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Singing At the Ship Inn: Alan Lomax's 1953 Blaxhall Recordings

by Various Artists

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One Saturday evening in 1953, Alan Lomax and Peter Kennedy, with tape-machine in tow, visited The Ship Inn, a pastoral public house situated in the village of Blaxhall, Suffolk, East Anglia. The Ship was by that time already well-known for its vigorous afternoon sessions of folk-singing and step-dancing, which had been going strong since at least the early days of the century.

Under the stern direction of chairman Wicketts Richardson — who calls the crowd to order and announces the singers — “the old boys” performed ballads (“The Three Jolly Sportsmen”), topical pieces (“The Bonny Bunch of Roses”), bawdy numbers (“The Nutting Girl”), and step-danced to tunes pumped out on the melodeon, while the publicans, Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt, kept the pint glasses filled.

“Singing at the Ship Inn: Alan Lomax's 1953 Blaxhall Recordings” is a lively, rollicking, and slightly boozy portrait of a treasured English singing tradition, still honored today at the Ship Inn.

(In 1955, Kennedy and Lomax returned to Blaxhall, where they made a short film, called “Here’s A Health to the Barley Mow” and featuring many of the same singers on “Singing At the Ship.” It can be viewed online via the East Anglian Film Archive.)

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released April 4, 2013

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Alan Lomax Archive

Alan Lomax (1915–2002) was a documentarian, ethnologist, cultural activist, and arguably the foremost folklorist of the 20th century. Over his seven-decade career he collected thousands of audio recordings of folk and traditional music from around the US and the world, and dedicated himself to the pursuit of what he called "cultural equity." 100% of proceeds go to the Assoc. for Cultural Equity. ... more

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