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John Brune FolkSong collector

05 Aug 07 - 02:29 PM (#2119801)
Subject: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

Can anyone give me information about this folk song collector.,was he also a writer of science fiction,and did he live near South Petherton,in England


05 Aug 07 - 02:42 PM (#2119814)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST

John Brune was the arsehole who professed to be interested in Travellers - and did some collecting from them, but deliberately attempted to sabotage the first and most important radio programme about them,(the Radio Ballad, The Travelling People). He was partly successful as he managed to remove Sheila Stewart from the programme.
More information is to be found from Bob Pegg's article on Sheila Stewart on Living Tradition webpage and my letter published in the following edition
Jim Carroll
    Please remember to use a consistent name when you post. Messages with the "from" space blank, risk being deleted.
    -Joe Offer-


05 Aug 07 - 02:52 PM (#2119824)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

Jim,can you tell me which songs he collected from travellers,do you also know whether he was a sci fi writer.


05 Aug 07 - 02:54 PM (#2119826)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Sorry Cap'n - dont know,
He did issue a book of his own songs once
Jim Carroll


05 Aug 07 - 03:07 PM (#2119834)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

have just read the article in living tradition,couldnt find your letter.
I Think Ewan Maccoll acted incorrectly in interrupting a performer,and telling him to sing songs from Austria,The correct thing to do would have been to wait until people were leaving the club and then had a quiet word of explanation about the clubs policies.
If anybody interrupted me while singing a song,and tried to tell me what to sing,Iwould take strong exception to it.


05 Aug 07 - 04:16 PM (#2119885)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Malcolm Douglas

John A Brune was Jewish, originally from Austria; he came here as a refugee just before the War, I gather, and certainly lived in South London somehere at one time. He died in April 2001; there is a brief obit at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/news22.htm

Sheila Stewart's account of his run-in with Ewan McColl: http://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart599.htm

The Roving Songster volume 1 (actually there never was a second volume) contained a mix of Brune's own songs, a few by others (Belle Stewart's 'Berryfields of Blair', for example) and traditional pieces. It was published by Gillian Cook of Collet's record shop in 1965. He also wrote Resonant Rubbish (EFDSS, 1974): how to make basic musical instruments out of junk, from what I recall.

He recorded songs from a number of Travellers; some of these are listed in the Roud Folk Song Index, which you can search for yourself at http://library.efdss.org/

He also did the layout work for the original edition of Marrow Bones, though Frank Purslow told me that Peter Kennedy also had a hand in that. The results weren't terribly good.

Beyond that, I know nothing about him; certainly not whether he also wrote sci-fi. There must be at least a few people round here who knew him, though.


05 Aug 07 - 04:20 PM (#2119889)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: tijuanatime

I think the sci-fi writer you're thinking of is John Brunner, a completely different person as far as I am aware


05 Aug 07 - 04:22 PM (#2119891)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: RoyH (Burl)

It was John Brunner wwho ran the South Petherton festival. He was a folkie, and a sci=fi writer. Burl


05 Aug 07 - 04:27 PM (#2119897)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)

There was a UK sci fi writer called John BRUNNER. Here's a link: John Brunner

Cheers

Nigel


05 Aug 07 - 04:30 PM (#2119899)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: curmudgeon

And at least one anti-nuke song of Brunner's was included in the MacColl-Seeger anthology, "Songs For the Sixties." - Tom


05 Aug 07 - 04:42 PM (#2119907)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: McGrath of Harlow

John Brunner wrote a few songs too, notably "The H-bombs Thunder", which for some reason doesn't come up under that name anyway in the Digital Tradition, but does on this Digital Tradition Mirror. Tune of Miner's Lifeguard, of course. But not to be confused with John Brune.

John Brune - I knew him years back in the Sixties, via Cecil Sharp House and a spin-off club round the corner at The York and Albany pub. A quirky chap with a good sense of humour and a flexible atitude towards song collecting, (probably) adding in his own verses to, for example, Spanish Ladies and claiming he'd collected them. He was good company.

