts Centre, East Street, Havant,
(KM) Heron Theatre,
Apr 25th (KM) Recording Studio
Apr 26th (KM) Recording Studio
May 11th (KM) Beverley Folk Club, Rose and Crown,
May 15th (KM) Shepley Festival
May 16th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Northumberland.
May 17th (KM) Clennell Hall Folk Festival, Northumberland.
May 23rd (KM) Met Studio, Gatehouse Theatre,
May 28th (KM)
May 29th (KM)
May 30th (KM)
May 31st (KM)
Jun 12th (KM) Mylor - Venue to be confirmed
Jun 13th (KM)
Jun 14th (KM)
Jul 22nd (Joe)
Jul 24th (KM) Penarth Pier Pavilion,
Jul 25th (KM) Shammick Acoustic’ Pack o’ Cards, Combe Martin. EX34 0ET
Jul 26th (KM) Village Pump Festival, Westbury, Wiltshire - Provisional
Aug 1st (KM)
Aug 2nd (KM)
Aug 3rd (KM)
Aug 4th (KM)
Aug 5th (KM)
Aug 6th (KM)
Aug 7th (KM)
Aug 8th (KM)
Aug 9th (KM)
Aug 11th (KM)
Aug 12th (KM)
Aug 13th (KM)
Aug 14th (KM)
Aug 15th (KM)
Aug 16th (KM)
Sep 1st (Joe) Rochdale Masonic Buildings.
Oct 10th (KM) Possible gig at Cecil Sharp House.
Nov 20th (KM) Market Theatre, Market St, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 2AQ
Nov 21st (KM) Rhosygilwen, Rhoshill, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire. SA43 2TW
Nov 28th (KM) Hepworth Live, Hepworth Village Hall,
Dec 6th (KM) The Bothy Folk Club, Park Golf Club,
Thank you so very much for your kind note which I received today. Very happy that you are enjoying your copies of our Journal; publication of your song was a very thoughtful addition to our tributes to Pete Seeger's memory and great influence. Thank you again for taking the time to write.
Laurie Longfield - Administrative Manager, Voices
What a great idea, why not you, I think you would make a great 'man in white suit' independent candidate, count on me for £50.00 if you decide to stand, good luck.
Dave and I are doing well in
I read the revised words to Pete’s song, and it made me cry…it’s lovely and if Kieron and I can make it work, we will surely sing it with all our heart!
Thanks for sending it…a great song is a true gift to send to someone and I appreciate it.
Love and best wishes for the New Year.
Many hanks for The Ramblings
I have always loved 'Darkest before the dawn' and I know Mary is big also a fan. I never understood why your other band members don’t like the song as it’s one of my favourites and definitely one that inspired me to get involved with maritime/folk music. Bit quirky in places but that’s what makes it unique. I will try and keep the song alive down here in the south and perhaps STL might record it sometime.
Things are going well with
STL with lots of gig’s etc. We have also developed a really nice sing
around/playground session to help one of our local pubs. It’s a bit like an
Irish session with everyone sat round a big table near the fire but it’s
definitely an English session and we can get up to eighteen musicians including
banjo, guitar, English pipes, mandolin, whistle etc plus we sing shanties.
Anything goes but we usually have a few Pete Seeger songs plus
We both hope to see you sometime in the New Year.
Take care and look after yourself - make the most of the next twenty years!
Pete and Mary Brooker
It’s good to hear from you, and I do, in fact, like your remake of Pete’s song. I’ve been singing “Quite Early Morning” for years, and have done at several Pete tributes this past year.
I’m actually wondering if there would be an audience for a
Pete Tribute concert done by yourself and me. It so happens that I’m working on
plans to be over in
I look forward to your thoughts.
All the best,
Happy New Year to you. Thank you so much for your kind email, we absolutely love the song and your revised version of it and we will definitely be having a go at it as soon as we can, and then hopefully have it ready for Ellesmere Port at Easter, of course we will credit Pete and yourself for it wherever we perform it. Really can't thank you enough and for thinking of us.
Val and Pete
The Vagrants Crew.
I hope that you had a boozy, culinary Yule.
I love your “marinisation “ of Pete’s song and how it retains the original ethos. I think, that when I speak to the crew (down to four now most of the time) they will want to do it. The tune doesn’t do much for me though. Might we use your words to a different tune ? Full credits to Pete and yourself of course.
I am not involved with any
festivals here in Guernsey anymore and in fact there is nothing happening for “
Folk” other than the Sark Folk Fest’ which has become more like a “Rock”
festival. I hope to catch up with you one day. We had a little tour in
Best wishes to you and yours and to Kimber’s Men for 2015.
