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Songs from the Roadside

Gypsy Songs sung in the West Midlands

The songs of Esther and Eliza Smith, Harriet Jones, David Price Jones, Angelina Whatton, Wisdom Smith, Mark O’Gallaidh, and many others, presented by Jeremy Sandford.

The ancient Herefordshire songs recorded on cylinder by Ralph Vaughan Williams and Ella Mary Leather in the early years of this century are part of an old tradition of West Midland Gypsy songs passed from mother to daughter and grandfather to grandson.

Some come from the English folk tradition that we all inherit. Others, especially those in Anglo Romani, are unique to Gypsies.

The custom of ‘when something happens, make a song about it’ is still alive, and here also are poignant and powerful songs composed and sung by today’s Gypsies.

‘They have behind them the accumulated emotion of many successive generations who have learned and themselves recreated the old majesty and loveliness.’

Songs from the Roadside


Songs from the Roadside

Songs sung by Romani Gypsies in the West Midlands, introduced by Jeremy Sandford.


Side One; Roumania, Hungary, Spain; Romani Gypsy origins; Paddy Houlahan; a visit to Stow Fair; the Biddle family, George Smith, Mark O’Gallaidh; Mary Delaney; Vaughan Williams and ancient British Gypsy songs sung by May Bradley and others.

Side Two; Charlotte Smith; ‘There is a Fountain’; Amos Smith; Wisdom ‘Wiggy’ Smith; Tony Lloyd; Duncan Williamson, Mik Darling, Tom Odley, Johnny ‘Pops’ Connors; Paddy Houlahan.


Many thanks to all those Gypsies who sang and talked to me. Also I’d like to thank the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library for May Bradley’s ‘The Leaves of Life’, rec. by Fred Hamer; and Mary Delaney’s ‘Fourteen Last Sunday’ from ‘Early in the Month of Spring’ rec. by Pat Mackenzie and Jim Carol, who also recorded ‘The Ballad of Brownhills’ by Johnny ‘Pops’ Connors for the National Sound Archive; the Folktracks collection of Peter Kennedy, 16 Brunswick Square, Gloucester, for Emily Bishop’s ‘There is a Fountain of Christ’s Blood’ and various others; Gwillwm and Carol Davies for Tony Lloyd’s ‘Long Lankin’.

‘My Pony and Me’ by Mik Darling, Old House Music, 11 Edmund Street, Lancaster; ‘Romany Yag’ by Tom Odley, British Romani Union, The Reservation, Hever Road, Edenbury, Kent; ‘Put Another Log on the Fire’ by Duncan Williamson, rec. John Howson, Veteran Tapes, 44 Old Street, Haughley, Stowmarket, Suffolk; Frankie Armstrong’s ‘Cold Blows the Wind’ from ‘Lovely on the Water’, Topic, 27 Nassington Road, London NW3; Paddy Houlahan’s songs from ‘Living on the Edge of your Town’, Greenfield Studios, Headford, County Galway.

A companion book with transcriptions of words and music of the songs, also introduced by Jeremy Sandford, is published by Ursula Freeman, The Redlake Press, Clun, Shropshire.

I’ll Sing you a song

Fore the Gavvers move me on ...

Cover picture from a painting by Peter Upton of Clun.

I received valuable assistance in editing from

Denzil Dudley, John Warburton, Tim Boswell.

Duplication; Dave Woods, Broad Oak, Hereford.

All songs are © the singers.

Generous help for this project came from

West Midlands Arts


BBC Hereford and Worcester


Romani Records

Hatfield Court

Nr. Leominster


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