VIV LEGG AND THOMAS McCARTHY – Jauling The Green Tober (Brown Label TMVL0302)

Jauling The Green ToberI was handed this album with the warning that it was “hard-core folk music”. If your thing is experimentation and big arrangements, Jauling The Green Tober will not be for you; if your thing is real traditional folk songs sung the way they used to be sung, you’ll be very happy. Viv and Thomas both come from Traveller families but with different backgrounds. Viv is based mainly in Cornwall and is a descendant of the Orchard family while Thomas is an Irishman brought up in London. There is no messing about here; no accompaniments and no duets – that isn’t true to the tradition. Each singer solos a song, sometimes suggested by what the other has performed, so we have Thomas singing ‘The Widow’s Only Son’ and Viv singing ‘The Prisoner Lad’ on the same theme. Most of the songs come with a family story involving a confusion of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. My favourite goes with ‘Good For Nothing Man’ which Viv attacks with obvious relish. It came from her aunt Betsy and how I wish I had heard her sing it.

Although the songs are well documented few are particularly well-known. In fact, only ‘The Dark Eyed Sailor’ bears a familiar title and, yes, it is the familiar song but others have relatives elsewhere. I’m hearing most of them for the first time, however, and I’m happy that they have been recorded in an authentic fashion. Two songs are not traditional although ‘The Young Rackly’, put together by Viv and her mother Sophie started out that way. ‘Romany Rose’ was written especially for Viv by Tony Truscott.

There are no recording tricks employed here and what you hear is what was sung. Viv’s style is direct and straightforward with all her vivacity poured into the light-hearted songs. Thomas learned the old style of the midland region of Ireland which takes a bit of getting used to. It’s packed with grace notes and an exaggerated vibrato with Thomas emphasising the “Irishisms” of pronunciation. I doubt that many others can still sing this way. In both cases I’m reminded of the lack of pretension displayed the first time I heard Fred Jordan sing – the song was all. These are family songs originally performed at gatherings and celebrations and we’re privileged to hear them.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: (for orders)

Thomas McCarthy – ‘No Balls At All’ (parental guidance required):

Marathon autumn program continues at Cecil Sharp House


Tilston and Lowe
Wednesday 8 November, 7.30pm
£14 | £10 under 26s

Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe, two of the UK acoustic/folk scene’s finest songwriters join forces for a concert filled with songs and music, chat and banter and intimate insights into their approach to their craft. Listen in as they rekindle the spontaneity of their late-night living-room song swaps.


An Evening with the Seeger MacColl Family
Thursday 16 November, 7.30pm
£18 | £10 under 26s

The Seeger MacColl family are one of folk music’s most loved dynasties. Singer, songwriter and feminist icon Peggy Seeger performs with Neill and Calum, her sons with Ewan MacColl.

Peggy long-awaited memoir, ‘First Time Ever’ will be published in October. To celebrate, Peggy, Neill and Calum will be touring a special related show in which she’ll mix extracts from the book with the songs that have meant the most to her over the years. Expect anecdotes from her long and remarkable career together with performances songs new and old.

The Stray Birds
Saturday 18 November, 7.30pm
£15 | £10 under 26s

The Stray Birds started as a duo of acoustic buskers when Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven met with their instruments, their voices, and their songs. It didn’t take much convincing to get bassist Charlie Muench on board, and with the addition of a third unique and powerful voice, the group began to define its captivating sound. Since taking America by storm in 2013 they have gone on to win a huge fan base following appearances at big festivals around the world.

Trad Night – Thomas McCarthy
Wednesday 22 November, 7.30pm, £10

Thomas McCarthy is a man steeped in the tradition of Irish song, intoxicated by the music and passionate in his sensitivity towards them. He comes from a considerable dynasty of traditional singers, song-makers and musicians, and grew up surrounded by the singing of his late mother, her father and aunts and uncles. Having spent his life learning the songs of his family, in 2008 Thomas sang publicly for the first time at the folk club at Cecil Sharp House. By the following year, he had sung at the most prominent folk festivals and clubs in Ireland and England and had appeared on BBC radio.

Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys
Wednesday 29 November, 7.30pm
£14 | £10 under 26s

Sam is one of the most exciting young prospects in the folk scene, having gained a reputation for an incredibly high class and dynamic live show.

Coming from a family largely made up of Norfolk dairy farmers has left Sam with an unmatched experience of singing in front of hurtfully disinterested Friesians, and his meandering musical journey has ranged from reaching the final of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent as a teenager, to being selected for the first ever EFDSS Artist Development Scheme. Whether playing to 13 million people on prime-time television, or to 10 people in a tiny pub, Sam’s child-like fascination with music shines through.

Jess Morgan & Kitty Macfarlane
Wednesday 6 December, 7.30pm
£12 | £10 under 26s

Jess Morgan is a songwriter’s songwriter. Her performance is a tumbler of unfancied folk-roots music, with heart, passion and gusto.

Kitty Macfarlane’s songs are charged with a sense of place – more often than not her home county of Somerset – and her lyrics combine honest snapshots of everyday humanity with much bigger questions.

India Electric Co
Wednesday 13 December, 7.30pm
£12 | £10 under 26s

Sometimes folk, sometimes not. India Electric Company use traditional instruments in contemporary styles to explore diverse themes from Eastern Europe, Irish traditions and urban alienation to end up with something “quirky and glittery – a veritable musical magpie’s nest” (Mary Ann Kennedy, BBC Radio 3).

Belshazzar’s Feast

Thursday 14 December, 7.30pm
£15 | £10 youth

On tour with a Christmas-themed show that mixes traditional folk music, seasonal material, added to their usual touch of classical and jazz, with a bit of pop and music hall, all topped off with lashings of wry humour.  Paul Sartin (of Bellowhead and Faustus) and Paul Hutchinson (of Hoover The Dog) together wow audiences across the UK with their eclectic and eccentric mix of tunes and between songs chat that always sends audiences home with smiles on their faces.

Festive Gathering
Sunday 17 December, 7.30pm
£15 | £10 under 26s

Join for us our ever-popular, annual celebration of yuletide, with a chance to join in on the songs and merriment.

Cecil Sharp House Choir, led by Sally Davies, will perform joyful a cappella arrangements of traditional, seasonal songs, carols and wassails from the British Isles and beyond, sung in glorious harmony.  Folk dancers, singers and musicians will fill Kennedy Hall – the main space at Cecil Sharp House – with seasonal cheer.

For bookings go to: