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Four Bacup Tunes

[trad. arr. Brass Monkey]

Brass Monkey played these four tunes in 2001 on their fourth album Going and Staying. The album’s sleeve notes commented:

A tribute to the unique and extraordinary Britannia coco-nut dancers, who go through their paces every Easter Saturday in and around Bacup in Lancashire. They are normally accompanied by a silver band, or by a pair of English concertinas if the band is not available—with a rare repertoire of tunes that come straight from the middle of the Victorian age. The combination of the sweetness of the playing, the stomping of the clogs, and the clattering of the wooden “nuts” makes for a heady and irresistible concoction.

The Nutters are fiercely and justifiably proud of being the sole surviving practitioners of one of England’s most mystifying traditional dances—so much so that, when the Folklore collectors came across them in the 1920s, the team came to an agreement with The English Folk Dance and Song Society that their repertoire would never be published or taught within the folk revival. The four tunes that we offer here—Garland Dances no. 5, no. 2 and no. 3, and the Nut Dance—do not come with the team’s blessing, but we hope that our performance will be regarded as a respectful exhortation for anyone who has not witnessed this amazing sight to do so at once. In a word, they are Unique.