As for that story in the link, to blame John Brune for that seems a bit thick. Ewan MacColl was a great songwriter and singer, and we owe an enormous debt to him - but he could be extraordinarily arrogant and petty when he chose to be, and this comes across as a prime example.


06 Aug 07 - 03:51 AM (#2120156)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Cap'n,
The story of MacColl interrupting Brune's singing was another of those doing the rounds of the revival and is totally unsubstantiated.
It was club policy that guest singers be encouraged to sing songs from their own national backgrounds, but in the twenty years I was associated with MacColl (attending the Singers Club virtually every week) or through questioning people who knew him far longer than I did, I have never been able to find a single case of him interrupting a singer or of insisting that they sing anything - it wasn't the way he, or any club resident behaved on stage.
The policy was adopted because, as Alan Lomax pointed out, in the early days of the revival there was a great danger of the clubs being swamped by not only American material and accents, but also it was quite a regular occurrence to hear a singer sing a song say, in German, Russian, Yiddish, Polish, Mandarin Chinese.... you name it. Lomax, Lloyd, MacColl, Seeger and the rest felt that the best way to open up the British repertoire was to have a policy which was aimed in that direction. As far as I can see - it worked.
The story about the 'travellers' songs that Brune supplied went as follows: (It is often told as an anti-MacColl story by people who didn't like him, so I have no reason to doubt its veracity) was:
Coming to the end of the preparation for "The Travelling People" MacColl and Parker decided it would be a good idea to try and fnd songs that were specifically Traveller compositions, (we found enough of these among the Irish Travellers) so they put out an appeal for such.
Brune responded with a recording of 'an old English Travelling woman' singing 'Traveller' songs; these recordings were of Brune singing his own songs in a funny voice.
The production team decided that these were good enough to make the point that Travellers were composers as well as singers and musicians, so one of the songs was given to Sheila Stewart to sing for the programme. When it was found to be a fake it was withdrawn. Had it been used as a 'Traveller's own' song it would have undermined the authenticity of the whole programme. God knows, the Travellers had (and have) enough enemies who would have jumped at the chance to point the finger and cry 'fake'.
For many of us, 'The Travelling People' put Travellers on the map and was the reason people like myself became involved with them. The support they got in the sixties, particularly the mass demonstrations at Brownhills after the death of three Traveller children, was largely due to people having heard the programme.
As far as I'm concerned Brune was a vicious prick who summed up much of the vicious prickism surrounding MacColl.
Jim Carroll


06 Aug 07 - 04:47 AM (#2120170)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Folkiedave

Can I add that according to Peggy the policy was decided by a committee of the club - not a decision of Seeger/MacColl's - and that it was NEVER that you sang in your own language - but that you sang in a language you were familiar with or indeed spoke with fluency.

And indeed as Jim points out - it was in part instrumental in opening up the repertoire.


06 Aug 07 - 05:42 AM (#2120181)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

Thanks, everybody.
I remember playing South Petherton folk club, in the 1980s and briefly meeting John Brunner,the name sounded similiar,so apologies for my confusion.
Jim,when one reads an article in Living Tradition,and the author is a songwriter like Bob Pegg,its not unreasonable to conclude that the facts given are true.
I agree,the Travelling People was a very important radio programme.
probably More important Than the singers club policy,was the booking of traditional singers such as Fred Jordan, Harry Cox, Bob Roberts,Willie Scott at folk festivals such as Sidmouth, Whitby,Fylde, Redcar, Loughborough. and at folk clubs throughout the country.
in my opinion telling people what to sing never works,
although I understand the reason for the singers club policy.,the singers club was only one club,and was not that important,there were undoubtedly more people attending the above mentioned folk festivals than the singers club.


06 Aug 07 - 08:06 AM (#2120228)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Some people appear to be really, really desperate to cling on to this myth that MacColl 'told people what to sing'. Personally, I think it's a sign of some sort of deep-seated insecurity.

