The Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society

© 2008 Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society

The Ebenezer / Liberty   trad. American
A working chantey making the usual complaints, paired with a popular fiddle tune from the Colonial era.

The Ballad of Deborah Samson   Diane Taraz
Deborah served in disguise after the Revolutionary War was officially over, when Tory raids made the army desperate for soldiers. She got away with it partly because she was very tall, towering over men and women alike, and back then there was no entrance physical and people seldom took all their clothes off. Her steadfast service was rewarded with a military pension, signed by Governor John Hancock in 1792, after she was championed by Paul Revere as a deserving veteran. In later life she was one of the first women to speak regularly in public, as she traveled from town to town, renting halls to parade in her old uniform and recount her adventures.

Castle Island Waltz / Rolling in the Ryegrass   John Berger / trad. Irish
John named his waltz for a lovely spot near his home in South Boston. Our version of "Rolling" comes from the brother/sister duo Denis Murphy and Julia Clifford of County Kerry, Ireland. We play it as they did, repeating the A and B parts.

The Patent Leather Waltz   Lynn Noel
Lynn interviewed former shoe-mill workers in the Merrimac Valley and shaped their memories into this song. They recalled the joy of waltzing on Saturday nights to such favorites as "Golden Slippers." Lynn wasn't about to argue with the 90-year-old French ladies that "Golden Slippers" is not a waltz -- so now it is.

Full and By   Daisy Nell
A ship sailing "full and by" has her sails full and is sailing "by the wind," her course as close to the wind as possible. We treat Daisy's wonderful song to the twin guitars of Diane and John.

The Cape Cod Hornpipe / Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier   trad. American and Irish
John unleashes his frailing fingers on two banjo tunes that were born in Ireland and became popular in America.

The Sea-Serpent of Cape Ann   Diane Taraz
Sightings of "His Snakeship," as the newspapers dubbed him, have tailed off since a notable 1817 tour of Gloucester Bay. They say the serpent was as long as a 74 -- a warship bristling with 74 guns. You can see such a ship on our CD cover -- the America, launched from Portsmouth, N.H., in 1782.

Jacky Tar / Off to California   trad. British Isles
A hornpipe is a sailor's dance named for an ancient instrument. Before the discovery that scurvy was caused by a vitamin deficiency, a theory held sway that lack of exercise might be the culprit, so for a time ships sailed with at least one fiddler so the crew could be compelled to dance with regularity. One can just imagine the language that that requirement caused to issue from surly salts as they hopped about to hornpipes.

Lovely Ernestina   Jim Bean, That'swell Music
The grand old Massachusetts State Schooner, built in 1894, has filled many roles in her long life. We'll see this watch through to the end.

The Rosabella   trad. English
A rousing capstan chantey, excellent for gathering the crew and hoisting the anchor.

The Jamaica Plain Rag   Owen Hartford
Owen co-founded the band, which was nameless in 1971 when he and David Rosen played at a church supper in Gloucester. When asked what they were called, David looked down at his music stand, saw sheet music for a clog and a hornpipe, and muttered, "We're the, uh, Hornpipe and Clog . . . Society." Whereupon the minister turned to the crowd and proclaimed, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Gloucester Hornpipe and Clog Society!" Since then some 22 musicians have been members of the Society -- not a single one from Gloucester.

The Lady in Black   Diane Taraz, with the trad. French tune "V'la, l'bon vent" (Come, Fair Wind)
For decades, visitors to Georges Island in Boston Harbor have heard the tale of a ghost who roams the abandoned hallways of Fort Warren. The story goes that a Georgia woman named Melanie Lanier tried to rescue her husband, Andrew, a Confederate prisoner held in the fort during the Civil War. One dark night she rowed herself to the island, armed with an ancient pistol, carrying a pickaxe, and dressed as a man. Legend has it that she whistled an old melody as a code to be lifted through the bars of a window that faced the sea; I chose an old French tune, "V'la, l'bon vent" (Come, Fair Wind). The men dug a tunnel with the pickaxe, but were discovered. Melanie aimed her pistol at the commandant's heart, but the old gun exploded. A piece of shrapnel struck her beloved Andrew and killed him.

Melanie was tried as a spy and sentenced to hang. Her last request was to be dressed as a woman, and a piece of black cloth was found to drape around her. Soon after a guard felt cold hands clutch his throat from behind; he went mad and had to be sent to an asylum. Others saw tiny footprints in the snow, and to this day some of the rangers swear they've seen a figure in black drifting through the abandoned fort.

It's a great story, but apparently fiction. There are no contemporary newspaper accounts to be found, and certainly a woman's execution would have been widely publicized if it had happened. Also, no prisoner named Andrew Lanier appears in the fort's records. Nevertheless, it's a tale to give one the shivers when walking the crumbling corridors of Fort Warren.

Zim's Jig / The Gallowglass / The Tar Road to Sligo   Sandy Davis / trad. Irish
The first tune honors Susan Zimelis, the band's hammered-dulcimer player from 1985 to 1996. As Susan lay dying from lukemia, Sandy Davis inspired friends to gather at her bedside to play the Irish music she loved. Susan brought "The Gallowglass" (an old name for a mercenary soldier) and "The Tar Road to Sligo" to the band.

The Constitution Hornpipe / The Constitution and the Guerriere / Hull's Victory   trad. American
This medley includes the famous broadside account of Old Ironsides' battle in Boston Harbor against a British warship with a perplexingly French name that means "the Warrior." Captain Isaac Hull maneuvered his vessel into the best spot from which to blast away the foe's mainmast. Huzzah!