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This is one of my favourite carols, the St Day Carol (or Sans Day Carol), thought to originate from St Day, near Redruth, in the 19th century. It was translated from Cornish roughly to the lyrics of ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ – and I think the melody has a lovely lilt, as demonstrated by these charming chaps with stunning ‘taches.

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. May your days be laden with Rodda’s and lit by gently flashing fairy lights. And may your mornings-after be quickly and painlessly cured by sea breezes. See you in 2012 – thanks for reading my Cornish miscellany. Back dreckly.

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A few ale-addled snaps from Mazey Day in Penzance last week. It was my first and I loved it – the chaotic anything everything goes atmosphere is pure Penzance. One couple had dressed up as hippies – which is akin to dressing in camouflage.

I want to get more into top-five lists on pasties & cream, so I’ll kick off with my top five Golowan festival highlights:

1) The DJ in the Arts Club garden dropping Black Box ‘Ride on Time’ at 3 in the afternoon. Not only did he get away with it – people went crazy.

2) Singer Dom Youngman at the busk-off at Zero Lounge’s alfresco bar on Mock Mayor Wednesday (incidentally, was anyone else confused by the brisk trade they were doing all week in Veuve Clicquot??! Do these people know of a secretly booming industry in Cornwall that I don’t?).

3) Pondlife ska at the Dock (listen here) – young and old dancing in the streets and things starting to get messy.

4) Mr B’s new vintage ice-cream van’s first outing.

5) Of course, Pirates on the Prom – 8,734 pirates and a real pirate ship. Rad.

Till next year…

I went to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Du Maurier Festival in Fowey last night – plucking amazing, they were.

Watching them dismember rock songs on titchily tiny ukuleles is a formula that never seems to fail (which may be why they sell out hundreds of gigs a year).

It’s a relentlessly entertaining, semi-ironic show but musically it’s no joke – these people are slick pickers. Even Ralph Read the rest of this entry »

As some of you will know, pasties & cream – as well as being the name of my humble blog – is the title of a seminal Cornish folk album (and song) by the late, great Brenda Wootton.

A folk singer from Newlyn, born with an extraordinary, pure voice, Brenda is to the county of Cornwall what Edith Piaf is to France, or Mercedes Sosa to Argentina. Clearly Cornwall is, ahem, a lot smaller, and those singers are infinitely more famous, but the stories and music share a number of similarities.

Brenda has been gone some time – she died in 1994 – and fans like me had to make do with her old, classic albums, most no longer even in production. Until, that is, a sound engineer in Porthleven unearthed a box of previously unheard, master tapes in his loft of a concert Brenda Wootton gave in the Bobino Theatre in Paris in 1984.

Against the odds, the tapes were in amazing condition and, after being remastered, have just been released as a new album entitled ‘All of Me’.  I got given a copy for Christmas and… Read the rest of this entry »

lunar eclipse penzance

They were sounding so chirpy on Radio Cornwall about the lunar eclipse this morning – the first total lunar eclipse to take place on the winter solstice since 1638 – that I felt spurred to get out of bed and try and catch it. It was cold and I couldn’t see no bleddy moon but it was an incredible sunrise all the same. Anyone else have any lunar joy?

Today is of course the shortest day of the year and in Penzance that means everyone goes a bit pagan and marches up to the beacon with lanterns to stand around a large bonfire and sing. Montol as a festival was revived here four years ago – it’s devoid of bells and whistles (burger vans, candyfloss etc), but I think that’s the idea. Procession starts from St John’s Hall at 5.45pm this evening.

More deets at http://www.montol.co.uk/

lunar eclipse penzance cornwall

“Unite and unite and let us all unite,
For summer is acome unto day,
And whither we are going we will all unite,
In the merry morning of May.”

These are the words from the strangely magnetic song sung en masse by the people of Padstow every year at Obby Oss – the town’s (probably Celtic) may day festivities.

My mum says the communal singing, the spring flowers and the beat of the drum always involuntarily bring a lump to her throat. Thinking about it, the lyrics are rather emotive and hopeful. (Modern translation: thank god for that – couldn’t have taken any more Cornish drizzle, please can we have a summer this year or I might have to emigrate.)

Obby Oss was a nice warm-up for Flora Day in Helston this Saturday (8 May) – as far as I’m concerned Read the rest of this entry »

A few weeks ago everyone (including pasties + cream here) got all frothed up about the quirky story in which ten low-key Cornish fishermen from Port Isaac hit the big time with a million-pound Universal Music deal. Now the first reviews of the album are rolling in. So, how did the boys measure up?

Well, the Guardian review gives ‘Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends’ three stars, declaring it ‘the folk curiosity album of the year’ and describing the tracks as ‘gutsy work songs, mostly sung full-tilt’, but also ‘a bit plodding and respectful’.

The Indie meanwhile found it a ‘fulsome blend of baritones and tenors’, which ‘brings their repertoire of far-flung seafaring ballads to burly life’.

I agree with a lot of that (phew – I was feeling all protective). This is a hugely Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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