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Poor Man's Fortune NTIF 2015 Set List
1. Dame Lombarde • A traditional song from Piedmont with many versions in France. Wife wants to poison her husband, gets help from someone (her lover?). They go into the forest, kill 'the green snake' which they put in the husband's red wine because when he comes back from hunting he'll be thirsty. The baby in the cradle who has never spoken before warns dad that he'll die if he drinks the wine. Dad suggests that mom drink the wine, which she inexplicably does, and dies. This is a very early Borgia style blues.
Lyrics w/ English translation

2. Ronds de Loudia • A set of "round dances" from Loudéac in central Brittany. Richard got the first tune from Ar Re Yaouank (The Young Guys). Larry learned the second rond from our producer, Jean-Michel Veillon when his band Kornog toured Texas in 1986. The last two ronds are from a 1994 recording by Bagad Kemper, Lip Ar Maout on which Jean-Michel played flute with guitarist Gilles Le Bigot. In this dance, participants fold arms over each other and form a circle, men and women alternating, while moving to the left. Dancers in Loudia evidently were fond of wearing shawls and it's thought that the arm position of the dance was developed as a discrete way to prevent their shawls from slipping off while dancing.
3. La Bétaille, Madame Sosthène • Beth sings the intro mimicking an old unreleased field recording of Isom Fontenot, which was collected by the great Cajun archivist Revon Reed. La bétaille (The wild thing in the little tree) was played by Isom Fontenot on harmonica on the album: Louisiana Cajun and Creole Music: The Newport Field Recordings (recorded between 1964-1967). La valse de Madame Sosthène comes from a 1934 recording by Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux. Alida was the daughter of Joe's uncle Sosthène Falcon, and "Mme Sosthène" was his wife, Josephine, Alida's mother.
Lyrics w/ English translation

4. Galine Galo / Gavotenn / Salangadou • Beth learned Galine Galo back in 1990 with the band Renaissance Cadienne. Many of the words to this lullaby are nonsensical, but roughly meaning, "look at the moon, look at the water." And for all you vampire fans, the words were also printed in the book Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice. The gavotenn (gavotte) she first heard on an LP by Irish band Clannad. Salangadou is a haunting Creole lullaby Beth played with Les Vermilionnaires. It translates, "Salangadou, listen to the little girl over there," and is commonly believed to be a mother's lament for her abducted daughter. The earliest collections of the song date to 1909 with Peterson Creole Songs from New Orleans.
Lyrics w/ English translation

5. The Brewery Tap • A tune Richard composed in 1999 in honor of The Brewery Tap in Houston where he's spent many a happy hour. It grew out of a jam session there with EJ Jones. Richard had just moved to Houston and if the tune had words they would be about finding hope in the midst of despair.
6. An Dro / Aux Natchitoches • The an dro is one of the most popular dances in Brittany, and one of the easiest, thus the eternal question at the fest noz: à quelle heure vous jouez les an dro? It is played here underneath an old Cajun song Aux Natchitoches, largely based on a recording by Bee Deshotels, with a few variations by Harry Leonard and Serge Laîné. It tells of a man who goes to Natchitoches to see his lover but when he arrives she is dying.
Lyrics w/ English translation

7. Bale Lann-Bihoué / Dañs Plin • The first march, composed by Polig Monjarret, is from a 1965 recording by official French navy bagpipe band, Bagad Lann-Bihoué. The first dañs plin is from Skeduz, one of our favorite Breton bands. The second plin is also from an old bagad recording. The plin (dañs tro plin) is from Pays Fañch in central-western Brittany. Men and women alternate and hold arms over/under and move in a circle to the left (though we understand they move to the right in the Southern hemisphere). The body hardly moves and the feet are kept quite flat while stepping "barely higher than a cigarette paper." The plin is believed to have originated as a fun way to beat earth floors or prepare threshing grounds in preparation for the annual battage.
8. No Strings Attached • A new song from Beth. Sometimes trying to keep things from getting complicated sure gets complicated.
9. Suite de ridées six temps / Acadian Two-Step • This one is a bit of an odyssey. We begin with a suite of "ridées in 6 time" from Pays de Redon. Typically, ridées 6 temps are in 6/8 time, but here the 1st and 3rd tunes seem to be in 4/4. Evidently the dancers are not confused. This is from an old cassette tape of a band called Vents D'Oust which boasts two of the finest luthiers in Brittany, Gilbert Hervieux and Olivier Glet, who made our bombardes and biniou kozh. After laying out a traditional Breton riff, we segue into the Acadian 2-step, a tune our buddy Serge Laîné learned from Michael Doucet many years ago. We figure if we had Michael and Serge playing with us at the festival this weekend, as we did on our recording, we could scientifically prove the connection between Breton and Cajun music.
10. Mardi Gras • Beth grew up singing this song, then played and/or recorded it with assorted lineups, including Renaissance Cadienne, Les Vermilionnaires, The Big Easy Playboys, and her first solo record Hybrid Vigor. This song is about the traditional Mardi Gras of Mamou, the celebration that precedes Lent and involves processions of masked men on horseback, going from farmhouse to farmhouse, engaging in revelry in exchange for ingredients used to make a communal gumbo at the end of the day.
Lyrics w/ English translation

11. The Snuff Wife / Cutting Bracken / The Braes of Mellinish • A set of Scottish piping jigs. We learned these tunes from various recordings by Battlefield Band, Rare Air and Silly Wizard. The Snuff Wife is by Iain MacDonald. A "snuff wife" is a seller of powdered tobacco. Cutting Bracken (Tha mi sgìth in Gaelic) originated from Puirt à beul (mouth music), often sung as 'work songs' or to keep the English from hearing your pipes. Cutting Bracken is often referred to in Scotland as "Puin' (Pulling) Bracken". The Braes of Mellinish is a Scottish country dance tune (Bruachan Mhealanais in Gaelic). The tune appears in William Gunn's Caledonian Repository of Music Adapted for the Bagpipes, 1848, and is attributed to "Captain Mackay." Brian McNeill, who played the set on our CD, has heard it referred to as Kentigern's Jig.