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Lanham: The Arthur 'Cocky' King Collection


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Cocky King: Country Entertainer of the Bromeswell Cherry Tree
    (Neil Lanham, 2007-09) Lanham, Neil
    It has been said that the latterday 'more-literate' mind seeks little more than information, whereas those people of an older and 'more-oral' culture were brought up on understandings (Walter Ong). Likewise, the modem mind prefers entertainment and does not seek the wisdoms of the mindset of 'the prior culture' (Walter Benjamin). If you are looking, therefore, for information in just the words of a song or for a 'lovely' voice as is the case in the pop/tv world, then this is not for you. If, however, you would like to experience the ways of a country entertainer of yesteryear who has the skill to build a rapport with and knows how to work his audience, then Cocky King has that rare ability and displays it here to the full. Not just in the way that he manipulates his 4-stop ‘C’ Melodeon or changes his notes differently or the choice from his inherited Material, but the distinct way that he puts it all over which is something that appears over the heads of the 'Dot readers' in the current 'urban folk revival'. This is the true ORAL TRADITION, for Cocky carries with him the inbuilt natural way of entertaining by those of his home area as it has been since time immemorial. Not just in his distinct Bromeswell accent and Suffolk words, but more importantly in the little anecdotes that intersperse his twenty traditional and other songs that these country entertainers would use to captivate their audience in song, music and story. Cocky tells us how he first learned to play, then why and where and how and who he entertained, and brings it all to life with his stories that put 'the flesh on the bones of information' in giving us the idiom of the people of that great age of 'uncanned' self entertainment. Cocky’s songs, although often bawdy as was demanded by the company that he frequented, were not learned from books or records but aurally from his father and the people about him that he met on his travels. And just you hear him tell a story. He firstly 'frames' it, then introduces the participants of the drama, then he slowly builds the plot, the participants then come alive with dialogue, expressing their emotions and so theplot proceeds until the final coupe de grace as the juxtaposition is revealed. His story of his father’s cart and the man with the sack on his back could easily have come out of Katherine Briggs’ Dictionary of British Folk Stories, and it is probably in there somewhere, but this is not a sterile rehash from hieroglyphics: it is THE ORAL COMMUNICATION OF LIFE. To compose story 'in the telling' in the manner that Cocky does is now rare and it is an ability that we are unlikely to witness again in this media-led urban techno-literate world in which we all survive and which now affects us all. The songs that he sings are in the following order: Cock-a Doodle Do, The Chimney Sweep, There's Bound to be a Row, Rat-a-tat-tat, Wheel Yer Perambulater, The Faithful Sailor Boy, While London's Fast Asleep, The Threshing Machine, The Young Sailor Cut Down in his Prime, Flash Company, Little Pal, The Wanderer’s Warning, They Buried Him Out in the Desert, A Bunch of Young Squadies, Goodbye Old Ship of Mine, Died for Love, My Brother Sylvest, Sweet Violets.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Cocky King: Star of the Bromeswell Cherrytree Plays for You as Yesteryear
    (Neil Lanham, 2009-05) Lanham, Neil
    In the 194O's and 50's, public houses such as The Cherrytree at Bromeswell in the heart of unspoilt rural Suffolk would have their own musicianer playing for the people what he felt the people wanted. There was not the now common sight of a host of musicians from the 'urban folk revival' playing at the people for themselves with foreign tunes for, to quote Keith Summers, 'it was the job of the sole musicianer to judge the mood of the evening and then bring out the tunes, songs and stories that his audience could relate to' and thus be entertained through all of his many self-learned and even unconsciously-held techniques. Techniques learned only from the experience of life and which would build a rapport with his audience, a communication which, apart from just the show-off of 'clever' instrumental skill, is rarely seen today. Tradition is essentially oral and cannot be recreated from inkstains. It is passed by word of mouth and only word of mouth. It is a human condition in which literate devices have no place. It is not therefore controlled by the 'standardisations' of literacy and the beauty of it is that it displays the self expression of the individual like nothing else. Here, it is the self expression of one raised and saturated in the idiom of the people — his people, for he carries with him all of his personal history absorbed from his forefathers and kinfolk that goes to form his personal identity, his regional identity and with it national identity The 4-stop single key accordian is the people’s choice of instrument for use in making our local music. Almost always in the key of 'c' and never in D and G, as is now played by the folk revival. At 27/6d in the 1930s it was affordable and played by most. Landlords at many local pubs would keep one under the bar should 'good company' arrive. The interesting thing about it is its ten only buttons and in-and-out action for changing notes give way to a very personal interpretation and thus with the music comes this whole individual way of playing by varying the timing, where the note is changedand decorated, that is relative only to the individual and a delight to those who love to hear this musical expression of local character. Andrew Stannard. who runs evenings where music from the likes of Cocky King and all that they stand for, says that listening to music from outside the building one can tell without looking who is playing, such is their individual expression in this oral tradition. ‘The only ones who sound the same’, he says, ‘are those who have had tuition in the folk world’. David Nuttall, who played with such eminent traditional musicians as Scan Tester, Oscar Woods, Fred List and Stan Seaman, describes Cocky as ‘The Master’. ‘He lives the tunes’, he said . ‘I could listen to him all night’. Tunes: 1 John Peel 2 Red Sails in the Sunset 3 All Through the Night 4 Story 5 The Wedding of Lily Marlene 6 When the Poppies Bloom Again 7 A Little Kiss Each Morning 8 When I Grow Too Old to Dream 9 The Old Rustic Bridge by the Stream 10 South of the Border 11 My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean 12 Little Old Lady Passing By 13 When Irish Eyes are Smiling 14 Silver Threads Amongst the Gold 15 Dancing Cheek to Cheek 16 Story 17 Play to Me Gypsey 18 If Those Lips Could Only Speak 19 Take Me to Your Heart Again 20 Because I love you So 21 The Isle of Capri 22/23 Songs-Landgirls 24 You Are My Sunshine 25 Among My Souvenirs 26 This Is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening 27 Let Me Call You Sweetheart 28 Wooden Heart 29 Paper Roses 30 Story 31 Goodbye Old Ship of Mine 32 Souvla Bay 33 When They Begin the Beguine 34 Springtime in the Rockies 35 The Old Rugged Cross 36 Jesus Bids Us Shine 37 Cling to the Shore Sailor 38 The Stein Song 39 How Great Thou Art.