Rob McGhee -
thank you so much for thinking of me and taking the time to send this song. Right on the button I would say and extraordinary to see him singing and playing knowing he was so near to death and yet still full of hope and wish to inspire others. I couldn't help thinking as I watched him play the banjo of all the places, forums, marches, of all the events he would have been playing that instrument through, what he witnessed and how he fought for our generation of the generations to come.
Great song and I like your sailing adaptation. Great timing as well as I had my first choir meeting of 2015 and we were sitting around the table singing through songs to settle on some new repertoire and then I open my computer and there is this one.
I know what you mean about time running out for us. I stopped drinking in 2014 and of course have been reviewing blocks of my life looking at creative situations I let slip through my fingers by not being focussed enough. When we can look back at blocks of 20 and 30 and 40 years knowing I have probably less than 20 left it starts to get a bit scary and I have a renewed determination to 'not to go quietly into the night'!
So thanks again, I will be working up this song...I will send you a recording when I have it under my belt.
I hope 2015 is good to you...I am enjoying your news letters..in fact I shall settle down now to read your new one.
I hope that you are well and that you have had a lovely
Christmas. I love reading your 'Ramblings' but it always saddens me to read the
list of performances and see that the one that you used to do with the schools
no longer happens because my classes loved doing that!
Salterhebble J and I School
I will give it also a trial with they other Paddy’s but than with a squeezebox or accordion. Let you know.
Greetings to all the Kimber’s Men, and a good lucky and healthy new year.
PS I hope that we can reach the intelligence off Pete Seeger
A Happy and Healthy New Year to you and yours, Joe!
We just got back last night from
some much-needed R&R with our extended family up in
Pete has been on my mind a lot over the year. He was one of a kind -- there isn't, nor could there be, a "Pete-Seeger-in-Waiting," and Pete, humble man that he was, knew that. It's why he spent so much time encouraging each of us, wherever we were, to carry on the ideas, to continue the hope. No one person could carry the moral, spiritual, and creative load that man did with such seeming ease; but if each of us carries our share of it in our own way, with our own voice, it will go on.
Thanks for this. It's a nice song which I might well get round to doing sometime. If I do, I'll make sure I give you (and Pete) full credit.
Thanks for thinking of me as a 'Possible' for the song, I'll certainly have a listen and consider whether or not I think I could do it justice.
I'll let you know how I get on.
I hope things are improving for you, healthwise and that you have a happy and prosperous 2015.
I've known Quite Early Morning (or DBTD) for years. - though I reckon I'm far less optimistic about the world's future than YOU even....
Nevertheless your changes do make the song a possibility for The Roaring Forties.
We're in a a bit of a lull at the moment.
Don knows heaps of Australian bush songs and we have a duo that does those along with nautical songs. Southern Cross Trawlers.
He and I have some gigs lined up for early this year - more than I can say for the Forties - but 2013 and 2014 were the Forties' busiest years ever.
I'm trying hard to wake up here - got to go to the Blue Mtns on an early train and shouldn't be chatting!
All the best to you and Nora
Joe! A happy Season & New Year be upon You & Yours! At this age, it seems, all we can do is try to endure the darkenss,.. then relish the dawn, when it finally arrives... and, make the day last,... filled with all the things we love,...as long as we can!
Love that song & Your Version.
Fair Winds,... and, Following Songs, my friend!
Thanks very much for sending me the song. When I get a bit of time I'll certainly have a careful look at it to see whether I might do it justice.
Meanwhile, a very happy New Year to you and the rest of the Kimber's Men.
All the best.
Have loved your newsletter for years. Here's my little contribution to "The Funnies".
"I have changed the name of the
toilet in my home from "
Thanks for the Pete Seeger song – what the group will do with it I am not sure as I am no longer with Monkey’s Fist.
I am looking for a new venture, and may well take it up in the future.
The song is interesting and clearly very personal for Pete.
It is not nonsense, the song has a strong spiritual message, that should apply
to all performers. I am not sure I can use it right now, but I will keep
it in case I need it in future. As far as I am concerned Pete was and is an
inspiration a wonderful performer who had the ability to communicate with
audiences that few others have achieved and those that have, have not had
anything half as important to say, an exception perhaps being
I almost missed your email as my server did not recognise my shantymen email address! I will need to correct that, but your ‘carpet bombing’ email technique got us all in the end.