Just relax - he can't get you now - he's been dead for 18 years!!


06 Aug 07 - 04:11 PM (#2120382)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: McGrath of Harlow

God knows the exact truth all these years later - but I can't see anything in either version to justify that kind of attack on John, any more than at Ewan. Why do some of us get off on throwing insults around? Whether at the big fish or the samll fry?


06 Aug 07 - 04:52 PM (#2120422)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

McGrath,
I knew a number of the people concerned, including MacColl Seeger and Parker, who were the co-producers and John Faulkner, who performed on the programme. Arch anti-MacCollite Reg Hall (the one who blatantly lied on Folk Britannia about MacColl and Lloyd's 'policy of setting up folk ensembles') was a close friend and admirer of Brune; it was he who first told me the story as an example of MacColl's gullibility - I believed him, you may believe what you like.
While there are still people around who take great delight in dancing on MacColl's grave eighteen years after his death I feel perfectly justified in setting the record straight - you may call it mud-slinging if you wish.
Jim Carroll


06 Aug 07 - 05:11 PM (#2120430)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: McGrath of Harlow

Dancing on people's graves isn't something we should indulge in, that's true enough.


06 Aug 07 - 05:51 PM (#2120462)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

no one on this thread has indulged in dancing on Maccolls grave.
Jim Carroll,Bob Peggand living tradition say one thing,you say another.
actually I find the thought of John Brune singing in falsetto and not being detected amusing.
he did in fact own up to what he did,and the end product the radio ballad about the Travellers was still excellent.


06 Aug 07 - 06:10 PM (#2120480)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: McGrath of Harlow

I couldn't reall;y detect any significant difference between the supposed facts in the two versions, leaving aside the pretty irrelevant and peripheral business about "song policy" at the club.


07 Aug 07 - 04:13 AM (#2120671)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST

Cap'n,
"I find the thought of John Brune singing in falsetto and not being detected amusing".
I wonder if you find equally amusing the idea of three Traveller children being burned to death during an unauthorised eviction by a Midlands council.
This was the type of thing that was taking place around the time the Travelling People was made and it was incidents like this that MacColl, Parker and Seeger were attempting to draw attention to.
The Radio Ballad was the first time Travellers were given a voice to air their grievances to any extent and it was the cause of many of us becoming involved in their cause; in my case it was Councillor Harry Watton's "Exterminate the impossibles statement" at the end of the programme.
If you believe that John Brune's stunt would not have called into question the accuracy of the Travellers situation I wonder how you come to that conclusion, but perhaps having a laugh at MacColl's expense is more important than the welfare of a group of 'outsiders'.
As McGrath of Harlow points out, there is no basic difference between Pegg's description and mine.
Perhaps we should take this discussion off line so as not to embarrass you again!
Jim Carroll


07 Aug 07 - 04:21 AM (#2120677)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar

I admired Ewan MacColl greatly, and still celebrate his achievements whenever I get the chance. I found John Brune good and polite company, though one song he sang to me from his collecting seemed far too outre to be true.
If he managed to create a group of songs that were not so suspicious that they were accepted as authentically 'traveller' - whatever that may be - then that's interesting. It would be extremely irritating and frustrating to be on the other end of such a hoax, I hate being fooled, myself.
But MacColl put a lot of his own songs into the Radio Ballads, a couple of which I have heard presented in recent years as "authentic traveller songs". If I'd had the chance, I'd at least have been tempted to try and smuggle a song of my own in, for the crack and the challenge.
The Singers Club may not have been fierce about who could sing what and how, but certainly the message that it was came to Glasgow, and seemed accepted in London in the few months I sang around clubs there, to the point I went to the Singers Club once, but was too nervous of something or other to ask to sing there.
I know lots of swear words, but never understand how using them in this kind of discussion is helpful to anyone.


