Happy New Year!
A Skulk of Foxes

Tunes for a Monday Morning

A mossy stone wall and oak in fog

On a foggy winter's morning on Dartmoor, let's start with appropriately atmospheric music and go from there....

Above: "The Fog," composed and performed by Spiers & Boden (John Spiers on melodica, Jon Boden on fiddle), from their fine new abum Fallow Ground (2021). In addition to the Spiers & Boden albums and their solo work, both musicians were founding members of Bellowhead -- which is reuniting for a one-off tour later this year.

Below: "Reynardine," also from the new album. This one's a traditional English ballad about a dangerous fox shape-shifter, related to the Mr. Fox fairy tale. (See Neil Gaiman's poem "The White Road" for another take on the Reynardine/Mr. Fox/Robber Bridegroom motif, and Anne Louise Avery's brilliant retelling of the trickster tales of Reynard the Fox.)

Above: "The Birth of Robin Hood" (Child Ballad #102), performed by Spiers & Boden on their fifth album, Vagabond (2010).

Below: "Princess Royal" from fiddler Sam Sweeney (with Louis Campbell, Jack Rutter, and my Modern Fairies colleague Ben Nicholls). Sweeney was also a member of Bellowhead, and now performs with the folk trio Leveret. "Princess Royal" appears on his beautiful solo album Unearth Repeat (2020).

Above: "Sheath and Knife" (Child Ballad #16), performed by singer, cellist, fiddler and viola player Rachael McShane with The Cartographers (Matthew Ord and Julian Sutton) on their ballad-filled album When All Is Still (2018). McShane, too, is a Bellowhead alumnus.

Below: "The Molecatcher," a traditional song (with a new melody) from the same album.

And after that winding road of songs we really ought to end with some classic Bellowhead.

Below: "New York Girls," a modern take on an old sea shanty, performed live in 2011. This one goes out to all my women friends and publishing colleagues in NYC. It's a long, long way from there to Dartmoor...but once a New York Girl, always a New York Girl. (And yes, I can dance the polka.)

An early winter's morning on Meldon Hill