Monday, May 19, 2008

Bewitching Morris

Following on from yesterday's post ... here's some proper Morris for you. These are the blackface Border side known as The Witchmen. Stylised warfare? Big scary sticks? I think so. And this is the tamest dance I've ever seen them do.

Note: Not a beardy middle-class chemistry teacher in sight.


8 comments:

The Factory said...

These look like they're from the 'Special Forces' branch of the Morris Dancing fraternity. I've never seen anything quite like it, but then I think in Norfolk all we had were the traditional middle class eccentric variety.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Oh yes. Norfolk and the Cotswolds suffered from 'the curse of Cecil Sharp'. He may have done wonderful things in preserving English folk music and traditions, but he did gentrify certain elements. There's a good feature on the whole subject here (apologies for the long link name - Blame the Independent newspaper): http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/hey-nonny-no-no-no-goths-and-pagans-are-reinventing-morris-dancing-823498.html

But my best find was this video of Morris Men performing in a pool in Spain. How bizarre is that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I6JmoPId7I

The Factory said...

That video re-defines the word 'surreal'. Only the British could contrive a situation whereby a man plays a trombone in a swimming pool, and another group of men perform a partly submerged Morris dance. You don't think alcohol could've been involved do you ?

I'm sure that the Spanish will miss us when we go, but they may wonder how we conquered the world.

Jon M said...

I saw the Witchmen (and some women I believe) at The Chester Folk Festival, they were quite a sight. As a keen follower of diddly diddly music I like a good Morris side...with bells on!

Blog Princess G said...

I was just imagining what would happen if the English rugby team did this for the benefit of the opposing team before the game? Would they be intimidated? I think the bright yellow socks might succeed in temporarily blinding them.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Jon - always good to meet another folkie! I grew up with the stuff and have never lost my love of it. I'm particularly fond of the so-called 'new wave' like Eliza Carthy, Jim Moray, Karine Polwart, Seth Lakeman etc.

Princess G - Now you've said that, I have this very strange mental image of a pitched battle with smoke drifting across the trenches and the sounds of gunfire. There is the occasional boom of large ordnance and the screams of wounded and dying men. Then, someone who looks a bit like Lord Kitchener, stands up, surveys the battlefield through his binoculars and sighs.

'Damn them', he says, 'They've left us no choice. Get the regiment ready. We're sending in the Morris Men ...'

Jon M said...

I'm a big Carthy fan both old and new and Watersony too. Seth I find a bit samey but it's all opinion and I do like his toons! I play in ceilidh bands on occassion too!

Stevyn Colgan said...

Oh yes ... 'The Famous Flower of Serving Men' has to be in my all time Top 10. All hail St Martin.

A Ceilidh band eh? I was never good enough for that. I could never get my de-diddleys right.