07 Aug 07 - 04:26 AM (#2120681)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

I am not embarrassed,.the point is that Brune owned up to his deception,the radio ballad was broadcast and as most people would agree was an excellent programme that did alot of good.
If Brune hadnt owned up it would have been a different matter.,Thats my opinion and I am entitled to it.
the policy of the singers club is mentioned in Bob Peggs article to which Jim Carroll directed me.
it is pointless talking about what would have happened if Brune hadnt owned up,hypothetical,because he did own up.,and no harm was done.


07 Aug 07 - 05:39 AM (#2120703)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

JIM,If anyone is dancing on anyones grave,you are doing that to John Brune.
I have a book of his called The Roving Songster[vol 1],it includes a song by Sydney Carter,twelve traditional songs[all good songs],and some of his own songs, none of which I am inspired to learn ,but are interesting,IF anyone gets achance to buy this book second hand they should do so.
John Brunes introduction, his views on folk traditions and the folk revival are also worth reading,I am pleased to own this book,it is a well used addition to my library.was there ever a volume two.


07 Aug 07 - 06:46 AM (#2120728)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Folkiedave

Peggy Seeger tells the story of how the debate was started by her and how the policy came about.

http://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/edtxt39.htm


Frankly I believe Peggy who was there at the time, as opposed to Pegg
who wasn't.


07 Aug 07 - 08:04 AM (#2120772)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

I too felt too intimidated,to sing at the singers club,this was partly due to seeing Ewan and Peggy at Farningham folk club about 1970.
during the break I bought an LP from them ,which was one of Peggy and Mike Seeger,Peggy was talking to someone else,so I approached Ewan,when he saw the lp,he said with sarcasm,oh you like that sort of thing do you,.I was Nineteen years old,and felt like I was nine and being treated as if I still was at school.
By contrast Dartford, Gravesend, Farningham and most of the london clubs were most welcomomg, so I thought I wont bother with the Singers Club.


07 Aug 07 - 03:11 PM (#2120993)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST

Cap'n
Brune 'confessed' virtually on the eve of the programme being broadcast.
He succeeded in getting Sheila Stewart withdrawn from the programme - plus or minus.
Ewan,
I have outlined why the song was wanted for the programme. If it had been included as a 'genuine' travellers song it would have undermined the programme and given the knockers the excuse to end the series.
There were a number of people at the Beeb who did not approve of the Radio Ballads and thought that working people's voices should have been spoken by "proper actors". The Travelling People very nearly didn't go on because MacColl and Parker refused to remove Harry Watton's "exterminate the impossibles" statement. Parker always believed that this was the reason why there were no more Radio Ballads.   
MacColl never made any claim for his songs being traditional - others have, but not him.
Jim Carroll


07 Aug 07 - 04:00 PM (#2121051)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: McGrath of Harlow

My copy of The Roving Songster doesn't have that intro, and it doesn't have any indication which of the songs are John Brune's. I think this is one though, to lighten the tone:

The Last Drop in the Bottle

Tis the last drop in the bottle
And I'm left blooming well alone.
All my lovely companions
Without me to the pub have gone.
Sic transit gloria mundi
Mundi gloria it makes me sick
How the world is all cupboard lovers
Slow giving but taking quick.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one
To evaporate away
There'll be not a drop left in this bottle
By the end of this dreary day
I will mix thee, rum, with honey,
Demerara sugar, tea and lemon juice
And tonight we'll be right chummy
Me and my last drop of booze.


Try singing it to the tune of The Last Rose of Summer...


07 Aug 07 - 04:24 PM (#2121072)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar

What I remember of the song John sang me follows. If there is more of it in his book [or any other] I would be delighted.

Chorus
Rats and snails and ringworm pies, headgehogs and birds of paradise x2

Bits of verse

....... and broke his bloody head sir
....... and now he's lying dead sir

....
....

