The Ironopolis Singers are delighted and very proud to announce that their new show They Bunged Us in Khaki, based on Graeme's national service, is to have its premier at Saltburn Folk Festival, in the town's community theatre at 3pm on Saturday, 13th August, 2022. Also being released at the same time is an accompanying double CD.
They Bunged Us in Khaki follows Graeme's military service from his call-up in 1955 to his "demobbing" in January 1957. During this period he wrote about twenty songs of life in the army. The sixteen songs in the show are interspersed with prose based on Graeme's extensive and fascinating army record. Also included are some songs of conflict which he wrote after leaving the army, including the "Troubles" of Northern Ireland.
Mid-winter Carol, or Dark December, also known as O, should we curse the Winter?, seems to be becoming a classic Christmas carol to rival Silent Night and others. The song, beloved of choirs all over the world, has been included on a CD of carols for the Nativity by musician Tom Gregory, with the Dust and Mischief Band. The CD includes several famous carols including the Holly and the Ivy, Gloucestershire Wassail, Sussex Carol, I saw three Ships, Joy to the World and The seven good Joys of Mary. All the songs are beautifully arranged to make for a thoroughly enjoyable album. For more information go to tomgregorysings.bandcamp.com or visit streaming services. Thank you, Tom and the band, for choosing Dark December.
One of Graeme's best-loved songs, Where Ravens Feed, is to be sung as part of a concert programme in Holy Trinity Church, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, next week. The V and A Ensemble, which meets at the church, will perform its Christmas Concert starting at 12.30pm. What a lovely place to sing such a wonderful song - the acoustics must be superb as in many churches.
Graeme said he wrote "Ravens" after walking near Seatoller in the Lake District, a place where he walked only twice. In his notes on the song he says that on seeing a raven in the distance he was reminded of the writing of the prophet Jeremiah where he describes the life of Elijah in the wadi of Cherith. The passage reads: "And the ravens themselves were bringing him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and from the torrent valley he kept drinking (1 Kings 17.6)." Graeme continues: "After walking several hundred more miles back and forth across the North York Moors over a period of three or four years ... and reworking the piece countless times, with a variety of titles, I eventually, late in 1972, settled on this version (Songscapes)." An earlier version (1966) is entitled "I Roam Wild Places".
In the last year or so it has been extremely gratifying to know that Graeme's songs continue to increase in popularity. National radio programmes have helped further to highlight his work and the result has been a large increase in orders for his books and for CDs of his songs. Christmas time 2020 proved especially fruitful with orders from home and abroad including The United States of America where he is becoming especially popular. Work continues further to promote his songs through CDs, books and concerts. Despite the limitations imposed as a result of the covid virus, those who knew and loved Graeme continued to work hard to bring out more of his songs for public consumption. A complete archive of his songs, recordings, drawings and proses has now beeen achieved. It includes some 350 of his songs, all on CD with Graeme singing and playing a variety of instruments including a loud hailer! In addition, a book of Graeme's life and work is in the pipeline.
The Ironopolis Singers, the group co-founded by Graeme and Kevin Hall is working now to bring out a new show next year. Rehearsals begin in October. We'll keep you up to date with this exciting venture.
"Songscapes" the best-selling book of Graeme's songs illustrated with photographs by Robin Dale has been out of print for some time now. The website still receives requests for the book, now a collector's item, but unfortunately it cannot be reprinted since the printing plates have been lost. However, some of the requests are also solely for Robin's photographs which so ably outlined the era in which these songs were written. It is to this effect that we are very pleased to announced that Robin's book "Twelve on a Roll" is now for sale through the website. All the photographs that were included in Songscapes is in this excellent tome.
For many years the partnership of Graeme and Robin played a huge part in commemorating through song and words and pictures the industrial life of Middlesbrough and its environs during the latter part of the twentieth century when Middlesbrough was undergoing great change. Their illustrated talks were famous, with Graeme narrating to highlight the photographs and Robin singing Graeme's songs.