Thanks for your message and I confess like you we struggle to find new songs for the Shantymen but to be fair to our guys they tend to accept a majority judgement to a fair degree. Like you we search far afield and try to come up with new songs and new variations and not just churn out the same old thing. Bottom line we do it to entertain the public and we strive to enjoy both the song and the entertainment factor. That’s a win win.
Re the song, to be brutally frank the tune does not over stimulate but I do like your story line very much. Maybe it will come alive with a group, music and some harmony behind it. At the moment we are working on two new songs and we will try this one when we have mastered our new material and let you know how it works out.
Thanks for contacting us and we appreciate the thoughts. We already sing a couple of songs we first heard sung by Kimbers men and we like your group sound.
Nice to hear from you Joe, take care.
Brian J Farrow
Many thanks for your email, and please forgive my delay in replying. I had a nasty bug over the holiday, and am only now beginning to catch up.
I agree with your comments about finding something different to sing, since we have all been at festivals waiting to go on, and crossing off items from our set list one by one, as others sing them. There is a lot to be said for the old favourites, but one has to face the fact that they are popular with others as well.
I have just listened a couple of times to Don't You Know it's Darkest Before the Dawn and I feel that it has possibilities. I will try it out on my colleagues at Hard Pressed and see what their reaction is. As you say, for it to work, it has to appeal to all involved, but certainly we do try to do some songs which are different.
I hope you are keeping well, and wish you a very Happy New Year, and thank you for thinking of me with this song.
Thanks for your email. Not sure how you found me - perhaps through our Baldrick’s Plan website. As you, I’m always looking for new material. I like to sing songs of the sea and will add your version to my solo repertoire. As for Baldrick’s Plan, I’m not sure, as we are struggling to work through an existing list of material we’ve already decide to learn - it doesn’t get quicker as you get older does it? Perhaps in time we can get to it.
You too have a healthy and happy 2015.
Cheers. Steve Lavington. (Baldrick's Plan)
Finally had a chance to check this out. Thanks for thinking of me. Don’t know that it’s a fit for me, but I’ll keep my eyes open for the right person. It’s very Pete, isn’t it?!
All the best,
my thoughts are here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RL78nV2yhWQ I never shifted from this stance since I worked for Gerald Durrell and learned ... yes learned the facts about species extinction and decline from the scientific and factual Red Books. Time is running out as humans sleep walk towards extinction. Not an opinion just a fact. Modern 'debate' about human impact on the planet looks like the internal dialogue of intellectually constipated idiots discussing cliff erosion while the cliff is collapsing under them. 'Planet for
Quotes are all over the net.....eg
Red Books... http://www.iucnredlist.org/static/categories_criteria_3_1
The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria have several specific aims:
Good to hear from you and to learn that you are like me – a great fan of Pete Seeger. I first heard him and the Weavers way back – must have been in the 50s. Inspired me to take up the banjo (I used to play guitar) and learn some of his songs and left wing songs too. I belonged to a left wing arts group and I was part of the song group – Fernfire Singers. We sang to Labour party, communist party, and various other associations. A great learning curve. Then I was elected President of the Titirangi Folk Club – a position that I held for 21 years. Then came the Maritime Crew. I retired from the Crew a few years ago due to old age. I am now 87 years old and my singing days are done – sadly. But like you, I was always on the lookout for new and unusual songs. My parents were Croatian migrants so I had some Croatian/Dalmatian songs that I traduced the Crew to.
Pete was a wonderful man and I am sad that he never received all the accolades
due to him. He came to
Keep up the good work with Kimber’s. I know how you must feel when the rest of the group does not agree with you in choice of songs. I had the same problem with the Maritime Crew. I was often frustrated by the lads.
All the best for 2015,
Many thanks for your cheque which arrived this morning - and thanks also for putting me back on the list to receive your "Ramblings of an Old Codger".
Actually, the term "Old Codger" as applied to you is
reminiscent of one of your posters many years ago which proclaimed, if I
remember correctly, "
My son, who is now in his mid forties can still remember proudly displaying this poster on his bedroom wall when he was a little boy. Needless to say, it promoted much hilarity among his friends of similar age!
So now - from one old fart to another - Happy New Year!
Dear Mr. Stead:
I happened across your "ramblings" post from October 2004 and read it with considerable interest. I realize that it's now quite an old piece, but I decided I should write to you with a very small correction.
You stated that Butch Hawes wrote "U.A.W.-C.I.O" while traveling with the Almanac Singers in 1942. That's correct, as far as I know; at least that was always the story we heard. However, he wasn't Bess Hawes' brother, he was her husband.