It's a wee peewee in a peewee tree
That sings 'Pee wee pee wee ee'

Ewan McVicar


07 Aug 07 - 04:25 PM (#2121074)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

mcgrath,thankyou,you must have volume two.
the contents of my book are as follows
on folk traditions and the folk revival page 7
The Travelling Man. page 12
The Roving Songster page 13
TheRovingTinker page14
Settling down in a cottage page17
The Moss of Burreldale
TheBerryfields of Blair
TheTattieTime
Its ahard life being a traveller
The Moving on song.
The Paupers song
A song for outcasts
and another 20 songs


07 Aug 07 - 04:35 PM (#2121086)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

Jim, both Joe Heaney and Belle Stewart were good singers.


07 Aug 07 - 06:24 PM (#2121178)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST

Ewan, I think the song you're after is "Spiders, slugs and ringworm Pie"....searching memory banks...The Black Country Four, maybe?


07 Aug 07 - 06:30 PM (#2121184)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,effsee, sans cookie

Sorry, that last one was me away from home.


07 Aug 07 - 08:32 PM (#2121269)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Malcolm Douglas

My understanding was that volume 2 never appeared. Volume 1 was published in 1965, as I've already said; but there was an earlier printing of c.39 pages privately issued in 1959 or 1960; perhaps McGrath has a copy of that. Apparently only 75 copies were made; Brune's middle name is, incidentally, revealed as Anatole.

My copy (1965) appears to be the same as Dick's, at any rate; though a previous owner has for some reason drawn a moustache on the cover picture.

I've wondered occasionally what the fake song was that John Brune concocted, and whether Sheila remembers any of it.


08 Aug 07 - 02:05 AM (#2121416)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Malcolm,
I once asked her and she didn't, though I believe at least one singer learned it at the time and sang it round the clubs to spite MacColl.
Cap'n
"Joe Heaney and Belle Stewart were good singers",
So was Maria Callas - your point? It doesn't answer the question.
Jim Carroll


08 Aug 07 - 04:06 AM (#2121465)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

thanks, Malcolm.


08 Aug 07 - 06:39 AM (#2121538)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll,it must have been over 40 years ago?


08 Aug 07 - 01:44 PM (#2121828)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Cap'n
So what, sabotage is sabotage.
I have to say, what with Kennedy and Brune, you have some strange heroes.
Jim Carroll


08 Aug 07 - 02:07 PM (#2121850)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

Jim,I don,t have heroes.


09 Aug 07 - 05:43 PM (#2122744)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: McGrath of Harlow

Malcolm's right - my copy is the 1959 version, which I got from John at the time. So only another 74 copies. I'll look after it more carefully.

It's largely Burl Ives type standards, but there are some less familiar ones. Here's one I've never come across elsewhere - it might be one of John's?:

Hollands Gin
This city hold ten thousand souls
Not one my lasting friend
Five thousand women, so I'm told,
Not one to hold my hand.

I roamed around the City Streets
To seek myself a lass,
They all received me with a frown
So now I'm for a glass.

The only truelove that I have
Lives at the wayside Inn,
She wears an evening dress of glass,
Her name is Hollands Gin

And when they go to bury me
I'll still be of good cheer,
Tho' on my gravestone be the words:
"He cannot drink down here."


Here is a rather blurry page from the the back of the book which gives the tune for this (Among others.)


09 Aug 07 - 07:07 PM (#2122797)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

thanks MCGRATH,I like it.


18 Feb 12 - 11:50 AM (#3310571)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Guest WOCKO

John and his father ran a printshop some where near Holborn, the place stank of the Old Holborn Tobacco factory nearby.It was above the Chiappa fairground organ repairers which would occasionally start playing to brighten our day. I met John at a club some where, probably the York and Albion and I started working in his printshop.There was a second volume of Marrowbones, it was hand written in a notebook, My landlady was going to type out a copy for John to make plates from and print but she lost the book. The company was Edwards and Brune.


07 Dec 15 - 04:19 PM (#3756523)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

refresh.


