cover for A Barroom Bransle back for A Barroom Bransle

A Barroom Bransle


This album was never released on CD, only on tape. We called it "Musick for the Current Middle Ages", and created it for exactly one audience, our friends in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). The title is a pun: "bransle" is pronounced "brawl". In the cover picture, you can see the dancers performing a bransle around the edge of the beer glass. This cover picture is the one I created when I thought I would make it available on CD, not the one from the tape.

The band at that point was:

We also brought in some other help. Linda VonBraskat and her daughter Ceridwen (now named Sabre) sang Linda's song Fair Mistland. The extra voices in Sumer are Arielle Dark, Patti Wildermuth, and Paul Johnson. All the keyboards Elton didn't play live were played by his computer, "Willie Macintosh". (It can be hard to tell which those are. He's pretty good at sequencing. Your best clue is, he doesn't really play the piano very well.)

We've been privileged over the years to work with some fabulous bass players. Sean was one of those, and in some ways remains our (forgive me) bassist for comparison. Along with the bass, he played the recorders and dumbek, and sang. He was responsible for the insidious arrangement of Pipe on the Hob on Lovers, and did most of the mixing for this album.

On these songs, any time you hear live drums being played, it's Sean, except for the bodhran on Black Swan Rises, which is Jennifer, and those on Twa Corbies, which is all of us. The occasional mandolin and live keyboard is Elton, who also programmed the other keyboard parts.

This album is unusual in that Leigh Ann plays three separate fiddles on it: her usual five-string violin/viola, a hardanger fiddle, and a medieval reconstruction that she made herself. It wasn't a very good one, but she made it so we had to use it. Sean absolutely hated trying to record that fiddle, saying it was the only instrument he ever heard that sounded harsh in all its frequency ranges. Which, thinking about it, probably makes it a true medieval reconstruction.

You can download the recordings! Right-click on the track name, select "Save Target As..." (IE) or "Save Link As..." (Firefox).

1 Sumer Is y-Cumen In 128 kb, 2.4 Mb
English, ca. 1250 A.D. Voices, in order of appearance: Leigh Ann, Sean, Elton, Jennifer Tifft, Arielle Dark, Patti Wildermuth, Paul Johnson.
2 A Barroom Bransle 128 kb, 4.3 Mb Leigh Ann wrote the first of these 3 tunes. The rest are from Playford.
3 The Unquiet Grave 128 kb, 3.6 Mb
This is British Isles traditional. Willie played the drums.
4 The Great Selchie of Sule Skerry 128 kb, 6.4 Mb
Another British Isles traditional. The whale noises on this track are Leigh Ann's fiddle and Sean's recorder.
5 Corn That Springeth Green 128 kb, 3.2 Mb
Leigh Ann wrote this alternate take on John Barleycorn, using the melody from the French carol of the same name. The first verse is from that carol.
6 Trotto é Saltarello 128 kb, 2.7 Mb A pair of Italian dances.
7 The Twa Corbies 128 kb, 3.3 Mb
This is a Scottish border ballad, a popular favorite of British Isles folk bands. We changed a few words in the text. For this, Elton, Leigh Ann, and Jennifer each played a bodhran.
8 The Hole in the Wall 128 kb, 5.4 Mb This English country dance was a local SCA dance favorite when we recorded it.
9 To The West 128 kb, 4.6 Mb
Leigh Ann wrote this. This song annoyed Elton to record as no other that we ever did: he recorded a staggeringly beautiful guitar part ... but when we played it back, it was full of electronic noise and was entirely useless. So he did it again, but never quite recaptured that performance.
10 Black Swan Rises 128 kb, 1.9 Mb
Leigh Ann wrote this.
11 Fair Mistland 128 kb, 3.9 Mb
Linda VonBraskat wrote this. Linda and her daughter Ceridwen sang it.
12 Chivalry, Honor, and Love 128 kb, 3.3 Mb
Jennifer wrote this.
13 Red Cross Knight 128 kb, 2.9 Mb
Leigh Ann wrote this as an example of a French trouvère ballad. The subject of the song spent a couple years getting asked whether it was about him. Well ... yes.
14 The Corpus Christi Carol 128 kb, 2.9 Mb
15 Ah, Robin 128 kb, 1.8 Mb
English, by William Cornysshe. Mr. Cornysshe wrote the first three vocal lines of our rendition; Elton did the other two. Voices: Elton, Jennifer Tifft, Sean, Patti Wildermuth, Leigh Ann.
16 Chì Mi na Mórbheanna 128 kb, 4.6 Mb
This bonus track wasn't on the original tape. Rather, it came from a demo we did while we were working with Mark Ungar in 1992, although Mark doesn't appear on this track.