Born: September 21, 1919,
Died: December 22, 1971,
Married: Bess Brown Lomax Jr. 30 January 1943
A confusion about the "brother" business may stem from the
fact that Butch's brother,
The reason I know all these details is that I am their son, and I come from a family of storytellers.
Anyway, I did appreciate your post and look forward to
reading more. There's no need, I suppose, to correct such an old one, but I
thought you might like to know the real relationship.
Thank you for the interesting post.
Nicholas Hawes -
If you decide to revisit the Ched Evans situation then, if you want to, you can put this in the Rumblings (if you deem it okay). However, if you don't, it's probably best not to stir people's emotions up.
I've been thinking about the case a fair amount of the day - I blame you, of course.
McDonald is not a rapist because the law of the
Evans is a rapist - again, it's because the law of the
Recently, we are being told that, because Ched Evans is considered to be a rapist under the law - and because he shows no remorse - he is not a good role model for our children and, therefore, he shouldn't be allowed to return to a job where he has a very Public profile and where kids, no doubt, will look up to him and emulate him as their hero.
However, Clayton McDonald is considered to be a good role model. He is/was allowed to continue his very Public job as a footballer. This is the person who performed various sexual acts on someone who he met for the very first time one night. He stated under oath (as far as I can ascertain) that the woman consented to Ched Evans having sex with her.
The jury did not agree that the woman had given any consent to have sexual intercourse with Ched Evans so Clayton McDonald, therefore, lied at worst or dreamed it up at best. It must further follow that, when he left the room, he left Ched Evans alone so he could rape the woman, although sexual contact (at the least) and sexual relations (at the worst) had already taken place prior to the contact - so he already knew that rape was taking place or would have been suspicious that it was about to.
What seems absurd to me, Joe, is that the actions of Clayton McDonald are in keeping with what Society deems to be acceptable behaviour for our role models and people who are in the Public eye.
What should be done with Ched Evans is, perhaps, difficult to assess (because he shows 'no remorse' he is said not to be allowed to return to his former occupation - but, if he thinks himself innocent, how could he do that? If he shows remorse then he couldn't be allowed to return to football anyway because he's still a rapist).
But some consistency of dealing with both people who were involved in the offence that took place would be, in my opinion, demanded for fairness.
Neil Kimber, our intrepid
sailor, refuses to admit he's recently been sailing in
PHOTOGRAPHS; Harry Tauman
Nice one Neil
Mind you it does look like a pretty rough old sea.
Two cowboys on horseback are mending fence out on the range. One is obviously a rough, tough, he-man cowboy through and through. But the other cowboy is obviously not the he-man type. In fact, it’s apparent he’s of a different persuasion entirely. The first cowboy appears not to notice. After they’d been out about three weeks, sleeping on the ground, eating hardtack and beans, and with no female companionship, they happen upon a calf that had gotten its head tangled low in the fence wire. All it can do is stand there and bawl with its head tangled and its rump sticking up in the air. The first cowboy looks at the calf for a long time. Finally he pushes his hat back and says, “Well pardner, we’ve been out here three weeks with no women and I’m one horny old cowpoke... this is an opportunity I’m not gonna pass up.” Whereupon he goes over and fucks the calf in the ass. He comes back greatly relieved, and says, “Well, that wasn’t bad. In fact, I recommend it. If you wanna go over and give it a try, there’s nobody around and I won’t tell anybody.” Whereupon the other cowboy goes over and sticks his head in the wire.
During the Cold War, Communists were known as Reds.
The Russian Ambassador, Rudolf Zhevtuschenko and his wife Ruslana were dining with the American Ambassador, Charles Berghoff and his wife, Deborah.
The American wife exclaimed, "Look, Honey. It's snowing."
The Russian Ambassador countered, "Nyet. Rain."
Deborah was sure, and replied, "Charles, that's snow."
Ambassador Berghoff still would not take his wife's side. He explained, "Rudolf the Red knows rain, deer."
This little story has been in the Ramblings before............but I like it.
A guy is driving around
He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes around back and sees a black Labrador retriever sitting there.
"You talk?" he asks.
Guy can't believe his ears, but plays along. "So, what's your story?", he asks.
The guy is amazed. He asks the owner what he wants for the dog.
"Ten dollars" the guy says.
"Ten dollars? For a dog that can actually talk? Why so cheap?"
"'Cause he's a liar. He never did any of that shit."
Finally, this really is worth watching ................
Simply open your web server and paste the above blue reference in the very top http slot. Press enter.
I promise you, you will laugh.
Keep smiling and keep singing