08 Dec 15 - 02:40 AM (#3756647)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Mike Yates

I don't know if the following has been printed elsewhere on Mudcat or not. Sometime around 1963/64, when I was working at C# House,
John would come into the Sound Library on a regular basis. Sometime around this date he published an article in the Society's magazine "English Dance & Song". The article purported to be based on an interview that John recorded with an elderly resident of Pewsey in Wiltshire. The old man told John about a tradition of making musical clay "pipes" in the village. Years later John told me that he had made the whole thing up "as a joke".


08 Dec 15 - 07:47 AM (#3756682)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

In MyOpinion Hardly deserving of the description used by Jim Carroll, What comes across to me is that some song collectors are humourless.


08 Dec 15 - 07:56 AM (#3756685)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Jim Carroll

"Hardly deserving of the description used by Jim Carroll"
Not a description Dick - an accurate account of his actions and an assesment of the enormous damage that might have been done to an important pionering radio programme
Please tell me you support his behaviour and think it would have done no harm - that would reassure me that my opinion of you is the correct one (not that I need any assurance)
Jim Carroll


08 Dec 15 - 08:59 AM (#3756702)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,#

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/THE-ROVING-SONGSTER-Vol-1-Songs-Ballads-John-A-Brune-PB-1965-Photographs-Rare-/161816746905

That may interest someone. (That said, I feel somewhat like the ref who drops the puck for a faceoff in a high-voltage game.)


08 Dec 15 - 10:06 AM (#3756713)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

you called him an arsehole, I do not agree, I like his book, I am clearly able to take a more balanced view than you, but what is new?
Clearly the article in the EFDSS journal did no harm, The other instance could have done harm, but that does not mean you have the right to call a dead person an arsehole, you are a hypocrite, you rant on and accuse people of corpse kicking if there is any mild criticism of Ewan, yet you kick JohnBrunes corpse and call him an arsehole.HYPOCRITE.
you have also insulted Bob Davenport, myself and many others . please go away


08 Dec 15 - 07:17 PM (#3756842)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler

I still enjoy my copy of "Roving Songster!, though some of the songs I have never liked as I have always thought them too "intelletchool". But even St Ewan (God bless him) wrote a good few duffs along with his marvellous ones.


18 Nov 18 - 06:56 AM (#3962173)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Steve Roud has asked me to post the following:

I have been reading the ‘John Brune Folk Song Collector’ thread from 2007 and 2015. Without wishing to poke any sleeping hornets’ nest, I have some information which might clear up some of the points which were left unresolved then.

Brune’s publication The Roving Songster is always causing bibliographic confusion. As Malcolm Douglas pointed out, Brune published two completely different books under that title - both with the same drawing on the front.

The first, dated 1959, is one of those homemade looking affairs of the period, probably compiled on a typewriter and reproduced on a duplicator or something like offset litho. It has 62 pages, and there is a copy in the VWML. The contents are also very much of their time, ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountain’, ‘Hallelujah I’m a Bum’, ‘Swing low Sweet Chariot’, and so on, plus a few shanties and some well-known traditional British material. Sources are not given

The second, a much better-produced card-covered book, of 55 pages, published by Gillian Cook, London, in 1965, is completely different. Of the 31 songs, 15 are written by Brune, 3 by Belle Stewart, 1 by Sydney Carter, and the rest apparently traditional but only a few assigned to specific sources. There is an added level of confusion as it clearly states that it is Vol. 1.

I never met John, but I wrote to him about The Roving Songster in 1997, asking whether there was a volume two. He phoned me and we had a chat (I took no notes, so I am relying on fallible memory here). There was no volume 2 because Hamish Henderson dismissed it (in a review, I presume) as of no interest because it was mainly inferior modern stuff. John was disgusted and never bothered with another.

Sometime after he died, his widow contacted Reg Hall and me to ask if we wanted his ‘folk’ materials, and we went to see her. There were a few books and LPs, which I bought, and a shoebox with six C90 cassettes. I asked her about his original tapes, but she knew nothing of them, and there was no written documentation, photographs, etc.

