Dec 05



tom bliss



lyrics etc









Mixed Moss (Tom Bliss) SLIP 009

buy this CD here 13.00

Produced by tom bliss and alistair russell

TB: vocal, guitar, mandocello, duet concertina, mandolin, fiddle, whistle, pianoforte, piano accordion, melodica

With guests tom napper mandolin, vocal chris parkinson melodeon, vocal tony taffinder bass, whistle, vocal maggie boyle vocal, patsy matheson vocal bryony griffith vocal, dave bowie double bass


1 Gentle Maids Ashore (Bliss) 4.13 mp3

2 Pendle Hill (Bliss) 5:21

3 Rue (Humphreys / Trad arr Bliss) 4:57

4 Miranda (Bliss) 2:34 (instrumental)

5 Gill Field Sump (Bliss) 5:17

6 Dead Men Bear No Witness (Bliss) 5:21

7 St Pierre Lihou / The Sark Dance (Trad arr Bliss) 2:26 (instrumental)

8 The Wall (Bliss) 3:35

9 The Unquiet Grave (Trad arr Bliss) 4:32

10 Autumn (Bliss) 4:00 mp3

11 Fog on the Dogger (Bliss) 4:07

12 Needle and Thread (Clements) 4:01

13 Sunset at Saye (Bliss) 2:53 (instrumental)

14 Jack Hall (Trad) 4:21 mp3

All works registered with PRS

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Why Mixed Moss? Well, quite apart from all the leaves, moss and moorland vegetation mentioned in the lyrics, this album is something of a pot pourri, containing a few favourites from my solo set, some oldies that I never got round to recording properly, and a couple that just felt like they belonged. The idea was to present a broader mix of styles than people might have encountered in my work with Tom Napper and Slide, while - with luck - holding it all together with one common sound and approach.

Mixed Moss by a Rolling Stone is of course the title of the book that Captain Flint is trying to write on his houseboat in Swallows and Amazons (by Arthur Ransome) - whenever the children let him. So thanks to my children, Ellie and Jack (and Katherine), for letting me mix (and record) much of this moss at home, and to Alistair Russell for managing the main mulch at his leafy Glade studio at The Music Room in Cleckheaton, West Yorks

Special thanks to Tom Napper, who introduced me to the folk world, who stands at my left shoulder through thick and thin, and who lends me his skill and experience here againalso to 'Dangerous' Dave, Tony, Parky, Maggie, Patsy and Bryony for their musical and vocal contributions.

Inner sleeve:

1 Gentle Maids Ashore (Bliss)
Anne Bonney and Mary Read really did become lovers - in 1720. I found myself wondering how this came about, when, initially, each believed the other to be a man. (Both tune and lyric refer to various traditional cross-dressing sailor-girl songs, mainly A Maid That's Deep in Love). TB voice, guitar

2 Pendle Hill (Bliss)
I heard this story by candlelight, in a farmhouse under Pendle, when I was just a lad myself. And my lovely hostess swore it had really happened - to a close personal friend. Pendle is, of course, the place where the last witches to be hanged in England, in 1612, came from. TB voice, guitars, mandocello, mandolin Maggie Boyle (Grace Notes and Witch Notes) Patsy Matheson (Waking the Witch) Bryony Griffith (The Witches of Elswick and Witch Notes) vocals

3 Rue (Humphreys/Trad arr Bliss)
Mary Humphreys assembled the wonderful No My Love Not I from various sources: Lucy White, Peacock's Newfoundland collection, the Newfoundland Sailor broadside (with the sexes reversed), Mary (aka Emma) Overd, and her own pen. But when I heard her explain that rue was once used as an abortifacient I found myself wanting to allow a little more ambiguity into the story. (In the days before bird migration was fully understood, swallows were believed to be immortal). TB voice, guitar

4 Miranda (Bliss)
Miranda lives beneath a willow on the River Ouse, between York and the high tide, just opposite a kingfisher’s burrow - and there are woodpeckers and tree creepers too. A magical spot. TB guitar

5 Gill Field Sump (Bliss)
I got this (authenticated) story from William Longthorne’s great great grandson; Granville Thwaites. John Kay was a soldier who’d died of heat exhaustion on a forced march up Greenhow Bank, near Pately Bridge, and been buried where he fell. (Miners typically marked their tunnels whenever they passed under a burial site). And no-one has ever been down the mine since - because it’s still flooded to this day. TB voice (with thanks to Jim Lawton for the dialect - but I can only take it so far!)

6 Dead Men Bear No Witness (Bliss)
This tale was told to John Millington Synge by a seanchai called Pat Dirane, on the Arran Island of Inishmaan in Galway Bay, some time around 1900. It inspired his first play The Shadow of the Glen. Incidentally, Inishmaan was also the setting for Father Ted’s Craggy Island, so you can amuse yourself by casting Fr Ted, Mrs Doyle, Fr Jack and Fr Dougal - in order of appearance (and you will)! TB voice, mandocello, guitar Tom Napper mandolin, voice

7 St Pierre Lihou and The Sark Dance (Trad/Bliss and Trad arr Bliss)
As I have no new Channel Island songs for this album, here are two traditional dances from Sark to be going on with. I’ve given the first a ‘B’ part, but otherwise the tunes and repeats are as collected by Peter Kennedy in the 1950s. TB duet concertina, melodica, pianoforte, fiddle, piano accordion

8 The Wall (Bliss)
This metaphor occurred to me while watching my young son Jack dangling dangerously from the artificial Leeds Wall, his safety literally in the hands of an even smaller girl. TB voice, guitar, piano

9 The Unquiet Grave (Trad arr Bliss)
This was one of the first traditional songs I learned to play, on the guitar. TB voice, duet concertina

10 Autumn (Bliss)
...and if the autumn leaves, by that unquiet grave, can never turn green... TB voice, guitars, duet concertina, piano, whistle Maggie Boyle, Patsy Matheson, Bryony Griffith vocals

11 Fog on the Dogger (Bliss)
We sailed from Hull one fine spring evening. I sat listening to the piano man till late, and then took a last turn on deck. While he sang - and he did indeed do one of his own - a thick fog had closed in. TB voice, guitar, harmonica Dave Bowie double bass (Dave and I worked as a duo in the 1990s)

12 Needle and Thread (Clements)
Henry Clements is a resident at the Wiltshire Traditions club in Devizes. He presented this when Napper and I visited in 2004. I don’t sing it in public - I simply can’t. TB voice, duet concertina, guitar

13 Sunset at Saye (Bliss)
Saye (pronounced soya) Bay is a perfect horseshoe of white sand, just over the dunes from Alderney's idyllic camp site, where a Nazi concentration camp once stood. TB guitar, duet concertina

14 Jack Hall (Trad)
This song probably dates from 1701 when an English chimney sweep called Jack Hall was hanged at Tyburn. The comic minstrel CW Ross made a new melody in the 1850s, and renamed it Sam Hall. I've borrowed from the words of both, and used the tune made famous in The Dubliners ‘Irish-ised’ version TB voice, guitars Tom Napper voice, mandolin Chris Parkinson voice, accordion Tony Taffinder voice, bass, low whistle (this quartet performs as The Pipers Sons

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