The cassettes turn out to be copies of his originals, as is shown by a voice (not John’s) which declares things like ‘here is the end of spool 3’. So unless the original tapes turn up somewhere, these cassettes seem to constitute what remains of the ‘John Brune collection’. They will eventually be donated to a public repository.

As with many ‘collectors’ of his generation, these tapes are not a well-organised sequential record of recording sessions, but seemingly random bits and pieces, often dubbed from other tapes, starting and stopping abruptly. There’s John’s father singing in Yiddish(?). a family child singing nursery rhymes, various tracks of revival singers (not, I think, dubbed from records), but amongst it all is a fair amount of traditional singing and talking - mainly from Scots Travellers, but some English as well.

As I say, there is no documentation beyond a few scraps of paper slipped into the tape boxes, but a fair amount comes from Davy Stewart and other members of the Stewart Family. They are clearly at ease with him, and are friendly and co-operative. Indeed, there is a song sung by one of the Stewart women which mentions him coming to record them, as well as Ewan and Peggy. There is also the well-known interview with Jasper Smith from which Reg used some tracks for Voice of the People (another copy of which is in the Ken Stubbs collection).

On the question of the fake song with which Brune tricked Ewan MacColl in the run-up to The Travelling People, there is a track on one of the cassettes which might be the one, although I have no real evidence beyond the fact that it is clearly a man singing in falsetto, about life as a Traveller. It turns out to be ‘The Moving on Song’, printed on p.28 of the 1965 Roving Songster, where it is stated that words & music are by John Brune and giving the date as 1964. As the Radio Ballad first aired in April 1964, but the book published the following year, this would tie in well enough.

I have put the falsetto singing onto Google Drive for anyone interested in listening to it.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CSvaNmjqib3mnyiz1hX2874GXSyJu_AR/view?usp=sharing

IF it is the right song, with the benefit of hindsight, I think it surprising that someone as knowledgeable as MacColl fell for the trick - because it’s patently a fake. The words, tune, style are completely out-of-keeping with what we know of Traveller song. None of it rings true, and one would need to want it to be authentic to believe it .

As with several others that I have met from his generation, John was quite bitter about what he saw as other people getting credit for his work. Much of our phone conversation was devoted to this topic. It was he, he claimed, who discovered the ‘Stewarts of Blair’ and told Maurice Fleming, Henderson, MacColl, etc. about them, but they froze him out. It was he who wrote the introduction to the chapter on ‘The Travelling People’ in Peter Kennedy’s Folksongs of Britain and Ireland, and so on.

On the fake song, he simply told me about it as a joke. But the trouble with all practical jokes is that what is funny to the perpetrator is not necessarily so to the victim.


18 Nov 18 - 06:59 AM (#3962174)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Hopefully this is the link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CSvaNmjqib3mnyiz1hX2874GXSyJu_AR/view?usp=sharing


18 Nov 18 - 07:45 AM (#3962176)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Jim Carroll

The 'Traveling People' story was first told to me as one of the old-usual anti MacColl yarns by one of the old usuals
I checked with both Ewan and Charles Parker, who confirmed it independently
Sheila Stewart had been given one of the songs to learn (there were four) and when the ruse was discovered she was edited out
As all are now dead, I suppose that people will believe what suits them, which has always been the case with MacColl anyway

I've always believed that had Ewan behaved a fraction as badly as his detractors did (and still do, thirty plus years after his death), he would have deserved all the shit that was thrown at him, and much, much more
As it is, this necrophobic hatred for someone whose contribution to traditional music is immeasurable has prevented a serious examination of the most detailed body of work on the art of traditional singing - all accessible for the using
These stories - the fake songs, the war record, the change of name - (even the box of garden slugs).... measure small to the research and experimentation instigated by Ewan and the Critics Group
Hopefully future enthusiasts will have a little more sense and fwer agendas
Happily, I'm finding far more enthusiasm for this body of work in Ireland than I ever did in the U.K.
That's also the case in finding a home for our somewhat large sound archive
A lesson to be learned - surely?
Time for people to lay down their axes and let the dead lie in peace (at least), even if they have no interest in the contribution they made
Jim


18 Nov 18 - 10:55 AM (#3962198)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Hootennanny

Oh dear, here we go again.


18 Nov 18 - 11:15 AM (#3962200)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Jim Carroll

You people started it Hoot
I've never had any problem discussing MacColl outside the context of the Urban Legends surrounding him
As the beauty ads should have said - because the music's worth it
Bout time some people got rid of their hang-ups and started concentrating on that
Jim Carroll


18 Nov 18 - 02:56 PM (#3962216)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

I have just listened and am amazed anybody could be fooled. Jim i have no heroes other than people like ted poole [who ran a folk club for over 50 years] and john taylor who ran folk clubs and festivals for 50 plus years these people are heroes they involve their local community with folk music. Ewan has left us many fine songs.


18 Nov 18 - 03:15 PM (#3962219)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Jim Carroll

Not sure what you are saying Dick, but I am sure the ling has nothing to do with what either Ewan or Charles described

Your constant patronising praise of Ewan's songs when his name comes up indicatesd yo believe his only contribution was as a songwriter
On teh contrary - Ewan and Peggy took time out to work with others to help improve the scene - while the superstars, may of whom snided and knocked them and got on with their on careers   
That work still stands and is unique - I can't think of anybody else who covered it,

I more or less gave up on the English scene when 'The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill' got a Roud number
Jim Carroll


18 Nov 18 - 03:48 PM (#3962221)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

you are a silly billy, my praise of Ewan as a song writer is not patronising it is genuine,
I believe his other contributions such as the radio ballads are excellent and as part of a duo with peggy they gave very good performances, please stop tis pueile defensiveness and paranoid behaviour
everybodys work is unique, that is what the word unique means
unique
/ju?'ni?k/
adjective
adjective: unique

    1.
    being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.


18 Nov 18 - 04:09 PM (#3962222)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

My role in this discussion was simply to post the message from my friend Steve Roud. I didn't expect, and I am sure neither did Steve, that it would simply spark another sniping conversation between Jim and Dick. I can't speak for Steve, but i guess his posting was to explain and identify the story of that bogus recording. Thanks to Steve for that. No matter the reasons for the hoodwinking, good, bad, or whatever, here are the (apparent) facts. Thanks Steve for taking the trouble to let us all know.

Derek


18 Nov 18 - 04:17 PM (#3962225)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: The Sandman

no sniping on my part, a reply to jim
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 08 Aug 07 - 01:44 PM

Cap'n
So what, sabotage is sabotage.
I have to say, what with Kennedy and Brune, you have some strange heroes.
Jim Carroll


19 Nov 18 - 02:57 AM (#3962267)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Jim Carroll

I replied to Dick - no more - as far as I am concerned
Most of my contribution here is on the Brunbe affair, to which there has been no response
I didn't expect there to be
Jim Carroll


21 Nov 18 - 02:21 AM (#3962570)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: nigelgatherer

No PUBLIC response perhaps, Jim, but like many others, I'm sure, I have been enthralled by your contributions and the contributions of others about this topic, these people, these times. We don't know the reason for the conflicts - and probably don't need it explained here - but it's wonderful and extremely valuable to hear stories from people who knew the people involved and were actually there.


21 Nov 18 - 03:03 AM (#3962576)
Subject: RE: John Brune FolkSong collector
From: Jim Carroll

Thank you Nigel
I feel that the work and ideas of many of the pioneers who helped give us so much pleasure and knowledge has been lost unnecessary in the changes that have taken place (some recent ones disturb me greatly)
An entire body of work (including your own on Dundee songs) have added immensely to to my personal pleasure and understanding of our song traditions and I feel that, rather than the 'go with the flow' approach that has been adopted, we really need to take stock of past work rather than seek out new new clothes.
This means we need to know where we went wrong, as well as what we got right - and as you touch upon, why?      
Best wishes
Jim